tv Washington Journal Sahil Kapur and Jeff Mason CSPAN April 16, 2018 2:02pm-3:00pm EDT
national constitution center's interactive constitution at c-span.org/landmarkcases. >> well, congress returns at 5 p.m. eastern today. they'll be spending most of the week debating bills recognizing tax day. tomorrow, april 17th. the bills are intended to protect taxpayers and insure the irs and other government agencies are more responsive. floor speeches are also expected on the recent air strikes in syria. live house coverage on our companion network, c-span. and the senate is back to work on a wart rights bill, and -- water rights bill. live senate coverage begins many about an hour, 3 p.m. eastern, here on c-span2. and here's more about the week ahead from today's "washington journal." >> host: on mondays on the "washington journal" we like to take a look at the week ahead in washington, and to do that this morning we're joined by sa hill
sahil kapur and jeff mason. two stories that.com may noted the weekend -- dominated the weekend seem to be driving the news, of course, that's the james comey book but also the fallout from the syrian strikes. i want tos. start on the latter. walk us through the white house's reaction yesterday to news that french president macron said that it was france that helped convince president trump to stay in syria. >> guest: well, that was interesting, yes. mack krone said -- macron said in an interview with some french outlets that he had convinced the president to stay after the president had been saying i want to get out of syria, i want to take u.s. troops out of syria, and he also said that he had convinced the president to focus on the chemical weapons sites after the president had gone a little bit too far in his tweeting. so i asked the white house about thathi as, i'm sure, some others did, and they responded late last night saying, sarah sanders
in a statement, that the mission has not changed and that president trump has always made clear that he wants to bring troops home as soon as possible. now, that wasn't an outright denial. that wasn't saying that there's no way that they're going to stay a little bit longer and that macron didn't have any influence. but it was sort of a statement, i think, in particular aimed at the base to say we're still staying on track with president trump's plans. >> host: what are we going to be hearing from the white housese today? reports of new sanctions regime coming today when it comes to russia? >> guest: yes. so i don't have any details yet on what those sanctions will be, but they should be coming at some point today. nikki haley said that on sunday. and that will, we do know based on what she said that it will be aimed at companies, russian companies that were involved apparently with the production of chemical weapons. to get something on that at some point today. >> host: sa heel kapur be, have you heard anything more on this from where you're coming from?
>> guest: well, the white house is deeply conflicted, the president is deeply conflicted on what to donv in syria. on one hand, you have his campaign promise toof not engage in the war that he's described as bringing nothing but destruction and waste of taxpayer money, and on the other hand enforcing his promise that the chemical weapons use will not go unpunished. and the fact that assad has done this now twice in two years, last year he had a similar response,sp this year i believe the pentagon has said it was twice as strong, the military strikes in syria, how to reconcile these are difficult. and the long-term strategy is even murkier. it's not clear there is one. how do you take down assad without, you know, while also preventing isis from gaining power in the region while also countering iranian influence, while bolstering what we call the moderate opposition, this kind of disparate set of groups in syria. it's a very, very complicated puzzle. >> host: walk us through what's happening on this end of pennsylvania avenue, on capitol
hill when it comes to reactions from these strikes on friday. what do we know at this point? >> guest: reaction has been very mixed. this is actually one of the rare things that president trump has gotten a significant amount of praise from both sides of the aisle, including republicans and democrats who have offered measured, if reluctant praise. many democrats, however, are saying thema president needs congressional authorization to go further. it's congress that has the sole authority to declare war, and our congress has given up quite a bit of its war powers to the executive branch, at least deferred to theec executive brah over the last decade. and this is a continuing pattern through the obama administration. now democrats want to take some of that back. >> host: you also have democrats and republicans saying you need toav have an actual serious strategy, and that was a criticism that was directed at the obama administration. but i think some view the strategy, such that it is, coming out of the trump administration be especially murky because you have a presidents saying i want to take troops out, but also taking this
action about chemical weapons and really making the fought against isis a key foreign policyig pillar. >> host: when does that illustrate how complicated this is, senator john mccain, the arizona republican, has suggested that president trump's remarks that he wanted to pull u.s. troops out of syria had emboldened assad and caused him to want to react in this sort of way. so he'sad getting hit from all sides, i think. >> host: when does this president believe he needs to go to congress to get authority? >> guest: good question. i mean, it's -- that's not entirely clear. the congress, as we were just saying, democrats and i think some republicans as well are making clear that, look, the separation of powers is such that you need to request, you need to get congressional approval if you're going to, obviously, if you're going to declare war or take military action. this isou not,' these particular targeted strikes were not something that the white house believed that was necessary for. but that's, that's going to be part of the debate on capitol
hill behind us. >> host: can you sort of set up that debate and who's going to be leading that debate for the voices that want more congressional approval versus some who are willing to let the president have some room to go heresome. >> guest: sure. so on the republican side, you have house speaker paul ryan who said just a few days ago that he doesn't want to tie the president's hands withn' an authorization for the use of military force. one of the reasons congress has not done this is that, number one, it disagrees on the parameters. and the honest truth is a lot of lawmakers don't want to, you know, get their feet dirty in this. they prefer to defer to the executive branch because it's a complicated picture, and they don't want ownership of this. on the other hand, you have democrats like tim kaine who's probably been the most vocal proponent be of needing an authorization for the use of military force. he was pretty critical of president obama's strikes withoutt congressional approval on this and in various participants of the middle east, and he's -- parts of the middle east, and he's been critical of president trump as well.
