tv Washington Journal William Pomeranz Discusses the Russia Investigation CSPAN June 1, 2017 5:34pm-6:01pm EDT
of the last ten-12 years without knowing it repairin preparing fd trump to happen. >> he is a contributor to rolling stone magazine and is the author of several books including smelled like that elephant, dispatches from a rotting empire, the great derangement: a terrifying true story of war politics and religion, chris tobia, a story of the bankers, politicians and the most audacious paragraph in american history. his most recent book in insane clown of president, dispatches from the 2016 circuits. during our live three hour conversation will take your calls, tweets and facebook questions on mr. matt's career. watch in-depth with author and journalist met live from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on sunday. >> our next guest with a wealth
wilson center, deputy director of the institute and an expert on russia. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. my pleasure. >> a lot of discussion between medications and russia and the united states especially over the election. could you give us your take of what you are hearing and make sense of what's going on between who did what and when. >> guest: hears a lot nowadays. it comes from a variety of sources. i was, one has to try to understand where the sources are, in anonymous sources, sources, and put it in a pattern to see what it means. i think of the events have moved on the two issues right now come to the top. and there's now a potential third will focus on the first two. one is the question of michael flynn was clearly underio. investigation, who clearly has a legal problem and i think the question for michael flynn in this investigation going forward is does the investigation of flynn and with flynn or does he in fact have more information
that indicates the president or the campaign? the second issue that hasn't really gone away yet is trump's finances. where did he get all this money from during the 2000 investments banks were not loaning to him, the various statements by histh son about money coming from the former soviet union, not just russia but other places in the former soviet union and real questions about whether president trump and his company did enough due diligence toonm understand where the money was coming from. the third issue that is looming and i see right in front of you is a question of mr. kushner. >> host: as far as mr. kushner is concerned there are questions about not only the relationship he had with the restaurant ambassador but russian banker. how they might connect. could you explain who these various players are in relation to mr. kushner in terms of the ambassador in the beaker? >> guest: the investor is simply the person who represents the russian federation in the united states.
it's traditional for thekushner ambassador to have all kinds of contacts. in many ways, a meeting with jared kushner or with other people is not that surprising, admittedly they should disclose that when they apply for a federal government position butm those type of meetings takes place all the time. >> host: that's with sergei. >> guest: sergei gorka, it's puzzling only because we don't know what was discussed in the meeting. the rational economic development bank is a state bank and it mainly supports russian exports and major development projects inside the country that other investors won't support. the question is what was he talking to mr. kushner about. i'm not so sure that mr. kircher wants that investigated and other big projects inside the country. it's unclear why that meeting was arranged and what they talked about.
now we have the backdrop of some sort of creation of an alternative channel of munication that would actually use russian facilities. >> host: before we go further in our topic it i'll let ourue viewers call in and ask questions. were talking about the trumpet ministration and the russian message. 2,027,488,014 republicans and 248. [inaudible] you can also treat a thoughts at c-span wj, william pomerantz and his idea of the back channel. what do you think about on its face is the desire to establishment. >> guest: again, it's not unheard of to have back channels. they have existed in the past and at times they have produced important results and alternative means of munication this back channel is questionable because of the desire allegedly, russian
communication facilities and therefore it also occurs with the backdrop of all the donald trump having us intelligence services. was it an attempt to bypass the national security agency, us intelligence and a whole load of other agencies that would want to know that would be discussed on a certain level using these back channels. those two elements of it, the use of russian facilities in the attempt to bypass us security apparatus raises lots of questions to which we don't have answers given he wanted. [inaudible] >> guest: i am not aware of any other attempt to use russian facility and russian communications in order to create such a back channel one t so, as far as you talk about michael flynn to being a subpoenaed now to appear before the house intelligence committee and there's another man mentioned michael, his personal
attorney.t. >> guest: right. were not exactly sure what he's been called about but he's appeared in various stages of this investigation, someone with a strong connections to the region and at one point he proposed a peace treaty dealing with the eastern ukraine crisis that he put forward. i think we have to wait and see what it is that mr. cohen is being asked about. whether he's a person allegedlya may have had communications with and other people during campai campaign. izzy's personal lawyer but he's more than a lawyer he's also a businessman and a person with significant contacts with region. >> host: our guest has studied and researched extensively on russia and related activities in the issues regarding russia. also, at the wilkinson center he serves as their deputy director and our first call comes from
david. david is in los angeles. independent line you are up first. good morning. >> caller: yes, what's really fascinating about this russiais issue here is how propaganda, that is primarily used by otto kratz and dictatorial regimes that completely co-opted and corrupted the american political sphere. you have it where you have the purpcrat and republican issues being manipulated for the purposes of defeat. as we deal with this issue it's like people come on and they are like really does file in their offense and they are repugnant to the american people and this is something that's normal.
