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tv   Frontline  PBS  October 23, 2019 4:00am-5:00am PDT

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>> there is a crowd of thousands at the hangar there. the trump rally, just about to start.us >> a>>ally for donald trump is about to... >> air ones live over the trump rally, and... >> you know, we'd be on the plane, and he'd say, "is tonight the ght for 'the snake?'" >> ...frontrunner about to speak to a big... >> and we'd have aind ofio internal discu which would last about ten seconds, and we'd either say "yes" or "no." and 'd say, "i'll put it in the pocket, if iant it, i'll take it out.", ns 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.ca should i do it or not?ou i? ah. >> and he used that an
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very much for the issue of immigration. >> on her way to work one morning down the path along the lake, a tender-hearted woman saw a poor, half-frozen snake. (crowd murmuring) "take me in, oh tender woman, take me in, for aven's sake, take me in, oh tender woman," sighed the broken snake. she wrapped him up all cy in a curvature of silk and then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some mil now she stroked his pretty skin, and then sheissed him and held him tight. but instead of saying, "thank you," that snake gave her a vicious bite.
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(cheers and applause) (handcuffs locking) (siren blaring) "i saved youi saved you, i saved you," cried that woman. "and you've bit me, heavens, why? you know your bite is poisonous, and now i'm going to die." >> the woman's answer is, "well, why would you do this to me?" and he sai "well, i'm a snake, righ and so you brought me into your home, and it's hard to believe thatou didn't know what i wa i'm a professional killer, right? just because you brought me in, doesn't mean i wasn't going to ultimately revert backo my basic form." >> "oh, shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin. "you knew damn well i was a snakbeforeou took me in." (cheers and applause)
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>> he tapped into something in very profoy that, that ben to redefine the debate in the political year of 2016, and, and continues to redefine 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 aspect of his presidency. at its hea, a plan by three unlily o osiders to transform e republican party, make trump presiden and introduce a harsh new approach to immigration-- zero tolerance. ♪ >> frontline is made possible bl atiofrom viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting.
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major support is provided d the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world.ti more infor at macfound.org. the ford foundation:ri working with visio on the frontlines of social change worldwide. at fordfndation.org. additional support is provided by the abrams fountion, committed to excellence in journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner supporting trustworthy urnalism that informs and ininires. the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo a hagler. and additional support from koo and patricia yuen, through the yuen foundation.
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>> america, the country makes history again, doubling down on orhope and barack obama... >> narrator: the story begins in 20. b >> romney was the worste. candid >> narrator: the aftermath of mitt romney's loss... >> we didn't lose this election by that much, especily when... >> narrator: ...set off a soul-searching by the republican establishment. >> some states like sconsin and pennsylvania were looking attractive in the closing days. >> narrator: but for a small group of hard-right conservatives, the defeat was a call to arms. >> on what basis are you saying that? he got h clock cleaned. >> narrator: their unlikely headquarters was in this capitol hill townhouse.ha >> .been reelected... >> president obama is back at the white house... >> t breitbart embassy is really nothing more than a rented townhouse. ce and that is ther of operations for the organizationb known itbart. >>arrator: the provocative hard-right website breitbart. steve bannon-- political gadflyd filmmaker,olemicist-- was its leader. >> we called this place ther embassy e simple reason that we thought we were in an embassy in a foreign capital, that this was owned and run by
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the permanent thlitical class. >> narrator: bannon pushed breitbt into what was known as "smash-mouth coverage" of washington power politics. >> 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, 're going to go after th mitch mcconnells, we're going to go after the donors. we're just going to go hard at kind of this paul ryan philosophy." >> narrator: bannon and breitbart figured they had a wedge issue that could help them take down the republican establishment-- immigration. >> we spent a lot more time talking to the public than weg spent talk the elite. >> narrar: breitbart's incendiary message boards proved the point. >> illegals kill 12-plus people a day in this country. >> torturous, murderous, rapists. this president calls them 'dreamers'. aliens.rt all of the illegal >>mmigration to republican voters, by a mile, it's the number-o issue, even ahead of tax cuts. >> for the first time in years, it looks like an immigration-reform deal may... >> a possible deal on
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ub>> narrator: but the rcan. establishment was going completely the other way on migration. t ay, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a plan... >> now, republicans anto democrats sennounce a major compromise surrounding immigration. >> narrator: they formed ans alliance with democr support immigratioreform. >> (eaking spanish): >> narrator: replican marco rubio took the lead as the face form.partisan immigration >> the political class was sure that immigration reform was log.ling off a >> (speaking spanish): >> everybody understd that there was an opening, a political opening, because republicans were ready to come to the conversation. ♪ >> narrator: even on fox news, support for the softer immigration approach. 100% fox news was pedal to the metal to get this amnesty bill. pass ♪
