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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  October 28, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, october 28: the original funder of the infamous trump dossier is revealed; the latest on the sentencing of bo bergdahl, the u.s. army soldier who deserted his post and was captured by the taliban; and in our signature segment, a russian law that could make the domestic abuse problem there even worse. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.b.p. foundation. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory of abby m. o'neill.
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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. the secret funder of a once secret dossier of opposition research on donald trump has been unmasked. the dossier, produced during last year's presidential campaign, purported to document possible connections between russians and trump organization business or the trump campaign. the washington firm fusion g.p.s. had been hired to produce the dossier during the republican primary season, and it eventually assigned the task to a british former intelligence officer named christopher steele.
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that's all been known for months. now, we know who originally hired fusion g.p.s. the chairman and the editor of the conservative web site" washington free beacon" confirmed they did so for information on multiple republican candidates. at the same time, "free beacon" denied paying for the steele dossier or having any contact with him." free beacon" said its research ended before steele began his work. a key financial backer of "free beacon" is paul singer, a billionaire new york investor who is among the country's most active republican donors. since 2012, singer has given more than $40 million to republican and conservative candidates for federal office, according to the center for responsive politics. recipients included jeb bush and marco rubio, who competed with trump for the republican nomination. earlier this week, another washington law firm, perkins coie, which represented the hillary clinton campaign and the democratic national committee, said it continued to pay steele for his work after trump secured the nomination. the steele dossier, published after the campaign by"
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buzzfeed," contained salacious and unverified information about mr. trump and his 2013 visit to moscow. the white house had no comment today on the revelations about the original funding of the dossier. yesterday, trump press secretary sarah sanders said, "if there was any collusion with russia, it was the democratic national committee and the clintons who colluded." the house of representatives' intelligence committee says" the free beacon" has agreed to cooperate with its probe into russian meddling into the election. the committee has also subpoenaed bank records from fusion g.p.s. for more on the mystery and controversy surrounding the trump dossier, i am joined by associated press reporter tom lobianco. so, for people who haven't been following this closely, this is something-- this is a document that we started hearing about really in the fall of last year as the campaigns were in full swing. >> that's right. i mean, there's some great reporting by "mother jones," where they interviewed who would later turn out to be christopher steele himself. it got lost in the mix at that
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point but as we see here, it's just an ever, ever-growing importance behind this document explaerveght revelation was a big one, this connection with free beacon and potentially paul singer, the republican billionaire, billion donor, mega-donor. so, you know, tons of drama involved here, an incredible amount of importance. and, you know, ititize, of course, right back into the all the russian investigations that we're seeing. >> sreenivasan: the trump administration, a lot of conservatives say this document was the basis for the entire mueller investigation, right? >> yeah, so, and, obviously, there's a lot of spin and tugging and pulling from both sides on this. so for their part, that's probably overstating it a little bit. but there is, clearly, there's been some interest in this document, and they do appear to be following certain threads out of this document. >> sreenivasan: even if the
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sort of impetus for why this investigation by christopher steele or why this was even created or who funded it the contents of what that dossier had in it, is that something that the mueller investigation is looking into? >> well, here's what we know about the mueller investigaton right now, and it's interesting to put this in context here. so, what, we're at the end of october right now. we have had this investigation for about five or six months now. mueller's investigation, which takes over the federal investigation that had been going on for about a year, this thing is amped up significantly. we've seen interviews with reince priebus, sean spicer by mueller's investigators. we have seen him speak with keith kellogg, somebody who is very close with michael flynn. the grand jury interviewed paul
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manafort spokesman. there was the f.b.i. raid of paul manafort's home in virginia. a lot has been going on. and how much of this ties back directly to that dossier, it's hard to say right now. flynn and manafort are definitely two key players that they're investigating. you know, there's a lot of extraneous threads that we see in this whole thing. you'll see a lot-- multiple house and senate investigations going on. some will be-- will claim to be the russia investigation. there's a lot of political back-and-forth on this. but in terms of keeping your eye on the ball, really watch what mueller's doing, and he's become much more active in the last month or so, publicly so. >> sreenivasan: there were salacious bits in the dossier that haven't been verified or confirmed. but one of the over-arching themes of the dossier is the russians meddled in the american election. and that, intelligence agencies have said, is a fact. >> yeah, i mean, that seems to
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be pretty much universally accepted at this point, with the stark exception of the president, of course,. of course, he has a political reason to fight back against that. but forern else, there seems to be a pretty wide acceptance that that is the case. you know, look-- and we've seen evidence to that effect, too. we had the meeting that we discovered with trump jr., paul manafort, and jared kushner. and the russian lawyer, natalia veselnyksia, and we found out a little more about that this past week, learned the document she had handed over them during the meeting was very similar to a document put together by the kremlin for congressman rohrbacher, someone who u.s. alerted, rohrbacher himself, that they were trying to basically court him as a spy, trying to groom him. so, you know, look, there's-- we