we are living in times right now to which that which is absurd has been normalized. i think that is trump is a cheerleader in this. instead of them trying to get at what has actually occurred, what we are dealing with is the side issues that distract us and cause division. >> host: color, thanks. >> guest: one of the interestins aspects of this whole situation is to the expense that russia was able to seemingly use normal news channels to get out a specific story. it was news that was put forward by various state institutions, it was the wikileaks, hacking of the democratic headquarters, we got a whole different alternative narrative that has been able to enter the regulatory us news mainstream and this is the problem of the 21st century. we no longer have three channels
and two newspapers that sift to the news and then put forward the main news stories of the day. news comes from all different sources, it's hard to verify and there are various ways by which the new stories can come to the top of the agenda and it creates a very different environment. this gets to the whole question of fake news and the russians ability to use these sources to push forward its internationalih agenda. it's a new use of soft power and the russians have decided that this is an area where they want to focus on. >> host: democrats line, marsha, trenton, new jersey. marsha, are you there for the three thank you for taking my call. what i want to know is why the president would even suggest lifting sanctions on the two homes that they told the russians to get out of on
december 209th. why would he even consider giving them back to the russians for. >> guest: that refers to a new story that was broken by the washington post this morning. that the president is considering returning to compounds that were closed at the end of the obama demonstration and president obama has accused those compounds are being engaged in intelligence gatheringpresiden activities. why president trump wants to give them back is unclear. the color raises an important question though which is president trump is consideringns this what is the and acting in return? if indeed it's a unilateral action, the russians will be happy to pocket a concession in this case, the return of the compound and not offer anything in return. so, this goes back to thepr negotiating strategy of
president trump and he gets back to the larger question of what president trump wanted to do with the us sanctions that were imposed in the aftermath of ukraine. there's lots of talk that michael flynn and president trump were interested in liftint the sanctions but there is no real discussion as to what willh be the deal, whether there will be a negotiation or whether there will be simply a unilateral listing of the sections.is quest again, that's an important part of this crisis because the president trump has passedme himself as a dealmaker but when it comes to russia in the sanctions it seems like he is willing to unilaterally pursue the deal. >> host: carol in casselberry, i florida. republican line. >> caller: hello, i have a a question. when we were in the midst of the campaign i had heard a number of the stories about how russia had
given the quote unquote nonprofit of the clintons tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. so why, all of the sudden are we hearing about that?ned how come all of a sudden if russia was going to lean toward anyone it would not have leaned toward hillary because it would expect something in return for the tens of thousands of dollars they gave as donations?. >> guest: there are few peoplen- that president vladimir putin dislikes more than hillary clinton. there is no doubt that he believes she was responsible for the events in ukraine, that sheh was responsible for the introduction of sanctions and that if there is one thing that there is consensus on is that if russia is behind the wikileaks in the leak of information ithe was because he wanted to damage hillary clinton.
