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tv   Covering the Trump Administration  CSPAN  March 15, 2018 4:12am-5:28am EDT

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reminding -- they're story tellers saying our tribe wants to be something special. not just a city on a hill but a city that carries and loves one another and is willing to work with one another and understand that politics is indispensable to our bringing about progress for as much people as possible. >> q&a sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. >> and coming up in the morning at 10:00 eastern, a hearing on russia and u.s. military operations in europe. this is before the house armed services committee live here on c-span 3. >> journalists from "the washington post," cnn, and cbs sat down with university prot professor downy. this about an hour, 15 minutes.
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>> thank you all for coming. we do have a really good panel today. we have abbey philip, who's the white house correspondent for cnn. she joined cnn last year from "the washington post" where she covered the white house and national politics including hillary clinton's national campaign. in the middle we have ashley parker, a white house reporter for "the washington post" and a senior political analyst for msnbc from 2011 to 2017 she was a washington based political reporter for "the new york times." one of the fine people we've stolen from "the times" over the years. and the further from me is chloe, senior producer for cbs this morning. she's covered several presidential trips and campaigns and was also a bureau sheaf for cbs headquartered in beijing.
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now, all of you have covered both the previous administration in one form or another and the trump administration, so my first question is kind of a softball. what's different, abbey? >> how about everything. a lot is different. i mean, i think this white house, the experience as a consumer of information about this white house is probably similar to what we experience as reporters in that it is probably as wild and chaotic as it seems to you. especially by comparison to past administrations and those of us who have covered past precedencies. the white house can often be a controlled environment in which there's a great effort to control the message, to know what is coming out every single day. there are lots of embargoes on information. you know, the obama white house was very much like that. they were not just trying to manage the message within the
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west wing but also across the federal government. and with this presidency i think a little bit of the opposite of that. there are a lot of little tornados happening all over the federal government, and that's what makes it so challenging to kind of keep up as a reporter. and i think -- i assume as a consumer of news it can sometimes feel you never really know where to look next. and that's because there really isn't a whole lot of central planning happening here. that's different. i mean some people would say it's good or bad or whatever, but it's just different. >> why in a white house where they attack the press so much and seem to be enemies with the press, why are there so many good sources for you all? >> i think a couple of reasons. one is as abbey mentioned, this white house is in a lot of ways more accessible than previous white houses. some of this changed when john kelly came in and implemented new discipline, but -- and i
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never covered the obama white house in the way i'm covering president trump's white house. but you could be in the west wing or you could be in the upper press having a meeting, and it would not be uncommon for hope hicks to see you and say oh, hi, ashley, hi, phil. i think the president is free in the oval office if you want to stop in and say hello. and that happened to a number of people. i was talking to someone and they said outside of the oval you're likely to see a preacher, an elephant and like a republican member of congress waiting to see the president. in the obama white house i remember any little story i was doing, you know, they had to know what sorts of questions do you think you'll be asking, and what is the topic, and do you have an understanding if this will run on the front page. it's very managed, and the trump white house is not like that. you also have a sense of what the president is thinking,
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because his tweets are what he's thinking in that moment. i don't buy the theory he's sort of strategically turning everyone's attention away, covering up one chaotic thing with another. it's what he's thinking. and to your actual original question about why so many good sources, and again this especially true at the beginning, but the president is someone who consumes a lot of his news through the television. and that's often the most compelling way to get your message to him. so you would think if you're a west wing staffer you could walk into the oval and present the president with a briefing book or deliver your message. but it was often less excelling was to be in front of him in person and more excelling to be with him through the sheen of cable news. so you had people sort of when there were all these vying factions fighting them out in the press because that was often the most efficient way to sway the president. >> chloe, so how do you manage
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all this chaos in term of how you prepare for new shows and so on? >> barely. i think in terms of the chaos itself one of the most challenging things especially for a morning show is we have to somehow have a vague prediction of what might be driving the news at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. and i work primarily day side the day before, and i have to say the numbers of times i've been woken up to seven different stories out of washington that we had not originally had when i went to bed at 10:00 i think it's astonishing. and i think days in particular like my favorite is not super recent but in may we thought the story that would maybe drive the week was that russian state media had photographed the russian ambassador kislyak in the oval office. and that story i thought we weren't going to do much better than that in the next few days. and that afternoon the president fired the fbi director.
