tv Washington Journal William Pomeranz Discusses the Russia Investigation CSPAN June 1, 2017 8:35am-9:05am EDT
like free speech, they wanted to espouse their opinions. these were immediately dubbed propaganda stations and when they were renewed they were the best they were told to be careful about addressing opinions. >> sunday night on c-span's q&a. ♪ >> span. where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span will -- was created by america's television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> washington journal continues. pedro: our next guest, william pomeranz with the wilson center, decade -- deputy director of the institute and the next on russia. thanks for joining us. a lot of discussion about communications between russia
and the united states, especially over at the election. can you give us your take of what you are hearing and the you make sense of what is going on? mr. pomeranz: there is a lot nowadays. it comes from a variety of sources. one has to try to understand where the sources are, anonymous sources, published sources, and try to put it into a pattern to see what it means. on,as the events have moved i think really two issues right now come to the top. there is now a potential third but i will focus on the first two. one is the question of michael flynn, who was clearly under investigation and who clearly has a legal problem. i think the question for michael flynn in this investigation going forward is the investigation of flynn and with len or does he have more -- does the investigation anend with flynn. the second issue is trump's
finances. where did he get all this money from during the election? it is clear that bank for not wanting to him. there are various statements by his son about money coming from the former soviet union. not just russia but other places within the former soviet union. and real questions about whether president trump and his company did enough due diligence to understand where the money was coming from. the third issue in front of you is the question of mr. kushner. pedro: as far as mr. kushner is concerned, there are questions about the relationship he had with the russian ambassador and the russian bankers. could u.s. plane who these various players are in relation to mr. kushner in terms of the ambassador and the banker? >> the ambassador is the person who represents the russian federation in the united states. it is traditional for the ambassador to have all sorts of contacts. in many ways, a meeting with jared kushner or other people is
and theysurprising should disclose that when they apply for a federal government position. but those meetings take place all the time. pedro: and that is survey to slack. -- mr. pomeranz: and also there is sergei gorkov. one clearly has no idea what was discussed in the meeting. the russian development is the russian bank is a state rank that supports project inside the country. so the question is, what was he talking to mr. kushner about? sure he showed -- so wants to invest in stadiums in russia and all those other big projects. unclear why that meeting was arranged and what they talked about. backdrop of some sort of creation of an alternative channel of
communication that would actually use russian facilities. pedro: before we go further i want to let our viewers calling. if you want to ask our guest questions about the rush investigation and the trump administration, (202) 748-8000 for democrats. (202) 748-8001 for republicans and (202) 748-8002 four independents. you can also tweak at c-span wj. but this idea of the back channel, what do you think about it on its face as far as the desire establishment? mr. pomeranz: it is not unheard of to have back channels. they have existed in the past. at times, they have produced important results. this back channel is questionable because of the desire to use, allegedly, russian communications facilities. therefore, it also occurs within the backdrop of talks donald
trump was having on u.s. policy and was not attempting to bypass the national security agency, u.s. intelligence and a whole host of other agencies that they want to know what is being discussed. on a certain level, using these back channels. pedro: so the use of russian facilities and the attempt to bypass u.s. security apparatus ultimate desire to have a back channel -- an ultimate danger to have a back channel at the u.s. facility versus the russian facility? i am not aware of any attempt to use russian facilities to create such a channel. pedro: you talk about michael flynn being subpoenaed now by the house intelligence committee. but michael cohen is mr. trump personal attorney. mr. pomeranz: we are not exactly sure what he is being called about.
he has appeared on various stages of this investigation, someone with strong connections to the region. 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 was a person who allegedly may have had communications with russians or other people during the campaign. he is his personal lawyer but he is also a businessman and a person with significant contacts. pedro: our guest has studied and researched extensively on russia and related activities and issues regarding russia and also at the wilson center serves as their deputy director, william pomeranz. david is in los angeles, on the independent line. you are up first. good morning.
caller: what is certainly fascinating about this russian propagandaw primarily used by autocrats and the tutorial regimes have completely co-opted and corrupted the american political sphere. and you have it where you have the democrat and the republican issues being manipulated for the purposes of deceit. issue, it with this is like people come on and they and theyreally docile are reporting this to the american people. but this is something that we are told is normal. we are living in times right now where that which is absurd has been normalized. i think trump is a cheerleader
in this. so instead of him trying to get at what has actually occurred, what we are dealing with is the issues that distract us and cause divisions. mr. pomeranz: i think one of the interesting aspects of this whole situation is the extent to which russia was able to use seemingly normal news channels to get out its specific story. forwardews that was put by various state institutions. it was wikileaks, the hacking of the democratic headquarters, and we've got a whole different alternative narrative that hasn't been able to enter -- that has been able to enter the mainstream. this is the problem of the 21st century. we no longer have three channels and two newspapers that sift the news and put forward the main news stories of the day.
