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tv   Frontline  PBS  October 22, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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at the hangar there. the trump rally, just about to start.us >> a>>ally for donald trump is about to...ve >> air one is livethe trump rally, and... >> you know, we'd be on the plane, and he'd say, "is tonight the night fo snake?'" >> ...frontrunner about to speak to a big... ternal discussion, which would last about ten seconds, and we'd either say "yes" or "no." and he'd say, "i'll put it i the pocket, if iant it, i'll take it out." now, has anyone ever heard, has anyone ever heard "the snake," that i read every once in a while? i can do it if you'd like. should i do it or not? should i? ah. h
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>> aused that analogy, very much for the issue of immigration. >> on her way to work one g morning down the path ale lake, a tend-hearted woman saw a poor, half-frozen snake. (crowd murmuring) "take me in, oh tender woman, aktake me in, for heaven's take me in, oh tender woman," sighed the broken snake. she wrapped him up all cozy in a curvure of silk and then lai him by the fireside with somene and some milk. now she stroked his pretty skin, and then she kissed him and held him tight. but instead of saying, "thank s you," thke gave her a
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vicious bite. (cheers and applse) (handcuffs locking (siren blaring) "i saved youi saved yo i saved you," cried that woman. "and you've bit me, heavens, why? you know your bite is poisonous and now ing to die." >> the woman's answer is, "well, why would you do this to me?"i' and he said, "wella snake, righ and so you brought me into your home, and it's hard to believet that you didow what i was. i'm a professional killer, right? just because you brought me in,s doesn't mean it going to ultimately revert back to my basic form." >> "oh, shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin. "you knew damn well i was aou snake beforeook me in." (cheerand applause)
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>> he tapped into something in a very profound way that, that ben to redefine the debate in the political year of 2016, and, and continues to redene the, the politics of the country today. >> narrator: how donald trump came to use resentment over immigration as a pitical weapon is a central defining aspe of his presidency. unlily o osiders to orm three e republican party, make trump president, and introduce a harsh new approach to immigration-- zero tolerance. ♪ >> frontline is made possible bl contributions to your pbs statiofrom viewers like you. thank you. and by the corration for
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public broadcasting. major support is provided d thn john d. and catht. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org. the ford foundation: working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide.or at fordfoundatio additional support is provided the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in journalism. the rk foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues.e hn and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy jourlism that informs and ininires. an the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagle and additional support from koo and patricia yuen, through the yu foundation.
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>> amerie country makes , history again, doubling down on orhope and barack obama... >> narrator: the story begins in 20. b >> romney was the wors ndcae.at >> we didn't lose this election by..hat much, especially whe >> narrar: ...set off a soul-searching by the republican establishment. >>ome states like wisconsi and pennsylvania were looking attractive in the closing days. >> narrator: but for a smallt group of hard-ri conservatives, the defeat was a call to arms. >> on what basis are y saying that? he g h clock cleaned. >> narrator: their unlikely headquartersas in this capitol hill townhouse. >> ...has been reelected... >> president obama is back at the white house...rt >> the breitmbassy is really nothing more than a rented townhouse. d that is the center of operations for the organization known as basitbart. >>arrator: the provocative hard-right website breitbart. filmmaker, and polemicist-- was, its leader. >> we called this place the embassy for the simple reason that we thought we were in an embassy in a foreignapital, that this was owned and run by
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the permanent thlitical class. >> narrator: bannon pushed "seitbart into what was known as -mmash couthagov >> said, "let's attack the real enemy, and the real enemy's the republican establishment. what we're going to do is just go after the house leadership,g we're go go after the mitch mcconnells, we're going to go after the donors. we're just going to go hard at kind of this paul ryan philosophy." eitbart figured they had a wedge issue that could help them establishment-- immigran >> we spent a lot more time talking to the public than we spent talking to the elite. ba >> narrator: bre's incendiary message boards proved the point. >> illegals kill 12-plus people a day in this country. >> torturous, murderous, rapists. this president calls themam 'dreers'. aliens.rt all of the illegal >>mmigration to republicanby voters mile, it's the number-o issue, even ahead of tax cuts. inor the first time eaimmigration-reform deal may... a possible deal on
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immigration reform is now... >> narrator: but the republican establishment was going completely the other way on migration. >> today, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a plan... >> now, republicans an democrats set to announce a major compromise surrounding immigration. >> narrator: they formed anan al with democrats to support immigratreform. >> (eaking spanish): >> narrator: republican marco rubio took the lead as the face of bipartisan immigration reform. >> the political class was sure going to be like falli awas log. >> (speaking spanish): >>verybody understood that there was an opening, a political opening, because republans were ready to come to the conversation. ♪ >> narrator: even on foxews, support for the softer immigration approach. 100% fox news was pedal to the metal to get this amnesty bill passed. ♪
