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tv   Morning Joe  MSNBC  December 24, 2020 3:00am-6:00am PST

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>> ho, ho, ho, ho, ho! merry christmas. mas. so, to be clear, mr. trump has no financial relationships with any russian ole garigarcol? >> that's what he said. >> in the four and a half years since that moment, paul manafort was arrested, convicted, jailed, and yesterday pardoned by the president of the united states. also sprung free -- roger stone, who like manafort was indicted by special counsel robert mueller and found guilty on multiple counts. jared kushner's dad, who carried out a sordid crime received a
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pardon as well. joining the murderers, corrupt congressmen and dozens of others now benefiting from donald trump's unrestrained use of executive power. the president, meanwhile, is at his estate in florida where his schedule according to the white house includes many meetings and phone calls. good god. back in washington, he's left his party in utter chaos after blowing up the covid relief deal, vetoing the military spending bill, and risking unemployment aid to millions of struggling americans. in other words -- merry christmas, everybody. >> it's beautiful. ♪ it's beginning to look a lot like christmas ♪ >> how many more days? >> i think it's tomorrow, dear. and -- my, is it just me, or -- is it comcast commerce stream looking a little bit like charlie brown's christmas tree? >> i wasn't asking you how many
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days until christmas. >> oh! look at that. that's beautiful. yes! >> hmm. >> that's beautiful. ♪ toys in every store >> bewell, willie geist -- >> good morning, everybody. >> merry christmas eve to you and yours this morning. so -- i know you're a "spinal tap "fain. rig . >> sure, sure. >> remember explaining to rob reiner his amp, turned it up to 11. >> sure. >> and the trump administration, you didn't think it was possible but they turned the sleaze up to 11. pardoning like the sleaziest gang of just -- just scum. just -- just political scum. and -- and this is what the
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republican party now is. this is what the republican party has enabled, what every republican senator, it has all led to this. they are all responsible, every last one of them, except for mitt romney, who voted to impeach the president of the united states, and all of their silence through all of the years, this is just the, the scum -- they're the vile political creatures -- >> so many of them. >> -- who lied over and over again to the fbi, committed one crime after another. but what do they have in common? they have in common that at critical moments in the mueller investigation, they were all floated a pardon by this president. all bribed by the president of the united states, to keep quiet. the president saying, and people were writing stories at the time, hey, this is what he's doing by the way. basically told, if you keep quiet i'll deliver you a pardon. that's really, really sleazy and
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everybody expects donald trump to act in the sleaziest way possible, because he's been the sleaziest president in american history and these sleazy pardons and his sleazy presidency the way you would expect a sleazy presidency to be ended. at the same time we knew donald trump was a sleazy president. but the republicans? republicans that sit by quietly and allowed this to happen, they deserve nothing. they deserve nothing tore christmchrifor christmas. nothing for elections to come. they have made everything that happened yesterday, everything that i'm sure is going to happen today, everything that going to happen over the next month, they've made it all possible. >> yeah. now we're beginning to hear public criticism from republicans as you're xdiscussig right now of these pardons. well that has been absent the last four years. so with what? less than a month left now,
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everyone's getting their courage up because he's leaving office and speaking out publicly. ar some are, anyway. it's corruption defined. pure obstruction of justice saying a team of investigators for two years, talking to the lead prosecutor of the mueller investigation. as you said, behind the scenes people around donald trump dangled pardons around some of the witnesses, including paul mft aanafort and roger stone, s up, take what was coming to them with the promise down the road they would be pardoned and that day came yesterday. two days ago, convicted murderers, and a congressman stealing from his constituents from supporters, and yesterday it was the friends and family discount for the kushners and then as you said, paul manafort and roger stone for their role in russia. >> so -- >> yeah, and -- and, you know,
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it's important to remember. the words of republicans. republicans who completely freaked out in 2001 over one pardon. >> ah. >> a mark rich. couldn't threat go for a decade. this is horrible. you did this -- ah -- i mean what? seriously. what a scummy thing to do. really? sew complain about that for a decade, 15 years, and then continue to embrace this president? while he's pardoning murderers. while he's pardoning the sleaziest political actors that we've seen around a president? i'd say since watergate, but that's really insulting to, you know, ehrlichman and halderman. they had nothing on these guys. and, you know, mitch mcconnell said back during hearings they had in 2001 over the mark ridge barden, se, yes, the president has power to pardon, but you have to look at the other corruption statutes that
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officials have to be held to publicly. and so -- and -- and in that way, donald trump -- i just, i really don't understand why donald trump wouldn't be investigated for obstruction of justice. we already know, looking into the mueller report, there were ten incidents where mueller said basically, yeah. these are ten ways that he's probably obstructed justice, but i can't bring charges against him because he's president of the united states. be interested to see with all of this if there's not some way for a prosecutor, after he leaves office, to look at him dangling these pardons out to obstruct an investigation against him, and bring obstruction of justice charges against him later. he certainly deserves it. if we really believe in america, and -- i don't know -- i get that's up to you and me, people. do we still believe no man's above the law? we know the crime that -- we know he's obstructing justice
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repeatedly and was obstructing justice with these promises. at critical times during the investigation. so do we believe that or not? >> hmm. >> is that something we say to make us feel good inside and help us sleep at night? or do we really believe in america, no man is above the law. if no man is above the law the man you're looking at that right needs to be charged. he needs to be tried. he needs to be convicted. and he needs to spend a lot of time in jail. >> let's get to the details this latest round of trump's pre-christmas pardons. 29 more pardons and commutations yesterday. many who remained most loyal to him. he's made it obvious. he's trying to erase the mueller investigation with pardon of paul manafort. his former campaign manager serving seven and a half years for numerous financial crimes including tax and bank fraud. he also pardoned roger stone.
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his longtime friend and adviser after already commuting his sentence earlier this year for lying to congress and witness tampering, but manafort and stone join the others connected to the mueller probe including michael flynn, who have now all been pardoned. along with manafort and stone trump yesterday also pardoned his son-in-law's father, charles kushner. the 66-year-old kushner was convicted of tax evasion and retaliating against a witness. that witness happened to be his own brother-in-law whom kushner admitted he tried to entrap with a prostitute in order to blackmail him against his wife. charles kushner's sister, cooperating with the state. does that make sense? it's complicated. here the chris christie, who was the attorney who prosecuted kushner describing the crime. >> i just think it was so obvious he had to be prosecuted. i mean if a guy hire as
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prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and videotaped it and then sent the videotape to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury, do i really need anymore justification than that? i mean, it's one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes i prosecuted when i was u.s. attorney. and i was u.s. attorney in new jersey, margaret. so we had loads of disgusting crime going on there, but i just laid out the facts. any objective person with facts, confronted with the facts i had a moral and an ethical obligation to bring that prosecution. >> wow. so far there's been little reaction by republicans about trump's latest round of pardons. senator ben sasse issued a one-sentence statement saying the pardons of "another tranche of felons like manafort and stone flagrantly and repeatedly violated the law and harmed americans was rotten to the
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core." bring in msnbc national security analyst michael schmidt and former fbi general counsel in the mueller investigation, andrew wyssman, also with us host of -- weisman. also with us host of msnbc's "politics nation "and president of the national action network, reverend al sharpton and from vanderbilt university jon meacham, unofficially advises president-elect joe biden. >> jon meacham, we may, history may owe ehrlichman and halderman and mitchell an apology with these sleazy runners of donald trump. maybe we make them statues in the national constitution exhibit, and put them next to 5'4" madison or something. i mean, compared to nixon, these guys, compared to what trump's
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don now, these guys are all saints. talk to us how this is really just such a low, sleazy moment in american politics. brought to you by, donald trump and his republican enablers who have quietly and silently sat by while he has just done everything he could to corrupt all four corners of american politics. >> yeah. we're in act five of a shakespearean tragedy or a greek tragedy where when you bought your ticket, you knew where this was going to end up. you know? hamlet's mother was not going to end up living a long life in a nice retirement home. you just knew hamlet was not going to reign in a peaceful way. this is the climax, i hope. let's be clear. it's only december 24th.
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so there's, what? 26 days to go. i think we have to be very vigilant about this, because this could -- it certainly, the beginning of the end, but it's still not all the way to the end yet for what he could do. one of the phrases i think we have to retire is not since nixon, or excepting nixon, comma. nixon declined to pardon bob halderman and john ehrlichman in august of late, in the term, august of 1974, and that was before presumably nix hadn't any idea he would be pardoned. so these were potential witnesses against him. which is an interesting element here. right? what the president's done is basically take and kind an elemental crime drama and brought it to life.
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where he has used all of his power to protect himself and those who put their own interests and very possibly the interests of a foreign power who let's not let this slip by in the holiday swirl, who just launch add significant, possibly historic cyber attack on our most valuable assets. this is who has done that. right? this is -- russia's not just a, you know, a sweet country somewhere. they are a rival and adversary, enemy, a foe. you know, we could argue about that the rett of tst of the day they're not our friends. and what was this about? this was about the still unknown. the still failed relationship and truth of the connection, potential connection, between donald trump and vladimir putin. >> yeah. >> yeah.
