tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 18, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
those measures now go to the senate. we will have more coverage of the u.s. house when they returned thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. eastern here on c-span. attorney general loretta lynch spoke at this year's legislative conference of the congressional black caucus foundation and called for reforms of the criminal justice system, including increased spending on programs to help prisoners reintegrate into society, and having police departments more closely represent the communities they serve. her remarks are 40 minutes. loretta lynch: well, thank you all so much. thank you so much for that warm welcome, thank you for your
patience. i'm not usually running this late. but i understand that you have had some excellent presentations before me. i see a number of old friends, and hopefully new friends on this panel. great voices all, in our common struggle. and so i think you have had excellent presentations and i'm just sorry that i had to miss so many of them. i am so looking forward to hearing the recap of this because there are so many important issues here. dr. gough, such a pleasure to meet you, your leadership at ucla on the center for policing equity is something that is not only vital, in terms of what we need today, it really is the key to a lot of the issues that we face. when i'm looking at the agenda for the entire cbc foundation events, i see so many different panels on so many different issues, but they all come together in regards to the central issue of our community's relationships with law enforcement and with our government writ large. so many of the issues that you all are tackling all this week come back to that essential issue.
and so i thank you so much for giving me a few minutes to talk to you this afternoon about what the department of justice is doing in this important area because i will tell you that i view it as one of my main priorities as attorney general of the united states. i know that congressman conyers had to go and vote. he is also pulled in many different directions, but i want to thank him and his staff for their invitation to this event as well as for setting up this particular panel and of course the congressman's lifetime of service to these issues. he has been in this fight for a long time. a long time. [applause] as have many of you. not just here on the panel and on the podium next to me but out here in the audience. i see a lot of fighters. i see a lot of people who have walked a lot of lines, and walked across a lot of bridges, and so i thank you for that as well. [applause]
whether you have been in the struggle for years, or whether you are new to it and part of the new and exciting and dynamic young voices that we need to tell us the truth, i commend you and i am so so glad to hear from you. your commitment is important, your ideas are important, your energy and your passion. and now is the time that we have to all come together around these important issues. because while we have made just extraordinary progress since the cbc was founded over 40 years ago, it is clear that we have so much more work to do. in the recent weeks and months we've seen these reminders, you know there's not just the overall philosophy that we always say "there's more work to do, we have to keep marching." we've seen it. we've seen it played out in a very, very stark and very painful reality captured for the world to see.
we have experienced tragedies that make it clear that this fight for our common welfare goes on. and i will tell you that what hurts me so much in my current role, is that we have seen the mistrust between our law enforcement officers and our communities also deepen at a time when, not that it hasn't always been the case, but at a time when our communities need, perhaps more than at any other time, the protection and the resources that law enforcement is committed and sworn to bring to bear. it has always been my view that the essential role, not just of government, but of law enforcement in particular is the protection of people who don't have anyone else to call on. you know those times in the middle of the night when people are cold and afraid and they know that someone is out there who means them harm, we have to have someone on whom to call. and we have to be able to trust and rely upon those individuals to come when we call and to also
look out for us when they do arrive. now this is an issue that i know you're talking about today, not just on this panel but so many others, but on this panel in particular you've got the voices to do it. you've got the experience and you've got the people who also provide you the perspective of what it feels like to be left out of that dynamic of protection, to be left out of that umbrella and that circle of guardianship that every american is entitled to. and that is such an important voice today. now it's also not a new issue, although it's an issue that's very deep and very personal for me. as some of you may know, i'm fortunate enough to have my father here with me this week. [applause] but this issue is generations old and when i was a young girl i remember, the things i remember my father telling me
about, you know you all talk about your grandparents and your aunts and your uncle, and the family lore that's what makes you who you are. that's how you know what the lynches are like and you know what the harrises are like, and they're both stubborn just so you know. [laughter] but i remember my father telling me about his father, about my grandfather. a minister, third grade education, no money, eight children, dirt poor, living in rural north carolina in the 1930's when my father was born. and even with all those things stacked against him, built his own church beside his house, called in lynch's chapel. that's what you can do when you build a church yourself. [laughter] and one of the things that my father remembers is that there were times when he was a young boy in the 1930's, when people in the community, black people in the community were in trouble. as my grandfather used to say, "caught up in the clutches of the law," and didn't have anywhere to go. and they would come to my