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>> i want to give tobio credit, because he's talking intelligently about a rational, effective, humane response to the issue. >> we're going to work with our colleagues to get something responsible done that's fair but also responsnsle. >> i like your program, i think it's fair. so, i want you and presidentsi obama get on the phone and get this thing so it doesn't turn into a bloody mess. show together.uld come on this >> absolutely... >> and even people like sean hannity went on the air andin said, "we need to reour position on immigration. i was wrong to take such a hard line on, on immigration."e >> you cate a pathway for those people that e here, you men't say, "you got to go and at i've evolved on.tion >> narrator: hannity even invited a well-known reality tv star onto his show. >> i think it's getting very to>>h to win as a republican. look, they lost on immigration. they're going to have to do something on immigration. because, younow, our country is a different place than it was 50 years ago. so we'll see what happens. >> narrator: in e face of all that... >> the politics swirling around the possibility of... >> narrator: steve bnon andbr
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eitbart found themselves in the political wilderness. >> more republicans are now changing their snce... >> narrator: bannon decided to he invited two of his t allies to the embassy for a war council. >> stephen miller and jeff sessions and myself had a dinner in this very room. >> bannon ordered from dean and deluca steaks,nd they drank aan lot, andhey ate a lot, and they talked long into the evening. >> and the three of them, these are sort of, at the time, especially, people on the fringe of what you would consider the sort of republican party. >> i mean, jeff sessions, when he was in the senate, was always on the outer fringes of thene republican partyr even by the hardliners with theeven republican party. >> sessions' shop was the leaders, the intellectualba bone of the immigration fight. it came from jeff sessions' office, it came from senator sessions himself, and miller ate his right hand. >> narrator: 27-year-old stephen miller was sessions' communications director. >> you had a vocal press
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secretary in his 20s for a back-bench senator from alab as far from power as you could get in washington athat time.. >> narrator: the three outsiders shared a belief america was immigrants into the country. they were determined to do something about it. >> they were very ambitious and the, the message right, that this might all fall into place. >> narrato that night in 2013 at the breitbart embassy, they talked about how to politicize immigration. >> the one and two issues will be immigtion and tde. and that will be focused on rkers, right? and we're going to remake the republican party. >> narrator: miller would had le the details of their grand design, a policy behind the politics: fortress america. >> the world according to miller would be a world of walls.s millerrestrictionist. he wants to have restricted entry for legal immigration as
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well as s legal immigration. >> narrator: butn order to make it happen, they would first have to stop immigration reform and take down the g.o.p.is estaent. >> if you were sitting there that night, the audaciouess of what they were plotting was, uh, s astonishinin and you wouldn't have given them much chance of success. >> the senate passedweeping immigration reform in an historic... >>he bill by the gang of eight passed today... >> nartor: as the bipartisan bill passed the senate andnd headed to the house, thehe insurgenen had to act.ow >> miller knewashington worked and undrkstands the way levers get pulled in washington, and how to push an agenda through that was an anti-establishment-type agenda. >> narrator: miller had an outletet bannon's brtbart. it was a formidable asliance.se >>ssions: immigration bill will 'hammer' americans." "sessions comes out swinging against secrive house immigration iosh "sessions: breitbart doing 'great work' getting truth out
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about immigration bill." >> they flooded the zone i mean, there's a, that's anes sential thing to do if you're going to get movement, especially on an issue like immigration, whehe all of the organized interest groups ar on one side. >> well, immigration reform finallhappened. >> for the first time in years... >> narrator: with immigration front and center, the insuents planned a show of force in the upcoming midterm elections. d >> what ided they need to do was to find an example of someonthey could take down in the republican establishment. and when they looked around, the moguy that theatthought wa vulnerable was eric cantor, the housmajority leader.jo >> narrator: majority leadere cantor-- one of st porful members of the ing challenged in his primarys by an unknown collegprofessor. >> my name is dave brat, and i' a lifelong republid conservative. >> narrator: polls showed brat more tn 30 points behind cantor. but bannon saw opportunity.
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>> i, he definitely knew it was coming, that also happed to be my home district, bui could feel it. i knew that, that a guy ke brat could... they were, they were very ak. >> i will fight to stop amnesty illegal immiants... >> narrator: following bannon's lead, brat w nld use immigration against cantor. >> cantor, can you believe this guy, can you believe ryan? narrator: breitbart swu behind braya- hard. >> eric cantor, he's all in for amnesty. >> narrator: they set the agenda for right-wing radio. >> you're a coward, eric cantor, you only... >> eric cantor, who wants amnesty; paul ryan, who i called a phony... >> anything that became talking points on conservative radio were coming from stephen and put on breba. and you had a transformation, where conservative radio hosts weren't clicking on drudgen reportat to say, they were clicking on breitbart. >> there's a story on breitbarti "repn national committee declares war on..." >> what are republicans getting out of ec cantor being house majority leader? i'm not sure. >> and with that, i want to pass the baton to senator jeff sessions... >> narrator: the insurgents roll out their big guns for brat: sessions. >> that's worthy of patrick henry.ar tor: and steve miller'sr:
