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tv   Newsmakers Rep. Jim Mc Govern  CSPAN  April 15, 2018 6:00pm-6:35pm EDT

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connect with c-span to personalize the information you get from us. go to c-span.org/connect & a for the email. the program guide is the most updated primetime schedule, and upcoming live coverage. word for word gives you the most interesting daily video highlights in their own words, with no commentary. the book tv newsletter sent weekly is an insiders look at upcoming authors and the festivals. the american history tv weekly newsletter gives you the of coming program -- upcoming programs exploring our nation's past. visit c-span.org/connect and sign up today. pedro: on newsmakers this week representative jim mcgovern, , democrat of massachusetts and the ranking member of the agriculture subcommittee on nutrition. thanks for joining us. rep. mcgovern: happy to be with
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you. pedro: and in the questioning is allen bjergo of bloomberg news as an agriculture reporter and mike lillis serves a congressional reporter. gentlemen, thanks for joining alan: thank you for being here today, covers and mcgovern. in the next few days, the house agriculture committee will be considering this year's farm bill. a massive $800 billion package that reauthorizes all farm subsidies and nutrition programs given the big issue is going to be food stamp. there was a lot of concern among democrats going into this bill that there were going to be cuts made to the program. the congressional budget offices scoring it as a neutral bill. where is the concern? there has been a firestorm of criticism from democrats. rep. mcgovern: the concern is they've crafted a proposal that will throw millions of people off the benefit. and then they've created this new bureaucracy that won't work to try to provide work training for some of these people.
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the bottom line is the snap program is one of the most effective's and efficiently run programs in the federal government. it provides people with food benefit, a very modest food benefit. and when secretary purdue testified before the ag committee shortly after he became the head of the usda, what i asked him about the idea he said if it ain't broke, don't fix it. they are making changes to this program and it will hurt a lot of people. alan: some of these are dealing with more money for employment and training programs. that is something democrat seven asking for for years. why the opposition now? rep. mcgovern: we have existing programs that the republicans continue to underfund. this will create a whole new bureaucracy that will not even meet anywhere near the needs of the people who could essentially be thrown off this benefit. alan: they're saying it could
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work during rep. mcgovern: we've done 23 hearings on snap at their request. if this was such a good idea, don't you think at least one of those hearings would have been about this? these ideas, these changes and these so-called reforms that are any ag bill, none of them were reflected in the hearings we held. i don't even know who wrote this. on the ranking democrat on the nutrition subcommittee. we didn't see this language until just a day ago. fits into the typical republican pattern when it comes to snap of trying to get the benefit. -- gut the benefit here they don't like it. and they have historically put a bull's-eye on this program and i'm sick and tired of them beating on poor people. if they get their way on this bill, millions of people will lose their benefit and some things are worth fighting for, fighting for those people. it's worth it. alan: what kind of tweak to the program could you expect? farm bills don't come down from heaven into moses's stone tablets. what tweaks do you see? rep. mcgovern: first of all, what i would like to see is an expanded benefit. the average snap is about $1.40
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per person per meal. this extravagant benefit is $1.40 per person per meal. look i want to make sure that , more people who are entitled to the benefit can get it. i also, you know, want to address the issue that they seem concerned about, which is how do you get people off of snap? let's set the record straight on the majority of people who are on the benefit are not expected to work because they're children, senior citizens or the disabled. of those who could work, the vast majority work. yet they earn so little they still qualify for snap. here's a radical idea. why don't we talk about a livable wage. why don't we talk about raising the minimum wage? why don't we talk about raise minimal bill? alan: that is outside the purview of the farm bill payment one final question on snap. what would be a job training proposal, some sort of way of moving people to work that you could support? rep. mcgovern: there are already limitations on defendant.
