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tv   Panetta Institute - Presidency Leadership  CSPAN  May 12, 2018 3:45am-5:17am EDT

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he has challenged many of the traditional norms of that office. tos taken executive action reverse policies. he communicates his views to the american people by tweeting. chaos. his supporters believe he is doing exactly what he was elected to do. change washington. his opponents believe he governs by chaos. we have two dutch follow-through on our system of checks and balances. tonight, we the people have the opportunity to freely debate and discuss the issues.
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the freedom to do that in our them a gives is the impetus to know that we as citizens are responsible for protecting the american dream. tonight, leon will discuss these issues with our guests. two who have spent their careers observing the presidency, and one who served president trump as his first chief of staff. our first guest is one of the most famous investigative reporters and america. in a two-time pulitzer prize winner, he is a keen observer of the inner workings of government, of politics, and the role of leadership. he is an associate editor at the washington post, where he has worked since 1971. he has shared in two bullets or -- pulitzer prizes. first for the cover of the watergate scandal and second as the lead supporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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called the best, pure reporter of his generation, perhaps ever by the weekly standard, he has authored or co-authored more national best-selling nonfiction books than any other contemporary american writer. his best seller, "the price of politics, was released in 2012. published in 2015, his most recent book, the last of the presidents men provides the last pieces of the complex story of the nixon administration and its legacy. please welcome bob woodward. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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host: welcome. [applause] host: our second guest is also one of the most influential. he has covered the hidden stories of washington and its leaders. he began his career as a copy boy for the washington evening star and then became a reporter at age 19. in the early 1970's, he broke the watergate story for the washington post and was awarded the pulitzer prize and recognition. since then, he has continued to investigate and write about the use and abuse about political, media, financial, and spiritual power.
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the author of five best-selling books, his recent work is the national bestseller, a woman in charge: the life of hillary rodham clinton. a claim does that definitive biography of its subject, it was published in 2007. his next book, his memoir of his family's experience in the mccarthy air is entitled "loyalties." he attended the university of washington. please welcome carl bernstein. [applause]
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>> thank you. host: you are welcome. host: our final guest is a former white house chief of staff to president trump and the longest-serving chairman of the national republican committee in recent history. he worked his way up through the ranks of the republican party of wisconsin as first congressional chairman, state party treasurer, and first vice chair. he was eventually named state party chairman in 2007. in 2009, he served as general counsel to the republican national committee. he assumed the chairmanship of the rnc in 2011 and oversight john mack turnaround of the gop. he left the rnc as one of the most successful chairman of either the political party in american history. he was named white house chief of staff shortly after the historic 2016 victory and left the administration in the summer
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of 2017. he is a ba from the university of wisconsin and a jd from the university of miami. these welcome rights priebus -- reince priebus. [applause] moderating our discussion is the man who created this lecture series more than you 20 years ago. he has served in public life under nine american presidents, was chief of staff to one president. he was secretary of defense to another. he knows the importance of good leadership. please welcome secretary leon panetta.
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[applause]. host: love it. [chuckling] >> good evening ladies and gentlemen. we have a hell of a crowd. [applause] you are in for a great show. our theme is "is the american dream alive and well?" we talked about national security. in our last for them, we'll talk about technology. tonight we will focus on the presidency. why? [laughter] leon: because the presidency happens to affect the fate of our country. whether or not people in our country will be able to succeed and enjoy the american dream. presidents make the decisions about whether or not we go to
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war. whether young men and women are put in harms way. presidents make the decision about how to deal with economic crisis. presidents make the decision about whether or not they are going to support security for american sicilians -- citizens. that is how social security and medicare came into existence. medication, housing issues, education, issues related to jobs, highway programs to develop those jobs. all of that is impacted by the presidency. presidents are human. they make mistakes. we pay the price for those mistakes. it is important for us this evening to look at, what are the qualities of someone who was going, succeeds, is good for the
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country? what about those that are not so good? what about the system of checks and balances? these and so many other questions we will discuss tonight with this very distinguished panel. let me begin with the panel with the question i think is important to establish a baseline on the presidency. putting president trump aside for the moment, we have all either observed presidents, talked to presidents, or as reince and i were, chiefs of staff to the president. in your lifetime, who was the best president and who was the worst and why? >> [laughter]
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bob: the surprise ending for a president that really did a great job in our lifetime -- was gerald ford, nixon's successor. i learned that and it began, really, 30 days after nixon resigned. ford had been vice president. ford went on television on a sunday morning announcing he was giving nixon a full pardon for watergate. i really think ford hoped he could go on a early on that sunday morning and no one would notice. [laughter]
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bob: it was noticed. but not by me. i was asleep. carl called me. he is the ability to say what he wants in the fewest words with the most drum up. [laughter] he said, have you heard? i said, what? he said, well the son of a bitch fired the son of a bitch. [laughter] >> i had on my decoder ring so i figured out what happened. this was the final corruption. particularly, to yours when ford ran against jimmy carter and lost, essentially because of that suspension's of the pardon as being some sort of deal. 20 years later, in one of my books, i went back to re-examine the pardon.
