tv Munk Debate on President Trump and American Democracy CSPAN October 13, 2017 5:27am-7:00am EDT
willingness rebuilt to work through willingness to work through -- >> you must not talk to anybody in the world. won't let you be used. l this i >> show me the word pretext. >> the program has -- >> you can keep screaming that and it doesn't change the point. >> we do not want sympathy. >> we do not want sympathy. we want opportunities. >> it's an appalling slander to me to the muslim religion. >> i never said the word muslim. was a muslim free foam
i would be remiss if i did not also thank you for your torontole gift to the general hospital and its cardiac center, a $100 million donation to cardiac clients that will save lives. [applause] we are mere moments from getting out to debaters out here on center stage. we will be tackling the resolution tonight. democracys american is in its worst crisis in a generation, and one man, donald j. trump, is to blame. arguing his favor of the editor,on is renowned
father of the modern day blog, and celebrated social commentator, ladies and gentlemen, andrew sullivan. [applause] partner is theng best-selling author and a scholar at the brookings institution and a must read columnist. ladies and gentlemen, e.j. dionne . [applause] wanting the great debaters deserves another. ,et's welcome back to the stage the former speaker of the u.s. house of representatives and the author of a recent best-selling , ladies and gentlemen, newt
gingrich. [applause] our final debater tonight, newt gingrich's teammate, a celebrated columnist and well-known u.s. political commentator. ladies and gentlemen, kimberley strassel. [applause] wow. a few more housekeeping details before we go to opening statements. we have a hashtag. those of you in the audience and watching online, you can join into the conversation, join the online debate. we have a rolling poll. people will be voting on your
performance minute by minute throughout this debate. the, my favorite part of munk debates, the countdown clock. theeach of the segments of debates, opening statements, rebuttals, closing statements, we are going to put it clock up that will countdown the final debatersr so of each presentation. when it reaches zero, join me in around applause. i will keep our debaters on their toes and our debates on time. , this audience am a the 3000 people here, coming into this debate tonight, how did you vote on our resolution? it resolves american democracy is in the worst, best and the worst carcasses in a generation and donald trump is to blame. let's see the pre-audience about. 60% a great. 32% disagree.
-- 68% agree. 32% disagree. our second question, because we always want to see how fluid is the debate, how fluid is people's minds, would you potentially switch your vote depending on what you hear over the next hour and half? let's see those numbers. 80%, yes. and very open-minded group tonight. [laughter] this is going to be fun. iowa's love that second vote at the end of the evening, which will let us know which of these teams wins the debate and which does not. let's begin with opening statements. as is the tradition, begin with the pro side. andrew sullivan, your six minutes start now. andrew: thank you for having me. hearts, i wanted to tell
you something, you are ready no. the united states is in a state of emergency -- -- of emergency. this began a january 20 of this year. it began because we have a president uniquely unfit to hold office that he does. threat the core values of american democracy and the stability of the country, a threat to the national security of the united states into the world. those are big words, i know. let me brief utility -- mummy briefly to you what -- that me briefly tell you why i believe that statement. the president has waged a war on the truth from the minute he took office. throughout the campaign beforehand he lives and lies and lies.
none of which has see retracted, from the idiotic claim that he -- but his inauguration crowd was the biggest in history, would you can see photographs is simply not true. rely so dangerous that people voted illegally in the last election. core,ing that attacks the heart, and integrity of democracy itself. he is unfit, because he is to violate, and has no respect for the rule of law. this is the president was told suspects as they rest them, told the military that they should torture
worse the better, even if they are innocent or not, they deserve it, he said. he has encouraged violence heckledpeople and crowds. is filled seating with fury, because his attorney general, one of the most hard-core fromlicans recused himself an investigation. to toed the fbi director declare his personal loyalty to trump, not the rule of law, but to from. and when he refused, he fired him. after he fired him, he bragged that that was why he fired the fbi director. this is a man who has no understanding or any contempt for the constitution. the man despises the first
amendment, threatens the owner if he washington post dares to criticize the president. a man who threatens to remove because theyf nbc criticized the president. his own secretary of state called him a more on. -- a dictator with nuclear weapons holding the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in his hands with the responsibility of the teenager. this is a man who has undermined iso, declared there non-equivalents to minute states and vladimir putin -- to the united states and vladimir putin.
this is a man who has described the white house as an adult a care center in which adults have to terminally beyond shifts. , fundamentally, with no sense of responsibility to the power he holds and the sacred duty he is required to uphold. he will use that power, that office and everything that has come before it, something that hundreds of thousands of americans have died for, in order to launch petty vindictive attacks and private citizens, spoiling the ct fits in. -- spoiling the seat he sits in. himself, in control of but is in control of us. i wish this were not the case.