grandfather and he would actually help hide them until they could leave the community. and sometimes the sheriff would come by the house and ask my grandfather, you know, "gus, have you seen so-and-so? " my grandfather would say "well, not lately." [laughter] so-and-so is hiding in the closet or hiding under the floorboards because in those days, 1930's north carolina, there was no justice in the dark of night on a rural road. no miranda warnings, no procedural protections, none of the things that we take for granted today. and so despite what had happened with these individuals, my grandfather knew that sometimes in order to preserve the fight for justice into the future, you had to take action in the moment. you had to take action in the moment. [applause] now of course, things are much better now, and we all get reminded of that whenever we bring up these issues, you notice that when you talk about these issues, whether they are of race in general or police
issues in particular, when you talk about the current pain that the minority community is feeling and it is, we are feeling it very, very deeply, people say, "well you know things are actually much better now." and they are. they are. you know, in addition for giving you my apologies for being late today, i can tell you that i was late today because i had a meeting with the president that ran over. i would never have been able to say that even five years ago. the fact that my grandfather who fought so hard for justice in his own way would never have conceived. that his granddaughter, the little girl he used to take out in the fields and you know, show what tobacco looked like, you know would actually be sitting in a meeting with the president of the united states. we have come so far, but we still have so far to go and these issues of fundamental fairness and the relationship that the minority community has with government writ large, and with those of us in law enforcement in particular are
still with us. they are still important today. and we all understand on a personal level the frustration that comes up when we are treated unfairly because of race. but this is really about more than just that. this is really about being treated unfairly because of race by those who are sworn to protect you. by those who wear the uniform of protection. this is really a deeper issue than just the individual discrimination many of us have seen in whether or not we didn't get the job, or get an opportunity or someone didn't speak to us. we are talking about the pain that comes up when these deeply rooted injustices get shrugged off, and they get ignored. now we are in a different time and things are much better, even if they may not seem that way. even if this seems like a very painful time because we are seeing these issues so much more
clearly, i have to tell you that this takes me back to the early days of the civil rights movement. and you all remember those days when people were marching and protesting and talking about conditions. you couldn't vote, couldn't get a job, couldn't sit into a store and just have a break and have a cup of coffee. and no one wanted to believe that that was the case until the advent of television. remember the televise marches -- televised marches and the protests, and when the world saw what was happening, that police dogs were put on little children, that fire hoses were used against young men and women, that galvanized the conscience of the world and gave the movement a momentum to make changes. to give us a civil rights act, to give us a voting rights act, to give us desegregation, to help us craft those strategies that our lawyers use before the supreme court. and now we are in a similar
moment, when so many of the images that we see are so painful. but they are being used to show the world what people in the minority community have known for years about the different levels of interaction and the different levels of both respect and participation in the system that african-americans have and that african-americans feel. and as painful as it is to watch someone suffering or possibly even dying, the result has been an opening of the discussion in ways that we have not had in significant years. and so the onus is on us to seize this moment. the onus is on us to continue this discussion, to continue this debate. because now the world knows what we always knew. that people in ferguson were being taxed for walking down the street and being the wrong color. the world knows what we always
knew, that young men of color's interactions with the police are fundamentally different than other children's. and that as parents, and as siblings, and as family members that we have a responsibility to point this out and talk about it as well as educate our children. but we also have to acknowledge more than just the actions, because there's something that goes on as well, something that's deeper when we have these situations. we have to acknowledge the anger and the despair, the feelings that develop. you know people they always talk about wanting us to handle things in a certain way, and that's true and and this country was built on peaceful protest. it is a fundamental right of ours and it can achieve a great deal of change. -- it has achieved a great deal of change. but we also have to acknowledge the anger and the despair that develops when these concerns that we now see on tape are still pushed aside by so many people as if they don't exist.