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i called ford up, i had never met him, never interviewed him and i said, what to relook at a pardon and i thought he would say no. gerald ford turned out to be one of the most open, honest, direct people i have ever encountered. so i had the luxury of a full-time assistant. i read every interview. i read all the memoirs, interviewed everyone who was alive.
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i went to see ford many times at his homes in colorado, rancho mirage, and california. what happened? i remembered the last interview with ford, in his little house in rancho mirage, right off the golf course. i said, why did you pardon nixon? he said, you keep asking. i said, i don't think you have answered fully. he said, you are right. i have not answered it fully. i will tell you what happened. i have not even told betty. so he goes through, he says, let me take you to the moment. i have been president for 30 days. my god, it was awful. there was so much distress. no one would believe anything. all the news was about, what is going to happen to nixon? the cold war was on, the economy was in trouble. the special prosecutor had sent a letter saying, nixon is a private citizen and he will be investigated.
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he will be indicted, convicted, maybe you will go to jail. so there will be two or three more years of watergate. i will never forget him saying, i needed my own presidency. we had to move beyond nixon. so, i preempted the process. and then l haig came to me and offered the deal. >> al haig being the chief of staff for nixon. >> he said, i rejected that deal because it would have been corrupt. i said, i get to be president anyways. [laughter] bob: and i am supposed to pardon nixon? but i rejected that.
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i said, you did pardon nixon. gerald said, here is why. i was in charge of the country. i had to think about the country. i was in charge. you know, this is the job of stewardship. i realized that this idea, he needed his own presidency. the country at two move on. so he said, this is how i -- this explanation of interest. so in the book, i said, instead of this being corrupt, it was gutsy. and they awarded him the kennedy prize, "profiles encourage," from the book. i remember watching that and thinking, my god. here i was sure he had done the most corrupt thing in the world
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and then under examination, literally 25 years later, what looks corrupt turns out to be courage. leon: yeah, interesting. bob: what a humiliating, humbling experience. to be so sure. so now, we sit down and talk about your former boss. everyone is sure where this is going and what it means. i look at this and say, we do not know. reince: most of my family is not from the united states. if you ever wonder how i get a name like reince priebus -- [laughter] rience: it is what happens when a greek and an italian get married.
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but, my upbringing, like all of our upbringing, is a huge part of our life. the person i looked up to most of my life and the person i would follow around the house everywhere, was my grandfather from greece who had come from wisconsin. and it was not like, relatives come from a long weekend. when the greeks come, it is for a couple months and they are living there. i remember him taking the letter "p" off-the-shelf in the world books. he would sit there off -- all day and read them. he had a little johnny walker next to him while he was reading.
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it didn't matter who was reading. fdr, kennedy, andrew jackson, jimmy carter, every single one of these guys was great. he was great, ronald reagan was the best. what i took from that is the person i looked up to most in my life loved everything about this country, but he was not from here. every little crumb about what i loved is what you have and i do not. and so, i have not sat through -- no advance -- as many -- no offense, as many presidents as you all have. >> that is the advantage of being younger. >> but when i look at presidents
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and the former chief of staff gave me a reprieve because he took president trump up the table. i look at who is inspiring this country. i look at ronald reagan and the feeling he gave americans across the country, republicans, democrats, a lot of people inspired by the american dream about something beyond legislation, how we feel as americans and making people proud again. i don't remember a lot about jimmy carter, other than what i read. he was at the bottom of the polls when i grew up, and he seems like a good man. ronald reagan got me involved in politics. that is really what got me involved. leon: i assume, nixon? at the bottom? bob: you got something right.
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[laughter] leon: ok, we have ronald reagan and nixon, carl? carl: nixon is at the bottom because he was a criminal president from the day he took office until the day he left. he is unique in our history in that regard. what your question goes to is a commitment by the president of the united states to the common good, to the national interest. the first president i covered was kennedy. all the presidents have their successes, failures, but the two that standout in retrospect, the commitment to the common good, putting the interest of the country over their own interests without huge character flaws that have brought them low, i go
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to gerald ford, for the reasons that bob has enumerated. he did that pardon knowing it would probably cost him the presidency. when he ran for the election, he was willing to put the national interests above his own interests, and ran knowing he would probably lose the election as a result. we have to look at barack obama. [applause] carl: one, in terms of personal rectitude, which he displayed throughout his presidency. whatever his failings in terms of policy, putting the act of health care before something else, partisanship, what ever we look at, the idea of the common good and the national interest, we have to look at obama in terms of really saving american
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capitalism, saving us from depression. the first months and days of his presidency, the republican opposition, rather than looking toward the common good, was really committed toward undermining the incoming president in the united states. not a single republican embraced obama's solution of dealing with financial crisis. obama was advised by republicans he inherited from the previous administration. those acts might disagree with the size of the bailout, what one company was given, but he really saved our system, and probably saved the world from a real depression that would have been ongoing.
