tv KQED Newsroom PBS November 4, 2017 1:00am-1:31am PDT
newsroom. i'm thuy vu. coming up on our program, this week's key political developments from special counsel bob mueller's indictments to the gop tax reform proposal. also, as puerto rico continues to struggle torecover from hurricane maria, we'll talk to two california nurses who traveled there recently to provide aid. but first, a look at the investigation alleged russian interference in the 2016 election. this week, executives testified before congress about the role their companies played in allowing russian misinformation to spread in the run-up to the presidential election. the questions revolved around how russian operatives were able to pose as americans and spread content through facebook, twitter and google onnish shoes
such as immigration and race relations. and the first criminal charges into russia's role in the election. paul manafort, donald trump's former campaign chairman, was indicted for tax fraud and conspiracy against the united states. he and his business associate, rick gates, surrendered to authorities and for more on all of this, we turn to california congressman adam schiff, the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee. he joins us via skype from washington, d.c. congressman schiff, nice to hav. >> thank you. great to be with you. >> you were at the hearings this week, where facebooks of facebook, google and twitter all testified you their companies were used by a russian misinformation campaign. how would you assess the testimony from those companies? >> i think it was very important, because the american people got to see what these ads looked like, just how cynical they are, and just how the russians skillfully used these platforms to spread propaganda
during the election and also to drive wedges between americans. and indeed that effort hasn't stopped. it continues in the form of advertising, for example, or promotion or content that the russians are pushing out on the nfl, for example. the president instigating the whole kneeling controversy or giving that greater fuel. so goes on, and i think the tech companies helped us expose that to the american people. >> so what steps do the companies should take to make sure this doesn't happen again? >> well, they have to be better prepared next time. i think it took them a long time to realize the russians were even doing this on their platforms. but now they are forewarned and they are developing the mechanisms to to the this earlier. we'll also need to develop better cooperation between the intelligence community and the tech companies so they can be alerted when russian bad actors have been identified using their
platforms. and what kind of mechanisms are the companies developing, how confident are they in their forensic capabilities? do they need to gather more information from users to prevent this kind of abuse? what about the fact that some of these algorithms themselves they heighten division in american society and what obligation to they have to look at those questions. >> did you hear anything about the hearings that would suggest to you that they have the mechanisms and that they have the will to put them in place, as well? as you know, a lot of these sites, part of their business model is to make things as widespread and viral and as addictive as possible. >> that's right. i think part of the question we need to answer, and i don't think we got a complete answer during the hearing is, what steps are they going to take or do they acknowledge the effect of the algorithms. that is, things that make us angry or fearful tend to take flight. stories that percolate to the top of the news feeds they
include things that are false. they're not rising because they're true, but because the algorithms tell them we'll be interested. been many developments in the robert mueller investigation. we have the indictments, and now president trump's son-in-law has been turning over documents to mr. mueller, as well. what is your reaction? >> it's very significant, in different base. manafort was the campaign manager, who was, if you believe the indictment, laundering money even during the campaign. and there are allegations that during the campaign, he was making outreach to the same sources of this laundered money, seeking more of it, in exchange for information he was ready to provide about the george papadopoulos to the issue of collusion. he also goes to the issue of
dishonesty, because we have seen time and time again trump campaign people and administration officials being less than honest with the public about their contacts with the russians. in this case, the russians made a direct approach to a foreign policy adviser of the campaign, and again, made it clear before the country was aware, maybe before their own agencies were largely appreciative of the fact that russians hacked democratic computers. >> president trump and attorney general jeff sessions have said repeatedly they know of know -- of know one from the trump tha russians, but court documents show that papadopoulos had frequent discussions with russians in 2016. he touted them in front of president trump and also mr. trump and mr. sessions back then. how do you interpret >> well, we had a hearing yesterday with carter page, and he has now acknowledged publicly that he told then senator sessions that he was just about to go to
so it does beg a lot of questions about why there has been so much deception, you name it, when it comes to the campaign's contacts with the russians. but more fundamentally, it just shows the extraordinary degree of connections between a hostile foreign power and a presidential campaign. that has never been the case. and of course, that begs the biggest question of all, which is why? why were there these intimate connections with campaign? >> congressman schiff, house republicans released their tax plan this week. what is your view of how that plan would affect >> well, one thing we know for sure, it brings corporate down. it also brings rates down for, you know, very, very wealthy families that have large estates like the trump's. in terms of middle class families, if you're a middle class family in a state like california, it is likely to give you a very big tax increase, because it would limit your
mortgage interest deduction, it would prevent you from deducting your state and local taxes. so millions of californians will get a whopping tax increase. it will chill the housing industry, prevent people from deducting student loan interests. it's a pretty big loser. we could do a much better bill that simplifies the tax code and provides relief to small businesses. this isn't it. the biggest beneficiaries quite literally will be the trump >> this is certainly just the first step. i expect there will be much more debate on this tax bill in the months to come. congressman adam schiff, thank you for being with us. and for reaction now to what we just heard and to broaden the discussion, i'm joined in studio by hoover institution fellow lon chen. carla maranuchi and tim miller.
