tv KQED Newsroom PBS March 24, 2017 7:00pm-7:31pm PDT
hello. welcome to "kqed newsroom." i'm thuy vu. coming up on our program, the california supreme court's chief justice takes a stand against federal agents arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses. and state senator kevin de leon discusses how he hopes to prevent local and state agencies from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. first as part of our ongoing coverage of the first 100 days of the trump administration, this week the house intelligence committee held a public meeting about russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. they heard from fbi director james comey. comey confirmed his agency is investigating possible ties between members of donald trump's presidential campaign and russian officials who sought to influence the outcome of the
election. during the hearing, the committee's ranking democrat, adam schiff, details numerous examples of contacts between trump's veadvisers, and russian officials last year. >> many of the trump campaign's personal, including the president himself have ties to russia and russian interests. this is, of course, no crime. on the other hand, if the trump campaign or anyone associated with it aided or abetted the russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of democracy in history. >> joining me now via skype from washington, d.c. is california congressman adam schiff. congressman, thank you for joining us. >> you bet. it's great to be with you. >> you tweeted this morning that chairman devin nunes just canceled an open intelligence committee hearing with former national intelligence director james clapper, john brennan, and sally yates in an attempt to, quote, choke off public info.
what do you mean by that? >> well, we had agreed on a bipartisan scope of investigation that included both open hearings and closed hearings. and as early as monday we had our first open hearing, and it was, i think, a very powerful one because the american people got for the first time a sense of why so many of us are concerned about this issue of whether there was any kind of collusion or coordination between russia and the trump campaign. we had a follow-up hearing scheduled. by the way, at that original hearing, one of the other i think pivotal moments came when director comey acknowledged for the first time that the fbi is conducting an investigation into this issue of coordination between the campaign and the russians. so that hearing was supposed to take place on tuesday of the coming week. but that has been canceled. now the chair has announced that he would like to have the two witnesses from monday come back in a closed session. that's perfectly fine. but that's not a substitute for allowing the american people to
learn more about this investigation and about what's at stake. so i do think it's a response to probably the pressure that was placed on the chairman after monday's hearing. i have to imagine that the white house wasn't particularly happy about this. but, again, this calls into question the independence of the way the committee is being run, if that's influencing decisions about whether hearings go forward. >> at this point do you think chairman nunes needs to recuse himself from the investigation? >> well, people need to understand just how extraordinary this was. so we're doing an investigation. both parties are involved. it involves allegations that the president's own people, during the campaign, colluded with a foreign power to interfere in our democracy. so in the middle of night, the chairman goes on this expedition to review evidence that at times he says is pertinent to the investigation, at times he says is not pertinent to the investigation. and instead of returning whatever that evidence was to
the committee, leaves both democrats and republicans in the dark about what he's doing and goes to the white house to talk about it. you cannot act that way if you're going to lead an investigation, particularly one that involves associates of the president. ultimately it's the speaker's responsibility. the speaker decides whether he continues in that role or not, and i think more than anything else, this week's events have underscored the importance of establishing a truly independent commission, wholly separate and apart from congress, to conduct this investigation. >> how likely will that happen, though, would you actually get the house and senate to agree on something like that? because that would have to happen. >> i think many of us that have been calling for that, i think got a lot of wind at our backs with the events of this week. you had john mccain speak up very forcefully saying this really discredits congress's ability to do this investigation the way it should. i don't think the intelligence committee is to walk away from