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ally... >> if eric cantor is reelected, heaven forbid...>> alk-radio celebrity laura ingraham. >> there's a good chance we'll have amnes by the end of the year. >> eric cantor is definitely in trouble ininis district.>> f da brat here can get a big turnout, he's going to, he's going to make a difference... >> narrator: they'd thrown everything they could at cantors >> eric cantor'sict, let's send a real message... >> narrator: and on election night, the republicanor estaishment was in shock. >> history-making upset, house majority leader eric cantor lost... >> this is a seismic shift. narrator: cantor was defefeed. >> that took all of thebl eshment figures... >> and then we took him down. we took down cantor with dave brat. weook the, first time in t history of the republic that a sitting majority leader had ever been beaten. >> it is a stunning nnset. >> all of them were broadsided by this victory ofave brat's. >> (chuckles) at steve bannon always uses? "the hobbits revolted."evwo you kn, the hobbit uin the shire.th people want a new republican.. party withwiresh fac >> narrator: repubepcans got the message. the bipartisan immigration bill
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was dead. >> i knew that night when i heard. i was talking to my republic... they were basically, "there's no reason for us to talk anymore. this is not goinanywhere." >> house majority leader eric cantor's defeat is the end of immigration reform. >> de brat proved is issue moves votes, in terms of republicans getting off the then-popular immigration bills. it waso question, it was a turning point on the immigration >> the g.o.p. infighti escalating.la >> not only does brat's victory confirm that...ar >>tor: two of the insurgents' seemingly impossible goals had been accomplished-- cantor was oututand so was the immigration bill. >> a hope of an immigration-reform bill is dead. >> narrator: now they would concentrate on finding a candidate for the presidency of e united states. >> ...legislative priority for decades... >> narrator: bannon had beens. looking for ye >> we had palin in '08 and hoped that she'd run in '12. >> well, i'm not a member of the
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permanent politicalpe >> you know, she, it just didn't work out.ha >> tt is not our destiny. >> i actually worked with loubb to run in '12, aa populist.a p >> that on trevious polies, if they were... >> i actually tried to talk sessions into doing it. and sessionsoes, he turns to me and goes, "it's not me. i'm not going to do it." he says. "but our guy will com ong.ur we'll finduy." and that guy, a couple of years trump. turned out to be donald >> the house majority leader has lost to his...ma >> narrator: iattan, donald trump had watched the cantor defeat.gr nohe believed imation as eran issue was a dragon-sl >> "trump said he thinks cantor's amazing loss can be traced to his stance on immigration policy." >> narrator: while bannon and breitbart ucated tru from the outside, tmp adviser samro nunberg workedthe inside. >>unberg had realized thatue this if immigration has real salience with repubcanasey
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codn't get trump to stay on topic-- famously short attention span. and so sam nunberg camup with this idea, essentially a mnemonic device to keep trump focused on the issue of immigration. >> so, i said, "well, why don't we say you're going to build a wall, because it's bigger. you're going to build a wall.an you'll, like, and you'll get mexico to pay for it." >> narrator: trump took it on the road, testing out different versions of the line.o >> we haveild a fence. and it's got to a beauty. who can build better than trumpa i build; it's what i do. >> he said it in iowa that day. and the crowd went nuts. you cawatch it. the crowd went nuts. >> if i run, i will tell you, e king of building buildings, the king of building walls,dy noanuild them like trump-- that i can promise you. i can promise you at.th >> he said to me, "you know what, i'm talking out immigration, feel it. sam, this is a movement. this is a movement.
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they get it-- they get it." d >> narrator: he had founhis issue, and now donald trump had an announcement to make. >> the key momt is coming down the escalator. and i'm sitting there watcng. we have five people up at trump tower.we ave boyle leading an entire team.to we got walall coverage. >> when mexico sends its peopleh they're not seing r best. they're not sending you. they're not seing you. they're sending people that have lots of problele, and they'r bringing those problems with us. >>hen he starts doing theer he-top stuff, and i go, i said, "you watch, , ey're, they're going to bite hard, anto th're going to bite hard a blow this up." >> they're bringing drugs, they're e inging crimethey're rapists, and some, i assume,e, are good people. >> oh, my god. i said, this is, i said, "he's just burieevery... they're going to go nuts. cnn is literally going to broadcast 24 hours a day." >> donald trump's comment about controversy nationwide created >> donald trump's comments have
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triggered outrage... >> trump not backing downfr om his ctroversial, some say racist, langge. >> i was waiting for trump to take it back and say, "oh, no, no, i didn't mean that mexico's sending rapists; they're sending rhrhes scholars, they're so much better than we are." and damn if he never took it back. so i had to say, "okay, i'm for, i'm for this guy." >> annwhich republican candidate has the best chance of winning the general election? >> of the declared ones, rightal now, dtrump. (audience laughing) (audience cheering) >> narrator: bannon had his candidate: one who understood the politics of csmigration. >> i sai "this is our guy. he's a very imperfect instrument, but he's a armor-piercinghell." ("sweet home alabama" playing) i tell the guys, "he's going to go through this thing like a scythe through grass." >> narrator: the insurgents would throw their weight behind the candidate.
