tv PBS News Hour PBS November 9, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: new allegations that alabama republican senate nominee roy moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30's. then, republicans go 'all in' on tax reform-- a look at the g.o.p.'s push to pass tax cuts before the end of the year. plus, president trump changes his tone on day two of his visit to china, saying he doesn't blame beijing for taking advantage of the u.s. with its trade policies. and, where's the beef? making sense of how advances in plant-based burgers are redefining an american classic. >> if we can be that group of people that separate meat from animals, that's an amazing thing
that's a net net plus for the human race and it's worth investing in. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ >> collette. celebrating 100 years of travel, together. >> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more.
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>> woodruff: the republican frontrunner for a u.s. senate seat in alabama is engulfed in a sexual scandal tonight, a month before a special election. "the washington post" reports judge roy moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in his early 30's. three other women say moore also approached them when they were teens. moore is now 70. his campaign called the claims "outlandish attacks." but top republicans took a dim view, including alabama senators richard shelby and luther strange, who lost to moore in the republican primary. >> well, they've just come to light and i've just read about it and it's very, very disturbing what i've read about. >> it's a devastating, nasty story. if the revelations, if that's true, then i don't believe there'd be any place for him in the us senate. >> woodruff: the senate's top republican, mitch mcconnell, also weighed in
with a statement saying, simply: "if these allegations are true, he must step aside." i spoke a short time ago to one of the reporters who broke this story, beth reinhard of the "washington post," as well as don dailey who covers politics for alabama public television. we began with the details of the allegations. >> reporter: so "the post" in alabama were reporting a story unrelated and heard roy moore pursued young girls when he was a prosecutor. another reporter and i spent weeks in alabama chasing these leads and reaching out to a lot of people, and when we did reach the women, none of them initially were willing to speak on the record. they were all very reluctant to share their story publicly, and it was only after multiple
interviews with them that they decided to come forward. >> woodruff: let me ask you first, beth reinhard, about the woman who was the youngest of all of these when it happened. she was 14 years old at a time when roy moore was an assistant district attorney. he was in his early 30s. what does she say happened? >> she was at the courthouse with her mom for a child custody hearing and roy came up and introduced himself and offered to watch her while her mother went into the courtroom. he got her phone number, he called her. he picked her up a few days later around the corner from her house, and took her to his house, which is in a woodsy area about 30 minutes away, gave her alcohol and then, on one occasion, undressed her and touched her over her bra and underwear and had her touch him. >> woodruff: and you report
that she told a friend at the time this happened, and then she told her mother years later? >> she told a couple of friends at the time, and they were, you know, reacted sort of negatively, like that's not a good idea. so she felt ashamed about it, she felt responsible about it. she just fought with it for many years. she is told her mom when she was an adult and even then thought about coming forward but didn't. she had kids that she was worried about, and it really took a lot of time for her to feel comfortable with her decision. >> woodruff: and beth, just quickly, the other three women alleged what? >> so they were between the ages of 16 and 18, and they say roy asked them out on dates, and two of the three did go out with him. they say he did not force himself on them, but, looking back, they realized it was
really inappropriate for him, a man in his 30s, to be asking out teenage girls he met at the mall or in one case at a high school civics class where he was speaking to her class. >> woodruff: don dailey, what is roy moore saying about all of this? >> roy moore issued a statement today in which he staunchly denied the allegations and called them the result of fake news and said they were designed to attack him politically. roy moore has been at odds with "the washington post" for a month or so now. he's been upset about a previous news story concerning his charitable organization, the foundation for moral law and "the post" is reporting on that. and that on top of these new allegations has led him to believe this latest piece is a hit piece but, again, he has staunchly denied these allegations. >> woodruff: and, don, what does alabama law say about sweksle relations with a --
sexual relations with a minor? >> we have been checking this afternoon with various officials about what this might mean. a lot of people are still saying they're looking into the consequences of these allegation and the statute of limitations, those sorts of things. another aspect of the law that's been debated here in alabama this afternoon is could roy moore's name possibly be removed from the ballot, if it came that far. the secretary of state has said this afternoon that state law says it has to be under 76 days from the election before you can remove a name from the ballot. the secretary of state in alabama said it is too late to remove roy moore's name should it come to that. >> woodruff: don dailey, how are others in alabama reacting to this, and were there any independencindications of this s story? >> there were not any indications of this. i think a lot of people were caught by surprise here in alabama. some of roy moore's defenders actually raised the contention why didn't this come out a long time ago, why is it now just
