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tv   Washington Week  PBS  December 31, 2016 1:30am-2:01am PST

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amy: the u.s. retalliates against russia. a war of words over middle east peace and a ceasefire in syria. we ring in 2017 with a look of the global issues facing the president and his successor tonight on "washington week." as the clock ticks down towards a new year, the white house tackles some unfinished business sparking tensions between the outgoing president and the president-elect. president obama made good on a promise to punish russia for hacking the u.s. elections and the president-elect dismisses as an action saying there is no conclusive evidence that russia was behind the espionage.
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>> we need to get on with our lives. amy: most republican and democratic lawmakers disagree vowing to take action against president putin. >> there are 100 united states senators and 99 of us believe the russians did something and we are going to do something about it. mccain and secretary of state kerry. >> the israelis do not need to be lectured by foreign leaders. amy: donald trump, we cannot allow israel could be treated with total disdain and disrespect. there may be a confrontation between the outgoing and incoming strayings with our
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panelists. >> this is "washington week." q ing is provided by x institute. ♪ ♪ >> additional funding is provided by boeing, new man's own foundation, donating all profits from new man's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ford foundation. the ethics in excellence journalism foundation. the u.n. foundation committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public
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broadcasting and contributions from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, amy walter. amy: good evening. the obama administration has delivered punishment and proof that russia was behind the widespread hacking of the u.s. election. joint report from the f.b.i. and department of homeland security detailed how intelligence invaded government, political and private agencies ahead of last month's election. president-elect trump released a statement in response to the obama administration sanctions and said this. it's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. nevertheless in the interest of our great country and great people, i will meet with the leaders of the intelligence community in order to be updated on the facts of this situation. yogey, the u.s. government has known about this hacking for months. what took the government so long
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to make these sanctions? >> i think there were two things happening. the white house didn't want to weigh in on the election, which i think democrats thought it was a catastrophic misjudgment. and some are saying go after putin personally and find out how much he has, which is timated to be $10 billion to $30 billion. these are less than what they ukraine.he invaded and it was minor. and given the impact it may have had on the elections, i'm surprised it was as small as it was. amy: you don't think there could be much impact or do you think this is maybe just round one? >> round one. donald trump determines round two. obama said there will be things we won't know about.
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the problem is it's not the time of his choosing but trump's choosing. donald trump will determine when and if it is and obama may promise more but not his promise to keep. amy: i want to talk about the russian response. the foreign minister said we are going to retaliate, you banned of our diplomats and today, putin said, nah, we aren't going to do it. >> whether it was coordinated between the foreign minister and vladimir puteoin or not, it looks like putin is taking the high road and said i'm going to be a statesman so much that the russian embassy in the u.k. actually tweeted out a picture of churchill and tried to compare putin's reaction to churchill's that he was above the fray in time of victory.
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the idea is that the russians are victorious and taking the high road. we know that vladimir putin like many other leaders is waiting for the clock to run down on the obama presidency and going to get a better deal from donald trump. in a way, that they said we should expel 31 of your diplomats and putin saying we aren't going to do that, doesn't mean he has other things up his sleeve. absolutely true that the actual sanctions of expelling 35 diplomats and freezing the assets of suspected spies may not seem like a big idea but we can't see what the obama administration is doing. they said you aren't going to see all of the efforts that we are going to make and not see everything just like the americans never never did the virus against the iranians and not going to admit the
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retaliation over this perceived cyber hacking. amy: we have top republican lawmakers including speaker paul ryan and senators john mccain, they are concluded. paul ryan said this action is overdue it's an appropriate way to end failed policy with russia. are republican lawmakers gearing up with a fight with the president-elect, trump saying, i don't see any proof that the russians did this and a whole bunch of republicans said we do and we should get tougher? >> i have a take on whether trump will butt heads with congressional republicans in terms of his relationship with russia as a whole. you know, he chased at pushing back on russia about this in particular because he views the
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push back of russia on the hacking of the election as an attack on his victory. next wer is what is the attack? i know that republican hawks in congress expect him to follow their lead or to remain silent and much more important than what trump does on this particular issue is how he responds to the next russian aggression and whether he works with republicans and democrats in congress. amy: there is somebody in particular that's coming up with relation to russia and that's rex tiller son, the head of exxon, who has close ties to russia. is there going to be some rough going in terms of his confirmation hearing based on whether there's real frustration in congress or not from republicans, certainly from democrats, who say, do we have an administration that's too
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close to russia? >> i think so. tiller son is the next nominee and his nomination could be a proxy battle. some republicans are going to want to probe what is the extent of his relationship with russia and his relationship with putin and his views on a number of these positions including the hacking, how much daylight emerges between tiller son and trump will be telling and important and this is the person, if he is confirment, he will be on the front lines dealing with putin and the russian government on all of these issues to come. >> phyllis right about this and something about tiller son, when he was the head of exxon, as he still is at the moment, he signed a $500 billion deal with russia. half a trillion dollars, which was put to the side and frozen
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because of sanctions put on russia over 2014. he was not happy. he will continue to oppose u.s. sanctions on russia that it's bad for business. at the same time, you have to think about you know, here is a man although he has had these ties with russia, he will be in a completely different position now. and when people are talking about congressional inquiries there is a question shouldn't there be an independent inquiry. amy: putin was a player in the latest ceasefire. the russian government brokered the truce between the syrian government and the rebels which the help of turkey which helped president assad. the u.s. was not sitting at the negotiations table in this peace process. in the ceasefire. why not?