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>> i want to give tobio credit, because he talking intelligently about a rational, effective, humane t responthe issue. >> we're going to work with our colleagues to get something responsible done that's fair but also responsnsle.e >> i lur program, i think it's fair. so, i want you and presidentsi obama to get on the phone and get this thing so it doesn't turn io a bloody mess. >> maybe we could come on this show together. >> absolutely... nnity went on the air andean said, "we need to rethink our position on immigration.wr i wag to take such a hard line on, on immigration."e >> you cate a pathway for those people that e here, you don't say, "you got to go home." and at is an, a, a position that i've evolved on.ni >> narrator: han 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. a different place than it was 50 years ago. so we'll see what happens. >> narrator: in the face of all. that >> the politics swirling around the possibility of... >> narrator: steve bnon and
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breitbart found themselves in the political wilderness.>> ore republicans are now changing their stanc.. >> narrator: bannon decided to fight back. he invited twof his closest allies to the embassy for a war council. >> stephen miller and jeff sessions and myself had a dinner in this very room. >> bann ordered from dean and deluca steaks, and they drank an 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 u would consider the sort of republican party. >> i mean, jeff sessions, when he was in the senate, was always on the outer fringes of the republic party, never even by the hardliners within theen republican party. >> sessions' shop was the leaders, the intellectual fight.ne of the immigration it came from jeff sessions' office, it came from senator sessions himself, and miller ate his right hand. ra >> nr: 27-year-old stephen miller was sessions' communications director.ss >> you had a vocal p
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secretary in his 20s for a back-bench senator from alaba, as far from power as you could get in washington at that time. >> narrator: the three outsiders shared a belief america was threatened by the flow of immigrants into the country.rm they were deed to do something about it. >> they were very ambitious and the, the message right, that this might all fall into place. >> narrator: that night in 23 at the breitbart embassy, they talked about how to politicize immigration.ss >> the one and twos will be immigration and tde. and that will beocused 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.or >> the according to miller would be a world of walls. miller is a restrictionist. he wants to ve restricted entry for legal immigration as
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well as s legal immigration. >> narrator: but in order to make it happen, they would first ham to stop immigration ref establishment.the g.o.p. >> if you were sitting there that night, the audaciousness of what they were plotting was, uh, was astonishinin and you wouldn't have given them much chance of success. >> the senate passed sweeping immigration reform in an historic... >>he bill by t gang of eight passed today... >> narrator: as the bipartisanra bill passed the senate andnd headed tthe house, thehe insurgenen had to act. >> miller knew how washington worked and undrkstands the way levers get pulled in washington, and how to push an agenda through that was anme anti-establi-type agenda. >> narrator: miller had an outletet bannon's breitbart.or it was adable asliance. >> "sessions: immigration bill will 'hammer' americans." "sessions comes out swinging against secrive house immigratn iosh." "sessions: breitbart doing about immigration billruth out
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>> they flooded the zone. i mean, there's a, that's anto essential thing do if you're going to get movement, especially on an issue like immigration, whehe all of the organized interest groups are on one side. >> well, immigration reform finally happened. f the first te in years... >> narrator: with immigration front and center, the insurgents planned a show of force in the upcoming midterm ections. >> what ey decided they need to do was to find an example of someone they could take down ine thblican establishment. and when they looked around, the guy that theatthght was most vulnerable was eric cantor, the housmajority leader.jo >> narrator: majority leader cantor-- one of the most publican establishment-- was by an unknown collegsor.primary >> my name is dave brat, and i'm a lifelongepublican and conservative. >> narrator: polls showed brat more than 30 points behi cantor. but bannon saw opportunity.he
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>> iefinitely knew it was coming, that also happened to be my home district, but i could feel it. i knew that, that a guy ke brat could... they were, they were very weak.w >> iill fight to stop amnestyt >> narrator: following bannon's lead, brat w nld use immigration against cantor. >> cantor, can you believe this guy, can you believe ryan? >> narrator: breitrt swung 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 amney; paul ryan, who i call a phony... >> anything that became talking were coming from stephen and put whe conservative radio hos weren't clicking on drudge yreport on what to say, t were clicking on breitbart. "republican national ceeeitbart, declares war on..." >> what arrepublicans getting majority leader?or being h i'm not sure. >> and with that, i want to pass the baton to senator jeff sessions... >> narrator: the insurgents rolled out their big gs for brat: sessions. >> that's worthy of patrick henry. m narrator: and steler's
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ally... >> if eric cantor is reelected, heaven forbid... >> talk-radio celebrity laura >> there's a good chance we'll have amnesty by the end of the year. >>nric cantor is definitely trouble ininis district. >> if da brat here can get a big turnout, he's going to, he' going to make difference... >> narrator: they'd thrown everything they could at cantor. >> eric ntor's district, let's send a real message... >> narrator: and on election night, the republican estaishmenwas in for a shock. >> history-making upset, house majority leader eric cantor lost... >> this is a seismic shift. narrator: cantor wased defe >> that took all of the establishment figures... we took down cantor wie down. brat. we took the, first time in the history of the republic that a l sitting majorider had ever been beaten. >> it is a stunning nnset. >> all of them were broadsided by this victory ofave brat's. >> (chuckles) i think, what is the phrasen that steve banways uses? "the hobbits revolted." you kn, the hobbits woke uin the shire.th people want a new republican party withwiresh faces... >> narrator: repubepcans got the message. the bipartisan immigration bill