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>> and -- but -- >> oh, i'm sorry. i'm so sorry, willie. by the way, we did just find out about that hacking, and what did donald trump try to do? he tried to blame it on china. he tried to do anything he could to run cover for russia. we had the same thing happen in helsinki. asked a question, lemire, whether he trusts the intel agency. putin was trying to hack the u.s. in 2016. and interfere in our elections. he decided to go with the ex kgb agent instead of our intel community. say the same about the bounties this past summer when the news came out that vladimir putin was putting bounties on the heads of american troops for al qaeda to kill young u.s. servicemen and women. donald trump refused to condemn vladimir putin. that's where we are. russian hoax? not even close. and those words are going to
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hang around the heads of the trump apologists, on the pages of the "wall street journal," and the "national review" and every right-wing trump-loving publication that have tried to claim this to be a hoax for years. it will hang with these people forever. >> and in this case, joe, president trump in the case of the cyber attack has contradicted a come loyalists in mike pompeo and william barr saying, yes, looks like russia. the president casting doubt on that. andrew weisman, we said at the top one of the lead prosecutors in the mueller investigation, hours in rooms trying to win convictions of people like paul manafort who left after he was sentenced. what's your reaction to the news he's been pardoned? >> i was reminded of the comments of the one juror who spoke after the, after the trial in the eastern district of
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virginia, and that juror said it would be a mistake for the president to pardon paul manafort, and if you recall, that juror also was a trump supporter. she said she voted for trump, and she actually literally said that she left her maga hat in the car, because she swore an oath to, to defend the law, and follow the facts, and to render a fair and just verdict. and i think the big picture here is really not related just to manafort or stone or kushner. it's really to look at the abuse of the rule of law here. i mean, what president decides that of all of the thousands of people who are seeking pardons and commutations that corrupt politicians, corrupt law enforcements officials, people engaged in really serious civil rights abuses, that those are the most deserving people in the
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nation to receive a presidential pardon? this is really a president who has zero allegiance to the rule of law. >> yeah. and as you know, pardons created to right the wrongs in the judicial system. the not create new ones as he's done here. what about your investigation, andrew, as we follow corruption here of the pardons dangled? how clear are you a pardon was dangled to paul manafort and to roger stone and if they waited it out to the end, the end being yesterday, they would be pardoned? >> that's laid out in our report that there were pardons that were dangled. it was a huge problem in getting people to cooperate. you can see that roger stone never cooperated. the judge found and in sentencing him he committed his crimes for the president. with paul manafort the only explanation for his failed
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cooperation effort is that he was playing for a pardon. and what we saw yesterday was essentially the president, you know, carrying out the final act of an obstruction of justice. so to your point about, can the president currently be prosecuted for obstruction of justice? i think the answer is, yes. there's substantial evidence of that, and what he did yesterday is going to be proof of that obstruction, because it's really the final act that, you know, fulfills the promise of the dangled pardons. >> and so in -- andrew, get this quote, by looking up, by googling mitch mcconnell, mark ridge and get this from a hearing back in 2001 when republicans, oh, they were so offended. they were so offended by the
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mark ridge pardon's how could the republic continue? what mitch mcconnell said, well, the president alone possesses the power to pardon. it is important to remember that he is not personally exempt from federal law to prohibit corrupt actions of all government officials. mcconnell said, yeah. that's fine. he gave the pard ton mark ridge. great. he can do that legally, but if there's corrupt intent in it, he could be charged for something else. well, you guys found nine, ten examples of how donald trump likely committed obstruction of justice, but said you couldn't bring any charges against him, because he was president of the united states. what about these pardons? if he used these pardons for a corrupt purpose, to cover his tracks in a conspiracy that he was a part of, can the man not be brought up or charges after he leaves office? as mitch mcconnell suggests in 2001? even though it is a, an that
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can't he did while president of the united states? is mitch mcconnell right in 2001, that he could be found guilty of corruption on other charges? >> the answer to that question is, yes. starting on january 20th, 2021, when president trump is no longer the president, there is no longer a department of justice policy that prohibits indicting him, and the actions yesterday can be part of a charge that includes the obstruction of justice of the mueller investigation. and to relate this to mark rich it is important to note, that actually did lead to a federal investigation into what the attorney general and the president did. so there is precedent for this. the 7th district of new york sort of very famously contacted that investigation. so that's something that
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certainly can happen, as you know, and with the mueller investigation, the president could not be charged, but now that department of justice policy will be lapsing. so all of those issues are now going to be ripe for and sitting on the desk of the new attorney general whenever that person is named and confirmed. >> hmm. >> and since they've been pardoned, since they've had their, sentences commuted, can stone, roger stone and paul manafort, general flynn, can they not be dragged in front of a grand jury again and forced to testify? they can't incriminate themselves, they've already been pardoned. can they lie, you know they'll do, they can't help it. they lie. in their nature. they can be busted for perjury again and sent back to jail? is that a possibility? >> absolutely. so i'm glad you asked that,
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because you cannot be pardoned for future crimes. and each of those people, roger stone, paul manafort, michael flynn, has evidence in their head. they have information that a grand jury could seek. they can all be given grand jury subpoenas, required to testify in the grand jury. if they then lie before the grand jury, which is a new crime, and that happens after january 20th, there is no president trump at that point to, you know, give them a get out of jail free card, and so all of this effort by the president to shield, you know, his friends and allies and, you know, potential conspirators will be for naught, because all of these people can be in that trick box of being put before the grand jury where they either have to tell the truth or they risk being prosecuted for a new crime of perjury and obstruction
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of justice. >> andrew, one more as we go down the box of deplorables here that donald trump sleazily decided to pardon. mike flynn. here's a guy who, it seemed, you guys were investigating a kidnapping plot in the state of pennsylvania, where he was working with turkey to kidnap and to move out of the country a religious leader, who it was, was living in pennsylvania in exile. is it possible for the state of pennsylvania to investigate this crime and if there's enough evidence to indict in for kidnapping in the state of pennsylvania? >> so i'm not an expert in pennsylvania state law, but it is important to note that a federal pardon from the president has no effect whatsoever on state charges. so michael flynn, if he committed a state crime, could
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be prosecuted, but probably the big elephant in the room is the manhattan district attorney's office has a known public case, or investigation, into the president and his companies and even if we see, which i'm sure we will, the president pardon himself, and his companies and his family, that state prosecution will go forward and cannot be affected by anything that the president does with his pardon power. >> what have you guys -- how do you guys end up? your investigation on michael flynn and that kidnapping plot with turkey? i know you got paid a lot of money. did you come to the conclusion he was not a part of the kidnapping plot, or did you not have enough information in the end? >> oh, michael flynn, as part of his plea, he pled to lying to the fbi, but he admitted under
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oath to the court that he also engaged in a scheme to violate a statute called the foreign agents registration act, which was that he was lobbying for a foreign government, turkey, illegally in the united states, and that was part of the scheme that you are talking about. so he actually admitted that, that he did that. so if it turns out that is also a state crime, the state is going to be able to use those admissions that he made under oath to a federal judge in washington, d.c. as admissions by former general flynn. >> well, if it's part of the conspiracy to actually kidnap somebody, a refugee in the united states and send them back to be tortured in turkey, seems to me, mika, something you would expect an attorney general in pennsylvania to look into immediately.
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>> you would think. this is so sick. andrew weisman, thank you, so, so much for being on this morning. michael schmidt, talk about all of this. a couple of things to hit here. it appears that the vast majority of trump's pardons fit a narrative of wrirightin ining perceived wrongs. can you talk about that? sand where does this go next? i suppose he's dumb -- he is dumb, but not done, not done with this? >> if you leave at previous presidents, there were occasions where they gave out pardons and commutations for personal and political reasons. the mark rich, for example, sticks with president clinton, george h.w. bush, pardons around iran/contra. pardoning the defendants there. something that stuck to him. those were small slivers of the overall pardon pie of those presidents.