surfacing, because roy moore has been such a public figure in alabama for so long, why is it just come ought now. but a lot of people are surprised, acting rather guardedly, saying if these allegations prove to be true that roy moore should step down as a candidate. others are staunchly defending him, especially his base. roy moore enjoys a staunch base of supporters here in alabama, republicans, conservatives, evangelical christians who have stood by him through thick and thin through a lot of controversies he has weathered in alabama over the years. >> woodruff: beth reinhard, is it fair to say "the post" is still continuing to report on this? >> sure. i mean, we'll obviously be keep an eye on ro roy moore as a candidate for election day and beyond that if he's elected a senator. >> woodruff: and right now, don dailey, what are the polls showing, that roy moore is ahead
by how much? >> the latest polls have him up by double digits, and he has maintained that sort of lead for the last several weeks, since the republican runoff election here in alabama. a lot of people are waiting with baited breath now to see what kind of impact these allegations might have on his poll numbers. but, again, his base of support here has been very strong and those who support him most don't think it will have a significant impact because they don't believe the allegations. >> woodruff: and, don, no hint he's prepared step down or back off from running, right? >> he has made no indications so far he plans to step down. >> woodruff: don dailey with alabama public television, beth reinhard with "the washington post." thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, five women accused the comedian and tv star louis c.k. of sexual misconduct. they told "the new york times," and my apology for using the term here, that he exposed himself and masturbated, in person or over the phone with them, in the late 1990's and
early 2000's. louis c.k. did not respond to the allegations, but his distribution company canceled the new york city premiere of his latest film. another leading congressional republican is stepping down. virginia congressman bob goodlatte announced today he won't seek a 14th term. under house rules, he'd have to give up his post as house judiciary chairman after next year. so far, 16 house and senate republicans are resigning or not running again. a neighbor of senator rand paul pleaded not guilty today to assaulting the kentucky republican last week. rene boucher said little during the brief arraignment in bowling green. he could face up to a year in jail if he's convicted. boucher allegedly tackled paul while he was mowing his lawn, leaving him with six broken ribs. it's still unclear what triggered the incident. in yemen, warnings today that a
naval blockade could cause the world's worst famine in decades. aid ships are waiting at sea after a saudi arabian coalition closed yemen's ports, to stop the flow of arms to shiite rebels. u.n. officials say more than seven million yemenis face starvation. >> the situation is catastrophic in yemen. if the supplies pipeline comes to a halt, food insecurity will deepen and we will be confronted with an even greater humanitarian crisis. food, fuel and medicine imports must continue to enter the country. >> woodruff: the u.n.'s world health organization says it's also critical to get medical aid into yemen to combat a cholera epidemic. officials in saudi arabia announced today that more than 200 people are now detained in a crackdown on alleged corruption. that's far higher than earlier figures, in the roundup that began saturday night. 11 saudi princes are among those being held.
meanwhile, the saudi government has ordered its citizens in lebanon to leave the country, in the face of rising tensions. lebanese prime minister saad hariri resigned this week, in a televised address from saudi arabia. today, members of his party called for his return to lebanon, amid speculation that he's being held against his will. >> ( translated ): the return of the prime minister is necessary to recover respect for lebanon's internal and external balance. it is necessary to restore full respect for lebanese legitimacy and constitution. the party stands by him under any circumstance. >> woodruff: in his resignation message, hariri said lebanon is being held hostage by hezbollah. the shiite militia is closely allied with iran, the saudis' chief rival. in syria, the army reports it recaptured the islamic state group's last stronghold in the
country today. officials say isis fighters abandoned the strategic town near the iraqi border, after days of fighting. the militants now control only scattered villages and small towns in syria and iraq. back in this country, a long- term, federal study has found no significant link between cancer and the widely used weed killer glyphosate. it's the prime ingredient in monsanto's herbicide roundup. the journal of the national cancer institute published findings today from the agricultural health study. it tracked tens of thousands of farmers, farm workers and their families. and on wall street, stocks tumbled on worries about tech shares and corporate tax cuts. the dow jones industrial average lost 101 points to close below 23,462. the nasdaq fell 39 points, and the s&p 500 slipped nine. still to come on the newshour: what's in the senate version of the tax overhaul. trump talks trade and north
korea with china. the competitive market for veggie burgers that taste like meat, and much more. >> woodruff: now, to the tax battle, a center piece of president trump's agenda. republicans pushed ahead today on two fronts. lisa desjardins reports. >> desjardins: at the capitol, a kind of starting bell, or gavel, for one of the largest fiscal and pocketbook fights in modern u.s. history. as the house ways and means committee passed its sweeping tax overhaul. >> bill is passed. >> desjardins: and g.o.p. senators released their outline.