there are many problems in many on the left overreacting to him, and elite thatrefused to understand trade in immigration are good. all of it is true and not pertinent to the debate tonight. the debate is about the legitimate feelings, about a man feelings -- who uses those feelings. disgrace to the united states of america. he should be removed by all constitutional members -- measures as soon as possible. by those around him who know the threat that he is. [applause]
rudyard: andrew, a strong opening statement. kimberley strassel, you're next. kimberley: thank you for having me. i would like to introduce a new word tonight. . have three children before he left, i was telling them about this debate any resolution. i asked them come help mom prepare for this. coming what you think donald trump is the best for democracy. -- tell me why you think donald trump is the best for democracy. my six-year-old used your favorite word. she said he is bad because he is a too had. while andrew did a much more upquent version, that sums
what i believe my debate opponents will think in it. they don't like donald trump confusing too had. [laughter] has divisive,m he argue he has violated all of the political norms. they will say he has no respect for his office. he has undermined americans relationship with the rest of the world. in all of that, they are largely right. that has nothing to do with democracy. --emocracy is not just what not just that we don't like sans. democracy is a formal concept. it is government for the people and by the people. in the united states, it is something more specific. it is documents, the declaration of independence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, freedom from otranto government that over taxes and over regulates. it is the desolation of independence. it is the declaration of
independence, the constitution singly or a government of laws and not of men. we have separation of powers. donald trump was elected because his predecessor violated the constitution day after day in a lawless fashion. in theklash that grew united states put him in office precisely because he ran as a law and order candidate. who ishis predecessor frustrated when he couldn't name some of the people couldn't get them confirmed to the senate. supreme court telling him he was abusing his powers. it was barack obama who came to office with the claimant program, immigration reform, and he acknowledged he needed congress to change the laws to make that happen.
it, hengress wouldn't do retreated to his office and began to govern by executive fiat. was barack obama who had secretary of state who believed she didn't have to follow the law of public oversight of the way everyone else does. secret server and destroyed her in mills when people asked us to see what she had done. [boos] was that could? -- was that good? i hope it was. he sit his irs on americans and silenced tens of thousands of americans voices because of political beliefs. this was a former government that recently we have been talking and andrew mentioned, saying the present present -- president friend. -- president threatened --
the president makes a lot of threats. the measure is whether he has done anything. if you look at the policy -- [rowdy crowd noise] trouble withaving that legislative agenda. fear enough. -- fair enough. threat are nothing like the emailsa: who had looked throughout fox news. law and order candidates, and they are there to make sure that we retort -- that we restore democracy to where it was before to get rid of regulations that make it caution on businesses. regulations that
make it difficult on businesses. this is about the restore the rule of law. you don't have to take my word for it. in the newspaper the other day and i found an article. was, how donald trump can help save our democracy and it was written by e.j. dionne. my first that was, why am i flying to canada when he is already agreed with me. somehow this president is corrosive for our culture. they to think there could be benefits of this. in the end, we could end up with an even stronger society then we have now. president who wanted to see a return to actual law
and order. anyone who would suggest that is not happening behind-the-scenes is paying too much attention to a media that is only interested in the bright shiny things that donald trump says and not what his administration is actually doing. [applause] rudyard: thank you, kimberly. e.j. dionne, just six minutes on the clock. whilei was standing here andrew was speaking and i said a prayer of thanks for such a vigorous argument on our side of the debate. i am thankful to kim for mentioning that piece i wrote, because i did indeed argue that donald trump could be great for our democracy. for our be great democracy, because he is rallying so many americans to political action to oppose the very abuses that andrew opposed. i ask you tonight to take that
68% and make it 80% to send a signal to those americans who know the threat that donald trump poses to our democracy, that they have friends north of the border. [applause] i want to see it is a great honor -- to say it is a great side of theon this border. may there be no walls between the united states and canada. we have stood with the set -- with each other, but perhaps more importantly, we have learned from each other. everybody wants a neighbor who embodies decency, and we americans are very lucky to have you. as you can tell from my last name, my family had itself from quebec. [speakign french] [applause]
i want to salute the courage of our opponents to show up tonight. [laughter] after the week that donald trump has had, they clearly have a commitment to the idea that the show must go on. [laughter] this is a week in which donald trump challenged the very idea of a free press. it bothered him that people can write whatever they want, which sounds like the first amendment to me. he threatened a network it in like with her moving their license -- a network he didn't like with removing their license. two problems. theorks aren't licensed in first place. the threat of using present on to power against people you disagree with is not a mark of a democrat but of an autocrat. [applause] told our fellow
citizens in puerto rico that he might just walk away and allow them to suffer during to suffer. i salute the bravery of our opponents, but i want to point out that threat this debate they will cling to one piece of this resolution like a liferaft. of thell talk about all problems the united states has had for 5, 10, 20, or 30 years. andrew and i will not dispute had problems before donald trump and will have some after. try to blame, as congested, everything that is wrong on liberals or am barack obama or on hillary clinton. they will do everything in their power to avoid the central issue, because deep down, i think they know that so much that donald trump says and does
is indefensible. they will blame everyone else for a crisis that donald trump has created. we are talking about the danger of autocracy. we did not talk about that under george w. bush, barack obama. we are talking about the collapse of the norms of democracy. we did not talk about that before donald trump. thise talking about persistent lying. we did not talk about this before donald trump. whate talking about senator bob corker command early trump supporter, of the president in need of an adult day care center. this is a crisis for our democracy. we have never had a president who, from his very first thing in office, plainly showed that he had no business being president. andrew spoke eloquently about