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as those presidents gave out dozens if not hundreds and hundreds of pardons and commutations to those who had gone through the justice department's system for applying for pardons. this is a system designed to create fairness in this process. we should all be looked at fairly under the law, whether it's at trial or afterwards, and pardons should be given out to those who deserve grace and mercy, and that's what that process was created for. but from the beginning, donald trump has ignored that process. he's worked completely outside of it, and as we have seen, as these pardons have piled up here now, i guess we're up to probably over 80, the president has almost exclusively done the opposite of other presidents, and there is a small sliver in the president's pardons that have gone to those who have gone through that justice department system, but the rule is that they go to those who have
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special connections to the president, who made their cases on fox news, who are celebrities, who are close to him or who help him personally and politically, and that's what we've seen. it's a very consistent pattern for someone who is inconsistent. the president can be sort of consistent, i guess someone who's predictable he can be sort of consistent in the way that he acts and these numbers have been tracked and the most recent one from this harvard law school professor jack goldsmith was 92% up until yesterday of the president's pardons and commutations and some sort of personal, political or crony connection to him. and it's hard not to look at the pardons from last night as part of that. >> and i guess one of the personal connections would have been jared kushner's father. i know that at one point there was reporting that trump was looking for pre-pardons for
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members of his family. where does that stand? and chris christie kind of laid it out. i mean, jared kushner's father and several of these people who were pardoned pled guilty. they admitted to the crimes they committed. so these pardons seem especially brazen, and in jared kushner's father's case, this was something from a long time ago, that trump was able to clear up for him. >> well, so the question here is, going forward is, how much further where the president go? and the particular question on that is, how far will that be in terms of interceding in cases that have not gone through the jury trial process. so most -- if all but a small portion of pardons and commutations that have been given in history have gone to people who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced nbc a
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sma -- in a small number of cases, presidents who put historically difficult issues behind us whether the nixon presidency, whether for draft dodgers or that was many, many years ago in the whiskey rebellion, presidents have taken the most extreme use of the presidential power to take away cases that have either not been charged or not been determined by a jury, but the question here will be, will the president do this for himself and for his children and rudy guiliani? none of them have been charged with crimes. giuliani himself was under investigation as of at least several months ago by the u.s. attorneys office in manhattan. you know, there was at least one of the president's children's contact was looked at in the mueller investigation. you know, as andrew weismann talked about in terms of the
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president's own contact. will the president, you know, essentially give, grant pre-pardons to himself and to his children and to giuliani? and legal experts largely believe that the president has the authority to do that, and can do that. the only price that he would pay would be potentially a political one. >> and none of us has any doubt he might do that. michael schmidt all over this story for the "new york times." mike, thanks so much. rev, to go back to a point andrew weismann made how ideally these pardons should be used i'm sure you all at the national action network have a long list of cases, of people sitting in jail on minor drug offenses or convicted on sketchy evidence, perhaps. i'm sure you've got a list you'd be happy to provide the white house, if they're handing out pardons like this. so what's your broad reaction, knowing donald trump the way you have for all of these years to these last acts in office he's taking?
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>> donald trump has really made a mockery of democracy. he's used the fact that he was elected president to continue schemes that are outright criminal, and to cover up those schemes using the pardons that were designed to try to correct things that may have been wrong. and i think we must also keep in mind that he did this while at the same time putting on hold for christmas the people that need some kind of relief during this pandemic. during covid-19. so let's look at how despicable this person is, how low in character he is. he says, i'm grog gawk to mess covid relief package going forward. have people sit around christmas day not knowing if they're going to get any relief at all, and i'm going to pardon every crook that has ever done business with
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me, related to me or could have put me in a compromising position. how's that for santa claus this year? because i think that if we lose fact, lose the fact that he has jammed up this covid relief at a time that he's unjammed his buddies, friends and fellow crimies, then we don't see how low this man could do. even those of us that know him and considered him low, he's brought the low bar to a lower bar now. >> well, do you think that's it? there's more. believe it or not, the reverend really laid it out there for the grinch who stole christmas. president trump made good on this threat to veto the annual defense spending bill yesterday, in his argument for rejecting the legislation, trump cited lawmakers refuse to repeal section 30. a law providing a legal shield to tech companies like facebook
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and twitter. he also complained that -- >> here it comes. >> -- provision force renaming of military bases that honor confederate leaders. both chambers of congress passed the act earlier this month with a veto-proof majority. >> so, jon meacham, let's get this straight. the president of the united states vetoed pay raises for our military men and women, for soldiers, for marines, for airmen. my gosh. and he did it all for, for sailors, and people in the guard, he did it all because of -- he talked about section 230, but he's been talking about these confederate names for some time. donald trump is willing to. >> yeah. >> to actually get rid of pay raises for men and women in uniform out of some loyalty to
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confederate generals like general bragg, one of the biggest losers in the civil war and was a pathetic general on the field anyway. he's -- he's -- he's holding a pay raise for our soldiers and marines and sailors hostage at christmastime in defense of a loser. >> yeah. i mean, we're fighting a real war against a virus, against enemies who are hacking our most valuable secrets, against the economic fallout, the genuine american carnage of the last four years coming out of the pandemic. here we are on the eve of one of the most sacred days in the christian and even in the secular calendar, and we are, yet again, in america, in white america, anyway, we are fighting the civil war, you know?
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welcome to a, the most dispiriting, ongoing struggle in american cultural and legal life. you know, the creation of the confederacy as this emblem of kind of supra sectional american valor, right? that's the argument. it's that, you know, these were soldiers who fought and -- well, maybe they weren't quite on the right side, but they fought so nobly and so well. all of that is a sociological that grew out of the attempt during reconstruction into the 20th century to remove the fact of race and slavery from what william seward called the irreplacement conflict, lincoln
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called the fiery trial of the civil war. what lincoln said in 1862 to congress and the nation we cannot escape history. what we do here will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. well, here we are in the latest generation, and we are still pretending, somehow, that our original sin, one of the two, the original sins in american life, african-american slavery and native american removal we are still pretending somehow the civil war was like brigadune. by the way, they wore jackets like willie's. i think that's fair to say. part of the costuming there. but this was lifted out of the context of the time, the context, the struggle over human liberty, and we started naming things for confederates, because white americans created this mythology that, well, this was a
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noble struggle. this was brother against brother. right? this wasn't about slavery. this wasn't about race. this was just an unpleasantness, but it was a valorous one. and it's just wrong. to honor confederate figures, to honor a confederate iconography is to honor those who took up arms to end the constitutional experiment toward a more perfect union. that gave us the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments and for all of its imperfections has served us at least until this hour better than worse. so the confederate stuff, i grew up 600 yards from braxton bragg's headquarters. if anybody wants to debate on this, i'm happy to. the civil war was about slavery, it was about racism to continue to honor those who took up arms against the united states is to honor those who would have divided a nation that then could
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not, for instance, have projected the power it did against adolf hitler. >> you know, willie, even generals in the pentagon today support the renaming of these bases. this is a -- >> yeah. >> -- they believe it would be best for military unity, for military readiness, for the truth. they want this. this isn't -- this isn't, hey, some rogue movement. the people who run the united states military want this done, asked for this to be done, and you have donald trump playing, again, just -- just to the lowest of low instincts in cultural wars actually -- he's actually, say it again, on christmas eve, he is cutting pay raises for our men and women in uniform over something where he
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thinks he might pick up one or two points in a cultural war. >> yeah. i mean, he's choosing, as jon said, figures from the confederate army, generals from the confederate army of, you know, how long ago, over active duty members of the military today. waiting not only for a pay raise but veterans also waiting for benefits that were included in this bill. he's hearing from republicans as well. it's wild. to your point about the culture war, do you think donald trump could name three confederate generals? once you get bas robert e. lee? do you think he really cares about this? do you think he's really invested in this? do you think he really believes this is important? or, has he heard about it from a few people on fox, read about it somewhere online? has somebody told him about it and planted this bug in his ear? he's playing to a tiny sliver of the country a story of his presidency, and this time doing it at the expense of our men and women in the military. it's outrageous. and then there is this chaos
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around the president's unhappynesses with the bipartisan covid relief bill. house republicans today will reject democrats proposal to unanimously raise the stimulus checks in the bill to $2,000, which is something the president has now said he wants. bring in senior writer of politico, co-author of playbook jake sherman, an msnbc political contributor. jake, as we sat here 48 hours ago, wasn't quite popping the champaign but everybody thought, deal it done. just get the president to sign it. here we sit now on christmas eve, two days away from the expiration of many unemployment benefits and the original c.a.r.e.s. act. where are we? >> we're nowhere. absolutely nowhere. the president is, we're not only two days away from the expiration of critical social safety net programs, willie. we're four days away from a government-wide shutdown. the government shuts down on monday, and the president has decided he's walking in to this negotiation eight months late.
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he has decided that he doesn't like the deal that his administration has cut for him. he says there's too much foreign spending on things he doesn't like. by the way, things he requested. he doesn't like the size of the check. $6. >> man: -- $600. he wants $2,000. he could have had $2,000 if he was awake and alert to the reality around him. i mean, i am -- four years into this administration, i have been befuddled and angry at the operations of our government, let's say. this is just unlike anything i've ever seen, and i -- i don't know what's going to happen. i would say it's likely, i think we have to conclude it's likely that the president is going to shut down the government on monday. he seems unwilling to sign this. he wants them to renegotiate a compromise that has been eight months in the making and do things that are not possible for
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congress to do and this is all, willie, our anger, because his party will not take the election from joe biden. that's abundantly clear. there's no real policy difference here. i mean, republicans are coming out saying, if you didn't want this why did you request it? anyway, i'm going to be up in the capitol today. republicans are going to block the democrats ask for $2,000 checks. democrats are going to block a republican ask and then we're going to be here on monday, in the capitol, less than 24 hours from a shutdown, unless the president wakes up and signs the bill that his administration negotiated. >> well, the president, as you say, has been preoccupied the last month and a half overturning results of the election. woke up to it a couple days ago, woke up, said i'm not signing this. the checks have to be $2,000. what leverage have mitch mcconnell have here? said to be most powerful man in washington. can he do something? will he just let benefits expire
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and these people won't have money through the holidays because they couldn't get it done? >> well, i don't know what he's going to do, because everyone besides donald trump -- put it this way. everyone including donald trump has agreed to this bill to do many great things for the american people in a time of extreme hardship. so i'm not sure what nancy pelo pelosi, mitch mcconnell or any of these people could do. mitch mcconnell likes to say, for a bill to become law it needs to have the president's signature. if the president doesn't sign this bill they can't overturn a veto. he's clearly not interested in vetoing it pro actively. he just seems interested in inflicting pain and i don't know how as a congress, as a congress, as a legislature, as elected leader, they will get out of this when there's a president in the white house not operating with any sense of logic. no logic here, no plan and dangerously, willie, nobody around him i can find with a
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damn clue what he's thinking or what he's doing, and who's advising him. >> now, i'm going to say what i said yesterday, mika. it's a shame. it is a real shame, that the 25th amendment was done away with. >> well --. it wasn't you. >> seemed to be like the thing to do in 2013. i think i remember, that's when everybody got together and -- and got rid of it, or else, of course, they would have used it by now, because it could be used even in a temporary way. >> a long time ago. >> there's a 25, 8 members of the cabinet and majority members in one house go ahead and -- and go along with the 25th amendment, back when it was on the books it would allow, not to take the president out of office, but just to transfer power to the vice president for 25 days, which, of course, would be the exact amount america would need to survive this madness. but, of course, they -- hold on one second. >> yeah.
