tv Donald Trump and the Presidency CSPAN October 1, 2017 12:26pm-1:29pm EDT
2's book tv. from the annual texas tribune festival on the university of texas in austin. this is one hour. as we were saying. i'm happy to welcome you to the texas tribune festival and to trump and the presidency. a very rich panel. there is a whole bunch of trump and resistance, trump and congress, we hope this is the first of a huge day. there is lunch on the main mall. the day willing -- conclude with a reception at the at&t center. this panel is supported by
pearson and the sponsors and donors underwrite would play no role in the content of the panel or my line of questioning. this event will be 60 minutes. the last 15 to 20 will be open to questions from your audience. after that pearson will be , hosting all of us for a brief meet and greet next door where hub of theommunity texas union building where we will all drain the swamp together. so please join us for that. if you are going to tweet during this event, while you are looking at your phone, please silence it. with that said, let me introduce our panelists. douglas left is brinkley. he is a professor at rice and cnn's historian and the author of several books about the presidency. most recently "rightful heritage." next in him is the national political correspondent for npr. she has covered every
presidential election since 1992. >> 1776. [laughter] >> you can hear her on shows like morning edition. she is a contributor to fox news. you are left is a historian and writer who holds the senior chair in history at ut. he is an author of several books about the presidency. macarthur and " truman at the brink of nuclear war." some of you have seen the written materials. we were supposed to be joined by dan rather but he was unable to come. the four bus will carry on in his absence. let's start with an innocent time in history. december. [laughter] >> president-elect trump had you as one of his guests for a lunch at mar-a-lago where he talked about the presidency and the office he was about to inhabit.
what did he talk about at the lunch? >> he was president elect and i am the presidential historian for cnn. he was just starting to have his war with cnn. when i first met him, he did not have nice things to say about my network. then i got to talk to him about the presidency. i asked him about presidents he has met in his life. his personal relationship with them. he told me about how jimmy carter, how he had given money to anybody to be jimmy carter in 1980. he thought carter was a terrible president. to his surprise after the election, carter came to see him, made an appointment and wanted money from trump for his new center. he said i really admire jimmy ander now that he came in
came i've also liable even though i didn't like him and ask for money. >> did he say if he gave the money? >> he would not give him any money. he said with richard nixon he became friendly with nixon because he was on the phil donahue show and pat nixon saw . she said honey, that is going to be a president of the united states on the donahue show. he got a letter from nixon, which you willing should we -- which he willingly shows people, president trump. he says his wife never saw anybody as smart on tv. they started dining regularly together. nixon was trying to a reach out, he was trying to get back in the game. remember, his reputation was in tatters. he was living in northern new jersey. donald trump in the 1980's was on the covers of magazines and
one of the big new york builders. so it makes sense why nixon might have reached out like that to him. stories like that they talked , about reagan. it wasn't anything deeply illuminating. however, we talked about inaugural speeches, and he had not prepared yet. he just kept saying i want to be short. i want to be short. i told him about william henry harrison and then dying after only one month. we talked about kennedy. but it was a pretty innocuous meeting. my take away is he had almost zero understanding of american history. he is a child of television and operates on gut instinct of what he sees. he's very visual. we all now know how much he watches cable. intellectualis his source, cable news. he may have a short attention
, so the idea that he reads books -- like h. w. brands's book not going to happen. , >> did he seem surprised that he had won. dr. brinkley: yes. he kept spinning this idea that there was voter fraud. that hillary did not really when by 3 million illegal people because they i was a illegally voted. little startled that he was clinging to that false narrative while he won. you might as well be magnanimous. it was a weird moment in history, i don't know if you -- if he knew whether he knew he was going to repeal and replace obamacare or do infrastructure. i think the betting money was he going to do -- he was going to do repeal and replace obamacare. when general flynn got busted, -- he really started recognizing he was going to be
under investigation, his instinct was to double down with his base. i think that pipedream that maybe he was a third wave, not a democrat or republican and might try to do bipartisan things, that evaporated quickly. he was red meat for the base, 35%-40% of the voting public. doubling down all the way through last night and alabama talking about alabama, the nfl rallylin kaepernick at a for endorsing support of senate candidates. mara, we are eight months into the trump administration. do you have a sense of how trump regards the institution of the presidency, the topic of this panel? ms. liasson: that is a really good question. i think he views the presidency of the institution as definitely not a coequal branch of government. i think he sees it as a super
hyper -- super-equal branch of government. he is frustrated he did not get the kind of respect, he is not venerated in the way he likes to. the fact that he loved that military parade so much in france and talked about wanting to have one here, the kind of leaders, authoritarian, anti-democratic leaders he respects and bonds with around the world tells you a little bit about how he views his role. i guess as a journalist, when he came into office i kept a couple questions in my mind. one was is donald trump different in degree or kind from previous presidents? is he just a router, cruder, -- ruder, cruder conservative republican, or is he just wholly different? i thought at first he was just a