president trump's threats to ability -- to liberty. i want to talk about norms. norms are the things you need people to live by because you cannot write rules for everything. start with the most basic norm, which is truth telling. reporter just reported today that president trump, and a coat him, got a new personal record for the most false claims in a week. that is an amazing record. athis count, he clocked in 40. those 1300 lies or misleading statements that andrew described amounted to five statements a day. that is quite a record. please do not let our opponents in this debate hold democracy to a lower standard that i know they hold democracy to a higher
standard. i hope we can persuade even them tonight that it is their job to stand up for our democratic life. he arouses anger and fear, fear about whether our institutions can survive a leader who praises strongmen abroad and sees them as the model for bold leadership. the united states has not faced as great a threat to with the democratic values and republican institution for many decades. [applause] donald trump is to blame. thank you. rudyard: thank you, ej. we are going to go far last closing statement. speaker gingrich, the state is yours. first of all, i thought
andrew was spectacular. rhythm, thee litany, the pattern, it could have been a shakespearean speech. [laughter] a condemnation of the tyrant, a vicious -- just listen to the rhythm. his oxford education gives him an extraordinary advantage. in america, if you sound like him, you have a 20 point higher like you by the act of being able to speak. [laughter] ej continues the great tradition of the american they hated, which is trump before he ran, hated him while he ran, hated him when he was sworn in, and sworn to hate trump. for good to pose a problem all of you that is a problem for free society. ?ow would you know a four-star general in the marine corps who lost a son in
went to a press conference in washington and said so much of what you report is false. there is an enormous problem. another four-star general, john retired, said yesterday the media reports about trump wanting a tenfold increase in weapons are totally false. you may decide they have both been infected, as my friends would suggest. they have become trumpized, no longer know the truth. you may decide that a great deal of what you believe is total hogwash. brought to you by your news media, which is sewed deep into its own incestuous -- which is its own incestuous
ideology that it hasn't a clue what donald trump is doing commit because it cannot allow to think openly and objectively. i will give you examples. warsaw is in comparable to reagan. i say that with some knowledge, because reagan speechwriter helped write it. if you are on the left, the very idea that you would defend western civilization is probably prove there is something wrong. speech, whichions has a core argument, you may disagree with the argument, but it is not trivial. the base of freedom starts with sovereignty. if the united nations was a collection of sovereign countries who reach agreements,
it is useful. if, however, we are moving towards the globalization with a bureaucratic legalistic system in which our nations are subordinate to parts of this larger thing, then it is dangerous. you, but iw about had it, along with george mitchell. the idea that the general assembly should replace the canadian parliament or the american congress as a source of ultimate authority is insane. look at who belongs to it. look at who is on the human rights commission. if you're not a tyrant or dictator, you are not allowed on. the all get together and say, hey, we're going -- we are doing fine.
you wouldn't want to condemn venezuela or cuba or zimbabwe. that would be inappropriate. saying isat trump was profound. he is returning power to the states, to local communities, , and i knowe law from my friends who claim they worry about democracy. the great number of executive orders that were illegal and unconstitutional were signed by barack obama, not donald trump. there are profound differences. there is a simple problem. the american people rebelled. this is not a local thing
happening in austria. it happened in the city of rome, which elected the first woman mayor. it is happening in catalonia. you can't blame all of these things on trump. merkel decide the worst elections of 1946 for the conservative party in germany. people are unhappy around the unit. -- around the planet. here is where we are. he is draining the swamp. [laughter] the alligators are unhappy, and two of the lead alligators are here. [laughter] [applause] rudyard: let's hear from those two hungry alligators. we are going to go to our bottles now. willing to put three minutes on the clock.
-- we are going to put three minutes on the clock. i'm going to take specific points that were made in an attempt to address them. the first is that everything that i cite is some invention of the liberal media. the truth is that on most everything i site is in the public records, on television. his quotes are there to look at and examine. there is nothing here that is spin. everything i site is was facts. i cited wasng facts. one thing autocrats do is mix lies with facts. they gaslight. they pretend. autocrats pretend a free press is the real danger to society. i side with thomas jefferson and not with vladimir putin and donald trump. [applause]
we have a concerted press and a conservative media as well as a liberal press and liberal media. decide.s they are on the liberal media's side. will concede that barack obama did commit and exit -- and execute executive orders that were out of order. he did so because he was subjected from day one by the insane republican party's decision to do nothing but obstruct everything this man did, even when he was inheriting -- [applause] even when he was inheriting the worst recession since the 30's. they didn't give him a single vote for a surplus. with a much greater debts, they are proposing another con, to , tax cuts forney the wealthy.
willwill -- they say that decrease the deficit rather than increase it. when you look on paper, some people can write speeches. some people are smart in the white house. they can write some eloquent speeches. inauguraltened to the speech, cattle kate of hatred and fear. who by democracy standards, after he lost the popular vote. [applause] he is president because our constitutional republic has rules that require him to be president, and i except completely his legitimacy. rules that he is a threat to. out that point
gingrich is correct. globalization has gone too far and too fast. [applause] rudyard: we will leave that point for the moderated middle of debate. think you, audience, for keeping our debaters on time. ej, you are up next, alligator number two. [laughter] if andrew and i are defenders of the swamp and mr. gingrich's here on behalf of the socialist international -- [laughter] trump has taken the swamp and just added in many new alligators and polluted the swamp far more than it ever has been polluted before. cabinet. trump's secretaries who have flown around on charter planes at
taxpayers expense when they could have taken a car or train from washington and on their quickly. uniquelyald trump who among recent presidents who has refused to release his tax returns so we can know how many the tax cutbillions proposal he is pushing might save him. it is donald trump who has refused to separate himself from his businesses, unlike any a president in recent memory. happeningnow what is in his businesses, but we know that somehow there are more members of his golf clubs than ever and all kinds of influential people wanting to stay at his hotels. the ways in which the swamp is more polluted than when mr. trump got there is legion. it is not, as andrew pointed out, the media who have made up the things we're seeing about donald trump.