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was dead.ht >> i knew that nhen i heard. i was talking to my republican... they were basically, "there's no reason for us to talk anymore. this is not going anywhere." >> house majority leader eric cantor's defeat is the end of immigration reform. >> de brat proved this issue moves votes, in rms of republicans getting off the then-popular immigration bills. it was no question, it w a turning point on the immigration issue. >> the g.o.p. fighting is escalating.la >> not only does brat's victory confirm that... >> narrator: two of the insurgents' seemingly impossibll had been accomplished-- cantor was oututand so was the immigration bill. >> any hope of an immigration-reform bill is dead. >> narrar: now they would concentrate on finding a candidate for the presidency of the united states.s. >> ...legislative priority for decades... >> narrator: bannon had been lookinfor years. >> we had palin in '08 and hoped that she'd run in '12. >> well, i'm not a member of tho
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permanenticalpe >> you know, she, it just didn't work out.es >> that is not our dtiny. >> i actually worked with lou to runn '12, aa populist.dobbs >> that on the previous 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 along. wel find our guy." and that guy, a couple of years trump. turned out to be donald >> the house majority leader has lost to his... >> nartor: in manhattan, donald trump had watched the cantor defeat. now he believed immigration as an issue was a dgon-slayer. >> "trump said he thinks cantor's amazing loss can be traced to his stance on immigration policy." >> narrator: while bannon andmp breitbart ucated tromat the outside, tmp adviser sam nunberg worked from the inside.> unberg had realized that this issue of immigration has real salience with repcan voters. the problem they had was, they
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couldn't get trump to stay onmo topic-- ly short attention span. and so sam nunberg came up with this idea, essentially a mnemonic device to keep trump focused on the issue ofat immin. >> so, i said, "well, why don't we say you're going to build all because it's bigger. you're going to build a wall.an and you'll, likeyou'll get mexico to pay for it." >> narrator: trump took it on the road, testing out different versions of the line. >>e have to build a fence. and it's got to be 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 can watch it. the crowd went nuts. >> if i ru i will tell you, e king of building buildings, the king of building walls,li nobody canuild the trump-- that i can promise you. i can promise you that.th>> e said to me, "you know what, i'm talking about immigration, feel it. m sam, this isement. this is a movement. they get it-- they get it."
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>> narrator: he had found his issue, and now donald trump had an announcement to make. >> the key momt is cing down the escalator. and i'm sitting there watching. we have five people up at trump tower.ad weave boyle leg an entire team. we got wall-to-wall coverage. >> whemexico sends its people, they're not seing their best. they're not sending you. they're not sending you. they're sending people that have lots of problele, and they're bringing those problems with us. >> when he starts doing the id, "you watch, , ey're,i go, i they're going to bite hard, anto they're going to bithard and blow this up." >> they're bringing drugs, they're e inging crime, they're rapists, and some, i assume, are good people.h, >>y god. i said, this is, i said, "he's just buried every... they're going to go nuts. cnn is literally going to broadcast 24 hours a day." >> donald trump's comment abouta mexiimmigrants has created controversy nationwide. >> donald trump's comments have
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triggered outrage... >> trump not backing downer from his ctral, some say racist, language. >> i was waiting for trump to take it back and say, "oh, no,di no, 't mean that mexico'sex sending rapists; they're sending rhrhes scholars, they're so much better than we are." and damned if he never took it back. so i had to say, "okay, i'm for, i'm for this guy." >> ann, which republican candidate has the best chance oi ing the general election? >> of the declared ones, right now, donald trump. (audience laughing) (audience cheering) >> narrator: bannon had his candidate: one who understood the politics of csmigration. >> i said, "this is our guy. he's a very imperfect instrument, but he's a armor-piercing shell." ("sweet home alabama" playing) i tell the guys, "he's going to go through this thing like a scythe through grass." >> narrator: the insurgentsei would throw thweig b e ca
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bannon would push the trumpomret from a sitting united states senator.t >> i want to justroduce you to him for a second, senator jeff sessis. >> certainly, if you're an unconventional outsider candidate like donald tronp, you actually do want some people who are part of the stem... >> wow. what a crowd thi tis! >> ...to validate your legitimacy.at and as jeff sessions' most important role in the success of president trump. >> at this time in americans' history, we need to make america great again! >> narrator: also stepping out for trump, another one of the insurgents >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome ththsenior policyp, advisefor mr. trr. steve miller. >> how's everybody doing
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tonight?>> e was the one who would get up there before trump came in te speak and sort of rile up the crowd. ru >> donald j. is going to secure the border, and he's going totouild that wall. (cheers) >> he would have this magic effect on the crowd. and the crowd is loving it. and i was, like, "who is that guy?" and they said, "oh, that'sth that's the one who brings the crazy." >> are you readyo vote for a policy that puts americans first? and are you ready, are you ready, texas, to vtoe for donald j. trump? (cers) >> narrator: miller got close to trump... >> we will build a gldat wall ..ong the southern border. >> narrator: ...jotting ideas... >> mexico!oing to pay for the >> narrator: ...keeping track of the musings... >> anyone who illegally crossesh border will be detained. >> narrator: ...stoking the anger... >> he's going to drive the carse overllegals. >> narrator: ...writing the fragments at became the speeches.ra
