tv PBS News Hour PBS February 10, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: >> we'll be doing something very rapidly, having to do with the security of our country. >> woodruff: blocked by the courts, president trump vows the fight isn't over for his controversial travel ban. then, taking on u.s.-asian relations, the president welcomes japan's prime minister to the white house, while dodging a potential rift with china. and, it's friday. mark shields and david brooks take on the week's news. plus, from his beginnings in motown, to receiving the prestigious gershwin award-- hitmaker smokey robinson sits down with jeffrey brown to talk about a lifetime of music. >> we were not just some artists who recorded for the same label.
we were actually friends. we were like brothers and sisters. we hung out. we have what we call the motown family, and we've always had that. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president trump now says that he may sign a brand new order on immigration, as early as monday or tuesday. but he also says he still figures to win the court battle over his initial attempt to bar travelers from seven mostly muslim nations. the federal court of appeals in the 9th circuit upheld a freeze on that ban, in a thursday ruling. john yang reports all of this unfolded as the prime minister of japan visited the white house. >> reporter: president trump made clear today he's ready for the court fight over his immigration order to end-- but he's not waiting for the final outcome. >> we had a decision we'll be successful with. it shouldn't have taken this much time, because safety is a primary reason, one of the reasons i'm standing here today is the security of our country.
so we'll be doing something very rapidly, having to do with additional security for our country. you'll be seeing that some time next week. in addition, we will continue to go through the court process and ultimately i have no doubt we'll win that particular case. >> reporter: mr. trump gave no details of just what that "additional security" will be, but said the dangers are clear-- though he wouldn't give specifics about them either. >> while i've been president, which is just for a very short period of time, i've learned tremendous things, that you could only learn, frankly, if you were in a certain position, namely president. and there are tremendous threats to our country. we will not allow that to happen, i can tell you that right now. we will not allow that to happen. >> reporter: this morning, the president took to twitter to label the appeals court decision not to reinstate his travel ban "disgraceful." three judges-- two named by democratic presidents and one by a republican-- upheld a restraining order imposed by a
federal judge in seattle, one week ago today. the appeals court said the government did not provide adequate due process to affected travelers, and provided no evidence that anyone from the seven countries in the order has been responsible for u.s. terror attacks. the judges also concluded the administration is unlikely to prevail in a trial on the merits of the case. within minutes of the decision, the president told reporters it was "political" and tweeted, "see you in court." washington state's attorney general, who filed the suit, said, bring it on. >> we've seen the president in court twice. and we're two for two. that's number one. and my view is, the future of the constitution is at stake. >> reporter: senate minority leader chuck schumer tweeted that the president should "see the writing on the wall" and abandon the order. hillary clinton tweeted simply: "3-0," a reference to the unanimous decision. iraqi prime minister haider al- abadi said he asked mr. trump in a phone call to lift the travel ban for iraqis. some have worked as translators
for the u.s. military and their lives might be in danger if they stay in iraq. for now, with the ban on hold, refugees and others from all of the seven affected nations are free to enter the united states. and in addition to the appeals court ruling, the administration faces dozens of other legal challenges around the country. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang at the white house. >> woodruff: late today, there was word that the trump administration may be leaning against appealing the restraining order to the u.s. supreme court. but it may still be possible. in the day's other news, ohio governor john kasich delayed eight executions in the face of a court fight over the state's lethal injection process. a federal judge found that process unconstitutional, but the state is appealing. the governor's decision pushes back the executions to may, or later. from syrian president bashar al-
assad, an apparent gesture to president trump. he has told "yahoo news" the u.s. is welcome to send troops to syria, to battle those he called "terrorists." but he also said in the interview, that his permission is contingent on washington respecting his government's sovereignty. >> if you want to start genuinely as the united states, to do so, it must be through the syrian government. we are here, we are the syrians, we own this country as syrians, nobody else, nobody would understand it like us. so you cannot defeat the terrorism without cooperation with the people and the government of any country. >> woodruff: assad said he shares the priority that president trump places on fighting terrorism, but, he rejected the idea of establishing "safe zones" for refugees inside syria. in australia, temperatures soared to 117 degrees in and around sydney today, as an extreme heat wave grips the country. major industrial energy users
shut down to help prevent blackouts. beaches were packed with people looking for relief, while zoo animals cooled off with a hose- down and frozen treats. forecasters expect saturday could be the hottest february day ever recorded in australia. back in this country, education secretary betsy devos faced protesters in her first visit to a public school since a bruising confirmation fight. several dozen people tried to block her from entering a school in washington. she said later she respects peaceful protest, but "will not be deterred" from doing her job. devos has drawn fire for her support of alternatives to public schools. wall street finished this friday on a high note. mining and energy stocks led the way, as prices for oil and copper jumped. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 97 points to close at 20,269. the nasdaq rose almost 19 points, and the s&p 500
added eight. for the week, all three indexes gained about 1%. still to come on the newshour: president trump shifts his approach to china; new revelations in national security adviser michael flynn's relationship with russia; changes the newly confirmed health secretary could make immediately, and much more. >> woodruff: as we mentioned earlier, the prime minister of japan was at the white house today-- the beginning of several days of talks with the president. the visit comes amid growing concerns in asia over trade, north korea's missile and nuclear programs, and china flexing its military muscle. >> the bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep.