-- we are saying about donald trump. almost everything we are saying are things that have come out of donald trump's own mouth. [applause] that donald trump who said rather authoritarian sounding thing, i alone can fix it. it is donald trump who said our american intelligence agencies, that they were taking a shot at him and asked, are we living in nazi germany? it was donald trump who said, don't worry about any of my businesses because the president can't have a conflict of interest. it was donald trump who, when the courts ruled against him on his travel ban, blamed them for future terrorism. he says, if something happens, blame him, he said of one of the judges. who falselyd trump
said that president obama had tapped his films. -- tucked his phones. it was donald trump who said he fired the fbi director because of the russia thing. our case is not based on propaganda. her case is not based on falsehood. -- our case is not based on falsehood. our cases based on what donald trump has said. [applause] kimberley: altace is based on what donald trump has said. if you listen to everything they have mentioned, they cannot name a new example, a concrete example of an action the president has taken to undermine democracy. that you've not
been able to write. andrew writes on his blog been more adjectives than he has used appear tonight. no one has ever said he cannot do so. this president is not interfered in the press's right and say whatever they want no matter how false it is. it makes me laugh. do you want to know what the united states approval -- the united states media proving riddle is? they are not in a position to lecture. talk about anything. i defy my opponents. in the wakeple barack obama has done, trampled on the congressional branch.
name one time the supreme court has ruled 9-0 to stop one of his actions. i noticed that ej mentioned the lower courts and his travel ban. what he did not mention is that the supreme court ultimately upheld the main provisions of it, because it was constitutional. it was legal, by contrast to his predecessors decision. by the way, this is a problem we all have to try to overcome. we have to try to get beyond justifying illegal behavior just because we agree with the policy. andrew just said, well, why did barack obama continually act in a lawless way? because he was obstructed. is that your justification? i'm sure everyone in this obvious -- this audience will be more than alarmed say that chuck schumer's obstruction now gives
donald trump license to do whatever he wants. that is why we don't like president-elect that. i will give you an example. i have passionately fought for years for the right of dreamers. nonetheless, i opposed the way barack obama did it, because you don't simply exist entire people from the law. donald trump is returning us to that. as a result, our democracy, our institution, rule of law will be stronger. that is what we need to measure. [applause] newt: that was a tactical mistake to bring up the lower
court decision by a judge who was overruled by the supreme court. that is one of the complaints of conservatives about the judicial system. you look at the ninth circuit court, which is crazy. you look at the individual judges out there, who are crazy. they make decisions that are crazy. ,n national security grounds the president as the commander in chief has the obligation to take the steps to defend america, but no judge canned interpose themselves in a way which makes america more vulnerable to attack and then be shocked if the president says you just made america more vulnerable to be attacked. it is not at all inappropriate. franklin delano roosevelt attacked the courts. i appreciate jefferson's appreciation of the media. thought hisalways
newspaper to attack his opponent was an example of the freedom of the press that is worthy of being brought up by people like you. [laughter] i appreciate you bringing up jefferson. [applause] i want to remind all of you that worry about dissent in america that one of the most popular musicals of modern times is based on the vice president of the united states shooting the secretary of treasury. [laughter] hamilton, a since single incident of such passion. either for the culpable -- i feel culpable that america will endure this. -- i feel comfortable that america will endure this. the clever mixing together of putin and trump.
be clear. vladimir putin was trained by the kgb. he believes in torturing and killing people. his government routinely assassinates people here kills people that writes the wrong things. he has seized crimea. to suggest there is anything in the american system comparable to putin is profamily dishonest intellectually and makes it impossible to have a rational discussion. if you except the two words in the same phrase, you are already in a crazy environment. example of the real hostility to freedom in america. college two weeks ago, black lives matter started an acl spokesperson, wouldn't let her speak and walter off from rhodians on the ground -- and walled her off from her audience
on the grounds she had nowhere to be there. [applause] rudyard: thank you for a terrific opening to this debate. you set the table. let's dig into some of the specific issues. we agreed this debate has a political dimension to it, economic dimension, and cultural dimension. andrew,tart with you, and pick up -- is there a meaning to your green socks? i'm almost embarrassed i have boring black socks. we can trade socks at the end of the evening. [laughter] there is a debate here. kimberley'sup on point. i think it was an important one.
many things trump says we disagree with. andrew: let me give you an example that is equivalent to the obama administration. defensible,k it was but i don't think the intent and the way he behaved as anything like as dangerous as donald trump. here is a classic example. here's a man who has faced obstruction within his own party
and has been unable to construct a workable majority for any of the proposals he has constructed. the fact that he is too incompetent to be a dictator -- [laughter] [applause] the fact that the constitutional order of the united states for the last 240 years of the last nine months has not collapsed is not a great achievement. here is the qr he has been trying to pass for the last nine months. that is the affordable care act, which is the law of the land. he is required to effectively enforce the law of the land. he has been unable to change the law of the land, so what is he doing? he is sabotaging it, using his office to sabotage and undermine the laws of the land at the expense of millions of people potential health insurance and health care. [applause]
that seems to be sabotaging things when he can't change them. rudyard: we're going to stop there. let kimberly respond. it is hard to sabotage a law that is collapsing under its own weight. we have counties that no longer have more than one option for their health care, people are watching premiums triple, when average basic business owners can no longer afford -- many people have no health care because of it. [indiscernible] the bigger point is it is hard issabotage it, but the point -- it is hard to sabotage something that is failing.
