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‘Morning Joe’ Panel: Is Trump Admin Employing ‘Madman Theory’ On North Korea?


MSNBC: The Morning Joe panel discusses Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' warning for North Korea following President Trump's comments this week regarding "fire and fury," as well as NK's consideration of firing a missile near Guam. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius warns that President Trump "needs to be careful his language doesn't frighten friends and allies." The threat to attack Guam, he says, is a test of President Trump's "larger strategy." "In this rhetorical back and forth, the North Koreans will do what you expect. President Trump was speaking in Kim Jong Un language and he was received in kind. The reaction that concerns me more is among [our allies]… especially South Korea and Japan, to some extent Australia," he continued.

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Sen. Blumenthal: I Can’t Explain Trump’s “Obsession” With Me


On Monday, President Trump attacked Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CA) on Twitter for his false claim that he served in the war in Vietnam. The Senator appeared on Tuesday's broadcast of Morning Joe to respond. On Monday morning the president tweeted: 'Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and…. 'Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist!' Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017 Later on Monday he tweeted: 'I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there.' I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017 Blumenthal on Morning Joe: MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC HOST: Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is co-sponsoring legislation that would make it harder for the president to tweet — no, I'm kidding. Harder for the president to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And, yesterday, the senator went on TV to talk about the ongoing Russia investigation. The president apparently didn't like that. And so at 7:52 a.m., he tweeted, quote — Never in U.S. history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion? Two hours later, Senator Blumenthal responded. Quote — Mr. President, your bullying hasn't worked before and it won't work now. No one is above the law. This issue isn't about me. It's about the special counsel's independence and integrity. Then, more than eight hours after his first tweets, the president came back for more posting, quote — I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam where he lied about his service so he can at least say he was there. And aforementioned Senator Blumenthal joins us now. Senator, two questions. One, if you could address what is clearly the president's obsession with you and over what you said yesterday. And two, you're in a couple of committees in the Senate where you are aware of the danger and the threat posed by North Korea, and what are your thoughts about the president's obsession and tweeting rather than sort of focusing on North Korea? SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, as to the first question, there is an ongoing special counsel investigation. It is real. It is based on facts. That's where the issue is. That's where the focus ought to be. Our national security and the rule of law are at serious risk. So it is not about me. I cannot explain the president's obsession with me or any of the other targets of his tweets. But clearly, on North Korea, we face one of the gravest threats to our national security, and there has to be a focus on enforcement of these sanctions. It worked with Iran when we energized the world community and enlisted them successfully and tightened the sanctions, particularly on financial institutions. And that's the kind of energy and focus that has to be brought to bear. As well as on the other challenges that have been mentioned very powerfully this morning. Infrastructure, rebuilding our roads and bridges, our ports and airports. Health care, where there still has to be improvement. These kinds of issues lend themselves to bipartisan cooperation, and that has to be the task ahead.

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Maxine Waters: Mueller Will “Connect The Dots” Between Trump, Ukraine, Russia & Oil


Representative Maxine Waters, D-California tells MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' on Friday that President Donald Trump is the most deplorable person she has met. Waters, the first Democratic lawmaker to publicly call for Trump's impeachment, outlines the case she believes special counsel Mueller is building against the president: MAXINE WATERS: WATERS: I've long thought that there was a lot of smoke, even fire. And that everything that I have learned about this president, starting with the campaign itself, that people should have understood that there was something terribly wrong with him. As a matter of fact, I've said over and over again, I think he's the most deplorable person I've ever met in my life. And I think when you take a look at his allies and some in his cabinet, all these people around him, with connections to the Ukraine or to Russia or to oil, everybody should have known that. We should have moved faster. Our Intelligence Committees have not moved fast enough. But I have my hopes for Mueller, as most people do. I think he's going to connect the dots. And I think we're nearing a constitutional crisis. Full interview, via NBC:

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Joe Scarborough Speculates White House Intentionally Leaked Call Transcripts So It Would Backfire On The Press; Did Trump “Do A Nunes?”