rude conservative republican? , i am now thinking he is different in kind. his views of other democratic institutions like the judiciary, the press the things he feels, , the norms he feels comfortable breaking, i do not think he sees them as norms. i think he is different in kind. i do see him as a stress test for democratic institutions. i think that is something that is the big story of his presidency. independent judiciary survive intact the , press is under tremendous pressure, not just from trump. those are the things i'm washing for. but i think he sees the presidency in a different way than any other modern president. i would love to hear what the presidential historians think about this. but he described his inauguration as "i took an oath to the american people, not the constitution." i do not think he thinks about the constitution or has any restraints on him. the things he has talked about with such glee is how when he is
can do anything illegal. the president cannot have a conflict. i forget how he put it, but something like that. i think he sees it as so many of the things in his life have been, a big get out of jail free card. i do not mean that literally. [laughter] >> bill, as a presidential historian and as someone who has seen studied how different men , through history regard the constitution, how does trump compare? dr. brands: he looks at it as a businessman. there is a reason donald trump is the only president whose top line on the resume was businessman. the only other successful business person to become president was herbert hoover, who is not a great advertisement for being a good president. but i think what mara just described, his impatience with
institutions goes very much in line with the impatience that a ceo would have. the fundamental line between business and politics is that in business you can fire people who are causing your trouble. but the president cannot. he cannot fire the senate majority leader, the supreme court, he has to live with it. and trump is running against it. as someone who is brand-new to politics, he has not accepted this. i'm not sure at the age of 71 he is inclined to change his ways. i think he still hopes he can change the institutions rather than have the institutions change him. >> we have all been processing the flurry of news over the first eight months of the administration. i will start with a twitter open. did you just see what donald trump just said? since you guys are paid to imagine the unimaginable, what has gone as you have expected about these first eight months and what is different?
dr. brinkley: well getting neil , gorsuch into the supreme court was as expected. he was going to pick a conservative, and that is going to have a lasting impact. that as all, i see his biggest success in i thought 2017. the twitter use would get toned down. i had a fantasy that his daughter would have been the twitter czar. every time he would push send, she would have to read it first, 90 percent of them would go out what she would say not -- out, but she could say not that not that one. one, the determination to keep inflaming and dividing the country, all presidents try to unite. john kennedy's first 100 days was a failure. bay of pigs, cosmonauts going
into space with russia. but by meeting -- kennedy went d up the baycrewe of pigs and cuba. do not blame ike. i d did that. he had a 77% approval rating after his first 100 days. that, in his first year he had an 80% approval rating. that is not going to happen with trump. as he mentioned last night in alabama, wherever he goes he is polarizing. he feels he is winning in a divide and conquer way. i worked on books on reagan before, and reagan used to say you have to have 50% of the box office to get something done, which means your poll has to be 50%, 51% to get something through. trump is constantly operating at 35% to 40%. hence nothing is getting done. , but he steals the headline news every day because of twitter.
and by playing this cultural wargame like we saw in , charlottesville, like what you are seeing with football last night. i find it a bit reprehensible, because it is pitting american against american in order to be in charge. it all began with this birther movement on obama and the theding of the wall and the making latino americans feel like lesser people by not having a meeting with john lewis to talk about civil rights. serious, and as we say on cnn, an unprecedented moment where we have a president who has gone rogue on us. he is tried to do everything he can to circumvent the law. he just knows that he has an ation ifon -- innocul
he can keep 40% of the population backing anything he does. reports come out tomorrow, in short of being something so egregious that trumpet does, 35% to 40% will shrug and stay with him, because they have signed persona pulse and of donald trump. most people frustrated with trump are conservatives. they feel my god, we have been working in the conservative movement for decades and this is the result? this is what has been produced? the political currents are vicious and confused. but i think it all gets back to the 1960's and early 1970's. reagan used to say he was trying to roll back a great society. i think trump, if he had his way, would like to roll back the great society and the new deal. if he could. >> mara, what has surprised you,
of all the surprises? ms. liasson: i guess what surprised me that donald trump is is exactly the way he was during the campaign. in other words there was weird , magical thinking that this was an act, that he would revert to this kind of theory, go back to being a democrat. of donaldative theory trump suggested that because he was so unique, he could bust the partisan boundaries, do a big infrastructure deal with the democrats, was not a conservative republican, but that totally went by the wayside. he did choose a strict base strategy and subcontracted out to theislative agenda republicans in congress much to , his dismay over time. because they have not delivered, repeal and replace