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he did it despite the fact he was being accused of all kinds of things. and that the other way would have been a kind of austerity approach that failed elsewhere in the world. i think his steadfastness there, i'm going to do the right thing, that is the basic question. which presidents go, what is the right thing for the people of this country, or the greatest good, the national interest? i think those are two examples. [applause] leon: reince, we have to now look at trump. you know the president better than i think all of us. you served him in his campaign and as chief of staff. you are quoted as saying about
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your time int he white house that you can take everything you've heard and multiply it by 50, to put what you said about -- quote what you said about his time in the white house. identify for us what his strengths are and weaknesses are. reince: i was describing the job of chief of staff. when a four-star combat marine in john kelly says it is the hardest job i have ever had, it goes to tell you being chief of staff is not easy. you know that. you have been there. but also, president trump is different. he is more complicated. he has never run for office before. he wants to be perfect at little things, middle things, big things. he is like many successful people, impatient. i would say it to people who i think get a misread in the media. take it from me. i resigned the day before.
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i walked down those steps, read a tweet i was being replaced by john kelly. i am coming to you as someone who is not here to spin. this president made it clear who he was and how he was going to govern during the campaign. people in this country, and in most of the country, were tired of being lied to. they were tired of phony and plastic. they wanted someone who was going to be the biggest middle finger they could find, to tell people in washington to go take a hike. the president has fulfilled -- [laughter] reince: what i would say is, and if you are a republican -- maybe there is not a lot of them here. maybe there is. >> there are about four of them
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-- [laughter] reince: if you are a republican, you love the results of what this president has done. you like the fact that isis is on the run. you like the fact that 22 regulations have been eliminated. you like the fact this president is on his way of appointing more federal conservative judges than any other president in modern history. tax cut down from 41 to 35 on the business side. we will probably spend some time tonight talking about what the media talks about, so what i would suggest to you, is to avoid concentrating meaningless drama, and focus on the results.
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that drama does not matter to american history. what matters is that successes and failures of this president. if you are a democrat you hate it, if you are a republican, you love it. but the nuts and bolts promises he made, he's delivering. leon: let me talk about the modern presidency. there's a great article in the atlantic by john dickerson that talks about the modern presidency as an impossible job. this is a quote. "no man or woman can represent the competing interest of 27 -- 327 million citizens, perform the duties of the office. the most powerful man of the world is powerless to achieve many of his goals, for it by -- thwarted by congress, the courts, and in him is bureaucracy. is the modern presidency broken and is trump in some ways a
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consequence of that?" carl: no, i think that's the wrong way to look at it. i think the president can succeed. i think it is all about leadership. if you go for a job interview and they will say, you are here for this job, what is the definition of the job? what is the definition of the job of president? and having thought about it through eight presidents, now working on a book on trump, for me the job is the president is that role of stewardship. but it's also figuring out what the next stage of good is for the majority of people in the country. real majority, not just a base, not just one party or a bunch of interest groups. things can be done through the presidency and by the president that really make a difference in people's lives.
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and then the president has to say this is what it is. what is the strategy to get there? it may take years to get there. but that's the job of the president. and it's a shame when he gets misdirected or whether some of reince said, things seem trivial. but what i find missing from the trump presidency, there was the campaign. he was going to do this, going to do that. where are we going? in the 1960's, i served in the navy. i was on a ship and executive officer number two. i spent a lot of time in this office because i was a troublemaker. a renegade. leon: i've never heard you
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called a renegade in the years that i've known you. that's extraordinary. [applause] bob: thank you. and he had a plaque glued to his desk and i never will forget it because i saw it many times. and it was " he who does not know to which port he is saying has no favorable wind." and that's true. there are winds that are favorable, unfavorable, and they can get you, but you need to know the port to which you were sailing. and i do not find enough evidence in the public discourse from the president or out of washington from democrats, where are we going? what is this all about? what are we trying to accomplish? the lack of clarity hurts the president, hurts the country, and hurts all of us.
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and i think it's a tragedy that there is not some mechanism. did you ever try to find which port donald trump was sailing? [laughter] carl: i guess i respectfully disagree. if you look at the first year, you have the appointment and the nomination of neil gorsuch, which had a profound affect on the supreme court. at the same time, we tackled the health care bill unsuccessfully and then we moved into tax reform, eventually passing the first tax reform since 1986. and obviously moving into matters related to north korea, isis, syria, i think that there is clarity.
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>> i'm sorry, but matters involving north korea, there was all this fire and fury. carl: right. and it turned out that the critics have the -- i'm not going to say for sure, but the critics have to be, they are on the short end of that stake. and the fact is, many people who are used to the conventional method of washington decision-making, and people like o, are people uncomfortable of how the president approach north korea. but like so many issues he pushes back on off the bat, whether it be trade or afghanistan or syria, north korea, he pushed and put all the chips on his table.