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and that is par for the course right now. and i think the pace is really difficult because we only have a finite amount of space. we cannot fill the entire two hours of news from washington, although i think the washington bureau would like that. editing it is challenging, and steering the news is not something we can to. so we have to roll with it and it requires a lot of flexibility. the other day "the wall street journal" had a big interview with the president, and as i was reading it "the post" wrote the story about the expletive countries. so, you know, the directions are infinite. >> abbey, is some of this accessibility to sources in the white house part of the infighting that's going on there? do you have a sense of who's on which team and therefore who to go to find out things about the
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other team? >> yeah, i think i was going to add to what ashley just said. kind of the second layer to all this is it starts with trump is someone who came into politics fairly recently. he filled his white house with a lot of people who don't know him, or haven't particularly long. it creates those factions you just mentioned. a lot of people with a lot of different interests working for this one person. that's different what you typically get with a president. by the time you become president in this country usually you've been in politics for a while. you've developed a stable of staff, people intensely loyal to you, who have been with you through an amount of things. trump has a lot of people who he doesn't trust a whole lot and coming into the job from
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different perspectives and don't trust each other. as reporters we're often getting people fighting to influence the president through us, through the media. but also trying to one-up each other, to push people out of trump's inner circle, out of his good graces. and i think that has changed -- one of the interesting things is that we often -- i used to work with ashley until recently. and one of the things we often talked about and talk about still in my current job is just so who's really allied now? and that changes all the time. you would be surprised. i think there was an idea -- you know, you might have one idea of who's allied with who. steven miller, for example, was often spoken in the same breadth
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with steve bannon. but in the time we've been covering this white house that alliance has changed. these people are making new alliances and breaking old alliances all the time. so it makes it very interesting but also very challenging. a lot of it has to do with people just trying to survivor in the trump white house. and in order to do that often you have to pick your allies month to month because that's just how quickly things change around here. >> ashley, don't people get punished from talking to you all this way? i can remember people were afraid of jay carny and afraid of talking to the press. >> i mean, yes and no. obviously if people were getting deeply reprimanded you would think it would stop. but i think 1 of the problems they haven't had a sort ability to crack down and figure out who's talking to who. i do think there would be
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consequences. and every now and then you see something like that. like right now they sort of banned personal cellphones in the west wing. and those are the cellphones you can receive texts on, use secret messaging apps. those are the ways a lot of people in the white house liked to communicate with reporters at one point. and they did that under the guise of security. but these crack downs always seemed to happen in moments where there were a lot of leaks coming out the white house. and i have to say under general kelly it has gotten a lot better and more disciplined. i think the problem is they just sort of don't -- they have an inability to sort out leaks. and what abbey was saying, you may notice if you're a very close reader of "the washington post," is that some of these inside white house stories we have a line that i've learned is
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widely mocked in the rest of journalism. that says, you know, this portrait of the president in this moment is a result of 27 interviews with senior white house officials, lawmakers, friends, outside confidants, et cetera. and the reason we do that is partially it avoids having to source every single graph which diswanwhich disrupts the flow. but in the beginning you had to talk to that many people. in my understanding it's the first white house i've covered in this capacity, but there were a certain number of people in the obama white house, if david axel rod or bush told you something you knew it was true. and same thing in the bush white house. and each person's story you were sort of getting some percentage of the truth. so i have some sources i think of as like wikipedia as a good
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jumping off point, but i would never put it in the newspaper. other people who are very reliable, and so to get the fullest picture and to get to actual truth you had to talk to 25 people and hear all their pieces and balance them against all their agendas and all their alliances. and sort of in doing that you could actually come pretty close we believe to figuring out what actually happened. >> could i add very briefly to that? because i think the next logical question is so are they just lying to you then? and i think the answer is sometimes. but the reality is people in the white house often don't have visibility. they don't have full visibility of what's going on and what conversations the president's having at 10:00 at night with his friends and how it changes his thinking by the time he wakes up the next morning. and so people are kind of operating sometimes with their best guess as to what's going on. >> or what was true two hours ago. >> or what was true two hours
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ago. and there's a sense of a lack of confidence even among people who ought to know things, that they may not always know what's real and what's not in part because of how trump draws from such a wide array of advisers and people around him that you're never really sure where he's heading with his thinking. >> chloe, it appears obviously to the public that we get a different picture of what's going on from different networks. how does that feel at cbs? what do you make of what fox is doing, what msnbc is doing? what do you see in your charter where we see different views on different channels? >> i was looking at some the other day, that i think in 198,052 million people were watching the big networks and now we're at half of that. i will say i've been at cbs for
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a long time, but in many ways we are counter programming the other two morning shows and trying to take a serious step with the news in the morning, which has not been done. and we're doing a good job at it, i think. it's still new in many ways. but the thing we've decided to really double down on is time, giving stories the time they deserve and also inviting lawmakers to come onto our show. this is one series is called issues that matter. so we will give someone five or six minutes of tv in the morning to talk about something from a policy perspective, which is unusual. and we do not see that on our competitors. we had the speaker of the house the other day on tax reform and gave him 14 minutes, which is a lot of time and unusual. we also invite lawmakers who you don't see on our competitors,
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senator sass, senator langford, senator jones did his first interview with us. senat senator gardener who didn't have a lot of visibility but becoming a player more so. there has been an appetite for it which i find to be encouraging. >> ashley, this president has given very few full-scale press conferences than most administrations. and yet he seem tuesday be on television constantly and quoted freshly to newspapers every day. how would you describe his accessibility to the press and would you want to change the way in it works? >> again, in some ways he's more assessable because you have a lot of sources and when he tweets you know what he's thinking. and you can watch that 75-minute rally on saturday night and have a pretty good window into his head in that moment.
