tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS June 11, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by wnet on this edition for sunday, june 11: attorney general sessions to testify about russian meddling in the 2016 election. also, the story of the only bank criminally prosecuted for mortgage fraud after the 2008 financial crisis. and, surviving the mass shooting in orlando's "pulse" nightclub. next on "pbs newshour weekend." >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america--
designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thanks for joining us. president trump's attorney general jeff sessions has agreed to testify tuesday before the same senate intelligence committee that heard from fired f.b.i. director james comey last week. it is unknown at this time whether the testimony will be in a public hearing or only behind closed doors. either way, democratic senate minority leader chuck schumer said today he has lots of questions. >> first, did he interfere with the russia investigation before he recused himself? second, what safeguards are
there now so that he doesn't interfere? third, it says he was involved in the firing of comey, and the president said comey was fired because of russia, how does that fit in with his recusal-- it doesn't seem to stand up well to me? >> sreenivasan: today, a former federal prosecutor among the 46 u.s. attorneys fired and not yet replaced by president trump, said he believes comey told the truth about his nine meetings and phone calls with president trump. >> i mean you've got someone who has a reputation for probity, someone who has a reputation for telling the truth, someone who has contemporaneous notes of what happened in these meetings and in these conversations. on the other hand, i think a lot of people will tell you that the president himself sometimes makes accusations that turn out not to be true. >> sreenivasan: also today, president trump continued to criticize comey for giving a friend notes about their conversations to be shared with reporters. he said on twitter: "i believe
in an interview today, one of president trump's personal lawyers challenged comey's testimony. >> i think that james comey's credibility has been brought into question on multiple occasions during the clinton investigation and here. look, that's ultimately the special counsel has to weigh that as he makes-- does his investigation, but i think it raises serious issues. >> sreenivasan: south carolina republican senator lindsey graham said today the president's behavior in regard to the ongoing investigations was inappropriate, but does not rise to obstruction of justice. >> my advice to the president is every day you're talking about jim comey and not the american people, and their needs, and their desires, their hopes and their dreams, you're making a mistake. >> sreenivasan: president trump's decision not to issue a proclamation for gay pride month, this month, was one complaint for participants in today's "equality march for unity and pride" in the nation's capital. thousands wound their way past the white house to hold a rally at the national mall to defend the rights of the l.g.b.t.q. community and fight discrimination.
similar marches were planned in more than a hundred cities today. in los angeles, organizers renamed the traditional gay pride parade the "resist march" against mister trump. the u.s. military carried out an air strike today against the islamic militant group "al shabaab" in somalia. the pentagon says it hit one of shabaab's training and command bases 185 miles southwest of somalia's capital, mogadishu, and killed eight militants. iran said today its security forces have arrested almost 50 suspects in connection with last week's suicide bombings at its parliament and the mausoleum of ayatollah khomeini, in tehran. this follows yesterday's raid and killing of the alleged mastermind of the twin attacks. 17 people died in the terrorist attacks, the first by isis in iran. qatar is facing food shortages due to the economic embargo by its arab neighbors. iran sent its first planeloads of promised daily shipments of fruits and vegetables today.
saudi arabia, egypt, united arab emirates, and bahrain say qatar funds islamic militants. kuwait today offered to mediate the crisis. president trump has also accused qatar, which is home to a major u.s. air base, of being a sponsor of terrorism. qatar says the allegations are based on lies. in france, early returns showed the "republic on the move" centrist party of new president emmanuel macron well ahead in today's first round of parliamentary elections, a step in consolidating his authority to govern. macron's party is almost certain to advance the most candidates to next week's decisive, second round toward winning a majority in the 577-seat assembly. puerto rico wants to become the 51st state. in today's referendum, the other two choices were independence or the status quo. the island's three-and half- million residents are already u.s. citizens. they're struggling with 12% unemployment, a 45% poverty rate, and higher taxes to help pay down its $72-billion debt. congress must approve statehood,
something it did not do the last time puerto rico voted for it, in 2012. see photos and read more about the equality march in washington, d.c. visit pbs.org/newshour. president trump spent a good part of last week touting his campaign pledge to spend a trillion dollars to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. but other than talking generally about public-private partnerships for those investments, privatizing air traffic control, and dismantling regulations that can delay construction, the white house has yet to put forward a detailed plan." washington post" reporter mike debonis is covering the issue and joins me now from washington. what's at stake here >> as you mentioned, they're in the pipeline for years and some cases a decade or more. and what's at stake is a
certainty tea about a path forward and the longer there is uncertainty, the harder it is to plan these projects, and would receive in a lot of cases is that the trump administration is created month r uncertainty particularly seam less in the realm of public transit but there's also export projects, things like that, where they made moves particularly in the budget that have a lot of people scratching their heads. >> give me an example of the city and the municipality thinking about building something >> transit projects, there's a federal transit administration program that typically spends four, five billion dollars a year building transit projects across the courthouse. these aren't just big cities. a lot of these are in red states, arizona, indiana. north carolina. they've been in the process over a course of months and years