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no. there is one. >> they didn't repeal it? >> nope. it's sitting right there for them to use. >> are you sure? okay. >> the problem is -- haven't gotten rid of anybody? >> why aren't they using it? worried about a war with iran. he's actually -- he's cut, he's not -- he's going to let the government shut down. he's going to, for no reason at all. he's killing this covid bill. champion he wasn't even involved in. he's, of course, not going to allow our soldiers and sailors and marine and airmen and members of the guard be taken care of. >> yeah. >> and as jake just said, nobody knows why. well, he's now -- just all come down to spite. he's -- he's saber rattling a possible war with iran is on the horizon over the next month. you just sit and wait and see. seems to me that, you know, a little cooling off period might not be a bad idea. >> the problem is he's surrounded by incompetence.
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people he can push around and they wouldn't even think of this. for some reason. it a couple of things. one to jake's point inflicting pain on americans suffering through this pandemic, i would like to just bring up, as we should every day, these numbers that are growing. 320,000 people dead and we're sitting here having the president teeter on whether or not to give people money and how much and destroying the process to make it take longer, to get aid and relief to the people who desperately need it. but, jake, also, will congress override the president's veto of the defense bill? because that was another stunner. >> yeah. better than even chance. i mean, you know, i'll say this, and i don't put much stock where the republican party is vis-a-vis trump. this makes it real easy for the republican party to say, you know what? we don't need this guy anymore. i don't think they will and not
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naive enough after four years to think they'll split from him in a real way. i will say this -- in the vast majority of members of congress, they are in support of the nbaa has passed for 59 consecutive years. seen as a must-ask piece of legislation moved through the congress without much controversy the last six decades. listen, i think it's -- you know, i really don't have a good answer, but as of last week the white house thought and people were making the case to the president that he was going to lose on this and why is he setting himself up for a loss? just one more quick point. the president seems intent on losing on his way out the door. losing on nbaa, losing on the election challenge losing on this covid and stimulus bill. he could take credit for checks in people's mailbox end. year. instead, doesn't do this, joe biden's going to get into the white house and be able to sign a big covid relief deal and say, look. that guy couldn't get it for
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you. he refused. now i'm the guy getting you checks. like, politics 101. get out of your own way and take victories. i just -- it doesn't make a damn bit of sense to me right right >> jake sherman, thank you. you're not alone. merry christmas, thank you so much for being on the show this morning. still ahead on "morning joe," coronavirus hospitalizations in the u.s. are hitting record highs. while more and more americans are getting vaccinated, health officials say the shots aren't being given out as quickly as projected. we'll have the very latest on that. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. tremfya® helps adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis uncover clearer skin that can last. in fact, tremfya® was proven superior to humira® in providing significantly clearer skin. serious allergic reactions may occur. tremfya® may increase your risk of infections
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as we've now seen so clearly, the scourge of
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coronavirus impacts all segments of our country from older americans in nursing homes to so many students stuck in limbo. as nbc's rehema ellis reports, there is also a heavy price being paid by the mothers and fathers of young children. >> i'm not a kid anymore, and i knew once this happened i was going to be the one taking care of my brother. >> reporter: his brother, certa 17-year-old e.j. is autistic and was living with their mother in a shelter. when she died from covid, cason took charge. >> have you become your brother's legal guardian? >> yes, i have. we've been in foster care before and i know that i didn't want him to go back. >> reporter: a nonprofit agency in new york city that provides free support services to children in foster care --
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>> potentially apart from his brother, the only family he has left. >> reporter: new york city officials say at least eight children have been placed in foster care because their parents died from covid. statewide a report found about 4,000 children lost their parents because of the virus, with hundreds of thousands dead from the disease, the toll on families is profound. but official numbers don't exist. in tampa, 20-year-old johanna and her twin sister care for their 14-year-old brother after their father died of covid. >> he was our only parent. our mom passed away six years ago. he raised us to be caring people, and not to be selfish. that if someone else needs help, you help them. >> reporter: outside of detroit, iraqi immigrant 20-year-old nash ishmael gets help from a family
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friend, caring for his 19 and 14-year-old sisters, after both parents died of the virus. youngest sister nancy told our nbc affiliate in detroit what she misses most about her parents. >> everything. everything. >> reporter: several area businesses along with local police are helping the family with christmas gifts and decorations. back in new york, the brothers have a renewed commitment to each other. >> do you think you're doing what your mom and dad would want you to do? >> they have always said that me and e.j. would most likely be together for the rest of our lives. i wouldn't leave this kid alone for anything in the world. >> do you feel your big brother is going to be with you always? >> nothing is going to separate us, nothing. >> reporter: a sacred promise forged in loss, facing the future alone, together. >> joining us now, pediatric surgeon and founder of the black doctors covid-19 consortium, dr.
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ala stanford and "morning joe's" chief medical correspondent dr. dave campbell. good to have you both on board this morning. dr. stanford, the impact on children who are isolated and alone and even those who haven't lost loved ones, just reading op-eds by parents who are just at a loss as to what to do, everyone is talking about the vaccine but that is months away. we're looking at months of a severe impact on young people. can you talk about that? >> absolutely. and thanks for having me. the best thing that i child could have is security. you know, kids don't know that they're poor and they're missing anything until someone points it out or they feel it. so just letting them know that a person -- and the stories you had on there were very encouraging. that a person, whomever that might be, is going to be with them and they're going to be okay. regarding the vaccine, the fact
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that 16 and up can receive it is a step in the right direction. i know pfizer has already started talking about doing younger, now 12 to 16 in trials. i know at cincinnati children's hospital, they have started with the trials for the vaccine. so it's coming and it's promising that the side effects are minimal as you try to move them into the younger age groups. but the best thing you can do for children is just reassure them. if the parents or guardian have faith and believe that it will be okay, that will trickle to the children. >> dr. dave, we'll talk a little about the vaccine with you in a moment but there is this new variant of the virus that's being reported about in the uk, has many on edge because it's far more contagious if that's possible. where do we stand with information on that, and whether or not it is in the united states? >> mika, what we know so far is
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that there have been no cases identified, at least that i'm aware of today in the united states. this is a mutation that affects the virus. it's not the first mutation, by the way. this coronavirus like all viruses mutate over time. this one happens to increase the transmissability of the virus maybe up to 70%. and while it's in the uk, it's also in some other european countries. and given the volume of people that travel back and forth from the uk and from europe, a lot of experts think that it could very well be here in the united states, we just haven't found it yet. so while the united states has not yet put in place travel restrictions like some of the other european countries have, it's a wait-and-see game right now for that type of travel restriction that may mitigate this particular mutation. although it won't be the last,
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mika. >> no. >> dr. stanford, you know, we've had a lot of public health experts on this show the last couple of weeks with the great news about the pfizer vaccine being made available -- oh, we lost her. okay. dr. dave, do we still have dr. dave? so, dave, as we've been talking to public health experts about this, you know, warranted excitement about the pfizer vaccine, warranted excitement about the moderna vaccine but also tempered by, okay, not everybody is obviously getting it right out of the gate. as you look at the horizon of how the distribution and the giving of the vaccine is going to be given here, how do you see it happening? in other words, when do healthy people begin to say, okay, yeah, i've got a shot in my arm and we can feel a little bit better as a country about sort of mixing and mingling again? >> this is one of those good news/bad news stories. we are as of a couple of days
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ago, i think it was yesterday, at 1 million people in the united states had been vaccinated. the hope was that 20 million would have been vaccinated by the end of the year. that's obviously not going to happen. but we have both of the pfizer and moderna vaccines shimmed. i'm actually getting the moderna vaccine today. and by february, there is great hope that the johnson & johnson vaccine will get emergency use authorization. that is a one dose vaccination. so as we move into the later parts of this what will be a horrendous next couple months of winter, we can look to the great news that we will be seeing more and more vaccinations. to speak to your question specifically, it looks like spring and summer is when the experts are telling us that the general population will be opened up to have vaccinations. we can hope that that will be
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sooner, but realistically there's a few more long months ahead before those that aren't health care workers, those that are not older people, not in nursing homes or essential workers will start to be able to and on the list for vaccinations, willie. >> doctor, a lot of the concerns has been about making sure that the areas that have been most impacted, something that you've been raising being part of black doctors. to your knowledge has there been a strategy put in place to make sure that those areas that have been disproportionately impacted are the areas also that get access to the vaccine and at the same time black doctors like you and like dr. rice at morehouse and others are able to deal with those that are still skeptical in those communities, particularly the black community, about taking a
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vaccine at all? because you have the double challenge of do we get access that is anywhere near the level of our suffering and are we going to deal with the fact that many of us based on history have some real apprehensions about the vaccines in the first place. >> yes, thank you so much for the question, reverend. so, first of all, in philadelphia i serve on the vaccine advisory committee and it is our job to come up with the prioritization of whom should receive the vaccine first. obviously in philly we've tested over 20,000 people, primarily african-american, that did not have access because of the barriers that are present. so rest assured on that committee i am the voice, the advocate, to make sure those who need the vaccine receive it. each state and city is different, even across the commonwealth of pennsylvania, which is challenging because we've had sort of no mandate, no
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leadership across the united states to say this is who should get it. the recommendations come from the cdc immunization program, which are recommendations. if i had an opportunity to say to states across the commonwealth look at your data, because it is changing daily, it's fluid. look at the hospitalizations, because everyone is pointing to 65 and up. what we know in philadelphia is that the 35 to 55, those face front employees who are out here keeping the country growing, they are the ones being hospitalized. they may not be dying, but they cannot return as productive members because they are the long haulers of covid. and dr. rice, whom i admire greatly, the hbcus, the national medical association have formed coalitions to work on and be independent observers and have a voice. and for african-americans and
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for everyone, the question you need to ask yourself is, is there more risk in me getting coronavirus or is there more risk in me taking the vaccine? and that's an individual choice. but for most of us the vaccine is the safer of the two. i received mine a week ago now and am doing well and glad that i did. looking forward to better days, sir. >> yeah, really are, dr. ala stanford and dr. dave campbell, thank you both very much for being on this morning. we want to frame out the major political stories playing out on this christmas eve morning. donald trump is pardoning his cronies, but that's where the forgiveness may end, especially for the millions of americans left in a lurch by the president's erratic and destructive behavior. he issued pardons for people like paul manafort and roger stone, but vetoed a military pay raise for american troops.