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people all cried about it. and it turns out, unlike all the predecessors before trump, here he are, potentially on the verge of something dramatic and world changing when it comes to north korea. i will take this agenda for another 2.5 years and run on it for 2020. leon: this president operates with chaos. and taking these kind of steps that he takes. but then i think he uses the chaos as leverage. reince: that's 100% right. president trump made it very clear in "the art of the deal" when he talked about his style of management. his style of management is not the same process we are used to. he likes to keep things lose. he doesn't want to be overbooked, and he wants to come to the office and see what develops. what the president does, he puts people around him that don't agree with each other on a whole lot, and you read about it every day. we're talking about trade, he
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will have the guy from goldman sachs, wilbur ross, rice -- reince priebus, steve bannon, all these guys that are different species, natural predators almost. and they will stand there in front of the desk in front of the aptly named "resolute desk" in front of the president, and they will have it out. and the president, like a law school professor, will sit back and watch. and the president will talk about the fact that this guy said this and reince said this and people were arguing and the camera with people screaming at each other. but the president uses the information and makes a decision. so i would challenge people, people who don't even like the president, focus on the results and forget about the process because it's a simple process. carl: i'm sorry about north korea. i thought last year, we were on the verge of war and part of that came from what the
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president said. reince: we are on the verge of war. he was launching a missile every 2.5 hours over japan. bob: exactly. but now we are on the peace track. reince: you just want to have it both ways. you don't want to have north korea make provocative moves. you want the president to be a leader, but then he is a leader and then we get to the place where north korea and south korea are hugging and shaking hands and you are critical of the president. bob: i'm not critical. i'm saying where's the port? [laughter] leon: something disturbs me about this discussion. first of all, donald trump is a legitimate president of the united states. second of all, he had a much better reading of the country than his democratic opponent did. he read the country brilliantly
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and ran a campaign with a kind of brilliance that was unlike anything we had ever seen and through his own kind of smarts, he won the presidency and i think we need to accept that. thirdly, that the consistent hallmark of donald trump in public life and of his presidency is lying. [applause] carl: we have never had a president of the united states who has lied with the kind of consistency of it being the basic methodology with the approach to the american people, his approach to governance, and is essential to who he is from every evidence we have. i'm not talking about being opinionated editorial writer here. it is demonstrable, reportorial fact that we are looking at a body of lies hold are the
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president of the does states with a kind of regularity that is so troublesome. everybody, republican, democrat, whether they agree with the results or not, needs to be concerned about. because we need real leadership. that includes a degree of moral leadership, a degree of ethical leadership. [applause] carl: and when other presidents have gone to line in terms of really being essential to some of their acts. nixon, again, was a criminal president until the day he left office. he didn't lie every day. lie it was the
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end of him. but nonetheless, this is something new in the history of the presidency and it's something i believe has to be part of the discussion here both in terms of journalism, in terms of office, and terms of the president. [applause] reince: i think i just want to say one thing though. i mean, on the issues he promised to the american people, i feel like he's fulfilling these promises. he said he was going to knock the hell out of isis, he did. he was going to appoint these judges, he did. he was going to cut taxes, he did. i think the president is a litigator. he uses the facts to his advantage. i do think that. [laughter] reince: i think you are all hissing and blowing over immaterial garbage. that's exactly what it is. >> enjoy your tax cuts in monterey. [laughter]
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leon: let me move on. presidents in the past have used speeches, have used fireside chats, oval office addresses in order to speak to the american people. these are usually prepared, well coordinated, talking points. this is a president who uses tweeting. we are in the era of social media and he basically wants to communicate the way he wants to communicate. is this what future presidents are going to be doing in order to communicate with the american people? carl? carl: i have no idea. i think the use of unconventional media is probably very likely that presidents will continue to do that. i am one who particularly, as a reporter, and really grateful that trump tweets with the frequency that he does.
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[laughter] carl: but i also think that the tweets are trump at his most truthful. that we see in the tweets where his mind really is. and if you go back and you sort through the tweets, it really is a roadmap of the president's mind. it tells us a lot about what concerns him, about where his abilities lie and don't lie, and i think it's the best indication that we have of how to judge him as a person, as a president, and where he's going, who he believes in, what he's contemptuous of, and we are lucky that that is his method of communicating, because otherwise we would know damn near nothing. bob: there are contradictions in the tweets. carl: absolutely.
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bob: in terms of listening to reince's point in trying to think this through, there may be some strategy in this. on trump's part. two years ago, bob costa, who you know, and i interviewed trump. it was right on the verge of winning the republican nomination. and it was at his hotel in pennsylvania avenue undergoing renovations. and costa and i said, and is -- ok, he is going to win the republican nomination but he probably won't win the presidency, so let's think of things we will ask him that will address what's inside. what is driving him? so we spent some time and one of the very interesting interviews in retrospect, but the most important moment was, i believe,
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i asked, president obama is still president at this point had talked about power in the presidency -- and presidency is ultimately about power. and president obama said in his first inaugural that our comes to the united states from its restraint in humility. and you could just see trump, those words, i wish there were a video, because he was kind of -- and then we said, obama just said, real power is quoting obama to trump, real power comes from not using violence. and then trump, and i swear, it was almost shakespearean. it was almost like hamlet turning to the audience in one of those a sides. here's what i really think.
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and trump said quote. "real power is -- i don't even like to use the word -- but real power is fear." and i've gone back and thought about that in the context of a what he does. he scares people. he scared the hell out of kim jong-un. and you look at it and you follow this and the north korean leader is now going to meet.