you have to acknowledge the kind of pain that develops. you have to acknowledge that -- and you know that people say, "well i don't think it was that bad." "well i don't think they meant it that way." or even, "that just didn't happen." you know, it just didn't even happen. and so when that happens to people, to a people, to our people time and time again, you have to have within our community a sense of disconnection and despair that is as dangerous as any bullet or any billy club. it absolutely is. [applause] but of course i'm not the first to note that, and honestly i would refer you back to that work of art by ralph ellison, invisible man. invisible man. and you will see all of that there.
and you will see the consequences of it as well. and of course the reason why we have to face this and deal with these issues is of course because as always, as with the movement 50 years ago and the issues now, it's our children who are bearing the brunt of these issues. it's our children who are growing up without that sense of connection, without the sense of protection and security that they are entitled to have. and that we want them to have. now one of the things i am doing is i'm doing a six-city community policing tour. i'm going to jurisdictions that have had very very troubled and very challenging relationships between the police and the community between five and 10 years ago. either a lawsuit, a shooting incident, a consent decree, where the department of justice has had to come in and concert a certain amount of either actual persuasion or actual litigation in order to manage unconstitutional policing practices. but there are jurisdictions that have turned that corner, and i'm talking to people about how and
why that is the case. and of course things are still not perfect, there are still people who feel on the fringes of what we are trying to achieve for them, and those are the voices that i want to hear the most, because those are the voices i have to address. and when i was in pittsburgh i was talking to a group of young people, high school students, because they will tell you what is happening in their daily lives and they'll tell you what they see, and they'll tell you, more importantly, how it makes them feel. and i was talking with a young man who told me he was afraid to walk in this particular pittsburgh neighborhood, he described it as a fairly rough neighborhood. and so he felt threatened by forces around him who had other agendas, who were trying to draw him into gang life or try to draw him into violence or possibly put him in the way of being accidentally caught in crossfire. but what he told me that was the most painful thing was that it wasn't just the other residents who frightened him who clearly
were not on the past that he was -- path that he was on. he was excelling in school and moving ahead with a bright future, he was also afraid to call the police when he felt that way. because he didn't know if he could tell the difference between him and the people who were trying to do him harm. and what i say is, what we have to acknowledge is is that no one should feel that way. not in america. not today. not our children. and for those of us who've spent a career in law enforcement and the people i know on this panel and the people in this room, anyone in law enforcement who hears that should say "i do not want that feeling in a child of mine." because they're all our children. they all have to be. and this has to be the starting point for our work. do our children feel safe? and if they do not, what are we doing to change that dynamic for them? what are we doing, not only to make them safe, but to make them feel that there are people and
forces that look out for them, that are supporting them, and that are coming into the community to protect them. not only does the doj recognize this issue, we are now, not only does the department of conflict and to heal these divisions in our neighborhood that have resulted in stolen lives and broken communities. i very much view our role as working to invite the voices that are here in this room. -- working to amplify the voices that are here in this room. we are working to cultivate the opportunity to let people come together. to do the real work, the hard work that results in safer communities anymore just society. -communities- and a more just society.
we have to do more. one thing that i mentioned we are working on -- one of my top priorities as attorney general is dealing with the breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities we are sworn to serve. i spend a lot of time talking to both sides. i spent time talking to people who have had these experiences with law enforcement, who share them with me. it's a gift when some one shares their pain with you. you have to understand that it is a gift they are giving you, the ability to understand what has happened to them. i've also talked to a lot of force with officers who say to me, what i want to do is protect people. i became a cop because someone helped me. or i saw people in my community going the wrong way, and i want to prevent that. increasingly, i became a cop because i see the way things are going and i want to make it better. bringing those voices together, letting them find a place in which to talk and to interact is
a key part of what the doj is looking to do. at the end of the day, we are all part of tehe community. our responsibility to it grows, and should blossom. there are things we are doing by way of initiative. just last year, we launched the national initiative for building community trust and justice. this is a country has of approach to training and policy and research, intended to advance procedural justice and to promote racial conciliation and eliminate complicit biases. our civil rights division continues to work with police departments across the country to ensure constitutional policing in their jurisdictions. i have been so heartened by the fact that none of the police department's have told us they