that as, democrats decried the g.o.p. plans as rush jobs. >> you are desperate, you have failed to pass anything of substance. >> desjardins: first, the house bill. republicans have made a few changes: restoring a tax credit for adoptions to please social conservatives, and adding a new tax on large piles of foreign profits held by u.s. companies to help the bill's bottom line. democrats stressed the bill would still bring red ink. >> if this were to become law, our national debt would grow by 2.3 trillion dollars, homeowners would lose. >> desjardins: but house speaker paul ryan pushed the g.o.p. mantra, that borrowing for tax cuts is worth it to try to grow the economy. >> we're actually letting people keep more money. we're cleaning out the loopholes in the tax code and having
fairer taxes, we're going to have fast economic growth, bigger paycheck fairer taxes. >> desjardins: as the house bill moves forward, though, it faces its next challenge from republicans in the senate. late today they unveiled their own plan, with some key differences from the house version. for individuals, senators would have seven tax brackets, compared with four in the house bill. and senators would not fully repeal the estate tax, instead they double the amounts that would be exempt to more than $10 million per individual. another big one, affecting high- cost states like new york or california. the senate plan would totally repeal all deductions on state and local taxes. the house would allow a $10,000 property tax break. but the senate would keep the home mortgage deduction as it is now, helping some new homeowners in those states. >> this is a good day and we >> desjardins: most senate republicans came out embracing the plan.
>> tax reform is about more than numbers, tax reform is about everyday americans keeping more of their hard earned money. >> desjardins: but there is some doubt, especially about the red ink. arizona's jeff flake was asked if the plan helps the middle class. >> i think it helps. i do. but nobody's going to be helped if we just balloon the deficit >> the senate can only lose two republican votes and get the plan passed. the senator isn't the only one who raised questions. ron johnson told "newshour" his problems with some of the business provisions have still not been revolved and in addition lisa murkowski says she's still looking at the bill, not a yes yet. in addition to the senate bill, they will include a provision allowing drilling in the alaska national wildlife refuge
something murkowski wanted but highly debated. >> woodruff: where does this go from here? >> this is a time to pay attention because next we can we expect the house to take its final vote or its vote on its plan and then a week after thanksgiving, the end of november, the senate is expected to vote, what john cornyn told me and a few other reporters. those two versions will come together in december in a very intense couple of weeks at the beginning of that month. >> woodruff: so a very fast timetable. >> very fast, that's right. >> woodruff: lisa desjardins, reporting from the capitol, thanks. >> woodruff: president trump's marathon trip to asia continued today in beijing and perhaps the most-consequential set of meetings of the five-nation tour with china's xi jinping.
the two presidents put forward a united front on mr. trump's final day in beijing, and at tonight's state dinner in the great hall of the people. >> ( translated ): we will definitely write a new chapter we will definitely make a new contribution to realize a beautiful future for the u.s.- chinese relations. >> president xi, on behalf of the american people, i offer this to toast to you, to the people of your country, and to a friendship that will only grow stronger and stronger over many years to come. >> woodruff: president trump did raise, again today, what he called china's "very one-sided and unfair" trade relationship with the u.s. but he also offered a back- handed compliment. >> i don't blame china. after all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?
i give china great credit. i do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow. >> woodruff: that was a far cry from the campaign trail last year. then, candidate trump blasted the chinese. >> we can't continue to allow china to rape our country, and that's what they're doing. it's the greatest theft in the history of the world. >> woodruff: in beijing today, president xi promised the chinese market will be "more open, more transparent and more orderly." but u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson offered a blunter assessment of the day's trade discussions. >> in the grand scheme of a $300- to $500-billion trade deficit, the things that have been achieved thus far are pretty small. so i would say there's a lot of work left to do to progress trade to the point that it will achieve president trump's objectives and our objective,
which is to rebalance what has really occurred over many years, this trade imbalance itself. >> woodruff: on north korea, the secretary insisted "there is no disagreement" with the chinese. and, the president, who had pressed xi to turn the screws on pyongyang, sounded more conciliatory. >> china can fix this problem easily. and quickly. and i am calling on china and your great president to hopefully work on it very hard. if he works on it hard it will happen. >> woodruff: at xi's behest, president trump also agreed to take no questions at their joint briefing. his next stop is vietnam for an economic summit on friday where he may meet with russia's president vladimir putin.
