tv Washington Week PBS August 30, 2019 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
♪ robert: storm watch. i'm robert costa, welcome to "washington week." hurricaneorian heads toward florida and p psident tt mp reassures residents his administration is ready president trump: our highest priority is the safety and nsecurity of t peoplehe path of the hurricane. robert: political storms hover. uncertainty other his trade war with china keeps investors. on ed director james comey is back on. followg a watchdog report. and democrats face storms too. as the iowa caucuses a a suddenly challd. next. >> this is "washington week." funding is provided by --
>> kevin. >> advice for life. life well planned. learn more at raymond james.com. >> babbel, a real life language program that teaches a new language such as spanish, em ing, rman, italiaand more. 15-nute 0 to losesons are available as an app or online. more informamaon a babbel.com. >> more funding provided by koo and patricia p yuen, the yuenon foundacommitted to bridging differences in our community. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, moderator robert
costa. robert: president trump will we the weekend at camatp vid to information about hurricane dorian. vice psident pence will go to poland instead. he's still dealing with criticism othan hising of hurricane maria which devastating puerto rico in 2017w here'st president trump said today. president trump: i like the word acting. i think acting is g at. r as i'm concerned, acting, to me is gd. anf i like the people, i make them permanent. actingives you great flexibility you don't have with permanent. rort: joining tonight to shawna thomas, washington bureau chieie for vice news. john harris, founding editor of politico.
vivian salama, editor for the "wall street journal," and times." schear, of "the new york presidents are often tested by storms. what kind of test is hurcane rian for president trump? shawna: i think really what people will be looking for kind of basically what does he tweet over the course of the weekend?e what does h encourage people to do? is he the person who says everyone actually listen to the florida governor, listen to fema, do what they say if you need to get out, get out? is he reiterating that message or is he getting distracted by i others? i think you do want to see in time liblings this some level o consistency from the president. direct hit on florida that can be major devastationon th e are parts of florida, it's not the sam parts, that are still covering from last year's storms. i think what you want to see is that he's focused on making sure fema and everyone else has the resources they need and are ding with they nd. what's what we're hoping for. robert: that's what people are r looking
what about inside the administration where you have many y acting officials? will the president pay a many? cal cost for havavg so >> i would think not unless a pe catastrophe h and the government is seen as failing to respond. as far as the atmphere, it shows how much trump has changed the way we perceive the presidency. ti in conval times you would expect a president of either party to be seen as a unifying force, a reassuring force. highly engaged. this is not a conveional presidency. in se sense, as far as the rics, who cares. asasar as the substance if we have a catastrophe and w might well have ongne, we're g to expect the gth to respond. >> i do think it's worth noting, we spent some time last year with femle w florence was hitting. they he people who have been there for years. they know how to deal with thisr people who have a plan for these things too. robert: but this raises more than tions about
presidential leadership. it also shines a bright light on administration's use of federal money for fema and their move to redirect millions to the borderer "the new york times" reports that democrats have targeted the administration's efforts to transfer more resources to the border, decrying the move as a shift of more than $150illion from fema disaster relief in order to pay for immigration courts. house spker pesi called the decision reckless steal for an inhumane agenda, her words. but president trump remains undaunted. as "the washingtopost" report border fence he's directed aides to fast track billions of dollars in construction contracts, seize private land, ignore trirmente environmental rules an even cpaonsideons for those who run afoul of the law. president trump later denied considering pardons. michael, you're writing a book about immigration and presiden trump. he's going aroun congress. executive order after executive
action. what's next onhisront? is he going to build the wall through executive pow her michael: he's goingo try. the wall has, from before he became president a ercertainlnl oncee took office, has been sort of the totem of this presidency. it is the, you know, the thing he won the presidency and what he wants to accompmpsh with it. he's been incredibly frustrated because it's been the one big prise that he has had so much trouble advancing any real success with. he's certainly prended that he's h success. he talks a lot about how much of the wall has been inbuilt whe fact almost 100% of what has beenbuilt is essentially olds wall tha been essentially rebuilt and repaired. he has made ry little progress on extending the wall any further across the border. and he sees, and ramps, of ently, to his kind internal advisors, the people in
the white house about how frustrated he is thatthis is making him look foolish, undedeining his authority, that it is costing him politically with his bas anou so ynow, part of what we've seen over the last 2 1/2 years is him trying as you said, to do anything he could, executive authority, push the -- one of the reasons that people ar gone from the -- from his administration in these roles that have todo withmmigration are because they stood up to him and id mr. psident, we can't do the things you're saying that you want us to do. it's against the law or it's not practical. and he's become sonfuriated by that that he's pushed them out. robe: what about now? to icel's point, thall money is being redirected from fema disastereliefo border projects, is there pushback inside the administration is or from republicans? shawna: the's a lot, especially with regard to taking away money from fema. the timing is everything.