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>> zero toe for criminal iens. zero, zero. >> the polls were brutal for donald trump. clinton leading in every singlen the campaign was in trouble.st, >> ...showhat clinton now has a double-digit lead over trump, 46... >> nationally, he's down by large margins in swing states. >>rump is down in national polls... >> narrato then bannon got a call from the candidate. >> breaking news this morning, donald trump is changing his campaign's...al >> ...inng firebrand conservative breitbart news boss steven bannon as chief executive...w >> he has a brand-mpaign c.e.o., which is a new... >> 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 ring on the campaign plane with sessions, stephen miller, steve nnon. and they suddenly had this vessel in donald trump, and they were giddy. mean, they were really excited, like, "this is our moment, this is our historical
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moment." >> the decision desk has called pennsylvania for donald trum >> narrator: and on election night, it all paid off. hi >>means that donald trump will be the 45th president of the united states. >> trump's victory, after having run on this antimmigrant message, had precisely the effect that bannon and sessions rlier, when they first sat in the breitbart embassy. it elevated immigration to theto forefront of the republicanub party. >> nartor: fox news had also received the message. now they were all in with trump on immigration. >> you want to knowhat this election was about? look at america's open borders, they're a mess, and they're not secure. >> a weak fedel government has allowed immigration in america to become a nationalon scanda >> he's going to move very quickly on the immigration priories that helped get him elected. >> fox news saw that thear repupuican had been
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changed by donald trump. immigration was the issue, and laura iraham and sean hanny and others would hammer that night in, night out. >> i, donald john trump, do solemnly swear... >> narrator: 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 theen cabinet-- attorneyal. >> all of a sudden, they're three of the most powerful people in the country. (cannons firing) >> nrator: on the wall in hi war room at the west wing, bannon created an immigration action plan.n. >> i s sd, "all we 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. but we got to start with muzzle velocity." >> narrator: the muzzle
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veloty-- a series of harsh executive orders commanding the government to build a wall, to detain, to deport, to prosecute. >> this was ller's tactic. all that political wind at your baba after winning an election, just, you know, "hit them big,em hit ard." >> ...opportunity for him to meet with his secretary of defense, james mattis... >> narrator: immediately, trumpi caused outrage, ring part of what bannon called theirli "shocknd awe approach." >> "protection of the nation om foreign terrorists' ery into the united states."." it's big stuff. >> narrator: it was known as the "travel ban," blocking entry to people from seedominantly muslim countries. >> a scene of outrage at jfkne airport in new york, wre... >> protestall 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 pepperpray. >> narrator: watching the chaos on television, republican congressman charlie dent called white house staffer ben howard. is thing run by the department of defense?" and he said, "well, no." ow about state?" "no, no." "homeland security?"?" "well, eh, sort of." e "justice?" "eh..." and i said, "well," i said, "well, so who did this?" he said, "miller."er d i said, "well, who the hell's miller?" i didn't know who stephen miller was athat moment. i said, "who's miller?" and he said, he said, "i don'to get into it." >> narrator: at the white house, they knew who stephen miller was. and a faction there want to keep him as far away from the president as possible. ad >> youhe, 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 develop- the moret establishmmp, and more the
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kind of disrupters, populist, nationalist campmp and then everything eventually became a knife fight shortly thereafter. >> narrator: after the travel-ban backlash, bannon'str stack of harsh execucuve orders was put on hold. his opponents in the west wingpo were gaining ground with the president. >> why he surrounded houlf by people actively opposed to his agenda-- why he did that, who knows? who knows? he has surrounded himself with people who disagree with him. why did he hire his kids? could be narcissism- "they love me for me!" who know >> you're supposed to really 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 wanted to make sure a tough stance on immigration stayed on the agenda. they wou look up pennsylvania avenue tthe department of justice, where jeff sessions was
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the boss. >> jeff sessions is the nerve center of the trump adminiration's anti-immigration agenda. and sessions wasteno time once he takes over at, at d.o.j., pretty systematically retooling the asylum system.e' >> hs working on sanctuary cities. he's trying to figure out a way to starve citi of funding. and he's also working on what are basically the beginnings of the zero-tolerance policy. >> narrator: the insurgents placed dozens of allies thhout the government. en many of them sessions' formerr senate staffs. >> jeff sessio and the people he hired to work with him insidt the justice department knew how to work that system. they word it early and often, and they used their power over immigration in ways we have not seen for a generation or more. >> narrator: they began checking off the boxes. >> what sessions is doing simultaneously is, he is starting to pull all of the relevant levers to make sure that there are no impediments to mass deportation.