>> woodruff: the two leaders presented a united front, despite differences that have emerged in the early days of the trump presidency. prime minister shinzo abe had pushed hard for the 12-nation trans-pacific partnership, but president trump has officially abandoned it. >> on the economy, we will seek a trading relationship that is free, fair, and reciprocal, benefiting both of our countries. >> ( translated ): i am quite optimistic that good results will be seen from the dialogue. now, the free and fair common set of rules will be created for free trade in the region. that was the purpose of t.p.p. that importance has not changed. i, myself, believe that. >> woodruff: abe also talked up japanese industry's contributions to the u.s. economy, after mr. trump blasted toyota last month for planning a new plant in mexico. defense is another potential
flashpoint. during the campaign, candidate trump suggested japan and south korea could pay more for their own defense, up to and including nuclear weapons. >> north korea has nukes. japan has a problem with that. i mean, they have a big problem with that. maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from north korea. >> with nukes? >> including with nukes, yes, including with nukes. >> woodruff: today, though, the president appeared to step back. >> it is important that both japan and the united states continue to invest very heavily in the alliance to build up our defense and our defensive capabilities. >> woodruff: some 50,000 u.s. troops are stationed in japan, the largest american outpost in asia. last week, secretary of defense james mattis made asia his first overseas visit. in japan, he reassured abe that the u.s. will maintain its presence there. the u.s. military also serves as the main counterweight to
china's increasing aggressiveness in the south china sea. today, abe said that must continue. >> ( translated ): everywhere, we need to maintain the freedom of navigation and rule of law. such international order there must be maintained. >> woodruff: hours earlier, president trump spoke by phone for the first time with chinese president xi jinping. during the call, trump retreated from earlier talk of disregarding the "one china" policy, which officially treats taiwan as part of china. >> it was a very, very warm conversation. i think we are on the process of getting along very well, and i think we'll be very much of a benefit to japan. >> woodruff: abe did not comment on the trump-xi phone call. later, the leaders flew to the president's mar-a-lago club in florida, where they'll spend the weekend, and play golf.
we take a closer look now at the united states' relationship with asia under the trump presidency, with evan medeiros. he served as senior director for asian affairs on the national security council staff during the obama administration. he is now a managing director at eurasia group, a business consulting company. evan medeiros, welcome back to the program. >> thanks, great to be here. >> woodruff: let's start with china. the president telling president xi jinping at president xi's request that the u.s. does go along now with the -- want the continue the one china policy. why is that so important to the chinese? >> it's important because the one china policy is at the heart of the u.s.-china relationship. it's the issue kissinger first negotiated in the early 1970s. it goes to the status of taiwan and the u.s. position that acknowledges china's view that taiwan is part of china. so it's sort of a foundational
leg of the u.s.-china relationship. absent recognition of the one china policy, it would have been very difficult if not impossible for xi jinping or any chinese leader to do anything else in the u.s.-china relationship. >> woodruff: how much of a concern was it to the china that president trump stated this given what h he said during the campaign, a lot of anti-china rhetoric coming from candidate donald trump, then the phone call he had earlier on after the election with the president of taiwan, how concerned were the chinese? >> the chinese were very concerned, recognizing, acknowledging the one china policy was essential for xi jinping. it was the primary concern of the chinese leadership, and they didn't want the talk about anything else. trade and investment, north korea, the south china sea until the trump administration reaffirmed the one china policy.