you have democratic leaders who are also, including house leader nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, who are suggesting that the president cannot continue down this road and escalate in syria without some congressional approval. is what exactly they say he needs approval on is also murky from congress, because they have not drawn a line. they have been giving up a lot of their war powers, and we'll see if they actually take it back this w time. >> host: phone lines are open, by the way, in this segment. if you want to call in, we're talking about the: week ahead in washington. republicans, 202-748-8001, democrats, 8000, independents, 8002. jeff mason, before we leave the syria discussion, when is it a good time to use the term mission accomplished? [laughter] >> guest: well, there was a lot of kind of explaining for that over the last few days. thes. president, of course, used the term mission accomplished in his tweet after the strikes, and the background on that is that president george w. bush, during
the iraq war, also stood at one point in front of a banner that said mission accomplished when, clearly, the mission was not accomplished. and that dogged him politically for some time afterwards. the president went on twitter again and criticized the media for focusing on that. nikki haley also said very specifically that mission accomplished is a military term and in this case referred specifically to that direct mission. in this case, those particular airstrikes. so politically and militarily, definitely different terms. whether or not it's something that continues to hurt the president afterwards is tbd. >> host: that tweet, the syrian raid was so perfectly carried out that the only way the fake news media could demean was by my term mission accomplished. i knew they would seize on this, but felt it should be brought back, used often. certainly another topic we can talk about. sahil, we spent the first hour
talking about james comey and the president's war of words, five of his tweets yesterday focusing on james comey. want to talk about where that goes this week in congress as members come backt to capitol hill in the wake of this media blitz that comey is now on. >> guest: it's gotten deeply, deeply personal between the president and james comey. he did an hour-long interview on abc last night, actually i think five hours was spliced into one, and he called the president morally unfit too lead. he talked about -- he had just scathing criticisms of his character. he said he doesn't value the truth or honesty. he, you know, he said he wouldn't like to see the president impeached, interestingly, because that would letet the american people off the hook,k, in his view. he would prefer that they vote him out. i think this is only going to escalate. i think the white house has tried to discredit comey, they've called him a leaker and a liar. the president, too as you suggested, had a number of tweets going after him, but it doesn't sound like james comey -- who has a new book
coming out on tuesday -- is going to be backing down from that. >> host: jeff mason, the president is in mar-a-lago this week. are we going to see him in person, do we think, responding, or is he sticking to twitter when it comes to the comey front? >> guest: oh, it might be a little bit of both. he is going to mar-a-lago later today s and he'll be holding meetings with prime minister abe of japan. so that will be the main focus at least for the first couple of days of this week. but i think that there will be an opportunity for him to speak with the press. and no doubt, this will be one of the questions that comes up, if he does. >> host: that meeting with abe, take us through what the president is looking to accomplish from this latest meeting with the japanese prime minister. >> guest: so aes few different things probably on the agenda for that. this is a relationship that the president has worked on. abe, i believe, was the first foreign leader to meet with trump after his election in late 2016. and what they'll probably be
talking about this week will be sort of looking forward towards a potential meeting between president trump and kim jong un of north korea. that meeting is something that the president has already foreshadowed, said he accepted the invitation. that's of great interest to japan just as it is to south korea, so i suspect that will be something they discuss. they will also be discussing trade are. >> host: why can't president trump hold that meeting with the japanese prime minister at the white house? whyy is he doing it at mar-a-lago? >> guest: it's a terrific question, he sometimes likes to do these types of things at mar-a-lago just because it's special to have a foreign leaderrer come to that particular location. but there is certainly no reason why he couldn't have done it at the white house. >> host: and,at sahil kapur, wht are the main legislative agenda items that viewers should be looking for this week? >> guest: well, i think we're going to see more nominations than, you know, major pieces of
legislation coming up. house last week voted on a republican-led balanced budget amendment, it needed a two-thirds majority, and they did not get that. this is the difference between tryingin to frame themselves between the two parties. of course, it comes after they passed a tax cut that added a trillion dollars to the deficit and increased spending pretty dramatically, so there's an interesting juxtaposition there. >> host: so those are some of the issues driving the week. we want to hear from viewers, our round table with us until 9:00 this morning, so dan's up first in independence, oregon. line for democrats. good morning. >> caller: hello. i just wanted to talk about truthfulness, because i can name two instances where i know trump lied. one about his taxes and one about staying in the white house and spending all his time there. if somebody can come up with two verifiable situations where comey has lied, i'll listen to that. and one other thing, john, i just wanted to say that your
name is the same name of the mayor of independence. thank you very much. bye. >> host: i didn't know that, dan. thanks for letting me know. jeff mason, anything you want to pick up on? >> guest: i'm not quite sure what the caller's referring to with the president spending all his time at the white house, i'd be curious to know what he's referring to there. we know, obviously, that a president spends quite a bit of time traveling. he goes to florida, to mar-a-lago or to new jersey, his property there, pretty regularly, so i'm not quite sure what he's referring to there. >> host: does he have anyto be other major meetings on the agenda besides abe? >> guest: in florida? >> host: yes. >> guest: i think he's doing a tax-related event, and i think he's doing a fundraising event as well. but the main, the main thing will be the abe visit, and that will last two or three days. >> host: and i guess we should note in the week ahead in washington and for the country it's tax day coming up tomorrow this week. it's certainly a topic we've focused on quite a bit in the wake of tax reform.
