tv National Press Foundation 2019 Policy Politics Preview Part 2 CSPAN December 16, 2018 2:00am-2:58am EST
president, he listened a lot to republican leaders in washington and took advice from folks that i don't know he would do that same thing today. i think during that transition likencredibly steep just it is for every single president of the united states. there is no degree on being president and it is a learning curve. >> watch book tv on c-span this weekend. foundationonal press hosted a series of discussions with congressional and white house correspondent about which stories are likely to dominate the coverage of the white house in 2019. this is just under an hour.
>> ok, folks, let's get going with our next panel, please. now we're going to go to the other end of pennsylvania. we have three distinguished reporters to talk about the next year or the next couple of years from the white house, the trump agenda perspective. we have the white house correspondent for sirius xm in the current president of the white house correspondents association. on my far right, we have margaret, with bloomberg news. and the immediate past president of the white house correspondents association. and to my immediate right, we have anita who is the white house correspondent for mcclatchy. and she is a former paul miller fellow. what i want to do is i'm going ask each of them to talk for a little bit about a different aspect of the next year and what to be on the lookout for from the white house agenda
perspective, from the investigations perspective, and then from the media perspective. margaret is going to talk about that. i will explain why in a second. then i'm going ask a couple of questions and we will toss it out to you. based on the last panel, we are plenty of questions out there so i'm going to keep my questions to a minimum so we're plenty of -- so we have plenty of time for questions from all of you. it is a little after 10:00. this session will go until 11:00 and then we will have a change over and our final session will be three experts talking about the investigations front. i want to start with olivier knox. from sirius xm. could you maybe tell us -- what can we expect in terms of the president's agenda? what he might accomplish? and what he will try to accomplish? olivier: let me start by
acknowledging that there is a bit of an absurd dimension to trying to predict what this president will do in any timeframe, but this long project of remaking the federal judiciary, arguably to-date, president trump's most important legacy. the wholesale remaking of the conservative judges getting confirmed. that will continue. in fact, with a slightly larger margin in the senate, that could accelerate. that is something that we know will keep happening. some of the other aspects of the trump/gop agenda are in trouble because of democratic control in the house. i would not expect to see another big tax cut, especially not one tilted toward corporations. there are events that are foisted on this white house. i will get to those in a second. looking at the big items, the so-called new nafta, the usmca. they are going to have to push
in congress in the new year to get this cleared. there is no guaranteed -- there is no guarantee whatsoever this gets push. they are putting on a squeeze play they are threatening to , withdraw from nafta, giving lawmakers the choice of approving the new nafta or having the entire trade regime collapse. it will be interesting to see how the congress responds, but the administration is planning to make an all-out push behind that. there are other agenda items that they don't really control, but what they want to make progress on. one of the obvious ones is north korea denuclearization talks, which don't seem to be paying off at the moment. that is something they are committed to in the medium to long haul. we will see them advance with that. the administration has, on several occasions, promised to release its middle east peace plan. when i tell you they are promising to release their peace plan, take it with a grain of salt. we will see if they do.
that would add another layer of complexity to their foreign-policy agenda. on some of these issues, it is sort of a cliché to say that when presidents lose a chamber of congress, they turn to foreign policy, but here i think we are going to see that, in part because they have so much freer reign. obviously, not on trade because that will have to go through the house and senate. these are the big agenda items that we can forecast with some certainty. what we don't know is the degree to which this will be sidetracked by what anita is going to talk about, the bevy of investigations into individuals in the trump administration. >> we will go to anita now. what can we expect in terms of how the white house is gearing up to deal with this? anita: thank you for having me. in terms of the investigation,
we are looking at the house is democratic controlled and this is important in terms of impeachment and whether they will do that. the focus is going to be on the investigations. i know that there is a debate in the democratic party about how much they should do. you saw a letter that some of freshmenman -- democrats are sending to leadership saying, let's focus on legislation not investigation. there is a debate on how much they want to do and how much they will do. but it could be anything from , issues like the policy they had separating children from parents at the border. immigrant children from their parents. the hurricane response in puerto rico. it could deal with anything about the president's businesses, whether he is violating the constitution by profiting from foreign governments, his tax returns. so it could be so many things