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>> narrator: but jeff sessions had big problem. >> this is an nbc news special report-- here's lester holt.st or good afternoon from new we're coming on the air to bring you a news conference from... >> narrator: the russian- investigatrun by his own justice department-- w encircling the trump white house and the president himself. >> i have e w decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns r presidenof the united states. >> 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 sessionsmp and donald t relationship was never the sath after that. >> narrator: it wasn't longon before trump crufrd sessions at the white house. >> president trump just bera.s jeff sessions. sessions is humiliated. i mean, he's told people it was
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one of the low points of his professional career. i mean, he's just completely dressed wn. >> narrator: the grand design was in peril. sessions was preparing to resign. steve bannon reacted. >> i said, "you were there from the beginning." i said, "you rode shotguwith me the entire time." he goes, "yep." i said, "is there any doubt in your minthat this was divine providence that put us he? right? that this just didn't happen, that this, something's, something's worked he, because he's a very imperfect instrunt, but we're here."ve i said, "and you're going to quit?"ui he says, "i will never quit."ui i go, "no matter how bad itge ?" he goes, "i'll never quit." to the justice department toed redouble his efforts on immigration.>> t 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 ever twitter-- the one guy keeping your promises. >> trump has continued to raget agaissions for his decision... >> presint trump today lashing
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out on twitter once again...e >> nrator: at o.j., sessions was quietly laying the groundwork for a big move. he wanted to roll back ana obama-licy known as daca-- protections for undocumented america as children.ome to >> daca is a recognition and a realization that when somebody comes here as a child, they'reei brought here not of own choice. and we should recognize and acknledge that and besi compate toward those people. >> narrator: they were called "damers." but to sessions and his allies, daca w w an amnesty that sent the wrong message.an >> one amnesty bether amnesty, it begets more andt more... more and more illegal aliensr 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 agree to end daca. but at his first press conference, they realized theyd haa problem. >> thank you very much.
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>> the daca dogram for immigration.ur what is lan? do you plan to continue that program or to end it? at>> we're going to show g heart. daca icaa very, very difficult subject for me, i will tell you. to me, it's one of the mostec difficult su i have, because you have these incredible kids. you know, i love tse 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 into action. 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. bannon says to him, "yo you got to have a way that we can, that we can kind of force this issuen daca." >> narrator: the idea was to box trump in. kobach would use ten
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conservative state attorneys general. >> what kobach and the attorney generals wanteto do was to getat this uhe, at the right level.le 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 against the trump administration if they didn't sp daca. >> and so, i think that was or an important shift puzzle, landscape that helped, uh, move thadministration. >> all right, well, a major deadline for the trump justice department looming early next month... >> that is when texas and nine another states plan sue the administration. >>.arrator: the letter work trump relented. sessions delivered the news.g. >> good morn m here today to announce that the program known as daca that s effectuated der the obama administrati is being rescinded. >> jeff sessions makes it pretty ving to possibly deport, um, thousands ofeople who were brought to this country as young
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children and who know no other home but america. >> thank you very much. ng>> it's a pretty devasta blow to about 800,000 dreamers... >> protests erupting nationwide after the trp... >> major change in immigration t policy announcay... >> and immediately, it's like a bomb goes off in washington. >> immigrants are welcome here! >> what the president called a case of heart now sparking emotional protests all over the country. >> can't go back home. they can't send me go, back home, because this is my home. >> as the counity prayed over them, some broke down in tears. they were all daca recipients now filled...s >> protesterstorming major cities all across the country... . outrage after the trump >> ...decision impacting nearly 800,000 people... >> narrator: athe negative coverage hammered the president, he made a political calculatione acked off.li >> "does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished youngeople whe ve obs, some serving in the miry? really!" (tweets) >> narrator: to the insurgents, it seemed like they had lost the