let's take a closer look now at this pivotal point in the president's trip with: bonnie glaser, director of the china power project at the center for strategic and international studies. and scheherazade rehman, professor of international business and finance at george washington university. and we welcome both of you back to the program. bonnie glaser, i'm going to start with you or security issues. is it your sense real progress is being made on this trip in terms of pressuring north korea? >> well, the u.s. and china are very much in lock step on the end goal, that is getting north korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons, and for the first time beijing agreed to what is called complete verifiable, irreversible disarmament. but the question, of course, is how we get there, and i think that the u.s. and china continue to disagree to some extent on strategy. the two sides did talk about implementing the u.n. security council resolution. xi jinping apparently shared some bank accounts that have
been shut down. they also talked about their assessments of whether or not these sanctions are having an impact, and xi jinping told president trump, we have to wait a little bit. we have to see that it really begins to inflict pain on north korea. >> woodruff: if you add whatever china is saying now it's prepared to do to what it's done until now, is this significant movement on their part? >> in this particular visit, i don't think new movement, just new rhetoric. i think bind the scenes president trump asked china to stop or cut back on crude oil shipments to north korea and it has not done that. perhaps, when kim jong un takes another step that's very provocative, then maybe we'll see china step up and cut off or cut back on those crude oil shipments. >> woodruff: and what's their hesitation to do that? why? >> well, i think that the chinese are quite concerned about potential instability in north korea. they don't want to see that regime collapse, and, so, i think they are tracking very
closely what the impact of the sanctions are. so they would like to convince kim jong un to recalculate his approach, to believe that economic development is the priority rather than building that nuclear program. but i think it's a work this progress. >> woodruff: separately, china's aggressive moves itself in the south china sea, did you hear anything? are you seeing anything out of this trip, out of these meetings that lead you to believe there is progress made with that? >> i don't think so. secretary tillerson did say in his press briefing that it was doesed, the south china sea and china's island buildings with the chinese, that is positive in itself because i think many countries were worried president trump wasn't going to raise it at all because they thought the trip would all be about north korea and economic issues, so that's reassuring, but the united states, i think, repeated what the message it gave when president obama was in power, stop building islands,
stop militarizing, and uphold the international order, make claims in accordance with the international law. very good messages, but i think the chinese have their own agenda in the south china sea. >> woodruff: so pretty much consistent with the last administration is what you're saying? >> i think so. >> woodruff: and human rights, quickly? >> human rights, i see no evidence it was raised. secretary tillerson says that there was some discussion, i don't know at what level, but i think what everybody was hoping for was that the dissident who died earlier this year, won the nobel peace prize in 2010, his wife, people were hoping the united states would work behind the scenes to get her out and it doesn't look like that happened. >> woodruff: the other business topic, scheherazade rehman, that's trade policy. how do you interpret -- there was a lot of surprise when the president seemed to drop the tough rhetoric we heard in the campaign when he accused the
chinese of this great theft of american goods, is basically saying, well, i don't blame you for takenning advantage of the united states. how do you read a that? >> you have to understand this president, for president trump, it's about the optics. he needed a win and needed to bring back a deal. he's done that. he went to china, came back with a $250 billion deal. it's 27 billion for ave yags, 5 billion for soybeans, 12 billion to qualcomm. a lot are not binding. some are in the works and they waited for his arrival to make the announcements. we need to keep perspective. the piece that was not discussed which could have been deliverable is intellectual property theft. $600 billion are stolen every year and most are coming from china and this does incredible
damage. >> woodruff: and this is something u.s. officials have been talking about for years that this is a major grievance against the chinese, but you're saying we know it wasn't raised or we don't know whether it was raised? >> well, the only concession, if you want to read between the lines, is president xi saying we'll have a more orderly market, a much more open and transparent market, which might mean they might start looking at these issues, but no real discussion. i will say one thing, not all of it is bad news. there is some good news out of all of this, and that is we have moved away from the rhetoric, from just a few months ago in the summer, where we were talking about imposing tariffs. 15% tariffs on china's automobiles, steel, housing goods, 17% on mexico. that would have been a huge drag on the economy. >> woodruff: why did the administration back up a? >> i believe president trump believed his personal power could sway the deal enough that he could announce a deal.
