tv PBS News Hour PBS August 1, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: a new revelation in the russian saga. the "washington post" reports president trump dictated the misleading public statement that his son, donald trump jr., released about his meeting with a russian lawyer. then, i sit down with republican senator jeff flake to talk about his new book criticizing his own party's abandonment of conservative principles, and its response to the president. >> i think we have a responsibility to stand up and say, "no, this is not right," and i hope we do so more in the future. >> woodruff: and, two years after the flint, michigan, water crisis, how schools there are seeing and dealing with the consequences of children exposed to lead.
>> we have been focusing on hiring support staff for our students, additional social workers, school psychologists, speech pathologists, behavior specialists. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> 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.
>> woodruff: secretary of state rex tillerson made a rare and unexpected appearance in front of news reporters today, commenting on tensions around the world. he said neither he nor president trump were "happy" with new sanctions congress imposed on russia. and on north korea, tillerson said the united states' options are "limited" and that the u.s. is looking to apply "peaceful pressure" on pyongyang. >> and we're trying to convey to the north koreans, we are not your enemy, we are not your threat. but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond. and we hope that at some point, they will begin to understand that, and we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek. >> woodruff: the secretary of state also acknowledged some differences he has with president trump, including over the iran nuclear deal, also known as the joint comprehensive plan of action, or j.c.p.o.a.
>> he calls late at night, on the weekends, when something comes into his head and he wants to talk. he may call me at any moment, at any time. but it is a very open relationship, and it's one in which i feel quite comfortable telling him my views. and he and i have differences on views on things like j.c.p.o.a. and how we should use it, but i think, if we're not having those differences i'm not sure i'm serving him. >> woodruff: tillerson brushed aside speculation that he is frustrated and looking for a way out of the state department. the u.s. senate's top republican left open the door slightly for another attempt to repeal and replace obamacare. g.o.p. health care overhaul legislation failed by a 51-to-49 vote last week, but majority leader mitch mcconnell said his party is still examining its options. he did, however, reject president trump's call for republicans to change senate rules and reduce its 60-vote threshold to eliminate
filibusters. >> i mean, it's pretty obvious, that our problem on healthcare was not the democrats. we didn't have 50 republicans. there are not the votes in the senate, as i've said repeatedly to the president, and to all of you, to change the rules of the senate. >> woodruff: meanwhile, the republican chair of the senate's health committee wants to pass a one-year extension of federal payments to insurers. president trump has threatened to halt those payments, but democrats and others say the move would hike premiums. majority leader mcconnell also said today that the debate on raising the nation's debt ceiling could stretch until september. the treasury department says that september 29 is the last day it will be able to pay the government's bills. the white house says that it is important to raise the debt ceiling "as soon as possible." the senate has confirmed
christopher wray as the next director of the f.b.i. senators okay'd the former justice department official overwhelmingly, 92 to five. he takes over the agency after president trump fired james comey in may, amid the investigation into russia's election meddling. in pakistan, lawmakers have picked a new prime minister, but the length of his term is uncertain. shahid khaqan abbasi is a loyalist of nawaz sharif, who was disqualified as premier last week for concealing assets. abbasi won an overwhelming majority in parliament, but he represents a ruling party that wants him to serve only until sharif's younger brother wins a national assembly seat, and can take over. >> ( translated ): whether i am here for 45 hours or 45 days, i am the prime minister and i am not here to keep the chair warm, rather i am here to work. i will do the work of 45 months if i remain for 45 days. the process of democracy is back on track. it was not derailed.