timing could not have been worse. this president has already been accused repeatedly of neglecting puerto rico. the storm was at's puerto ri doorstep when this announcement came o, c,ldn't be worse timing. the optics not important to him. this is notust about a campaign promise or even an administration promise. this was a a slogan of his rallies, it was a catchphrase chanted back to him by his supporters. for his bas this is one the things they carry signs that say build the wallame l repeat that mexico is going to pay for the wall. it was a defininin feature of te rallies and now we're going into 2020 and we don't see a wall in the way he promised his people. this is something for the president where, cre hell or high water he wants the wall. >> if he economy takes a downturn that'll be the only thing he has to run on heants to build the wall as a backstop for if the economy isn't what it is right now.
robert: we've heard he's consideringardons, he's denied it, saying he isn't considering pardons but he appear to be personally involved in all these negotiations inside the administration on the bder wall, on immigration. is he working with stephen miller? is this a predede who is directing th strategy himself? john: i think this is a president who is directing strate on any subject he cares about and is going to delegate the vast majority of othersu ect he is doesn't care about. if he does, he's going to be invoed. he's going to everrule or can't rah dict things that his own scdms says. 's of course nvolved. because heares. at i would say, it is a huge problem. republicans ran this town. they had not just the pretdey he congress in the first two years. so it's hard to say tt this is democrats. robert: he's lashing out about the wall. he's al lashing out at some former critic, some current critics, and he reignited his feud with former f.b. director
james comey this week after the watchdog issued a scathing report documents how comey violated poly, the investigator said comey broke rules and when -- when he gave an unclassified memo to a friend to share with a reporter. the attorney general has decided not to prosecute comey. what is next? shawna: we'll have t president tweeting about james comey, we'll see something that beth play up.cans and it becomes somewhat of a campaign issue. it was already acampaign iue. basically, what barr decided to do was be like, i'm kindf done th this. the thing is, this stor can be read any way yant. people in trump's camp can say look, he they said he breck the rules. he was f.b.i. director, he left, did not follow his contract.at if youed fox ne last nigh that's what they said. you could also see it based on quotes he gave to the investigator, comey saw himself
as kind of a patriot. if you're on the liberal side, and you're saying he this memo over to someone to give to the "new york times" because he tought everyone needeknow whathe president said, then you can take it and run with that too. i don't think this solves anything or makes anything bhetter clears anythininup. vivian: he isisted he kept the memos in a personal capacity. we may see them retroactivgy classifyhese documents, something that will be a defining thing for the barr j department otice in terms of whether they deal with these protocols. robert: is e-- is the white house keeping an eye on the next report from d.o.j., an investigate by u.s. attorne jo durham about the origin of the russia investigation? you see the president knocking comey along with his alls on fox news. is that report the one the white house is looking for? vivian: the whial house is ys keepingn eye on things. i think for the white house the as the big tw
one ms of whether or not the president would be i any way affected. >> i think one of the side effects of the way trump handled the investigation is the pieces of it, whatever piece you talks about, viewed through right?elns partisan lenses, ow you view jim comey, how you view the other pieces of thisthis almost entirely dependent on how you vw trump. robert: by this the trump d be sayingomey sho i'm exonerated, because there wereo no criminal charges. >> i think comey is all along. a he's n democraocc hero. robert: while those fights trade war cooled down, for now. markets made gaiens when chin officials said they're eager to continue face-to-face ugotiations with the u.s. and president trump also expressed optimism. michael schear asked the
president about hi strategy at the g-7 in france on sunday. smoip that the strategy, to call president oni an enem day and then say negotiations are on going? president trump: the i negotiate, it's done well for me other the years and is doing well for the country. robert: whiplash strategy. are we seeing a truce, a thaw? michael: mkbe. but i thhe point of my question, the revelation in his answer, is tha uncainty is the coin of the realm when it comes to trump and theay he handles a lot of stuff in the presidency but especially the negotiations over trade. so you know, weook to be in a moment of relative calm. the chinese have indicated they want acto come bto the -- come to the table and work on. this the president indicated the same for hi team. yet i don't think any of us that will be the reality a day from now oroa week now or