i don't think a lot of the trade analytics were something that they were looked at. i think this is more about coming in tact, saying that we have a deal, and then deal with all the details later. but the details of this deal will take decades to sort out. >> woodruff: if you sum it all up, scheherazade, and look at, okay, does the u.s.-china trade picture, does it change, does it shift at all in the trump administration with the president? >> i believe it will be slow and long, hard work, mainly through the world trade organization in terms of holding china's feet to the fire about tariffs, about trade, about taxes, about financial reform, things that they have been slow in doing. i would say president xi has done a wonderful job in managing this particular visit. he's playing the long game. he's got a 30-year plan, and he has just come into power again
probably at the height of what we consider in the last decade of anyone holding power in china, he's got an economy that's maturing, and he's got a mountain of debt, so he's lot a long-term outlook here. >> woodruff: seems like he may be coming out of these meetings happy. all right, scheherazade rehman, bonnie glaser, we thank you both. >> thank you. appreciate it. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: the outgoing i.r.s. commisioner weighs in on tax reform. alec baldwin's new book about playing the part of president trump. and a journalist's take on undercovered conflicts around the world. but first, let's turn to a story about the business of food. economics correspondent paul solman takes a look at two start-ups aiming to help the
planet and improve health by serving up plant based burgers tat they think will wean americans off meat. it's part of his weekly series, "making $ense." >> reporter: it looks like a burger, cooks like a burger, bleeds like a burger. >> introducing the impossible burger. it's meat made from entirely from plants. invented by a pretty cool scientist pat brown. hi pat! >> reporter: pat is c.e.o. of a startup called impossible foods so this is your impossible place. >> this is where the magic happens. >> reporter: in a lab to table operation that's raised nearly 300 million venture capital dollars in silicon valley, to make mock meat. what's your background, where were you from, what were you doing before this? >> i was a professor at stanford for 25 years, the medical school. >> reporter: and just why has a famous tenured stanford biochemist flipped his career to flip burgers? >> i realized animals are just a
prehistoric technology that we use to produce food and the most destructive technology in use on earth today. the solution to the problem is develop a better technology. >> reporter: so his lab reverse- engineers meat: rejiggering plant molecules to replicate the fleshy flavor, texture and smell. so, this is-- you get the smell of the burger, right? >> correct. this is an olfactometer. >> reporter: impossible's flavor scientist celeste holz- schietinger. why is smell so important? >> there's only actually a few receptors on the tongue. there's 400 different receptors in your nose. >> reporter: and just what are the basic ingredients? this is wheat protein. >> this is protein from potato. this is heme protein >> reporter: that's the secret sauce. >> we discovered that heme is the magic ingredient that is uniquely responsible for giving meat its' meaty flavor. >> reporter: or as the c.e.o. puts it in the company's
rhapsodic biopic. >> heme is a beautiful iron containing molecule and it's essential for pretty much life on earth. >> reporter: i see there's actually a spot of blood over there. that's heme? >> the red color comes from the heme molecule, same thing that makes your blood red. >> reporter: it's genetically engineered. >> we've engineered yeast to produce a protein that's normally produced by a soy plant. >> reporter: to impossible's brown, heme is the competitive edge. but, competing with whom? turns out there's another big player in the plant-based burger business, run by another brown: ethan, c.e.o. of beyond meat. he's gone from fuel cells to food, he too thinks mock meat is man's gift to the planet. >> if we can be that group of people that separate meat from animals, that's an amazing thing that's a net net plus for the human race and it's worth investing in. >> reporter: impossible foods has heme; beyond meat, peas.
>> we can take the amino acids from peas, and we can basically reset the structure, so it takes on the fibrous texture of muscle or meat. >> they want a valuation greater than beyond's technology has its' own high-profile venture investors, like high-profile, including, ray lane. >> we saw a real sea change going on the millennials and even the next generation down from millennials in the way food was consumed, and the type of food and the attention to health. >> reporter: with climate- conscious consumers trending, investors have thrown their money at over half a dozen mock meat startups. for now though, the game is between impossible and beyond. impossible has added a new plant that plans to make a million pounds of meat a month to ship to some 200 high-end restaurants across the country, and beyond's burgers are now in the meat section at 4,000 whole food stores, plus they've inked a
deal with safeway. >> this is our super rica burger. >> reporter: okay, what do these babies taste like? >> we were looking for that flavor profile. >> reporter: now i may be a gustatory peasant, but these quarter-pounders were convincing. and when garnished, indistinguishable from the usu"" real thing". in l.a., steve heeley is c.e.o. of the fast casual west coast chain, veggie grill. so, how much does it cost? >> the beyond burger is $12.95. that comes with your choice of a side. >> reporter: and how much of the cost is the beef that isn't? >> it's much more expensive than beef, ground beef is at least half the price of the beyond burger. >> reporter: beyond's plant based beef is more than six bucks a pound wholesale, look says beyond's c.e.o., this is the dawn of faux flesh technology with heavy upfront costs. >> and we're already pricing where grass fed beef would price, right? we will dramatically underprice