they might look at. in terms of how the white house is dealing with it, i have done some reporting over the last few weeks -- months, really before , the election when it looked like it would go this way, a lot of republicans who support the white house were afraid the white house was not preparing for what they have now. in talking to people who have gone through this in the past, so, this is people that went through it with the george w. bush administration and the obama administration, when congress changed hands and it was the opposite party, they learned a lot of lessons of things they should do. hire more staff is the number one thing. the white house is already understaffed. they needed to higher more staff -- they needed to hire more staff and staff who would be
separate from everyone else that are just dealing with the investigations. you heard some people say that they wished that emmett flood who worked in the george w bush administration would be the , white house counsel. he was not chosen but some were lobbying president trump to choose him. just because he knew about this. he will still be at the white house dealing with the russian investigation, but the investigations will be far greater than the russian investigation. telling staff to hire their own attorneys as opposed to someone in the white house doing that for them. or being their attorney. they would have to hire their own attorney. and then people were saying that they should have had a list and doing their own research on themselves, what are the areas of vulnerability for them. some of the things that i mentioned, and there so many more. one recently in the news was how ivanka trump was using private personal email to do government business. things like that. things they could have started to research and get their ducks in a row that they didn't do. i think they are starting to do that now, but they have this
serious problem where they are always understaffed. that will continue to be a problem for them. let me think if there is anything else. do you want me to talk about anything else? >> the last point you ended with, the serious problem of always being understaffed. i mean, why is that? why can't they get up to staff? i think one of the questions i will ask all of you, what is the next chief of staff going to be like? what kind of person will he allow into that role? you go first, can you tell me why is the white house not able to hire enough people? anita: let me back up and just talk in general. and not even mentioned the investigations. this is a white house where most of the people who came in, like the president, did not have government experience or white house experience. what they need for the
investigation and for other things is to hire people who have been there before. that is where they don't want to to do that because that is not president trump's style or those , people don't want to come into this white house. if you see the turnover, you see it everyday, the controversies. a lot of people don't want to get involved in that. i think that is one reason what -- i think that is one of the reasons why they wanted someone like emmett flood. he had been there that is also very respected. they thought in the white house counsel's office, anyway, they could attract more attorneys. part of it is hiring, but also hiring good people to get other good people. >> let's go to margaret. what i want margaret to talk about in this opener is whether her perspective on the job the journalists are doing has changed. margaret has had the luxury or the opportunity to leave the
beltway bubble for the last three months and be in the cambridge bubble. she was teaching at the kennedy school institute on politics. she has been out of the daily news flow for three months, after a dozen years of being in the daily news flow covering campaigns and the white house. she goes back to her day job tomorrow. when i talked to her on friday, i think she was packing her apartment. i am just curious -- whenever anyone has been away from the daily news flow, i want to get their perspective on how well the media is doing has changed. things that were hugely important at 3:00 p.m. in the daily news cycle, do those seem as important now?
looking to get your perspective being away from the daily news , cycle for three months, has it made you look at it differently? margaret: my smiling glow will fade pretty quick. by friday, i will be like all of you are. >> thanks. [laughter] we're not glowing? margaret: first of all, my colleagues are doing such a great job. my goodness. i mean, so much of why i appreciated the opportunity to step back for a while is because i was tired. this is a killer pace. i think you all know this, but 5:30 in the morning until 1:30 in the morning every day. you are constantly trying to juggle what is in front of you with the longer view. you do that when covering any white house, but usually the issues of the day are like who will get the assistant secretary for whatever position. they are sort of like, ok, whatever. the kind of balance of the shiny object versus the long-term narrative is different than it is now.