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they can only be on the program on three months. if the not on a job training program, they lose their benefit. that's harsh but they already exists and we have work training program that currently exists. why are we reinventing the wheel? this is an attempt to really go after a population of who is vulnerable. i've sat through all these hearings. i've heard all the rhetoric. i'm fed up with this constant belittling of poor people, and diminishing their struggle. and i think democrats are united an opposition to this bill. what they have done to snap is basically go after the core of this program and we're going fight it. by the way, the other thing is it reflects a lousy process. i mean, none of us were involved in it. none of us were informed about it and it's shameful. mike: a little more broadly. you say you wanted to expand this program. how would you pay for something
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like that? cbo just came down with this report that there's going to be a $1 trillion deficit in 2020. if that's the new normal, how do you pay for anything domestic, discretionary entitlement. how do you plan to pay for the programs? rep. mcgovern: i would prefer investing in programs like this rather than giving millionaires and billionaires and corporations a tax cut. but here's the other thing. this is what we are now finding out. the great boston food bank and the massachusetts children's health watch completed a study on the consequences of food and security and hunger in massachusetts in terms of other costs. they have estimated that the cost associated with food insecurity and hunger in massachusetts is about $2.4 billion a year. that's a billion with a b. so the fact that we're not addressing this issue of hunger and food security, and the fact that we are content to keep the benefits so low that food banks and other charities have pick up
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the slack midway through a month, there are costs associated with that. kids who go to school hungry don't learn. people who don't have access to good nutritious foods end up with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, the list goes on and on. the deal is avoiding this problem, avoiding solving this problem has been incredibly expensive. i don't have -- i can't tell you right off the bat exactly where we would find all the money. i'm just telling you by not addressing it, it's costing us a lot more. mike: undoubtedly, any farm bill that would eventually pass congress would be reconciled with the senate. in the senate, given the position of the house and where you can see the senate going, is a silly possibility that a farm bill that would be palatable to you could pass congress this year? rep. mcgovern: i think our farmers deserve the certainty of a farm bill. i'm not sure that the current bill as drafted helps farmers as
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much as i think farmers deserve to be helped. but the bottom line is, you know, i guess my answer to your question is i don't know. because, again, the host position on food and nutrition is so extreme. and it's so harmful to people in this country who are struggling in poverty. that unless they make some dramatic shifts, for me, i can't support a farm bill. from the very beginning, i've said i will support a farm bill that doesn't increase hunger in america. that was the bar i set, the line in the sand that i drew. well, you know, this bill will increase hunger. and so let's just radical changes, i'm not sure that we can reconcile the bills. the senate, you know, again, as a very, very vastly different approach. i don't know where these proposals came from given maybe you get german khan only on the program.
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who wrote this? surely not the people from the agriculture company. it is not the product of liberation and the agriculture committee. it's not the product of the hearings we held. in fact the hearings we held , basically said do the opposite of what we're doing in the farm bill that republicans put forward. alan: switch gears a little bit and talk about syria. you for years have chris for new, more authority resolution in the umf. that has obviously gone nowhere for different reasons. speaker ryan yesterday said there is no need for one. which is a different tone from former speaker boehner. he said we do need one pretty did not like the proposal former president obama had sent down. is this a set backwards in the congressional oversight? rep. mcgovern: it is. absolutely it is. it is so disappointing to hear speaker ryan say that and now that he announced his retirement, i was hoping that maybe, you know, he would stand up and actually do the right thing on this and a whole bunch of other
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issues. look, congress is aggregating its constitutional responsibilities by seeding these war powers to the executive branch. and war is a big deal. we ought to be debating it. we ought to be set the parameters of what we're talking about. not just reacting to things. and, you know, we're in a war that seems to be a war forever in afghanistan. we're still involved in iraq. we're now in syria. we're in a whole bunch of other places. congress is just sitting back and doing nothing. it is wrong. we ought to ask the white house for an aumf and debate it and vote on it. and if congress votes no, then that means you don't go to war. pedro: what is it about the curry one that is not satisfied syria? rep. mcgovern: i don't know how the aumf's, i don't know how you can apply that to what's happening in syria.
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right now, the president is talking about one that goes beyond any that exist. i think it's going after a side thethe --assad in syrian government. . this is beyond the purview of just go fighting terrorism. he is broadening and, look, before we start dropping bombs or sending more troops someplace, maybe we ought to talk about, you know, what we're doing and what the implications are. and, you know, where the traps might be and whether this is a good idea or a bad entered what are the alternatives? -- bad idea and what are the alternatives? and again, you know, i blame the white house for not coming forward with the plan. but i blame congress for being , gutless when it comes to dealing with the issues of war. speaker ryan has done his best to try to keep any aumf legislation off the floor so we can have any votes. well, you know what?