are making the ferguson report required reading for the retirement -- that they are making it required reading for the entire department. because they know that in order to prevent the problems of ferguson, you have to not only acknowledge them, but look at the root causes of them. office of justice programs is partnering with law-enforcement a brief -- at the state and local level. through them and training and technical assistance, through our office of media oriented policing services, ron davis, the outstanding director of that office is here. we are hoping to hire and train officers to promote officer safety and wellness and to support state and local and tribal law enforcement agencies as they implement recommendations of the president obama's task force on
20th-century policing. they carried the maxims of community policing that we have seen been effective over the years. those of us who are from new york know about noble organizations, the president is here as well. but also the impact of a country of devoted -- of a cadre of dedicated officers. providing real service and real protection. through this task force, we are seeking to extend these principles across the country. we have been hearing from extraordinary individuals and exceptional organizations like the ones presented on this panel. leeson ithe biggest have seen in my impunity --
in my own community policing tour, is that the real solutions come from the places that are seeing the problem. it's not a problem that will be solved by washington imposing some policy from on high. it will be solved by us empowering people living in these areas to work through these issues. by us providing resources and assistance for people to come to the solution that leads to better days. i was talking with my father this morning, i was us again how the conference was going, how the panels were going. and what was the best part. and what he said to me did not surprise me. he said, the best part is that on every panel he had seen -- and i'm sure it was true of eople are talking about their real lives and the real issues. not just a study being brought to bear. the real problems and finding real solutions for them.
that's why our community policing roundtables are so important. i've been to a number of cities already. i'm looking forward to going out to the west coast next week, and also extending this tour to look wayse best practices, the people have found a way out of these challenging situations. not to a perfect solution, but to a working solution. we look forward to being able to share with all communities. we do more than that the justice department. we also have to bolster trust in the institutions that make up our criminal justice system. we are doing that in part under the "smart on crime" initiative. it was launched to a years ago -- two years ago by attorney general eric holder. [applause] he took a visionary approach
across the kernel justice system and looked at ways -- the criminal justice system and look at ways in which we had a well-meaning program 20 years ago, but looked at the consequences on our communities then and now. i talk about over incarceration of mostly minority young men of color for nonviolent drug offenses. that has so decimated our communities. not just the problems of the drugs themselves, but the removal of these young men communities and from families. iss has been a hole that created. the issue for the the departed of justice under eric holder, under myself, how can we go about feeling that hole? frankly, we feel that we do that in a way that protects public safety, but also takes into account these important issues.
initiativeon crime" has been one of those rare points of bipartisan accord. as you talk about over incarceration rates, whether from my financial perspective or a human capital and cost perspective. federal prosecutors are using resources to bring the most serious wrongdoers to justice, but using their discretion to find more effective ways -- drug courts, focusing on incarceration. for those for whom other methods will provide personal accountability without the devastating consequences we have seen in the past. been,rse the benefit has as the overall crime rate has declined for the first time in four decades, this policy continues forward and will continue. we are focusing on reentry. as we work out ways-- [applause]
out waysh: as we work for the zone people to return home -- for these young people to return home, and some may not be so young when they get out -- we also have to work out ways for them to rebuild a home. we have to work out ways for them to return to not just their families and communities, but to society. whether that is to education programs in prison. just a month ago i stood with secretary of education arne duncan as he announced the pilot program to allow colleges to use programs for those currently incarcerated. -- to use pell grants for those currently incarcerated. a have to provide them with education while incarcerated and opportunities once they are released. [applause] course, it's not just
purchase a beating in your family -- not just participating in your family, community, or society, the ultimate participation in the american spirit called democracy is the right to vote. that is why the department of justice continues-- [applause] --continues to call for all states to revisit the issue of felon disenfranchisement. let them vote. let them vote. [applause] we are talking about our country's most sacred right. the protection of the voting rights calls for most sacred engagement. in voting cases in particular, the justice department has participated in more than 100 voting cases over the course of the obama administration. we are all aware of the supreme court's 20 cute teen decision in shelby county that took away --
key decision in shelby county away a key part that organizations to determine their impact on minority's voting rights, whether it is a dilution or demolition therof. we were able to vent of the rollback of this important right. this court has spoken. oflost part, but only part, the voting rights act. we have kept up the charge. and we have not been idle. just recently, we successfully challenged texas'strict voter id law. [applause] in a separate action, we sued to block two of texas' redistricting plans. and in my home state of north carolina, we are challenging several provisions of a state law that curves early voting and