no one ran away. no one broke off from the party. >> woodruff: abbasi also dismissed the corruption allegations against sharif, and said the pakistani people don't accept his disqualification. at least 29 people are dead in afghanistan, after a suicide attack at a shiite mosque. it happened in the western city of herat, during evening prayers. a local lawmaker said he was told one attacker fired on worshippers before blowing himself up, but it wasn't clear whether there was a second attacker. back in this country, president trump's comments on policing have come under fire from the head of the drug enforcement administration. last week, mr. trump suggested that officers do away with practices like protecting suspects' heads as they're put into police cars. but in a weekend email to his agency, the acting d.e.a. director chuck rosenberg said the remarks "condoned police
misconduct." on wall street, banks and technology companies pushed stocks higher today. the dow jones industrial gained 72 points to close at 21,963. the nasdaq rose 14 points to close at 6362, and the s&p 500 gained six points. still to come on the newshour: president trump's role in how his son's meeting with russians was explained to the public. a lawsuit surrounding a debunked fox news story. arizona senator jeff flake's new book faulting the president and scolding his own republican party. and, much more. >> woodruff: the white house played defense again today after new information surfaced monday night on the administration's handling of donald trump jr.'s meeting with a russian lawyer
during the 2016 campaign. the latest story suggests the president personally intervened. lisa desjardins begins our coverage. >> the president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information he had. >> reporter: what did the president know, and say, about his son's meeting with a russian lawyer? the "washington post" reports that president trump was more involved than the white house-- and his attorney-- originally let on. this starts with the trump tower meeting last summer, that included donald trump jr., trump son-in-law jared kushner, and russian attorney natalia veselnitskaya. flash forward a year. kushner and his wife ivanka trump, at the g20 summit, learned the "new york times" is about to report the story. they huddled to craft a response, and agreed to lean toward transparency. according to the "post," "they wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn't be repudiated later." but the "post" reports that on air force one flying back to the u.s., the president overruled his advisors. the "post" writes that the
president "directed that trump jr.'s statement to the 'times' describe the meeting as unimportant and unrelated to the campaign." he wanted the statement to say that quickly was contradicted by trump jr.'s own emails, showing he'd promised damaging campaign material on hillary clinton. the "post" story of the president's role in his son's statement conflicts with what his lawyer said last month. >> i do want to be clear. the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. it came from donald trump, jr. >> reporter: white house spokeswoman sarah sanders said today that the president did not dictate anything, but did weigh in. and, she maintained, he never misled. >> the statement that was issued was true. there are no inaccuracies in the statement. i think what the bigger question is, everybody wants to make story about misleading. the only thing i see misleading is a year's worth of stories that have been fueling false narrative about this russian collusion. >> reporter: what is true or false remains a question for
investigators. at least one senate committee plans to interview donald trump jr. next month. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: and now to walk us through some of the legal questions raised by the "washington post" report, we are joined by peter zeidenberg. he was a federal prosecutor for nearly two decades, and was a deputy special counsel involved in the investigation into the valerie plame leak. peter zeidenberg, welcome to the newshour. now that the white house has confirmed that the president was involved, weighed in, as the press secretary said, in this statement by donald trump, jr., to the public, what effect does this have on this investigation? >> well, it's going to generate a lot of interest i'm sure from the special counsel who is going to want to know who was involved in that whole process. everyone on that plane who was weighing in, whether they were actually physically on the plane or, according to the "post"
story, they were opening or calling in, so all those people, the special counsel is going to want the interview and find out what was going on. >> woodruff: how much does it matter, peter zeidenberg, that the white house press secretary said today, yes, the president weighed in as a father would, but then just a few weeks ago the president's attorney said, no, the president didn't have any involvement in this? >> well, you know, lying to the public is not a crime. but what is going to be of interest is the motivation behind this. now, the administration keeps saying that this meeting was inconsequential, it's a nothing burger, who cares, but the account of it they don't want to tell at least from a prosecutor's standpoint, the question being: well, why are they trying to divert attention to what was really happening, or why are they misleading about what was really going on with this? i mean, the whole thing highlights the problem with having, from a lawyer's
perspective, having subjects conversing about an investigation while it's ongoing. >> woodruff: does the fact that we now know that the president himself appears to have been part of this conversation, part of a decision about what to say and that the version changed over the next few days, does that have a material effect here? >> well, it could, because by all accounts this is a potential on structs of justice investigation involving the president, involving, for instance, the firing of james comey. so this incident in and of itself is not illegal. it's not illegal to lie to the press or to lie to the public. but you're looking for motivation if you're a prosecutor, and you're looking for trying to weave together a narrative of facts, and it's suggestive that there is a cover-up going on about a fear of what would happen if the
public were to find out about this case. and that's how the firing of james comey would fit into that. >> woodruff: so a narrative. so if someone is asking, was there a legal line that was crossed, what's the answer to that? >> well, it's not so much that there's a legal line crossed. it's just another piece of evidence, another piece of the puzzle from the prosecutor's standpoint. >> woodruff: so if you are robert mueller and you're working on this, what are your questions? what other questions are you going to have right now? >> well, you're going to want to know how this story evolved and what the perspective of all the different people were. there's a whole question that because all these people and the way they had this conversation, it's probably not a privileged conversation as opposed to if they were just speaking with their own counsel. so again, it paints a picture