news comes from all different sources. it is hard to verify the ways by which these news stories can come to the top of the agenda. it creates a very different environment. this is getting into the question of fake news and the russian ability to use these resources to push forward its international agenda. it is the new use of soft power and the russians have decided this is the area they want to focus on. pedro: democrats line. marcia in trenton, new jersey. caller: 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 29. why would he even consider giving them back?
mr. pomeranz: that refers to a news story that was broken by the washington post this morning. that the president is considering returning the two compounds that were closed at the end of the obama wherestration and president obama accused them of being engaged in intelligence gathering activities. why president trump wants to give them back is unclear. the caller raises an important question though. is considering this, what is he asking in return? if this is 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. this gets back to the negotiating strategy of president trump and gets back to the larger question of what he
wants the u.s. to do with sanctions imposed in the aftermath of ukraine. that are lots of talks michael flynn and president trump were interested in lifting those sanctions but there is no discussion as to what was going to be the deal, whether there was going to be a negotiation or whether it was simply going to be a unilateral sanctions. that is an important part of this question because president deal cast himself as a maker but when it comes to russia and the sanctions, it doms like he is willing to unilateral sanctions. pedro: carol in castleberry, florida. republican line. you are on. mr. pomeranz: i have a question. caller: when we were in the midst of the campaign, i heard a number of stories about how rush had -- how russia had given the "nonprofit" of the clintons tens of thousands if not hundreds of
thousands of dollars in donations. so why are not we hearing about come, if russia was going to lean towards anyone, it wouldn't have leaned towards hillary because it would expect something in return for the tens of thousand dollars they gave it as donations? mr. pomeranz: there are a few people that president clinton -- president putin dislikes more than hillary clinton. there is no doubt he believes she was responsible for the events in ukraine and that she was responsible for the introduction of sanctions and that if there is one thing that there is consensus on, it is that if russia is behind the release of information, it was because he wanted to damage hillary clinton. i don't think that whatever sort of small donation -- i am not aware of those the nations
-- that were made to the clinton foundation, i don't think putin was interested in having a good relationship with hillary clinton. that was the rationale behind a lot of the russian actions during the campaign. thisllary clinton had won could have been a focus of attention. president trump is in office and i think the focus of attention turns to him and his business activities. pedro: you talked about that. could you paint a picture of what you might look for as far as relating the president's business activities and relations with russia? mr. pomeranz: the question is how much money did donald trump get to maintain and run his businesses from not just russia, but from ukraine and azerbaijan and from the former soviet union. as i mentioned before, president trump had great difficulty
obtaining financing from western banks. therefore, you have to look for alternative means for financing. allegedly, a lot of that money ultimately came from the soviet union. that poses a problem because under various u.s. laws, president trump was required to find out the source of that money. based on what has been purported in the press so far, we just have snippets of some of these business transactions, but has -- what has been reported was that he was not diligent in finding out the sources of that money and knowing who he was doing business with. pedro: when you hear calls i some to release tax returns in these will extend a situation, do you think it is as simple as that? mr. pomeranz: i think we get a lot of information from the tax returns. we get a better idea of some of his sources of income. tother that is sufficient
fully inform everybody as to his sources of financing, we may require more information. pedro: alexander in virginia, independent line. good morning. democracy,hink in our system of government is being put under stress at this point and i think it is stal ing. whatever happened to checks and balances in our government? congress has not taken action against mr. trump. he has done so many things up to this point, including not releasing his taxes and not divesting himself from his interests and has continued to profit while he is the sitting president and congress is taking no action. with regards to the back channel, i thought back channels or something reserved for sitting administrations. mr. kushner was not appointed at the time as advisor to trump. so how is it possible that he would create a back channel with
russia and hide it from our government? that is problematic. think for thei back channel, the assumption was that the channel would exist once the administration began. it wasn't simply a back channel prior to the assumption of power thatt was a back channel would be used as soon as donald trump got into power. on the question of the u.s. democracy, this is a unique time in american politics. one can see that it is a challenge of our system of government and checks and balances but in light of how this story is playing in the united states, the amount of coverage it gets, and in light of the difficulties confronting hisident trump in passing domestic agenda, on a certain level, the checks and balances are working. then assure you that in post-soviet era, they do not
have similar checks and balances. in their ability to hold officials accountable is much less. pedro: from hunter, eastern connecticut, republican line. good morning. for havingnk you this important conversation. tocomment is that in order understand where we are now it is important to take a look at history. history.lly, recent when hillary was secretary of state and barack obama was our president. with look at what happened respect to those two global actors and vladimir putin and russia, with sanctions, with , we have to nato look at nato here. nato is a huge piece of this puzzle.