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the same people he reportedly called losers and suckers. now republican members of congress are scrambling to deal with the carnage left by a president who they spent years defending, despite the cost to their own reputations and damage to this american democracy. let's bring in national political reporter for nbc news, josh lederman traveling with the president in florida. josh, what's on tap for today? >> well, with these two major batches of pardons and commutations in the last three days, mika, the president has effectively sent a message that there are two standards of justice in the united states. one for regular people and one for those who are politically connected to president trump. with these latest pardons, including roger stone and paul manafort, the president has also erased the most significant convictions that former special counsel bob mueller was able to obtain in the russia investigation. of course previous presidents
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have faced criticism in the past for pardoning people who were connected to them. president clinton got some heat for pardoning marc rich and his brother-in-law, but the difference is that those were minority situations, whereas the majority of the pardons the president is now granting are political allies of his. in some cases like those of manafort and roger stone, people who declined to cooperate with federal investigators as part of investigations involving the president, which raises the prospect that the president was essentially dangling the possibility of a pardon as those individuals were weighing whether or not to cooperate with investigators. of course the process that takes place for pardons is fairly laid out. it goes through the justice department, there's a whole review process, but the majority of these, they have circumvented that process. instead people individually lobbying the president to give them clemency at their desire. now, this comes as the president is also throwing another major wrench into washington and the
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actions of congress by vetoing the national defense bill, which has passed for something like six decades without any break. that is raising the prospect that the president for the first time in his term will have his veto overridden. of course that all depends on whether republicans vote the same way they did in overwhelmingly passing that vote or whether some of them now break away because of these comments from the president. he arrived here in florida last night where he will be vacationing for the next week or so. he has nothing on his schedule, but i want to show you one interesting thing that they put on his public schedule today. normally it just lays out the events that he has. but there was a note added today. president trump will continue to work tirelessly for the american people. his schedule includes many meetings and calls. an unusual note that doesn't exactly tell us who he's meeting with, but they insist he'll be busy. >> very, very busy. nbc's josh lederman, thank you very much. appreciate that. let's bring in former white house counsel to president obama
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and senior advisor for the biden campaign, bob bauer, and former assistant attorney general and special counsel to the defense department in the george w. bush administration, jack goldsmith. they are the authors of "after trump, reconstructing the presidency." they have recently written a column in "the new york times" on how to reform the presidency after the wreckage of trump. >> jack, let's begin with you. what's the best approach on reforming the pardon process? >> well, it's a tough one because the constitution gives the president a very hard and broad power. there are two avenues to reform. one is through congress and the reforms there can take -- can do a couple of things. the main thing congress can do is to clarify that the president can in fact commit a crime,
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obstructing justice on issuing a pardon. there's unclarity about this in the law. many of the pardons that have been issued by trump with the mueller investigation are arguely dangling pardons. congress could clarify that. congress could also clarify that self-pardons which i expect to happen in the next month are not -- that won't be the final word, it would be in court. but if congress weighs in, they can take steps to advance the argument that those are illegal. beyond that, most of the pardons trump has issued fall within the pardon and you'd need a constitutional reform. >> jack goldsmith, in terms of reconstructing the presidency, where would you begin and would there be changes surrounding the appointment and the relationship between the attorney general and
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the president? >> yes. that's at the top of our list. the reason for that is that it's been really degraded under the trump administration. there's a two-part strategy here. there are a lot of things that can be done inside the executive branch, which obviously is easier to do than getting congress onboard. things like clarifying the norms and bucking up the norms and clarification of justice laws do apply to subordinate officials in the justice department. but there are also important things that congress can do like, as i just said a second ago, clarifying that the president can in fact obstruct justice, can be prosecuted for bribes, things like that. beyond that, which goes to the justice department/white house relationship, the two things that should be at the top of the congressional agenda are reverting to the norms that prevailed before trump on tax disclosure and conflict of interest. these things have been governed
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by norms and we propose and this is fairly low-hanging fruit that congress has a law. we think there can be a bipartisan consensus. the second thing is to close some loopholes to criminalize and make sure that it's illegal to basically have a relationship with a foreign government to collude in influencing the election. >> bob bauer, we're talking about reforming the wreckage of this presidency. let's take a step back and assess that wreckage. what do you see as left behind by president trump when he leaves office on january 20th, particularly in the justice department? >> he famously said he didn't understand why he couldn't tell the department what to do. he didn't understand why he couldn't intervene for political purposes and prosecutions. he spoke about wanting his attorney general and publicly berated his attorney general and others in his administration and in the department of justice for not prosecuting his political
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enemies. it has had the effect of severely demoralizing the department. there has obviously been unrest within the department about what he has done, to the perception of its impartiality and the independence of its prosecutorial function. so we suggest a series of reforms, both external and internal to repair that wreckage. this all flows from a sense that he's had that his presidency is one that can expand almost boundlessly article 2 authority, that he could be a strong man president who works his will in every direction, can run a business while also running the government, can use the government to promote his business, can refuse to release his tax returns. of course that's just one of a number of things i think for which this presidency will become notorious. >> and what safeguard do we put in place to stop corrupt attorney generals from coming in in the future and committing the sort of acts that william barr committed? i suppose we should be grateful
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that he didn't completely destroy the republican madisonian democracy in his final weeks and i'm sure they'll probably put laurels on his head in "the wall street journal." i even saw jeb bush praising him, which talk about a bitter disappointment for a guy that you respect praising that guy, the sleaziest attorney general in u.s. history, far sleazier than john mitchell. but what do we do? donald trump the last two weeks of the campaign was asking barr to arrest his political opponent. no president should have the power to appoint an attorney general who might just do that. how do we turn the attorney general into somebody more than just an extension of the president of the united states? what reform can we put in place? >> there are some limits to what you can do to restrict the sort of person that the president appoints and that the senate might confirm to be attorney
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general. we do propose a reform that at a minimum, and it has many, many years ago something like this was proposed, to make it impossible for the president to appoint just as a matter of qualification a candidate for attorney general who has previously been the head of the president's campaign, the head of a political party, the head of a political committee that supported the president. this may have narrow impact but is part and parcel of a package of reforms, both external and internal that are necessary to create norms, expectations, public pressures, and that could cause a congress to refuse to confirm an attorney general who does not appear committed to the values that we think are so important in the department of justice. >> bob bauer and jack goldsmith, thank you so much for being on the show this morning. and now this, a barrage of rockets were fired at the u.s. embassy in baghdad, iraq, on sunday, killing at least one civilian. yesterday the top u.s. military
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commander in the middle east confirmed to "the wall street journal" that it was 21 rockets making it the largest attack against baghdad's heavily fortified green zone since 2010. no group claimed responsibility for the attack, but in a statement, the u.s. central command said it was, quote, almost certainly the work of iranian-backed militias. president trump yesterday warned iran of retaliation, even tweeting pictures of three rockets that failed to launch, saying, quote, some friendly health advice to iran. if one american is killed, i will hold iran responsible. think it over. the rocket attack comes just weeks before the one-year anniversary of the u.s. assassination of iran's top military commander, today sem soleimani. iran denies responsibility for last sunday's attack. still ahead on "morning joe"
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more on how to reform things in washington after trump leaves office. our next two guests are laying out what senate republicans might be willing to embrace once joe biden is president, and mitch mcconnell's role in getting it all done. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. trelegy for copd. ♪ birds flyin' high, you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ breeze drifting on by you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ it's a new dawn... if you've been taking copd sitting down, it's time to make a stand. start a new day with trelegy. no once-daily copd medicine has the power to treat copd in as many ways as trelegy. with three medicines in one inhaler, trelegy helps people breathe easier and improves lung function. it also helps prevent future flare-ups. trelegy won't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems.
