tv Washington Week PBS August 10, 2019 1:30am-2:00am PDT
robert: the nation and congress at a crossroads. i'm robert costa. welcome to "washingtonk. w deadly shootings in two cities leave the nation shaken. president trump says he ispen to tougher gun laws. president trump: we need intelligent background checks. robert: but makes no commitments, and the n.r.a. pressures him to back off.cr des insist the targeted attack on latinos in el paso is a reckoning. >> this president has fanned the flames of white supmacy i this nation. trump offers no moral leadership. robert: aocus on domestic terrorism as tensions continue between the president and the
intelligence community. next. cer: this is "washington week." funding is provided by -- >> whatever they went through, they went through together. life well planned. see what a raymond james financial adviser can do for you. >> babble, a language learningsp app that usech recognition technology and teaches real-life conversations. daily, 10 to 15-minu lessons are voiced by native speakers and are at babblcom. >> additional funding is provided by -- ho and patricia yuen thro the yuen foundation, committed
to bridging cultural differences in our cmunities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, moderator robert costa. robert:days after the shootings in texas and ohio claimed the lives of 31 people, the gun debate has returned to washington. president trump expressed confidence oriday that he could persuade republicans to eventuallyack expanded background checks and said he is talking with the national rifle association. president trump: i think a lot of really meaningful things on background checks will take place,ncluding red flags, including a lot of other very, very important items. the n.r.a., they love our country. they love our country so much and frankly i really think they're going to get there --
robert: many challenges remain. n.r.a. chief wayne lapierre said his group remains opposed to the measures under consideration callingm tund bite solutions. meanwhile, senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, has declined to call the senate back. while the president said that mcconnell is totally on board, mcconnell's spokes man said he has not endorsed any legislation. >> i don't want tongage in finger pointing or making a point. what's happened after every one of these shootings is there's been a temptation to engage in political discourse rather than actually passing something. robert: joining me to tonight, nancy cordes, chief congressional correspondent for cbs news, pierre thomas, chief justice correspondent for abc news. amna nawaz, national correspondent for the "pbs newshour," and josh dawsey, white house reporter for "the washington post." nancy, you're on
talking to lawmakers and their advisers, what is mitch mcconnell's position rightow? what is the kentucky senator going to do? question ana great i think a lot of democrats and republicans still don't know. hehe has said he wants to get something done on background checks which is notable. we have heard that from this republican leader before. he said there is growing support for background check legislation. however, we haven't sn that increase in support from republicans in the senate and mcconnell's own staff made it clear to reporters today that he mself has not endorsed anything specific. robert: so is this talk among mcconnell and his aides and fellow republicans about giving cover to vulnerable republicans up for re-election in 2020 like corey gardner in colorado. ts is it real?
nancy: democelieve it is not real and believe the overtures he has made is to alleviate pressure on him to act. he had protestors outside his home in kentucky this week and they say the proof will come when the senate returns in 30 days. the senate will nol not come into an emergency session in august so they believe mcconnell is just trying to wait this out til the headlines subside and the country moves on to something else as we've seen happen time and time again. robert: josh, is the white house going to give any political capital to gun control legislation? josh: that's the question everyone in washington is asking. president trump saying i can bring the n.r.a. on board and mih mcconnell on board, talking about his popularity, his numbers. but talking to anyone on capitol hill, it comes down to what the
president wants to do. the west virginia s said the only way to get this done is if the president gives republicans cover to get this done. you talk toho lawmakers, have talked to the president this week, they say he's serious and this is a president who's not a natural sportsman, who's not the bi oest proponent guns in the first place. he was a new york democrat previously so doesn't want to protec at all costs but he said after parkland he wanted to do background checks but the momentum went away. the question is, is the president willing to use his bully pulpit and willing to go to districts where folks are vulnerable and whether theren still appetite for the president to do it. robert: is he going to lean on it or not? josh: it's really hard to know. he sis week he's deadly