their responsibility. but i do think in addition to whatever we do, the only way the public is going to have real confidence is if there's an independent body also looking at this. >> all right. we also want to point out that we have reached out repeatedly to chairman nunes, but his group has not yet agreed to do an interview with us. congressman, some would say that what's happening right now is really an attempt by the republicans to stonewall or perhaps even kill the investigation into russian interference. what is your response to that? >> you know, there's a deep concern. i think there are certainly some in the white house would love to see this investigation simply go away or be portrayed as simply a fight between the parties. but the issues are much more important than that. you know, this is quite a staggering situation where you have a foreign power what quite overtly meddled in our affairs. one of the most important conclusions that the intelligence committee has reached is we can expect the russians to do it again and we
know they're doing it right now in europe. so this is not something that, you know, we can afford to walk away from. we simply have to find a way to persevere, and we're determined to do so. >> you have also said there's more than circumstantial evidence right now pointing to collusion between russia and the trump campaign during the 2016 election. what is that evidence? >> you know, a lot of the evidence that we have is classified. i'm not able to go into. we tried during the open hearing on monday to discuss as much of the information as we can. you know, i think people saw a lot of what concerns members of both parties in terms of these extraordinary either coincidences or connections between trump's campaign people and russia and the timing of the russian actions. of course some things are quite obvious, and that is that the russian dumping of documents was uniformly designed to hurt hillary clinton and therefore
benefit donald trump. those facts are quite open and obvious. the question is were there people in coordination with the russians? now, the president overtly called for russia to hack his opponent's e-mails and intervene. the question is were there people also privately involved in any coordination of what the president so overtly called for. >> based on what you have seen so far, though, you're a former federal prosecutor. based on what you have seen so far, is there anything there that would suggest guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? >> oh, i think we're far from any claim of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. the analogy that i would draw is this is the kind of information you might bring to a grand jury in the very beginning of an investigation when you want to seek from the grand jury the power to subpoena people, subpoena documents, and follow the facts where they lead, an investigate ory kind of grand jury. that would be the analogy in the criminal justice system. we're certainly far from what
you're describing, which is proving to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. >> i want to also ask you about other matters. i know that the russian investigation is key right now. but is your house intelligent committee currently looking into any other national security issues, especially in light of what happened in london this week? >> absolutely. and here's one of the profound challenges we have. in addition to this russian investigation, we have a very important day job that involves things like the attack in london, that involves things like aviation and you saw the steps the department of homeland security has had to take to deal with the emerging nature of that threat. that's a constant for us. we are certainly on a daily basis in briefings on the progress of those threats and the steps that we need to take to protect the country. but we are quite strained resource-wise given the magnitude of all we're facing right now. >> congressman, are there other legislative priorities you're
walking on as it pertains to california? >> absolutely. one of the other issues that is going to fundamentally impact california is the change in deportation policy by the president. i have a great many constituents who are deeply afraid that their parents are going to be deported or the family is going to be broken up. we hear those concerns all the time. i'm also deeply concerned about the continuing efforts to ban people from coming to the united states from particular countries. it's not an effective way to protect the country in terms of the terrorism threat. i can certainly tell you that. but it is alienating our allies. it's certainly going to have an impact in california because it is, i think, already discouraging tourism. just today we saw the largest school district in canada announce it won't let its students and teachers come to the united states. who would have imagined we'd get to the point where there are refugees fleeing from the united states to canada, and canada won't allow students and teachers to come to the united states? that is an absolutely appalling turn of events.