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i would actually say i'm a little surprised he hasn't done more press conferences. in part because on the campaign it was not uncommon to -- and again even with just other candidates i've covered or politicians, you put in a request for an interview and go back and forth with the staff. and they say, okay, i can get you ten minutes here. and you're like okay i'm going to be waiting by my computer. and on the campaign at least you put in a request for president trump and i'll be waiting in line at a food cart and your cellphone would ring and it's a candidate. so someone who really enjoys engaging with the mead you and and he wanted the challenge as people would say, he thinks he's his own chief of staff, his own politic political strategist, but sort of one-on-one with the media he can often be quite good and quite engaging and charismatic. not just in one-on-one
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interviews. in those they can sort of pin him down, but in a room like this that's a really good forum for him. early in the administration when everything was going on -- maybe you remember. >> it was the only press conference. >> it was the only press conference he gave. but he came out into the east room and sort of took back his narrative. and the idea was sean spicer can't speak for me, i can speak for myself. and he did. when he opens up those cabinet meetings, on the one hand they sort of reveal a lack of deep policy understand, but they also show someone who's sort of a deal maker and can win over a room, and in theory is trying to get places. so, yes, i would love to make him more accessible, and love for him to come into the briefing room once a week. i'm not quite sure why he
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doesn't because i think he's good in that format. >> speaking of the briefing room, to the public probably the white house press briefings are beginning to look like a soap opera of some kind. are they useful anymore? do you all still go to them? >> we do go to them. >> why? >> are they useful? somedays i think they're useful. some days i think they're not. the greatest use is to create a public record of what the white house's position is on a given subject. i think it's actually incredibly important because when everything distills and we find out either what the real truth is or we're at the point where there's a decision that needs to be made, we can compare that to
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what we said when we asked a question. i think there's win a lot of times in this white house where it's turned out that statements that have made from that podium are just simply not true based on facts we've learned subsequently. it's important for the public to know that we are doing that kind of due diligence. i think in this day and age and especially now when there are divisions about what is true and what is false, it is easier to show our work when it comes to the truth by saying here's what was said on this day, here is what we know now. and i think when we can show readers and viewers that record, it really matters, especially now at a time when people are all questioning -- you know, just questioning what's real and what's not. so it's good from that perspective. i think one of the bad things about the press briefing is often the answers can become circular. so whatever question you've asked it becomes, well, you're
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the one who's really doing that. and i think that's not helpful. i mean those kinds of back and forths are not helpful. but to the extent we can press for answers on facts i think it's still very important to the extent that it becomes this sort of game of trolling, not so helpful. >> and i'd just add to that. i think the problem there, too, is that tv is a little bit of a curse of the press briefing, too. because you have all the correspondents who want to and the same question and want to and it on camera. and often i am the person who is asking for that. but it's one of the realities that contributes to this circular -- this circular dynamic, and also you just run-down this rabbit hole of the same thing over and over again and it understandably frustrates someone like sarah sanders. but i'd be curious to see how much we see the press briefings, how much they play in network
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news stories and cable news, the actual pieces themselves in three years or so. i mean i remember when i was covering the obama white house, it was in all due respect to josh earnest, it was a high bar to have josh earnest in one of our evening news stories. and now sarah sanders is everywhere. and on top oof that so much happens after the briefing now they're also completely and irrelevant often in a a matter of minutes after they conclude, so that just adds to that as well. >> and let me and you about the tweets. there are critics who say the press shouldn't even cover tweets anymore because they're not always true, and they're often just reacting to what he's reacting with, what he sees on fox news. what is the news worthiness of
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the president's tweets, and do you have any philosophy about how they best be covered? >> yeah, i think the debate about whether or not we should cover the tweets was fair during the campaign. then it felt like a more valid question. this is the president of the united states and he's saying something, and so it's always something that should potentially be covered. i think we are a little selective in what we cover. if he's just kind of ranting or trashing the media, i think going back to the press briefings i think it is never to our advantage when the media becomes the story. the only people the american people hate more than congress is the media. it is what the president is thinking at any given moment, what is on his mind. and i can only speak for the poeps but this is probably true universally. we do try to add contacts and
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fact checking to his tweets. i do think it would be irresponsible if we said this is the president and this is what he said. but we said here is president obama and it's worth noting facts and here are facts to the contrary. i think it's worth noting the difference. >> abbey? >> i think we should cover the tweets. the president is literally giving us a look into his mind-set and thinking every day. i think that's an incredible amount of access that reporters could have only dreamed of five years ago, ten years ago. i chuckle to myself because sometimes i see reporting that's like the president is thinking this thing, and then the president literally just tweets it. and then it just -- i mean it's important. the president literally just
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tells us exactly what he's thinking, what he wants, what he likes, what he dislikes. you can tell when he's angry. you can tell when he's happy. it's -- it's critical to covering this white house because it takes the guesswork out of some of this stuff. we no longer have to totally rely on other people interpreting his moods. we can say this is exactly what he said on this subject. >> chloe, harder question. in this extraordinary time of me too and times up, how important is it for the news media to investigate allegations of infidelity and sex wual harassmt by the president? do you think they have any impact? what's the responsibility? >> i think the responsibility is automatic. i do think that one of the stranger things is how the rules don't apply in terms of things that would have mattered before. we spent a lot of time talking about a porn star who was paid off right before the election and conservative republicans on
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the hill don't want to condemn it, don't really want to engage, claim perhaps fairly not to know anything about it. but i don't think we can be outcome driven, whether people care, whether it's something the american public cares about it, whether republicans care about it, i think it is our duty when we're faced with evidence to pursue it and to do our due diligence. i think one of the problems is having the -- infinite resources are never required to do everything we need to do. and we are constantly adding new resources. but i think every day there are things i wish we could be working harder on that we just can't be. and so i think it's important. this stormy daniels thing, we just interviewed here for "60 minutes," and that's going to be a real thing. >> are you going to tell us what
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she said? >> no, i need to stay employed. so i think his behavior is he's the president of the united states. i mean the same logic applies to the tweets in some ways. what he does and says are presidential actions and presidential statement effects. >> there's no precedent if it happens. what's the impact on the investigation in the white house? do you have any information on the fears? >> mueller really has the best sense of where it's going. in terms of morale, i think it's really bad for morale, and i think this president can take a lot of criticism, and he can take a lot of bad stories, and
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he's actually quite good at bouncing back. but there's something about russia that will never not drive him crazy. i know it's a little bit armchair psychology, but also armchair psychology i've gotten back from people montana west wing. he is incapable of saying these two things that possibly seem to be true, which is that russia absolutely interfered in the 2016 presidential elections, and yet he won had electoral college fair and square. he sort of feels like if he admits to one, that russia med l it somehow delegitimizes his victory. if you look at these aides, there are people in and out of the president's circle. but the people who are cast out for good and will never recover for the people who commit the cardinal sin in his mind of prompting him on russia.