i was acutely aware of how exhausting it is when you are here doing it. like chris said, it's not like i was in kentucky or dayton or west virginia or somewhere in the pennsylvania excerpts, i was at harvard. having said that, i did have a few observations from a demographic that skews young, in terms of students, and in terms of faculty and adults, toward people who are in the mix in government. not your average work a day americans. these are people who are former ambassadors or former -- do i need to adjust this? is it ok? having said all of that, a few observations. one is that there is more
interest in the long-term story outside of washington than the short-term story. who is the next chief of staff is not as much a concern outside washington as it is in washington. the day-to-day turn of the mueller investigation is not as much a concern, but what it all means is a concern. there is interest outside of washington in journalists sticking with the longer-term story and telling us in every story why is this important and why do i need to know this? outside of the bubble, i saw a real interest in politics in the context of our national story, but not of politics obliterating the national story. this may be because of being in the university, there is a tremendous interest in tech and inventions. and business, not just the
unemployment rate and how many jobs are there, but where are things going, what is the future of america? not the political future, not the narrative of the future, but what is actually happening, where are things actually going and how does politics fit in? i would say one interesting observation is that a lot of the students, particularly at the institute of politics because if you take part in the institute of politics, you are inherently interested in public service. you are probably running for office one day or working for someone running for office. in the last couple years, a lot of those students have begun to ask themselves, is that where i can have the biggest impact anymore? how else can i serve the public? can congress get things done? i always thought i wanted to run -- not me, but them -- i always thought i wanted to run for congress or work for a member of
congress, is that the best way to make a change? if there are one or two issues i am particularly passionate about, can you get done more from outside? this question of gridlock is a big question. this will surprise no one. there is a tremendous amount of and what the020 other party's field looks like. if i had to summarize it down to a couple main points, there is a much greater interest on the big picture and on substance and less of a stated interest in the daily knife fight. or the tit for tat. i think sometimes people say what they are interested in, but you can't look away. that is what we struggle with. >> do you miss the daily knife fight? margaret: i am here. >> your knives are sharpened and ready for tomorrow? margaret: my knife is my pen. thank you, chris. >> i have a couple questions and then we will turn it to the audience.
to any of you, how do you think that trump's relationship with the press will change next year? is he going to be more combative? or because he might have to change his strategy with congress, will he try to be more accommodating? will his tweet strategy remain the same? is it possible to predict what he might be doing in his relationship with the press that might be different than what he is doing? right. olivier: i don't see any reason for him to become less combative. he has elevated us as one of his primary enemies. this benefits him on a political level. for a few reasons. one is he is always better when , he is against someone or something. you saw it in the republican primaries and the campaign, and not having an opponent, having
an election be a referendum on him, you saw how that worked out. i think you will get more -- i think he will get more combative. i don't track the day-to-day of the mueller investigation. i don't talk about it much on my show. in part because it requires me taking it as a full-time job and i don't want to take it as a full-time job. depending on how that goes, you can imagine him getting more combative. he has been engaged in a twitter campaign to discredit all of the investigations targeting him or people close to him. i don't see why he would become less combative. especially as 2020 gets closer, the temptation will be to ramp things up. that said, we can look at a couple of paradoxes. the daily briefing, i don't just say rip yet, but they clearly have decided not to take that route, especially not with the
press secretary. on the other hand, the president is giving a press conference every 20 minutes. the walk between the oval office and marine one and the south lawn is almost always an occasion for him to talk. we are able still to ask questions of the president of the united states, which is enormously important. i do wish that there were a daily briefing for a few reasons. one, the people who are hurt by not having a daily briefing are the smaller outlets. if you are the associated press or bloomberg, you have a full-time presence at the white house. so it doesn't really matter. you are going to be there whether the briefing is at noon or 3:00. you are still in the building. the smaller outlets with two correspondents in all of washington, having a designated time when you can ask questions really matters. some of the specialized news outlets, the smaller outlets are really screwed by the decision to discontinue these briefings.
they are important for us to clear out the underbrush of news. what i mean by that, if you're with the president, your question is probably not, are you having lunch with that senator on tuesday? it probably isn't. that is a question you want to direct to the press secretary. the technical aspects of policy, you often don't direct those to the president. i'm trying to understand the nuance in the sequencing of the north korean negotiation -- you're probably not going to ask that. what we're losing with the daily briefing is the underbrush of news and these smaller outlets that -- they were already struggling and now they're really getting hurt. by the lack of the briefings. just to sum up, i don't see why it would get better. on the other hand, i'm guessing he will still be as available as he has been in the last couple of months. >> anita, what do you think
about the change in the daily briefing status? with my clancy, -- with mcclan cy, you are in the third row, right? is the change, in terms of how you are getting information from the white house -- how do you evaluate that? anita: i would say that every white house does not want to provide that much information. in terms of whether they are answering questions, i would say it is similar to the obama white house in that they did not want to answer questions. x up what they want to talk about. for what they want to talk about. we miss the daily briefing for the exact reason that olivier said. we are not there every day. i am a two-person team. we are not there every day. it is a great debate for us. we have not started staffing the departures every time because they are at different times. we are doing a million other things and we are not there. should we try to be there for those instead of the briefing? we haven't made that switch yet. we do wish they were there and
she was available. i don't see that changing. i go back to the thing that olivier said at the beginning. this is the thing i keep caring, which is when you talk to people, trump allies in washington, republicans, it's working for him. it works politically as a strategy to have the news media as the "enemy" or whatever you call it. to have that fight with the media. it is a strategy and it is working for him. they like that. the base likes that. i don't think it will change. olivier: i said this in other settings and i want to emphasize it here. i have always said and i have a little gray now. i have been doing this for a while. i say to aspiring reporters, the best way to cover the white house is not to cover the white house. it is talking to congress, the state department, the pentagon, to former officials, to foreign governments.