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president. >> yet another bombshell. >> narrator: their enemies were on the rise. >> mr. trump's controvsial chief strategist forced out... >> narrator: after seven months, steve bannon was out. >> how does trump think he can b get rid non? wasn't bannon the guy that got trump elected? >> over time, more and more so more and more peopl were from, from the swamp, who had long resumés, and were importance and significance.f in part and parcel, it's, it's the reason for why i left the white house. it may be the reason fororhyte steve left the wouse when he did.. >> president trump holding a critic meeting today with lawmakers. >> meeting over at the white houstoday... >> nartor: with the insurgents weakened, trump improvised.pr they watched what they nsidered a mind-boggling event. congressional leaders-- including democrats-- were invited to make a de 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 my thme plate is right next t president of the united states, to his right. uh, i was noa close friend of this president. >> narrator: the presidentth shockeentire room when he allowed the cameras to stay for the meeting. >> so now we have the press giving live coverage for thisme ing. >> i think we're going to come up with an answer. i hope we're goi to come upa, with an answer for dnd then we go further than that later on down the road. o dick, perhaps you'd likey a few words? >> there is a see of urgency that'selt by many of us when it comes to this issue. 1,000 a day will lose daca protection. 900 of tm are members of the u.s. military.em 20,000 of re school teachers. lives are hanging in the balance of our getting the job done. >> i agreeitthat, dick. i very much agree with that. >> and the president is .eferring to me as dick all thei and i'm thinking, you know, "i, i guess i'm his friend atnt this p >> narrator: on television, the president said he wantedo make a a deal, haagreement to save daca. >> wn this group 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 signing it. i mean, i will be signing it. ei >> senator fnstein almost can't believe it. every democrat sitting on the i edge of their sethat room, wondering, "is the president about to break from his ownt party d deal?" >> i'd like to ask the question: what about a clean daca bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration-reform procedure? >> uh, i have no problem... i think that's basically whaha dick is saying. we're going totoome up with daca, we're going do daca, and then we can startat immey on the phase two, which would be comprehensive. >> would you be agreeable to th? >> yeah, i would like, i would like to... >> he starts to actually get way beyond where, ceainly, stephen miller, but a lot of hisbs advisers are on the nce of what the deal would look like.ok >> i'll take the ht, i don't care. i don't care.l i'll take e heat you want to give me, and i'll take the heat off both the democrats and the republicans. my whole life has been heat.
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i like heat, in a certain way. disconcerting. it was and i did have my head in my hands. but i've had that a lot in listening to the president. he is the kind of guy who, 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,pe immediately up. >> mr. president, you need to i think-- think what senator feinstein is asking here,lk when we bout just daca, we don't want to be back here two years later. you have to have security, as the secretary would tell you. >> but i think that's what she's >> no, no, i thi she's saying something different. >> narrator: to immigration hardliners, it was a reminder that the president could not ber ted. >> it seems, i think, perfectly apparent to me, and anyone else who observes this president, he, he's impulsive, um, he says things off the top of his ad. he, um, bears the impression of, like a couch, bears 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 sayit. >> i think i really agree with dick. i think it'll happen. >> thank you all. >> i hope we gave you enough te >> in an unusual move, cameras were rolling for nearly an hour on tuesday...>> the president ad open to comprehensive immigration reform. >> narrator: justwo days later, senators dick durbin and lindsey graham were ready y deliver thdeal trump askal for. >> it included a future for daca and damers, it also included money for his wall. i mean, it really was what he had asked for. >> narrator: durbin let the white house know. >> within minus, the president calls back. "what can i do forou, senator?" "well, senator graham and i have a bill." he said, "good." >> nartor: the predent said he wanted to meet with the two senators that day. >> i found that incredible. i couldn't believe i could ever get in to see a president short order like that. >> narrator: miller had to move. quic >> one of miller's talents was spinning the president up. he was constantly handing him,
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you know, statistics and numbers and papers and links to breitbart,inks to fox news clips. >> narrator: milles allies in the right-wing mediaounded the alarm. >> ...dodo not include a wall, a real wall... ggling that he's getting rolled. >>arrator: talk radio turned up the volume. >> this is the only thing that donald trump can do to d possiblyerail himself. >> this is the end of the road for the republican party. >> all of the right-wing media figures who championed trump are losing their minds, because alle of a s 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 immigration unle stephen miller is there to follow up...: >> narratoenators durbin and graham arrived at the white house with their deal in hand. west wing lobby, all of a sudden the doors open, and other people start coming in. tom cotton, very, very nservative. 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. then there's bob goodlte,he who's the republican chairman of the house judiciary committee.le ananthan stephen milr walks in, and before they know it, they're all in the oval office, uh, all together. >> it's really miller who makes sure that the room is filledt with immigration hardliners. h >> they're there to present a position that they feel strongly about, which is, frankly, much closer to president trump's position. >> well, things went south in a hurry. almost from his first word, yout could tet the president i spoke to two hours before, and the one two days before, who had ininted us to come by, uh, had changed dramatically. and now he was opposed to every part of it. and that's when a lot of the profanity started flying.si >> and the predent was already in an unhappy mood, because he kept reviewing all this migrant data from miller. and he just erupts. he erupts. it's gone from a chummy chat