obamacare and have tax reform by that is why he is so angry. august. but never one, he may have a 35% approval rating. but national approval rating does not mean that much. national poll numbers don't mean that much. hiswhat we want to know is approval rating in the 10 battleground states? when you talk to people in the white house, they believe his approval rating is not 35%, he is still about where he was when he got elected. they think he is in the 40's, and quite frankly, he could be -- legislatively, completely unsuccessful as a president, and get nothing through except neil gorsuch and a bunch of deregulations, which in and of itself could be fine, but he could win reelection. he could be political -- politically successful is because all you need to do is win by one vote in the battleground states. he could get a smaller percentage of the popular vote and still pull out in electoral college victory. i think that is why he pays such
meticulous attention to the base. but in terms of conservatives looking on with dismay on donald trump, what happened in alabama yesterday was interesting. not just the incredible 90 minute screed. we should go back and watch that various all of its --ours that he took come but took, but he was campaigning for a candidate luther strange, that , his base does not like. what that trip to alabama was was a test for whether the trump base's loyalty to trump and his he once famously said i could shoot someone on fifth avenue and not lose any voters, and his base has been described as a cult of personality. but many republicans say the cult is not as big strong as -- big or strong as people think. they will come to the rally with plot at all his lines, and then vote for roy
moore, the man he was campaigning against. >> here's a quote from the rally. it is a fascinating thing. it is about colin kaepernick, but it could be about any number of things with the president. this is him talking about an nfl owner with a player kneeling during the national anthem. that son of aget the field right now, get him out, he is fired." what does that say about donald trump going in with that kind of language to that venue? dr. brinkley: i think the actions that he takes are calculated, and to some attempt they are simply impulsive. the more i watch, the more i think it is simply impulsive. i'm not sure that he had a purpose, even sure that he knew he was going to say that when he stepped up to the mic. he started up and wandered off.
i think that is one of the reasons that people around him are so far unable to rein him in because they don't know what he , will do and when he will do it. one of the remarkable things to me about president trump is that he is exactly like he was during the campaign. for everybody else, there is a candidate discount you take into account when they change from candidate to be president. because they realize these are two different roles. with president trump, there does not seem to be any differentiation. the first signal is when you election, and then you give your inaugural address. and everybody else before trump has followed the thomas jefferson model after the very divisive 1800 election, where the two major parties all said he said we are all republicans. we are all federalists. trump made note -- no attempt at
all in that direction. one of the questions i would post tomorrow is if donald trump has to choose between getting something done, let's say, tax reforms, where he has to cut deals with the democrats he has , to choose between that and hanging onto his base. would you rather get reelected with essentially no legislative accomplishments, or get the legislative accomplishments and perhaps jeopardize his position with his base? get reelected, no doubt in my mind at all. >> one of the questions that occurs to me is what does he want out of the presidency? nearly everybody else who gets elected president realizes first of all, this is the biggest thing they have ever done because they have all been in public service before, and they at least had some idea of what they wanted to accomplish or how they want to be seen when they are out of office. with president trump, i cannot figure that out. for all i know, his major goal is to make his net worth greater
greater at the end of his time in office than it is now. ms. liasson: he wants to get good headlines. he was to get good poll numbers, but -- and he wants to be the greatest president america has ever seen, but i don't think he believes that is dependent on something here, which is in office. he can just go out and tell people that and they will believe him. [laughter] ms. liasson: but can i say one thing that has -- one thing maybe that we have been surprised at a little bit. the real concern of many people during the campaign was that he meant what he said when he said nato was obsolete and maybe we should pull back from our role in nato. he did not like multilateral alliances. you know, the whole kind of isolationist, pro-putin. that was a surprise. he was stopped by other democratic institutions from having the kind of relationship with russia that i think he wanted. and even though he was dragged kicking and screaming, he did finally affirm article five of
nato, that an attack on one is an attack on all. so what is jokingly called "the committee to save america," witches tillerson, matches -- mattis, tillerson, mcmaster, and kelly, they have constrained him. in other words, at least in foreign policy, his bark is a lot worse than his bite. he says we will destroy north korea and the next day, more sanctions. >> one day being thursday. ms. liasson: literally the next day. sanctions. he is going to pull out of the iran deal, the most embarrassing thing ever. the next day, we are going to try to negotiate some addendums to it. so i think that has been reassuring, certainly to a lot of republicans who were on the ledge around donald trump. but as long as you have got the national security team, the committee to save america in
tact, and secretary mattis calls and says it is a joke. i'm here on behalf of the secretary of reassurance. [laughter] >> i don't want to make it like donald trump is just a lone ranger. he is not. he is representing america. he has taken the low hanging fruit to win. in 1992, 19% of the public voted for ross perot. 19%, anti-nafta. that has always been a swing vote crowd. he grabbed it. george wallace, after lyndon johnson did the civil rights got and 1965 got powerful in alabama, where we are talking about. he won the south when he ran for presidency and picked up states on an overtly racist platform. he had strom thurmond and the dixie crowd. very goldwater, nuke them back to the stone age. richard nixon and his silent majority.