expecting to get a federal contribution of those projects. the budget released proposes zeroing out one of these transit accounts would halt some of projects in their tracks at the least come up with tens of millions of dollars >> what's the likelihood of something like this, a plan is put forth and gets through congress, because members of congress is proud about what sport sort of dollars they can get in. a lot of time states are the ones that own the infrastructure >> congress spend the money, buy in, by and large among local representatives, in places where these projects are happening. that said you have a, you know, major faction of the republican party that wants to reduce discretionary defense spending to low levels and politically and for many of them on principle, it's a good place to
find cuts. politically these are, you know, by and large theirs the perception these are projects that are going to benefit democrats, they're typically even when they're in red states, they're in democratic pockets and big cities. policy-wise, there's a feeling among deficit hacks in republican party, but simply speaking, projects like this should be funded but the federal government shouldn't have a role and these are not projects of national import. you're right to say ultimately congress will have the say and probably not going to 0 out the projects entirely but there will be a huge amounts of pressure on projects like this to sort of be on the chopping block. >> "washington post" mike debonis, thanks so much. a new documentary called"
abacus: small enough to jail" is now playing in select theaters across the country and will premiere on the pbs progr"" frontline" in september. the film tells the story of a family-owned bank serving the chinese-american community in new york city. following the 2008 financial crisis, it was the only american bank to face criminal charges for its loan practices." newshour" weekend's saskia de melker interviewed the film's director about the case and how the family fought back. >> reporter: the documentary" abacus: small enough to jail" tells the story of abacus federal savings bank, a small family-run bank in new york city's chinatown. in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, abacus became the only american bank to face criminal charges for mortgage fraud. filmmaker steve james followed the abacus case when it went to trial. he's best known for his gritty chicago documentaries includin"" hoop dreams" and "the interrupters," and "life itself," about film critic roger ebert.
in the context of the mortgage crisis and all the banks that were involved in that crisis, why did you want to tell this particular story about this bank? >> i think to some extent we wanted to tell this story, because it wasn't really being told at all, unless you read the chinese-american press in new york city. they are in every respect sort of the mirror opposite of the big banks in 2008. they were the 2,651st largest bank in the united states. i think because they were a small bank that it wasn't considered important. and for me, that makes it highly important to tell the story. >> reporter: at the heart of the film is bank founder thomas sung and his two daughters, vera and jill, who ran abacus with him. the case against abacus began after the sung family discovered some loan officers had altered mortgage applications to fraudulently qualify some borrowers. the sung family itself alerted financial regulators. >> they discovered the fraud that was going on among some loan officers and took action
immediately to try to root it out. initiated their own internal investigation and got rid of some more employees. and then were fully cooperating with the d.a.'s office because they thought the d.a.'s office was going to actually help them to root out any additional fraud that might be going on. and so for them to then turn around and be indicted and be accused of endorsing and maybe even directing the fraud at the highest levels of the bank was just astounding to them. but i made it very clear to the sungs, if we're doing this film, we're doing this film, and we will make every effort to present the case that's against you. >> reporter: the film interviews several jurors from the bank's trial and lays out the prosecution's case against abacus and 19 former employees. >> in abacus's loan department mortgages were based upon false documentation. we have evidence of conspiracy, larceny, and systemic fraud. >> reporter: manhattan district
attorney cyrus vance jr, did not give the sung family the option to reach a civil settlement and just pay a fine, the type of deal offered to big banks who sold toxic home loan portfolios to investors. >> i think every american was upset at the crisis that we went through. there was behavior that was less than ethical, and i think americans were upset that the security against which loans were made were often fictitious. and at abacus there was some truth to that, too. it's clearly not a big bank, and clearly it's not representative of the entire financial community, but i think the principle was the same. >> reporter: vance prosecuted abacus even though it had one of the lowest default rates in the country. only nine of three-thousand loans abacus granted were not
paid back during the five-year period covered by the film. >> cyrus vance just felt this is easier to attack, especially it's a family bank. but he doesn't realize that tom is not easy to be pushed around. and my girls, they're tough, smart capable women. so courageous. >> reporter: central to the film is the city's chinese-american community that was the bank's customer base. as jill sung explains. >> we serve people who have never even dealt with the banking system before and you try to bring them into the banking system. an example of that is the safe deposit boxes. >> there are 8,000 plus boxes in this vault. 8,000. the chinese people, particularly the immigrants, they rent houses in very tight quarters, with no place for them to put their valuables except in a bank vault.