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bannon would push the trumpba message from breit.m and they gave himething else-- an essential enrsement from a sitting united states senator.>> want to just introduce you to him for a second, senator jeff sessions.in >> cer, if you're an unconventional outsider candidate like donald tronp, you actually do want some people who are part of the system.. >> wow. what a crowd thi tis! >> ...to validate your legitimacy. and that was jeff sessions' most important role in the success of president trump. >> at this time in americans'ke eat again!e need to merica >> narrator: also steppingut for trump, another one of the insurgents. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome ththsenior policyvi r for mr. trump, mr. steve miller. >> how's everybody doing
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tonight? >> he was the one who would get up there before trump came in te spk and sort of rile up th crowd. >> donald j. trump is going to t secu border, and he's going totouild that wall. (cheers)wo >> hd have this magic effect on the crowd. and the crowd is loving it. and i was, like, "who is that guy?" that's the oneho brings the crazy." >> are you ready to vote for a policy that puts americansrs and are yoready, are you ready, texas, to vtoe for donalu j.? (cheers) n >>arrator: miller got close to trump... >> we will build a gldat wallso along uthern border... >> narrator: ...jotting ideas. ewall?'s going to pay for the >> mexico! >> narrator: ...keeping track of the musings... >> anyone who legally crosses the border will be detained. >> narrator: ...stoking the anger... >> he's going to dri the cars over thellegals. >> narrator: ...writing th fragments at became the >> zero tolerance for criminal
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iens. zero, zero. t >> polls were brutal for donald trump. clinton leading in every single national poll... the campaign was in trouble.st, >> ...showhat clinton now has double-digit lead over trump, 46... >> nationally, he's down bye largrgins in swing states. >> trump is down in national polls... >> narrator: then bannon got a call from the candidate. >> breaking news this morning, donald trumps changing his campaign's... >> ...installing firebrand conservative breitbart news boss steven bannon as chief executive... >> he has a brand-new campaign narrator: now all three. insurgents were athe epicenter, with direct access to a candidate who would use their immigration message as a political weapon. >> i remember riding on the campaign plane with sessions, stephen miller, steve bannon. d and they suddenly is vessel in donald trump, and they were giddy.th mean were really excited, like, "this is our
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moment, this is our historical ment." >> the decision desk has called pennsylvania for donald trum ght, it all paid off. >> this means that donald trump will be the 45th president of the united states. >> trump's victory, after having run on this anti-immigrant message, had precisely the effect that bannon and sessions had hoped for threyears earlier, when they first sat in the breitbart embassy. it elevated immigration to theto forefront of the repubcanub party. >> narrator: fox news had also received the message. now they were all in with trump on immigration. >> you want to know what this election was about? look at america's open borders, tht're a mess, and they're secure. >> a weak federal government has allowed immigration in america to become a nationalon scandal. >> he's going to move very quickly on the immigration priorities that helped get him elected. >> fox news saw that the repupuican party had been
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changeby donald trump.imgrn watd laura iraham and sean hanny and otrs would hammer that night in, night out. >> i, donald john trump, do solemnly swear...>> arrator: steve bannon was put at the top of the food chain as trump's chief strategist; stephen miller, senior adviserdv to the president; and jeff sessions was given one of the most powerful jobs in the cabinet-- attorney general. >> all of a sudden, they're three of the most powerful people in thcountry. (canno firing) o >> narrator:the wall in his war room at the west wing, bannon created an immigration action plan.n. >> i s sd, "all have to do is flood the zone. every day we hit them with three things, bang, bang, bang these guys will never, will never be able to recover.ar but we got to with muzzle velocity." >> narrator: the muzzleer
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velocity-- as of harsh government to build a wall, to detain, to deport, to prosecute. s >> this was llactic. all that political wind at your baba after winning an election, just, you know, "hit them big, hit them hard." >> ...opportunity for him to meet with his secretary of defense, james mattis... >> narrator: immediately, trumpa ed outrage, delivering part of what bannon called theirlipp "shock and aweach." >> "protection of the nation om foreign terrorists' ery into the united states."." it's big stuff. >> narrator: it was known as the ople from seven predominantlyto muslim countries. >> a scene of outrage atfk airport in new york, wre... >> protests all across the country, reaction from around the world... >> now protests, outrage, and backlash... >> and immediately, chaos
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ensues.ed ere are protesters at the airports, uh, people are getting detained left and right. >> seattle police actually dispersed some crowds with pepper spray. >> narrator: watching the chaos on television, republican congressman charlie dent called white hoe staffer ben howard. >> i said, "ben, you know, was this thing run by the department of defense?" and he said, "well, no." s "how abote?" "no, no." "homeland security?"?" "well, eh, sort of." e "justice?" "eh..." and i said, "well," i said, "well, so who did this?" " he sailler."er d i said, "well, who the hell's miller?" i didn't know who stephen miller said, "who's miller?" and he said, he said, "i don't want to get into it." >> narrator: at the white house, they knew who stephen millerwa and a faction there wanted to keep him as far away from theid prt as possible. >> you had the, the bannon/miller/sessions faction, and then you had the the gary cohns, jared kushner, ivanka trump, reince priebus, and others. >> we had the two camps start to kind of disrupters, polist,e the
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nationalist campmpin and then everyeventually became a knife fight shortly thereafter. >> narrator: after the travel-ban backlh, bannon'str stack of harsh execucuve orders was put on hd. his opponents in the west wingpo were gaining ground with the president. >> whye surrounded houself by people actively opposed to his agenda-- why he d that, who knows? who knows? he has surrounded himself with pele who disagree with him why did he hire his kids? could be narcissism- "they love me for me!" who knows? al>> you're supposed to rely push hard the first 100 days. at is going on? what are they waiting for? >> the things you elected trump to do don't seem to be happening. >> narrator: bannon d miller nted to make sure a toug stance on immigration stayed on the agenda. they wou look up pennsylvania avenue to the department of justice, where jeff sessions was
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the boss. >> jeff sessions is the nerve center of the trump administration anti-immigration agenda. and sessions wasteno time once he takes over at, at d.o.j., pretty systematically retooling the asylum system. >> he's working on sanctuary cities. to starve cities of fuout a way and he's also working on what arfbasically the beginningsba the zero-tolerance policy. s>> narrator: the insurge placed dozens of allies thughout the government. en many of them sessions' formerr senate staffs. he hired to work with him inside the justice department knew how to work that system. ly they worked it end often, and they used their power over immigration in ways we have notn seen for aation or more. >> narrator: they began checkini off the boxe >> what sessions is doing simultaneously is, he iss me se that there are no impediments to mass deportation.