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so that's attorney general sessions, which recused himself which the president believes set the stage for the probe. and no matter what sessions is on, no matter how tough he is on drug dealers and senseitanciten immigration he can never recover. and steve bannon made the mistake of saying that the meeting with the president's son had in trump tower with the russian lawyer was possibly treasonous. and that was just the end of steve bannon. and so it is something that the president cannot stomach. it is something that makes him behave in ways that often exacerbate the problem. sending out -- you know, you sort of have the two buckets. you have the collusion and the obstruction of justice. and the fact of this makes the fact of behavior towards the second bucket more likely because he's reacting to
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information he's receiving, and that of course is bad for morale in the west wing. >> abbey, that michael wolf book, how realistic -- how much reality is there from your experience? >> i think it just depends -- it depends on what part of the book you're referring to. my rule of thumb on the michael wolfe book generally is that when people are quoted in the book you usually just take their quote. for example, steve bannon. one of the reasons the steve bannon part of that book permeated so deeply is he was on the record. he never denied them, and they were telling both about where he was at the time he was talking to michael wolf and also about the level of access wolf had for some period of time in the west wing, which was extraordinary. and so i think that much is very true. i don't want to get into -- i
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haven't actually -- i shouldn't admit this. i have not actually read the book cover to cover. but as it pertains to how it affects my coverage, we approached it. there were a lot of assertions that he took from sources and synthesized it into things he thinks gives a good picture of the white house. one part of that is the level of chaos and back fighting. i think that's a fairly accurate picture, but that's also a fairly accurate picture you can read in the "the washington post" and on cnn pretty much every single day. and the other thing as i just mentioned are the real on the record quotes of people who worked in the west wing at the time. i think those were -- those were the most important part of the book from our perspective because it setoff a whole cycle
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of bannon being excised and also kind of a fracturing of the trump universe that i think is still an ongoing story about the bannon faction and the trump white house and how they deal with each other, and the fact that at least in the president's mind they are not necessarily entirely the same thing anymore. >> chloe, pro-trump commentators often describe the press as part of the resistance to the president, trying to push him out of office. how do you react to that? do you have any sense among the people you work with and the coverage they're pursuing that it is anti-trump as opposed to the normal accountability one would want to have the press hold the president to? >> i think it's normal accountability. i think it's an easy narrative to say that we're part of the resistance. i also think it dove tails perfectly with the enemy of the american people opposition party
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rhetoric that this white house has attached to the news media. i think -- i think it depends on how tired you are, how you feel when you hear that language. but i do think technically we work in an strong press freedom, the first amendment. things aren't so bad. it's the rule of thumb when it comes to the press freedom. and watching people in china use some of the opposition party, the rhetoric to justify the way they teach or treat their own press. and it's scary. i think that if you see in places where they are using this rhetoric as well, they are adopting pro trump commentator rhetoric, the president's own language justifies incredibly
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harsh crackdowns on their own journalists. i do think the implications are a wide ranging amount when you take on the press. i feel confident in what we're doing every day is our job and it is about accountability and responsibility, and i don't see an agenda to oust the president by any stretch of imagination. >> ashley and abbey, i wonder if you have been the target of anti-media, personal media either on the media or when you're out with the president? >> i have a decent anecdote about this. i was covering him during the campaign. i worked for the new york times, but i traveled with him. one of the reporters i rode a lot with was magger heber -- maggie heberman. so we were at this huge rally in san diego, like are 10,000 or more people. the way the press was -- and to be clear all press no matter
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what candidate you cover, you are sort of enclosed, but normally you're in the back of the room. but with trump we were sort of a part of the show, right, because there was always a moment when he would say look at those cameras in the book of the room, they are not showing the crowd. and then another moment where he would make a gesture to the press pen and they would shout cnn sucks, just a part of the way he would call for building the wall, a a part of the trump -- a part of the trump show. we're in the middle of the room of 10,000 people or more and starts complaining about our story. he says, you know, there is a woman named parker and a woman named heberman. i had like a little name card that i quickly slid my laptop over. the most dishonest and the most despicable, you know, they're not here are they? and i'm sitting in the front row now with a slightly obscured name crowd and the entire crowd turns around. is parker here? is he here? [ laughter ] and then the
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good part about being a print reporter is that no one knows who i am, right? so i will say a lot of my good friends who are on tv felt a lot more -- especially women, they felt a lot more aware. cnn and other outlets got security guards for their female reporters to walk to their cars after rallies. and it was a slightly disconcerning, unnerving experience certainly for me being called out by the president in front of 10,000 people. no one knew what i looked like. >> what has happened to you? >> i think i've gotten a lot of, the internet has become aggressive in this era. it has been building for many
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years. i've had a conservative -- i won't call this person a reporter, but a conservative reporter who writes on a website online publish a story about my mother. in an attempt to attack me for coverage of a trump surrogate. and it can be a little scary. i don't mind it personally. i mean you are concerned about your physical safety. it is really, i worry more about the impact on your family and people who didn't sign up for this. dis-- i think that's the kind of thing that has really escalated. when i was at the post, i mean it was very much like when things like that happen they were like we have resources to help you. i think news organizations have