>> abacus bank serves mainly the chinese community in new york city, largely first-and second- generation immigrants. how critical was that to this story that you tell about their indictment? >> i think that was key. there was a kind of profound insensitivity to the ways in which banking happens in immigrant communities, not just chinese-american, but even historically, are usually living in a cash economy, especially in those early generations. this is the reality of life in america for these communities. and in order for them to climb their way up the ladder, so to speak, and get mortgages and start businesses, it's done differently. and that's one of the things that abacus understood as a banking institution. >> reporter: the sung family spent $10-million dollars on its defense. the film shows not only the legal struggle but also the personal toll of going to trial. >> they made a decision that
they were not going to plead guilty to something, that they did not feel the bank was not guilty of. that is a courageous choice and it's an expensive choice. it is a daunting task to fight the government. >> if they're found guilty, it surely would have been the end of the bank. personally though, the stakes were even, i think, higher for the family-- this bank really represented them. it was their legacy. we are with the sungs during this ordeal. and you get an up-close and very personal look at the stress and strain and the closeness and the bickering that goes on as they face this. the sungs are just this sort of wonderfully close and very funny family in a lot of ways. and they never kind of lost their sense of humor even at times in the midst of this. >> reporter: what do you hope that people take away from this film? >> i think it's a film about a community that is not known to
stand up for themselves in this country. that historically, perhaps because of having come from mainland china and more of a police state, they have done everything they can to avoid any scrutiny or any involvement or engagement with the powers that be. and this is a case where this family said, "no, we are going to fight back." for their community and their bank that is a pillar within that community. >> sreenivasan: tomorrow marks one year since the most lethal mass shooting of civilians in american history: the killing of 49 people and wounding of 68 others at "pulse," a popular gay nightclub in orlando, florida. tonight, "newshour" weekend's ivette feliciano introduces us to one of the survivors of the
attack who talks about her harrowing experience inside the club and how she has recovered. a warning; some elements of this story may be disturbing to viewers. >> reporter: on vacation in orlando last june 12th, 20-year- old patience carter, on the left, her friend tiara parker, and parker's cousin, akyra murray, decided to go out to the pulse night club. >> it was so much fun, and we were talking to each other throughout that night, like we are definitely coming back here, this is a spot for vacation. we were so set on coming back again, and then the gunshots started. >> reporter: shortly after 2:00 a.m., omar mateen entered the club armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun and began firing. >> we didn't know if it was gunshots, we didn't know if it was part of the music. all we were doing was feeling the reactions of other people. and everybody was chaotic. and at this point, people are just kind of just running back and forth, not really knowing what to do.
i dropped to the floor because i don't know what to do. >> reporter: carter, parker, and murray ended up hiding together in the club's bathroom. within minutes mateen would follow. >> we were the last few to get into the bathroom stall that we were in. and there was already about maybe, what, 17-20 people in that stall already. so we closed the door, and then we just sat down on the floor. so you could still hear people screaming in other parts of the club. and then there was a period of silence. he walks in, you could hear his footsteps, and then he starts shooting into our bathroom. when his gun got jammed, that's when the shooting stopped. >> reporter: carter had been shot in both legs. she laid on the bathroom and tried to stay quiet. at 2:35 a.m., she heard mateen call the police and pledge allegiance to isis. >> that's when it kind of
confirmed for me that we weren't going to get out of here, because he had a motive, he was there for a reason, and he was trying to prove something. so at that point i pretty much just gave up. >> reporter: you thought you were never going to get out of there? >> i absolutely thought i was never going to get out. honestly, yeah. i lost hope very, very quickly. so i just started making peace with god. >> reporter: two-and-a-half hours later, police plowed through the bathroom wall in an armored vehicle. right before that, carter says, mateen came into the bathroom stall where she was hiding. >> he has his handgun in his hand. at this point, my face is turning to the other stall, because i really just didn't want to get shot in the face. and i heard him say "hey, you." he shot someone. he shot another person. and then right before the police came in, he shot the person that was directly behind me. that's when the wall came down, so the police came through the wall. all the debris was pretty much all over my face, but i could
see through this one peephole throughout all the debris, i saw the lights, just the sparks from them exchanging gunfire with one another. and then there was silence. >> reporter: carter spent six days in an orlando hospital undergoing surgery on her legs. her friend tiara parker, shot in the stomach, survived. parker's cousin, akyra murray, did not. carter returned to new york university and has just completed her junior year. she's largely recovered from her physical injuries, but not her emotional scars. >> at the beginning of this school year, i was limping to class. i was literally doing this and getting to class. and now i'm just walking straight by the end of this school year. emotionally, i think, it's like every day is a different kind of struggle. some days i'm really up, and i'm so happy, life is great, i'm excited about this thing that happened, this thing that
happened. and then some days i just find myself falling into this dark place that i don't want to go back to. i was in a really dark place in the hospital, and sometimes i feel myself going back there. >> reporter: carter is writing a book about surviving the pulse nightclub attack. news of other terrorist attacks, like the one after a pop concert in manchester, england, last month, hits her particularly hard. >> we're all, you know, at risk of being, just like, having our lives devastated at some point. so i just really hope we don't forget about the people and the families that are being affected by these situations that happen. because they're real people. >> sreenivasan: finally, spanish tennis star rafael nadal won the french open men's singles title today for a record tenth time, nadal easily beat one-time
french open champion stan wawrinka of switzerland in straight sets. with this, his 15th grand slam, nadal passes american pete sampras on the all-time win list, and is only three behind his longtime rival, roger federer. that's all for this edition of" pbs newshour weekend." thanks for watching. i'm hari sreenivasan. good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by
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