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with the senators on camera, it's gone from cordial rapportor with seneinstein, to vulgarity in front of senator duduin and others. >> narrator: the vulgarity stunned the room. >> he esntially says, "why do we want all these people from shithole countries?" stops.ch point, everyone kind of >> he doesn't want people from haiti or from africa, countri s that he refers to as "shithole countries." he says he wants peoe from norway. and it's, it's impossible to ignore that the people he' talking about as, as undesirabl are people of color ack people. >> people will not come in to our country...w- >> and it's opping, as he went through this long litany of grievances he 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'sissionitac mplished-- he's done what he, he wanted to do.>> e are going to sp... >> narrator: the immigration hardliners had won. there would be no daca deal. the fate of the dreamers wouldld be in the hands the courts. ♪ >> a weeago, central americans crosd from guatemala into mexico... >> 11,000 centl american immigrants... >> narrator: now, in the spring of 2018, from the justice department, sessions and miller would raise the ante. it was time to crack down on the border. >> they wanted to send a deterrent message through a very dramatic wayn the hope that they would scare these people off and have them stay in ceral america. >> narrator: sessions released this tough directive using the words "zero tolerance." >> so, jeff sessions is usingth the authorit was retained in the attorney general's office. and he rognizes he's got a lot of levers that he can pull, he' got a lot of tools t can
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use. >> narrator: everyone who crosses the rder would be prosecuted, even families with children. >> if you smuggle legal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. if you are smuggling a child,ng then we will prosecute you. and that child may be separated from you, as required by law. narrator: it became known as family separation.io (people talking on r like the travel ban and daca, fami separation quickly turned into a crisis as the iges were released.re >> young childreare pulled from the arms of their mothers. it ushers in a part of america and a history of america that people are goioi to look at fofo
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years to come as the defining moments of the trump presidency. >> children were separated from the adults with whom they arrived, and there wasn't meticulous association of those children with those adults. (child crying)ld (children crying) (in spanish): (in spanish): >> here's the thing that i think broke america's heart.er i think they didn't even know what they were doing, they weren'tven keeping tabs on where these children and who tir parents are and where their parents were at. that's what they did.
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>> all it's doing ishowcasing unbelievable cruelty... >> the trauma of separatina 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 believes anytime the country is focusedn immigration, the president is winninnn r,, when you're at the bor getting footage of crying children being ripped from the arms of their mothers, that bad, a bad developmenthee like president. to stephen miller, he thinks that this is just drawing the attention once again to the issue thate care about most, and, uh, and, he sees that as am win. >> where are the children?! >> anger over the ump administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their families at theer bo. >> some democratic lawmakers are voicing their anger over the >> the growing outrager families being separated at... >> nartor: the controversy
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quickly consumed washington. >> hey there, everyone. we're heading towards the department of justice. >> the white house faces a growing backlash of ange.. >> narrator: for weeks, the president and the white house were under aault. >> ...is struggling to explain and defend a practe... >> narrator: millewanted to stay the course. the presidt's own family were strongly on the other side. >> every day, yesterday, 70 d kids, today, 70 kids... >> narrar: oncagain, trump capitulated. >> i'm signing an executive coie it's about keeping families together ivanka feels vererstngly. about it.eels very stron i feel very strongly about it. i think anybody with a heart 't le to see families separated. this takes care of the problem. thank you veryuch... >> i'm very disappoi'med in president donald trump...t >> i think he's notting the best advice on this, it's very disturbing. >> narrator: the insurgents had again lost control of what bannon had called "the impfect instrument." >> trump sig t an executive esder, and for the ten min
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it's going to survive... >> ...u.s. attorney general is stepping down, apparently at the narrator: a few months later, jeff sessionwas finally out. neral of the united states,ney has submitted his letter of resignation... >> narrator: stephen miller would be the only one of the original insurgents stilon the inside. >> sessions didn't survive, and bannon didn't survive, but miller, whs the ultimate survivor, has managed to outlast pretty much everyone. >> the ramifications are many. >> miller is a talented bureaucratic infighter. miller understood that, in order survive and have inuence with donald trump, youeed to consistently display a fanatical degree of loyalty. and miller has always been willing to do that, publicly and privately. families have arrived at thet southern border in recent months.4, 0, that is the highest... >> narrator: the president had signaled he was scaling back zero tolerance. but there was an unintended