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gotten to the point where they know they need to find ways to protect journalists both physically and online and protect their families as well. it is undiscriminating the kind of thing you get online. >> chloe, one thing the obama administration has done that has not happened yet, they actually prosecuted people who leaked classified information to the press and subpoenaed members of the press and so on as a part of those prosecutions. now i know the attorney general has said he has 35 investigations underway or sop large -- or some large number. are you fearful that could happen during this administration? >> i am fearful of that, but i have to say for as much as the president literally yells about reporters and what we're doing, we don't have a point. we don't have a james rosen situation. and how inevitable it is, i
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just don't know. i mean that's up to the attorney general, who is in a spot with his boss right now. and i think we are waiting to see what happens. i don't really see any indication that there is going to be any sort of active push to go after the print media -- sorry, any media right now, but all the infrastructure is there. the mandate is there and has been felt more importantly. so i just don't know. i mean it's a fear, but i don't think it is a fear we should be totally consumed by it right now as long as we protect ourselves and have organizations that support us. >> ashley, are any of your sources fearful with discussing classified information with you? >> i think, so i should say -- i guess i don't know what is and what is not classified. there is a low bar for
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something being classified and a story i'm working on now. this is not someone trying to leak, but it's someone who is trying to be a good steward within the administration and they want to help me understand something, but they are very fearful. i'm like just tell me, this possibly can't be classified. they're sort of trying to walk a line, so they don't personally violate any norms. but i will say on the whole again in terms of the stories that i do, which had are much more political base, it is sort of not the same level of sources that people on our russia team or investigative team. because some of my stuff is like well what channel is the president watching when he got so mad at the attorney general sessions. not to undermine the stories i do, but it is not rising to that level. >> and have you made any mistakes that you would be concerned about during this coverage? i'm thinking for instance, in the initial coverage of john kelly. he is going to come in and straighten out the white house,
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that you should become more rig rigorous, and exposing other access of kelly's behavior that doesn't fit that narrative? >> i think we certainly made mistakes. i mean we've made mistakes of facts first of all. that happens. we try to correct them when they do happen, but they happen. and the problem in this administration is always at any time that they happen they become used against the media and just in general. even something as small as in the early days of the trump presidency of when a reporter didn't see their martin luther king jr. bus in the oval office. and they had to correct a report, but the president wouldn't stop talking about it. in fact he still talks to us about it on twitter.
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and so mistakes like that, small, big, i think they do matter. but we are, i think, sometimes just proportionately used against us. but i think what you are also asking, are we making mistakes on how we characterize things in this had white house? and i think that we sometimes, i want to use the john kelly thing as maybe the best example of this because i think that our interpretation of john kelly was largely based on what people knew about him at the time. and the thing about kelly is that not a a whole lot of people -- about kelly, not a whole lot of people knew him that well. he wasn't known to have deep political views on policy. he was a military person. and he was known more about it.
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for the first time as far as we know, he's had to weigh in on those things. and now he is actually in a completely different position, where he is not just executing the law, which is often how he would tell people he dealt with issues at dhs. it is enforcing the law as it was. but now in the white house, he is advising the president on what direction to take the law. so we are gaining a broader and a better understanding of him. i think as reporters, we have -- we have the responsibility to have that greater understanding play out as we are learning it. i mean i think it would be, i think it would be unfair to suggest we should have known in july all of john kelly's deeply
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held personal beliefs about immigrants and about dreamers, and whether or not some of them are too lazy or not. some of these issues hadn't really been played out. i remember in the early days when john kelly was selected, we were writing furiously about what he believes on anything. and i remember talking to sources about this, and people saying you know what, he didn't really go there a lot of times in his personal beliefs. and now he's just in a different job. i think there are a lot of things like that that are developing in this administration, that changes all the time. i think our knowledge of situations is evolving. some of it has to do with the fact that so many of these players are just kind of newbies to the political scene. they don't have a whole lot of record for us to dig through like they would with normal politicians and normal staffers. so we are dealing with that. i think it's a struggle.
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it's a part of the job. but i personally would not characterize them as mistakes in that way. >> ashley? >> this is sort of more of a defense or a realization. but one criticism in the media, everyone cares about drama and entry and processed stories, why don't you focus on the policies and what the voters really care about, which is a valid criticism everyone is sort of aware of and working towards it. it seems like you have a a bit of that figured -- you have that figured out. but with this white house, the personality and the politics and the drama are with the actual policies, so very quickly, if you look at the way it went down, you would have to start with a photo that ran in a british tabloid of hope hicks and rob porter on a night out of town. that led to two of his ex-wives coming forward on allegations of domestic and emotional
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abuse, which led to a number of people lying to us. and it also led to rob porter who by all accounts was highly competent and professional and quite good at his west wing job regardless of how bad he was based on these allegations in his personal life, leaving the white house. he had all these processes in place to basically make sure that on trade especially rigorous process was run and a lot of people who did not believe in tariffs and who were free traders were sort of using him to block the more nationalist. when he was out of there, the white house dissolved into chaos. not just because he was gone, but because they were dealing with that on a number of otherallegations, sort of mini crisis on another front. that allowed peter navarro to waltz into the white house and tell him, do you want your tariffs? we'll bring you your tariffs.