serious about it. he said it at a fundraiser in the hamptons today and to the n.r.a. and to republicans. ape n.r.a. is concerned because waynerre has talked to him four or five times this week.th 're thinking of launching a campaign against this.t five weeks from now, the ueesident could be in six or seven other i of his own making or someone else's making. robert: pierre, what's under consideration right now at least among republicans and some democrats of red flag laws. what are red flag laws?pi re: these are proposals that would allow the police to go to a court andemporarily remove the weapons of someone who is at risk to themselves or others. the big debate is overer whe you can put enough due process in the process to make conservatives comfortable that you won't take people's guns, for willy-nilly reasons, and yot have extraordinary periods
of times where people would not have their weapons. so that is part of d theate. but i have to tell you, bob, right now i think is a seminal moment for the country because i was talking to a colleague -- where can you go where there's not been a mass shooting? you can't go to elementary school, you can't go to the mall, you can't go to church, to synagogue -- literally every place that americans once held as safe havens are no longer safe so i think that's part of why you're seeing -- wal-mart.th k of all the people who go to wal-mart every week. i think that's why this debate has differenteel to it even though a lot of people said after sandy hook and ten chilere murdered, if it didn't happen then, when would it. robert: i was in georgia this week and spoke to a father of two, 52-year-old republican, who said i've always supported the second amendment but you saw what happened over the weekend, 's scary. he said i have two daughters and i don't want to see anything
happen to them. something has to be done o guns. amna, is this a thresho ment, a tipping point for the gun control debate? na: if history is a guide, we have a tendency to come back to this issue immediately in the aftermath of a mega-public event and then another story takes n over ts cycle and we don't revisit it until another tragic event happens. but the data is clear and this is what i have been digging through this week, publicn opins where it is so president trump saying mitch mcconnell is on board with background checks puts mitcl mcconnn line with the rest of the country. the last poll we didefore paso and before dayton or the gilroy, california, shooting, showed that the floor for public support among republicans, by the way, for universal background checks that cover all n sales and transfers and close the gun show loophole was 86%. it goes up to 96% for democrats
andnt indepen are in the middle so the public support for ouincremental steps that have a proveable difference in reducing our serious gun violence problem,hat's there. the political will isn't. robert: what about toomey mansion. if there's public supportou for back suchecks, the m failed several years ago, expanding background checks to almost all gun purchases. t nancmey mansion got four senate republicans on board in 2013. only two of themth are still e. toomey -- he's still for it -- and such -- susan collins of maine. to this date not a single other republican has said theyould support it and a lot of democrats have concluded that it doesn't go far enough and say the house passed a stronger bil
in february that's sitting on mitch mcconnell's desk right now.ak they want to that up. so you've got a difficult situation here where if you're going to get any more republicans on board, you might need to water down a bill that democrats already believe isn't strong enough. robert: josh, you raised a question earlier about the n.r.a. it's been under siege because wayne lapierrs spending habits have gotten coverage in the "post" and elsewhere. does that give the white house o more an opening to move on guns because, do they perceive.a the nto be in a weakened position? josh: that'son a calculahe president is trying to figure out. i spoke to officials at the white house who said the president is asking if the n.r.a. has the power they used heto have, can bring the heat if they go against us in a fundamental way. i thi the president's cal clation right now -- if my sources are correct, is that the n.r.a. is wkened buttill has a lot of clout and if you look
at the n.r.a. itself, a lot of its members separately care about what the n.r.a. cares about. the president, i think, sees an openin to take on the n.r.a. what he's trying to do, though, if you talk to t some of folks around him, he's not have thea. n.ppose it but have the n.r.a. stay neutral, maybe put out some statements to say a little bit on the fringes but not wage the full throttle campaign that the white house is afraid they mig wage. robert: but this debate is bigger than guns. here's what f.b.i. director chris ray told the senate judiciary committee during hearings last month. >> domestic terrorism, violent extremism of all shapes and sizes, when it turns to violence, is something that is of great conce that i a continuing, steady, persistent, serious threat we're taking very seriously. an awful lot of the racially motivated violent extremism isti ted by what you might call