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you ought to start thinking about the men and women who we put in harm's way. they deserve our attention. they deserve us to make sure we thoroughly vet these ideas and these initiatives before we go forward. so i -- you know, we ought to have an aumf debate. mike: politically, specifically, which lawmakers are vulnerable to that vote? you said you want to protect people from that vote. rep. mcgovern: i think speaker -- the majority of republicans do not want to have a vote on an aumf of any kind. mike: because? rep. mcgovern: some of them get burned when they went along blending with president bush on iraq and don't want to put on that situation again. it's easy to be a member of congress and when things are well, go i was there with from the beginning, but when things don't go well, say i was against that from the beginning. but when you're on vote, you're
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on record. i'm just pleading with the republican leadership to do your job. and we all should do our job. alan: a lot of senator who is are looking at 2020 in the white house. don't you think they would not like to take that vote? rep. mcgovern: maybe they don't but that's too bad. they got elected to congress in part of our job is to debate and vote on issues just like this. you don't want to do it, then you're in the wrong business. alan: does this essentially result in some sort of criteria -- the crisis of leadership on the republican's side? rep. mcgovern: i have no idea what's going to happen on the republican's side. i mean, the speaker has announced he's going to retire. i don't know who his replacement is. to be honest with you, thapes to -- that is up to republicans to decide. i'm hoping we're going to win the house back. then we'll be in charge. mike: following up on that -- you might -- partythe democratic hasn't always been united in its own opinion on what the future direction of leadership should
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be, especially here on the part of some younger members who feel folks like nancy pelosi have been in power for quite a long time and maybe there could be time for a new generation. do you see regardless of who the democrats take the house in 2018, a sort of leadership tensions or divisions that could possibly create some questions about the direction of the caucus going forward? rep. mcgovern: i think we're more united than not. and as far as nancy pelosi goes, i think she's done an amazing job and i hope she's speaker. and i judge people on their effectiveness and on their performance. and i've worked with older members of congress who i think have been terrific and some have who have been not so terrific. and i have worked with younger members of congress who are extraordinary and some who are not so extraordinary. to me this is about effectiveness and about performance and i think she's , done an incredible job. mike: what about the argument that she is toxic in certain districts?
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you see the republicans have spent millions of dollars building up the reputation but , it does force democratic candidates that literally run ads that say i won't oppose the leader of my own party. rep. mcgovern: paul ryan is controversial in some district. chuck consumer is controversial in some districts. mitch mcconnell is controversial in some districts. i remember when i first into congress tip o'neill was speaker. he was being used in district against democrats. but the bottom line is, you know, that's to be expected when you're up front. i'm telling you she has done an amazing job and that's what i believe. alan: when you hear those district, you hear about a lot of the ascendant left on the democratic party. but a majority of them have a slightly different opposition. just because of the nature of the districts you need to win. your rural districts, the conor lamb district for example.
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what were the character of a democratic majority in 2019 look like that would be different in how they're working on in the minority given there has to be a bigger tent? rep. mcgovern: i watched conor lamb's race pretty closely and listen to what he had to say. he said a lot of the same things that i said in my distinct he said we need to protect medicare, the importance of unions. he talks about the importance of investing in education. those are democratic values. i think our values have been consistent for years. and we may not have always articulated them as effectly as we would like -- effectively as we would like, but i would expect if we take control, we will try to move this country in a very different direction. one that's aimed at the middle class and one that's aimed at helping people get into the middle class and one that is not just a big giveaway to the wealthiest people in this country.
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the people who are the most well-connected. mike: democratic leadership last summer went out to rural virginia, barbara comstock's district and announced a better deal. this is going to be your 2018 platform. it's all economy focused. there's no social issues. there's no guns, no immigration, no abortion. and there was very little mention of donald trump. is that going to continue to be the message going forward or how do you avoid talking about the president of the united states heading into 2018 considering his popularity is historically low and he's everywhere? rep. mcgovern: again, every congressional district is different. and i think people need to run races that are -- that are compliant with their districts. but what i've been experiencing when i travel different places and speak to different audience, whether they're liberal or conservative audiences, the concern over the president of the united states
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is intensifying. people are concerned. they are nervous. conservatives in the congress are nervous. you know as well as i do what they say to you off the record versus on the record. they think this president is unhinged. they are frightened by his rhetoric. they are annoyed and shocked by his tweets. and they are very worried about what he's done and how he's doing to the republican party but what he's doing to this country. i think the president does play a factor. i think he played a factor in our victory in pennsylvania with conor lamb. i think he played a factor in the victory in alabama. i think he's factoring an even state legislative races. he is not a popular man. and so there's a great deal of concern over him. i would expect that he will be a factor in these elections. alan: as spring become summer becomes fault becomes how loud november, does the impeachment
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wing of the democratic party become? rep. mcgovern: i think the consensus is that we're going to have to wait and see what bob mueller's investigation produces and then make a decision. i think some of us are horrified by the character and the behavior of this president. i'll be very blunt with you. but there's also the political reality that, you know, impeachment is very difficult. that's the way our founders intended it. and i think, you know, absent a strong evidence from mr. mueller that the president has violated the law or that he's colluded with the russians, i don't think impeachment is likely. pedro: no active discussion about impeachment strategy? rep. mcgovern: not that i have been part of. i think people keeping their -- why are we having investigations? we're having them to fine out
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there is some there there. with each passing day, i believe there is something there but we have to play this out. i think the republicans will say we will automatically impeach him. it is a high hurdle to impeach somebody. but if there is evidence that shows this president broke the law and he engaged in conclusion -- collusion with the russians, i think republicans will join the democrats in asking he be removed. that's a high hurdle played on you if the democrats win. rep. mcgovern: it will, but i'm looking forward to all the challenges that will be presented if i was to be chairman of the rules committee. i hope i can become the chairman of the rules committee. mike: what are your plans if that were the house, the house to flip and you pick up the gavel? rep. mcgovern: i would like to believe that if democrats control the house, that we would
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run the place better. we would act like professionals, that we would understand the not everything has to be closed. the republicans have presided over the most closed congresses in history. more close rules than any congress in history ever. i think that's been bad for the institution and i think it's been bad for our image. i think a lot of the toxicity in congress, a lot of the resentments are based on the fact that the republican leadership has closed everything, totally. and by the way, not just they -- they have not just shut out democrats, they shouldn't republicans as -- they shut out republicans as well. i can't promise that every rule is going to be an open rule but there are the greater attempts to accommodate more members. the house of republicans is best be the greatest delivered body in the world.