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then the president announced tariffs that are actually going to have pretty serious policy implications for their global economy. and that was deeply died into his mood and how he felt. if you want to tell the policy story, then understand the decisions this president is going to make. you sort of have to understand all the other things that seemed more trivial, but i would argue with this president or not. >> chloe, one of the things i grew to hate as executive here at the washington post was the white house correspondence dinner. once it became a hollywood show, and a place to get to know them over better, i see people going this year. >> whether it is worth a while is still a different question. but i believe cbs people will be going this year. i don't love the white house
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correspondent dinner. i think it is stressful. it is one of the more substantive dinners, more about the celebrities. but yes, i will keep it brief. cbs, i'm sure will be there. and it seems like the president will show. i don't know if that will change the equation. yeah, are we allowed to say that? >> yeah, he is going to go. i was talking to somebody today who said he was not. >> he really enjoyed himself on the gridiron. they set a low bar, which was helpful, but he actually had a very good time. so there was sort of the two minds that might encourage him to go, but he also might sort of want to go on a good note and not test his luck with the correspondents' dinner. >> one last question for the three of you and then you can
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ask questions. there's a microphone right over there. quick lightning round question. how much longer will jared and ivanka be in the white house? >> in my personal capacity, i don't think it will be through the end of the first term. but i don't want to weigh into the evidence as to why that might be. i do think reality with jared too, what is -- he has such a wide portfolio right now. without the security clearance, that issue gives him a problem of credibility, whether or not the middle east plan is actually finalized. he has the actual ability, technical ability to do anything there. so i do question how he finds his way with limitations including the russia investigation, of course too.
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>> ashley? >> i'm so torn. i don't know. i think i could see them trying to ease out because they are under scrutiny that they are unaccustomed to and they do not enjoy. and sort of at the end of the school year would be a natural transition, whether it is this year or next year. jared has a soft landing spot on the campaign. two big things i'll add. trump, and we reported this, but you can't get a clear signal from him on this. he will talk to general kelly and he will say they are horrible, they are getting killed, ivanka is my little girl, they need to get back to new york. then he will be with them and say you can't leave. and so he is sending mixed messages. they could be out before the end of the first term. the other part of me feels like these two people are family and
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survivors, so i'm sort of willing to bet on them. >> i will only add i totally agree with everything both of them just said including the idea trump doesn't quite know whether he wants them to stay or go. i think he definitely feels badly for how this has turned out for his daughter and his son-in-law who he generally thinks is undeserving of the scrutiny he's been getting. but also one new factor in all of this, now there are fewer and fewer people the president knows and likes and trusts around him. hope hicks is definitely leaving, we know that. i think the people who know trump wonder what happens to him when he has no one left. whether he wants to have fewer people around a him who he trusts. and also there has been a
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recent effort underway by some people close to the white house in the public, in the media to bolster jared. there was a piece written this past week talking about how unfairly he has been treated and how much great work he has been doing. so you kind of have to read those signals that perhaps they want to kind of settle themselves a little bit more and settle some of the dust around their presence here. and who knows. it is anyone's guess. and that is the soft landing of the campaign. >> notice i did not ask you about melania? [ laughter ] questions from the audience? yes, sir. >> my question is what you talked about in his first term. is there a second term expected? what is the mood like inside the white house? when candidate trump was run aring, people did not take him
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seriously. now what is the mood like inside? is hi planning for a second -- is he planning for a second term? is the media taking him seriously or not? >> he is definitely running. he says he is running. he trouted out the new slogan, which is keep america great! >> exclamation point. and i don't go to the white house every day. i would defer to abbey and ashley about the mood inside the white house. i think to the point u of the soft landing, and who is really an interesting figure especially in the digital capacity. i mean the infrastructure is technically in place and being
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built. and you have groups in georgetown holding dinner for the president. and with that being said, anything totally goes here. whether he says he is running, i think you have to take that seriously and being literal about everything. and so maybe is the weakest answer, but it suggestions he could -- suggests he could hate the job and probably too early to tell because he is certainly enjoying himself. i don't know, what do you think? >> to answer that question you didn't ask, but the second half of it that i get asked by people who are liberal is, you know, could he possibly win again? the answer is yes, 100%. i do not understand the thought
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it from people who cannot imagine a a second term of trump -- imagine a second term of trump should he choose to run. i think he 100% could if the elections were held tomorrow and i think one reason of this is because everything about donald trump, the stuff people love and hate and the stuff that people wish they could change like the tweets, it was already baked into the cake. so the donald trump you have now is absolutely no different thanwhat candidate donald trump will signal on the campaign trail. i u do think with other candidate -- i do think with other candidates there will be a a little more with george w. bush. if you look at conservatism and then 9/11 happened and the whole situation changed. so you have people from the first term, not the second term. you have people voted from obama in the first term and they will stay above where they thought they could be and the results were not what they wanted. but donald trump the candidate and the president is exactly what you would expect.
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>> we know the president thinks about this all the time. he thinks about his poll numbers, his 2020 election process, how he's doing in -- in iowa. he thinks about it and talks about it all the time. the sure sign he's acting on that is what he did with tariffs. tariffs is a political move not at all about republicans in 2018. and really it does not help them a whole lot. maybe it helps saccone in pennsylvania, but even republicans will say maybe not so much. this is all about the president of 2020 and about whether he could go back to voters to say hey, i delivered this for you. it's about those union democrats who have been, you know, drifting away from the democratic party, about getting people to stay with him or come to him.