thank you all for being here. we just heard what the congressman said about the mueller investigation and what it regarding what he called an extraordinary degree of connections between the trump campaign and the russians. what do you think of his comments? >> i think these hearings are critically important. they allow us to see into a period of time and frankly a set of interactions are very troubling their face. what we'll learn is very important. i think congress is doing its job. i think the white house ought to allow these investigations to play out to see what we discover from these things. i thought it was interesting, just the other thing that was discussed was this issue of the activity between social media companies and russia, and there the interesting thing to me is how policymakers continued to behave like this unexpected, that we didn't know the russians were interested in subverting american democracy. they've been doing this around the world for decades.
so policymakers need to have a discussion about what more they could have done in prevent thing activity. >> neither manafort or gates have been charged yet with engaging with the russians during the 2016 election. their charges have to do with money offshore. papadopoulos, though, was reportedly a low level adviser in the trump campaign. what's the strategy here behind what mueller is doing? >> i think the papadopoulos issue is the biggest problem right now for trump. the idea that this was a coffee boy just doesn't fly i the face of the evidence. he was doing interviews in london, representing himself as a major player in the campaign, being quoted on issues like criticizing david cameron. right now, i think the focus is on him and the guilty plea, and i think that's the biggest issue where the collusion has the potential to raise its head here. >> i think you can't
underestimate the point of manafort. i want to bring it back to that. the trump administration's spin is that this had nothing to do with the campaign. but if you look at the fact pattern, manafort was on the take from russian oligarchs for years before the campaign started. and then he was hired as cam pair chair m -- chairman, then were approached with these e-mails and now paul manafort was indicted. it was known that manafort was working closely with russian oligarchs before he took that job. that was not a surprise to anybody. and so i think this is very much related to the campaign, and i don't agree with adam schiff very much, but his point about how unprecedented this is gets lost in the political back and forth. >> where does this go from here? if you're jeff sessions, who has testified under oath before a senate committee that there was no contact that he knew of between the trump campaign and
the russians, and then now you have all these documents coming out, where do you think this path ends for him, and what about michael flynn? >> jeff sessions is in a really tough spot right now. upset at him for recusing himself, and not taking on these kind of ridiculous department of justice attacks. and he has the issue how it appears he did not tell the truth about contacts that he had with russia. so i think there's an issue there. when, like manafort, flynn was on the take from the r government and the turkish authoritarian government. and then jared kushner was at minimum doing business with russia. maybe it has nothing related to the collusion. again, another very high level, very close contact of somebody who has a financial stake with a hostile foreign government. it's unprecedented. i think flynn and kushner are the next people on the docket.