>> keith meatball sandwich! >> reporter: at vegetarian clover food lab in cambridge, massachusetts, they're selling impossible meatball sandwiches go for $12 each. owner ayr muir, an m.i.t. materials science and engineering major, prefers impossible to beyond for its taste and texture but says it costs twice as much as grass fed beef, six times it's corn-fed, feedlot counterpart. and yet... >> the impossible meatball sandwich is rivaling our very best sandwich in terms of sales leading to overall sales increase at all of our restaurants. >> reporter: as befits the so- called people's republic of cambridge. but why meat at all? >> and that helps bring people to clover and then exposes them to vegetables they might not have gotten to otherwise, we'd love it. but if it just cannibalizes our sales of other items that are more purely focused on vegetables that's probably not good for us. it's up in the air for us. >> reporter: and up in the air
for the whole mock meat industry, some would argue. is this a fad, revolution or somewhere in between? >> i would peg it still as an experiment a test to see if americans will adopt a meat substitute that looks and feels a lot like real meat. >> reporter: that's food aficionado michael pollan, who joined me at clover. would you invest in one of these companies? >> no, the food business is tough. people in silicon valley will find. the margins are just not what they're used to. they're all investing, they all want to disrupt the food industry, as they tried to disrupt the energy industry, and that didn't work. >> reporter: inside clover the lunch rush continued. overhead, a high tech ceiling toyed with our lighting, bedeviling the cameraman. but the food? okay, now for the blind taste test. >> should i close my eyes? >> reporter: please, please. you can't tell the difference between that and a meatball sub
can you? >> no. thank god for that cheese! >> reporter: spoken like a true cynic. >> we need to reduce our meat consumption and this is one strategy to do it. this restaurant has been doing it long before they had a meat- like product with great success. i think that millennials attitudes towards meat eating is changing a lot. they're much more troubled by eating animals than we are and many of them are moving off meat. the challenge will be making it as cheap as a mcdonald's hamburger. >> reporter: and the challenge of creating not just chopped meat but steak. and of reducing the saturated fat from vegetable oils in these patented patties without killing the taste. and, in impossible's case, of reassuring consumers about the genetic modification that makes the heme. and, finally, of figuring out if we and the planet will really be better off without any beef at
all. but, as judy so often says, that's all we have time for tonight, so we'll save those questions for a second installment. for the pbs newshour, this is economics correspondent paul solman, trying to make sense of mock meat. >> woodruff: as republicans try to pass a tax overhaul, the i.r.s. is once again expected to be in the spotlight. for years, commissioner john koskinen has been a lightening rod for republican lawamkers who have called for his impeachment and criticized the agency he's been running since 2013. as one of the last obama administration holdovers, he'll complete his term as the i.r.s. commissioner this sunday. i sat down with him yesterday and we talked about the strains on the i.r.s., his thoughts about the agency and president trump's controversial tax returns.
john koskinen, thank you very much for talking with us. >> i'm delighted to be here. >> woodruff: so how do you feel about leaving this job? >> it's a poignant time. i've had, actually, surprisingly enough, a wonderful time at the i.r.s. it's a great group of people to work with and i'm going to miss them. >> woodruff: some republicans in congress have been calling for your head practically since the day you arrived. you came amidst the dispute as to whether the i.r.s. had been unfairly scrutinizing applications for tax exempt status on the part of tea party groups and there was a lot of discussion around that. did you feel you came if almost at a time of being under siege? >> it was pretty close to that. in my history as such, i usually get called in when agencies are under great stress, so this certainly met that criteria. >> woodruff: did you feel your job was in jeopardy from this criticism? >> again, i thought there were a
lot of very thoughtful, responsible congressmen in both parties who understood ihead not personally created this problem and that i was doing the best anybody could expect getting through it, so the move to impeach me, i thought, was probably not going to succeed. >> woodruff: you have been in several years when president trump was elected. he came into office, i think some people thought, initially, well, he's going to make a change at the i.r.s. but lo and behold he didn't and turns out the two of you have known each other a long time. you go back four decades and knew each other in business. >> correct, i negotiated with him th the first transaction hed in brooklyn. >> woodruff: what was he like to deal with? >> necessary his 20s. he turne turned a hotel into thd hyatt which sits on top of grand central. he was a pleasure to deal with. we negotiated hard but enjoyed
it. >> woodruff: did you stay in touch with him over the years. >> occasionally over the time. he's been kind a couple of times along the way to make positive comments about me, but we haven't seen each other regularly. >> woodruff: this is a president who has not made public his own tax returns. we know or we've read, because you've said so, that they are kept in a certain place inside the i.r.s. facility. do you know where they are? >> i know generally where they are. they're in a locked room in a locked cabinet near my office but i've actually not seen either the room nor the cabinet. >> woodruff: so you haven't seen the snrurns. >> i actually have no authority to see anybody's returns. we are very careful in the i.r.s. no one can look at anyone's return unless they have a specific need to know as part of an audit. >> woodruff: is it normal for a president's taxes to be kept in a special place? i mean, how did they a happen to be where they are?