two weeks from now. i think that uncertainty is what is making everybody concerned. robert: y covered capitol hill, shawna. what about the sumbings mca, will speaker pe pelosi bring thatp for a vot this fall in shawna: speaker pelosi will have some kind of conference call with other democrats. people want to move e rward with the usmca or new nafta, whatever way theetters go, there are majors -- major issues to work through and the democrats don't seem to be budging. the uncertainty, we've tald to a lot of iowa farmers overhe last month. the thing they point out even though they are not willing to ababesint trump, they are conservatives -- robert: t yet. shawna: a couple saidhey're tired of the tweets but they are eaked out because the level of uncertainty. one thing one said to us was if chinadecides really to fully pull out of the american soybean
market, go toul brazil and totally, that kind of thing, they're worried they'll never come back. why would they shift? vivian: that uncertainty comes back to the oval office, i had a story about trump's own closest advisors, including lighthizer and everybody in the white house staff, tell thoipping shift focus to the usmca anda pan trade because they felt china t wasn't goideliver before 2020 and the worried ituld have a negative impact on the economy and he wouldn't getis win. even they feel that's where they should put the eggs now. robert: if he doesn't get the mca, doesn't get a chinaeal, still trying to work on all these fronts what about a u.k. deal? we saw bor? is johnsonuspend parliament. couthbolede of these leaders lo to that ki of deal? john: they might. there's a kinship betweenhe two of them. they've spokene favorably of eah
other. thisr question of uncertainty though, there's a strategy to trump's trade policy t ch, i bieve i can infl more pain on you, a lot more, than you can inflict on me. that's not a bad stregy except when it turnut to be obviously untrue. if all the uncertainty in all these areas, trade, china, thet need nafta, if those start to cause a recession -- to cause recession fears an we're on the erge vergisof that strategy no longer works. rip robert: how much pain can republicans take? can they pressure the white house? john: they can't ake a collaps in the stock market and can't take a collapse in agricultural ates. so not much more pain is the answer. robert: we'll keep an eye on what happens on capitol hill when everyone is back. for noin the summer, all eyes on the democratic race for president. th week 10 democrats qualifie
for the deba in houston, texas. it'll be the first time vice president biden will share the stageagit senator warren. 10 others will tr to stay in the hunt the spite not making the stage. new york senator crirsen jill the race, ed out o all this comes as the political map is redrawn with georgia looking morend more like possible battleground. races in 2020, following the announcement this week by g.o.p. senator johnny isakson that he'll retire at the end of this year due to his health. we wish him the best. when you think about the iowa caucuses, there was big news on friday. you have theemocratic national committee saying, we dent want to have virtual caucuses. ucuses by phone. people should be showing up. they were concerned about the security of that whole pcess. will iowa stil stay first?
>> it appears so. iowa is going to do a caucus, , still going to be the first caucus. eryone is on board with iowa being first and being a caucus. how do they deal with the fact that d.n.c. asked iowa how to make the thing mclore ive. they came back with a panlan, the d.n.c. doesn't sethink it's re enough which makes sense after 2016, but there's a real question of if you can't get there, if you have to work is the iowa caucus processta represve? are they going to be able ton time left, figure a way to make it secure enough so people can figure out tother wa participate? they say they're committed to looking into that but i'm not sure there's enough time to figure it out. >> the time is the problem. presidential campaigns are built around strategies of turnout and especially at a caucus, how do you -- each candidate will have so of -- try f to determi themselves what is thlveir best
u know, path to winning by turning out certain groups, certain amounts of people, baback obama, when hwas there, tried to vastly expand the number of people who actually that benefited him. but you know, to the extend that the process is scrambled foa long period of time so the what's the universef people that they're likely to be working with, oat's going make it difficult for all the campaigns to figure out. >> if thed stands iowa, inclusive, we can answer the than new hampshire. is if you start having this discussion you can't go very far down it. there'so justification for unrepresentative small states to have theirze outroleexcept that they're very intimate, except that aorn effby a ic paar candidacy that otherwise wouldn't get noticed can somehow penetrate in small i think it puts the wh ole logic mind these states in a harsh light. robert: inside the white house,
when they look at vice president biden a struggliit this week as he respended to "washington post" report about how hoe h w told aar story in hi encounter with d ferent u.s. military personnel they see senator warren , riat's on their radar? vivian: it's all on their radar. elizabeth warren and bernie sanders are on their radar oa coup others pop up but for the most part they're not too worried about them. the white house bieves it's too early. but they're watching and collecting a.m. moe with every gaffe that happens an every internal dispute thatut happens between the democrats. robert: vice sat down with senator sanders. what about senator sanders? is he in the race? shawna: he is in this race. weere in kentucky and we were in pennsylvania, he had a big crowd in chi he got hi first union endorsement in pennsylvania and pittsburgh.