next is rockaway park, new york, line for independents. nitro, good morning. >> caller: good morning, c-span, i love you. you are unbiased. you and bloomberg are the best -- and dvc are the best sources of real news. and i appreciate what you do. okay? my -- i used to box, i used to street fight a lot. matter of fact, i grew up three miles away from donald trump, and he tried to get in front of the line at mcdonald's one time, and i a stood up against him, okay? but that's not the point. >> host: can you tell us the end of that story? [laughter] >> caller: it was in mcdonald's on hillside avenue inll jamaica, new york. all right? i was waiting on line to get a burger. he came in with a few friends after school. i was about 17 -- he wasn't in school, i'm sorry, i was in school. i was about 17, he was about 21. and just like he did to i think
the leader from macedonia or whatever, he tried to push his way in front of me. and i said, no, you ain't happening. this is not m happening. and he back down. >> host: nitro, did you automatically know who he was at 21 years old? >> caller: my comment, as a boxer and a fighter against bullies all my life, one punch does not make a fight. that one small attack on syria hurt nobody. it was just a glancing blow. and i do not think that that is going to change much. and that's -- and as far as i'd just like to read you the definition of, in the dictionary, of morality. the qualityti of being moral. moral pertains to the distinction between right and wrong and the rules of right d conduct. and that's all i have to say. and don't try people in the media. let this go to court.
let everything go to court. everybody has an opinion. whatever happened to truth, justice and the american way? thank you very much. >> host: nitro, thanks for the call this morning. sahil kapur, specifically on the one-strike issue and the possibilities for follow-ups. can you talk about what you're hearing at this point? >> guest: well, firstly, to the caller thank you for the kind words about bloomberg. that's much appreciated. >> guest: i was waiting for reuters to come up there. i have to put in a plug for reuters. >> guest: should have come up as well. as for the one strike, again, as i was mentioning earlier, this is where the president is deeply conflicted. yes, it's true that there will be people -- including, most prom notely, members of the president's own party that say this is not enough, people like senator lindsey graham in south carolina, the republican and usually a trump ally who, you know, wants the united states to have a more fulsome involvement
in syria with the strategic end game of toppling assad and replacing him with a more, i guess, a different kind of leader who doesn't gas his people and who the united states can work with. the question is how much money has to be spent to do that, how many american troops' lives are going to be lost, what price is the united states going to pay, and is this going to end up differently than iraq did. i think the united states -- american voters are very war weary after that, you know, after that war and the fact that we have what seems like another endless war going on in afghanistan. president campaigned on ending these military commitments which is why, you know, on one hand he does want to show his toughness and american power,e but he doesn't want to get involved in a quagmire. >> host: u.n. ambassador nikki haley was on abc's "this week" yesterday and was asked about the further u.s. commitment in syria. here's that interview. >> i want to pick up on that because there are certainly indications since the first strike in april of last year
that assad had used chemical weapons, and there had been no u.s. response. this particular case last weekend was especially egregious and horrific, but are you saying that going forward that any use ofar chemical weapons by assad will trigger an immediate u.s. response?er >> well, i think, first of all, you said it. this last one was egregious. it was barbaric, and it was disgusting, and so i think what you saw was there had been a qume cumulative wave of constant use of chemical weapons. assad knew that russia had its back, assad knew that russia would cover for him at the united nations, and assad got reckless. and he used it in a way that was far more aggressive. we have to to be very consciousf the fact that we can't allow even the smallest use of chemical weapons. that'ssi why you saw the presidt expel 60 russian spies after the attack in salisbury. this very easily could happen in the united states if we're not
smart and if we're not conscious of what's happening. and so this was a message sent to assad. we'll see how smart he is. >> but to press my point, if i may, are you saying that going forward there is zero tolerance, by assad of chemical weapons will trigger a military response? >> well, i don't think there's any way that i can answer that. i mean, we don't know what he's going to do, the level he's going to do or anything else. i will tell you that the president's watching, and i think the national security team is ready. so basically, we will watch his actions. he now dictates his life, and he dictates what happens between the united states, our allies and his regime. and so hopefully, he's gotten the message. it was a pretty strong message. not only did we go after their absolute strongest research facility, we went after their storage units where they hold the products, and we went after their production. so we put a heavy blow into their chemical weapons program, setting them back years. and i'm sure that it's going to take them a lot to recover from
it. >> host: and that, of course, was nikki haley on "fox news sunday" yesterday. jeff mason, three days since those strikes in syria. what have we found out about the planning of those efforts, the voices that the president heard within his inner circle at the white house and who sort of influenced him here? >> guest: well, first of all, just to pick up on what the ambassador was saying, the administration iss clearly painting this as something that was very successful and something that will set back the syrian government for years on chemical s weapons. but it is certainly the case that they could have gone further and made a decision not to. they were very targeted, they very deliberately did not take military action that would have engaged syria's allies with russia, for example, and iran. and to your question, that is, that's something that was part of the discussion before the strikes. and president trump was convinced not to go further. it sounds like president macron
may have played a role in that if, based on what he said in his interviews yesterday. and i think defense secretary mattis was also a very influential voice. >> guest: we heard the president was influenced deeply by images of people suffering the chemical weapons attack, and that affected his decision even as he was just a few months into his presidency. again, eager to fulfill the campaign promise of ratcheting back these military interventions. so i think that is something that clearly has had an impact on him. >> host: back to your calls. lisa, louisville, kentucky, democrat. good morning. >> caller: good morning, and thank you for c-span. and i just want to let you know i love your show, i watch it every day. and good morning a to you, gentlemen, also. >> host: appreciate that. >> caller: i have two comments. one is, what's going on with scott pruitt in the epa? i'd really like? to know is somebody tracking him, seeing what he's doing, has he changed
hisdy habits? i'm very concerned about his policies on deregulation. and one of my other comments is if we do leave syria, aren't we throwing the kurds under the bus? after all, they've been our only allies in the region. i know turkey can't stand 'em, and i notice donald trump is cozying up to turkey, and i'm really concerned about what position we're going to put them in. that's all i have to say. >> host: lisa, we'll certainly let our panel take up your questions, but did want to let you know coming up at 9:00 michael eisenstadt will be joining us from the washington institute for near east peace -- for near east policy. he's the director of the military and security studies program there, and we'll be talking about a lot of the strategy, the what-ifs in syria and what happens afterwards. but certainly, jeff mason, let you start with her questions, either pruitt or syria. >> guest: i'll take pruitt first. she asked if pruitt's being think the answer to that is, yes.