i have to say that i do feel like life has come full circle because probably the biggest case i handled when i was a prosecutor was one involving the indictment of richard miller, who was an fbi agent who we would later convict of essentially becoming a spy for the soviet union in a sex for secrets case with, of course, a woman named svetlana. >> some have also pointed out that your opening statement during the hearing this week at the house intelligence committee sounded very much like an opening statement in a court hearing. so certainly your legal practice came in there. >> well, yes. you know, it's useful for me to try to organize my thoughts. one of the roles that i feel that i have is trying to explain a very complex investigation and not just the investigation but other things that we're wrestling from a national security point of view in ways that people can appreciate. and i think with all of the muddle over russia and the
president's claims that this is really just an effort to delegitimize him, it's important to tell people why they should care about this, what's really at stake. >> does the president's style of governing make it harder for you to do your job? >> certainly. and i think you can look at the example of these tweets where he accused his predecessor of committing a felony and illegally wiretapping him. that has caused so much damage and his unwillingness to face the fact that it was a baseless accusation has caused so much damage. it damaged our relationship with the britains when the white house suggested that, okay, if obama didn't do it directly through the director of the fbi, he did it through the british nsa. they had to call that utterly ridiculous, which of course it is. but now i think it has resulted in this rather inexplicable behavior by our chairman in undermining the house investigation, and that's all from a series of tweets. so it absolutely makes it
difficult. i don't care about the added difficulty. what i do care about is i think this all has damaged to the presidency itself, to our national security, to his ability to get things done. we've had a dysfunctional congress for quite a while, but at least we had a functional presidency. now we have a dysfunctional presidency and a largely dysfunctional congress, and that's a grave risk for the country. >> congressman adam schiff, the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee. we know it has been a very busy week for you, and we thank you for your time. >> it's my pleasure. thank you. after a frenetic week of trying to show support for a bill to repeal and replace obamacare, president trump and gop leaders today pulled the legislation just minutes before a scheduled vote. they conceded they did not have enough votes to pass the bill. >> i want to thank the republican party. i want to thank paul ryan. he worked very, very hard. i will tell you that. he worked very, very hard.
tom price and mike pence, who is right here, our vice president, our great vice president, everybody worked hard. >> president trump stands not only on health care but also on immigration and the environment are face is stiff opposition from state lawmakers in sacramento. on the front lines of california's resistance is state senator kevin de leon of los angeles. he's the first latino to lead the california senate in more than 100 years. kqed senior editor for california politics and government scott shafer has more. >> senator, thank you so much for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> i wanted to ask you about that implosion in washington, d.c., the health care plan off the table now. what does it mean for california because we were aiming for taking a big hit, maybe $6 billion by 2020. what does it mean, do you think? >> it means that 6.5 million californians will continue to have access to quality health care. 6.5 million folks who otherwise didn't have access to health care. it does mean they're not going to have to access their health care through an emergency room.
it's a good sign for california. it means the subsidies will continue. we don't know if the trump administration will try a different mac nation or a paul ryan or a mcconnell, but it's my hope that they'll leave this alone. >> are you confident there will be more money in the budget since that no longer seems to be -- >> i'm not quite confident because we've seen the president's budget. it's draconian at best. it's draconian. at worst, it's pernicious because it guts almost every program that impacts the most vulnerable, the most margin marginaliz marginalized. it increases the budget for the military when the military is not even asking for an increase. >> you have led the charge in california along with others to be the sort of resistance movement against president trump. on immigration in particular, this seems like a very personal issue for you. is that correct? >> well, you know, i'm the youngest child of a single immigrant mother with a third grade education. it's because of this woman who paid the rent to put the roof over my head, put the clothes on my back.
>> grew up in san diego. >> adjacent to the border, tijuana in baja, california. today i'm the leader of the california state senate. only in a state like california and only in a country like the united states. so quite frankly, i don't like the bashing, the demagoguery, the scapegoating, the divisiveness of president trump in washington. that's not who we are as a great country and as a great state. >> one of the bills that you're sponsoring and supporting is s.b. 54, which would put additional limits on what local governments can do in terms of cooperating with federal immigration agents. i'm wondering, you said at the time i think that almost half of your family could be subject to deportation under trump's executive order. say more about that. were you concerned that coming forward like that could put them in jeopardy? >> let me make a clarification, which i have on numerous occasions. this was perhaps 20, 30 years ago under the broaden criteria,
they would be eligible for deportation under someone like donald trump. thankfully donald trump was not elected president back in the day. that being said, i think the vast majority of californians don't believe our local tax dollars or state dollars should be utilized to separate children from their mothers and mothers from their children. i don't think they want our local resources to be utilized as a cog in the trump deportation machine. that's not who we are as the great state of california. >> this week the sheriff of los angeles county, your county, came out and said he has a lot of empathy for immigrants. he's anti-trump, he said, but he's concerned that s.b. 54, this bill that will limit local cooperation with i.c.e. agents will actually make it worse for immigrants by pushing those raids and those immigration enforcement actions out into the community. >> let me clarify something. he never said that he's anti-trump. he's never said he's for trump or against trump. i want to be very clear about that with regard to sheriff jim mcdonald from los angeles. dreamers have been picked up.