president, this is a law unilaterally changed more than 42 times himself and changed it himself. -- such now become sons an elastic definition of what the law is, nobody knows what it is anymore. up an: a law does set institution and regulation. it is part of the executive branch to make sure that laws properly -- he uses exec in power to enforce that law. using his power to undermine that law. kimberley: why is it an abuse for barack obama but -- rudyard: i want to pick up on something you said that this notion that andrew invented the link between vladimir putin and donald trump. he said it was somehow intellectually dishonest. it was not andrew sullivan.
it was donald trump who said that vladimir putin, the menu aid was a kgb agent, was stronger leader than barack obama. it was not andrew sullivan who said that. who has used trump over and over again -- who has refused to say a critical word about vladimir putin. [applause] trump fired james comey because he got too close to the russia thing. that is an action that is genuinely -- in this administration. [applause] donald trump -- his attorney general, because he recused himself. this is autocratic behavior. rudyard: that is an interesting example.
nude, respond to it. -- new to, respond to it. if the term is stronger leader, tell me something -- andrew: he was asked on television. he is a killer. i know you don't want to hear this, but he responded, but we are killers, too. we go people as well. saidemocrat for second had such a thing, you would impeach they are. e.j.: i have never heard a worst case of moral equivalence. committed for jury in a civil trial. a president who admits obstruction of justice -- newt: wait a second. [applause]
this is something that andrew mccarthy has outlined. president have the authority to fire the fbi director. period. it is in the constitution. but not to squash an investigation. exactly what i am talking about. your argument he is so incompetent, full all the things you are worried about aren't happening because he is not smart enough to stop them. the fact is, the investigation thenderway in the senate, house, the justice department, the washington post, the new york times, nbc news, but we are losing itsf america
freedom because of in a compacted that can't achieve any of the things that you are worried about. [applause] i just want to understand. one has a president fired someone and obstructed an withtigation and is angry an attorney general who obeys the law? when he tells u.s. servicemembers to break the law. his words continually undermine the rule of law. kimberley: listen closely. andrew could not come up with anything that he has done -- andrew: we did. kimberley: he used his executive power in health care in the same way barack obama did. andrew: no. when you are talking
over each other, the audience can't hear. you guys are some of the worst examples of this. the media has completely changed the russia story. it is incredible to mute james comey was aware that the president was not himself under investigation. james comey was aware that the president was not himself under the investigation. the president asked james comey several times to clarify that. he refused because james comey was a political player in washington. we know he was keeping secrets. not only did he leak things to the press, he in general was -- look, everyone, he wanted talk about things that should scare people about democracy? how about the head of the fbi was actively investigating both candidates for the presidency simultaneously with the use of a secret court and wireless [indiscernible] and now that we are attempting to exercise some oversight and find out exactly what happened
and what inspired such a probe and what actions were taken, all kinds of obstruction is happening, but not from the trump administration, but from the career bureaucrats left over. e.j.: think andrew and i have already made progress because newt conceded that trump has not been an effective authoritarian because of his incompetence. but what i think kim said was incredibly dangerous. what she did and what supporters do all the time, and it is why we are frightened about truth in our politics, is she has ascribed all sorts of evil motives to james comey, who, if we know anything about what he did, intervened in the election in a way that helped hillary clinton and he did not come out with any information on the
donald trump investigation that was ongoing. comey was not willing to make a statement before the investigation was over. we know from the mueller investigation that they have not closed off the idea that donald trump was involved. they have not settled the matter. the attack on james comey is a piece with what andrew and i are worried about. and donald trump was vocally upset when sessions recused himself and there would not be a special counsel if the deputy attorney general had not insisted. and what we are concerned about and the reason we worry about our democracy is we don't know what is going to happen at the end. we do not know if there will be a saturday night massacre, if the equivalent of elliott richardson will be fired in this case. donald trump's behavior up until now can give no one confidence that we will avoid that path this time. [applause]
newt: you know, let's go back to comey for a minute. all right. when comey was the number 2% under bush, he appointed a special counsel for what he knew was not a crime, for what involved leaking a name for the cia, which they knew at the time was not a crime. and they knew who leaked it. and they told the person who leaked it to shut up. they appointed a special counsel who tried to get vice president cheney and couldn't get him. and in the end, managed to get somebody who is a totally decent civil servant on a technical argument. this is where mueller will end up going. mueller will get somebody. he don't get 17 high-priced lawyers who voted
for hillary to change their career, come to work as part of a task force and i not get someone. e.j.: you are already tried to discredit an ongoing investigation, and say this was political. that's what i'm worried about. andrew: one possibility of neutral enforcement of the laws by career professionals, by someone whose reputation has stood up for republican presidents, including george w. bush, at great risk to his own career -- [crosstalk] andrew: just a minute, kimberly. rudyard: you are all talking at once. the audience cannot hear anyone of you individually. newt has the floor right now. newt: it is comey who under oath in the senate said, oh, yes, i deliberately leaked a memo through a friend of mine, knowing "the new york times" would publish it and it would
forced the appointment of a special counsel. he was afraid trump is going to -- newt: i don't care what the cause is. the guy who is the director of the fbi, telling you he broke the law, which he did -- e.j.: there was no law broken. andrew: notice how the argument has been diverted, how we are now engaged in a character assassination of one of the most honorable people who has ever served in washington. because an autocrat, a man you cannot tolerate come a man who resists any non-zero-sum has infected the minds and souls of these people so they are attacking the integrity of the very process -- [indiscernible] [rowdy crowd noise] rudyard: we will let kimberly respond to that. kimberley: the last time i heard
a group of people who were just incensed over the abuses of a career bureaucrat and the license he was taking with his office was the entire left-wing establishment and price when -- and press when james comey decided to come out and criticize hillary clinton in public in the middle of an election. andrew: not me, kimberly. prove it. kimberley: then you are alone in that. everyone else was out there. so please don't suggest that it is just conservatives or here on the stage that now are questioning the integrity of james comey. we all know that people in powerful positions -- they also need to be held to some account. it is concerning that you have a fbi director who is now vigorously opposing any >> we have a lot of topics to cover. we have spent a lot of time on this. let's also down for a moment. [laughter] take a collective breath.