maybe not for indictments but . >> there's been speculation that president trump could pardon some or perhaps all of the people who are indicted, maybe even himself if it ever comes to that if he is indicted. can he legally do that? >> yeah, the question is not whether he can do it legally, but whether it's prudent. most people agree that it would create a significant constitutional crisis were he to go forward and to pardon individuals like paul manafort. paul manafort is a bad guy. he's done some things that are clearly, in my mind, and directly a threat to the united states, international security of the united states. so we need to be clear about this guy and who he is. >> but the other day, asked by the white house press corps, if he would consider a pardon of manafort, refused to answer. he did not rule that out. i think that's significant. also significant is his own tweets, his own nervousness
about the and the fact that this is looming. i think that is very significant, as well. >> you would think a politician with no issues about this would just clearly say anybody on my campaign with inappropriate actions, we will deal with that. and we hope that the law -- >> but instead, the denigration of the fbi and the justice department in this publicly is unprecedented, too. so when it comes to pardons -- >> i think exercising the pardon power, to actually do that would be unprecedented, it would be a serious constitutional problem. then i think you do end up in some treacherous water. this administration is already in hot water. >> you would have a watergate situation at that point. and i want to go back to something said earlier before we wrap up this segment, which is the whole facebook, google and twitter hearings, w lawmakers long knew about this
activity from foreign governments. when you step back and look at what was discussed during those hearings, how did silicon valley companies come out of this looking? >> i think they're right in the scope here. all a sudden people understand the role that they played. and now i think what you saw up there, the senate wants to see the ceos. it's not enough to have the lawyers there. mark zuckerberg, cheryl sandberg. and facebook has been in the light here in terms of their role. i don't think the legislation -- the legislators are done these are huge media companies. everybody understands and they're not going to get away with anymore this sort of answers -- >> i have a problem. facebook in particular came with tangible steps they're doing to address it this week. what i want to know is what the government is doing about it.
california senator dianne feinstein said, where were you, why didn't you stop th aggressi aggression? question is, where ? senator feinstein was on the intelligence committee. president obama this intelligence the summer and chose to sit on it. those were choices they made. it's incumbent on the government to be the first line of defense against foreign actors interfering in our democracy. if the intelligence community seize the problem, it was incumbent to go to them. so it was a little bit of washington finger pointing. >> the tech companies did see to be dragging their feet. senator feinstein asked them how much money did you make off these ads? they said, we don't kn didn't do the analysis. doesn't it seem odd they didn't do that? >> that's no question they have to be forthcoming as much as possible and figure out what they could have done.
the flipside of this is let's recognize this for what it is. this is not just about social media companies and russia. this is about efforts of foreign states that are hostile to the united states, whether it's russia or north korea or iran, potentially trying to undermine our system of democracy. and what are we -- what are our representatives in washington doing to stop this? to tim's point, to just think about this in the framework of what the social media companies have done is way too limiting and opens up to future potential attacks. >> californians already rely heavily on deductions for state and local taxes. those would be eliminated under this gop tax bill. how will this play out politically in california? >> we know that california is likely to be hammered. california and new york, because when you talk about the mortgage deduction, for instance, four of the six top markets in the
country that have houses over $500,000 are right here, including marin county, san francisco, san mateo and santa clara. so this will hit the bay area and orange county. those 14 runs here in californi terms of how are they going to vote on this thing when people in their district, state and local income tax deductions, this hits california and new york more than any other states. >> elections have consequences. i don't think californians expected donald trump to put a tax reform bill forth that would help california. this isn't the final piece of legislation that will go forth and you saw a lot of republican senators expressing there needed to be some changes to focus on the middle class. some of that would address california.
but this is something that is likely to pass. >> what would it take for something like this to pass? they have to appeal to the middle class, but what is the message here? >> the message comes back to the fact that the tax system needs to be reformed to make it simpler, to boost growth. >> but the economy is doing well. so what is the impetus? it's more like a tax cut plan. >> this is a couple of things. first of all, tax reform has traditionally been a bipartisan issue. both democrats and republicans said we need to simplify the tax code to make it more growth oriented, et cetera. the big thing is the politics of this. you can't get away from the politics of it. the republicans in the congress recognize they need to get something done. they weren't able to do anything on obamacare, and now if they don't get anything done on tax reform, we have a midterm election cycle coming up, where republicans could have serious
consequence it is can't get anything done. that will dictate where this goes more than anything. >> a lot aim getting >> we need a break from >> thank you all for being her >> thank you. it's been six weeks since hurricane maria tore through puerto rico. roughly 70% of the territory remains without power and 2/3 of the roads closed. fema has been spearheading recovery efforts and signing up hundreds of thousands of people for disaster assistance. but some, including the mayor of san juan, have criticized fema for not doing month. last month, 50 volunteer nurses from eight states were sent to puerto rico and they distributed clean water, food, and medication to thousands of
hurricane victims in dozens of communities. we're joined now by two of the nurses. with me is sandy adler, an emergency room nurse, and via skype is rand yy litten. welcome to you both. sandy, you returned two weeks ago from puerto rico. what were the conditions you saw there? >> thuy, it was devastation. it was like a war zone without bullets. people were desperate. people had no clean water, no food. we encountered individuals who had been injured during the hurricane, shoulder dislocations, had no ability to get in terms of access transportation, roads closed. they had -- if they were able to get to a location, x-rays were down.