and some people who just wrote cannot stand democrats and liberals, so he traded a wack -pack of a coalition. but with all these, his whole presidency is trying to keep that together for what they suggested. reelection. he plays to win. for him it is about winning. , he never left the campaign. why stop campaigning? keep running. he also gets that nurses stick -- narcissistic feed from the crowd. when you read about people with malignant self-love and narcissistic disorder, they cannot take much negativity. he is going to watch cable and get a boatload of negativity. he gets his high by going to alabama and saying just the thing that will bring the house down and basically brought
racial politics into alabama attacking the nfl players. , that is donald trump. so i think he is nativist, xena phobic, -- xenophobic, and that was dog whistles. a businessman who does not like a lot of federal regulation because they stopped him from building projects, and he has the typical right of builders and developers, that they could have put this up two years student -- sooner if it were not for the red tape. >> after charlottesville, you saidon and the morrow, and he does not see his job as president as providing moral leadership to the country. this is very different from every other modern president when faced with a racial episode like this. so can you be president of the united states and be amoral on a topic like charlottesville? do you have to provide moral
leadership? ms. liasson: he is the president of the united states and he is not providing moral leadership, so i guess the answer to that question is yes. but that was an amazing moment because the easiest thing for presidents is 2 -- it is almost like default on your keyboard what you say after a moment of , racial tension. it is in the memory banks. you stand up and say words of inclusion and healing and even if you do not say them very eloquently, every other president has said that. there is a standard thing for presidents to say after an incident of racial tension, and he chose not to do that. and it turned out it was about him. what happened was they had not -- they had written a statement like that for him that he wrote off a teleprompter, but he just looked mad and either did not like the way it was received or people accused him of waiting too long, so he let it rip, you know, when he was in trump tower. you saw the incredible images of john kelly looking like he wanted to sink through the marble floor.
that is how he -- he does not see the president as providing moral leadership but as a cheerleader for america, and he said that during the campaign. you can see when he goes down to the hurricane areas for which he , got good remarks, good marks, and that is why his poll numbers ticked up a little bit. he goes and talks about how great everything is and the relief effort is, and how great it is that we only lost 33 people. so he does see it as the cheerleader and salesman. he is always talking about how many fighter planes foreign leaders decided to buy, so he does see his role that way as a booster. but the question i have for these two guys is do you think, after donald trump leaves office in four or seven years, there will be a move to constrain the presidency? in other words one of the , effects of donald trump will be a diminishment of the powers of the executive to make it a
law that you have to release her -- your tax returns, to actually enshrine in law that you cannot have conflicts of interest, things like that, because that is what happened after watergate. not everything is written into law. [applause] ms. liasson: all these norms we hear about, i almost feel like there is a guy named norm who is being obliterated every day by donald trump. but there are all these things presidents just did and now , donald trump does not want to do any of them, so i am wondering if the upshot of this is that, you know -- quex it is very possible. after franklin roosevelt won in 1944, he had a constitutional amendment only have two terms. so there will be a kind of post-trump reflection and we , will have to see how that plays out, but we do not know at this point whether he is a one termer or two termer -- er.a three year ms. liasson: a four termer.
[laughter] >> i think it is all a work in progress, but he has been a great disrupter of american history. he is taking his time, going topsy-turvy, and we cannot talk about anything else because trump 20 47s donald -- 24/7. you have to unplug and take a walk because he can drive you insane because he is flipping this and that and keeping everybody off kilter. that not only plays into his hands, but we were talking earlier -- it is very likely he can win reelection. the idea that democrats are going to find a relative unknown who is going to take on the guy and vote for him -- trump is a big brand and if you do not get something like the joe biden or somebody with the big brand to take him on, it is a hard season to build somebody else from a grassroots to go knock him out, so the democrats have to be careful.