so in many ways the phone call removed the course of immediate crisis in the relationship and now they can talk about and work on other issues. >issues. >> woodruff: one of the issues is china's aggressive stance in that region, especially the south china sea. other countries in the region, in japan which i'll ask about in a moment, have been increasingly concerned about what they've seen china do. there is also concerned about whether china's role if the north koreans should try to do something else in a nuclear direction. so how worried should the u.s. and other countries in the region be about china? >> we should be worried because the chinese have been increasingly active in the maritime area, they have been more assertive in the economic area, they have been nationalists and mer can tilests, so there is a variety of chinese behaviors that we should be concerned about. the question for the trump administration is what are the policies they're going to adopt
to address the challenges? they're not new challenges for the united states, but they are very difficult to shape china's behavior. china's a big economy, leverage and influence is growing. we need chinese cooperation but that shouldn't be a barrier to pushing them on areas where we think they need to change their behavior and recognize u.s. interests. >> woodruff: let's turn to japan. of course, the president met today with the japanese prime minister, they're going to be spending the weekend at president trump's place in south florida. how would you describe, evan medeiros, the state of u.s.-japanese relations right now? >> the state of u.s.-japanese relations right now is great because trump is giving abe a very robust, you could even say lavish visit to the united states so early on in trump's foreign policy evolution. i mean, he's essentially putting japan at the center of his asia
policy and putting alliances at the center of his asia policy, and he's doing it in such a robust way. i mean, not just the oval office meeting, the lunch, but this weekend in florida, that's normally something you would do after several years of developing a relationship after another leader has demonstrated their willingness to work with you, bring economic deliverables. so this is a big deal. >> woodruff: but it also comes after president trump pulled out of the strands pacific trade deal, the t.p.p., this is something the japanese, that prime minister abe put a lot overeffort into. how much of a complication is that going to be? >> it's a complication. i think p.m. abe and many asian leaders are concerned about the withdrawal from t.p.p., they're concerned about trump's support for protectionism and the impact that might have on a lot of export-dependent economies. they're worried about trump's broader approach to asia, how
engaged is he going to be in asia, is i.s.i.s. going to get the priority? so the engagement early on addresses some of the issues but not all, and the big issue on the table is whether or not abe and trump will agree to eventually negotiate a bilateral free tradfree trade agreement, s what trump says will replace t.p.p. >> woodruff: is that something the japanese will find to their liking? >> i think it will be hard. the u.s. and japan have tried this in the past and it hasn't worked. i think it's too politically sensitive for abe since he just got his legislature to ratify t.p.p. last fall. it's probably too early for him to initiate bilateral negotiations now, but i could see in a year or so willing to go down that road. but the challenge is that a series of bilateral trade agreements doesn't replace the region-wide effect and the positive strategic effect of
t.p.p. because t.p.p. was meant to change the rules of the game, potentially influence china as well. >> woodruff: and now it's not happening. >> that's right. >> woodruff: there is so much more to talk about. big part of the world. hugely important relationship. evan medeiros, thank you very much. >> thank you very much, great to be here. >> woodruff: now, new revelations about contacts between a top aide to president trump and russia during the transition between administrations. earlier this evening, hari sreenivasan recorded this conversation. >> sreenivasan: just after christmas, the obama administration levied new sanctions against russia for its alleged role in meddling with the 2016 election. in the days surrounding that move, michael flynn, the incoming trump white house's national security adviser, spoke several times by phone with russia's ambassador to the u.s.
the trump team claimed, after this was first reported in january, that flynn was trying to arrange a phone call between mr. trump and russian president putin. now, "the washington post" reports there may have been other motives for the calls. for more on all of this we turn to greg miller, a national security reporter at the "post." first of all, what was said in these calls? >> we know now that these calls covered the suject of sanctions. we have multiple sources telling us that flynn actually conveyed a signal to the russian ambassador that the sanctions that the obama administration was imposing, that the russian government should not overreact to them, didn't need to worry about tell me, that there would be time soon when they would be able to revisit these policies. >> sreenivasan: you have nine different sources in your story. how do we know this is what took place on those phone calls? >> these are phone calls which involve the russian ambassador
to the united states, u.s. intelligence agencies monitor a lot of the communications of russian officials who are here in washington and in new york. so these are calls that were all picked up, collected. there are transcripts of these calls. they were recorded, and there are intelligence reports on these calls. >> sreenivasan: but the white house has said repeatedly that this is not what took place, that sanctions were not discussed. the vice president even went out on tv and said, per his conversations with mr. flynn, that this wasn't discussed. >> that's right. you had several senior white house officials starting with vice president pence who went out on a very big limb on this and that limb has been cut now. they insisted categorically the subject of sanctions had not been raised in these conversations, and that's not the case. >> sreenivasan: let's assume for an instant that mike flynn doesn't know this phone call is being listened to by himself and