restricts same-day registration. as the president has said, why do we want to restrict the right to vote? the right that makes us free and independent? it gives us the envy of other countries. when they talk about the benefits and the values of a merica, one of the things you will hear it when you travel outside this country, is franky their awe at the fact that we can have a peaceful transition of power that we have every 4-8 years. that is because we invest in this democracy. why do we want to do anything to curtail anyone's participation in what has been an example to the world, and has to be the beacon that we use to ensure freedom in this country? the message from the department of justice is clear. we will not stop in these efforts. we will not be deterred. we will not rest until we have secured the right to vote for
every eligible american. [applause] and of course, that extends beyond the courtroom and the actions that we bring. working with many of the members who are sponsoring this wonderful weekend, and other members of congress as well. we have promoted legislative proposals to restore the voting rights act to its full and proper and intended purpose. [applause] we have also proposed legislation that would expand access to polling places for those living on indian reservations. and alaska native villages and other tribal lands. we cannot have a situation in this country where the original americans are kept out of the participation in the bounty of this land. [applause] we cannot have that. we do this also through our monitoring program, monitoring
federal elections, and have actively enforced the national voter registration act to protect those registering to vote. as well as the rights of our uniformed members of the military and overseas citizens who seek to vote as well. keeping on to what makes them essentially american. we will always protect their rights as well. of course, the right to vote follows from one of our nation's most fundamental promises, that no one should have to endure this creation or unfair treatment -- injure discrimination based on unfair treatment on what they look like. is justice department practicing on the frontlines against hatred and intolerance and are fighting back by his motivated violence. -- bias motivated violence. signed into law by president obama in 2009. [applause]
this law will enhance our ability to hold accountable those who victimized their fellow americans because of who they are. we have worked with our state and local partners to make sure that hate crimes are identified and investigated. and we have continued to bring, and will continue to bring, federal hate crime charges. including our current prosecution of dylann roof for the murders of 9 people of fa ith. 9 people who died at mother emanuel church in south carolina just a few months ago. for many of us, as we sat and watched that event, that took us back to a time that we thought was over. this is a new day. look who is in the white house. look who is in the to permit of justice. -- indie department -- in the department of justice.
we thought we passed those stark reminders that we live in a world of hate. we thought we moved past this history of bigotry and brutality. we thought we had left behind the pure intimidation and cruelty of the night writers. those who come in the night and try and keep you. we thought we had moved away from that. for many of us, it took us back to another time when we thought we had erased it away forever. a time, when just 52 years ago this week, four little girls went to church one morning. they went to sunday school one weekend. and they were there attending a sermon called "the love that forgives." they didn't come home that day. four families live on with the loss of their children who suffered the bomb in the baptist church in birmingham. in the days after the bombing,
52 years ago -- i was four years old -- and my father, michael parents, looked at me and my two -- my father looked at me and my two brothers, how can i keep my children safe from the world that wants to tell them that they are different and less than, that they don't matter? and that they are simply canada fodder? fodder?on he decided he had to keep working, keep marching, keep pushing, keep advancing. there are no guarantees, 52 years ago, when four little bodies do not come home. we did not know that we would get a voting rights act. did not know we would get the civil rights act. nothing was guaranteed. but with a deep faith and commitment, people pushed forward. we are at that same again. in the days just after that bombing, more than 8000 people,
people of all colors and creeds and backgrounds, races and religions, attended a memorial service for those young victims. one of those individuals who gave many stirring eulogies was the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. of course, he was familiar not just with the town, but with the church, not just with the church, but with the families, not just the families, but the four little girls themselves. in his address, at a time of great tragedy and great challenge, he urged his fellow citizens to channel their grief, to harness their energy. he said "we have to work passionately and on relentlessly for the realization of the american dream." the people sitting in the pews of that dark day 52 years ago, as my father looked at his children and wondered how he would keep us safe, could hardly have imagined the progress we have made thanks to their
efforts. they could hardly have imagined this group, the congressional like caucus it self -- black causucus itself gaining strengt. they could not have imagined the philosophy and teaching. they could not have seen who would be sitting in the white house today, sitting in a meeting with then attorney general, who was that little girl whose father said i have to protect. they knew there were better days coming. they knew that if they pushed forward, they could move past the pain of a bomb that were a part of church. they knew that their work was over, just as ours is not also. we have more work to do. we are here today to get started. many people here working or going to continue. those people who are younger, new to the cause, will join in.