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find out more and more the longer this goes on. now, you know, was it effective? did it swing the election? the white house will often say, "well, you know, no votes were changed." well, that's not one of the accusations that out there. but the bigger question-- did this influence the election, and was there collusion in the campaign between the trump campaign and the russian operatives? we don't have definitive answers on those yet. what we do know is that people are still pulling on these threads, and we constantly find out more. so, you know, is this at the beginning, the finish, the middle? it's hard to tell. but it sure feels like this could go on for a while. >> sreenivasan: all right, associated press reporter tom lobianco joining us from washington today. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: published reports suggest the independent counsel investigating russian meddling in the last presidential election and possible collusion between russians and trump campaign operatives may have resulted in
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its first criminal charges. cnn and reuters were the first to report that robert mueller has filed a criminal indictment under seal in washington federal court. but those reports did not say who may have been charged or for what offenses. there's been no public comment from mueller's office. in south korea today, defense secretary jim mattis said the u.s. will never accept north korea as a nuclear-armed power. meeting with his south korea's defense minister, mattis said while diplomacy will always be the first option, he warned north korea that any attack on the u.s. or its allies will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a massive military response. president trump travels to asia next week with stops in south korea, japan and china. spain's central government today officially took over control of the breakaway region of catalonia. thousands of flag-waving demonstrators opposed to catalan independence turned out today in spain's capital of madrid. the central government has dismissed catalonia's leaders, disbanded its regional parliament and called for new
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elections in december. the punitive moves followed the catalan parliament voting yesterday to declare independence. today, the fired leader of the catalonia region called for" democratic opposition" to spain's takeover. an american service member has been killed in afghanistan as a result of a helicopter crash. officials say the crash was an accident and not the result of enemy fire. six other americans were injured. the u.s. troops were supporting an operation against insurgents in another part of the country. police in somalia say the latest terrorist attack in the capital of mogadishu has killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 30. the al qaeda-linked al-shabaab claimed responsibility for a car bomb that exploded outside a hotel only 600 yards from somalia's presidential palace. five attackers from the islamic militant group then stormed the hotel and engaged in a firefight with police. today's attack comes two weeks after an al-shabaab truck bomb killed more than 350 people in that city.
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white nationalists were vastly outnumbered by counterprotesters at a so-called "white lives matter" rallies in tennessee today. about 200 of them gathered for permitted rallies in shelbyville and murfreesboro, two cities not far from nashville. some carried confederate flags. one group chanted, "closed borders, white nation, now we start the deportation." about 600 counterprotesters showed up in both cities. they chanted, "refugees welcome here," and "this is what democracy looks like." a heavy police presence in both cities kept the two sides apart. >> sreenivasan: in tonight's signature segment, we turn to russia. earlier this year, president vladimir putin signed a law that decriminalizes certain forms of domestic violence in russia. critics say the law not only condones the abuse of women, it also ignores an uncomfortable fact: a woman is killed by
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domestic violence every 40 minutes in russia, according to data from the russian government. special correspondent nick schifrin and producer zach fannin look at the issue through the eyes of women who have survived abuse and are speaking out. this story was produced with support from the pulitzer center on crisis reporting and is part of the newshour series, "inside putin's russia." >> reporter: anna zhavnerovich invited me into her home because she's not silent, and she doesn't want other victims of domestic violence to be silent, either. why do you think it's important to tell your story? >> ( translated ): to kill the culture of silence that exists in russia so that other women won't be scared to say what happened to them. >> reporter: what happened to zhavnerovich is that in december 2014, her live-in boyfriend beat her up on the night they broke up. >> ( translated ): i woke up, and he was sitting on me, holding down my arms and legs. he starts hitting me in the face and head, saying he wants to mutilate me. i lost consciousness after about 20 blows. when i woke up, he told me that
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i shouldn't tell anyone. >> reporter: zhavnerovich's story is common. one in five russian women are physically abused, and 14,000 are killed in domestic violence each year, according to the russian government. that fatality rate is more than 20 times the rate in the u.s. zhavnerovich says the cause is a patriarchal, violent culture combined with the devastating impact of world war ii, which cost the lives of approximately 20 million soviet men. >> ( translated ): women had to raise children alone, take care of the household alone, and there were a lot of sayings born like, "he's bad, but he's still a man." if you had a man, you were very lucky no matter what he did to you. that's a trauma, and the culture of silence grew from the trauma. >> reporter: for victims, there are few safe spaces, which makes this place on the outskirts of moscow a sanctuary. this woman and her two daughters live at a church-funded shelter for victims of domestic violence. in their case, the violence was inflicted by multiple family members. how did your husband and your mother-in-law abuse you?