>> actually, all the presidents' returns are kept in the famous locked cabinet in the locked office. they are separated out because we feel very strongly they need to be handled separately, they need to be protected. >> woodruff: so as soon as they are elected, this happens automatically. is that what you're saying? >> yes, and, so, even in this case, a year and a half ago in the summer of 2016, i asked our people to make sure that, for all the candidates, once the nominees were known, that we protected their existing tax returns as well as being prepared for the filing of their next tax returns. >> woodruff: do you have an opinion, john koskinen, about whether president trump should have made his tax returns public? >> i don't think that's a position the i.r.s. commissioner should take. i think that's a decision the president makes on his own and we respect that decision. our goal is to, in fact, ensure the privacy of everyone's tax returns and tax information. >> woodruff: as you leave, and we've talked to you about this
when i've interviewed you in the past, you've expressed concern over the years about how much strain has been placed to on the i.r.s. you have been concerned about budget cuts, about losing employees. how stretched is the internal revenue service right now? >> my farewell to the hill has been to advise them that i am deeply concerned that we've cut the agency far more than it can and should be cut if it is going to continue to function effectively. it's running an antiquated system that's out of date in many ways and we won't be able to do the process of filing season or as we continue to do fewer audits, the compliance system will erode and cost ihe government billions of dollars. >> woodruff: you're leaving just as the congress is discussing the president, the republicans' proposal to reform the tax code. again, they're calling for a major overhaul. how do you look on that?
>> well, i think and i've always thought the tax code is far too complicated and difficult for taxpayers to navigate their way through. so we have been clear from the start that while we don't have an interest in any of the policy decisions, anything that can be done to simplify the code for taxpayers we would strongly support. in this case, you can't do significant tax reform without providing the agency the financial resources it needs to actually implement it, but there is no doubt it would be and will be the highest priority of the all the employees. >> woodruff: so, finally, to all those americans who curse the i.r.s. on april 15th or other times of the year, what do you say to them? >> they first have to remember the taxes they pay fund the operations of the government, and the i.r.s., knot withstarredding the views a lot of people have, spends a significant amount of time right help taxpayers figure out how much they owe and how to pay it. if you're having difficulty
paying taxes, you don't have to hire somebody off late night tv to help you, we're interested in helping those who want to be compliant. >> woodruff: john koskinen, stepping down, commissioner of the i.r.s. thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: "saturday night live" has a long track record of skewering presidents. alec baldwin tells jeffrey brown what it is like to keep the tradition alive and translating what you see on screen to the page. sir, mayor cruz of san juan is on the line. >> i was expecting a phone call. i'm sure she wants to tell me what a great job i'm doing. (laughter) >> brown: for alec baldwin, it's been a role that keeps on giving. >> ma'am, i don't know if you know this, but you're in an island in the water. (laughter) the ocean water, big ocean, with fishes and bubbles and turtles and the like. we want to help you but we have
to take care of america first. >> wait. you do know we're a u.s. territory, don't you? (laughter) >> i do, but not many people know that, no. >> brown: on "saturday night live" this season, baldwin, an outspoken critic of donald trump if real life, has continued his late night parody of the president. >> what about the anthem? starting now. what are is it t players doing, are they acting like little s.o.b.s? >> no, they seem to be respectful. wait, one of them is kneeling. >> get out of this, mike! >> brown: now baldwin and kurt anderson have assumed the voice of donald trump in a few way in the book "you can't spell america without me." >> this is a memoir in which we have trump obviously in a parody format trying to be somewhat introspective. trump is incapable of
introspection in my mind but what would trump attempt tock introspective look like? >> brown: in new york i asked the actor about playing trump. >> number one thing, you try to find, regardless of any externalized thing, because i'm not an impressionist, but when i'm called upon to do that kind of stuff, and you try to find the essence of that person. trump is miserable, regardless to have the weather, the stock market is up or down, regardless of the condition in his life, he won the election and he's still miserable. >> woodruff: the book is entitled parody. what is parody for in this case? >> to parody trump is almost impossible. every week, a barge of material comes floating in about how incapable of is of finding, you know, the kind of self-actualized trump, not that we'll ever get there, but one can try. the tragedy of trump is that he only needed to make some monminor adjustments in his methodology and his behavior, and he would have reaped
tremendous benefit. >> brown: you're not shy about your own politics. you're sort of the opposite of him on almost every issue, so should we see this as kind of a political act? >> that's a fair point. if we were doing a lot of writing. trump is the head writer of "snl" himself. nearly 90% of what we say and do are verbatim transcriptions of what trump has said. we don't have to go very far to find the material. trump himself is just spewing it out on a daily basis or a weekly basis. so it's not about politics meaning i'm misstating or misquoting things he said or did. that's one of the jokes we told is trump would say how he hates the media, nbc and hates us, because i say things and upthey repeat it right back to the public, he would say. they repeat all the things that i say. oftcourse he's tormented by the fact we repeat all the things he says. >> brown: a lot of people voted for donald trump and i can imagine them watching and