On Friday's edition of 'Morning Joe,' host Joe Scarborough said media people are beginning to speculate about the possibility that the Trump White House itself leaked the transcripts of President Trump's conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia. He suggested that because the media jumped on them so fast, even though the leak of a high level conversation between world leaders seems unseemly, perhaps Trump himself planned it to make the media look bad. JOE SCARBOROUGH: Here's the operating theory: That we heard people talk about last night… some might say… The fact that you have this extraordinary leak that is damaging, supposedly to the White House, and damaging to our allies, but realy is damaging to the press. Because everyone came out on TV and said this was a shock. Did the Trump administration do a Nunes? … I don't know it is starting to smell a little but, it could be like what happened with Nunes, where it was a setup. … Everyone agreed on Capitol Hill and the media that this was extraordinary, this was a leak, unprecedented, damaging, and yet [the WP got no pushback from the WH]… MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Unless you wanted it to happen. Personally, I think this whole leak thing where everyone was played, and this was actually orchestrated by the White House. This is what Trump is good at. To be Nunes'd. CNN's Brian Stelter offered counter speculation: CNN's Brian Stelter: White House Leakers Could Be "Trying To Blow The Whistle" (Video via Mark Finkelstein)

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GOP Sen. Jeff Flake: Republican Party In Denial About Trump’s Embrace Of Conspiracy Theories, Alternate Facts


On the August 1, 2017 edition of 'Morning Joe,' Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake delivered an indictment of the Trump administration and a pitch for his book titled 'Conscience of a Conservative.' He agrees with MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski that they are both "very concerned" about what is happening in the Trump administration. "To be conservative can't be to embrace conspiracy theories or to talk about alternative facts. There are truths that are self-evident," he said. MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: Joining us now, member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. His new book, "Conscience of the Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle", is out today. Senator, in an excerpt from the book published in Politico, you write that the Republican Party is in denial about Donald Trump. You write, in part, this: "It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our Constitutional prerogatives a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House. But who despite solemn vows to do the same in the advent of a Trump presidency have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties and tremendous powers of denial. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles than what was the point of political victories in the first place?" All great questions. How are you being received amongst your colleagues? SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It's just came out today, so we'll see. BRZEZINSKI: But you've been raising these issues for quite some time. FLAKE: I've been concerned for quite some time. BRZEZINSKI: Very concerned. FLAKE: You know, in the book, we talk about being a conservative, what it really means. And it means a lot on policy. I'm concerned that the type of policies going forward, protectionism, isolationism, are really not conservative values. And I'm concerned about where the Party goes if we embrace those kind of principles. But also being a conservative means something in terms of demeanor and comportment. A conservative is nothing if, particularly in foreign policy, he's not measured and sober and predictable. Our allies need to know that, we need to embrace our allies and recognize our adversaries. And to do otherwise is not conservative. Flake also explains how the GOP has lost its way: STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Senator, speaking of the national debt really as an issue of generational theft– FLAKE: Yes. SCHMIDT: –and a moral issue ,$20 trillion in debt, how is it that the supposedly conservative members of Congress are voting on a health care bill that touches 1/6 of the economy with absolutely no idea how much it costs? To me that's not conservative, it's utterly radical, and I wonder how the conservative movement has been hijacked by radicals who claim the mantle of conservatism and specifically we think about the John Birch Society in the '60s. What is their equivalent today? Is it conservative entertainment complex we've seen on talk radio, some TV networks? Is it something different? What's the most pernicious threat to conservatism and why is it that we've seemingly abdicated any sense of principle with regard to spending? FLAKE: This is a very good point. Conservatives are nothing if they're not concerned about the debt and the deficit. Limited government is kind of the organizing principle around conservatism. You mentioned and Mike mentioned at the time that Bill Buckley got together with Barry Goldwater and kind of ex-communicated the John Birchers from the Party. That was because they were called the, I think the words that Goldwater used were "the emblem of irresponsibility." And I think to be conservative can't be to embrace conspiracy theories or to talk about alternative facts. There are truths that are self-evident. And we have to as a country agree on certain things.

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Schiff On Russia Investigation Status: “A Case Of This Magnitude Takes A Long Time”


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cali.) is asked about the timeline and status of the Russia investigation. Schiff said on Friday's Morning Joe that a case this large takes "a long time" to work up and won't have "much value" if we're not "thorough" enough. DR. JEFFREY SACHS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I mean, this guy is all over the world, doing things that he's completely unequipped to do. But that goes with the — our whole government right now, Congressman, what's the timeline on all of this? Because the cloud over every normal function of government is, you know, it's driving us all crazy. When are we actually going to see some results of the investigations and Mueller's investigation as well? REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Well, you know, it's very hard to say with an investigation of this size where you have witnesses scattered throughout the world and some which, many of which don't want to cooperate with you. But we're trying to bring a real sense of urgency to this. We had three witnesses in just this week alone. We'll be having witnesses come in during the August recess and thereafter. So we're trying to work expeditiously at the same time when we get resistance to getting the documents and materials that we need. That does slow the investigation. And in terms of Bob Mueller's investigation, hard to say; you know, they're only willing to share to a certain degree what they're doing. We are trying to coordinate as best as possible. But I can tell you, as a former prosecutor, a case of this magnitude takes a long time to work up and it's not going to have much value either from what we do or what Bob Mueller does if we're not thorough.

