tv Washington Week PBS December 7, 2018 7:30pm-8:01pm PST
robert: new clues in the mueller probe. is it winding down or up? i'm robert costa. welcome to "washington week." >> he was my first choice since day one. respected by republicans. and respected by democrats. robert: president trump nominates william barr, a formen at general under the late president bush for another stint at the department ofce j. and as robert muelle plows forward, the predent sps up his attack on the special council setting the stage for ti pol and legal war. but what do new court documents reveal about former trump associates? and what's the game plan forhe president's counterreport? plus, staff turbulence shakes up the president's circle.
and we remember president george h.w. bush next. ♪ announcer: this is "washington week." funding is provided by -- >> kevin. >> kevin. >> kevin. >> adviceor life. life well planned. learn more at raymondjames.com. announcer: funding is provided dation ewman's own fo donating all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nrishing the common good. koo and patricia yuen un tion, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the ethics & excellence foundation. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
once again, from washington, moderator robert costa.: robeod evening. new federal court documents are giving us a gmp into the scope of robert mueller's investigation and the roles of three key figures. first, michael flynn, president trump' former national security advisor. he pleaded guilty to liing to the f.b.i. but has been corporating with mueller who recommended little or no prison time for flynn this week. went, ere is michael coe the president's former lawyer. to leaded guilty to lying congress. prosecutors say he deserves substantial pron timeespite his corporation. the president has rstled again him as a turncoat. and paul manafort, the trump campaign chairman pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges but violated his plea agreement and is now in solitary confinement in virginia.
what a week. joining me tonight andrea mitchell, chief correspondent for nbc news. phseilip rucker, white h bureau chief for "the washington post." abby phillco, washington espondent for cnn and carl hulse, chief washington rrespondent for the "new york times." a busy friday, andrea. i appreciate everyone being here. i know you all came from your newsrooms. start with michael coe went, a veing document -- they're being pretty tough on him saying he should sti go to jail. what's important for president trump? >> for president trump who is central in all of these filings, for president trump it's according at cohen to the prosecutors coordinating his false twm the white h tse. who white house? we don't know. but that coordination is certainly trouble for the white house and for the president as well. and also that president trump himself direct t we knew this from his plea. but this is very specific that
the president of the united states directed those payments when he was candidate to tse o women. and this is a violation of campaign finance law as has been admitted to and that they believe that cohen does not deserve a lenient sentence. they say his corration was not immediate or full. the details about his -- the allegations that have now been o establishe tax violations, millions of dollars in unpaid taxes is a lot more to michael coe went than what we knew before. robert: the president said in a tweet, phil that he's not worried that he's in the clear.e is that the s in the white house? >> he's not in the clear. but this is something of the president to create an alternate reality, that it's a witch hunt, it's pehony, don'teve what you see in the news. when theseou filings have
all the details in which he's not clear. there's one other thing in the cohen filing, which is a newha contact cohen had with the russians. this was in november of 2015. it's detailed by the pros autors. that russian national who claimed to be reprenting the federation offered synergy with government toru connect the campaign with russia, try to set up a meeting between trump and vladimir putin. cohen didn't accept the meeting, dn'tpont. but it's another example of the russians try tonfiltrate. >> there were more russians as well as that one. robert: so not collusion. co if michaewent provided all of this information to robert mueller's investigation, why ar osecutors still being so tough on him? >> part of this has to do with the cases involving the tax issues that are separate from the mueller investigation, and they basically said that michael coe went was using -- cohen was
lying about it. and then when he was being caught wasn't beg wholesome about the truth. in that p articular case, t federal prosecutors are saying michael coe went doesn't deserve any leniency because he flagrantly broke the law to the tune of millions of dollars.en t comes cohen wants zero prison time. but he's it's not going to nullify his tax evasion that he was accused of and found guilt of and the other case involving federal prosecutors in new york. robert: carl, house democrs takehe majority in january. they must be watching this
tonight an they say individual one was involved -- individualg one meanresident trump with this campaign violation.t what does mean next year? minutes k about 10 before i got my first release from an incoming member of the democratic leadership saying these are incredibly serious charges and we are going to hold the president accountable. and senator dianne feinstein came out with a blistering statement. she's senior democrat on the judiciy committee on the senate saying that this looks like air felonyted -- at the direion of the president. this would have gotten the wheels churning quickly. this is is the kind of things that the democrats would sink their teeth in to. they would like for the deomcrats to dohing about it. but that's not going to happen. there's a road map comingut that are being released.