we will keep pushing ahead. every american has the right to grow up in a community and world that offers not just responsibility to uphold, but also opportunities to succeed. because every american has the right to live in a country that will support them and that will protect them, no matter where they live, what they look like, or who they are. every american, every american has the right to a justice system that gives them a fair opportunity to grow, to learn, to improve. [applause] and to contribute. and every american has the right to make his or her voice heard. this is just what i believe, or what you believe, it is what this country believes. it is what this country needs. it is what this society believes. it is what america has always promised to every man, woman, and child in every community across this nation.
i'm here to pledge to you today that neither i nor the department that i am so proud to lead will ever abandon our work to make that promise real. but we need your help and your partnership. just as we have in decades past to bring our country closer to its highest ideals. and we do look out and we see dark days of the times. as people did 52 years ago. but just as they did then, they looked around and saw strength. basal support, they saw fellowship, commitment. they saw what i see when i look out over this extraordinary gathering today. and they saw what i see, which is a people that will not be stopped. a people that will not be silenced. [applause] people that will not be held back. and a people that will always, always reach back and lend a
hand and pull someone alone with them. that is what we do. that is how we have made america great today. that is how we make america look to these promises to all of us. and that is how we will go forward in all the challenges that we have to face. thank you for your attention. thank you for your commitment to this important work. >> there is nothing that should follow that on this panel. we have a woman lead us out. and we would have a doctor to doctor transition.
dr. melissa. will be coming up to lead us next. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] the c-span networks feature weekends full of politics, books, and american history. saturday morning beginning at 9:30 a.m., we are live from new hampshire for the new hampshire democratic party convention. speakers include hillary clinton, bernie sanders, lincoln chafee, martin o'malley, and lawrence lessig. on sunday, a conversation with jimmy and rosalyn carter on current events and the carter center's peace and health initiative around the world. on c-span2, supreme court justice stephen breyer talks about his new book and the application of american law in international context.
saturday night, former vice president dick cheney and his daughter, lynne cheney, on their book which looks at american foreign policy and national security. on american history tv on c-span3, saturday, we are live from georgia for the commemoration of the 13 thousand union soldiers who died during the civil war at the military camp in andersonville. speakers include author and historian leslie gordon. we will take questions before and after the ceremony by phone, facebook, and twitter. sunday afternoon, archival video of pope paul the sixth and pope the paul ii as they address united nations. get our entire schedule at c-span.org. topics at the daily white house press briefing included relations with cuba, donald trump, and pope francis. it is led by white house
spokesman josh earnest. this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody. at tgif. this is the fourth of four consecutive briefings. i hope it goes well. i have the week ahead. i hope -- i will be happy to get right to it. let me do a short announcement and then i will take at least a couple of questions. on december 17, president obama announced historic changes to our cuba policy, beginning the process of normalizing relations between our countries. embargo remains in effect. the administration has published
regulatory changes to existing cuba sanctions. today, the departments of treasury and commerce took additional steps to implement the president's new policy direction, announcing additional revisions to cuban sanctions that will further advance our goal of empowering the cuban people. the united states remains committed to our enduring objective of promoting a more prosperous cuba and protecting it the fundamental human rights of all its people. we believe the changes made today will allow the united states to maintain our interest in improving the lives of ordinary cubans. for more details, i refer you to the department of treasury and commerce respectively. it is an important advancement in the policy changes the president announced last year. without out of the way, clash with that out of the way, darlene, i go to your -- with a that out of the way, darlene, i
go to your question. darlene: [inaudible] mr. ernest: this is part of the policy the president in visioned and kicked off in december of last year. more than five decades, the united states has pursued a policy of isolation against cuba, and the thinking behind the isolation and strict enforcement of the policy is couldy isolating cuba, we compel them to change their habits when it comes to the governments respect for basic human rights. and for more than five decades, the cuban government essentially ignored the policy of the united , freely engaged with a variety of other countries around the hemisphere and around the world, and our efforts the't have -- didn't yield kind of results we were looking for.