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>> another question. >> yes. sort of in the same thing i've been told about. he is actually personal and charming and engaging. were those people sort of vilified by whomever you found to be actually more sympathetic or professional? i find myself having good thoughts about spicer in that short time. >> are you in the entertainment business? >> i feel like i should punt to ashley on this one. >> yeah, absolutely. to the rest of the world, they are characters in this, i don't know, reality show of an administration. but they are people and they have personalities. many of them we knew before
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they were in the trump white house. so yeah there are a lot of people who are lovely to work with on a day-to-day basis who are professional. i will tell you two things. one a lot of people tell me when they meet trump, that's how they feel about him. that he is nothing like the caricature on television when you meet him in person. he's very inviting and easy to talk to and you know warm. i talk to all kinds of people about meeting with trump. some people who really don't like him. they will all tell you the same thing that they really enjoyed the face to face with him. i've heard people say that about ivanka as well that she has, she kind of comes across that it there is a screen in front of her.
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in a room she is believed to be diligent. she's engaged, people like working with her. there's a lot of people like that who are different i guess than the person you see or that they act out on television or on cable. >> yeah, ivanka is the same example too and i have not spent a lot of time with them. and then we anchored the entire broadcast from inside the white house, which was thought with -- which was thought with truth. people said he looked childish and we were sort of holding our breath. we're in his house. he came down and spent quite a
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bit of time with us and was jovial, resting in person, and focused and clear. he was completely friendly. i say the same thing about her. she does know her stuff. she's really kind, she fed us when we were at her house, which always goes a long way especially with our camera crews. but yeah, i think those are interesting examples and people who get a real hard time almost every day. ashley knows this particularly because of the stories she wrote on ivanka and how people feel about ivanka. >> yeah, i sat down with ivanka and jared a number of times. they are both like perfectly incredibly polite. i read a story that had the line followed the house of kushner and i ran into him a couple of days later and he could not have been nicer and more polite. and he read the story because he mentioned it. i think once i have had to deal with steven miller on stories.
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people have a lot of opinions about him. again, professional, polite. he is actually someone i did a profile on him. not revealing any sources. but one thing that was reported to me, everyone in the white house, even people who disagreed with all of his views, just really liked him as a person. and you know i kept on trying to get someone to say well explain this to me again how you find him so charming. but he is someone who is widely liked within the white house and one thing people really respected about him, which i think is true and not particularly common in this white house and that he is incredibly loyal to the president. that's in short supply of this white house and he doesn't always agree on the president with all of his views. but you would never see steven miller in this white house freelancing, going out saying his personal views on immigration. if trump agreed on x, y, z, even though he would try to pull the president back. he would accept his decision. he would not leak or do any of
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that stuff. with new notable, quite notable exceptions, i've had really positive experiences dealing with people in sort of a professional basis. >> the question on this side of the room? >> kind of wondering about the rest of washington, losing all the coverage with the air and the white house and everything. but what about the other side with congress? are we missing a lot of the stories because of everything that is happening, you know, in this chaotic administration? >> i think that's such a huge factor in this political environment that we are in. there is a whole government out there that i personally believe is undercovered. and there are a lot of policies being changed, regulations are being rolled back, and that expect real people and i know that there are a lot of
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reporters out there that are trying to chip away at those stories every single day. i think the new york times last week, they ran a really great story about i think like the deep water horizon regulations that were being rolled back. and there are stories about air quality and water quality and stories about -- you know, new stories about the cabinet secretaries are spending and how they are spending that are also important. i think -- we need infinite resources to cover not just the trump who but the administration. and add a complication to that, i would say even as there is kind of a drive to roll things back, that there is also a certain amount of chaos that makes that drive very difficult to cover. that in the normal administration, there would be a transparent process where stakeholders are brought in and they get to weigh in on it and
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they will be informed. he gets informed if things are happening. often in this white house that process never ever happens, that you know people on the hill are just surprised sometimes, when things happen and that directly affect their district or whatever. and you know as the public is when they read it in the newspaper. so it will make it more challenging to cover, but no less important than i think. and obviously, i think we all wish there were like a million more people doing it. >> some of the challenges that i would add and stuff undercover. but one of the challenges you mentioned, cabinet secretaries. some of the stuff, they actually get covered, but it doesn't get like the air time or the attention to breathe and get results. oftentimes the way change happens is because of sort of public accountability, and the media shining the spotlight on something. and so for instance if you had to take any one of these secretaries or take shulkin, you know, taxpayer funded trip
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with his wife to europe where they went to wimbledon. and he's charged with our nation's veterans, arguably one of the most important things, something trump cares about. then the press had a wonderful story that got a little attention because of how absurd the details are. but at his agency, he has an armed guard standing outside his office. and again in any other administration, the process would be the article runs, the i.g. report comes out, it is asked at the briefing every single day. believe it or not, people don't always do things because it is the right thing to do. but at some point they start clambering for change and they realize they need to pay a penalty if they don't switch this up. but i was talking to people inside the west wing and they were saying they were both stunned and relieved that they were not getting a ton of questions on shulkin because it kind of happened during the rob porter thing. there was rob porter and domestic abuse and stormy daniels. so this stuff gets covered and then it doesn't quite stick in the way it might.