so, i don't think that whatever small donations and i am not aware of any donations made to the clinton foundation and iun don't think president putin was interested in being able to have a good relationship with hillary clinton. that is the rationale behind so much of russia's actions during the campaign. if hillary clinton had one,s potentially this could of been a focus of attention. she did not win, president trump is in office and naturally, the focus of attention turns to him and his business activity. >> host: you talked about that could you paint a picture of what might people, what you might look for as far as relating the presidents activities and relationships q russia? >> guest: the question is how much money did donald trump get to retain and run his businesses from not just russia but from ukraine, and from the sovie forr
soviet union. as i mentioned before, president trump had great difficulty obtaining financing from wester banks and therefore, he had to look for alternative means for financing and allegedly a lot of that money openly came from the former soviet union. that poses a problem because under various us laws president trump was required to do some due diligence to find out the source of that money.has based on what has been reported on the press so far, you just have snippets of these business transactions but what has been reported to just that he wasn'th very diligent in finding out th sources of that money and knowing who he was doing business for.dr >> host: so when you hear calls from release the president's tax return and these will explain the situation, do you think it's a simple or fact that we get the information some from the tax return. >> guest: we get a lot of information from the tax returns. we get a better idea from
sources of income. whether that is sufficient to fully inform everybody else who is sources of financing we may require more information on that as well. >> host: alexandria, virginia. independent line, frank, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i have to say that our democracy and our system of government is being put under tremendous amount of stress at this point. i think it's feeling. whatever happened to checks and balances in our government where congress has not taken anyec action against mr. trump he has done so many things up to this point including not releasing his taxes, not divulging his business interests but he continues to profit watching the sitting president and congress is taking no action. with regard to a back channel, i thought back channels were something that were reserved for sitting administrations. mr. kushner was not appointed at the time of two trump so how is
it possible that he would create a back channel with russia and of course hide from our government i think that's problematic. thank you. >> guest: for the back channel the assumption was the back channel would exist once the trump and began. it wasn't simply a back channel prior to the assumption of donald trump to power. it was a back channel that would be used as soon as donald trump got to power as well. the question of the us democracy this is a unique time in american politics and one could see that it is a challenge of our system of government andba checks and balances but in light of how the story is playing in the united states, the amount of coverage it gets, and in light of the difficulties confronting president trump impacting his domestic agenda, on a certain level the checks and balances
are working. i can assure you that in the post-soviet phase which i study often they did not have similar checks and balances. the ability to hold government officials accountable is much less in the united states. >> host: from hunter, connecticut. republican line. good morning. >> caller: good morning. thank you for having this important conversation. my comment is in order to understand where we are now i think it's really important to look at history and specifically, recent history. when hillary was secretary of state and barack obama was our president and if we look at what happened respect to those two global actors and vladimir putin and russia with the sanctions, with crania, with nato, we have
to look at nato here.th nato is a huge piece of this puzzle. when we look at military exclusions from nato we feel that russian feels threatened. putin feels threatened. he's responding in a way of a threatened, global, nuclear m armed power. that's how he's responding, in my humble opinion. he mobilized everything he possibly could in order to protect himself and retaliate against the threat coming from hillary and obama and nato. betwi have a theory. this war between putin and hillary, i'm talking total siebel warfare, psychological warfare, economic, i know my time is limited here but war between putin and hillary results in donald trump.
>> guest: there is reason to go back to review the obama foreign-policy and to ask questions as to what the alternatives were. however, in reality president obama made a major investment between the first four years of his presidency for a reset where there was significantly improved relations between the united states and russia. president obama did not have to do that during his first term but he made that a priority, there were mistakes and flaws of the policy but nevertheless, obama invested in having a better relationship with the russian federation federation. after the invents of crimea, after the events of ukrainehe ee where russia has assisted the rebels in taking the eastern part of ukraine and therefore, there is an ongoing support in u ukraine and it cannot be business as usual.