the white house has said it's looking into allegations against him in terms of travel, in terms of some other ethical questions with regard to where he was staying in washington, d.c. and congress as well is looking into it, looking into some of the records of his travel expenses. so people are certainly looking into it and watching and checking this. that said, the president -- who also told us, actually, on air force one, i was there the day he came back and said he would be making a determination about pruitt. but couched in those comments was also a lot of praise for pruitt. >> guest: on capitol hill there are numerous democrats including house democratics leader nancy pelosi and a few house republicans who have called on pruitt to resign over revelations of luxury travel and what appears to be a pretty special deal he got on a capitol hill condo. as this story continues to snowball, it has been overshadowed with other things, but this is a pretty remarkable series of revelations that does
not look good for the epa administrator. >> host: have any republicans joined in on those calls for him to step aside? >> guest: yes. at least three house republicans have, all of them facing re-election. well, i should say two of them facing re-election in difficult parts, in difficult districts. one in south florida, one in new york. that's carlos car bellow are, and one in south florida who is retiring, ileana ros-lehtinen. >> host: and at this point when paul ryan gets asked these questions, what is he responding? >> guest: i think he generally defers to the white white housen personal matters. trump is facing a barrage of pressure from the right that likes and trusts scott pruitt because of the agenda he's taken on ironically against the agency that he is now running. >> host: to larry in indiana, republican. go ahead. >> caller: yes. i'm calling in reference to mission accomplished. i'm a former marine, and this
term, mission accomplished, it's specified to a specific target like when we conquered guadalcanal, when we conquered iwo jima, when we conquered okinawa, whenpp we dropped the atom bomb. these were one mission and the mission accomplished. even though the war went on, it's a specified target. take the city away during tet when we won the battle, that was mission accomplished. didn't mean the war was over, a specialized mission specified by the military or by the marine corps, and you took thatps target. >> host: larry, when you saw the term ont use that twitter, did it, did you blink about it? did it cause any concern to you? >> caller: sure, yeah. no, he got that from mad dog mattis just like nikki haley saying that we're locked and loaded. locked and loaded is a marine
corps termm used on the rifle range getting ready to fire. she said we are locked and loaded, getting ready to go again. that's a military term. >> host: jeff mason? >> guest: and that's the same point that nikki haley made over the weekend with regard to the criticism about president trump using that term, is that this is a military term, it was in reference specifically to these military strikes and that it doesn't havees any implications beyond that. the difference, of course, is the president is a politician, and some people will take what he says on twitter and in person as political rhetoric. and politically, of course, the mission broadly in syria is not over because there's a lot more there that the u.s. is looking at doing. >> host: you mentioned what the president says on twitter. this is a time of the day that he often tweets. two minutes ago, the president: comey drafted the crooked hillary exoneration long before he talked to her, lied to congress to senator g., then
passed his decisions on to her poll numbers. disgruntled he and mccabe and others committed many crimes. sahil kapur. >> guest: there's a lot to unpack there. i'm just hearing it for the first time. i'm going to take one part where he talked about the poll numbers. one fascinating thing that mr. comey said last night on the abc interview is that he was very well aware of the political climate. he said he was operating in a world where hillary clinton was going to beat donald trump. most of the polls did suggest that, and he said he was concerned that if he didn't publicly, you know, ifyo he wast more forceful in his critique of hillary clinton, that it would appear that a democratic administration was protecting the democratic presidential nominee, andnd he worried that hillary clinton -- who, again, he assumed was going to be elected president -- would be viewed as illegitimate by many people. that's a fascinating dynamic because,yn on one hand, the fbi director is supposed to be apolitical, yet he was reacting
in ways, you know, while people would respond. >> host: senator g. there, is that senator grassley, the senate judiciary committee chairman? >> guest: it may be. could be senator gramm. there are aes couple of senator g.s. >> host: legislation coming up before the jewish dishly committee thiss week -- judiciay committee this week to protect the mueller probe. walk us through what is coming up in committee. >> guest: well, we have the judiciary committee. the chairman, chuck grassley as you noted, has signaled interest in bringing up legislation supported by numerous senators on both sides of the aisle that would protect the mueller administration by certainly raising the bar for the white house to fire him. it would create a review process through which the administration would have to show that the firing was legitimate. this is tangled up in another part of the dispute which i don't think would shock at lot of people. there are democrats, including dianne feinstein, who is concerned republicans will try
to stick in an amendment there that effectively neuters that. grassley says it's an unfounded concern. it still has to go through committee, it still has to go to the floor. senator mitch mcconnell, the republican leader, has given no indication he would bring that up. he's been asked repeatedly, and every time he asks i have no concern he is going to fire mueller. he has signaled confidence in the investigation, but he repeatedly predict it's not an issue that congress is going to have to deal with. >> host: if it gets through the senate and the house, it would still have tot be signed by the president. >> guest: exactly. it's a little difficult to see that president sign that piece of legislation. still, if he vetoes it, it would send a powerful message, and i that's part of the whole conversation here on capitol hill, that they want to make clear they're at least doing their job. >> host: jeff mason, on that scenario in which they send him a bill to protect the mueller probe for his signature. >> guest: yeah. i mean, i think thatil would be real interesting moment for the