young students, daca students. we heard about the 26-year-old mother with the briain tumor. we heard the story of the woman who was at a courthouse trying to secure a temporary restraining order, fleeing domestic violence and i.c.e. agents were there to pick her up. how did they know? her husband was the one who actually tipped off the i.c.e. agents. so these types of raids are already happening in the community as we speak right now. we're trying to collaborate and cooperate with law enforcement. i will still cooperate and negotiation with law enforcement, but we're trying to find a middle ground so we can protect our working families. >> you talked about your family. there was an article recently in the sacramento bee, and we don't have the time to give it the justice it deserves. but you were born kevin alexander leon, and you added de to your name. tell us the story. what should we take away from that? >> it's a long journey of trying to find myself, who i am. again, growing up as the
youngest child of a single immigrant mother with a third-grade education, half sisters from my mother's side, half sisters from my father's side. for a long time i thought i was actually an only child, and it was sort of kind of searching for myself and wanting to belong to somebody, wanting to belong to the man who actually produced me along with my mother. and only to realize as an adult i didn't really have to search any longer because the one individual who gave me my identity, my strong work ethic, was my mother, has always been my mother. >> did you ever meet your dad? >> i have met him before, yeah. we haven't spoken in decades. but i know of him. he's still alive today. >> how do you think all that shapes you as a legislator? >> i think it helps inform me, my decision-making with regards to helping the most marginalized and what it means to our economic security as a great state, providing access and opportunity to all children, to all students irrespective of who they are and where they come from, the hue of their skin or in fact their legal status.
i think i'm an example. and my story perhaps is not unique actually. it's not unique because it's a story of millions of other californians, whether you're irish-american, welsh, mexican-american, guatemalan or chinese. it's a story of americans, a story of immigrants in search of identity and a better life. >> you and speaker anthony rendon have hired former attorney general eric holder to advise you on sort of protecting california policies on the environment, immigration, health care. what does that say about where california is headed with regard to the trump administration, and do you think there might be some concern or downside to being so adversarial? >> i don't think so. i think we are an outlier in comparison to the rest of the country. but my role and responsibility is to do everything in my power to protect the economic prosperity, our shared values as well as the people of california. i listen, and i watch what donald trump is doing, what he's said during the presidential primary what he said during the
general election and when he tripled down with cabinet selection. when it comes to air quality, health care, families, keeping them together, he is a clear and present danger to the state of california. >> all right. much more to come certainly as this administration -- it's only been 61 days. it seems like a lot longer than that. kevin last week, the california supreme court's top judge weighed in on a controversial immigration enforcement practice. in a letter to u.s. attorney general jeff sessions, the chief justice objected to immigration agents, quote, stalking undocumented immigrants in california courthouses to make arrests. the immigration and customs enforcement agency confirmed the practice, saying it's necessary for safety reasons and to arrest individuals with no fixed address. kqed senior editor of california politics and government scott shafer spoke with the chief justice.