which is really... it may not be true, but from a prosecutor's standpoint, whenever you have subjects of an investigation sitting down together, literally, and coming up with a story, what it looks like is obstruction of justice. and that's why attorneys always tell their clients who are under investigation, don't talk about the case with anyone involved in it. don't talk about it. >> woodruff: so we hear a lot about how presidents are immune from laws that other people are subject to. how do we know at this point whether the president himself could be in any legal jeopardy? >> well, we don't know, but from what we've heard, it certainly appears that there is an ongoing case of obstruction of justice. again, involving comey if not other things. so it's... the whole scenario as described in the post story unnecessarily put a whole bunch
of people at legal risk for, you know, for no good reason. and whether it's the impression is certainly problematic at best. >> woodruff: peter zeidenberg, the story continues to unfold. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now an explosive claim and lawsuit, alleging the white house had a role in pushing a false news story about a death in washington, d.c. the story goes back to the unsolved murder of a young staff member working for the democratic national committee, named seth rich, who was shot early one morning in july, 2016. it's a complicated story. jeffrey brown is here to help unpack it. >> brown: earlier this spring, fox news aired a story suggesting seth rich was murdered after he had leaked
thousands of emails to wikileaks. in fact, there was no evidence linking rich to the leaks, or his murder to the wikileaks case. fox news retracted the story a week later. the initial story relied on a former police detective, rod wheeler, who's also a longtime paid commentator for fox news. but wheeler has now filed a lawsuit against fox alleging he was misquoted in the story, and that he was used as a pawn to deflect attention away from the russia probe. wheeler says he worked with a trump supporter named ed butowsky, and that the two of them met with then-white house press secretary sean spicer, a month before the story ran. he further alleges that the president himself reviewed a copy of the fox story before it was made public. today, the white house denied his claim about the president. david folkenflick broke this for npr and joins me now. dave, welcome to you. first, tell us about ed butowsky and what in essence rod wheeler
is claiming set this in motion. >> well, ed butowsky is an investor wealth management consultant outside dallas texas. he's been an unpaid talking head on fox news and fox business about financial matters and reliable outspoken voice in support of president trump and his agenda. he announced in february, he goes to the rich family and says, i'm going to help you afford to have a private investigator solve this mystery of who killed your son and arranges for rod wheeler to do it. he presents himself as a good samaritan who says he's struck emotionally by, this but wheeler alleges, and his lawsuit has an extraordinary degree of supplemental material to support it, wheeler alleges that butowsky had an agenda all along. what butowsky wanted to do, working has been in glove with a fox news reporter named malia zimmerman from the outset, that he wanted to prove that seth rich in some ways was linked to
the dnc e-mails and there may have been a cover-up and somehow democratic operatives or figures may have been involved in some way in seth rich's death. so you have a guy who basically is saying that fox news as a news organization and a trump backer are working in concert to arrive at a preconceived narrative and story rather than simply following a journalistic effort to figure out what the facts. are. >> brown: and he's claiming even more, that this was coordinated perhaps with the white house, this meeting with sean spicer and the allegations that president trump himself might have looked at the script or known about this story. >> right. let's disentangle what we know from what we don't know. what we know is it is confirmed all three men, sean spicer, at that time the white house press secretary, ed butowsky, the investor and backer, and rod wheeler, the investigator, all say that they were there april 12th at a relatively brief, maybe ten, 15-minute meeting, excuse me, april 20th, this
meeting at which butowsky and wheeler unpack for sean spicer what it is they've learned in this investigation. and sean spicer told me last night that he took the meeting as a courtesy, that butowsky was a friend from republican circles and that he was happy to give him an ear for a brief meeting. butowsky says it wasn't really a meeting about that at all, he was simply trying the help wheeler see if he could find a job, something both wheeler and spicer say is not true, but what is clear is from the e-mails and voice mails and texts an other materials subsequently is that butowsky invokes the white house, invokes powerful people and, yes, even inadvocates the idea that president trump has read drafts of the fox story before it goes to fox news' site and on the air. while that's not been proven, but it's certainly the pressure point from butowsky that wheeler believes is true. >> brown: to bring it up to
date. butowsky now says to you some of those texts or the claim of a connection to the white house was a joke or was a put on or he was overplaying it. and the white house, as i said today, says there is nothing to that. nothing to the connection with president trump. >> you know, butowsky in person comes off as a guy who says, oh, we're friends, we're pals, we joke, we tease, that's all this was. wheeler was joke about wanting to work at the white house. i was joking about saying president trump took an interest in this. it is not, i must say, the tenor that you get from reading the transcripts, voluminous, text message, voice mail, e-mails, ad recorded conversations that wheeler and his attorneys are providing in this defamation lawsuit against butowsky, the facebook reporter and -- the fox reporter and so on. this will play announcement court, but wheeler has an unusual degree of materials to support his interpretation, his contention, and there is no doubt that butowsky enjoyed invoking the kind of circles
that he seemed to run in or seemed to want to be perceived of as running in. we don't have proof that donald trump ever saw them, and sean spicer said to me last night he didn't think that ever occurred, and he said he didn't really understand the nature of the meeting that he had. he took it out of courtesy. >> brown: david, what is fox's response in they're the target of this lawsuit? >> they dispute hotly the idea they defamed wheeler. they say they listened to wheeler's complaints but also talked to malia zimmerman, the fox news reporter, and they don't have concrete evidence to prove that he was misquoted. they don't, though, make an affirmative defense of the journalism that emerged. you know, it seems currently the best-case scenario is somehow they would be able to show that rod wheeler had allowed or affirmed the idea that the reporter could attribute quotes to him that he hadn't actually said. either way that's not good journalistic practice. i think you see fox on its heels because this story is not defensible. i think that's why it was retracted back in may. what you haven't seen from fox