white house if they had to make that decision, and sahil says the signal that they would send by vetoing it would be quite striking. that said, and you know better than i what the dynamic is on capitol y hill, but with people like mitch mcconnell saying i'm not concerned and even paul ryan last week at the news conference where he announced his resignation saying that he understood from people in r the white house that this was not something that was being considered. it seems unlikely to me that it may actually get that far. >> guest: and we just add that there are people in the white house that do not always know what the president's going to do. >> guest: true that. >> guest: i would add a little bit of caution to anyone who's going to predict. [laughter] >> host: i would let jeff mason pick up on that as somebody who watches it day in and day out. >> guest: well, things just change so dramatically and quickly over at the white house. you can speak to one official one day or one hour, and then the president will tweet something after that or will say something after that, and
everything will be up in the air again. >> host: how many years have you covered the white house? >> guest: this is my tenth. >> host: and how does this year compare with some of your earlier years? >> guest: it's, it's certainly completely different from the obama years. in terms of comparing to the first year of president trump's year in office, it's similar. i mean, every day as i like to tell people, it's an adventure, because it is. you just really never know what's going to happen. a lot of these big stories that all of us in washington are covering would have had, you know, in a perhaps more traditional news cycle or political universe more legs than they have. you know, you go from one day writing aboutyo stormy daniels o the next day writing about syria attacks, the next day writing about comey accusing the president of being unfit for office. >> host: and to tweets at any time including this from the president of the united states,
russianc and china are playing e currency devaluation game, and the u.s. keeps raising interest rates. not acceptable. sahil kapur, take us through the issues there. >> guest: well, one of the things the president has repeatedly brought up dating back to the 1980s -- this is one of the most consistent things about his world view -- is the fact that other countries are taking advantage of the united states on trade. and i think he's gone after china many, many times. he inveighed against them forcefully on the campaign trail. and i think there's an indication, you know, there was a hint in that tweet you just read outio that china has been artificially devaluing its currency to gain, you know, an unfair leg are up in trade practices with the united states. the president has levied some tariffs against him, there's been retaliation. he is caught -- once again, like on syria -- between a campaign promise that he made, a world view that he has put forth for a considerable number of years and the consequences of those actions. in trade china has targeted
strategically farmers, for instance, with tariffs on soybeans. this is the heart of president trump's base in rural states like kansas and nebraska. he's heard from farmers who are going to be hurt by the fact that they have less access to these foreign markets around which, you know, a huge part of their business model is built. >> host: another topic, i guess, for the abe meeting that's coming up with the president. >> guest: yeah, absolutely. the trade, it's interesting, we were talking about how stories move so quickly. just a couple weeks ago trade was the big story. you saw markets responding not particularly well to thees possibility of a trade war between the united states and china and even other countries in the world. that story has gotten a little less attention the last week as more attention's been paid to syria and because the president's rhetoric has changed a little bit as has the rhetoric from other countries. the president of china, xi jinping, was more conciliatory last week in his remarks about trade, and that's something that the white house received very
favorably and the markets did as well. >> host: and now we're talking about the possibility of rejoining tpp. >> guest: fascinating, yes. ie mean, that's something that the president argued so strenuously against and was very critical of the obama administration for being part of. and now, apparently, it's back the table. and in some ways, that's not inconsistent with some ofot ther other practices, you know? renegotiating the trade agreement with south korea, working to renegotiate a trade agreement, nafta, with canada and mexico. so, you know, trying to perhaps find more favorable terms for the united states in that particular agreement isn't completely inconsistent, but it's still surprising. >> host: so how would that process work? is there an open invitation waiting, a deal that we can pick up and start negotiating again? >> guest: it's hard to know right now. tpp was one of president trump's favorite pinatas on the campaign trail. he hammered it repeatedly. went after president obama and for a while hillary clinton was
undecided on that. she, facing her own pressure from bernie sanders in the democratic primary, ended up coming out against it. so there was a rare piece of consensus between trump and hillary clinton on tpp. it doesn't play well politically because when it comes to trade, the downsides are very well understood. people see shuttered plants, jobs lost in places like the industrial midwest. but how many americans when they go to walmart and buy cheap products, you know, credit china with making them? is very few. so when it comes to tpp, the president has ordered his economic adviser, larry kudlow, and his u.s. trade representative to look into this. he's alsove walked back a little bit saying only if there's a much better deal will we consider. we don't know what that means in the president's mind. >> host: and, again, it's murky, but would congress have to approve a new deal? >> guest: that is, that's something for down the road. president obama had been negotiating it for a long time, and eventually i think they needed -- congress had passed a fast track authority for the president, you know, to
essentially send it to congress and give an up or down vote. but, yes, i think congress would have a say before any of this stuff goes into effect. >> guest: about 20 minutes left. john, republican from california. go ahead. >> caller: good morning. ii wanted to ask you your two guests what they felt about comey. myself, it looks to me like he's just trying to justify his political, him and his staff who obviously overlooked the errors clinton made using her private server and all that. and you go back and look at the meeting between bill clinton and attorney general jan lynch, it's just too much smoke there and no