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now whether that's a strategy of mobilizing fear, i don't know. but you start trying to say -- does that make sense to you? carl: maybe. but there is more to it than that, too. there is part of the equation and different pieces on the chessboard that is moving. he also has an incredible ability of engaging in people in one-on-one settings that you can't fully appreciate watching the news every night. he is incredibly gracious with people, meaning i don't know how to describe it, but some people have the ability to meet people one-on-one and become instantaneously tight. i saw that with president abe. clinton was good like that. i saw that with president xi. and he uses these relationships, and they are genuine, to form these bonds that are necessary in order to get this situation in north dakota under control. without that relationship, if it was phony baloney -- >> north korea. >> actually, he would've won north dakota, i'm telling you.
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>> that hockey team over there, you look out for north dakota. [laughter] >> but if that relationship wasn't real, the president xi, we just wouldn't be here right now. so there is a genuine god-given skill there that i don't think the media is gives the president enough credit for. leon: bob, would you shut up for a second? 46 years, i've never said that. [laughter] carl: the middle finger. leon: let me ask you this. you are chief of staff and you have a president who's tweeting at 5:00 in the morning. if i served the president and he did that, it would drive me crazy. how could you deal -- reince: also two years during the rnc during the campaign,
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right? i was the guy who is constantly calling the soon-to-be president saying, don't say that, you can't do this. and he did it way he wanted to do it and he became president, which, if you look at president trump, you cannot deny the fact that he's a man who achieved incredible success. a little sneer and jeer. he is a billionaire. he is president of the united states. [booing] reince: he's got more money than we all do. he is president of the united states. apparently some people don't agree with you in this room. and he's done it while people like me told him don't do this, don't do that. and it turns out he did it and he won and on election day, he was at 37% and he won. and so it's harder, to get to
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your question, when you are chief of staff six months later, to say don't do this, don't do that when he's heard it all before and those people in his mind were wrong and he was right and he was affirmed by the american people. leon: we are at the halfway point but i want to adjust this issue. which is the role of the press. since both of you are in the press, both of you use the press to check the power of the presidency, and yet presidents have always had rough relationships the press. but it's pretty bad right now. and we saw it over this last weekend at the correspondents' dinner. comedienne got up and attacked trump.
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trump was in michigan attacking the press before his crowd. and so there's a lot of questions about, what is the role of the press today? has the press lost its credibility or is it still an effective check in our system? carl: i think we are in danger of losing our credibility and the criticism that trump has offered very aggressively, 45 years ago covering watergate, carl was 11 years old, i was 12 at the time. we were kids. [laughter] >> and there was the leader of the free world, ron ziegler, saying our stories are full of lies, that we are character assassins. something i think trump has not yet called the media. and the message to us from our editors, the great ben bradlee and others, was keep doing the work.
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don't get consumed with trying to fight this. [applause] bob: and so, i look at some of the coverage. i think the coverage by the new york times and the post and the wall street journal, you aggregate it. it's been very good. some mistakes and so forth, but trump has such an ability to set people off and he's done this to the press and people have taken the bait and there is too much -- people have lost their equilibrium in the media. and i think you have to take the ben bradlee rule. he always said, here is what you do. nose down, ass up, moving slowly forward. [laughter]
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>> just a quick comment on the role of the press. where are we today? carl: trump has tried to make the issue his presidency and nixon tried to do the same, the conduct of the press instead of the conduct of the president of the united states. and he's had even more success. nixon was successful at it for a good while in the early stages the conduct of the president of of watergate. people were believing nixon, not what we were writing. this is a different time in america. we are in a state of a cold civil war in this country today. donald trump didn't cause it. he's evolutionary in terms of, it was perhaps inevitable we were going to be at a place like this with the president who appeals to part of that cold
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civil war and indeed tries to stoke the cold civil war. by appealing to a base rather than trying to appeal to a united vision of the country that most citizens can appreciate. that that's his methodology. and he wants us to be -- he's called us the enemy of the people, as joseph stalin once used the phrase. it's extraordinary and we are faced, and bob is really right here. the reporting by the new york times, washington post, i believe is the best reporting on the american presidency on a daily basis that i have seen since i went to work. in 1960. [applause] carl: there also is the fact
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that we need, as ben bradlee appreciated, we needed the kind of reporting what reporters step back and take two months, three months, and look at the presidency with that kind of distance and care and you are not on a daily deadline. but also that we have ventured sometimes too far into the pejorative. and it comes partly because the quote "press" does something now that it didn't traditionally at the time of watergate and we've seen increasingly in the last 20 years, and that's reporters, myself included, bob included, we go on television and talk about what is going on beyond what we write online or in the paper or even in our books.