is a full accounting of what went wrong, and our story this morning has forced fox to come forward and try to be more forthcoming. >> brown: david folkenflick of nwr, thank you. >> thanks. >> woodruff: republican jeff flake, the junior senator from arizona, is calling for a return to conservatism, and speaking out against those he feels have strayed from those values. in his new book, "conscience of a conservative: a rejection of destructive politics and a return to principle," flake examines where his own party has gone wrong and criticizes the man they helped elect president last november. i began by asking senator flake whether he was, figuratively speaking, trying to throw a bomb into the middle of the republican party leadership. >> no. i'm trying to put forward an affirmation of conservative
principle, much like senator goldwater did in 1960 when he saw his party compromised at that time by the new deal. i think today our party has been compromised bay different element, populism, protectionism, isolationism, and i just don't think that's a governing philosophy moving ahead for the republican party. >> woodruff: but you say the party is in crisis. it's a crisis of its own making, that the leaders of the party as you just said have turned away from principle. >> right. >> woodruff: they've turned to things they don't even believe in. how did this happen? >> for example, on free trade, we're holding as a party an unfamiliar banner. we have always been the party of free trade, for most of our history at least. the united states helped countries prosper, and therefore we would prosper with them because they would then buy our goods and services and the rising tide would lift all boats. now we've kind of become a zero
sum game where some win and some lose. we're then losers. we have to get back the winning. >> woodruff: but how did that happen? you very distinctly go after president trump. you don't put all the blame on him. >> no. >> woodruff: but you describe how what he's done and how he's done it has helped pull the party and its leaders away from their core. >> let me say, part of the book is on policy, and where i think we should be on policy. part of the book is on conservative, in terms of demeanor and comportable. and i think that's certainly different today, but it's been a gradual drift. the house and the senate and the white house, we lost it all in 2006 and 2008, and frankly we deserved to at that point, but when people stand up and yell, "you lie" when a president was giving his state of the union address, that was long before president trump. but i think it has become a lot
coarser, and a conservative is nothing if they're not sober and deliberate and measured in foreign policy, for example. and that we embrace our allies and recognize our enemies and i think that's missing today. >> woodruff: you do write at one point, you said it was we conservatives who have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. to carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening with anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties and tremendous powers of denial. i mean, essentially, you're saying the party has enabled the president to do what he's done and that it's both been harmful to the country and embarrassing to the party. >> i think it's not conservative policy and it's not conservative for elected officials. those of us in congress to watch this and not see anything. i'm not saying that everybody
has remained silent. there have been many voices who have spoken out, but not enough. and what has gone on with the administration in terms of a chaotic atmosphere, that is not good for domestic policy. it's certainly not good for foreign policy. >> woodruff: you've also voted for some of the administration's initiative. >> i have. >> woodruff: you supported the president's nominees to top offices. >> you bet. >> woodruff: you voted for the healthcare plan that the president wanted last week, even against the other side from fellow arizona senator. >> i think the president put together a good cabinet. i think supreme court nominee,field gorsuch, was stellar. this is a person who got unanimous vote a few years earlier. the president's initiatives on regulatory policy are supported. i think that's been needed in the economy. i think his instincts on tax policy are good. but some of the issues, like nafta, talking about ripping it up, now they've changed
somewhat, nullifying the tpp, i think some... the trade pack, are profoundly unconservative. and they will handicap us for the future. >> woodruff: what has to happen now. you're calling this president out. you're saying you don't like some of what he's doing, but what are you going to do about it? >> we often want somebody to stand up, but we stand back. the congress is responsible to provide checks and balances with the president, more than the judiciary. we're the first branch. and this institution has to stand up for its prerogative. i think an authorization for use of military force. we ought to be stepping up to the plate on a bipartisan basis. part of the problem is we've become such a... we've become shirts and 'skins. and we can't get together and any administration, republican or democrat, will take advantage of the chaos in congress and the dysfunction to sap away even more power and authority. and when you have an
administration that you are concerned about, in terms of its own comportment, and the kind of chaotic environment over there, then it becomes even more urgent that congress must fill its role. >> drew: where does congress draw the line? your point is congress has been standing back. >> right. >> woodruff: is there place where you say, this should not stand in. >> i do think that there were a number of people who stood up with the firing of jim comey. that to me, a president can fire an f.b.i. director certainly, but the timing and the rationale was questionable. >> woodruff: but he succeeded. he fired him. >> he did. now, i have been pleased, and ad this is a good sign. there has been talk about this president possibly firing the a.g. and that possibly... >> woodruff: the attorney general. >> the attorney general. and that being a precursor to take other action with regard to
the special prosecutor, speculation. but that's worrisome. but i've been heartened that a number of my colleagues stood up and said, no, that will not stand. that... just try to fire the a.j. and think that congress will stand back. so i do think that we've got to protect the institutions of government that way, but also we ought to demand when the president, just the language that's used and the necessary, you know, as i mentioned, comportment and demeanor that should apply to any white house, we ought to call the president out, we ought to call our colleagues out. i would hope the president would call us out if we go too far down that road. >> woodruff: do you believe he should stay in office? >> yes. he has done nothing that would compel us to remove him from office, but i do think that, you know, nobody is above the law, and we ought to make sure that we remember that. >> woodruff: how many republicans in the senate and the congress agree with you?