[applause] and move onto the next ask -- next aspect of this. i want to pick up on something that speaker göring geertz -- speaker gingrich said. his cap says that it is a crisis of the left. identity politics, micro aggressions, a whole litany of views of how america should be reconfigured and restructured is what precipitated this acute moment in american culture. this resides with the left, not the right. >> i've known speaker gingrich for about 30 years. and i think, in times of high unemployment or of low unemployment, in times of national concorde and national discord, he has always said that the problems in american politics come from the left. so i don't think that that
should suit -- should surprise us in the least. i just want to make a point about this extended discussion we had just now. it proves the central point that andrew and i were trying to make, which is that our opponents in this debate have to keep diverting you from what trump has actually done. they do not want any of us talking about the fact that it is republicans, like bob corker, who are very worried about the possibility of world war iii. it's republicans in congress who privately say they are worried about many of the same aspects about donald trump's personality, his approach to issues, his tempestuous news, his lack of focus. instead, we have talked about a man named james comey. so it is donald trump who is on trial here today in this proposition. secondly, if we want to have a
long debate over problems in the american, economy about the problems of inequality, we could have a very long debate about that and i would welcome it. but i do not think it is the left side of american politics that is dividing us in the way donald trump did on the day of charlottesville, when he tried to create a moral equivalence between clansmen and not seize -- clansmen and nazis and those who oppose them, because many of those who were in the streets opposing them were peaceful protesters trying to oppose the rise of this far right. and look at the rise of the far right itself. i believe this movement has empowered new forms of political action on the right, the far right end of politics, that i know kim and newt have to oppose in their hearts and their consciousness -- consciences.
we see these movements empowered in our country and given airing. it is not just that for liberals. it is bad for the entire conservative movement. >> let me be clear about what e.g. was just saying. -- ej was just saying. no one on the left lhasa take the student violence in connecticut, where they injured a professor when they tried to stop a conservative from speaking, nobody on the left wants to take the antifa people at berkeley who say they are eager to use violence to stop people from speaking, nobody on the left wants to confront the fact that, in the latest studies, professors under 35 r 12 to one democrats, and the idea -- are 12 to one democrats. no one wants to look at the kind of limited described a minute ago. i thought it was ridiculous.
they physically stop a woman from speaking at william and mary. she could not even mingle with the people who came to talk with her. no one on the left was to do with this. no one wants to deal with how soros is funding network after network and undermine democracy and -- >> [indiscernible] >> i rest my case. you cannot talk factually about what is going on america and then have it taken seriously because it totally does -- totally discredits their case. [applause] >> you may know, esther gingrich and you may know, kimberly, that i have been very vocal about this poison on the left. i do it every week. i do it in venues where i may get a lot of blowback. i do it at the risk of my career
and my job. you are right. there is an awful poison on the left. there is a poison that is dividing this country. it is a poison that is increasing racial divides. ej is right. some foul, disgusting, far right movements in this country. my point is this, and it's about donald trump. he is president of the united states. it is his job, his responsibility to attempt to bridge the divide, not to exploit it, deep in it, and make it much worse. [applause] >> i think, if you are familiar with my work, then you also know that i have spent years now writing about the scary of use of government power, and the attempt of people to silence their political opponents using
not just tactics like speaker gingrich was talking about, but former scary once -- scary ones. so i know about abusive power and was like autocratic security. let me tell you about something in the united states a few years ago. in wisconsin, a liberal district attorney was mad at conservative groups and his republican governor. he launched an investigation on a john doe law. it allowed him to do it in secret and impose a gag order on everybody who was investigated. there were predawn raids staged on their homes. in one case, a child of one of the targets, the parents were off on a charitable fundraising trip. the raid would not allow him to call his lawyer or his grandparents. and if you tell anything -- anyone what happened this morning, you will go to jail. that is abuse of government power. that is on the left.
if i saw donald trump engaging in anything like this, you can believe me would be the first person to say something about it. [laughter] but this is ridiculous. no, to this point, we have lots of words -- i talk receipt, tyranny, etc. -- we don't have an example, even the gym comey example, you are not making the case that it's illegal for him to do it. >> it's illegal to obstruct justice. >> and nobody has found him to have obstructed justice. >> we are under the investigation to find out. >> nobody has yet come up with anything to suggest that he has undermined any democratic institutions or laws. it's not proven. >> this is a sea of red herrings. i have no idea what an investigation in wisconsin many years ago has to do with today. they pardon of joe arpaio has more to do with what we are talking about tonight.