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>> narrator: but jeff sessions had a big problem. >> this is an nbc news special report--ere's lester holt.st >> good afternoon from new york. we're coming on the air to brin yows conferencfrom... >> narrator: the russia investigation-- run by his own justice department-- was encircling the trump white house and the president hielf. >> i have e w decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any w to the campaigns for president of the united stes. thank you all, take care. >> we're watching tv on air force one. and the president was very upset, because he fe like he was being abandoned. and trump is very angry, very frustrated, and jeff sessis and donald trump's relationship was never the th after that. >> narrator: it wasn't long before trump crufronted sessions at the white house. >> president trump just bera.s jeff sessions. sessions is humiliated. i mean, he's td people it was
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one of the low points of his professional career. i mean, he's just completely dressed down. >> narrator: the grand design was in peril. sessions w preparing to resign. steve bannon reacted. >> i said, "you we there from the beginning." i said, "you rode shotgun with me the entire time." goes, "yep." i said, "is there any doubt in your mind that this was divineid prce that put us here? right? that this just didn't happen, that this, something's, sosething's worked here, bec he's a very imperfect instrunt, but we're here."id i "and you're never going to quit?"ui he ss, "i will never quit." i go, "no matt how bad it gets?" he goes, "i'll never quit." to the justice department toed redouble his efforts on immigration. >> it was the only place, pretty much, that anything was being done on trump's promises. so it was really fun to watch trump humiliating sessions every day on twitter-- the one guy keeping your promises. >> trump has continued to rage against ssions for his decision...de >> pre trump today lashing
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out on twitter once again... >> nrator: at the d.o.j., sessions was quietly laying the groundwork for a big move. he wanted to roll back an obama-era policy known as daca-- protections r undocumented immigrants who had come to america as children. >> daca is a recognition and a realization that when somebody comes here as a child, they're brought here not of their own choice. and we should recognize and acknowledge that ande compassionate toward those people. >> narrator: they were called "damers." but to sessions and his allies, daca w w an amnesty that sent the wrong message.ne amnesty, it begets more and more... more and more illegal aliens to pour in, as every country that's ever tried an amnesty has discovered, and nevenedone it again. >> narrator: miller and bannon needed the president to ree to end daca. but at his first press conference, they realized theyd. >>d a prob
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ou yha immigration. what is your plan?do tolaouti cn gth >> we'ng to show great heart. daca icaa very, very difficult subject for me, i will tell u. to me, it's one of the most difficult subjects i have, because you have tse incredible kids. you know, i love these kids, i love kids, i have kids and grandkids. thank you very much. >> it became clear that he was really waffling on daca. and bannon was gting really worried that this was actually becoming a problem, that trump was not moving quickly to end it. and heas actually seeming to be ructant to do it at all. >> narrator: bannon swung intoac on. he reach out to a risi star from the hard right-- kansas secretary of state kris kobach. >> steve bannon and stephen miller wanted to see movement on the daca issue, wanted to see it rescinded.sa >> banno to him, "you, you got to have a way that we can, that we can kind of force this issue on daca >> narrator: the idea was to box trump in.
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kobach would use ten conservative state attorneys general. >> what kobach and the attorney generals wanteto do was to get this up at the, at the rightig level. and i think that's why the texas a.g. took the lead, wrote a very powerful letter. >> narrator: the letter was a threat-- legal action againstni the trump adration if they didn't stop daca. >> and so, i thi that was important piece of the puzzle, or an important shift in thend ape that helped, uh, move thadministration. >> all right, well, a major deadline for the trump justice department looming early nex month... >> that is when texas and nine another states plan sue the administration... t >> narrato letter worked. trump relented. sessions delivered the news. >> good morning. m here today to announce that the program known as daca that s effectuated under the obama administrati is being rescinded. >> jeff sessions makes it pretty clclr they will, in fact, be moving to possibly deport, um,o thousands of people re brought to this country as young
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children and who know no other home but america. >> thank you very much.a >> it'etty devastating blow to about 800,000 dreamers... >> protests erupting nationwide afthe trp... >> major change in immigration policy announced today... >> and immediately, it's like a bomb goes off in washington. >> immigrants are welcome here!r >> what thident called a case of heart now sparking emotional protests all over the country. >> can't go back home. they can't send me g back ho, because this is my hom >> as the community prayed over them, some broke down in tears. they were all da recipients now filled... >> protesters storming major cities all across the country... >> outrage after the trump... >> ...decision impacting nearly 800,000 peop... >> narrator: as the negative coverage hammered the president, he made a political calculation. he backed off.li >> "does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people whe have jobs, some serving in the miry? really!" (tweets) >> narrator: to the insurgents, it seemed like they had lost th.