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>> u.s. wasn't there and mostly weren't the rebels. reports of the rebels they didn't know there was a meeting and it has become less and less relevant. the white house has said there is no plan b. we are committed to diplomacy and trying to negotiate our own ceasefire. and putin intervened voluntarily. d and he also assad win at least in aleppo. the u.s. has gotten less relevant and if you are donald trump and you are a republican,
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you say we have warned about this and you are seeing it now in syria. >> what we talked about earlier, sanctions have any impact on syria in particular that we need russia to help us fight isis? >> that's part of what trump says and to his people. he says let russia handle syria as putin is this great american ally which is nonsense. and fighting on behalf. and there is a simplicity where donald trump talks about putin which is jarring. he doesn't know what kind of a person that putin is. amy: he saw something good. and isis is not part of this ceasefire. >> they define it as terrorist groups which could be almost anybody. amy: there are plenty of these cease fires and have fallen
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apart, how confident are you that this one is going to stick? >> this took effect and there are reports of breaches to the ceasefire particularly in the area right around damascus where there are domestic groups that hold the water supply. i don't have great hopes of this sticking. but what is more striking of who is not involved in this ceasefire. there are thousands of rebel groups, but isis is not part of this and u.s. is not part of this. the kurds are not part of this who have been having a hold over the north. truly, i think it is not likely it's going to hold. what is more significant is that turkey has almost switched sides. they were backing the moderate rebels and now sitting without the u.s. sitting at the table with russia determining the future telling the rebels we are done with you and that's striking that the u.s. may not get to form the future of what's happening. amy: but the incoming president
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trump, his relationship with the turkish president seems to be pretty good. is that a fair assessment and will that have any impact of terms of tushy switching sides? donald a macho man and trump likes tough guys and whether they are tough or appear to be tough. the president doesn't care much for democracy and there are ish r similarities, the turk president doesn't like the media. newspapers have been shuttered. trump said he thinks there are parts of that. and he is the kind of leader that trump loves. amy: what happens when those leaders turn on trump and begin to push him around and he doesn't like insults or bullying. he likes when leaders flatter
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him. i think it may be something quite different when he is sitting face to face and feels undermined. we don't know that for a fact but something that may play out differently when he is in office as opposed to a candidate on the campaign trail dealing with them from afar. amy: tensions between the u.s. and israel got more complicated after secretary of state john kerry and israeli prime minister netanyahu traded blame over the stalled middle east peace process. >> the israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution but his current coalition is the most right-wing in israeli history with an agenda driven by the most stream elements. >> secretary kerry state the united states cannot vote against its own policy but that's exactly what it did at the u.n. amy: and president-elect trump
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vacationing in florida injected himself into the debate with tweets slamming the obama administration. we cannot continue to let israel be treated with total he disdain and disrespect. used to have a great friend but dot dot dot not anymore. and now this. stay strong israel. anuary 20 is fast approaching. why did john kerry make this speech with 30-something days left in the obama administration? >> he only has three weeks left in his job. on john kerry and middle east peace, in his first year in office, john kerry made no less than 11 trips to the middle east and a number of more trips to european capitals with the purpose to negotiate and have talks between the palestinians
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and israelis. i was with him on those trips and he worked his tail off trying very hard and obviously it failed. the larger question here is u.s. approach to the middle east peace. and for 20 years, u.s. has been trying to get sort of the big deal, the home run, solve everything at once, come to agreement on everything, refugees, status of jerusalem on absolutely everything, peace and security and hasn't worninged. and the principles that john kerry laid out are not that different. and from bill clinton and george bush and none of that worked. i talked to david who had been a middle east peace negotiator and he made the point when you try to go for the home run sometimes you strike out. and i think at this point, john kerry is trying to lay the groundwork of ideas that are ilt into the january peace
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talks that is coming up in paris. we don't know how well this is going to go but this could be a framework for a new u.n. resolution. my advice is if they listen, try for some singles or doubles and make incremental progress. amy: the trump administration has very different ideas about how it wants a u.s. relationship with israel, specifically thinking about trump's pick of ambassador to israel. he is well known as somebody who doesn't support the two-state solution and also an increase in the settlement. >> he helped finance some of it in israel. amy: what does it tell us about what kind of framework we should expect? >> trump is going to do what israel wants to do and you hear netanyahu saying we are going to ride this out and wait until trump becomes president.