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people say why don't you solve the issue with the dreamers? you know? or why can't you do something about universal background checks when it comes to guns? the reason why is because the leadership will not allow any amendments to come to the floor who address those issues. we could solve them in a nanosecond. but they have shut everybody out. alan: but putting yourself in the position of the majority and this is always the classic majority-majority perspective. you could bring a background check for the house. you have an open debate. now the folks who got elected in the rural districts as democrats have to make a bunch of difficult votes that can be used in this is the environment -- rep. mcgovern: they can vote no. people need to vote their conscience of these issues. i believe we ought to have sensible gun control laws. some people don't. but here's the deal. the issue is important enough that we ought to debate it. and what democrats have suggested, what some of us have been trying urging the current
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leadership to do is let us bring our bills of the floor. you bring whatever bills you want to bring to the floor. call your friends at the n.r.a. and have them draft legislation for you. let's debate it and vote on it. majority wins. that's the way it's exposed -- supposed to be. to me, that will restore some of the integrity of the institution. speaker ryan promised about a more open house. it's been the opposite. this is the most closed house in history. and that's not the a record that i want to be proud of. i think we need to allow more debate and we need different ideas to have their day on the floor. and that also means we don't have to win everything. and i think if we could establish a different process, i think that would do a lot toward bringing us together and maybe we'll find more common ground on various pieces of legislation to get more done. mike: you said everybody should
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just vote their district and conor lamb proved that with his victory in pennsylvania. but there is still this need for a national message and there is still going to be a very big presidential campaign in 2020 and there is still the bernie , sanders wing versus the more traditional democratic wing. how do you see all of a that playing out in terms of how do you unite these force where is some say all we have to do is adhere to our liberal issues and we will do great and others say you never win a purple district with that in mind? the gerrymandering comes into all of this. there are purple district for that message simply does not resonate. once you get these guys to washington, how do you mill all -- melt all of that into one cohesive message and allow you to govern and pass big bills? rep. mcgovern: i say vote your district in your conscience, those were the things that i mentioned. but look, you don't have to agree to everything to agree on something. the something we agree on we
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, ought to move forward. i believe we should have assault weapons banned. a lot of people don't. well, i agree we should have universal background checks. i like think to maybe we can all agree we should have universal background checks. it may not be as much as i want initially but it would be a helpful step forward. we ought to be able to come together in some of these economic issues, strengthening pensions, -- tensions. you find common ground ways to protect medicare and to protect social security. you know, and maybe find common ground to strengthen some of our environmental laws so that we can have a majority that actually believes that climate change is for real. so i think there's lots of areas and we don't have to agree on every single thing. i'm a liberal democrat. i couldn't get elected in west virginia. joe manchin probably can i get elected in massachusetts. but we have a lot more common than divides us.