again, president obama did try to have better relations with the russian federation but putin's reaction to events in ukraine were based on his perceived threats but not on any major threat to the united states had directed toward the russian federation. the aftermath of all that we've now seen in escalation of the crisis. it's a significant deterioratio to the us-russian relations. we haven't even hit rock bottom. >> host: recently, this is from cnn but was picked up by the big business insider reporting ona russia having derogatory information about mr. trump'sor financial information. do you take that at face value coursework or is this something that the russian government is putting out to put out for what you think. >> guest: one should assumee that, especially in mr. trump's position, that he was a person of interest, as it were, when he visited into russia and he should have assumed that all his medications were being monitored
and that all his actions were being monitored and, therefore if they believe, if they put ou. something, they have information on donald, have every exultation that might be true. russian politics engages in the practice of what they call. [inaudible] compromising information all the time. i think that mr. trump has visited the country has dealt with the country, there is every possibility that they have been gathering information on mr. trump all the time. >> host: leesburg, virginia. kevin your next. >> caller: thanks for having this discussion. i hear the word back channel quite a bit and i'm wondering whether that's appropriate. my experience limited experience, seen it back channels being discussed throughout history involves a third party or third country a when we don't have a relationship with russia we have diplomatic relations and i wonder setting up, it seems to
be covert commit communications channel if they're using russian facilities and it's a covert communications channel and i would wonder what the purpose of making that covert is when we have diplomatic relations with the country i can give you my take which is this shows a very, very deep distrust of american institutions that have been built up over hundreds of years. the intelligence community, state department it seems to me that donald trump on the campaign trail and at one point seemed like plaster creating this distrust to get elected this shows that those are truly deep-seated issues that he has.i >> guest: i thank you raise some very important points. ine
on a broader level it also comes to donald trump's inexperience.t he didn't have any experience working with intelligence services, with the state department. he was used to one-on-one personal negotiations and business deals. servi throw that into his stated and admitted distrust of the security services and that begins to explain why he thought the back channel was necessary. again, i think we need to know more about what was the intention and the issue would be whether it is possible that the only reason was to discuss syria which is what has been put out so far or whether there were other reasons why president b trump and mr. kushner wanted that back channel created. >> host: bedford, ohio. democrat line. yes, good morning. it's beyond me how they can talk about trump to the point of what
he's doing which is nothing -- he had when barack obama first came into office about his birth certificate and did barack obama show it to him? now he won't show your taxes but he's supposed to be so rich. i don't know where you guys have been. if you listen, mitch romney told you all from day one this is a con man. what part of that don't you all understand? >> guest: consistency has not been a part of the basics donald trump's personality. this the caller raises legitimate points about going after barack obama's birth certificate and demanding transparency there are not beins transparent when it comes to his own finances. >> host: one last call. alabama, republican line. >> caller: i'd like to ask your guest one question.e only p
out of everything that i've been watching on the news and all, the only person, the only people i've ever seen during this whole time has been hillary clinton and bill clinton. you all need to kill the whole story instead of part of the story. >> guest: i think we are always learning more about the story almost every day.know the i think the story has not been told, we do not know thed complete story get in that his former going to find out in the weeks and months to come. >> host: what is the complete story coursework ultimately, what in your mind has to come out information might conclude all this investigation was for. >> guest: the information has to come out is to what sort of contact did donald trump have with russia and did that have any influence in terms of overall campaign and his campaign promises about how having better relations with the russian federation. p that was always a very puzzling part of the campaign and it can
be explained nationally and this may be something that he deeply believes in. other presidents have been elected and have had their own research with russia, not only obama but george bush two. we need to understand what was his relationship with russia and all of its convexity. >> host: william with the wilson center joining us for the discussion of the messick russian investigation. thank you for a time. >> guest: my pleasure. >> you're watching a book tv on c-span two. the top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. book tv, television for serious readers. >> now, but tv is live from the publishing industry's annual convention