fire. and also, while i'm on the line, i'd like to say that i think the military action we took against syria is 100% justified. i think it will send a good message to the dictator in north korea and thert mullahs over in iran and putin over in the soviet union. so i'll wait for your comments. >> host: jeff mason, what do you want tot: pick up on? >> guest: so a couple different things. first of all, what was his first point, he was talking about -- >> host: comey and the investigation and especially what happened with the clinton investigation and loretta lynch as well. >> guest: right. so i think, mine, you asked for our -- i mean, you asked for our observations.ou clearly, comey is in the process of selling books right now. that's why you're seeing this media blitz. and whether you liked comey or not, by listening to what he said, by reading some of what
he'se written, he believed he needed to do this out of principle. he believedd he needed to writea book about leadership, he said, and to share some of these observations with the country. pardon me. that said, i think both democratstr and republicans are finding reasons to be skeptical about some of the things that comey has written and some of the things that he's done including what the caller just said with regard to how he handled the hillary clinton investigation. obviously, that's something that republicans are unhappy about and democrats are unhappy about as well. >> guest: comey is going to be a central player in the list history of this era -- history of this era, and i'm sure he's aware of it. i'm sure his book publisher will be happy with the level of attention, but at the same time, he's been in the room with the president. i think his word on this matter, his recollection of events matters. he was asked on a number of occasions, he made some allegations against the president. abc played somee clips of the president denying that, and comey says, what am i going to do?
people can decide for themselves. that's ultimately going to be the case. >> host: johnny inn beaumont, texas. democrat. good morning. >> caller: hello, john. i have one question. this money that president obama gave iran during the nuclear deal, who is it for? is it u.s. money or was it iranian money frozen in u.s. and allied banks? i thought that money belongs to iran. it wasn't our money. can you please answer that? >> host: who wants to take that? >> guest: that's my understanding asde well. it was iranian money that had been frozen for years, and part of the deal was to unfreeze that and give them access to it again. >> guest: yeah. there's been a portrayal that this was, essentially, people secretly loading duffel bags of cash on airplanes and dropping it in tehran which was not really the case. >> host: jim in marietta, ohio. independent. good morning. >> caller: good morning, gentlemen. my biggest worry is that we saw president bush standing on a naval destroyer withh a life vet on telling us mission was
accomplished. years later we found out that there were no weapons of mass destruction. and the true mission that was accomplished was to start or a two-front war. aco two-front war bankrupts america faster, much faster than a one-front war. do you suppose that our president here has jumped the gun in syria by also stating mission accomplished? do you suppose his true mission is to also start a two-front war to bankrupt america twice as fast, or is he getting pressure from lindsey graham and the military industrial complex that's one of the main players in causing war in the world? your comments, gentlemen. >> host: just so we know where you're coming from, what do you think, jim? what do you think the end game is?? is. >> caller: what i think, what i think is since there were no weapons of mass destruction found and we started a two-front
war which sole purpose was to bankrupt america quicker, i believe that we will find no gas in syria. heck, there's gas that goes across america in train ares every year -- trains every year, nerve gas. deferent kinds of poisonous -- different kinds of poisonous gases. what in the world are they doing in america then? why shouldn't we be worried about what's going on in america? >> host: jeff mason, can you talk through how the white house has handled this issue of the chemical attack in syria and how they've tried to get that investigated and provide evidence to the public of it? >> guest: sure. and there was a call on saturday, actually, with some administration officials explaining a little bit more about the attack. and one of the things we talked about was what kind of evidence they had for the gases that were apparently used. they did say that it was very clear that chlorine had been used in that attack, that they have information to suggest that
serin was also used, although the information for that was a little less pronounced or they had less evidence of that or information is the world that they used than for chlorine. >> host: they felt less certain about that in the evidence they had so far? >> guest: it's interesting, the woman, theer person who spoke specifically to that on the call said we assess that chlorine and serin were used. but in my follow-up conversations with white house officials afterwards, they made clear that the formulation we assess was an intelligence formulationti and not a clear suggestion that they're 100% confident that that was part of what was used. but to the caller's point in terms of what the president's intentions are, i think that the president, as we've been discussing this morning, is conflicted in many ways and is getting some advice from military and political advisers to do more in the region than he necessarily wants to. that said, there are also reports that he wanted to go further in this attack in syria.
but i think that this is a man who has kept the promises that he made in the 2016 campaign at the forefront of his mind the entire time he's been in office. and one of those main promises was we're not going to go over, and we're not going to continue to start wars the way that he believes his predecessors have. >> guest: if i can pick up on the mission accomplished point that the caller made. you know, these words, whatever they may mean in a narrow sense to the military, are inextricably linked to president bush and the iraq war. when you had, you know, that very prominent banner displayed, andri thousands of american tros died while fighting, you know, in that war. and the country, essentially, descended into chaos. and i think americans remember that. so --mb and that was, that ended up being as one of the biggest pr blunders of the bush administration. whatever president trump is trying to suggest here, it's hard not of to have that recollection as well.