>> in terms of needing to stand up? i think more than you know. more than you know. >> woodruff: but why are so few doing it the. >> you want to. it's difficult to wake up every morning and see, you know, tweets or policy being put forward that just -- take the transgender ban that didn't seem to be well thought out. can i come in on that? this and that. it gets tiresome. but i think we have a responsibility the stand up and say, no, this is not right, and i hope we do so more in the future. >> woodruff: senator jeff flake of arizona, the book is "conscience of a conservative." thank you very much. >> thanks for having me on.
>> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: flint, michigan's youngest victims, two years after the city's water crisis. and, the controversial, racial history of southern cooking. but first, the political crisis facing venezuela, and its' president, nicolas maduro, deepened today. 120 people have been killed there during three months of unrest-- ten on sunday alone-- amid an ongoing economic catastrophe. chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner reports. >> reporter: they came in the dead of night. venezuelan security agents descended on the home of opposition leader antonio ledezma, and took him away in his pajamas. meanwhile, security cameras captured the same scene at the home of another prominent opponent of the maduro regime: leopoldo lopez. in the aftermath, the families of the two former mayors said their fates were still unknown.
>> ( translated ): in effect, we have knowledge that antonio is already in the ramo verde military prison. officially, we have not found out from the government. >> reporter: today, venezuela's supreme court said the pair were arrested for violating their house arrests; their lawyers deny the charges. the seizures came after sunday's deeply-divisive election to fill a new "constituent" assembly tasked with rewriting the country's constitution. the new body, filled with leftist supporters of president maduro, has enormous power: it can dismiss lawmakers and dismantle existing branches of government. it's widely viewed as a way for maduro to tighten his grip on power. afterwards, both lopez and ledezma denounced the vote. >> ( translated ): this is a fraud. we know perfectly that public powers have become a political machinery at the service of a totalitarian regime, a tyranny. >> reporter: andrea saldarriaga
jiménez is assistant director of the latin america center at the atlantic council. >> i think it shows that maduro is moving to grab further onto power, and that he feels that there's no checks and balances that he needs to respect. i think that the opposition is stronger than ever. unfortunately, i can see a ramp up of the violence. >> reporter: in washington, secretary of state rex tillerson sharply criticized the arrests. and he added this: >> we are evaluating all of our policy options as to what can we do to create a change of conditions, where either maduro decides he doesn't have a future and wants to leave of his own accord, or we can return the government process back to their constitution. >> reporter: yesterday, the administration slapped personal sanctions on maduro. maduro responded by mocking the action on state tv. >> ( translated ): i am proud of the so-called sanctions, mr. emperor donald trump.
>> reporter: the administration could impose tougher sanctions, if it goes after the country's oil industry. the u.s. is the largest importer of venezuela's crude oil. and since oil accounts for some 90% of venezuela's export earnings, that puts the caracas government at risk. venezuela's economy is in a freefall, due in large part to tumbling oil prices. if the u.s. is not careful, says saldarriaga jiménez, further sanctions could backfire. >> so if you look at the range of what they have for the income of the government to provide services, food, all of these different social programs, they have, the bandwidth, it's pretty small. and so if you think about an already vulnerable population that is facing food scarcity, medicine scarcity, it's really worrying. >> reporter: a serious concern for the trump administration, as
it decides with what to do next with venezuela. for the pbs newshour, i'm margaret warner. now, let's turn to the opioid crisis and the federal government's response. since he was elected, president trump called on a white house panel to recommend what more needed to be done. the commission, chaired by new jersey governor chris christie, is expected to issue a final report this fall. but in the meantime, the commission released its initial recommendations yesterday, saying it was time to declare it a national health emergency. special correspondent nick shifrin has the story, part of our ongoing coverage of the problem, called "america addicted." >> shifrin: every year, drug overdoses kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined. 142 americans die every day from opioids. that's the same toll as on 9/11, every 3 weeks.