the other person he's talking to. is there anything illegal he did in the phone call itself? >> yes, possibly. the difficulty here is that the statute that applies in these cases dates to 1799, and in over 200 years has never been prosecuted. it's something that the f.b.i. just does not really want to investigate or prosecute. nevertheless, that statute exists and it bans unauthorized u.s. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments when they're not in power, when they're not yet in a position to do so in the united states. every indication to us is that flynn did just that in this conversation. >> sreenivasan: is that the reason vladimir putin did not retaliate once the sanctions came out? there was a 24-hour gap or so there. >> yes, that was a huge source of concern and surprise and mystery. in the history of u.s.-russia
relationships, there have been lots of retaliatory measures, diplomatic sngses, economic sanctions, expulsions of spies and so forth, almost always reciprocal but in this case putin surprised everyone saying we're not going to do anything, we're not going to respond and wait to see how this plays out and this led to suspicion in the government, was there a signal sent, which led to further investigation and scrutiny in the calls between flynn and the ambassador. >> sreenivasan: if congress or anyone decides to take actions against mike flynn, is there a possibility of a chilling effect? diplomats talk to each other all the time, have relationships that span beyond administrations, meet each other in different conferences and so forth. >> absolutely. that probably helps explain why this law that is never been prosecuted. u.s. authorities do not really want to discourage people who are supposed to be communicating with officials overseas from doing so. however, you're not supposed to
send signals like this that undermine the existing government, that are contrary to the u.s. policy. and in this case, it was particularly egregious because this was at a moment when the united states was just coming to the grips with the fact that russia waged a cyber campaign to up-end the 2016 election. here his top national security advisor is communicating with the russian ambassador in that very moment in time and apparently sending a signal won't worry about this. >> sreenivasan: greg miller of "the washington >> woodruff: after hari recorded post." thanks so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: after hari recorded that conversation, president trump was asked about the story while flying to florida. mr. trump said "i don't know about it. i haven't seen it. what report is that?" michael flynn was among the passengers on air force one.
>> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: mark shields and david brooks take on the week's news; plus, smokey robinson reflects on his life- long contribution to music. but first, the president gets a key member of his cabinet confirmed, a right-hand man who will take aim at the affordable care act, and will serve as the country's top health official. lisa desjardins has the story. >> place your left hand on the bible... >> desjardins: he is, after his swearing in today, the nation's 23rd secretary of health and human services. >> i, tom price... >> desjardins: the u.s. senate confirmed georgia congressman tom price in the wee hours this morning on a party-line vote of 52 to 47. secretary price is a longtime opponent of the affordable care act. to democrats like maria cantwell of washington state, that is the problem. >> this is the first vote in the dismantling of the affordable care act.
>> desjardins: but to republicans like tom cotton of arkansas, that's price's appeal. >> you could say his chief qualification for the job of replacing obamacare is, he had the good sense to oppose it in the first place. >> desjardins: price is also a retired doctor, the first physician to lead h.h.s. in nearly 25 years. but in confirmation hearings, he faced tough questions over his relationship with healthcare companies, and his investment in some which were affected by his actions in congress. now, price is responsible for a more than a trillion dollar health agency budget; for a department that oversees food and drugs, biomedical research, public health threats; and, of course, a large portion of u.s. healthcare. that includes medicaid, which covers more than 74 million people; and medicare, over 55 million. his theme: a smaller role for the federal government. in congress, he backed a proposed cap on medicare spending per person. price also supported giving
states fixed amounts, in block grants, to cover low-income people on medicaid. but his new boss, donald trump, said on the campaign trail he wouldn't touch medicare or medicaid: >> save medicare, medicare without cuts. save it! >> desjardins: mr. trump has not commented since becoming president, but he has stressed an area of agreement with price: repeal of the affordable care act. this was today at a joint press conference with japanese prime minister shinzo abe: >> obamacare as you know, is a total and complete disaster. going to have tremendous healthcare at lower price, going to be extremely happy. >> desjardins: while in congress, price wrote meantime, the "associated press" estimates 12 million americans have signed up for the affordable care act for the next year, and republicans are feeling the pressure from many concerned about a replacement. last night at a townhall adverstised as focused as health care, utah congressman jason
chaffetz was bombarded by angry constituents on a variety of issues. and in tennessee, a similar scene for representative diane black, as health care policy and politics collide. now that secretary price has been sworn in, let's take a closer look at what he may try to do, more quickly, and over the long term. julie rovner covers this for kaiser health news and she joins me now. thank you, julie. >> reporter: thank you. let's talk about the affordable care act. a man authored a bill to repeal it. what is he likely to do on the affordable care act? >> well, what he can actually do and what he'll likely do are two different things. what he can actually do is quite a lot for as long as the affordable care act was, there are a whole lot of places that says the secretary shall or may, so he has a lot of power to determine the details around what happens to the law and he can take apart a lot of the