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22 past the hour. a live look at the white house on this christmas eve. conflicting internal memos may have created confusion inside the trump white house about departure procedures. on tuesday night an email was sent to white house staffers telling them that they would start to leave their jobs after january 4th. but the next day, they were told to disregard that memo.
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based on emails obtained by "the new york times," the second memo to staffers read, quote, please disregard the below message. updated information will be shared in the coming days. oh, boy. let's bring in republican strategist and senior advisor to the lincoln project, susan del percio and long-time media executive, editor at large at "newsweek" and cnbc founder and contributor tom rogers. together they have a new piece for "newsweek" entitled "a path to reform, make mcconnell a teammate." and in it you both write in part this. during the next four years, the senate will look to hold the biden administration accountable, and many republican senate committee chairs will be looking to score points off the biden administration. there are three areas where reform-minded house democrats and biden harassment-minded senate republicans might agree. enforcement of congressional
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subpoenas, protection of government whistleblowers, and transparency by government officials to avoid conflicts of interest. it is a long road ahead to put in place all the necessary reforms, but we can only make strides by getting leader mcdonnell and senate republicans to be teammates in the effort. >> well, tom, it really makes sense for them to be teammates, doesn't it? if you look at the demographics, if you look at where we've moved as a country, you know, we've been predicting for some time the demographic changes were going to eventually move north carolina, georgia, texas, arizona, in the democrats' direction. it certainly got georgia and arizona in that direction. and it's going to get harder and harder for republicans to win the white house. so wouldn't now be a perfect time with a democrat in charge and with democrats looking like they're in a powerful position for the foreseeable future to
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get democrats to agree to some of these executive branch reforms? >> absolutely. i think it's a perfect time, whether mcconnell and the republicans are in control of the senate after georgia or not to get something through the senate. it's going to require republicans and democrats working together. there are a number of things when you're a republican senator looking at a democratic administration that you're going to want to make sure you have some power that they didn't really care about when trump was in the white house. it all starts with getting sunshine where it's most needed in the darkest corners of what happened in the trump administration. you've got to know where to apply the reform disinfectant. and subpoenas should be flying now from the house, not because anybody in the trump administration is going to comply with handing over emails
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or documents or servers, but to let them know that nobody better destroy things as they're leaving the white house in the next few weeks. make sure that they know they can be criminally prosecuted if they do destroy and making sure that all that's available so that reform can begin to be applied. and the congressional subpoena area is just one critical place where the republicans and the democrats should be able to come together in congress and say we have to restore some balance here between congress and the executive branch. trump ignored subpoenas, witnesses ignored subpoenas. when they tried to challenge it in the courts, those cases went on and on and on as if they were any civil litigant coming to the courts for a decision. that just makes no sense if you're going to have a real balance of power and subpoenas from congress and the investigative authority of congress to mean something. so you need a fast track congressional subpoena process
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right to the court of appeals. give the court of appeals two weeks to make a decision. if they're going to appeal to the supreme court, have a statutory requirement, the supreme court rule within 30 days. none of this being able to ignore congressional authority and the oversight that you need with enforcement of subpoenas. >> they have absolutely ignored any type of oversight. susan del percio, along with your thoughts on this, what do you make of the email that white house staffers have received that say -- the first email saying this is your date of departure or date of preparation for departure and then all of a sudden, no, no, no, disregard that until further notice. >> well, it just shows how disorganized and incompetent this white house is, which goes to tom's point about issuing those subpoenas as soon as possible so they also don't start shredding the documents. you know, the best way to get elected officials to do anything is to prove it's in their self-interests. and the subpoena power is one that should be appealing to
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senators. so is the idea of putting criminal sanctions if you interrupt whistle-blowers and prevent them from coming forward. another area where republicans were always very for the whistle-blower practice and protecting them, and now as people may come forward under a biden administration, they should welcome that protection. again, this is about moving forward. donald trump showed us where our vulnerabilities were, but he'll be gone. we need to move forward and strengthen our powers within our democracy, within the executive and the legislative branch, and allow work to move forward in a bipartisan nature, even if it's just the littlest, littlest bit of some really smart reforms. >> tom, as you know, among many democrats, some of them serving in the congress, there is
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political bloodlust over the last four years, which is to say that mitch mcconnell and other republicans standing by the president is unforgivable and they want payback for that. how do you restore order to the senate? how do you restore order to congress and get people working together again after the disruption, to put it mildly, of the last four years? >> well, this is common ground. democrats want these reforms. they have been saying throughout the trump administration that you can't allow a president to do what donald trump did, and here's the opportunity to work with mcconnell, who has the incentive of holding a democratic administration feet to the fire to say, you know what, now we'd like these things. we've been fighting you for four years, but now we agree. and, you know, it's obviously highly partisan. i'm sure there are many people coming into the biden administration who wouldn't want to hand over reforms like this
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to republican senate, if that's the way the outcome in georgia goes. but this is -- this is the opportunity. and if we let this pass, these reforms are never going to happen. the idea that the kind of conflicts of interest that a president had with his hand out and his own hotel where foreign governments and lobbyists could pour money into his pocket and something like that could be sustained, i don't think we can simply pass laws forbidding something like that because we have this whole question can you prosecute a president. we need a conflict of interest commission. three democrats, three republicans, put it in place, make sure it can't atrophy like the federal election commission did when people aren't appointed. make sure it can function under all circumstances. and if it can't criminally prosecute, you can sure as hell give it authority to fine, to
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sanction, to discourage profits, to force divestment. those are the kinds of things that i think we can get republicans and democrats in congress to say, hey, look, we both are going to want to hold the opposite party administration feet to the fire, here's our opportunity to do it without donald trump being there resisting and the republicans standing by it. >> and now is the perfect time to do it, again, with all of the abuses of donald trump's presidency. in the rear-view mirror where everybody can see and remember all the things he did. mitch mcconnell and republicans in the senate don't want the biden administration or future administrations to ignore every one of their subpoenas to the executive branch the way that donald trump ignored all the democrats' subpoenas. so, again, now is a wonderful time, reverend al, with republicans knowing that the democrats are going to be
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running the white house for, you know, the next four years and most likely well beyond that. for democrats and republicans to get together and tighten up the restrictions on any president, because, again, i could be wrong, i've been wrong before, but it is far more likely that we're going to have a biden administration followed four years from now by a harris administration or elizabeth warren administration and who knows, eight to 12 years from now by an aoc administration, a lot of democrats could be sitting in the white house for a long time to come. this is the republicans' chance to work with democrats and reform the executive branch, actually make the executive branch respond to congressional subpoenas. >> you are right. and if they want to in any way,
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they being the republicans, to upset that trajectory that you just raised of going now to harris and go now to -- behind harris aoc, a litany of democratic presidents, if they want to stop that trajectory, they're going to have to restore the integrity and get the stench of trump off of the republican party. doing this with reforms would help to kind of baptise them as new people that are standing up for what is right in a democratic process and in the country. it's something they need to do and democrats should not look like they would fight it because in the aftermath of trump they should not look like we want to be able to do the same thing trump does. susan, you raised about self-interest. wouldn't that be part of the self-interest of republicans and democrats to try to act as
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though we're not like the stench of the political skunk that just left the white house? >> that's so well put, rev. by the way, i'm looking forward to joining you on sunday at the revvies, sunday night at 5:00. >> i look forward to it. >> it's such a great point about needing to remove the stench of trump. look no further with what he did with this last veto. you can't play ball with donald trump, even if you're a republican, he'll throw you under the bus. i happen to think that a lot of republicans, including mitch mcconnell, will look forward to going back to, you know, normal order and getting things back on track. and there are some new incoming republicans who will be very happy to take a vote for reform. it will help i wouldn't say rebrand them given what some of the republicans or the majority of the republicans in office now have done in supporting trump, but it certainly gives them an avenue to say we are looking to
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work to move our country forward, especially in a time that we're in a public health crisis, an economic crisis. it would be reassuring to the public if they could just agree on anything and show that we can function and govern again. that's the most important thing about these reforms. not only does it put in place, as far as not letting the executive branch go out of control, but it does reinstate faith for the american public that we are once again a nation that governs by regular order. >> and reverend al sharpton, susan mentioned the revvie awards. tell us about them. >> well, every year i've been doing for ten years now where at the end of the year we give the best and the worst of the year in politics, in culture, across the board. so this sunday night at 5:00 for "politicsnation" we'll have the revvie awards and on the panel
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will be susan, ali velshi is on the panel, joy reid is on the panel so it's a banner year for the tenth revvie awards. i look forward to doing it. we get dressed up, we wear a tux. >> but only one hour? this has been quite a year. tom and susan, thank you. we'll be right back with much more "morning joe" on this christmas eve morning. ♪ rub your palms,
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♪ welcome back to "morning joe" on a bit of a drizzly christmas eve morning. 7:40 a.m. in times square. the nba tipped off a new season on tuesday night with each team set to play a 72-game regular
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season schedule outside now of that protective bubble in orlando that housed teams last season in order to mitigate the risk of coronavirus infection. two days in, the league already has called off its first game because of the pandemic. the nba postponed last night's season opener in houston where the rockets originally were scheduled to host the oklahoma city thunder but could not field the required minimum of eight players in uniform because of covid protocol violations along with some positive and inconclusive tests. another group of players quarantined for contact tracing. coming up next, a look at this year's college football playoff contenders after a season-long battle against opponents and of course against the pandemic. the master himself, paul finebaum of espn radio, joins us for that conversation, next.