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>> yet another bombshell. >> narrator: their enemies were on the rise. >> m trump's controversial chief strategist forced out... >> narrator: after seven months, steve bannon was out. >> how does trump think he can get rid of bannon? wasn't bannon the guy that got trump elected? o r time, more and more bushies arrived. so more and more people who were from, from the swamp, w had long resumés, and wered plugto positions of, of importance and significance. in part and parcel, it's, it's the reason for why i left the white house. it may be the reason fororhyst e left the white house when he did.. >> president trump holding a t critical meetiay with lawmakers. >> meeting over at the white houstoday... >> nartor: with thinsurgents weakened, trump improvised. they watched what theyed nsid mind-boggling event. congressional leaders--cr including des-- were invited to make a deal that could prott the dreamers. >> here we are in the cabinet room, and i come in and
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notice, to my surprise, that myi name plaright next tnethe president of the united states, uh, i was not a closnd of this president. >> narrator: t president shocked the entire room when he allowed the cameras to stay for so now we have the press giving live coverage for this meeting. >> i think we're goingo come up with an answer. i hope we're goi to come up with an aner for daca, and then we go further than that later on down the road. dick, perhaps you'd like to say a few words? >> there is a see of urgencyan that's felt byof us when it comes to this issue. 1,000 a day will lose dacaot tion.. 900 of tm are members of the 20,000 of them are school teachers. lives are hanging in the balance of our getting the job done. >> i agree witthat, dick. i very much agree with that. >> and the president is referring to me as dick all the time. and i'm thinking, you know, "i, i guess i'm his friend at this point." >> narrator: on television, the a deal, have an agreement toke save daca.ro >> when this comes back,
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hopefully with an agreement-- thisisroup and others, from the senate, from the house-- comes back with an agreement, i'm siing it. i mean, i will be signing it. >> senator feinstein almost cat believe it. ery democrat sitting on the edge of their seat in that room, wondering, "is the president party d cut a deal?"his own >> i'd like to ask the question: what about a clean daca bi now, with a commitment that we go into comprehensive immigration-reform procedure?h, >> have no problem... i think that's basically whaha dick is saying. we're going totoome up with'r daca, going do daca, and then we can start immediately on the phase two, vewhich would be comprehen >> would you be agreeable to th? >> yeah, i would like, i would like to... >> he starts to actually get way tebeyond where, certainly,en miller, but a lot of hisse ad are on the substance of what t deal would look like. >>'t'll take the heat, i don care. i don't care. i'll take all the heat you want to give me, and i'll take the heat off both the democrats and the repuicans.
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my whole life has been heat. i like heat, in a certain way. >> it was, uh, it was disconcerting. and i did have my head imy hands. but i've had that a lot in listening to the president.gu he is the kind owho, at least rhetorically, is, isoing to be prone to just giving away the store, which is why even mccarthy, who's kind of a squish on all of these things, immediately piped up. >> mr. president, you need to i think-- i think enator feinstein is asking here, when we talk about just daca, we don't want to be back here two years later. you have to have surity, as the secretary would tell you. >> but i think that's what she's ay>> no, no, i think she'sg something different. hardliners, it was a rrtion that the president could not be trusted. , >> it seems, i thirfectly apparent to me, and anyone else who observes this president, he, he's impulsive, um, he says things off the top of his head. he, um, bears the impression of, like a couchbears the impression of the last person
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who sat on him. um, it's just, whoever gave himr the last piece of advice, he goes out and says it. >> i think i really agree with dick. i think it'll happen. >> thank you all. >> i hope we gave you engh material. >> in an unusual move, cameras were rolling for nearly an hour >> the president actually seemed open to comphensive immigration reform. >> narrator: just two days later, senators dick durbin and lindsey graham were ready y deliver the deal trump askal for. >> it included a future fort daca and dreamers,so included money for his wall. i mean, it really was what hed ked for. >> narrator: durbin let the white house know. >> within minutes, the president calls back. hat can i do for you, senator?" "well, senator graham and i have a bill." he said, "od." >> nartor: the predent said he wted to meet with the two senators that day. >> i found that incredible. i couldn't believe i could ever get in tsee a president in short order like that. >> narrator: miller d to move quickly. >> one of miller's talents was spinning the president u he was constantly handing him,
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you know, statistics and numbera anrs and links to breitbart, links to fox news clips. >> narrator: milles allies in the right-wing mediaounded the alarm. >> ...do not include a wall, a real wall... >> you know, they're all giggling that he's getting rolled. >>arrator: talk radio turned up the volume.s >> t the only thing that donald trump can do to possibly derail himself.th >> this is the end oroad for the republican party. >> all of the right-wing media figures who championed trump are losing tir minds, because all of a sudden, everything trp said during the campaign s sms like it's up for debate, that he's willing to trade, trade all of his campaign promises away as bartering chips. >> he shouldn't talk about migration unless stephen >> narrator: senators durbin and graham arrived at the white house with their deal in hand. >> while there waiting in the west wing lobby, all of a sudden the doors open, and other peoplr coming in. tom cotton, very, very conservative. he has said publicly that, you know, "the dream act is a