and since 1999, the number of opioid overdoses in the u.s. have quadrupled. so, the commission suggests not only to declare a national emergency, but increase treatment under medicaid, educate doctors on how to better prescribe opioids, and increase use of medication that helps people overcome addiction. north carolina governor roy cooper, a democrat, is a member of the commission and joins me now. roy cooper is a democrat on the commission and he joins me now. there are already about three dozen declared national emergencies. why would president trump declareing another national emergency help? >> well, 142 people a day dying in the united states is compete my unacceptable, and this is a fixable problem if we work together in a bipartisan way. it could free up federal funds. it could also allow states to have the flexibility to provide
more treatment, and we're working together to make sure we address this problem, and it's something we need to do right now. >> woodruff:>> the report singlt medicaid as the best way to treat. the president's plan for the affordable care act would actually reduce medicaid. how do you square that? >> this is one of the problems with the commission. the report is incomplete. we're whipping past the gave yard if we don't recognize that in order to provide treatment we have to increase medicaid funding to the states, and we have to make sure that every american has good-quality health insurance that covers substance abuse and addiction treatment. and even law enforcement is recognizing that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. even law enforcement wants treatment for people who are
addicted to opioids. we have to make sure that we fund this treatment. we have a law enforcement assisted diversion program here in north carolina where law enforcement is actually asking for the treatment centers they know that they can't keep arresting people from overdose, sending them to emergency rooms, getting back out, arrested again. that's a vicious cycle that's not working. >> the report goes deep into how important it is to get to medication that helps overcome addiction. but there is some stigma over that. there is a stigma of treating drugs with more drugs. how do you overcome that stigma? >> i think it's clear that data shows that medication-assisted treatment can be effective to help people with opioid addiction, and i'm glad the report gets into this and makes
recommendations on it. i fact, i think that it needs to be expanded, the data is pretty clear. it's also clear that individuals react differently to different medications. so you have to have providers who are trained in medication-assisted treatment, but i think it's a positive thing. this is a crisis. we have opioid addiction that's killing people. if medicaid-assisted treatment, medication-assisted treatment is helpful to them, then we want the make sure that it's available for them. >> the report talks about the importance of educating doctors on how to prescribe medication that overcomes addiction, but those in reeducation effort onto that for the last year, why would these recommendations succeed perhaps when others haven't? >> well, i think it puts an emphasis on it across the board that every single medical provider needs to be taught about the problems of addiction.
i know that when these opioids first appeared on the scene, particularly the super powerful ones, doctors were prescribing them in bunches for pain relief with little thought to the addiction that occurs subsequently to a lot of people. >> forgive my interruption, governor. do you think the medical riders don't have the up ho date information now and need to have better information and more modern drugs? >> a lot of them aren't even checking the prescription drug monitoring program. for example, someone comes in and asks for a prescription and prescription is written, these medical providers should check the monitoring system to determine whether they've gone to another doctor to get this thing prescription. so it's pretty clear to me that we aren't up to speed yet across the country with educating all medical providers as to the problem and the steps they need
to take in order to prevent people from getting addicted to opioids. there's a lot we can do in that arena. >> governor, thank you very much. governor roy cooper of north carolina. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> woodruff: next, an update on how schools in flint, michigan are coping with lead problems, and what the city's school superintendent did to protect children from exposure while making sure their education was not interrupted. the district was already facing declining enrollment, financial problems and falling test scores. lead is especially dangerous to young children, having the potential to impaired brain development and cause behavioral changes. the flint school district began making changes even before other city officials. special correspondent kavitha
cardoza, with our partner "education week," has this report, part of our weekly series, "making the grade." >> reporter: it's been two years since alarmingly high levels of lead were found in flint children. >> everybody, what's this word? >> go. >> reporter: mary johns has taught kindergarten for 12 years. she's now seeing the impact up of lead poisoning. >> i have a student in kindergarten. he was not progressing like i thought he should, physically, mentally. he just wasn't. he tested highly positive for lead poisoning. just from last year to this year, you just see the change in him completely. >> reporter: johns sees differences in behavior too. another symptom... >> sometimes they get agitated easily, sometimes they get angry easy, a lot easier than they used to. >> reporter: superintendent bilal tawaab is leading a comprehensive effort to mitigate the effects of lead on children. >> we have been focusing on hiring support staff for our students, additional social
workers, school psychologists, speech pathologists, behavior specialists. >> reporter: signs of the effort are everywhere. >> everyone reach up to the sky one more time. >> reporter: meditation classes calm students showing signs of anxiety. swivel chairs have been added for fidgety kids. handwipes are available for those children who still can't bathe at home. and along with the free bottled water everywhere, there's free breakfast. >> as you know, there are lead- mitigating foods that our children can consume, and so we've been very intentional in developing a diet for our children. >> reporter: the problem began three years ago. flint changed to a new water system, the flint river, to save money. this water flowing through the aging pipes caused lead, a neurotoxin that affects brain development, to seep into the water system. health officials estimate tens of thousands were affected, many of them children. bilal tawwab had been named the