details that the obama administration added to it. now, what will he do? there's an issue here with whether or not the republicans want to make sure that there is still an individual insurance market next year in 2018 while they're figuring out what to replace it with. insurers really need to know that by later this spring. some are expecting him to, on the one hand, try to take some things apart and, on the other hand, try to make sure that the insurance industry stays in to give them some security about what might be coming. >> desjardins: and as he has to deal with the insurance market, which is one issue, he has to deal with us and our healthcare, and obamacare had preventative service in it, included contraception, screenings. what kind of say does he have over whether those will continue to be cost-free? >> he can change that if he wants to. now some of it was done by regulation and in order to change regulations, there is a process that even departments have to go through of notice and public comment and it can take
several, many months sometimes. there is also something that's a little less formal called guidance, and guidance he can undo pretty much whenever he wants heft has the power both ways, just whether some things will be faster or slower. >> desjardins: contraception, a lot of people at aing attention to that, that could still take a few months but he could still do it? >> yes, well, he can make it easier for religious organizations and employers to opt out of contraception. cost free, that would be changed through a regulation that take longer. >> medicaid, republicans on the hill tell us that is one of the biggest puzzles for them. they have to deal with how to expand it or not expand it. secretary price, you report that he can change requirements for the poor who receive medicaid? >> he can't change the law but he can change regulations about who gets it and how much. congress is talking about turning medicaid into a block
grant which would limit how much money states could get though have more flexibility. he could through his own power give states a lot more flexibility than they have now which is what many are expecting. so things like requiring people on medicaid to meet a work rierntle that's something the obama administration resisted but new secretary price might not. >> old debate over well fair and work, republicans on one side and democrats on the other. these are major things we've touched on, but they barely describe the reach of this agency. can you talk about the profound abilities or the profound area that now secretary price oversees? >> people forget how big the department of health and human services is. the budget over $1 trillion. it oversees not just medicare, and medicaid, but the national institutes of health, the indian health service -- it touches almost one out of every two
americans. it is a wide, sprawling agenty. the secretary has significant power to interpret how laws are implemented. >> desjardins: you have been covering healthcare 30 years. how important can this be in terms of american healthcare? >> we'll see. not exactly which way the secretary will go. from his congressional career, he's been conservative, would like to remake medicare and medicaid and repeal the affordable care act. that's not exactly what president trump ran on. he said in his confirmation hearings he'll do what the president wants. we'll see. >> desjardins: julie rovner, kaiser health news. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks, who
joins us tonight from chicago. and we welcome both of you. so before we talk about the immigration, the president's immigration order, mark, which the court -- appeals court rejected the administration argument on last night, we have a short clip of what president trump just said a little while ago on air force one as he was flying from washington to south florida to mar-a-lago. reporters were asking what he plans to do now. here's that clip. >> we'll win that battle, but we also have a lot of other options including just filing a brand-new order. >> (inaudible). could very well be but i like to surprise you. we need speed for reasons of security, so it could very well be that we do. >> woodruff: so he says i like to surprise you. how big a setback is this for the president? >> a significant setback, judy, in large part because it was self-inflicted. they made mistakes, including
green card holders which weakened their argument completely, and made them vulnerable to the court's decision. and it reflected, more than anything else, a sense of chaos and a sense of incompleteness and a sense of lack of thoughtfulness in the administration on an enormously serious issue. >> woodruff: david, how do you see it? >> on the last clip of trump on the plane, his staff is briefing reporters in somewhat of a chaotic manner in last few minutes. people are saying they will just take it to the supreme court, will rewrite it, and the two different briefings are contradicting each other and that's something the times reporters have been tweeting about publicly which is some of the white house staff is in a high state of misery because to have the the general lack of chaos. on the larger issue, the travel ban, our friend at "the washington post" covered it pretty well, i'm not sure it's
illegal but extremely stupid, i'm uncomfortable with judges overruling presidents on national security matters. nevertheless, whether it's unconstitutional, i leave toout, but it has sucked the wind out of two or three weeks of this administration for no good reason. there is never been evidence people from these countries are disproportionately likely to commit terrorist acts. we've offended the world, derailed the administration, the administration has done it in such an incompetent way that people with perfectly legal residence have been widely inconvenienced south been a screwup from beginning to end and been a running derailment. >> woodruff: mark, only three weeks in and it's already in. david referred to mixed signals from the white house about whether they will repeal and what they're going to do going forward. i want to ask you about what the president said about the