robert: why did michael flynn get -- robert mueller to say he shouldn't go to prison, very lyabsoluime. he's been so helpful and cooperative. what's the difference with flynn? >> first of all,or herated early and often and told the truth. second of all, ine mitig circumstance is that for 33 years he was considered an exemplary intelligence officerel in the f he was military intelligence in he's been in battle. he's been a combat officer. he dd very badly as head of the defense intelligence agency and was fired by jim clapper underb the white house which made him sai bitter agnst president obama. and that's when he apparently turned. and did all the other things. wanted money. dealt with the russians. and alsurdealt with ty. and that is the other big part of this. plus, a third investigation and we don't know what that was because that ws redacted, blacked out. but they said that he didive
everything up. he only pleaded guilty to one count of perjury. so that -- that is zero to six months apparently. the sentencing guidelines are different for the one count in contrast, of course, to cohen for which thostax violations are very, very serious and it's a much higher penty so that would be really impossible for him to avoid jail time.be : and flynn met with ambassador kissly at the russian bassador during the transition. brings a lot of thoughts about that transition. you covered it, phil. >> that's right. there was a discussion between flynn and kissly about the sanctions imposed by the obama administration to punish russia for their interference in th 2016 election. one thing that sticks out from theer mueilings earlier this week about flynn is that he's met with the special council's office 19 separate times. that is a big number.
that's a lot oforporation. you wonder what he was saying in all of those meetings. s weimply don't know. it has the president and people in his orbit quite worried. >> david ignatius according to the filing, he kicked thi all off by noting bk in january of 2017 that kisliak had myn with around the time of those sanctions and that it was about telling putin, don't worry once we get in office we're going to pull those sanctions and that's what set mueller on this path. robert: as paul sits insome dare confinement and they're wondering if he's going to break, president trump praising roger stone with having guts and fighting back against investigatorte what's the wouse view on manafort? >> president trump also econtinues to pra paul
manafort basically saying that he's being treated unfairly. when president trump talks about the muellen investigat ruining lives. one of the people he's talking about is paulanafort who he -- and also michael flynn but paul manafort who he believes is getting the short stick on this. the view among the white house about paul manafort might be very different from what president trump views it. robert: are they thinking about pardons?al >> he conti thinks about pardons. whether he's willing to do it is a different story we hear from white house aides that president trump is talking about it. it is a topic of discussion. a lot of people around the president believe that it ia bad idea politically. it's a bad idea in terms of theo president' legal fate that he could be putting himself in even greater legal jeopardy if he even starts to have those
conversations. and on occasn the past, he's been talked out of it in ral concrete ways. so this is al thing that's constantly churning. but like a lot of things in the trump white house, allt takes is the president to finally make a decision to move forward. soar he hasn't done it. but i think a lot of people continually hold their breath that it's on the horizon. >> i do this that is somethinge that drats will be looking very closely. the dangling ofnshe parnd how that -- robert: do you think they're going to bring female capitol hill -- >> i thank you they will try -- i think they will try and do as much as they can. >> they have been in touch with thero white house prison through an intermediary. that's another big suspicious red light in mueller's filing tonight. robert: finish up what you were saying about impeachment. >> i didn't say the word "impeachment." when you look at what was in those filings today, that this -- part of this would be well,
what would you impeach the president for? there's nothing there. there's an accusation in there that manyxperts are interpreting as implicating the president in the commission of a felony. that is the kind of thing that you look athen you are conducting oversight into the white house and what's going on. >> something specific that president trump continues to be closeted about is his taxes essentially. if michael coe wenas going to ie all of this stuff evading taxes, democrats are saying this is one of the reasons why we nt see the president trump's taxes. >> all of this will come back to the department of justice. thed president who is h of the president trump announced today that he will nominate william barr to be the next attorney general. barr held that role in the 1990's under the late president