they're probably going to have about 15 candidates seeking the presidency. have bernieen sanders and elizabeth warren running mitch landrieu, cory , booker, tim ryan. i mean, the list goes on and on . not one right now. maybe you will create the obama character who will come out of the woodwork and knock trump off. i would be careful. i think he is a stronger political force than that. ms. liasson: can i offer one alternative theory to the idea that donald trump is so overwhelming, so outrageous that we have to react to everything , and you know, 24 hours a day trump. that is true, but there is a completely opposite reaction happening around the world, which is that they do not listen to him because whatever he says does not matter because he does not follow through. he does not do it. foreign leaders hear him say this and they go, he is not
going to pull out of nato, he is not going to pull out of the iran nuclear deal. and in congress, i think that is happening a little bit. when he signed -- congress did something kind of amazing. they passed the russia sanctions 494-0,omething like 98-2. he did not want it. he issued a signing statement. he did not want more sanctions on russia. he wanted the opposite. but he issued a statement about all the ways he disagreed with this bill. somebody asked bob corker afterword, "what do you think of the president signing statement?" he said "whatever." for the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee to say "whatever" about the president of the united states and the way that mitch mcconnell reacted to his making attention of the deal on daca, he just said we look forward to seeing the president's legislative proposals. i mean, they are starting -- as much as we are obsessed with him people are starting to tune him , out also. that is the point i am making. that is a great
point. i edited a book called "the nixon tapes," and we had to go through all the nixon tapes. the media always picks on his persian language, inflammatory language. but the thing that stuck out for me was how people was starting to disregard kissinger -- he was starting to unravel nixon of 1973 through the nixon tapes in 1973, kissinger was like yes sir, [indiscernible] they would all just go "yes sir, right away." and nobody would follow the order of the president. [laughter] dr. brinkley: and if you are having worries about trump having his finger on the nuclear button, so to speak, and the north korea crisis, andy, the chief of staff that george w. -- of george w. bush told at the time of 9/11, he went down in florida, and andy got to come on stage. if you remember, bush was reading "my pet goat." and andy had to whisper in his ear. he kept kind of doing the thing,
and as soon as they got backstage, a cluster of government officials were there and bush said "we are going right now back to d.c." we have to go back right now. they said we are not letting you bush threw a tantrum. he said "i am the president. let's go." "we are not allowing you." the government is not allowing you. you cannot go to washington. you're going to go to louisiana and hide. >> the deep state. [laughter] >> there are mechanisms. the idea that trump is going to you were just saying how people do not follow his orders. he is going to tell kelly we are going to go all in on the plan on north korea. it is not going to happen that way. >> something that mara said and i take issue with is i think it is important to keep in mind
what president trump has accomplished. there are two things historians will write about 20 years from now regarding the trump presidency. we have the suspend judgment. the presidency is not completed. two things have happened already that are historic. he filled the ninth seat on the supreme court with a 49-year-old conservative who might be rendering conservative of opinions 40 years from now. that is a big deal. i will take issue with what mara said, but also confirming what she said. the president has single-handedly undermined american leadership in the world, and this is something that goes back to franklin roosevelt. from world war ii until the obama presidency, every president of the united states realized it is important for the united states to take world leadership. the president of the united states was the most important single figure in world affairs. that is not the case now.
president trump has basically abdicated that role. even if he grudgingly affirms article four of nato, the fact he has to do it grudgingly, angela merkel is the leader of nato now. if there is a leader. on the world environment, the president of china is more progressive than the president of the united states. when president trump says one day he is going to pull out of the iran deal and the next day he is not. for the last 75 years, the word of the president of the united states was something pretty much everybody else around the world would take to the bank. the word of this president basically means nothing. you lose that, you lose the confidence of the world, and it is really hard to get that back. mara: i think a lot about this. the damage he is doing to america's standing in the world, or the disruption, is that permanent?
it matters whether it is four or eight years. america is the world's greatest democratic superpower. none of that goes away. we still have these democratic institutions he has not succeeded in totally undermining yet. in a post-trump world, and i do believe the next president, his whole message will be "i am not donald trump." whoever it is, whether it is mike pence or anybody, how much of that can be repaired? because america is more than just one president. >> i think it can be repaired. i am confident in the united states that that could be repaired. our country -- all of our allies will come back to us. they recognize we are having a weird aberration going on right now. we have to figure it out. they have their own problems. some of these countries have their own similar problems with great britain was the brexit
debate and all. it is a confusing period of time, but i think we can right the ship in four years. if trump makes it for eight years, it may do permanent damage, but right now, we have earned enough credibility in the offld to be given all one- with him that it just got out of control, particularly with the russia scandal, the internet. you know, all of this was the perfect storm of confusion, and this happens from time to time in world history. america will get a pass in a couple of years. mara: very optimistic. you know how american leaders are always saying we separate the russian people from the russian leaders. the iranian people, we have no grief with them. now, the world has to do that with us, that america equals donald trump. >> we were up in vancouver. nobody was angry at the united states.