new superintendent of flint schools a few months earlier. >> i knew i was coming into a situation which was going to be a heavy lift. you have a district that some would say was failing academically. we had a huge decline in enrollment over the past few years, financial crises. >> reporter: then things got worse. pediatrician mona hannah-attisha conducted a study before and after flint's water source was changed. it showed the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels essentially doubled. it was not an announcement state officials wanted to hear. >> the state was saying "hey, you're wrong. this research is not true. you're causing near hysteria. the state's numbers don't match my numbers. so my credibility, this data, this science was being attacked. >> reporter: but tawwab took her
warning seriously. he ignored possible political backlash, as well as concerns about costs, and turned off all school taps. he ordered schools to switch to bottled water. >> it was very brave and courageous of him to stand up for kids. and to use his power as a superintendent to say, "hey, we don't know what's going on. there's a potential of this going on. so let's err on the side of caution and let's protect children." >> reporter: government funds and philanthropy pay for the school district's programs to mitigate the effects of lead poisoning. all the bottled water is donated. tawwab says working with partners is essential. >> it starts with a leader who's willing to collaborate. to bring everyone to the table. you can't go in as the leader feeling as if you have all of the answers. no. you don't want to do that. you want folks to come in and be able to collaborate, and come up with the solution together. >> reporter: he insists that the water crisis should not stand in the way of the district's essential job: teaching.
>> i can't look at a child and say "i'm sorry i wasn't able to educate you that year, because we were dealing with a water crisis." that's not a fair excuse. >> reporter: but the crisis is far from over. >> girls, do you want some water? >> reporter: most of the city is still without drinkable water. health officials are facing criminal charges. and it's unclear how long government aid will last. worst of all, pediatrician hannah-attisha expects to see signs of lead poisoning especially among those who have not yet started school. >> this is an irreversible neurotoxin. there is no magic pill. there is no antidote for this exposure. but, there is a lot that we can do to mitigate the impact of this exposure. >> reporter: through it all though, the superintendent remains optimistic. during tawwab's tenure, the graduation rate has improved, though it's still below the national average. test scores have gone up slightly.
enrollment is up and there are plans to open new schools. >> you have kids who are excited to be in school. you have teachers who are excited to be teaching. we do not want to let this crisis define this community. it's not going to happen. >> reporter: i'm kavitha cardoza with "education week," for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: finally tonight, one man's journey into his own personal history, and the roots and history of american cooking and cuisine, from africa to today. jeffrey brown is back for this visit with the author, part of our series, "race matters." >> cymling squash. black eyed peas, okra. watermelon. peanuts. beans. >> brown: for chef michael twitty, "farm to table" has a deeper meaning than for most.
twitty is a culinary historian who explores the complicated story of race, culture and food. and he's now the first "revolutionary in residence" at colonial williamsburg, where visitors come to learn about and experience life in 18th century virginia. twitty takes part in the town's historic recreations, wearing the clothing of the enslaved people who once toiled here. >> this is the kind of garden that an enslaved person would have. imagine that this is not in a big period garden space. imagine that this is a space where-- this is behind your cabin, or beside your cabin. >> brown: this is your little plot. >> it's your little plot. in one place. and it's designed to be as fertile and as self-sustaining as possible. if you're working in a tobacco field sun to sun, and the only time you can cultivate this garden is early dawn, twilight
and at night-- >> brown: i mean, the other thing that's noticeable here, of course is, these aren't nice, neat rows. >> no. our ancestors would have won every single environmental award. i mean, they were organic, they were local, they were sustainable, they practiced permaculture, they composted. those are all modern labels. but they were already doing that here. it's an issue of people who are in exile, adapting. adapting to where they are and figuring out how to make it work. >> brown: ancestry is a central theme in twitty's new book, "the cooking gene, a journey through african american culinary history in the old south." he addresses what he calls "discomfort food" in the legacy of the south, in part, with visits to tobacco and cotton fields previously tended by the enslaved. at williamsburg, he joined ed schultz in a display field. >> you know, as soon as cotton gin comes up, the domestic slave trade comes into play after that. >> right, and that encourages
slavery elsewhere. >> brown: the old south comprising slaveholding states takes central stage in twitty's book, which weaves explorations of his own identity, including his conversion to judaism, the roots of american food, and stories of his childhood. the book you chose to write is also part memoir, right? >> yeah. >> brown: so why use your own story and your own family to tell that story? >> i was always intrigued by this notion of the black autobiography, the kind of writing that maya angelou or james baldwin did. how i got over. how i came to be this person. that we have passions that last our whole lives, and that we are extremely engaged in our own history and culture. >> brown: but you didn't start out that way. >> no. >> brown: even by your own descriptions, right?