thinking this is the new york liberal elite sort of congratulating itself, being smarter than trump and his supporters, and being turned off that way. >> right. >> brown: what do you say to trump voters? >> i think trump voters have far more important things to put their focus on, and their inability to put their focus on that is their problem to deal with, and that is that trump has betrayed nearly every promise he made to them. the tax bill is the most recent example of how trump just continues to betray the middle class in this country and his supporters. listen, these people were sold one thing. they were kind of sold that trump was this can-do crack executive that he portrayed on a reality show for many years, but what they were really sold on was to really hate hillary clinton. the vote was to express hatred. >> brown: you think that's what snts. >> without a doubt. the republican and the election
was all about turning a conservative republican, and even a conservative or even moderate independent voter to loathe and despise and blame everything on hillary clinton. >> brown: well, i have seen you out doing some polyteching yourself on behalf of democratic candidates. might you continue that and take it on yourself to run? >> no, to run would mean giving up what i'm doing now. i have a wife and kids and family and we're very happy with where those things are right now. but politicking for other people, i do on an as-needed basis. we need two parties. i'm waiting to see what happens with the republican party. i'm old enough to know and participated in the process my own way enough to know that we need to be suspicious of the democratic party as well. any party that achieves absolute power where they seem kind of immunized against public opinion and so forth, which can happen from time to time for both
parties, when that happens, that's not good for the country. we need a stiff opposition to keep the democrats in line as well. >> brown: alec baldwin, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now to another in our brief but spectacular series, where we ask people about their passions. tonight, we hear from journalist and author anjan sundaram. he has reported on modern day dictatorships and conflicts around the world, from the congo to the central african republic. >> i went to congo when i was 22. i had just graduated from university. i read a little article in the "new york times" in the middle page, bottom of the page that said, "four million people have died, there was famine, there was mass displacement," it just didn't make any sense to me, how could this be at the bottom of the page in the middle of the newspaper, an event so large described in 100 or 200 words
so i went to rwanda in 2009 to train a group of about a dozen journalists. i had no sense that the country was repressive, but very quickly my journalist colleagues and students began to explain to me the conditions, one of the journalists had been beaten into a coma because he brought up the harassment of the press in front of the rwandan president paul kagame. another journalist with h.i.v. had been imprisoned and dragged from room to room all night so that she could not sleep. it was physical and psychological abuse. as i was teaching these journalists over the course of the next two years, they began one by one to be taken out by the government. one of the journalists was shot dead on the day he criticized the rwandan president. two young women were sent to prison for several years. it was heartbreaking for me to see these journalists who were so committed to their country's future, so committed that they were willing to put themselves in immense risk in order to build a society which the
government was held accountable. people would ask me, "how does it feel to be in these places? were you traumatized by going into villages that had just been attacked, seeing bodies?" yeah it's taken a toll on me, i guess i don't often talk about the toll on myself because what i've seen and the people i've worked with, what they've gone through is just unimaginable and i've felt a tiny fraction of that. it just makes me admire their work, their courage and their persistence that much more. many of these places lie outside the world's collective consciousness. in places like congo a million people die and we don't even, they are screaming and we don't even hear them. we don't even see them, our institutions don't see them, our press doesn't see them. at a global level there are so many communities that we just do not see, and it is so stark that five million people can die and it barely makes a footnote in world news. my work is in some small way to
put what's happening on the record, to bring it back, bring the experiences that i have back as experiences that i've felt on my skin, that i've seen, that hopefully people can relate to more than a tiny newspaper article or mere statistics in an encyclopedia. my name is anjan sundaram, and this is my brief but spectacular take on covering the forgotten. >> woodruff: you can watch additional brief but spectacular episodes on our website, pbs.org/newshour/brief. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us on-line and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> babbel. a language app that teaches
real-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's 10-15 minute lessons are available as an app, or online. more information on babbel.com. >> 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. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
. >> rose: welcome to the program. we begin tonight with politics and a look at the results of yesterday's election. joining me hugh hewitt, susan page and certificatee seib. >> this is not what we expect to happen with new presidents, especially new presidents without a lot of experience. this president has not been reshaped by this town but this town is a different place now than it was a year ago today when he won election. it is faster, it is louder, it is fiercer, the divisions are wider. he has had a huge affect but not to the extent that he's been able to deliver on the campaign promises he made. >> rose: we continue with donna brazile her knew book about the 2016 president's campaign is called hacks: the inside story, the break-ins and breakdowns that put donald trump in the white house. >> i think we're at a point now in the democratic party, some