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♪ welcome back to "morning joe." the four college football playoff contenders are set and ready for kickoff on new year's day. top ranked alabama and number four notre dame return to a playoff berth despite a loss in the acc championship game on saturday will meet in the rose bowl which has been moved from its historic venue in southern california to at&t stadium in arlington, texas, because of coronavirus concerns. that game will be followed by number two clemson and third ranked ohio state selected after playing only six games this season. they'll get together in the sugar bowl in new orleans, joe. so i guess the only controversy here, joe, is with that fourth slot. notre dame got it despite losing to clemson, but they only have one loss and it was to clemson, the second best team in the country, so they have got a strong case there. >> you knew it was going to happen, though. notre dame always gets the
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benefit of the doubt. it's just the alabama guy in me. i still haven't forgiven the a.p. for what they did to alabama in 1977 when we won 35-10 over ohio state, were the number two team and they jumped texas from five to one beating an average notre dame team. but, you know, we're not -- in tuscaloosa, we don't have long memories. we don't remember those sort of things. but let's bring in right now long-time sports talk radio host known by many as the leading sports authority in the south and the voice of the s.e.c., he's also got incredible tv show, paul finebaum. he's the host of "the paul finebaum show." and it's on -- you can see him on s.e.c. network and also on espn radio. so, paul, i was watching notre dame get drubbed, knocked all over the field. by the way, i was rooting for them. i was calling bob costa every three seconds because now clemson has taken the place of auburn or notre dame for me. i want clemson to lose.
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i don't care who they're playing against, i just want them to lose. and if dabo comes and coaches tuscaloosa in tuscaloosa, i'll become an ole miss fan. that's how much i hate clemson right now. i think i speak for all of alabama fans when i say that. they cannot beat us this year. all that said, paul, there's no way notre dame belongs in the top four. isn't that a&m's position? >> joe, really both choices were not good, so i think it was the lesser of two evils. but the college football season, the fact that we're talking about the playoffs is almost a miracle. as you know, what everyone had to go through to get to the finish line. but, joe, could i -- i know in congress you appeal to the speaker for 30 seconds. could you yield me 30 seconds here so i could say something to willie and everyone else in
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america? >> the gentleman from alabama is yielded 30 seconds. >> i'm bracing myself, paul. yes, go ahead. >> alabama folks right now may not be thrilled with joe scarborough, but i really believe that all your friends in alabama owe you a debt of gratitude, because 13 years ago, willie, you've heard me talk about this with you and others in the inner circle have, but joe scarborough did something that changed college football and changed the dynamics of where we are today. joe scarborough wrote an op-ed in the birmingham news excoriating the administration in tuscaloosa for hiring a bunch of losers and he demanded that they display excellence. he gave them two choices, steve spurrier or nick saban. he came on our program and enunciated that. and they followed his lead, willie. 13 years later, everyone in college football, they don't
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hate dabo swinney, they should hate joe scarborough, because you brought nick saban from the miami dolphins to the university of alabama. and the college football world has never been the same because nick saban did something for folks watching for folks watching who don't follow college football, he went to alabama who had previously had the greatest coach in college football history, paul bear bryant, and now nick saban is considered that. the fact that anybody could supplant bryant is remarkable, that anybody could replace bryant and supplant him at the university of alabama as the greatest coach of all time is even more incredible, so alabamaians send a christmas card to joe scarborough this christmas, he deserves it. >> that's awful ly nice, paul, the basic argument was -- and you can explain this better -- this is not just about alabama. this is about any college football program or any white house or any southern baptist church or any school, my argument was very simple. they had about 47 hanger onners
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who had touched the cloak of bear bryant. i loved bear, seriously, and if leroy jordan decided one day he was pissed off at a coach, the coach had to go and bow and scrape and scrape to leroy jordan or you could name 30 other people who were just like that, and my argument was simple. get a guy like saban who's tough as hell, who's not going to listen to anybody, who's going to go in and he answers to the president of the university, and that's it. and a guy like saban will go to the president of the university, oh, you don't like what i'm doing? okay, fine, i'll leave, but of course he hasn't left because they let one man run that program, and what a difference, paul. you're right, it's made a huge difference, and nobody would say it 13 years ago. >> what's interesting, joe, is a lot of college football programs were run the same way as alabama where you had these meddling boosters. i asked nick saban once, he was
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offered the university of texas job, this is eight years ago. they offered him more than $100 million to come there. he said there's no way i would go there. i would have to answer to 25 oil tycoons. i'm not going to do that. when he showed up at alabama, he went from red elephant club to red elephant club. that's the booster club in alabama, the high end donors, and he said you stay the blank away from me, and he said obviously used much stronger language. nobody -- there was only one voice there, and that's really been the issue in college football for really as long as we've been watching it, joe. you have too many outside influences telling the administration what to do. >> it's hard, paul, to see the alabama, notre dame game being close, just the eye test on both of those teams. alabama is so good again this year. can you talk a little bit about this team? you sort of feel like every year you say they lost this guy and that guy and they had five or six first rounders and somehow nick saban comes up with mac
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jones, plugs him in. he's now a heisman contender. their wide receiver devonte smith also a heisman contender, how good is this alabama team this year? >> willie, this may be the best alabama team i have ever seen, and i started covering the university of alabama right after gettysburg, so it encompasses a lot of time. think about it, willie, i sent my heisman ballot in monday afternoon, and i was perplexed because you just mentioned -- there were three choices for the heisman from the university of alabama roster, and they lost another one about ten weeks ago in jason waddle. thatst h that's how difficult it was. i think two alabama players will be finalists for the heisman, and nigh gee harris will probably finish in the top five. that's how talented this team is. what nick saban did, he followed the revolution in college football. by the way, willie, you
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mentioned notre dame. notre dame is losing its defensive coordinator, clark lee, to vanderbilt university, and i think there's a chance, joe and willie, that vanderbilt next year may even win a game. >> oh, my god. that's fantastic. >> paul, it was going so well. >> let me just say very sincerely your devastating dig there. clark lee is one of the great young coaches in college football, he's from nashville. he played at vanderbilt. he understands what it's going to take. it's a big lift and a very tough job, but we're excited about clark lee in nashville for sure. >> paul, i'm so glad you brought up naji harris's name. i want to talk about him for a second because i've been watching alabama football my whole life, and my gosh, you can just see that guy's character on and off the field. i mean, those are the players that i love. i love the teammates that, you know, they score a touchdown. they don't make it all about themselves. they go to the sidelines and they're not like waving and
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going crazy, like naji harris is california cool. more importantly than that, he's just a great teammate. i love this guy. he's an amazing athlete. he's an amazing runner. i love the story i heard last week, he went to coach at the end of last year and said what do i need to do? and the coach said you're just one of the best natural athletes. raise your voice in the locker room get a little more involved. he did that. this is a really special kid, he would be my pick for the heisman. probably like you said he'll get in the top five, some nfl team is going to be really lucky to get him. >> joe, if we're talking three weeks from now about alabama winning the national championship, i will tell you it wasn't won the night before in miami. it wasn't won against notre dame in the semifinals. nick saban may have won this national championship back in
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march. when the sports world shut down on march 12th, when the pandemic finally registered with most people, he was about to conduct his first spring practice, and they had to literally tell him, coach, you cannot do it. we're shutting the university down, but he never gave up. he came up with a plan to keep up with his players via apple watch. he continued to come in. he continued to plot and plan while other coaches were at home in a state of bewilderment, and that single minded focus is part of the reason why alabama is where it is today, and it's been a remarkable story. it would be a remarkable book or i know willie it may be too late because your sister is leaving the company, but it could be a remarkable 30 for 30 as well because i've never seen a more single-minded coach trying to, you know, get redemption. last year alabama did not make the playoffs for the first time in the history of the playoffs,
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and the year before they were sha la she lacked by clemson. you can see it in the players. >> it says a lot when paul finebaum believes it's the best alabama team he's ever seen. we love listening to you on the radio. i watch you all the time on the s.e.c. network. you're just the best, and we can't wait to see these games coming up. happy holidays to you and your family, good to see you. still ahead this morning, controversy, outrage over president trump e's latest roun of presidential pardons. one lawmaker is calling it rotten to the core. where things stand on capitol hill after the president vetoed the annual defense bill and threw a major wrench into the bipartisan passed coronavirus relief bill. all that when "morning joe" is back. ♪ ohn's. ohn's. for adults with moderate to severe crohn's or ulcerative colitis, stelara® can provide relief,
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reflection of an unstoppable community in the mirror. this holiday at t-mobile, get an iphone 12 with 5g on us on every single plan. switch now and save 20% on your bill vs. the other guys. that's right. iphone 12 on us. it's time to holiday on with t- mobile. to be clear, mr. trump has no financial relationships with any russian oligarchs? >> that's what he said. that's what i said -- that's obviously what our position is. >> in the four and a half years since that moment, paul manafort was arrested, convicted, jailed and yesterday pardoned by the president of the united states. also sprung free, roger stone who like manafort was indicted by special counsel robert mueller and found guilty on multiple counts.