after more than five decades of that policy, the president determines that it would be more effective for the united states to begin engaging not just the cuban government, but also the cuban people. the goal of some of these policy changes is to deepen our engagement with the cuban people. i will cite just one example. from theet more detail treasury department. some of the policy changes enacted today relate to telecommunications and internet-based services, ensuring that the cuban people have greater access to information. that's one way we can give them greater opportunity and certainly more exposure to the kinds of values that we prioritize in this country.
arlene: what steps has cuba taken or told you it will take as part of normalizing relations between the countries? obviously, the business community in the united states is strongly supportive of some of the steps announced by the administration, including regulatory changes. so, while our principal goal is empowering the cuban people, there is an intended benefit for the american people as well. it advances our interest in the hemisphere, and it certainly opportunitiesess for american businesses interested in capitalizing on the markets that existing cuba. there is also the potential that would easese changes travel restrictions and make it to travel individuals to cuba. the embargo has not changed. but these regulatory changes
to peoplence people exchanges between the united states and cuba. we believe that is good for the cuban people, but there are benefits for americans as well. again, that's a policy that would not have been possible if we had continue to it here to a failed policy of isolation that or not advance our interests yield the changes on the island of cuba that we would like to see. now you have probably seen on television donald trump in new hampshire yesterday and the question about the president being a muslim american. are you surprised that issue is still out there in the world and coming up? mr. earnest: it's funny the way you phrased the question. i had the opportunity to think through what my answer might be to this type of question.
my first observation is, is anyone really surprised that this happened at a donald trump rally? i don't think anyone who has been paying attention to republican politics isn't also priced. the reason for that is that the hold these insensitive, offensive views are part of mr. trump's base, and mr. trump will be the first to tell you that he has the biggest base of any republican politician these days. now, it is too bad that he was not able to summon the same kind of patriotism that we saw from respondedcain, who much more effectively and directly when one of his of hisers at one campaign events about seven years ago raised the same kind .f false claims now, what is also unfortunate is that mr. trump is not the first republican politician to
countenance these kinds of views in order to win votes. is precisely what every republican presidential candidate is doing when they decline to denounce mr. trump's cynical strategy, because they are looking for the same votes. other republicans have successfully used this strategy. congressman told a reporter that he was david duke without the baggage. that congressman was elected by a majority to the third-highest ranking position in the house. of congressembers block immigration reform, oppose reauthorization of the voting rights act, could not support a because theyg bill are eager to defend the confederate flag. so, those are the priorities of today's republican party, and they will continue to be and tell someone in the republican party decides to summon the
courage to stand up and change it. >> should donald trump apologize to the president? mr. earnest: i haven't seen any evidence to indicate that he is interested in my advice about what he should do. insecretary kerry said london today that military talks with russia regarding syria are an important next step. i wanted to ask, what are the plans for additional talks with russia, and at what level do you whatt them to occur, and specific issues does the administration believe need to be ironed out? mr. earnest: we have hinted for a couple of days now that we be somethere would value in some tactical, practical discussions with the russians. about how to advance the goals
operations,er-isil and how to ensure the safe conduct of those operations. did have thery chance to speak to his russian counterpart today, and they discussed further mechanisms for deacon flexion in syria, essentially making sure -- de- confliction in syria. i will repeat 1.i think is something i have said before but one point iating -- think is something i have said before but bears repeating, which is that russia has long had a military presence inside syria because they have essentially used syria as a client state in the middle east. part ofe an important
propping up the assad regime. we have seen the assad regime become isolated and lose its legitimacy to leave that country, and according to many leadsts -- legitimacy to that country, and according to many analysts, lose its grip on power. we are going to continue to encourage russia to find a constructive way to support operationsnter-isil inside syria. >> on a separate issue, today a chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said china is extremely concerned about comments from admiral harris that the u.s. should challenge china's claims to territory in -- south china sea, both