>> suddenly, you have a very fine [indiscernible] >> do you care about the pardoning of joe arpaio? have you written about it? don't you consider that a clear violation and abuse of power? pardoning a public official -- >> let me say something. [laughter] joe arpaio was accused of violating the constitutional rights of people in arizona. and donald trump tried first to end the investigation and he couldn't succeed in doing that. so he pardon a man accused of constitutional violations and the rights of minorities. this is an action -- i am not
making this up. this is not what mr. gingrich likes to call the terrible news media. this is a fact. and when the president of the united states uses this rather unlimited pardon power to pardon somebody who violates the constitutional rights of american citizens, i don't know whose constitutional rights are safe, because you remember the line -- first they came for these brothers and sisters of hours and we do not know where that story ends, but it rarely and some well. >> let me start with that. [applause] quoting bonn hopper, which was a friend of the nazies. >> it was marnie mueller. >> thank you for correcting. next time, i will try to get it right. [laughter] why don't we quote somebody who is talking about the nazis when we talk about trump.
>> i was not talking about nazis. it's about tyranny. >> let me just suggest to all of you that citing the joe arpaio pardon is a perfect example of what we are talking about. you can make a pretty good case. it was a dumb pardon. a bad pardon. he shouldn't have done it. that's a policy question. you had an 89-year-old man who had spent his entire lifetime in law enforcement, who had been reelected over and over by massive majorities -- [crowd booing] >> i understand the absence of passion for people you don't agree with. i'm assuming those are mostly
liberals who are groaning. think about it from this standpoint. i'm trying to make a deeper point. so trump decides that an 89-year-old former law man probably shouldn't go to jail. some of you would say, no, by god, what a chance to show police nobody is above the law. let's punish this 89-year-old who is clearly a danger. that's not the argument we are having tonight. that's a policy argument. you can say it is a stupid thing to do. there is reason to -- zero question as a matter of the united states constitution that the president of the united states can pardon anyone at anytime. zero question. >> that's why i am so a prayed -- so afraid that he will abuse his power. >> he may abuse the power, but he will be and not a crack. he will be -- an auto crack. he will -- autocrat. he will be doing exactly what the founding fathers gave him to do.
>> did the founding fathers believed that the president, if this turns out to be the case -- it's a possibility -- finds the people in his campaign broke the law in colluding with russia, in trying to distort the results of the election, and the president decides to pardon them, do you think pardoning his own people and in deed himself is something the founders really thought the power was supposed to be used for? >> you are making my case. what the founders would have said is that that is why you have the impeachment provision. >> correct. >> and if it turns out that a president or to pardon himself and the congress were to decide that was unacceptable, they have the full power to impeach him. you are making my case. everything you just complained about is totally constitutional, was totally written into the document. he did not in any way abuses
power. he may have done something not right in terms of policy. he did nothing wrong in terms of constitutional authority. [applause] >> he is actively undermining the spirit of the constitution, the norms and procedures that are essential to maintain the constitution, and he actively, every day, experian's and exhibit's contempt to the notion of republic under law, in which he is equal, not about everybody else. he fundamentally mistakes the understanding of the presidency of the united states, in ways that makes everyone externally nervous. the rhetoric that this man has used, his praise of a man who was extrajudicially -- who has extrajudicially killed thousands of people, surely you are troubled by the rhetoric and tone of this person.
surely, you are troubled by a president who tells officers to abuse something. surely, there are some lines you don't want a president across. >> there are some things i wish he wouldn't say everything will day. [laughter] [crosstalk] >> did you read the editorial page? we do come on a daily basis, point out things that make him a real head -- a real poo poo head. but they do not become law. they do nothing come action. have you met's inky, prewitt, any of the people that he has installed in these positions. they are the folks making the decisions and running the government. and many of them are constitutional law professors. again, scott pruitt, before he was put in head of the epa led the charge on dozens of states
to sue the obama admin straight and over its own overreach -- obama administration over its own overreach of federal powers. they are running the government. random things happen in donald trump's head. until you can prove to me that they are put in action, than they are nothing more than your fears and radically -- and rhetoric. [applause] >> ok. this has been a terrific debate. i have been superfluous as a moderator. [laughter] important issues being tackled. we have our closing statements. we will but three minutes on a clock for each of you. we will do our closing statements as is the tradition of these debates, in the opposite order of our opening remarks. so newt gingrich, you will be a first with your three-minute closing statement.
>> let me just suggest to you that, had they worded the proposal for the debate differently, it would have been impossible to have any arguments. donald trumps a poo poo head and says really weird thing sometimes. it would have been tough. [laughter] the objective reality is this is the first person in american history never to have held any public office, to come out of nowhere, defeat 16 republics, defeat hillary clinton, defeat a billion-dollar campaign, deadbeat the media. he has a hostile takeover of the republican party and a hostile takeover of the national government. and that problem -- second a person probably has edges. [laughter]
so if the debate topic had been resolved -- donald trump has some edges and they are a little strange, i would have refused to come up. i would have said are you crazy? willing to debate front of some of canadians come even if set -- even if they boo. [indiscernible] [laughter] [applause] but still, you have to have some sense here. that's not what the question is. america has many challenges. venezuela has many challenges. catalonia has many challenges. austria has many challenges. germany has many challenges. britain has many challenges. we are living in a period where our culture and our economy is in turmoil, where systems like google are changing the landscape and all of us are having to adjust. in that setting, the wording of the debate strikes me as a most impossible for them to carry. that the problems of the
american democracy are donald trump? he is a manifestation of the problems. he was elected because a vast number of americans are deeply uncomfortable. and they preferred taking the risk on somebody with rough edges and 70 who occasionally would say rough things big -- and somebody who occasionally would say rough things he can as it would break up a system was decaying. i think that is what is happening. of course, if you are in the old order or you grow up in the old order and you are part of the old order, this is all horrifying. as i said at the beginning, i fully expect, as the swamp diminishes, that the alligators will be snapping and biting and arguing and yelling autocrat, autocrat. when what has happened -- when what is happening is america's once against reinventing itself. [applause] >> i want to thank you all for your attentiveness.