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jared kushner's dad, who carried out a sordid crime received a pardon as well, joining the murderers, corrupt congressmen, and dozens of others now benefitting from donald trump's unrestrained use of executive power. the president meanwhile is at his estate in florida where his schedule, according to the white house, includes many meetings and phone calls. good god. back in washington, he's left his party in utter chaos after blowing up the covid relief bill vetoing the military spending bill, and risking unemployment aid to millions of struggling americans. in other words, merry christmas, everybody. >> it's beautiful. ♪ it's beginning to look a lot like christmas ♪ >> how many more days? >> i think it's tomorrow, dear. my, is it just me, or is the
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comcast commerce street looking a wee bit like charlie brown's christmas tree? >> i wasn't asking you how many days until christmas. >> oh, look at that. it's beautiful. yes. that is beautiful. well, willie geist. >> good morning, everybody. >> merry christmas eve to you and yours this morning. so i know you're a spinal tap fan, right? >> sure. sure. >> remember when derek was explaining to rob reiner how his amp was louder because it went up to 11? turned it up to 11? >> yeah. >> the trump administration yesterday, man, you didn't think it was possiblings be, but theyd the sleaze factor up to 11 imparting like the sleaziest game of just scum, just
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political scum, and this is what the republican party now is. this is what the republican party has enabled. this is what every republican senator, it has all led to this. they are all responsible, every last one of them except for mitt romney who voted to impeach the president of the united states, in all of their silence through all of the years, this is just the scum, the vile political creatures. >> so many of them. >> who have lied over and over again to the fbi, who have committed one crime after another, but what do they have in common? what they have in common is that at critical moments in the mueller investigation issue they were all floated a pardon by this president, all bribed by the president of the united states to keep quiet. the president saying -- and people writing stories at the time, hey, this is what he's
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doing by the way, basically being told if you keep quiet i'll deliver you a pardon. it's really, really sleazy. you know, everybody expects donald trump to act in the sleaziest way possible because he's been the sleaziest president in american history and these sleazy pardons end his sleazy presidency the way you would expect a sleazy presidency to be ended. at the same time, we knew donald trump was a sleazy president, but the republicans that sit by quietly and that have allowed this to happen, they deserve nothing. they deserve nothing for christmas. they deserve nothing for elections to come. they have made everything that happened yesterday, everything that i'm sure is going to happen today, everything that's going to happen over the next month, they've made it all possible. >> yeah, now we're beginning to hear some public criticism from republicans as you're discussing
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right now of these pardons. well, that has been absent for the last four years, so with, what, less than a month left now everyone's getting their courage up because he's leaving office and speaking up publicly. some people are anyway. what you just described, joe, is corruption defined. it's obstruction of justice but it's pure corruption, which is to say a team of investigators for two years, we're going to talk to the lead prosecutor in the mueller investigation in just a moment, looked into this question of russian interference in the 2016 election. as you said behind the scenes, people around donald trump tangled pardons around some of the witnesses including paul manafort and roger stone so they would shut up, they would take what was coming to them with the promise that down the road they would be pardoned, and that day came yesterday. two days ago it was convicted first degree murderers, one man convicted of killing civilians. he was pardoned, and you also had a congressman who was stealing from his constituents from his supporters, and yesterday it was the friends and family discount for the kushners, and then as you said,
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paul manafort and roger stone for their role in russia. >> yeah. and, you know, it's important to remember the words of republicans, republicans who completely freaked out in 2001 over one pardon of mark rich. they couldn't let it go for a decade. this is horrible. he did this. oh, yeah. i mean, seriously, what a scummy thing to do. really? to complain about that for a decade 15 years, and then continue to embrace this president while he's pardoning murderers, while he's pardoning the sleaziest political actors that we've seen around a president. i'd say since watergate, but that's really insulting to, you know, ehrlichman and halderman. they had nothing on these guys. you know, mitch mcconnell said back during hearings that they had in 2001 over the mark ridge
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pardon said, yes, the president has the power to pardon but you have to look at the other corruption statutes that officials have to be held to publicly, and so -- and in that way, donald trump, i just, i really don't understand why donald trump wouldn't be investigated for obstruction of justice. we already know looking at the mueller report there were ten inciden incidences where mueller said these are ten ways he's probably obstructed justice, but i can't bring charges against him because he's president of the united states. i'd be interested to see with all of this if there's not some way for a prosecutor after he leaves office to look at him dangling these pardons out to obstruct an investigation against him and bring obstruction of justice charges against him later. he certainly deserves it. if we really believe in america, and i don't know, i guess that's up to you and me, people, do we
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still believe that no man is above the law? we know the crime that -- we know he's obstructed justice repeatedly. we know he was obstructing justice with these promises at critical times during the investigation, so do we believe that or not? is that something we say to make us feel good inside and help us sleep at night, or do we really believe in america no man is above the law? if no man is above the law, the man you're looking at right there needs to be charged. he needs to be tried. he needs to be convicted rkts a, and he needs to spend a lot of time in jail. >> let's get to the details of this latest round of trump's pre-christmas pardons. 29 more pardons and commutations yesterday, many of whom are people who have remained most loyal to him. he's made it obvious he's trying to erase the mueller investigation with a pardon of paul manafort, his former campaign manager who was serving seven and a half years for
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numerous financial crimes including tax and bank fraud. he also pardoned roger stone, his long-time friend and advisory after already commuting his sentence earlier this year for lying to congress and witness tampering. both manafort and stone joined the others connected to the mueller probe including michael flynn who have now all been pardoned. along with manafort and stone, trump yesterday also pardoned his son-in-law's father, charles kushner. the 66-year-old kushner was convicted of tax evasion and retaliating against a witness. that witness happened to be his own brother-in-law whom kushner admitted he tried to entrap with a prostitute in order to blackmail him against his wife. charles kushner's sister who was cooperating with the state -- does that make sense? it's complicated. here's chris christie who was the attorney who prosecuted
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kushner describing the crime. >> i just think that it was so obvious he had to be prosecuted. i mean, if a guy hires a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and videotapes it, and then sends the videotape to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury, do i really need any more justification than that? i mean, it's one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that i prosecuted when i was u.s. attorney, and i was the attorney in new jersey, margaret, and we had some loathsome and disgusting crime going on there. any objective person that looks at the facts knows confronted with those facts, i had a moral and ethical obligation to bring that prosecution. >> wow. so far there has been little reaction by republicans about trump's latest round of pardons. senator ben sasse issued a one-sentence statement saying the pardons of, quote, another tranche of felons like manafort and stone who flagrantly and
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repeatedly violated the law and harmed americans was rotten to the core. up next, we'll bring in "new york times" reporter michael schmidt for more on how these pardons are playing out. but first let's go to bill karins with a check on the christmas eve forecast. bill. >> hey, mika. what a forecast we have. we have everything out there on board today. first things first we have to deal with severe weather, then flash flooding, then this flash freeze, and then behind that some snow, too. so right now we haven't had any tornados but we still have a tornado threat around mobile and western portions of the florida panhandle. later on this afternoon, we're targeting eastern north carolina. it's extremely rare to have tornados on christmas day in the mid-atlantic. it's possible today. 9 million people are included in this, especially from the norfolk area of virginia beach all the way down to wilmington, north carolina. even our friends in the raleigh and richmond area are at risk. as far as the snow impacts go, the heaviest snow from cleveland to buffalo through west virginia. this is going to be late today into this evening.
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you will wake up to a white christmas in those areas. we may get a little bit of snow in central pennsylvania, but the biggest issue is going to be heavy rainfall ahead of this storm, and the same areas that had two to three feet of snow last week, we're expecting flood impacts in areas of new york and also central p.a. and look at these wind gusts. be prepared for power outages, southern new england, long island, and new jersey coast as we go throughout christmas morning. charge those devices today or those christmas presents today because you may not have power come tomorrow. so yes, scary forecast there,
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