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the stuff we have in common, we ought to move. the stuff we have to work out. alan: you are describing a very different dynamic in congress. there was a democratic congress as recently as 2010. how does a democratic congress in 2019 differ from that one? rep. mcgovern: you learn from past experiences. and i think we need to listen to all members and especially the new members about what works and what doesn't work. we need to pay attention to these races that we're winning in very difficult districts. and understand what messages work and what mesms don't. -- messages don't. again when people talk about , these big differences, between the burning wink and the establishment, i see a lot more -- bernie wing and the establishment, i see a lot more in common. and some of the things we want to do may have to be done
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incrementally. maybe not all at once. but, you know, based on these last few months, i feel the democrats are coming home and they're more united than ever. they're fearful of the man who's in the white house. they're really disappointed with the dysfunction in congress. they understand that congress has been complicit with the trump agenda. they want something else. i think -- i'm hopeful we will be a lot more unified than some of you guys think. pedro: jim mcgovern, ranking number of the house rules committee and member of the agriculture subcommittee on nutrition. thank you for being with us. we will be right back. what did you learn from the conversation particularly about , the snap program and also the farm bill? alan: the farm bill is operating on a different political context from when it is passed every five years. this time around what is
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striking about the democratic position is they are more united on opposition to a proposal that, in some ways, is milder than what several of them supported in when you saw actual 2014 cuts to the program. it does not necessarily make sense from the idea what could be seen as more punitive. although there are a lot of concerns about the job training proposals. it does make sense when you look at the political context and how people may be looking at a farm bill passed in 2018 versus one passed in 2019. the policy is always what people are focused on, but politics always looms in the background. pedro: as far as the future of the farm bill, what would you say its status is? alan: the farm bill now is actually fairly popular among farmers. what is striking about this debate is you don't hear as much debate among farmers about the farm bill. it is always that focus about getting the bill passed. it's actually a very small about -- amount outstanding. the snap program runs two thirds to around 80% of the program's actual spending.
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this time, the debate is over where most of the money is spent rather than what the farm constituent to tend to provide the political push our thinking. pedro: mr. mcgovern talked a little bit about the aumf. were you surprised about what he said about democratic response of where that goes? mike: no. he has been consistent over the years. it is one of the strange issues that unites liberal democrats like jim mcgovern and more libertarian have been mighty conservatives on the republican side of the aisle. massey comes to mind. these guys are pushing speaker ryan and leadership to vote on a new aumf. it never happens for the reason i think the mcgovern stated, legitimate is correct. it is too hard a vote for people to take. the last time that came around, it cost some people their political careers. never easy to vote on war. yet as mr. mcgovern says, it is , a constitutional responsibility.
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very clearly defined that congress is the one to make these decisions. --ot of concern yesterday defense secretary james mattis testified before the house armed services committee. he said, ryan, the current aumf is fine. this allows us to fight anyone anywhere. it was a very broad response. democrats are talking that they are concerned there are no restraints and considering the volatility of this president, there is real concern. no surprises within mr. mcgovern's responses, but it is a debate that is not going to go away, particularly as this issue -- the syria issue heats up. and if we start firing more missiles, it will be an issue. pedro: a lot of talk about the november elections. what did you gain from that? any revelations? mike: >> molded talk you hear that from all the --
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talk you hear that it's time for nancy pelosi, steny hoyer to leave, for all the talk of the younger generation overthrowing them, there is still support for them in congress. like her 10govern acid. they like everything about her -- fundraising, her work ethic, everything about it is unimpeachable in their minds, so they will also fight for her. also worth mentioning nancy pelosi just nominated mcgovern , sothe ranking member spot he's not going to throw her under the bus 48 hours later. that said, she has an enormous fan base within the democratic caucus, and a lot will depend on november, how many seats they enoughd if there are seats to bring nancy pelosi back
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into the fold. >> of both of you, thanks for joining us on "newsmakers." >> thanks. tonight on c-span's "q&a," hoover institute senior fellow and author neil ferguson on his book "the square and the tower: networks and power from the reemasons to facebook." >> what is striking to me when i interact with these groups is not their power but often their sense of powerlessness. if you think about the events of 2016, just to take an example, not many members of the suppose it world government planned that britain would vote to leave the european union and that donald trump would become president of the united states. donald trump is definitely not somebody who gets invited to those meetings.
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take a financial crisis, the events of 2008, 2009. nobody said they're saying what we really need for the world government is a massive financial crisis -- nobody sat saying, "what we need for the world government is a massive financial crisis." >> tonight, journalists with their book "russian roulette: the inside story of putin's war on america and the election of donald trump." they are interviewed by representative watching castro castro of- joaquin texas. >> if you were looking for a moment that the trump russia , it'scomes together there. he is there in moscow to preside
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over the miss universe pageant, but he is therefore a business ,eal, to build a trump tower and secondarily, part of that is to meet vladimir putin. we talked a moment ago about how to build a tower, you needed to have putin's permission, but to do anything in moscow really, trump had to hook up with an oligarch. he is already in bed with this corrupt regime. >> watch "afterwords" tonight at 9:00 p.m. >> now, montana governor steve bullock speaks to a group of democrats at a fundraiser for the attorney general of iowa, tom miller.

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