judiciary, calling arguments before the appellate court disgraceful, saying the country will be put at risk by the decision. what should we think about that? >> it's a real surprise, judy. judge gorsuch, the nominee for the supreme court said it's disheartening and discouraging to have judgments attacked for their independence and integrity. this is not an abberation on the part of donald trump. he did it to judge curiel, the judge in the trump university charge case, because his parents were born in mexico and because i'm going to build a wall. he manages to personalize everything he felt brings chaos. he will not admit that he's ever made a mistake, that he's ever been wrong. that's what this whole thing is about whether they're going to have a new order. a new executive order would be an admission that the first
order had been flawed, imperfect, illegal, unconstitutional and rejected, so he can't have that, so you're going to kind of do a double -- to me, it is reflective of this administration, it's three weeks in. people in the white house work hard in every administration. they get rewarded in psychic income, a sense they are involved in something bigger than themselves, that it's important, and the people in the trump white house now are just fighting basically to stay above water. >> woodruff: and there is a sense of conflict, david, virtually every day. what about, is there a strategy to criticize the judiciary, the judges, the courts over this? >> no, i don't think there is a strategy. there is world view and donald trump's world view is that it's a dangerous, miserable place, people are out to get them and he needs to strike them first. that's been the world view from the beginning and it's the world
view. to me the big event of the week is the whole conglomeration of things. it's the rising tide of enmity in the country. donald trump attack judges, john mccain, senator blumenthal, the town halls, riots in berkeley, instability on the floor of the united states senate, you have a rising tide. every time kellyanne conway goes on tv, another fight with whoever's interviewing her that particular day. so what you have is this just succession and a rising tide of conflict and incivility and breakdown in the moral norms that usually govern how we talk to each other. marco rubio gave a good speech on the floor of the senate this week acknowledging this fact. it's not one thing. it's every day. it's the barrage of hostility that seems to mark our politics emanating from the white house but not only in the white house, from his opponents as well. >> woodruff: which raises a question, mark, in my mind, is
there any historical precedent for something like this and what do the democrats do? because they are getting a lot of -- a lot of republicans are saying the democrats are holding up president trump's nominees for the cabinet. a number of them have been confirmed but a number are still waiting to be confirmed, that they are accusing the democrats of creating a log jam. i mean, conflict at the white house, conflict on the hill. who comes out on top of all this? >> judy, it's a cabinet that wasn't vetted, that wasn't prepared, that the papers weren't prepared for. democrats have to make the fight. if you only make fights that you're going to win, there would be no women's vote in the country, there would be no civil rights laws in the country. so they came within one vote of denying the confirmation to betsy devos as secretary of education. she was unprepared, and so unprepared was she that, when the chairman of the committee,
the former president of the university of tennessee, the former secretary of education, limited questioning of her to five minutes to deny exposure to what she didn't know. so are you going to vote for her or against her? two republicans crossed ranks, lisa mer cowski and susan collins to join the democrat. the secretary of labor, a multi-millionaire who eight weeks after he was nominated discovers that we, my wife and i, had for years somebody working on an undocumented in our home who we didn't pay taxes for. baird, nominee for attorney general, nomination founded on this. kim wood withdraw nomination on a far less charges. so did chaffetz. is there a different standard in men and women?
working at reduced wages? i think these are fights worth making. >> woodruff: what about that? some people are looking at washington and saying it's more of the same, the wheels are not turning if the nation's capital? >> that's patently true. on the various nominees, i generally think the president should get his cabinet picks unless they're egregiously out of the range of what's acceptable. i have to say a lot of these nominees are not necessarily my cup of tea, but i think they're clearly within the range. jeff sessions has some problematic spots on his history, but he has been a pretty normal, respectable senator , more conservative than a lot of us but respectable senator for a long period of time. i think the democrats have a right to protest but i don't think he's so far outside the range of normalcy he shouldn't be confirmed. betsy devos is not the most informed on education policy but
she presents as an intelligent person who cares about education and charter schools. the teachers union may not like her but she's clearly within the range of republican policy makers. a lot of us hope to be a multi-millionaire, again spotty records, but not without the range. i don't believe the democrats, there is a lot to complain about in the nominees, but i think if you turn someone down from the president's own cabinet, it better be more egregious than what we've seen. >> woodruff: that's my question, where draw the line? >> they're not going to fight ben carson, backed mattis. i agree with david that a president is entitled to a cabinet but it's not a rubber stamp, and i don't think anybody could watch the confirmation hearings of betsy devos and say this is somebody qualified to be secretary of education.