>> host: just about 15 minutes left with sahil kapur of bloomberg news. it is bloombergnews,.com -- >> guest: bloomberg.com. >> host: sorry, thank you for that. and reuters easy to find, reuters.com. jeff mason is the white house correspondent there. bill is waiting in alabama, republican. go ahead. >> caller: well, i think that we all should be terrified about these predawn raids that the justice department has conducted against paul manafort and donald trump's lawyers. this is very, very unusual behavior,, more like is engaged in by dictators in third world country. but i have a speculation i'd like to make about why they're doingg it. i think they're doing it not so much for what they're seizing, but for the unfettered access to these people's residences and their offices so that they can plant bugs all over. i'm sure they have very highly
sophisticated listening devices. and when you have hours in somebody's office and somebody's house, you can put things in. and they've gone through manafort's house insisting that he cannot go outside of his house, which is extremely unusual in this circumstance. and they're now have gone to every place that the lawyer lived or has access to and have gone in there for hours. why do you think they would do that? very, very unusual. >> host: sahil kapur, why don't you start. >> guest: yeah, a couple things. number one, the commonality between the raid on michael cohen, thehe lawyer, and paul manafort, campaign chairman, was what they call no-knock warrants. in other words, the prosecutors or the w fbi investigators had o convince a judge that if they knocked, the person who they were, you know, whose information they were trying to obtain would have a credible threat of destroying that
information. or that knocking would put somebody's safety at risk, whether it's the police or whether it's the individual himself. so that's a very high bar they have to clear. with regard to the president's point about, you know, what happens here versus what happens in third world countries, it's important to know that the fbi director overseeing all of this is christopher wray who was appointed, was nominated by president trump and confirmed by a republican senate. the attorney general, to whom thee fbi director reports, is jeff sessions, nominated by president trump, a stalwart of his earliest in the senate, you know, who oversees that as well. he's recused from parts of this investigation, it should be noted, but it's not as if these people are, you know, have an axe to grind against president trump. of. >> host: and the president tweeting out yesterday morning attorney-client privilege is now a thing of the past. i have too many lawyers, and they are probably wondering when their offices and even homes are going to be raided with everything, including phones and computerrers, taken. all lawyers are deflated and
concerned. >> guest: it gives us a chance to talk about another big story today which will be michael cohen going to court. and he, and apparently stormy daniels is also going to show up as well because they feel that some of the things that might be discussed at that court session would be relevant to her. sowo that will be another big story in the, in this whole universe. s >> host: explain what michael cohen is trying to do today in court. >> guest: he's trying to,tr basically, prevent -- or he's trying to have some say over the documents that were seized and prevent them from being looked atat and have some say over tha. >> guest: one or very important angle to watch here is going to be the different view of attorney-client privilege between, you know, cohen and trump on one side and the government on the other side. in order to obtain work product or -- in order to pierce the attorney-client privilege in any way, you have to have evidence, you have to show that the work
product or the communications were used in furtherance of a crime are fraught. now,w, the government is suggesting this is not an issue of attorney-client privilege. they're going after michael cohen, they're not going after president trump. but the president has suggested and his lawyers have suggested he wants to look at that information before it cannf go into evidence and can be used in any kind of prosecution to make sure it doesn't violate that relationship. >> host: marian is a democrat in virginia, good morning. >> caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call, it's been really interesting. of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, i understand how atrocious it is that we, what's going on in syria. but there are other countries that do the same thing to their people. so what i'd like to know is why do we seem to laser focus on certain bad people? is it because of the influence maybe of israel being close to syria, or is it because of a pipeline? is it other things that we don't
talk about much in the media? if you could give me your thoughts on that, i'd appreciate it. >> host: marian, before you go, a lot of the attention in this strike and last year's strike stems from it being the use of chemical weapons and that being one of the reasons for the focus. do you think that's a proper reason for the united states to get involved when a country uses chemical weapons on its own people? >> caller: i certainly think it's a terrible thing that they're doing that, but what i'm sayinghi is, yes, and it's chemical weapons, and i questions that's against the geneva convention. but there are other, you know, conventional tortures that people are doing that we seem to not care about if we're not, if there isn't strategic in our best interest for it. and that's what i'm wondering. >> host: marian, before you go, where do you think the line should be drawn? >> caller: good grief, i'm afraid it's beyond my capabilities. i wish i i -- i just know that something seems a little bit, you know, i guess i try to put a
lot of things together, and the power now of the gas industry, you know, seems like trump really is against the, you know, i mean, he's very much a gas person now. and i knowrs the pipeline, something about the pipeline. and i don't even know if i have all the information. i apologize, but i'm just, i just wonder. >> host: sahil kapur, do you want to start? >> guest: so i don't think this is a conspiracy. i think the evidence is pretty strong that this was a chemical weapons attack by the assad regime on its own people. now, where people, you know, where individuals want to draw the line in terms of what's acceptable, what's unacceptable and where the united states should respond and what the end game should be, that's certainly a matter for debate. at i don't think this is i also don'tnd think other countries, you know, are using chemical weapons against their own people. so i don't know that this is a matter of we're only focusing on that and not other countries