i wasn't interested in soul food, i didn't even really like being black, i think you wrote? >> right, exactly. >> brown: so why suddenly explore all that? >> i wanted to re-approach this narrative of self critique and self hatred. but also, letting people know that the food was my way in. the stories... i got a sense of pride of the people who i came from, my own family. and i felt like i wanted to put the microscope on myself. and i wanted other people to not be afraid to also follow the blueprint, and sort of really own every aspect of their identity. >> brown: twitty, now 40, has delved deeply into his background, undergoing d.n.a. testing and building an extensive family tree of ancestors from many parts of the world, including west africa and northern europe. you also got some surprises though, i think, right? >> my great, great, great- grandfather richard henry belding was a captain of the confederate army. and when you do genealogy as an
african american, and you get your d.n.a. results, you're going to find tons of white folks that you're related to. we are connected, the same way that those stories passed down from my grandmother said we were. >> brown: many of those stories were passed down to twitty in the kitchens of his childhood around washington, d.c. at williamsburg, twitty often works with fellow chef harold caldwell in this 18th century kitchen, to bring history to life for visitors. here, as in colonial times, the cooking fire burns even on the hottest days of summer. so who are you thinking of, as you're cooking? >> my aunties. >> right. >> my great-aunties. >> that's it. grandaddies of barbecue? >> that's right, that's right, and all the men who were in the kitchen. all my uncles cooked. but when people just label 'em, just slaves, there they put 'em in a class, like they don't have a soul. like they're not human beings. >> brown: do you know the names of anybody that lived here? >> we do. we know there was 28 enslaved people. we know every name of every
enslaved person that was on this property, because of the inventory that they did. >> brown: yeah. >> yeah. so we speak their name as much as we, as often as possible, to let folks see them. >> we like to think of these folks as the founders of american cuisine. you know, in their hands, european, native african, asian food ways get combined, and recombined. >> brown: an amalgam of cultures is the quintessential american story. but when addressing american food, twitty says certain people have been left out of the narrative. i wanted to ask you where we are today, because you wrote: and for some people they will blurt out, fast food. for some people, they will blurt out, it's food from all over the world. and then very rarely, someone will talk about the indigenous as well as the naturalized foods and traditions. and so i want people to sort of include us in that conversation. and that we've always been a part of it. we've always been a part of the narrative of creating american food and always will be.
that's also part of the agency factor. that you own your emotions, you own your facts, you own your opinions. and you also understand how we got here and how you got here. >> brown: and we can have that conversation over a meal. >> exactly. and we can have it over a meal, and that's what i really want to do. i mean, i'm this weird guy. i'm this gay, jewish, african american southern food writer who rubs elbows with genealogists and living historians and re-enactors and museum professionals and teachers and academics and the and i want to sit all those people at the same table, to feast on the idea that we are different but we are very much the same. >> brown: for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown in colonial williamsburg, virginia. >> woodruff: fascinating. culinary historian michael twitty shares a recipe, and the story behind it, on our website. you can learn how to make
sorghum-brined chicken, roasted in cabbage leaves. also online: was vladimir nabokov's iconic novel "lolita" inspired by a little-known story by the artist salvador dali? a comparative literature professor at harvard university noticed some striking similarities in the writings of both creative legends. we consider the evidence, on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide.
>> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> 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
- (speaks polish) hi, i'm jim west, and we're visiting eastern europe in a country that has recreated itself with passion and resiliency. welcome to poland. today we'll explore a 700-year-old salt mine to see one of the largest underground craft projects ever. we'll dabble in doll-making and create cutout creations with paper. we'll see the largest piece of crochet lace in the world and put our stamp on stained-glass making. from our crafter's kitchen we'll learn a traditional way of making polish pierogi and learn a new spin on traditional polish pottery. all this and more as we explore the crafts and people of poland. (dramatic music) everything we do with our hands, when we put passion behind it, creates a craft,