90% of children in america go to public schools. she knows nothing about public schools an and apparently cares less. and her position on guns in schools for potential grizzlies, we should have guns available in schools? and andrew puzder, this is somebody who basically has just broken the law and he's going to be held to no standard at all, whereas women nominees have been rejected in the past. >> woodruff: even republicans are saying puzder may have a problem. david, what about the point mark is making? >> well, in some cases, i agree. on the puzder point, i agree there has been a double standard. on the devoss case, i agree her gun position is kind of weird, kind of crazy, but i do think she knows about public schools. the reason the betsy devos case was the centerpiece case for the democrats was not about her weakness as a knowledgeable person and educational policy. she cares about charter schools which are public, and choice which is a perfectly legitimate
thing to care about. it's one issue where the democratic base was energized which is the teachers unions. people ask why not devoss and others, it has to do with special interest groups that run out of washington. would she be my first pick? no. is she someone who dedicated her life to education policy? yes, she has. i've seen her present on education policy a few times, and she's not a stupid person. she's quite a smart person, capable, pretty sophisticated in subtle thought and to me that puts her in the realm of policy. but we're in a climate where today she tries to visit a school and she can't because protesters are blocking that. that's what i mean about the rising tide of incivility that's sweeping over politics. >> that was wrong. she should have been allowed to go into a public school, it would have been a novel experience for her. this is not about the teachers union alone. that's a very convenient punching bag to say democrats
are jumping at strings. yes, the teachers unions opposed her and for good reason. they don't think her commitment to public education exists so, you know, but they're not simply responding. they have confirmed all sorts of republican secretaries of education in the past who favored choice including lamar alexander. >> woodruff: david, you want a final 20 seconds sneer. sneer -- here? >> no, i'm willing to respect mark's disagreement. we're not going to be like the rest of the country. >> woodruff: all right, well, we have a little bit of comedy in the united states tonight right here on the "newshour". >> what is donald trump going to give president putin for valentine's day? maybe david's got an idea. >> woodruff: we'll know by next friday because valentine's day is tuesday in case the two of you have forgotten. mark shields, david brooks, thank you.
>> woodruff: finally tonight, motown legend smokey robinson and the music he's made popular for decades. he is the focus of a special tonight on pbs. jeffrey brown sat down with him on the eve of getting a major honor, to see how he continues to make what is old, new again. ♪ oh but if you feel like lovin' me ♪ if you got the notion i second that emotion ♪ >> brown: he was a huge hitmaker. 26 top 40 songs in the 1960s, at one of the great hit machines in pop music history. smokey robinson; his group, "the miracles"; motown, and a string of classics, like "you really got a hold on me." ♪ you've really got a hold on me you've really got a hold on me, baby decades later, the 76-year-old robinson was feted at a concert of his music at washington's dar
constitution hall, as the winner of the library of congress' prestigious "gershwin award," for lifetime contributions to popular song. it's been, robinson told me, a long and amazing journey. >> from the time i was probably six or so, i wanted to be a singer. >> brown: six, huh? >> yeah, i did. i always imagined myself, i'd stand in the mirror, hairbrush and-- i always wanted to do that. i always watched all the variety shows that had entertainment. so, it was always there for me, i just didn't think it would be possible. i never dared to-- from where i grew up, i just didn't think that this life, for me, would be possible. >> brown: at the library of congress, he toured an exhibit of motown memorabilia, and the place where he'd come from: detroit's north end, where, quite literally, the stars aligned. >> diana ross grew up four doors down the street from me, aretha franklin right around the
corner, you know, and "the temptations" right across the area, right across the avenue, and the "four tops." we had berry gordy. we had a guy who had the dream. >> brown: gordy, still a friend all these years later, founded motown, where robinson served as singer and leader of "the miracles;" songwriter and producer for other top acts, including "the temptations" and marvin gaye; and, as a record executive. i read about how you were a precocious songwriter, and you brought 100 or more songs to berry gordy, and he rejected almost all of them, right? >> yes. >> brown: but somehow that worked for you. somehow that didn't discourage you. >> no, it didn't discourage me whatsoever, because berry gordy, see, especially back then-- but and jackie wilson was my number one singing idol as a kid growing up in detroit. jackie wilson was from detroit. and all of his songs were written by berry gordy. and he listened to my music and critiqued it for me, and started to mentor me on how to write songs and make them songs. >> brown: and what was like in those early days of motown?