anita: lobbyists. olivier: "outside" advisors. as we talk about the briefing, i want to emphasize that the best way to do that is not to pry information from the white house. you're always looking for an overlap of information. not an overlap in keeping that information secret. you are reaching out to these other sources of information in washington, d.c. >> margaret? margaret: what i don't like and what i think is dangerous about the anti-media rhetoric is that -- is not that it makes it difficult for us to go to a briefing or whatever, i think it has an undermining effect on american democracy. i think it endangers working journalists in this country and especially overseas. that is what concerns me about it, not that it makes our day-to-day lives uncomfortable. if you are in washington and paying attention, you know that president trump's relationship with the media is more complicated than an enemy.
or antagonistic one. you are constantly getting called in, there are constant availabilities, he clearly enjoys and cultivates the engagement. but i think for the media, one of the questions since the start of the transition from the administration has always been, how much do you push back to protect, whatever, the traditional role or powers of the media, versus how much do you see that as a deliberate distraction and try to focus on the news? that continues to be a give and take. as time has gone on, you have seen news outlets change their policies toward, is a tweet a headline or do you wait and see where it is going? whether it should just exist on its own? is a rally a breaking news event to be covered as if it were an
airplane crash with 250 people or a typhoon, or is it a rally that does not need to be carried live for two hours and can be broken down into soundbites. that may or may not run on the air. you see the larger media assert a contextual filter onto a news event. i think you have seen -- one of the challenges of the president is that he likes to drive the narrative, as to all politicians, but he is particularly gifted at it. if you're not driving the narrative and someone else is setting the pace, it changes your ability to decide what is a news cycle and what is not. i think probably heading into the second half of this term, you are going to see that happen in a different way. i don't think our job changes at all.
our job is to cover the news and it always has been. >> let me toss it to you folks. when you are asking the question give us your name and where , you're from. wait just a beat. do we have questions out here? >> i am with bloomberg law. margaret, you were talking about the interest in the larger picture. does that interest extend to the specific aspects of policy? like, i cover health care and look at the likelihood of medicare for all. do they care about the specifics and what specifics it entails or is it mostly the politics? margaret: sure, but the trouble is in defining "they." there are some people who care a lot about the discrete policy of health care.
there are some who care a lot about regulations that will affect facebook and twitter. they are not always the same people. part of the challenges of covering any white house is that you have to be a generalist for basically the world, like everything. you cover everything. i think for this administration, there is the added challenge of so much more drama and more efforts to disrupt norms that you have, in addition to the longer term, like how do you balance policy? are people more interested with iran and north korea, or social movements in the united states? on top of those policy and longer narrative questions, how do you juggle all of the stuff that is happening?
it is not an easy answer. i think the challenge for mainstream, kind of one-stop shopping, the major news outlets that are not issue-specific publications, is what is the balance on the policy issues? there is a tremendous interest in policy. environmental policy, climate policy. there is a tremendous interest in terms of foreign relations and what the u.s.'s evolving trade relationships say about atlantic alliances, the future of china versus the rest of the asia-pacific. i think that is a different question for each organization. because how do you decide which policy to focus on? >> questions? nick?