a white supremacist ideology. robert: pierre, you'r justice department. how is the d.o.j. addressing the rise o white supremacy and domestic terrorism? pierre: they'rey concerned. right now the f.b.i. has 850 open domestic terrorism cases. g d chunk of those, 40%, involve so-called white nationalism, whistles, if you -- white supremacists. if you look at the tempo,hey are the people killing people right now. you look at charl -- charleston, free of life synagogue in pittsburgh and now this in wal-mart. the gilroy, california, incident involving the garlic festival ia investigated a domestic terrorism incident so it's of great concern. s the f.b.i up a domestic
terrorism hate crime fusion cell this past spring to sort of try to marry the information that the bureau is getting inerms of the criminal side and the terrorism side so it's an going concern and there is a real feel that hate crime reports are picking up, that something's afoot out there andw tht to deal with it. robert: amna, we learned friday that the el paso shooter said he was targeting mexicans. you've been to el paso as part of the coverage. how is this shooting in el paso affected the latino community nationally? amna: this is something that's not reported enough talking about the shootings. this was the largest anti-latino shooting in america in modern history and i think for the shooter to say, as he did tell officials and we learned that today, that he was targeting this one specific group, sort of confirms what we kw to be true from the beginning and we've linked that manifesto online to this young man, as well. we knew this to be true, that there is a growing sense of
anti-immigrant, anti-bt, anti-semitic, anti-muslim, anything other than white and male right n movement that is afoot in america. and i think we talked about this earlier when wenew the shooting happened, we knew this is someone who came from outside that community and went to the community to target latinos and mexicans there. to pierre's point, institutionally, we've had a a reluctance to talk about terrorism in this context because it's something that's part of the fabric of america, who we are. h we trouble moving from a conversation about imported foreign islamic extremist terrorism to what we know is endemic to america but the numbers are clear and resources are not. the obama administration tried tout resources to it. after the charleston shooting there was anre officeed that worked to anti-recruit people seen as vulnerable tohe
ideology which is a global network of people.dm the trumpistration in its early days basically gutted that office so there's concern among national security officials that we're not putting the resources where they need to go. robert: what's the scene inside the west wing, josh, when confronted with criticism on the president's rhetoric aboutgr imion and funding for different programs looking at white nationalism? josh: his security adviser said ore president has to do about white supremacy, he has to take the allocation of resources and put them back to they were pre-9/11, what tom bossert told me this week. robert: what about the rhetoric? josh: the rhetoric on immigration, there could be an effort in t white house to ol that but the president, going into ae-ection term, sees the iasion, talking about the caravans and immigration, as
key to his message. it's hard to imagine a president who will tone down his rhetoric on immigration. we've watched him from 2015 all the waygh thr the 2016 campaign and midterms, when meas up for election, vote o him and his party and his beliefs, he dials up immigration rhetoric so it's hard to imagine until ie next 15 months you'll see a downdent saying he'll tone immigration when it's central to his being. >> his campaign was asked point-blank this week whether he would stop using the term "invasion" to describe mexicans trying to crosshe border and the answer was no. robert: what about congress? gare theyng to act on white supremacy or mass shootings? >> i don'think congress has a good handle at all on what could be done to deal with white house supremacy. i think they view it primarily as a l enforcement issue right now and i think that there is re confusion about is there
any way to try to curtail messagh boards and spe the way that these ideas get sprea without cutting down on people's first amendment right. i don't think anybo really has a legislative answer to that problem right now, partly because, as amna said, it really has been sweat under the rug for -- swept under the rug. robert: does the d.o.j. have an answer for websites and social media efforts that foster white supremy? pierre: it's a free speech issue in part. you don't have the tools that the f.b.i. used to apply to isil anaeda that they can apply to the kkk or neo nazi, for example. if the f.b.i. sees someone on a website saying t contributing money or funding or any kind of thing to isis or al qaeda, theyan charge them with providing material support to terrorists. no such law exists to combat
domestic terrorism. robert: what about the dayton shooter? what has the f about that shooter's motives? pierre: they're still inhestigating it. as obviously a troubled person, killed his own sister in that attack. they're still trying to exploit some of his devices, we understand from our sources, that at least one device he had. they've not been able to crack it to see what he may have been doing. but i'll share one other thing with you. a number of people have come to me this week and asked what are we seeing that's different now and the biggest change that we're seeing is theumber of instances where someone armed with a gun comes into a public place and tries to kill a bunch of people has grown ex fnentially. th.i. began to study this in 2000 and the country used to average aut six incidents a year where someone would come into a public place andl attempt to k someone. in 2017, the last year they did an analysis on it, it was 30