china urged the u.s. not to take risky or provocative actions. theearnest: i did not see admiral's comments, so i cannot respond to those directly. we have long encourage china to find a constructive, diplomatic way to work with other countries that have claims in the south china sea to try to resolve differences of opinion there. the stakes of resolving those tensions are not insignificant. the fact is, the south china sea when itnificant area comes to international trade. there is a lot of international trade the goes through those waters, and it is in the interest in all the countries in that region of the world and in countries like the united states that have an impact on the global economy to ensure that those tensions don't interfere .ith the free flow of commerce
so, what we has steadfastly is tothe chinese to do engage with other countries in the region to find a diplomatic solution to some of these differences. we are strongly supportive of the efforts of other countries to find a diplomatic resolution for the chinese. >> i know with respect to donald trump and what happened at the rally, i know you said those comments are a reflection of what it's going on inside the republican party, and certainly a donald trump rallies. if you think there is a more deeply rooted issue here. this has been going on inside this country ever since barack obama was running for president. what does it say about this culture in this country that this is still going on months before he leaves office? mr. earnest: think of first
thing the president would say is that there is a long history throughout american politics of a robust and in some cases quite tough rhetorical debate on a range of political issues. so, it's not the toughness of the debate that the president is .oncerned about i think more broadly the concern is that we've seen a variety of leaders in the republican party countenance offensive views just .o try to win some votes that has had a significant impact on the presidential race, but it has also had a significant impact on the ability of congress to function effectively and to pass legislation like immigration reform that has wrought bipartisan support across the country, would do good things
for our economy, would help reduce the deficit, but it is blocked by republicans who countenance some of those views. i think that's the point here. thatis a cynical strategy too many republican politicians because for some of them it has proven to be successful. but there are consequences for it. there are consequences for their ability to govern the country. and there are consequences at the ballot box. because i am confident the boaters -- voters are paying attention. >> apparently donald trump's campaign said he didn't hear the comment. what do you make of that? mr. earnest: that's not what he said. >> hillary clinton said at one of her events that the obama -- keystone.n
she is going to let her feelings be known soon. what did you make of that? mr. earnest: these keystone questions are some of the easiest ones i have to answer. fortunately, you all know the answer. process at ongoing the state department that is consistent with the way these projects have been considered by previous administrations, and it is why that is the way this administration is considering this project. i think the reason it is taking longer than previous projects -- there are a variety of reasons for that, including some some people who would be affected by the construction of the pipeline that has delayed the consideration of this study being conducted by the state in terms ofbut timing of when this will be completed, i refer you to the state department. >> shouldn't she know that about
the process? she was secretary of state. mr. earnest: i think she does, but i think she is also articulating a view that i have heard from many of you that you are eager to any answer. as soon as we have one, we will let you know. >> back to the south china sea. i believe it was 2012 the last time more ships passed through waters there. there was a suggestion yesterday that the administration might send some more warships through those waters. what is the response to that? mr. earnest: for those kind of operational decisions, mark, i would send you to the department of defense. i am not suggesting that the commander in chief wouldn't have the beat on that, but at least for questions about the last time this occurred, i don't have that him for made in front of me. the department of defense would have that. thatwe have indicated is
it is important for these kinds of disputes to be resolved diplomatically among the parties andare directly involved, the united states has a clear stake in the peaceful resolution of those disputes because there are significant economic consequences for some of those differences of opinion having an impact on global trade. there is a significant flow of u.s. products from the united states to markets in asia and other places around the world that traverse those waters, and we want to make sure that flow of commerce is not interrupted. it would have significant consequences for the u.s. economy, and that's the stake have an resolving it. i don't have a policy position to share with you in terms of any upcoming operational deploymentbout the of u.s. warships in that region of the world. >> is it a policy matter and warships through the waters to assert the right of navigation? thisarnest: again, at
point, i don't have any additional details. victoria. >> you talked about trump from a policy and political point of view. i want to address it more from president obama and how he feels about this personally at this point. does this annoy him? does it press: what is his response? ,r. earnest: for that reason because these are the kinds of questions that many of us have had to answer in a variety of settings, including on places iowa, that i think we are long past being particularly concerned about them. th