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consequence. crsed.mber of migrants >> ...of migrant families surged after the trump administration ended... >> the ending of the policy has a pret pronounced effect on the numbers of people showing up. the word gets back to central america that "zero tolance is not really zero toleranc anymore, that if you come with a child, in fact, you will not be separated from that child." ot >> right now, r... >> narrator: on fox, they calle> the caravans an invasion. >> it's not a caravan, it's an invasion. we have every right to be able to protect our borders. >> and at this hour tonight... >> you know, what happens with the president and the caravans is, he ss 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... ri>> the president grows a and angrier by the week as he continues to hear new numbers, new data, about what'sappening
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at the border. he can fly into fits of rage. d milleroesn't discourage this at all. >> narrator: for mler, the crisis was an opportunity. it was election season-- the 2018 midterms-- and trump was in campaign mode. >> so, the president's going al out e next few days, hosting n more rallies across the nation focusing on illegal immigration. >> narrator: miller knew what would fire up the crowds. >> we want our country to be a am.icans, not criminal alie we're not playing games. use you look at what's >> the president uses oinvasion. drum up his election push for the midterms, and calls that election "the election of the ravan." >> (chanting): build the wal build the wall! >> narrator: it was also the beginning of trump's ownai re-election ca. >> the, the closer we get to 2020, the more this president 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 2020." >> narrator: determined not tolo his base, trump was firmly ck on the side of the insurgents. now miller would call the shots. >> stephen miller ishe point person at the president's side on the immigrationssue. and he has an awful lot ofn...ng knowledge that he brings to bear at the president's right hand. >> narrator: miller pushed controrsial executive actions... >> ...annocing a new regulation that will aow migrant falies... >> narrator: ...cutting back on refugees... changing theules for migrants hoping to claim asylum in th united states. (handcfs locking) >> narrator: ...building the.. wa >> trump to divert billions from the pentagon, from the military, om build his border wall. >> narrator: ..slashing legal immigration... >> ...trump administrationha issuing a regulationwould
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denynyreen cards for legal immigrants... >> narrator: ...initiating raids across the country... >> ...thousands of peoe nationwide are bracing now for ice raids president trump's ordered to begin... >> narrator: ...and igniting a firestorm. >> ...kids might be left parentless in the process makes itsll the more disturbing. >> officials calleit the biggest worksite immration enforcement operation... >> ...could close down our.. southern borde >> narrator: it had been six years since that dinner at the breitbart embassy. zero tolerance had won the day. >> from the dinner we had, we'd broughborder security up to the forefront. right now, we actually are engaged as a nation, and i think in 2020, it's even going to be more of a centerpiece in the national debate, as it shoul be. >> narrator: for sessions, bannon, miller, it was all part of the grand desn. >> we are now debating all the topics on donald trump's turf, okay? that, in, january 2013, that
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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. but i think thoscircumstances were not unprecedented. >nd i told my husband, i'm like, "i can't run rough fire." and he said, "you're going to have to" >> they've been on probation. they've violated the veobation. if pg&e was an individual and not a corporation, i think by w they would be in prison. >> go to pbs.org/frontlinefor frontline's latest transparency project, and explore the dozensf le terviews in "zero nce". >> they said, "oh that's stephen miller. brin the crazy."he one who >> why don't we say t you're goibuild a wall? >> could be narcissism.
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"they love me for me." >> i said, "is there any doubt in your mind th this was divine providence that put us here?" >> connect to the frontline community on facebook and itter, and watch anytime on the pbs video appon or pbs.org/ine. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbsat n from viewers like you. thank you. and the corporation for public broadcasting. major support is provided by the john d. and therine 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 o worldwide. at fordfoundion.org. additional support is provided committed to excellence in journalism. dedicated to heightening public the john and helen gleissues. family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs an inspires. by the
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frontline journalism 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.wgborg >> for more this and other "frontline" programs, visit our website at pbs.org/frontline. ♪ to order frontline's, "zero tolerance" 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 youor middle-class tax cuts. -the front line is just up here. that's where the rer... -she toome out to those wetlands. -i think we're off to a great start.
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