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he has -- trump has a lot of forces in his ear. he has his son-in-law who is talking with the hard right people in israel and in the unions and he has seen political benefit to doing this. not only winning support from some jewish people but this whole conversation is solid file the support of evangelical christians and trump sees it playing to his base and a year ago he didn't have a clear position on israel and moving more and more and more into the hard right israel camp as he begins to take office. amy: if you widen it and indira, you mentioned that this is not a depart you are of what you policy has been in the past but if you look more broadly, i think it is significant that the you is playing no role in the
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humanitarian crisis in syria and kerry delivers a 75-minute speech on israel and there is a return of the view of the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's the conflict is the central conflict of the middle east. i think the iraq war, which revealed the sunni-shia conflict and muslim-on-muslim conflict, that was a departure and the obama administration is in kerry's speech was a return to an earlier era that located the israeli-palestinian conflict. >> that is right. what struck me about the speech, this wasn't a game plan. if it was given in 2009, it would have been an aha. this is a ueloling. donald trump with every little bit of life will stamp it out.
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he is a moderate and frankly the ambassador pick that trump has made, the prime minister to israel is publicly committed to a two-state solution? >> netanyahu although he says he is embracing trump, in a way it's not entirely good for him to have an american position that says do whatever you want, build whatever you want because it doesn't save netanyahu from his right frank. the head of one of these far right settler parties. netanyahu has no excuse to say i can't do that. >> protecting his own politics as opposed to what his relationship is with israel. amy: turn to politics here and talk about the trump transition. the president-elect tweeted that things weren't going as smoothly
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as he had hoped and accused president obama of creating roadblocks. after the president called trump in florida, he said he was happy with the cooperation between his transition team and the white house. what do we know about -- how rocky or not rocky this relationship is between the president and incoming president? >> i think obama and trump both recognize they have a vested interest in having a positive relationship and for trump, he is going to hit back when he perceives he has been hit but that is not mutually exclusive with having a constructive relationship and that obama in particular knows that trump is a relationship kind of guy and for him, he has a strategic interest in maintaining the relationship with trump because he wants to preserve his legacy. and to the extent that obama can keep the lines of communication
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open and weigh in on issues that he cares about, he increases the chance that his legislative initiatives that he cares about, like obamacare will be preserved under a trump administration. amy: we know that both sides are gearing for what's going to happen in the next week and a half which is cabinet hearings. what do you know for how contentious this could possibly be? >> they could be quite contentious. the democrats in the senate have vowed to fight every one of these nominees and give them a thorough vetting and what we have not had is a thorough vetting by the transition team. thumbp has picked because of a meeting here and gut instinct. they are not scouring the record and not the full scrubbing of tax returns. we will see that come up in the senate. i don't know if that will derail any nominees.
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amy: you think there could be a surprise. >> when bill clinton came up he sike called through two candidates for attorney general. amy: we may see something like that come up? >> yes. amy: our conversation continues online on "washington week" extra where we discuss president obama's priorities and what harry reid had to say about the democrats' 2020 prospects. test your knowledge of current events. from everyone here at "washington week," best wishes for a healthy and happy new year. i'm amy walter. good night.
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>> funding for "washington week" s provided by --
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>> additional funding is provided by the x q institute, new man's own foundation, donating all profits from new man's food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics in excellence in journalism foundation, the ford foundation, and the u.n. foundation committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting and donations to your public broadcasting stations from viewers like you. thank you.
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