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>> ( translated ): his mother dragged me by the hair across the floor. then, she hit me, punched me in the face almost every day. and in the end, my husband's hands got loose, as well. he would hit me in the face. >> reporter: the free shelter gives her kids a sense of security, but she doesn't feel safe. she asked us to hide her identity because she fears her husband is trying to find her. do you feel safe here? >> ( translated ): not really, because my husband is a very clever man. he's reported me as a missing person, looking for me through the police. here, i'm always looking out of the window, fearing he will come with the police. i'm always scared. >> reporter: victims often fear and distrust police, says shelter administrator natalya feshenko. >> ( translated ): when a woman calls the police and says, "my husband is killing me," they respond by saying, "call us when he kills you." >> reporter: that's actually what happened last november to 36-year-old yana savchuk. she recorded herself calling the
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local police in a town 200 miles south of moscow, calmly asking for help. in response, the officer-- a woman-- mocked her. the officer says, "if he kills you, we'll certainly come to examine the dead body." 45 minutes later, her boyfriend killed her. in june last year, russia passed a law making domestic abuse a crime punishable by up to two years in prison. but this year, the russian parliament eased the penalties. now, if domestic abusers don't break bones and don't commit abuse more than once a year, they can be sentenced to only 15 days in jail, or they can avoid jail entirely by paying a $500 fine. >> ( translated ): the previous version punished relatives harsher than if the physical abuse came from a non-relative, like a teacher or a doctor. >> reporter: anna kulchitskaya defends the new law. she, and president vladimir putin and allies in the russian orthodox church, say they wanted to limit state meddling in family life. >> ( translated ): we think it was causing serious damage to the traditional family.
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and destruction of the family is the destruction of the country. there is a policy of forcing western values and western techniques. these are mostly being repelled by traditional russian values because the western values are perceived as strange, wild and irritating. we want to stay russian. >> reporter: but shelter administrator feshenko says the new law has already given men permission to abuse. >> ( translated ): we have a lot more people in our center than before. this is already evidence that the freedom to beat up has begun. before, if he was punished seriously, he would think twice about whether to hit her again. now, he will hit her again calmly. it unties hands. >> reporter: 900 miles east of moscow, in the city of ufa, yevgeniya zakhar is trying to help women who are beaten by those untied hands. she's replacing taboos with tattoos.
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she's a tattoo artist who covers up scars, bruises and burns from domestic violence, free of charge. >> ( translated ): they come ly even if the scar is small.l but when you have a tattoo, it's always beautiful and tender. >> reporter: when she first started, the response was overwhelming. hundreds of victims asked for help. today, she sees victims once a week, including tatiana tukina. she says her ex-boyfriend stabbed her three times and shattered a glass bottle on her. she asked for a flower tattoo. >> ( translated ): i really like flowers, and because pink is a very tender color. >> reporter: up until that was drawn on you when you looked down at your legs, what did you think about? >> ( translated ): about that pain that i used to feel. >> reporter: the flowers took a couple of hours. what she's most excited about is not having to wear the black tights she's covered her legs with for four years. >> ( translated ): you really don't feel the scars when you don't see them, thanks to zhenya for the tattoo. >> reporter: for zakhar, these are the moments that convince her the new domestic violence law punishes the victims. the people who defend the law
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say that domestic violence should be handled within the family. >> ( translated ): i agree with the saying, "don't dump your trash outside your own home," but those defenders of the law just haven't seen what i've seen. these young women's lives and bodies are ruined. what can one say to the people that passed this law? god forbid you find yourself in the victim's shoes. >> reporter: in some areas, the law has had one unexpected consequence. zhavnerovich says it encourages victims to come forward. >> ( translated ): why are women afraid to go to police? they are afraid to be left without a provider, that their husbands will go to jail. when it's only administrative punishment, it takes away the psychological barrier, and women will start to tell police about what happened to them. >> reporter: zhavnerovich not only went to the police, she wrote a magazine article about what happened. and suddenly, hundreds of women contacted her. so, she kept writing, and she says that's changed the culture.