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>> can i just add to that good question? my impression is that congress is not doing a whole lot and to say that it is either in opposition to the president or holding the president accountable. the normal give or take that would go on between the white house and congress and even with the same party may not, congress may not be holding up its end. is that the right impression? >> well, i think my colleague major garrett, our chief white house correspondent says his daily struggle at the white house is to separate the interesting from the important. i think we are starting to figure out how to do that at the white house. the frenzy associated with the first few weeks of covering the trump white house, we were blasting every tweet onto the air without really knowing what's happening. and even building new software to make sure the tweets were on tv faster. i mean really crazy. we are starting to stabilize a little bit at the white house. and to abbey's point earlier,
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we realized a lot of this is nunes and inexperience and not some deliberate plot to destabilize the entire country. on the congress front, i was talking to the congressional correspondent the other day. and she was just talking about how frustrating it is covering congress right now because especially republican leaderships are so hand strung by the president. at least in more of a public forum u and it comes back to the tweeting too. the easiest thing is to say i didn't see the tweets, but they are presidential statements. every third one does have a policy implication. you're hearing that from the speaker of the house. and that is a big challenge. i also think in terms of the rest of washington, one of the most interesting places is the judiciary right now. and i know that for the supreme, people who cover their supreme court for us, it sort of feels like a typical
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republican white house, the appointments are solid conservatives, the societies, and successfully informed a lot of decisions there. and there is a little bit of nunes with the tweeting especially taking on the courts, which would cause the lower courts to look at things more closely than in terms of their executive action. but to the point of things happening quietly, and the judiciary has been packed with solid conservatives. the white house has chosen in record numbers. they are dwarfing what obama was able to do in terms of judicial appointments, which is the kind of thing when they would have a column u. like five things you missed while trump was doing god knows what. and it is about the policy things we're missing or not paying a ton of attention to.
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on sunday there will be craziness at the white house, which buries the fact congress would pass sexual harassment training. honestly especially in light of what has happened, it might have been our lead story on the given day. so i think congress, it's a hard time especially when we have a renewed gun debate. and to say they are getting a ton done when there is about a day left in the legislative calendar on your end. >> i have been reminded we are running way over time. so one more question and then we will finish. anybody else have a question? i was looking for a woman's question. we have a lot of men. right there. >> hi, stacy meyers. i work for the national education association now.
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the question is just speaking about the gun debate, when you guys do cover him and he says something that seems to be a major policy statement, he says the exact opposite like with the nra. are you guys reporting it knowing that he has this past precedent of always contradicting himself and rolling back, or do you have to wait until he basically says the opposite 24 hours or less later? >> i think the north korea meeting, the meeting with kim jong-un is a good example of this. this is not in specific to guns, but he hasn't spent a lot of time in washington, this is not criticizing my bosses who are in new york. the president says he is going to meet with kim jong-un, it is definitely going to happen, where is it going to happen? oh it will be in geneva or something like that. it's a 10% chance this happens probably.
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and so it's about the point of running for reelection again. i think you have to cover it in the moment as it happens with the appropriate context and look at the implications. i don't think it will make you say i'm not going to pay attention to that because he will change his mind tomorrow. i just think it informs patterns of behavior and legislative tendencies. you may be able to infer for some of his actions. >> obviously on some of the policy stuff you saw on immigration, you saw it on guns, he says one thing, he wants to deal with chuck and nancy and goes back to the other side. it's that balance covering what the president said, which is apparently news worthy and putting it in the relevant content that this is a president who often changes his mind. you'll notice this weird thing to adjust to on sort of policy and people. so and so is going to become the next secretary of state or whatever it may be.
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if the news leaks out, he's going to choose whatever, pompeo, it leaks out. he might change his mind because he is angry that it leaked or because he watches a lot of news coverage on pompeo and it turns out some people don't think he's this great of a pick the president thought. and so rarely do you have a politician or president wanting to the news in a way that it affected their decision. i'm sure if obama or bush was appointing someone and it leaked out, they would be incredibly frustrated, but they wouldn't choose a different cabinet secretary. they are all the relevant caveats and hedges that said the president has said to six friends he's going to pick so and so, but nothing is a done deal until he announces his decision. >> and his staff won't stop trying until the words have come out of his mouth printed in blood on paper. [ laughter ] >> thank you very much. now i know it is time to stop. [ applause ]
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senator jeff flake said this week that president trump should have a conservative challenger in the 2020 election. the concord monitor reports the arizona republican who is retiring at the end of his current term is speaking in the first in the nation primary state of new hampshire friday morning, where he'll highlight country over party. but before that we'll have senator flake here on cspan 3 live at the press club luncheon in washington, d.c. that's thursday at 1:00 p.m. eastern. this weekend cspan takes you to winston-salem, north carolina. with the help of our cable partners, we will explore winston-salem's literary scene and history. author and wake forest university dean michelle gillespie with her book "katherine and r.j. reynolds." >> i think they were an extraordinary couple in the
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early 20th century. r.j. reynolds was the founder of the r.j. reynolds tobacco company. he turned that tobacco factory into one of the top 100 or so corporations in america by the early 20th century. his wife katherine, 30 years, his junior, had a lot of vision and was committed to a pretty progressive way of shaping society for the early 20th century american style. >> seeing an extensive collection of memorabilia from lewis carol, author of "alice in wonderland." >> i found out he bought a typewriter in 1888. i learned about what kind of typewriter it was. he didn't type books on this. he typed a few letters and documents, but mostly used it to entertain his young friends when they would come to visit him. he would let them type volumes of poetry, but they would type things on it. it is quite a novemberty in 1888 to be -- quite a novelty
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in 1888 to produce something right there on your desktop. a visit to old salem. settled in 1776 by german protestants, and hear about the hidden town project, which explores the history of afros living in salem. saturday at noon eastern on cspan 2 book tv and sunday at 2:00 p.m. on american history on cspan3 as we explore america. u.s. attorney general jeff sessions gave his take on federal judges who issued nationwide injunctions. saying such court rulings are blocking trump administration policies involving sanctuary cities, the daca program, and transgender military service. hosted by the federalist society on saturday. this is about half an hour.


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