sort o joe biden's scranton backyard. but the interesting thing is elizabeth landers, our correspondent, pushed him on tho id how do you dimpshate yourself from elizabeth w wren. he refused to really, one, go after elizabeth warren which i kind of understand, but really give us a clear answer of how he's different. at a certain point he t tned it baba on our correspondent and said hey, that's a mediaes on. no one is asking that people have asked him that, people inb have asked him that, other than thehe media. we'll see if next week's debate is that pointnt, at some p he'll have to say why his plans are different than hers and what can he articulate that makes him better than her.it ay be a all eyes are on what he does etweelizabeth warren and bernie sanders but at some point who are you in comparison. >> sometimes it's not just about what you do as a candidate but how the map changes.
georgia, a real state for 2020. stacey abrams, the former state minority lear, says she won't n forenate but georgia, the atlanta suburbs, perhapsa competitive battleground. >> i think part of that is rereflection of the knoll low-on effects of the 2016 campaign which scrambled the map in a lot of ways. upended the traditional thinking abouthat. but it's also changing demographics in the country. when i started as a yng report for the virginia, for example, 20, 25 years ago, ait w solidly -- a solidly red constituent where democrats dn't think of competing. used to call it a purple s ste, i think maybe it'ssolidly blue in some ways, depending on the time. think these things do change. one of the tests for both political parties is whether they can adapt by finding candidates to run. stacey abms a big disappointment to theatemocrara he isn't going to run. can you find the candidates to
run? can you mount successful campaigns in a state you don't a have a lot of experience? shawna the trumpn campa keeping an eye on this and beefing up their n states that are purple. robert: which states are they looking at? shawna: wisconsin is a big one. you guys help me out. robe: a congressman from wisconsin is retiring. gn is : the trump camp pouring money and resources into those states. robert: what abo senator gillibrand's exit from the case? is this just the first ast becomes t rder and harder to make the debate stage? john: sure. the good news is we only have one debate.te michael: it's welcome in tagms of cov for reporters. ere's grumblingut the d.n.c. rules that are somewhat ultimately, voters can't decide
among 20 people. so i welcome it. but it is going to -- one bate, it's going to be or three hours. itl be like watching the jerry lewis telethon. we're finalal seeing so fluidity. look bacver thummer. we haven't seen that much fluidity. a lot has happened, but not a lot has changed. as summer turns to fall, the structure oisthe race changing. shawna: think in some ways the idea that the date rule were not explained well enough, they're not fair, the thing is, there had toe some kind of there were a lot of candidates. the d.n.c., iinemember rviewing someone at the d.n.c. earlier this year, the said they were trying to be transparent. i asked who their list o of candidates was that were running and they wouldn't give me that because ey didn't want to seem like they were putting a thumb h on the scales.
if you can't get 2% and can't get a certain amount of donors -- you're not competing. john: the magic thing about democracy i thi country, you can't plan it out. set up a process that theye h will come forward with a certain number of candidate. you end up withsteve bulck off, arew yang on and that's the way democracy works. robert: that's the way docracy works and that's all for tonight. thanks everybody for being heref on ay night. on the "washgton week" extra, weal discs climate change d the implications for the amazon. watch it on the website, facebook, or youtube. have a great labor day weekend. ♪
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