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>> ( translated ): before, when they talked about domestic violence, it was "shut up" or" it's your own fault." material that i published has broken this circle of silence. >> reporter: but she knows many russian women don't have her public outlet or her courage. >> ( translated ): i know that's in contrast with other women who have no social capital. i used mine to talk about the authorities, talk about how to defend yourself, so it would be easier for others because most women's resources are much more limited. >> sreenivasan: a blues artist addresses america's opioid epidemic. listen to his song at in 2014, president barack obama swapped five taliban prisoners held at the u.s. military prison in guantanamo bay, cuba, for u.s. army sergeant bo bergdahl, who had been held by the taliban inside afghanistan for five years. mr. obama did not grant bergdahl clemency for what some military
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officials considered bergdahl's crime: desertion. that's because the taliban captured bergdahl in 2009 only after he abandoned his post. in the resulting search for him, fellow soldiers came under fire and several were seriously wounded. on the campaign trail, candidate donald trump called bergdahl a traitor, and this year bergdahl underwent a court martial proceeding. bergdahl pleaded guilty and now, at fort bragg, north carolina, he's undergoing a military justice hearing to determine his punishment, which could be a life sentence. national public radio reporter greg myre is covering the case and joins me now from washington. so, this is now the sort of prosecution phase, if you will. what's the government's case? >> well, their case is bergdahl's disappearance and his capture by the taliban led to this enormous, urgent effort to try to find him. and we certainly got the flavor of that this week in the testimony as we heard from soldiers that searched for him and, indeed, too, who were
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wounded as part of that search. both were shot. so this certainly gave us a sense of how intense the effort was after he disappeared, and that, indeed, this put american soldiers at much greater risk in a very dangerous part of afghanistan and, therefore, the punishment for bergdahl should be quite severe in the prosecution's view. >> sreenivasan: as these soldiers were going out, did they know the back story of whether he had deserted? did they know the kind of risk they were taking for this soldier? >> they certainly did, and we saw that in a number of ways. one of those to o who testifieda navy seal, james hatch, and he testified that he said out loud after he learned he would go on a mission to try to find bergdahl, he said, "someone is going to get killed or hurt looking for this kid." they also showed a video that one of the soldiers made as they were walking out, and he sort of
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says, sarcastically in the video, "doing all this just because some dude walked off." and we heard about days and days of sleeping in the ground, being sent in different directions in this 100-degree summer heat of afghanistan, intense, prolonged missions that were different from the other kinds of missions they had been doing before his disappearance. >> sreenivasan: all right, so what's his defense going to be? there are going to be a couple more witnesses on the military side. what are bowe bergdahl's lawyers going to say? >> well, given from what they've said so far, we think they'll point out that he spent five years in the custody of theital bab and their ally, the haqqani network, under incredibly harsh conditions. bergdahl has talked about this himself, that he was kept in a cage much of that time. he was chained. he was beaten. he tried to escape. there was incredibly harsh punishment there, that he was not defecting, as some had talked about while he was
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missing but in fact he was walk awfg his post to find a more senior officer to complain about things that he felt were not being done properly in his unit. so it was a completely misguided effort on his part, but there was no malice. he was not trying to harm his fellow troops in any way or join the taliban. >> sreenivasan: what about the statements of then-candidate and now commander in chief trump? >> this has become an issue in the case. bergdahl's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the case the beginning of this year when trump took office because there's this military principle known as unlawful command influence. and quite simply, it means a military commander can't influence or even give the appearance of influencing a legal case. the military takes it very seriously. the judge tossed that aside, but just two weeks ago, trump said,
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"i can't comment, but i think you know how i feel. i think people heard what i said before." so bergdahl's lawyers have brought this up again, asking for a dismissal, or perhaps factoring this into the sentencing. the judge is considering it. he hasn't made his decision yet. he said he will. but it's-- it's a very important principle that commanders cannot even be seen as giving the impression or appearance of trying to influence a case. >> sreenivasan: all right, greg myre of national public radio joining us from washington. thanks so much. >> thank you, hari. >> sreenivasan: finally tonight, there's word the federal department of education plans to scrap an obama administration policy to fully wipe out loans for students defrauded by for- profit colleges. the associated press has learned education secretary betsy devos is considering a different plan for only partial forgiveness of those loans. the obama plan would have
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cancelled $550 million in student debt. and with game four of the world series tonight, major league baseball is punishing houston astros first baseman yuli gurriel for his racist gesture and words last night during houston's win over the los angeles dodgers. after hitting a home run against pitcher yu darvish, the cuban- born gurriel pulled on the corners of eyes in the dugout and muttered the word "chinito"" derogatory spanish slang meaning "little chinese." darvish is half-japanese. gurriel apologized and said he didn't mean to offend anyone, while darvish said, "acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world." baseball has suspended gurriel for five games next season. he will not miss any world series games. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz.
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the cheryl and philip milstein family. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.p.b. foundation. the anderson family fund. rosalind p. walter, in memory of abby m. o'neill. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided and group retirement products.l 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.
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