look at military escalations and we see that russia feels threatened. putin feels threatened. he is responding in a way of a threatened global nuclear armed power. that is how he is responding and he mobilized everything he possibly could in order to protect himself and retaliate against the threats coming from hillary and obama and nato. theory that this war and hillary, i am talking total cyber warfare, i don'tgical warfare, know, my time is limited here, but war between putin and hillary results in donald trump. pedro: got you, caller. mr. pomeranz: there is reason to go back and 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 during the first four years of his presidency for a reset in which there was significantly improved relations between the united states and russia. president obama did not have to do that during his first term. he made that a priority. there were flaws with the policy, but nevertheless, obama invested in a better relation with the russian federation. after the events of crimea, after the events of ukraine, where russia has assisted the rebels in taking the eastern part of ukraine, and therefore there is an ongoing civil war in ukraine, it could not be business as usual. so i think president obama did work with the russian federation. i think clinton's -- putin's
reaction to ukraine was not based on any major event the united states had directed to the russian federation. in the aftermath of that we have seen an escalation of the crisis . we have not even yet hit rock bottom. from cnn but it was picked up by the business russia, reporting on having potentially derogatory information about trumps financial information. do you take that at face value or is that something the russian government is putting up just to put out? assumeeranz: one should that, especially in mr. trump's position, that he was a person of interest when he visited russia. he should have assumed that all of his communications were being monitored and all of his actions were being monitored. believe that they they put out something that they
have information on donald trump, i have every expectation that it might be true. russian politics engages in the practice of what they call comprising information all the time. hasink since mr. trump visited the country and dealt with the country, there is every possibility that they have been gathering information on mr. trump all of that time. pedro: here is leesburg, virginia. democrats line. kevin, you are next. caller: thankscaller: for having this discussion. i hear the word back channel quite a bit and i wonder if that is appropriate. , seeingmited experience back channels being discussed through history are involving a third party or third country when we don't have a relationship. with russia, we have diplomatic relations. it seems setting up, to be a covert communication channel, especially talking about russian facilities.
it is a covert communication channel. i wonder why it would be the purpose of making that covert if we have diplomatic relations with the country, i think this ofws a very deep distrust american institutions over hundreds of years. the intelligence community, the state department, it seems to me that donald trump, on the campaign trail, at one point seemed like bluster in creating this distrust to get elected, but i think this shows that those are truly deep-seated issues that he has. pedro: i think you raise some very important points. mr. pomeranz: on a broader level , it also points to the donald trump inexperience. 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. his stated and admitted distrust of other security services and that begins to explain why he thought the back channel was necessary. we still need to know more about what was the intention and the issue would be, whether it is plausible that the only reason hasto discuss syria which been put out so far or if there have been other reasons why president trump and mr. kushner wanted the back channel created. pedro: roger is in bedford, ohio. democrats line. caller: good morning. it is beyond me how they can talk about trump to the point of what he is doing -- which is nothing.
he asked barack obama when he came into office about his birth certificate. did barack obama show it to him? now he won't show you his taxes but he is supposed to be so rich . i don't know where you have been. if you listen, mitt romney told you from day one this is a con man. what part of that don't you understand? mr. pomeranz: consistency has not been a basic part of donald trump's political personality. the caller raises legitimate after about his going barack obama's birth certificate and demanding transparency but not being transparent when it comes to his own party. pedro: one less call. lamar, alabama, republican line. caller: i would like to ask your guest one question. at of everything i have been watching on the news, the only person -- the only people i have ever seen take money from russia
has been hillary clinton and bill clinton. so you need to tell the whole story. not just part of the story. thank you. mr. pomeranz: i think we are always learning more about this story almost everyday. i think the story has not been told. we do not know the complete story yet and that is what we are going to find out in the weeks and months to come. pedro: what is the complete story? what ultimately has to come out information wise to conclude the investigation? mr. pomeranz: the information that has to come out is what sort of contact does donald trump have with russia. influenceat have any in terms of his overall campaign and his campaign promises about having better relations with the russian federation. that was always a very puzzling part of the campaign. it can be explained rationally.
this may be something that he deeply believed in. other presidents have been elected and have had their own resets with russia. not only obama but george bush. we need to understand what was his relationship with russia? pedro: william pomeranz with the wilson center joining us with a discussion on the russia investigation. thank you for your time. i last guest is going to take a look at the state of the retail industry. online competition being a factor. she will join us for that discussion in washington. ♪ when "washington journal" continues. >> adversity of oregon's
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