bush. he would oversea the russia investigation, a safe pick for the white house? ongress that to they're not going to be a trump loyalist in there? >> as safe a pick as they could have had potentially he comes from the establishment legal community of the republican party here in washington. but he has made some controversial a statementut the mueller probe in the past that is sure to come up inis confirmation hearings. he's going to have to figure out how to navigate thens quest and demands from senators mostlr democratic sen but i think also some republican senators will he pdge to let mueller continue his investigation, will he pledge to be an independent actor at the justice dartment without being influenced on the russia matter orom the white house? and he's going have to figure out how to navigate while sll making sure that he doesn't get on the wrong side of the presidenin robert: i'm to follow-up. in may of 2017, barrre an
op-ed defending president trump to fire james comey. he told "the post" the same year -- more recently than that that hillary clinton should be sorther investigated by the d.o.j. his bio screams establishment. but his -- he aligned with president trump. >> hard that he's happy about barr. that he worked with him years ago. so there's that. questioning confirmation, he's going have to make some declaration about protecting the mueller probe. >> i think there's a high comfort level. he's a grown up. he's done this bruore. they him. you know, it's not -- and i ts are going to do exactly what we've said. an we've seen this from senator blumenthal. he's going to have to comt to protect the investigation.
i think -- i think that he wasme conf unanimously when he was confirmed attorney general the first time. ac democratally liked him. so you know, it's not going to be a kavanaugh situation. it's going to be -- it will probably be ok.be : and you think about it's not just barr today. the president also anunced his pick to be the next u.s. ambassador to the united nations. president trump has tapped heather nauert former fox news host to replace nikki haley at the u.n. you've been at the white house al day, abbyle will she shape u.s. foreign policy or is she more of a spokesperson,? >> it does seem like the pick signals has shifted in thatle akki haley was a cabinet level u.n.assador. he wanted to be on equal footing with the secretary of state and other national security officials. she viewed herself as an advisor -- a policy advisor to the
present not just spokesperson. heather nauert is a spokesperson, a foreman journalist who communicates well and effectively what the president wants her to communicate. but the big question mark in her bio is her lack of experience io ign policy or at least a lengthy experience there. but that might be what the president likes about her and also what mike pompeo likes about her. pompeo, our reporting at cnwa ts that role to be not -- not a necalevel transition in part to streamline the foreign policy through the state department which is more tradreional for blican presidents. so i think we'll see that role diminishing with nauert in that role. robert: your read? >> she doesn't have diplomatic experience. she was a spokesperson for pompeo at the state department in her current role. there's criticism that she's not
a diplomat. te is she going to negot with these people? how is she going to have leverage there especially with a subordinated role reporti through pompeo? this was a victory for pompeo over john bolton. robert: how many stories are there today? john kelly still there as of 8:20 in the evening. will he be there tomorrow or nick aires coming? >> we're on kelly watch. all signals fro the white house, all of our reporting that he and trump are at a breaking point. it might be a mutua decision to split. but he's not been fired or resigned y . it could happen this weekend. it could happen monday. nick is the leading contender to replace kelly. but th is by no means a done deal. robert: for divided government,
how important is that role?>> it's tremendously important. it's a person who a lot of times runs interference directly on the hill and could be murder of a surrogate on the president. nick aires has worked f and has a connection there. i still think that the trumpst admition hasn't adjusted to the new reality and how different their lives are going to be. and it's gog to take some real expertise to make this work at all. you talk about that the u.n. going upgainst some experienced people. well, they're going to be going up some experienced people on the hill too. and the democrats who have been in tn s positfore -- it's going to be tough. >> it could signal the president is pulling back from the idea of getting things done in washington a leaning into needing to figure out how to awl his way through a re-election fight. nick is viewed by presp ent tr someone who has a
political head on his shoulders and can help him do that. w >> befor go tonight, there's a lot of news. but it's important, we have to pausee and should to remember who ent george h.w. bush passed away this week at the age of 94. family, friends, and dignitaries along with five presidents attended the funeral. then in houston he was laid tre next to his wife barbara and their daughter robin in the presidential museum in college station, texas what a legacy for president bu l. what's hacy in the world? >> he fought for the reunification of germany againsa theice of margaret thatcher and nato and the alliance. reshaping europe which means reshaping the world. he navigating the end ofcohe war and did it so brilliantly that gorbachev was left able to safe face.