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nonstarter david perdue, same thing, he walks through the door. th the's bob goodlatte, who's the republican chairman of the house judiciary committee.an than stephen miller walks in, and before they know it, they're all in the oval fice, uh, all together. re that the room is filledmakes with immigration hardliners. h >> they're there to represent a position that they feel strongly about, which is, frankly, much closer to president trump's position. >> well, things went south in a hurry. could tell that the presidentou i spoke to two hours before, and the one two da before, who had ininted us to come by, uh, had changed dramatically. and now he was opposed to everyt part o and that's when a lot of the profanity started flying. >> and the president was already in an unhappy mood, because he kept reviewing all this migrant data from miller. and he just erupts. it's gone from a chummy chat
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with the senators on camera, it's gone from cordial rapport with senator feinstein, to vulgarity in front of senator duduin and others. >> narrator: the vulgarity stunned the room.sa >> he essentiall, "why do we want all these people from shithole countries?" at which point, everyone kind of stops. >> he esn't want people from haiti or from africa, countri s that he refers to as "shithole countries." he says he wants people from norway. and it's, it's impossible to ignore tt the people he's talking about as, as undesirable arle of color and black people. >> people will not come in to our country... >> and it's jaw-dropping, as he went through this long litany of grievances had against immigrants in this country, particularly those from what he referred to as "shithole countries." and all the while, stephen miller, once again, standing at the perimeter of the room, listening to that comment, andnd
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he knows that it'sission accomplished-- he's done what he, he wanted to do. >> we are going to sp... >> narrator: the immigration hardliners had won. there would be no daca deal. the fate of the dreamers wouldlh be in the hands of the courts. ♪ >> a weeago, central americans crosd from guatemala into mexico... >> 11,000 centl american immiants... >> narrator: now, in the spring of 2018, from the justice department, sessions and milr would raise the ante. it was time to crack down on the border. >> they wanted to send a deterrent message through a vere dramatic way in the hat they would scare these peopleey off and have them stay inic central am >> narrator: sessions released this tough directive using the words "zero tolerance." >> so,eff sessions is using the authority that was retainedt attorney general's office. and he recognizes he's got a lot of levers that he can pull, he's got a lot of tools that he can
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use. >> narrator: everyone whold crosses the border we prosecuted, even families with f children. >> if you smuggle illegal alieno acrossur border, then we will prosecute you. if you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. and that child may be separated from you, as required by law. narrator: it became known as family separation.pl (ptalking on radio) like the travel ban and ca, fami separation quickly turned into a crisis as the images were released. >> young children are pulled from the arms of their mothers. it ushers in a part of america and a history of america that a people are goi to look at fofo
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years to come as the defining moy.nts of the trump preside >> children were separated from the adults with whom they arrived, and there wasn't meticulous association of those children with those adults. g) (child cryld (children crying) (in spanish): (in spanish): >> here's the thing that i think broke america's heart.at i think they didn't even know what they were dng, they weren't even keeping tabs on where these tsildren and who their par are and where their parents were at. that's what th did.
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>> all it's doing is showcasingv unbele cruelty... >> the trauma of separating a child who doesn't know what's going on... >> narrator: but stephen miller insisted it was all part of the grand design >> when i talked to mieder, he said that he bieves anytime the country is focusedn immigration, the president is winninnn so, when you're at the border, getting footage of crying children being ripped from t arms of their mothers, that would seem to most people like b bad, development for the president. to stephen miller, he inks that this is just drawing the attention once again to thebo issue that we care most, and, uh, and, he sees that as am where are the children?! >> anger over the trump administration's policy ofti sepa immigrant children from their families at the border... >> some democratic lawmakers voicing their anger over the family separations.ro >> thewing outrage over families being separated at... c >> narrator: theontroversy
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quickly consumed washington.yo >> hey there, ne. we're heading towards the department of justice. >> the white house faces a growing backlash of anger... >> narrator: for weeks, the president and the white house were under aerault. >> ...is struggling to explain and defend a practe... >> narrator: millewanted to stay the course. the president's own family were strongly on the other side >> every day, yesterday, 70 kids, today, 70 kids...ag >> narrator: oncn, trump capitulated. >> i'm signing an executive order i consider to be a very important executive order. it's about keeping families together. ivanka feels vererstrongly. my wife feels very strgly about it. i feel very strongly about it. i think anybody with heart would feel very strongly about it.to we don't likee families separated. this takes care of the problem. thank you very much... >> i'm very disappoi'med in president donald trump... >> i think he's not getting the best advice on this, it's ve disturbing. >> narrator: the insurgents had again lost control of whatnnon"t >> trump sig t an executive f order, aor the ten minutes
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it's going to survive... >> ...u.s. attorney general is tepping down, apparently request of president trump. >> narrator: a few months later, jeff sessiwas finally out. >> jeff sessions, the attorney general of the united states, hasubmitted his letter of resignation... >> narrator: stephen miller would be the only one of the origin insurgents still on the inside. >> sessions didn't survive, andv bannon didn't e, but miller, who's the ultimate survivor, has manad to outlast pretty much everyone. >> the ramifications are many. >> miller is a talented bureaucratic infighter. miller understood that, in order ve and have inuence with donald ump, you need to f consistently displayatical degree of loyalty. and miller has always been willing to do that, public and privately. families have arrived at thei southern border in recent months. 144,000, that is the highest... >> narrator: the president had signaled hwas scaling ba zero tolerance. but there was an unintended