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that's something new. and in the process of that, i think we've invited some trouble for ourselves by being sometimes too pejorative. but it's particularly difficult, and this is not an excuse, because there is so much lying by this president of the united states, so much of what the press has been doing is to reportorially point out those lies. those untruths, to parse what the president -- and it didn't start incidentally, with this president -- but to parse what is truthful, what is not, and in the process of that i think we've conveyed a sense of self-righteousness that has led toward some undermining of our credibility and has been perhaps interpreted as were mistakenly interpreted or not as adversarial without any
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relationship to trying to get to the truth, when i would say the purpose of it is to try to get to the truth. reince: just hold on a second. let me get this done because we have to recognize our question review team and the people who select the questions. i will ask you to hold your applause while i give the names. chelsea, a local news editor, fran gaber, our review team member, david kellogg, and doug mcknight, the reporter of kazu radio, if you would thank them for what they do. [applause] leon: we had a great turnout of students, over 600 students today at our session with the speakers. [applause] leon: and some great questions. it was a wonderful turnout. we could not do it without your
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support, so sylvia, i, and the panetta institute board of directors are very grateful for the sponsorship that allows these students, high schools, colleges, universities, military installations from throughout the central coast, to be able to participate. so please thank those sponsors. [applause] >> i think these gentlemen here are american legends, and they .iew the press in a way reporting based on anonymous .ources
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it is a bunch of inconsequential garbage. and most stories we have to deal with are like that. there are real stories that need to be covered that are serious, and i understand that. i am not actually saying that most of the reporters that work day in and day out in the west wing are good, decent people. i do think there are troublemakers and nefarious , and if you get two or three of them, you can create a story on a website and get a lot of clicks. i think what is missing and a lot of press is the discernment to decide whether a particular story of very little value is worth the time and the filth that it creates.
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i do not see the discernment. i see massive competition. i see headlines that do not match the stories beneath. that, to me, is what most of our fights occur. press'pullinge with the public is being -- below congress right now, so obviously something is wrong. >> that is partial proof in what you say. of course, you contradicted the president who says the press makes up things. >> i think sometimes they do. >> you said they don't. >> most people in the west wing i do not think they make things
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up, but i have been in situations where matters reported by the press are not as they have appeared. the andrew mccabe story is a classic. and they knew it. >> here is the interesting thing. there needs to be self-examination and introspection on the part of the press. we need to produce a better product. [applause] we used to have, at the post, little signs that we put above the screen of somebody's computer. it was at aa. aa -- it was faa.
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it met focus, act aggressively. >> woodward and bernstein. [laughter] let me ask a question to woodward and bernstein. you were involved in watergate. what are the differences and similarities between watergate and the russia investigation, and will it end the same way? >> first of all, we do not know where the russian investigation is going to go.
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do know is that there has been a cover up. that the president has attempted to cover up, and been untruthful about, many elements that we have seen. that he has tried, at various turns, to undermine lawful investigations. that does not mean he has committed legal obstruction of justice. that remains to be seen. there was a big story the new york times put out about one hour ago. the 48 questions that robert mueller wants to ask the president. an interesting list that give some indication that robert mueller is very much looking into questions about collusion. that matter has not, by any means, been put to rest. but we do not know where it is going to go. watergate was about a series of crimes.
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there was evidence from the beginning that was quite clear about criminal acts. then it was a question of who committed these criminal acts? step-by-step,out, that richard nixon had presided criminality and the cover up of the criminality. is it isare now unclear what the criminality was. in the case of watergate it was an extraordinary attempt by the president and those around him to undermine the most important element of our democracy, and that is our electoral process. him wantedhose under to, and succeeded to a large extent, determine who the nominee of the democratic party would be through a huge campaign
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of political espionage and , of which the watergate break-in and bugging was a small part. he object was to undermine the strongest candidate of the , and to seearty that the democrats nominated the weakest candidate, each was george mcgovern. the press were able to .stablish some ties we then had a real investigation by 77-0 vote in the senate. you could not get a 77-0 vote in
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the senate for anything today, nor could you have a legitimate bipartisan investigation, as we have seen. that is one of the big differences. of the other big differences between watergate and now is the response of the republican party . the defense of this president of the united states, without regard to the facts as they have developed so far, by republicans particularly, is very different than what occurred in watergate. quick, the internet age is really different and impatience and speed drives it. i talk to a reporter and said when you go out for an interview , and she said i never go out for interviews. what? ,e said i do it on the internet
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or sometimes the wonderful intimacy of the telephone. i thought, you know what, we are not getting out. working on the fourth bush book, there was a general who would so i found out where he lived in the washington area. ok, i'm going to go without an appointment. this is a tactic i learned from carl, you just show up. somebody in the cia once said let the silence suck out the truth.
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so i'm not on the door. first of all, you have to go at the right strategic time, 8:15 on a tuesday night after the generals had dinner. he opens the door and looked at me, and says are you still doing this? that just did this, poker face, and she then gets a disappointed look on his face, not because of what i did but because of what he was about to do, which was come on in. he sat for two hours and answered most of the questions. why? because somebody showed up.