they were more laughing. "you guys now are not laughing at our politicians. america is the butt of the world." with our key allies, it is good-natured right now and they are hoping we fix our own house pretty soon. >> do we think donald trump has fundamentally changed the institution of the presidency in eight months already? >> he has cheapened it. i think it used to be -- he has made the white house seem tacky, like things are up for sale. the lack of transparency on taxes, constantly being in mar-a-lago and new jersey, eating up taxpayers' money. he has diminished the role of what the presidency means, and that is not a partisan thing. i think ronald reagan did a
wonderful job as a republican and george herbert walker bush, keeping a kind of institutional lore, the tradition of america. we are a country of traditions. has not taken basic lessons of civility and civics and how good government works. he is trying to monkeywrench things, operating on paranoia, calling the press the enemy of the people. you know, writing every day weird, crazy emails about everything under the sun. >> tweets. >> tweets. he is making the presidency as an institution, he is giving it a black eye. >> because he has so personalized the presidency, when he leaves, that personal aspect goes away. the institution remains. i agree with mara that the next president will be the
anti-trump. so, the president will have every incentive to restore dignity to the office and do everything. mara: and release his tax returns. that will be a fundamental threshold thing. >> i want to ask you guys one more thing. the new york times did a very short list feature called "say something nice about donald trump," which i believe was immediately abandoned due to lack of material. [laughter] >> let me ask you, the three of you. and i will give you an out. here is the fire escape i will build. something that has gone less badly perhaps than you feared? [laughter] >> i will start with you. take your time. >> i have too many to choose from. no. what donald trump demonstrated
is that you can become president of the united states without being beholden to either party. and that has its upsides and downsides. the downside is that the party has no incentive to make sure you are a success. we are seeing that, trump's relationship with congress. it looked as though for a time that the parties had had sort of a headlock on who could win. and trump demonstrated you can basically parachute in from outside and if you are sufficiently charismatic -- in his case, i would say his charisma is mostly negative. but one could imagine a positive charisma. if you are sufficiently charismatic and know how to manipulate the media, then you can get elected. i think that is a positive thing. mara: i would say that if you are a conservative republican or just a republican, you would say neil gorsuch and all the obama era regulations that have been eliminated are a good thing, but that is a partisan criteria. i would say, you know, i had something in mind. his choice of his national security team is positive.
i do not think he chose them to be the committee to save america, but he picked them. they were from central casting. they were generals. he liked them. but that was definitely a positive thing. just imagine, imagine a world where we had a kind of general flynn in every one of those positions. >> that was really my point that i will add to. the last few weeks on the dreamers and on daca our brothers and sisters, to stay here and not be disrupted. butunted that to congress, the willingness to work with schumer and pelosi and try to get some safety net guarantee that they are americans is a bright sign that maybe he is not so rigid in his thinking in a hard right perspective.
>> we will believe it when it happens. >> apparently, he is going to go direction ontive that, but we do not know yet. >> at this moment in time, that is a good thing. >> do you think his harvey relief -- when he got beat up that it was not good enough, when he came back into houston and hugged people and showed a human side to him. in florida, i think she did write during those disasters. brent long at fema has done a solid job because after michael brown at fema was the disaster, fema reconstructed themselves. we have gotten a degree of activity out of fema that is a lot better than during katrina, and now, puerto rico and what is happening there, the amount of
funding you'll need with the trump administration continues to reach out to florida, puerto rico, and texas. >> that was pretty good for saying something nice. i think you all did pretty well. questions, come and use microphones. which are right at the end of the aisle. why don't you start? >> can you hear me? i have a question for mr. brinkley. you said that reagan wanted to dismantle the great society, which i totally -- yes. trump wants to dismantle the new deal. doesn't that give him kind of an ideology that i do not see as warranted? you're giving him an intent to dismantle the new deal, but yet he says all the time you cannot touch entitlements, medicaid is mean. i was very confused by that statement.
>> say the last part of it. trump dismantling the new deal -- >> why do you think -- >> he is not going to dismantle social security. that was kind of a joke. in reagan's diaries, he writes "people say i do not like fdr, that i do not like the federal government. i voted four times to fdr. why would i want to all about the great society era?" with donald trump, he would like to do away with the civil rights acts of the 60's and go back to a more states rights-oriented future. he wants to stop the role of progressivism which culminated with obamacare and the affordable care act which is one of the great trophies of the progressive movement and role back the clock very -- and roll back the clock.