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nsequence. the number of migrants increased. >> ...of migrant families surged after the trump administration ended... >> the ending of the policy has a pretty pronounced effect on up. the word gets back to central america that "zero tolerance is not really zero toleranc anymore, that if you come with a child, in fact, you will not be separated from that child." right now, another... >> narrator: on fox, they called the caravans an invasion. >> it's not a caravan, it's an have every right to be able to protect our borders. >> and at this hour tonight...ha >> you know, whaens with the president and the caravans is, he sees footage of them on fox news and starts to fulminate against them, and it becomes to him this image of a border being overrun. >> ...than 103,000 people were apprehended at thth southern border last month... >> the president grows angrier and angrier by the week as he continues to hear new numbers, new ta, about what's happeni
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at the border. he can fly into fits of rage. miller doesn't discourage this at all. narrator: for miller, t crisis was an opportunity. it was electioseason-- the 2018 midterms-- and trump was im campaie. >> so, the president's going all ou afor the next few days, hosting n more ralliescross the nation focusing on illegal immigration. >> narrator: miller knew what would fire up the crowds. >> we want our country to be a americans,riminal aliens.l g we're not playingames. use you look at what'sma hing up, that's an invasion. >> the president uses that to drum up his election push for the midterms, and calls that election "the election of the ravan." >> (chanting): build the wall! build the wall! >> narrator: it was also the -election campaign.s own >> the, the closer we get to 2020, the more this presiden and his advisers are saying, "immigration is our fire. that's the fire we put in ou
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torch to try to win in 20." >> narrator: determined not to lose his base, trump was firmly back on the side of th insurgents. now miller would call the shots. >> stephen miller ishe point person at the president's side the immigration issue. and he has an awful lot ofn...ng knowledge that he brings to bear at the president's right hand. >> narrator: miller pushed controversial executive actions... >> ...annocing a new regulation that will aow migrant families... >> narrator: ...cutting back on refugees... >> ...trump administration mchas hoping to claim asylum in th united states.ng (handcuffs loc >> narrator: ...building the wall... >> trump to divert billions from the pentagon, from the military, om build his borr wall. >> narrator: ..slashing legal immigration... >> ...trump administrationin isa regulation that would
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denynyreen cards for legal immigrants... >> narrator: ...initiating raids across the country... >> ...thousands of people nationwide are bracing now foren ice raids prestrump's ordered to begin... >> narrator: ...and igniting a firestorm. >> ...kids might be left parentless in the process makes it all the more disturng. >> officials calleit the biggest worksite immigration enforcement operation... >> ...could close down our southern border... >> narrator: it d been six years since that dinner at the breitbart embassy. zero tolerance had won the day. >> from the dinner we had, we'dc brought borderity up to the forefront. right now, we actually are engaged as a nation, and i think in 2020, it's even going to bein more of a centerpieche national debate, as it should be. >> narrator: for sessions, bannon, miller, it was all part >> we are now debating all the topics on donald trump's turf, okay?
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that, in, in january 2013, that looked like a pipe dream. today, that's the reality. ♪ >> by noon we, we had conceded that the town had basically burned down. >> the plan was completely overwhelmed by circumstances. anbut i think those circumces were notnprecedented. >nd i told my husband, i'm like, "i can't run fi througre." and he said, "you're going to have to." >> th've been on probation. they've violated the veobation. if pg&e was anndividual and not a corporation, i think by w they would be in prison. >> go to pbs.org/frontlinefor frontline's latest trsparency project, and explore the dozensf terviews in "zero tolerance". >> tepy said, "oh that's n miller. that's- that's the one who brin the crazy." >> why don't we say you're going to build a wall? >> could be narcissism.
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"they love me for me." >> i said, "is there any doubt in your minds that this vine providence that put us here?" >> connect to the frontline community facebook and itter, and watch anytime on the pbs video app or pbs.org/frontline. >> frontline is made possiblby contributions to your pbs ank you.from viewers like you. and the corporation for public broadcasting. major support is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful worul. more information at macfound.org. the ford foundation: working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. at fordfoundation.org.ti adal support is provided committed to excellence in journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues.hn the nd helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journali that informs and inspires. by the
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frontline journasm fund, with major support from jon and and additional support from koo and patricia yuen, rough the yuen foundation. captioned by media accessceroup at wgbh access.wgbh.org d >> for more on this her "frontline" programs, visit our website at pbs.org/frontline. ♪ to order frontline's,ra "zero toe" on dvd, visit shoppbs or call 1-800-play-pbs. this program is also available on amazon ime video. ♪
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♪ you're watching pbs. ♪ ♪ -you've said you'd favor middle-class tax cuts. -the front line is just up here. .that's where the river.. -she toome out to those wetlands. -i think we're off to a great start. ♪
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