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Rep. Tom Cole: Democrats Keep Saying We Need To Fix Obamacare, Not Repeal It. Okay, What Are Your Fixes?


MSNBC: Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) discusses the failure of 'skinny repeal' in the Senate, why it's time to sit down with Dems and talk about ACA fixes and why he says the health care system is imploding. From Friday's Morning Joe: MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: All right, joining us from Capitol Hill, Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma. Thank you very much for coming on the show this morning. REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: Thank you. BRZEZINSKI: How would you characterize what's happened over the past 24-36-48 hours? And where does the responsibility lie only for constructive reasons? Because it seems this has been an issue that's been extremely important to the Republican Party for many years, health care. COLE: Well, I think it's actually extremely important to all Americans. Look, the system we have — BRZEZINSKI: What happened? COLE: — isn't working. Well, let me finish my answer, if I may. We came one vote short of being able to continue the process of working on this. So now I think it's really incumbent on our friends on the other side of the aisle. They keep telling us there's a lot of problems with ObamaCare. We need to fix it, not repeal it. OK, let's see what your fixes are. And I think we should sit down with an open mind and listen to them. But, frankly, again, in my state, we're down to a single provider. We have a 69 percent rate increase coming. And we have — frankly, our hospitals are taking care of people and not getting compensated for it. Then in 31 other states they are. So this is not a system that's succeeding. Most Republicans believe that. We got something through the House. The Speaker said last night he was prepared to go to conference and keep working with the Senate. They came up one vote short. And I regret that. I don't cast any aspersions on anybody. I'm sure everybody voted their conviction. But if you voted to not proceed last night, you effectively voted to sustain ObamaCare. And I think that's very regrettable. In my state, it's devastating.

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Mika Brzezinski: Cut Scaramucci Some Slack Because He’s Targeting Priebus And Bannon; “In There To Fire Everybody”


On Friday's edition of 'Morning Joe,' co-host Mika Brzezinski made a novel point about the new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. She suggested that everyone should not be so quick to condemn his based on foul language or the shock value of his comments about Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon — because he might get them fired. "I'm going to actually say let's hold up here," she said. "It was absolutely disgusting, I can't believe he said it — but he said it about Steve Bannon. And he is in there to fire everybody. So let's not trip over ourselves here." "He's got his targets set on Reince Priebus, and it appears on Steve Bannon as well," she added. "He could make a good, big difference for this White House." Scaramucci (who refers to himself in the third person as "The Mooch" in this interview with The New Yorker) reportedly told this and more to a reporter on Wednesday night: "What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers and I want to get the President's agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people… This is going to get cleaned up very shortly, O.K.? Because I nailed these guys. I've got digital fingerprints on everything they've done through the F.B.I. and the fucking Department of Justice." (Hat tip: Mark Finkelstein)

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Durbin: “We’re Moving Closer And Closer To A Single-Payer Option”


MSNBC'S MORNING JOE: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) discusses the possible firing of Jeff Sessions, saying that Sessions stuck his neck out for the president. Sen. Durbin wonders who would take the job if Sessions is fired. Durbin also addresses health care. EDDIE GLAUDE JR., PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Senator Durbin, this is Eddie Glaude. Let's pan out a little bit. There — you — the Democratic Party just released its better deal to kind of offer a vision of their policy initiatives over the next few years. There's clamoring among the base for single payer. How, in the course of this debate, will you respond to those of us on the Left, who really think that single payer might be the answer to the health care issue? DURBIN: This is a last gasp. What we're going through now is the last gasp for private health insurance in America, as far as I'm concerned. If we can't make this work with the private health insurance industry, we start moving closer to a Medicare model. From my point of view, Medicare has a lot of positive things to offer the American people. How many folks say, darn it, now I qualify for Medicare? Most of them say, hooray, I don't have to worry about preexisting conditions. I've paid into it. I can get the best hospitals and doctors and I have peace of mind. That's what people are looking for in health insurance. And if the private health insurance industry can't make the current approach work, we're moving closer and closer to a single-payer option.

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