peoplewere, as i said, were just desperate for basic supplies, basic needs. of course, medical care and medicines. they were out of medications. >> and randi, you first arrived about two weeks after the hurricane hit. and these -- the conditions you saw, were you the first responders that many of these people saw? just hearing sandy talk is bringing back to every single moment that we would go out to these towns and villages. i went out with two groups every day and we would try to go to two different towns on the island. there wasn't one town that i went to where they said oh, aid has been here. every single town said the same thing, you're the first people that we've seen. this was on day 22, day 23 while we were down there. they were just standing in line waiting for someone to show up to give them food, water, hope. >> were you shocked that you were the first responders?
>> i was absolutely you know, people grabbed us, held us, sobbed in our arms. we cried with them. again, just having the ability to provide them with some basic necessities that we actually started a go fund me account. and it allowed us to purchase strips for blood sugars. people were -- there sugars were unreadable when we took them. people who had such high blood pressure, suffering from hypertension, out of their medications. just complete desperation and so much gratitude that they weren't forgotten by us. >> randi, why was it so important to you to go on this mission the >> i live in northern california, and i think it's only a matter of time before a disaster hits our area. while we were down there, we t. they had to fly back because
their homes were destroyed in the fires. so it happens everywhere around the world. so it's our job to respond to those areas in need, because one day it will happen to us. we just hope and pray that people showed up like we showed up for them. to wait 25 days in the heat and in the pouring down rain and just hoping for a shrivel of food or water. i can't imagine what that is like. >> we encountered couples in their eights living in homes filled with block mold, no food, no water. and to be a u.s. citizen and nose these are my fellow citizens, they had nowhere to go. some were told by fema, don't touch anything, live in this can. because if you move anything, then you might not get reimbursed and we won't be able to help you. >> speaking of fema, randi, did you see a lot of fema workers when you were there? >> i hate to say this, but in
the two weeks that i went into two to three towns a day, my two groups personally never saw fema in one town. >> never? >> not once. >> and what did you think of that? >> i wouldn't wrap my mind around the disorganization and chaos that was happening. i still to this day can't understand why the aid wasn't there when they were saying that it was there. why were these people not receiving aid? if we wouldn't have started that go fund me account, i think it's up to $55,000 now, that was the money we were using to get food and watt tore these people, to get medication. if we hadn't started that fund, i don't know how we would have accessed as many communities as we did. >> we did contact fema and they gave us this statement, saying the overall federal effort following hurricane maria have included the largest medical
supply mission ever. more than 4700 medical personnel have treated more than 37,000 patients so far. they have provided temporary power to the island's but sandy, what you're describing doesn't seem like that's what you witnessed on the ground. >> i encountered fema one time while we were there. one day we had an assignment where they asked us to support and set up a triage station at a stadium where people were actually going to fill out paperwork to get support from fema. people had been standing in line, thuy, from the previous afternoon in 90 degree heat and some weren't even being processed until the next afternoon. and after they filled out by hand their paperwork, they were given a juice box, and a bag of chips. >> randi, what were the biggest health needs and concerns that you saw while you >> i mean, we saw a lot of
chronic issues, diabetes, hypertension. but we realized that the bigger issue is something that isn't even at play. it's just beginning, but the water issue in puerto rico right now is it's contaminated with a specific bacteria. people are dying from it already. and until they get a good handle on the water system, until they get filtration, more and more people are going to be dying from this drinking of water, because they're not being given bottled water. and then the other issue is the black mold. all the homes are covered in it right now from all the distilled water that sat in those homes for seven, eight days. now everybody is breat this black mold. so it's going to get worse before it gets better. but those are the two biggest epidemics we'll see take off. >> thank you to both of you for.
>> taxes, terrorism and widening russia probe. we tackle it all tonight on "washington week" >> we are about to begin a long trip. as president trump embarks on a high stakes trips political battles brew at home over tax reform. >> with there plan we are getting rid of loopholes and leveling the playing field. >> what is important to know about what they are doing is what they give you with one hand they take away with the other. >> this as the russia investigation intensifies. with the first indictments, a guilty plea from a former trump campaign advisor and new questions about the attorney general's congressional testimony. >> you don't believe that surrogates from the trump campaign