i salute newt gingrich for trying to make donald trump seem almost cute and eccentric at the beginning of this talk. [laughter] i also appreciate is calling us out again is because they are cute in their own way. i want to put out that what happened at the end of the debate is precisely what i said would happen, which is our opponents want to hang on a few words of this proposition and say that, if you don't believe that donald trump caused all the problems that the united states faces, then you really can't vote for this proposition. we are asserting some thing else. we are asserting that donald trump is the crisis, is the problem. they say we presented no specifics.
they couldn't really answer us until joe arpaio. they had to go on a long bit of character assassination to dispute what was said about james comey, which is true, which is donald trump said he didn't like what james comey was doing about the rush investigation. that should be genuinely alarming. it is trump himself who holds himself above the norms that every other politician -- i should say including mr. gingrich -- hold themselves. he says i don't have to get rid of my businesses. i don't have to release my income tax returns. you don't have to know anything about me. i can do what i want. if that isn't autocratic, i don't know what is. american democracy was never supposed to give us a leader like donald trump.
we have had more or less ideological presidents, more or less competent presidents, presidents who divided us, but never as consciously as donald trump has. we have never had a president who has aroused such grave and widespread doubts about his commitment to the institution of self-government and to the norms of democracy. we urge you to vote for this proposition to send a message to us. i believe to us, meaning we americans -- i believe the united states is more tolerant than donald trump. we are more committed to democratic freedoms than he is. the american people are more open to progress and hope and it to the future -- and into the future and that is why the vast majority of americans -- i want to assure all our canadian friends here that we shall overcome. [applause]
>> so let's think about what we have established your tonight. newt said we established that the president is a bit of a poo poo head, odd come off, does not govern like anyone else had and says things that we wish he hadn't all the time. many do not agree with his policies and are angry that he was elected and will discredit him. there is massive and hostile campaign. we established that, if you throw around scary works -- words like autocrat and tyranny and putin and put them in the same sins with donald trump, you can make them scary.
but here's what we have not established because it goes to tonight's resolution. we have not established that donald trump has undermined or hurt in any way the actual rules and forms of democracy in the united states as we americans view them. ok? they mentioned to jim comey. he had the right to fire him. they mentioned joe arpaio. he had the right to pardon them. they talk about different moves he has taken to there is no one disputing that the present has the right to change regulations within health and human services, to change the president took care law. you may not like how he is doing it. you might not like that he got rid of the climate program. but he did so because it was pushed through without congressional approval. they recognized that it likely
violated the constitution because of the way it was put through. no one can point to anything that has undermined, again, those basic structures that we have. >> what about banning the lgbt from the military? [applause] >> no one is disputing that he can do that, too. i'm not saying it is the right policy. many people can disagree, but you don't just get to rebel because you don't like it. that's why we have elections. i appreciate that a lot of people in this room do not like the way this election went. on the right side, donald trump is not our first choice for the nomination either. but we had innominate -- had an election that was peacefully conducted and honestly conducted. [booing] see what actually happens before you make up your mind. don't believe the hype.
base this on the facts he has done so far. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, i want to end with agreement with speaker gingrich, that america is facing in the world is facing extraordinaire he challenges. extraordinary challenges of economy, of technology, and the extraordinary dangers and difficulties of a multiracial and multicultural society. america is the first what majority country in the history of the world to become nonwhite majority country. technology is ripping people's lives apart. it is impoverishing many people in stagnating the wages of many more. it is a difficult, emotional, troubling time. but it's precisely because we are in such a typical moment --
difficult moment that the constitution of the united states to my respect for the rule of law in these united states, civility in our language and discourse is maintained in the united states. and rules and norms and procedures that have protected our democracy for centuries be upheld. that is why, when we have a president to have contempt for that constitution, who has pushed it in nine months to the breaking point, who has exhibited every capacity and capacity for -- every capacity and instinct for authoritarian rule, who divides americans every day in completely unnecessary ways, a man who can turn the national football league into a matter of deep division, and who acts on the international stage with a restlessness and eagerness and a pride and a vanity that puts all
of us and our lives and our secured at stake. it is because he is absolutely the worst possible answer to these problems, that he is intensifying and deepening these divisions, that he is terry america apart -- emotionally, culturally, and politically. that the country is fast the -- fast dividing into two warring tribes. and the one person we need at this moment to bridge those divides, to address these problems with sincerity is the president. and he has a chance if he had reached out to the democrats, engaged on infrastructure, with held his vicious tongue. if he were able to control himself, he would have been a great president. but he isn't.
he is what he is. and what he is is a danger the likes of which we haven't seen in our lifetimes. [applause] >> thank you. that was a terrific and hard-fought debate. it reminds me of something peter morgan once said on this stage. it is one thing to give a speech in front of an audience of people who agree with your disagree. something quite different to get on a stage and engage in verbal combat with your intellectual peers. ladies, a round of applause for our debaters. [applause] >> c-span was created by a
public service of america's cable television services is brought to you by your cable and satellite provider. >> washington journal is next. we will take your calls. host brainrats will injuries. this afternoon, president trump will announce that he is going to and the iran nuclear agreement. to ag up, we will talk constitutional attorney about freedom of the press. with theersation weekly standard about president