>> do you think he has that much ideology? >> i think you're making a great point. that kind of says he has an ideology. you're making a good point. jeff sessions wants to roll back the new deal. in other words, it is not donald trump. donald trump does want to obliterate obama. just anything obama did. but the conservative far right conservative wing of the party that he has empowered, they would like to roll back the new deal. so it is not so much him. he has not thought this through. he has allied himself with that part of party. they have thought this through. little by little at the department of justice, neil gorsuch on the supreme court, those things might be chipped away at. he likes big government in many ways. he wants big structure programs. he likes social security and medicare.
in that way, he is at odds with his party. the obamacare bills he has been for, every single one of them are completely the opposite of what he campaigned on. >> in florida, he would love big government to help with the hurricane, because it helps him get reelected. >> democrats do not root for impeachment. [laughter] >> light hearted question for all of you. speaking of presidential traditions and norms in the white house, with thanksgiving coming up, the turkey in the white house, do you think he will pardon it or will the staff forget he has to do that? >> the question is, will donald trump treat the turkey like an "apprentice" candidate? [laughter] he will treat it like joe arpaio. >> i think everybody gets a pardon from donald trump.
>> we do not know yet how the investigation will turn out. even under the best of circumstances when the white house is under a special counsel investigation, there is an inherent conflict of interest between the personal counsel to the president as a private citizen as opposed to the council of the white house. and on the one side, we have mueller's team, which i learned a lot about these lawyers when i went to law school, and the dream team, essentially. on the other side, we have the clown show of attorneys talking about private privileged matters. in the new york times. there is going to be a lot of conflict between these two. i get the sense from trump that he does not mind picking his own personal interests over and against the lasting impacts that might have on the executive branch.
what do you think in terms of what are the risks here and how do you think that will play out depending on what happens with the mueller investigation? >> i just think at the beginning of his presidency, he has had the kind of heat of the law on him. he has never been able to relax because of the russia probe, and it is a big part of the narrative of 2017. just when it seems like it is dying down, there is another leak. the history of 2017, the amount of leaking going on of government is astounding. and trump has been having to fire people, figure it out, stop leaks. they just keep coming out, which means he has a lot of enemies from within, as much as he is picking on the press all the time. it is useful politically. he has great internal problems. i do not know if he has the ability to know who to trust right now. he does not have an alter ego
like kennedy or woodrow wilson. maybe general kelly can become that person. maybe he is. so he is a president besieged. every day, he is worried about lawsuits. one of the best comments made recently is that he is happy in the white house because the second he leaves, he has so many lawsuits coming on from so many things. it is beyond repair. i do not know how he lives his life like that. every minute, you have got people that are about to sue you, are suing you. he seems to have lived his whole life in that kind of world, and not been busted. he has not gone to jail. trump university -- he gets penalized. he pays fees and keeps on going. there may be a bridge too far going on here. we will find out when the mueller report gets released. mara: any kind of investigation like this is a grinding process. you have people in the white
house having to spend tremendous amounts of money that they do not have on lawyers. you have people in the white house worried if one of their colleagues is wearing a wire. it already was a paranoid that -- it was already a paranoid, backbiting place. that kind of investigation just makes it even more. in terms of the conflict versus -- those who are supposed to represent donald trump as an individual, there is a conflict. if you are a law student, don does not have attorney-client privilege. the other personal lawyers do. that is why bob mueller want to talk to don and get all the documents he might have about what donald trump was thinking when he fired comey, but i do not think donald trump himself thinks about the conflict between his personal legal exposure and the damage to the institution of the presidency at all. >> i do not think he trusts his own lawyers, donald trump. i do not think he tells his own lawyers the truth.
you could see that with bill clinton during the lewinsky thing, he started lying to his own attorneys because to let the truth be known, he is worried they will somehow leaked because leaks are happening every hour around him. it is a grim situation. i think the key audience for the mueller report is the republican leadership in congress. if they find something they can use against the president, then there is a possibility of impeachment. but trump himself will simply wave away whatever the conclusions are. these are by enemies, what do you expect? >> a republican congress will not impeach a republican president. >> let us squeeze in a couple more. >> you furthered the answer of that. what would be the stomach turner?