>> it was highly energetic. it was so energetic and competitive and loving and wonderful at the same time. it was all that, because we were not just stablemates. we were not just some artists who recorded for the same label. we were actually friends. we were like brothers and sisters. we hung out. we have what we call the motown family, and we've always had that, okay. >> brown: some songs come quickly, robinson says, written at the piano in 25 minutes. ♪ my mama told me "you better shop around others, like the 1979 hit, "cruisin" have to simmer. ♪ i love it when we're cruisin' together >> took five years. i'm not exaggerating this. it took five years. >> brown: so if i say the difference between 25 minutes
and five years-- i mean, what does a song have to have; what does a smokey robinson song have to have for you to feel you've got it? >> it has to be a song. >> brown: which means? >> it has to be a song. i mean, if i just gave you a piece of paper with the lyrics written down on it, it would mean something to you. it would tell you a story. without you hearing a melody or music or anything like that, it would say something to you. that's what a song is to me. now you have a lot of songs that come out and the beat carries them over there, because of the beat, and because of some other factors and so on and so forth. but i want mine to be a song-- if you read it, it's going to mean something to you. >> brown: at one point in the late '70s, robinson took a break from singing, even thinking he might retire. it didn't last. and through the years, he's continued to record and collaborate with a variety of artists. but the music business he was such a part of has changed dramatically. i asked if he looked back with a certain nostalgia. >> yeah, i look back on it all the time. i looked back on it a few minutes ago. i look back on it because it's a whole ¡nother game now.
the music business has made a 360. it's a whole ¡nother game. it's not nearly what it was. and i fear for it because, you know, with the advent of the computer and online and downloading and all these things, they have destroyed-- that stuff has destroyed the record business. not the music business, but the record business. but the music business is well, it's alive and thriving. >> brown: and the songwriting business, i guess. >> the songwriting business is alive and thriving, man. you got some wonderful young kids out there, writing some great songs. so it's alive and thriving. now i hope something happens to turn it back around to the point where you're earning a living from writing your songs, from your work. you know, because it's not like that anymore. >> brown: and you just told me that you're going-- from here, you're going back out on the road to perform tomorrow night. you're still doing this. and people want to hear those classic songs, right? does it ever get old for you? >> i still perform because it's
a necessity for my innards, you know what i mean? and those songs, some of those songs i have sung, i don't know how many thousands of times, and i promise you, every single solitary night they're new to me. they are brand new to me that night. and it kills me to see people think that, you know, show business is sex, drugs and rock and roll. and i have what you call a meet and greet, i do it before the show. but when i was doing it after, especially, there would be people who came back and said, "okay, smoke, where's the party?" i just had the party, man. i just had the party for two and a half hours, or however long. i was partying. i said, now my party is, i'm going back to my hotel room, and watch me some tv until i fall asleep, because i just had the party. and it is, every single night. >> brown: and for the happy
crowd at the gershwin award concert, smokey robinson performed several of his hits. ♪ haven't they noted the changes in you ♪ ♪ oh, could it be that like love i was blind ♪ in washington, d.c., i'm jeffrey brown for the pbs newshour. ♪ one thing i note for sure is ♪ really, really real ♪ i've never >> woodruff: "smokey robinson: the library of congress gershwin prize for popular song" airs tonight on most pbs stations. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, a look at a different major music event this weekend: the grammy awards. each year the awards ceremony remembers legendary musicians
who have died-- how do they pick which artists to honor? we take a closer look. plus, one way of measuring advances in artificial intelligence is through games, like when a computer beat a world champion at chess. you can read a short history on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and tune in later tonight: on "washington week," a reporters' roundtable examines critical tests president trump is facing over immigration policy and white house personnel. on pbs newshour saturday, the battle between states to lure companies and create jobs. here's a preview. >> reporter: in a june 2015 email to staff, g.e. c.e.o. jeff immelt had complained about connecticut raising its taxes "five times since 2011." immelt told employees, the company had formed "an exploratory team to look into the company's options to relocate corporate h.q. to another state, with a more pro-business environment." massachusetts offered g.e.
$145 million in incentives to move. >> we're in a competition, and we know that, with lots of other folks. i mean, we've had governors come up to massachusetts to make a pitch to companies here about why they should be in their states. >> woodruff: that's tomorrow night, on pbs newshour weekend. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you, and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> xq institute. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives.
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> welcome to the program, i'm katty kay of bbc new filling in for charlie rose. tonight for the hour we look at the origins and ramifications of president trump's foreign policy platform and the mantra, america first. with michael weiss, jerome cohen, olivier o ma honey and melik kaylay. >> they are a little bewildered, they're waiting. they worry about the economic impact. they see it has certain advantages to them, i mean trump already made sure that he would kill the tpp, i was our attempt to integrate east asian pacific countries into our orbit. and we just handed that over to the chinese for how long, it's not clear. but they are worried about other aspects of the economy. he could make a lot of trouble