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we are not showing up. [applause] >> president trump has reportedly discussed not having a chief of staff. what did two former chiefs of staff that? let me add to that. also comments on the fact that the really has been a great deal of turnover. almost half of the staff turned over in less than a year. give me your sense of why you think that is happening. trumpst of all, president was the chief of staff when i was there. i was chief of stuff. [applause]
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>> the president is the chief of staff. the president is really in charge and has direct reports coming to him. i think he is a person that likes to be involved every step of the way. the guy serves dinner, the guy on the grill, the guy asking the corn, he wants to be involved in everything going on. that obviously begs the question as to whether or not he actually needs a chief of staff. i think it is a legitimate question. i know it has been debated in the press and most chiefs of staff thinks that is a grave sin and you cannot do that. he governs by allowing people
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that agree with each other on very little to get in front of him and argue it out. causes some of the articles that you read about and some of the things i had to including walking off that plane and reading a tweet. think that kind of drama is part of the decision-making process that uses. traditional people don't like it , but i think looking at the process andt is the will always be the process. going to change, and i would argue that it works for this president. >> it is likely that we're going to see a lot of turnover in the white house staff?
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>> yes, i think you will. drama does not matter to american history. i believe the results of what he does matters to american history. >> let's talk about the president as commander-in-chief in dealing with this issue in north korea. how confident are any of you that north korea will completely denuclearize? let me add to that. what a kimr sense of jong-un-truck summit is likely to produce?
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you do a lot of preparation, a lot of work, sometimes you basically negotiate of issues for a year or more before the principles come in and get an agreement. just because this is a complex issue. this is about how do you denuclearize, stop missile tests , how do you do inspections, how do you do the verification that needs to be done? i guess the question is, is he going to go into this thinking he is going to get a deal, or is this going to be a photo op, or a disaster? there is a partial answer in the intelligence, which is classified and not public. the intelligence agencies tell the president that kim jong-un
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will not get rid of his nuclear reason for the obvious that is his leverage. the is what got him to point where he is that. the reality is, ok you get all of the u.s. troops out of south korea, 35,000. maybe that would be desirable. but the united states has a submarine fleet, and at craft carrier and so intelligence conclusions quite recently has been, you will never get him to give this up because it's his weapon. that's what makes north korea a major power.
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leon: ergo, what happens? bob: you see, this is the problem with people trying to predict the future. who knows? [laughter] carl: there is also one big unknown. we don't know what is going to happen and one of those unknowns is, as bob was saying, that the existence of the north korean state, like the existence of the pakistani state to some extent, and some other places, is dependent on the nuclearization question. if north korea is a nuclear power, his believe, kim jong-un, is that there is a permanence to his state. so one of the questions being debated, and bob, i think you can elaborate on this, people in
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the intelligence committee, is there a possibility that if somehow the south koreans, the chinese, and the americans guarantee in some meaningful way the continued existence of the north korean state, is there a possibility that he then would disarm? but we don't know the answer. bob: it's only a piece of paper. and the value is only the value of the piece of paper. the new national security advisor, john bolton, was on television this sunday. and he was saying, look at libya. it's a wonderful example. they gave up their nuclear weapons. bad example because could off he uaddafiexample because q
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is dead. carl: that's exactly right. bob: and on this, i think you have to, because what happened last year on north korean debate within the administration after you left, was look, kim jong-un almost or maybe does have an icbm with a nuclear weapon that could reach the united states. and the argument to the president by the people who were saying, we've got to act, was a simply do you want on your resume, mr. president, that the most volatile regime in the world got the capacity to strike the united states with the nuclear weapon? what would be your answer? no, i don't what that. ok, what do you do?
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president trump has said this quite openly. there are some options that are draconian. carl: i would also add, -- reince: i would also add, president obama met with president trump and told president trump very clearly and the president would repeat this often enough oval office, that your number one issue is north korea. and you should also be assured that there is not a day that goes by that there isn't a portion of north korea. every single day there is learning and teaching and things that go on. carl: ok, but answer the question. -- leon: ok, but answer the question. in a few weeks, they are going to sit down.
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for the life of me, i cannot imagine that they can cut a deal in terms of specifics of what needs to be done. reince: sure. leon: so what i anticipate is the best scenario is that they meet, they have a broad agreement on a framework of what possible issues, you know, some agreement on denuclearization, an agreement on some other broad things. but the specifics of that are going to have to be negotiated out. reince: i'm sure this will take a while. multiple meetings. bob: president trump if he's inclined, you know this well, he's going to proclaim the victory. reince: and he probably should. bob: yes, maybe he should. maybe he will get it. maybe peace in our time is at hand. to mix and old historical metaphor.
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[laughter] leon: all right, keep your fingers crossed, folks. reince priebus. what facets of the republican party is important to you and what principles have changed with trump? reince: to the second part, i say no, president trump is so unique to himself. i think that he's a person larger-than-life. i don't believe that any of that is true that people debate, the party is permanently changed. if anything, i would say changed for the better. we've had opportunities if you look at michigan, pennsylvania, wisconsin, iowa, ohio by 10 points, i think without the president and without, i think his brash in-your-face style, some of that wouldn't be
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reality. but i also don't believe that the party benefits from the growth that trump has brought long-term. just like i don't think the party is injured by anything that you might consider to be injurious to the party because trump is so unique to the party himself. leon: but look, the republican party that i know, the party of reagan, were for less spending not more spending. reince: sure. leon: they were for balancing the budget. reince: reagan had huge debt, too. leon: i know, but -- reince: if you want less debt, the american public will have to decide whether or not it wants to tackle medicaid, medicare, social security.