>> chief, welcome to "kqed newsroom." >> it's a pleasure to be here again. >> i want to ask you first about the letter that you sent recently to the attorney general and the head of homeland security, saying that immigration agents appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in trial courts. that was a strong word, stalking. tell me how did you decide to use that word, and what was the tipping point for you? >> thank you. it is a strong word. i chose it intentionally. i created and ran a domestic violence court, the first of its kind in sacramento county back in 1998. and so i really understand what stalking means and the fear that it instills in the victim. and so i used that word because it is what's happening. and it may not be what their exact intention is, but that's how victims feel. that's how the public begins to feel about that kind of behavior. the tipping point was reading more and more and more about this happening nationally and then in pasadena. >> what happened in pasadena? >> in pasadena, a defense
attorney, i think his name is mr. chaidez reported that as he was leaving the courthouse, i.c.e. agents came and arrested his client on the steps of the court house which gave me great concern because courthouses are where we encourage people to come for due process, where they report as witnesses, as victims, and that will have a chilling effect. >> what are you hoping the letter accomplishes? what do you want i.c.e. to do? >> i want i.c.e. to talk about their policy, maybe include some of us or not, but at least take into account that enforcement tactics in the courthouses has a detrimental effect on safety in the communities because people are no longer going to report. they're not going to cooperate. that means victimization will go unreported in the communities, and the communities are less safe, and they won't come to court because they'll look at the court as bad guys. >> i.c.e. says that these are bad guys that they're arresting by and large, dangerous people, and that they do this only as a
last resort. and they blame sanctuary city laws, local laws and the trust act statewide that limits cooperation between local government and federal immigration agents. is that an excuse? does that resonate? >> well, the first thing that i take from that response is they have obviously stepped up enforcement activities. that, to me, is an admission of enforcement activity increases unlike what was happening in the obama administration. secondly, it tells me, yes, they are targeting courthouses for whatever reasons they may have. and, third, their reasons to me are, well, a justification for why they're going into the courthouses. and, again, i accept all that. they've admitted that. but the point is the consequences continues to make communities unsafe, and people will not report. they will not cooperate. there will be fewer witnesses against bad guys, and i can't believe that that would be the intent of their actions if they thought about that. >> what are you hearing from other chief justices around the country? >> i've heard, for example, that
the washington state chief justice has issued a letter along similar request and claims as mine, asking i.c.e. to cease and desist. additionally i know that the new mexico superior court is hearing many issues and complaints, and they're determining what they can and want to do in this situation. i've read about it in colorado. i've read about it in texas. and i know that the chiefs are thinking about this. >> the courts are supposed to be above politics. how concerned are you that this sort of blends in with what's happening in the national political scene? >> i think for thinking people, they'll realize this is not about politics. this is about a co-equal branch of government, the judicial branch, asking the executive branch to rethink its enforcement tactics in our branch because these tactics will undermine the public trust and confidence that the judiciary relies on in order to keep communities safe. >> i want to talk about changes on your court. there have been three new
justices out of the seven since you got there in 2011. now there's going to be a fourth. >> yes. >> what impact does that have? >> well, it has tremendous impact, and i would be remiss if i didn't say that i also was new. i came first in early 2011. justice lew came some months later and thereafter we had the honor of having justice cuellar and justice. we will be once again adjusting and learning and teaching from each other. so it's going to be major change, and now you'll know that there's five out of seven justices have changed position now since 2011. >> if you're not careful, you're going to become the senior justice. >> isn't that frightening? >> what about diversity? i know the supreme court is quite diverse, but statewide still, 70% of trial court and
76% of appeals court judges are white. what difference does that make? >> well, i think we do have strength in diversity. but at the same time, california has historically in the judiciary been ahead of the country in our rulings in standing up for civil rights and in landmark decisions long before any other state or the united states supreme court has act acted. on the other hand, i would say that our latest survey shows that diversity is improving and becoming greater in our courts. women have increased to something like 33%. white males now at 68%. our latino-hispanic judges are now at 10%. it's true asian-americans and african-americans and all others have not yet reached double digits, but this governor has been very proactive in diversifying the judicial branch. >> quick question. if justice is supposed to be blind, what difference does it make? >> because justice is supposed to be justice for all, access for all. so that means all representative
robert: i'm robert costa, i'll tell you about my conversation with president trump and the future of healthcare tonight on "washington week"." a consequential week for president trump and his administration. he faced a republican revolt over healthcare. >> i will not sugarcoat this. this is a disappointing day for us. president trump: we were very close. we had no votes from the democrats. robert: as f.b.i. director said mr. trump was wrong as he accused his predecessor of wiretapping. his former campaign manager agreed to talk about his financial ties with a russian businessman. and the republican chairman of the house intelligence committee says u.s. agencies may