cases in a year. so that's schools, malls, all the places i discussed. there is exponential increase in people showingp these kinds of places and there will come a point where i think the american public demand something be done. robert: amid all of this there was another cabinet shakeup. the president has chosen josephc ire, retired navy admiral, correct of the national enter, torrorism serve as acting director of national intelligence to replace dan coates. the announcement came hours after sue gordon, number two official at the agency, resigned. are members of the intelligent community, nancy, and leaders on capitol hill, concerned about this tumult or not nancy: they're very concerned and the head of the senate intellig,ce committ richard dorr, made it clear he did not want sue g to leave. he had a great deal of confidence in her and it's been very iocortant to dts and republicans alike on capitol hill that the president have an
independent voice at the., d.n someone who will tell him things he doesn't want to hear especially since this ispr a ident that we know does not always believe what he's told by his own intelligent community. so they were very concerned byt reports t she would be forced out. burr did say kind thingsut a mcguire, said he has confidence in his ability to step into the role. i think the thinking is that it could have been worse. robert: we've seen many acting people inside of the administration. is there a cost to having that across the government? nancy: absolutely. especily when you're looking at intelligence officials. one of the reasons we have those public wirings ande go into the background, we get a sense ofow this person would report to the president, what information is going to the decision makers. there are more acting heads for tional security and intelligence offices than ever before. we went several months at the pentagon without a head, as well. and it's troubling for a number
of reasons, also moving into an election year, russian interference will be a bigle pr it's one of the reasons that the nominee that president trump floated, congressman ratcliff, was dismissed in a bipartisan way because they weren't worried about his credentials josh: the president has said he likes acting heads, h thinks they're more pliable and gasier them to do what he wants. historic turnover in this administration, almost double any other president departures. the president doee't seem to b concerned. he named john ratcliff, congressman from texas, to run d.n.i. and says the media does the vetting for me.he names on a sunday in tweet, by friday he drops out and he's on to someo else and there's time after time when disclosures have come out about cabinet secretaries that have been damaging where lawmakers say we're not going to t puts person, confirmed. folks thrown out of office orsi
ed because of trudges -- troubles and it continues. robert: what does this signal to the intelligence community to c have dantes and sue gordon leave at the same time? pierre: some of the career professionals are obviously concerned but when ialked to my sources across the board, they say, look, we have a job to do. w politics at they are but we have threats from al qaeda to the situation with iran to north korea, we can't afford to take our eye off the ball s that is the good news that even though there's disruption at the top, the career people in know they have to get it done. robert: who could the president nominate for d.n.i.? josh: peter hoekstra,r ambassa for the netherlands, fred frye, lton's old guy.
there would be a lot ofce c in the intelligence community about him. the preside h sayse has six to 10 names and he'll be analyzing d.n.i. choicesin and intervi them and claims that after the rat -- ratcliff debacle that he's asking officials wt they think in advance. robert: does this mean that necretary of state pompeo is firmly iontrol along with national security adviser bolton? you have gene haskell who is low profile. nancy: and you have to wonder how long pompeo will stick around if he wants to run for senate in kansas. this reflects the president's long-time frustration with the entire d.n.i. apparatus. he has chafed against the authority of the d.n.i. and soan y he's looking for a way o diminish the role that the directorf national intelligence has. the problem is that anybody who
he nominates, i that person doesn't have the approval of republicans in the senate, it's not going anywhere. so he's realized does need to work with the head of the senate intelligence committee. pierre: whoever he hires, that person will face the pressure from the people doing the work to say these the facts, this is what you need to know aboutnd this threat we will not have it fudged. robert: thanks, everybody. npreciate you being here a friday night. thanks for watching us but next on the "washington week extra," we will talk with reporters from texas and ohio about how those communities in el paso and dayton are w copingh this week. watch it on our website, facebookou orbe. i'm robert costa. have a great weekend.
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