a few parallels of the arrogance of the german aristocracy and they thought they could control hitler with the conservative republicans, and they thought they could have controlled trump. my question was what would be the stomach turner that would create -- >> what would separate the president from the party? inif they take a shellacking 2018 and they believed he was the cause or in the run-up to 2018, they believed he was a huge drag on them. and we do not know when the mueller report is coming out, before or after november 2018, but when republicans in congress see him as a liability, the problem right now is the base of the republican party is with donald trump. they are not with the republican leadership. i did a piece this week where a republican operative in north carolina said there was three
parties in america. the trump party, the republican congressional party, and the democrats. and you saw that playing out in alabama. republican voters see mitch mcconnell and paul ryan as the enemy. they even excused donald trump for making a deal with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, who used to be the archvillain, because they feel that mcconnell and ryan -- everything is so tribal and american politics, not just between democrats and republicans, but even inside the republican party is so tribal that if you are against mcconnell and ryan, then he must be a great guy. we have really gone down the rabbit hole. >> is there anything that can shake the support of the trump base? >> i think immigration is so fundamental for the trump base -- look. he was the original birther when he started with birtherism. mexicanson, he called rapists. that is such a threshold issue for his base that many conservatives i talked to say
that if he does give something that he sees as amnesty to the dreamers, even though they are ok with letting these young people stay but if they do not , at the wall in exchange, some really big thing in exchange, there will be -- not that the base will totally leave him, but they will be just unenthusiastic that enough will stay home in 2018. >> the day that trump met with chuck schumer a nancy pelosi, and coulter, who used to show up with trump on the campaign trail, tweeted out "now, i want him impeached." sending a louder message that the hard right will not allow what you are suggesting, daca. on the impeachment of from, it was a republicans that took down nixon. it is conceivable you could get a gang of 10 u.s. senators if the mueller report is really egregious, and it looks like donald trump somehow colluded
with russia that you could get a movement for impeachment with some republicans leading the charge, but in the end, i do not know if it will be more than sor that comes out of it. they will try to do something punitive. i do not know. it depends on what is in that report. >> one were really quick question. >> i do not know how quick it is. one of the things trump has accomplished is he has proven an independent campaign or shoot in. if they can control the media, then it is the media not inoculated to some extent now? i think that is relevant to 2020. is it inoculated to some extent against trump and his reelection campaign and will it still be the same if it goes forward? mara: i could not -- it was really hard to hear the question. is he inoculated? >> one of the things that president trump has done is proven that an independent
candidate can parachute in and break either parties control on the presidency. and so, is the press -- press control is one of the things the doctor suggested was critical to that success. is the press not now inoculated to being manipulated for that purpose? >> bill? >> donald trump was master of the media in the 2016 campaign. that was central to his success. i guess the question is, could somebody else do the same thing? >> could he do it again? >> could he do it again or has the media wised up? mara: i see what you are saying. that is a really good question. there is no doubt that during the campaign, he was such an object of fascination that the media aided and abetted him. he controlled the headlines. cnn was criticized for having 45 minutes of an empty podium.
waiting for them to arrive, talking about him. meanwhile, hillary clinton is holding a rally and they do not even cut to it. i think things will be different next time. i think they have already changed. you sought in the campaign. they started fact checking him in real time. instead of waiting for him to say something, you have some separate fact checking piece. "donald trump says blah, blah, blah." not true. i think things have changed. the other thing you see is the soul-searching among the big giant social companies, google, facebook, and the role that they played and how they can be different. more gatekeepers and sort out fake news from other things. i think that it is always kind of a game of catch-up. i think that donald trump's control of the media and his ability to manipulate it and play it like a fiddle probably will not be exactly the same next time.
said, whicht bill is really true, is he did disrupt the two-party system. and that he has this group of voters who are beholden only to him, not necessarily to republicans in congress, but only to him. and one of the reasons that the republicans brought up yet another obamacare repeal effort is that when they went home over break, all they heard was "why aren't you doing more to help donald trump? why aren't you doing more to fulfill your promises?" that base of voters is still really, really strong. >> we will take this group to the community hub. thank you so much for joining us today. [applause]
>> the federal response to hurricane damage in puerto rico was discussed on the sunday shows today. here are comments from fema director and san juan mayor and mick mulvaney. up in all over puerto rico, even in some of the roughest area. in katrina, there were over 1800 deaths. i think we have to filter out the noise and we have to continue to push forward. my guys have been busting their rear ends day in and day out to help americans. it has been complex. there is not a person in this country who would change jobs with me. we assigned the army corps of engineers to do one important job, or emergency power, but also rebuilding the grid. the mostower back is important thing. in conjunction with that we are
working with the private sector to get telecommunications backup. about one third of the telecommunications of been put back up after two major hurricanes. telecommunications is about one third back up and running. we have to get the power up, we have to get communications back up and that takes a long time. it was almost a total loss when it comes to the power grid. it will be multiple months before power is restored to many of these areas and that is the reality. that is what we were saying before the storm hit and i think people have to remember that. going into this storm we were setting expectations by saying this is going to be a nightmare for puerto rico. >> i've been quite complementary to the people from fema, but we have to cut the red tape. that is the one message. number two, let us not talk about the