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there is no trajectory. i'm not advocating it. i'm just telling you the numbers. there is no trajectory that can get us to a place -- leon: we have a $20 trillion debt. reince: exactly. i don't disagree with you. but when i think about the party and i think about opportunity and i think about freedom and i think about the choices that we have in this country, obviously every president is going to have their own stamp and their own style of what that means. but i don't believe the platform, i don't believe the core principles have changed at all. leon: but the republican party was for free trade. reince: i think most people in the party are for free trade. but the president isn't lockstep with every single piece of the platform in the republican party, just like barack obama and bill clinton were not in every lockstep with the dnc that
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-- dnc platform. that's what made the president more competitive. you guys know, we had 16 people running for president. i'm a pretty traditional republican. i'm who people call the establishment. but i don't believe that anyone of the other 16 will have actually beaten hillary clinton. so while some of the other stuff is bizarre for people to listen to, they don't want to believe it, he brought forward a potpourri of beliefs, some of which had most of which came from the republican party, but some of those beliefs came from president trump. he put it together, it's not just an american thing. it's happening in the u.k., france, italy, all over the world with people being sick of being lied to and sold a bill of goods and getting nothing in return. [laughter] leon: let me ask this question based on where the party is now.
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because we are looking at an election in 2018. and predictions right now are that democrats are in a strong position to take control of the house, perhaps take control of the senate. let me ask all three of you. what do you think is going to happen in november, 2018? carl? carl: i don't know. i think the demographics, conventional wisdom is democrats will take the house. probably a better than even chance that that's the case. i'm going to try to frame the question a little bigger. and back to the theme of your institute here. and that is about democracy working. this discussion and what is going on in our politics, is taking place in a context in which our institutions of democracy in this country are not working. and i've never heard it
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expressed more eloquently than reince did this afternoon. with the students in an earlier session. bob: that was a rehearsal. carl: which he talked about the single two structural elements that are keeping our democratic processes in this country from working. gerrymandering, and the electorate system itself, which means that really, as you put it -- reince: the conclusion is different. [laughter] carl: go ahead and say what you did. what i said also, i've never heard a democratic chairman express as eloquently as you did. this is not a partisan matter and what you said was so important. lay it out again. reince: we talked about a couple of things earlier today and one of the questions a student asked was, she felt her vote didn't
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count in california. and i said i don't disagree with her. but the electoral college is such that when you run a national campaign, when you are chairman of the national committee and you are dnc chairman, you are basically raising $1 billion each to be spent in seven states. there is no national campaign for president. it's like having seven governors races in seven states and us putting all the data, all the ground game, everything we have in those states to win that election. so that is the electoral college that we have in place and that's what we use. but the other piece of this was, we were talking about bipartisanship and whether or not bipartisanship was alive or dead. i tended to believe it's more dead. the reason is quite simple. if you are looking at state legislatures or house seats in the united states, if leanne and i were best friends and we had a beer together every night, 80%
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democratic, 80% republican, we have no incentive whatsoever to ever work together because we would lose and we would never get anything done. that's the short version. we can talk more about it later. leon: ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about obviously a divided country at a time when we are facing tremendous amount of challenges. and challenges with regards to leadership. i said to the students in a democracy we govern either by leadership or crisis. what is needed today more than anything is leadership, political leadership that is willing to take the risks associated with leadership in order to deal with the issues that we have discussed here today. and a lot of that leadership i might say, also arrests with with this audience
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and the participation of this audience in our democracy. if you continue to participate in our democracy, i'm confident our democracy will not only survived, but it will thrive in the future. thank you so much. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this weekend on c-span, tonight at 8:30 eastern, the national rifle association leadership forum in dallas. andcruz and john cornyn
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congressman richard hudson will be speakers. sunday, 6:30 p.m., starbucks chair on the responsibility of global companies. on book tv on c-span2, at 9:00 eastern, chief political correspondent candy crowley, on where hate began. rice00 p.m., condoleezza on the future of american diplomacy. ,merican history tv on c-span3 tonight at 8:00 eastern, on the presidency, hillary clinton on the white house fears of betty ford. cartoonist and legal experts discuss the supreme court case, hustler v. falwwell. what c-span. afterwards,ght on
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journalist jerome corsi talks about killing the deep state. >> i heard some of these phases -- phrases bandied about. i did not put meaning to them until recently. view,you can say in your the deep state, the shadow government, and the swamp, the same thing or how would you differentiate? in my terminology it is that the state -- the deep state. they are the shadow government because they are affecting their own wishes rather than the wishes of the people, and electing donald trump for instance. donald trump has determined it the swamp. it is a term americans understand. it was at one point a swamp. the creatures coming out of the swamp are biting and fighting
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for their turf. "afterwards," on c-span book tv. insday morning, we are pierre, south dakota. south dakota governor will be our guest starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern. former fbi director james coming sat down for an interview at the brookings institution. he talks about being fired as heavy fbi last year, and his new book. this is one hour and a half. the audience.

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