where this is also happening. i don't believe it is happening in other countries. >> guest: i agree. i think that the issue here is about the use of chemical weapons, and that's what drove the united states, britain and frances to intervene in the way that they did. that said, there are good questions to be asked about what criteria requires intervention. and there was one -- >> host: here's one i want to bring up. jonah goldberg, senior editor of "the national review," posed on "fox news sunday" yesterday. he said i think that one of the things that donald trump has made clear is when there's a video of kids suffering, he responds to that. that's his red line. i'm not sure if this is a super coherent strategy going forward. >> guest: yeah. and, you know, our colleague, missyes ryan, from "the washingn post"ro was in the pentagon briefing saturday and also asked a question something along the lines of, look, the syrian government is killing its people in more convention always on a regular basis, and that hasn't sparked any kind of intervention. what's the difference? and i think the answer from the
administration at this point is chemical weapons and the use of chemical weapons, that's something that the international community has agreed on since world war ii that that is unacceptable, and that's the reason for this intervention. but it is, it's legitimate to say what about all the other killing that's happening? >> guest: that's an excellent point. it's more of a visceral reaction than a long-term strategy to these chemical weapons. >> host: dave, armstrong creek. go ahead. >> caller: yeah, you just brought up a lot of stuff i was going to say. you know, they have -- the use of chemical weapons, as horrific as it is and illegal in, you know, the world view, he's been dropping these barrel bombs now, in the meantime, since the last chemical attack, and we don't seem to -- if they showed pictures of that, of the outcomes of that, they'd be probably more horrific than what
you see, you know, with the video of the chemical attack. so what's our overall strategy here? are we just going to react to just thatst and everything elses okay or what? i don't get it. >> host: dave, thanks for the comment. stick around for our discussion next. we're going to be joined by michael eisenstadt of the washington institute for near east c policy, and this is a big part of the conversation we're going to be having in just about four minutes. so we'll go to larry, tuscaloosa, alabama. line for democrats, good morning. >> caller: how you doing this morning, john? >> host: doing well, sir. >> caller: good morning to your guests. i have a quick comment and a question. i would like to ask since china is getting involved in syria and also turkey and other countries, do syria have any be kind of oil over there? from what i understand, they do, but not as much as iraq. and my comment is dealing with also a caller brought up earlier during the broadcast mission
accomplished. and when former president barack obama was president, he destroyed the dictators from gadhafi to all the way to iraq. so why can't we do that from syria? because if you don't destroy the dictator, he's going to continue to do the same thing he done before, and i thank you, john, for giving me the opportunity to say it. >> host: sahil kapur, what do you want to pick up on? >> guest: the biggest problem if president trump and the united states does decide to take down assad can is how do you -- is how do you prevent are isis from taking control of syria. they've controlled parts of the country through various iterations of it. the group of people that i think the united states would prefer to take over have not proven themselves to be particularly organized. there are questions as to, you know, whether they can gain the trust of their own people. so the question is how do you fill that power vacuum if you take down assad. that's a puzzle nobody's been able to solve. president obama struggled
mightily with it. yes, he took down gadhafi in libya, that's a separate question, butsy syria is a uniquely complicated set of challenges that i don't think anyone has been able to figure out. >> guest: the other complications there are the fact that syria is aligned with russia and with iran. and if the west and the united states in particular and its allies were to intervene more directly, it would risk a broader escalation of the conflict in the region and with those particular powers. >> host: time for just one or two more calls. kim, easton, pennsylvania. line for democrats. go ahead. >> caller: hello. first of all -- well, there's a couple things. there is gas in syria, and that is, of course, you know, are the russians going to get it or who's going to get it? that's number one. number two, who made these chemicals? do you think syria just c got up and, hey, let's make the
chemicals. no. someonee gave them the chemical. so these are two issues that have to be dealt with. third, the russians do have an interest in syria. maybe it's gas. trump has an interest in the russians because there are seems to be a little bit of, you know, business with the russians. >> host: got youran point, kim. sahil kapur on u.s./russian relationships and the geopolitics in our last minute or two. >> guest: well, for russia this is more of a regional issue that affects them closely. we have relations with syria so, obviously, they're going to bee involved in, you know, or they're going to have an interest in any kind of u.s. response there. and, you know, the caller's right to suggest that any action the united states takes in syria will wrap itself up in a much larger conflict than, you know, we're having with russia right now. >> host: and, jeff mason, before
you go, you said you've been covering the white house for over a decade. sad news from the bush family. former first lady barbara bush declining to seek further medical treatment. have you had a chance to meet barbara bush? >> guest: you know, i was thinking about that yesterday. when i covered john mccain's campaign in 2008, we went out to the bush property and saw president george h.w. bush. and some of the.w of the report, on his invitation -- excuse me -- walked around the property a little bit and ended up seeing barbara bush from the window. and i know that she waved at them. i wasn't one off them. i stayed and continued to talk to president bush. so i can't remember having ever met mrs. bush. but, boy, is she a popular figure in the united states, and, you know, everyone's hearts are going out to her and to the bush family right now. >> host: our thoughts certainlyt with the bush family on, with that news coming out yesterday. jeff mason with reuters, white
house correspondent, thank you so much as always. sahil kapur, thank you as well, bloomberg news national political reporter there. >> and the senate just back in. they'll be working on a native american tribal water rights and land use bill. later this week senators might consider more executive and judicial nominations, a vote to limit debate on this tribal water rights bill set for 5:30 p.m. live coverage of the senate live right here right now on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, from whom comes all