it ended wi nth, you know, a bang but a whimper. it was a peaceful succession as well as the tremendous -- as well as the restraint he showed and not risking the les of americans. he created that coalition including arab stes, including egypt and syria in fighting against saddam husain but then withdrawing immediately. it was a brilliant world view. and he compromised on the budget and knew that he was killing his chances for reelection and defying his no new taxes pledge. he will be treated very kindly history for that kind of restraint and for the decency and humility he showed. >> back at home, his reputation in washington, his legacy? >> one thing that came through this week was dignity, civility, the interest in compromise. and i think that was a message some people would like to see.i on't think we're going to see
this. i think to me he was atr sitional president. but he on his economic policy exactly as she said, he took a big risk and set up clinton for, you know, realtime of prosperity. but he did things like the american with disability act. he thought of government as a calling and a service. and he wanted to see government and people do the right thing. now a lot of times people look at government and say want to stop things. this is aut not doing much. he was somebody who wanted to accomplish things. robert: e white house was engaged in trying to work with the bushes. the president of course, has his own style. wh was it like to be at the white house as history happened and the nation said goodbye. >> well, it was a very different kind of expernce for this white house. it was without much controversy for a change. i think there was a lot of
concern that maybe president trump could don't this even after the bushes as "the washingt post" reported extended an olive branch over the summer saying, we want to brg you into this process. there is still always the possibility tt president tp is who is often driven by grievance could not he allowed this to go forward especially given all the compariso h that wepening on cable television about their styles and about their demeanors an their temper meants. but he did. and i think he seemed to very much enjoy the sort of retrospecte seeing a presidency go from beginning to end and sfeeing for hims what legacy looks like. and i think for -- for -- for white house aides there was a sigh of relief that he kept it low key, and i think, you know, for once in washington, it felt like a very normal thing had happened. robert: and phil, you wrote an
essay for "the post" teflecting e day it was about president trump and president bush but also the presidency as an institution the way it's changed in the last decades. >> this was the first time thatp president tas with all of his living predecessors. he was seated with them. but he was standing alone. and there oere a lotf moments through that ceremony when the eulogists were talking about president bush, his humility, his call to service, his militaryism, his bravery to leading from the hrt. you can see the implicit contrast to trump. i think it was an uncomfortable moment for trump and a moment when the country realized how much it's changed. robert: and the republican party >> it has. bush gauched the north american ch trumpde agreement w
is un dan:. he sign into air the clean air act which the trumple administration is un dan:. it was a different kind of .enda than we have tod >> the -- the decency of the man came through, and i mean, he was a very tough competitor in 1988 campaign that i covere was a wicked campaign, the willie horton ads and all the rest. but i was so touched by his son, the president, the other president bush's eulogy and by jim barke the friend in houston that was terribly mg.ov robert: powerful moments. we'll remember those moments and we send our best to the bus family. thanks everybody for being here on a busy, busy friday night.at our conven will continue on the washington podcast. you can find that on our website fridays after 10:00 and on your favorite pod cast app. i'm robert costa. ave a great weekend. ♪
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75 years ago, thhifbi began arresting bu priests, japanese-language schoolachers, and community leaders. within the...within two months, the u.s. government began the mass incarceration of all japanese americans from the west coast.l i stmember being 17 when 9/11 happened. probably the first allied, solidarity, friendship event i remember attending at that young age at such a difficult time for our country was hosted by japanese americans in southern california.