>> nick ruby, honolulu civil beat. what sort of under the radar policy changes should we keep an eye out for? shifts in immigration policy or rolling back environmental regulations? anita: it could be anything, including both of the things that you just mentioned. i think one thing that you will see -- president obama did the same thing. when the congress is of a different party presidents tend , to take things on themselves, executive power. in case they cannot get things through congress. this president has done that already. i think he is going to do more of that. i think that a lot of things that don't get covered as much are, he will have an executive order and that might get covered. but actually, to me, the thing
to me in the last couple of years are the rules and regulations changing in the individual agencies. for example, for all of the debate about gun control, there haven't "smaller roles" that have changed at the department of interior and justice that have actually made a difference to people who care about that issue that aren't getting covered as much. i would say he will take on a lot of those things, but i think that the agencies will continue to do things just as they have. it is the uncovered thing that should be covered more. olivier: the other thing that i would say is, as democrats assert themselves more, one thing you should always watch in any presidency is signing statements. when the president signs something into law but says, "great, this is a law.
also, i'm going to disregard the following 15 provisions because they go against my constitutional powers." that will be interesting to watch. if house democrats are putting stuff into legislation, that can happen, it will be interesting to see how they respond to that. to see how the white house uses that tool that was widely used by george w. bush and somewhat less by barack obama. this president has already done it a lot. i would expect him to continue. that is something that you always want to watch. anytime that you have a splashy headline about legislation, let's say for argument's sake, commerce passes legislation curtailing u.s. support for the saudi led campaign in yemen. how is the white house going to respond to that? how can they go around the legislation or through the legislation and still do what they want to be doing despite
these other potential curves? margaret: for all of you, one of the most common instincts in covering politics and policy is looking at what the administration is affirmatively doing, what are they creating, what legislation is the president going to be able to pass when the democrats control the house? but we often overlook the other side of the coin, which is it is easier to destroy things than to create them. part of what i think this president has felt his mandate is to do is to chip away at institutions that he or his base feel have not effectively served their interests or the u.s. interests. when you look at the big developments, it has been to curtail the affordable care act, or u.s. participation in the global climate agreement, the iran deal.
that sort of stuff. i would keep an eye on that side of the coin. in addition to looking at how much harder it will be to pass things, i would look at continued efforts to undo things the president or his team have argued were too much governance or regulation, or too multilateral, were too politically correct. keep your eye on that stuff. it is easier when you don't need an affirmative vote to do it. when you can do it through executive authority. it is still easier to chip away than it is to create. when it is that much harder to create, would look to the other box. >> right there. >> sam brody with mint post. i'm curious what you all expect to change with the 2020 election, how the president will respond to an historic field of democratic candidates, just in
terms of size, probably getting started earlier than ever. what do you expect from the president personally and how do you expect the white house to respond to the 2020 election? margaret: that is a big question. olivier: i started answering by saying that there is some absurdities to predicting what will happen in january. i'm a -- really cautious. lots of nicknames. a lot of nicknames. we don't know the size of the democratic field, but it is double digits. we don't know how the democrats will manage that. just from the point of view of debates, for example. there are a couple of things we can usually expect. again, this is potentially a fools errand, but you might see some of the brain drain out of the white house into the campaign apparatus. you will see him on the road a lot more the way he was on the
road a lot more than a lot of people thought he would be ahead of the midterms. how the white house will function is a really good question. i don't have a great answer for you, but i would expect a lot of the stuff to be run through the usual white house dynamic, does this serve our electoral purposes as much as the policy purposes? i am really hesitant to make confident predictions. not only because there is an eternity between now and then but because of the unorthodox nature of this white house. margaret: yes, with the nicknames. i was going to try out a couple on you guys. [laughter] there is some interplay i would look for.
one is where the mueller/impeach or not impeach line is going. that may shape the way the president is thinking of responding to some of the stuff. i think the president and his political team will be keenly watching that field of 25 to 30 candidates and will try to understand really who the strongest challengers would be and really who they want and trying to maneuver into a situation with a good to run against to they want. it is hard to predict because the democratic party does not know what it wants. this is the stuff that makes the president tick. not precisely how an infrastructure deal could come together. then you'll see that evergreen question of, is there any upside
in his calculus for reaching out for any sort of compromise on stuff like infrastructure? is that real? is that what is going to help you win reelection? or antagonism and-based politics and threatening shutdowns and that sort of thing -- does that get you where you want to be? how do you test that? i think you will see some testing. i think you are already started to see some movement out of the white house either toward private sector or campaigns. we are seeing that with nick ayers, without was going to be the next chief of staff and now is going to be getting out and going back to the political arm. i do think where and when the mueller probe ends up will shape the narrative for the early parts of that cycle. in a different way, the president will be doing what all of us are doing which is trying to understand what the democratic field looks like.
if you broke it into three or four categories of candidates, what each of those matchups could look like against the incumbent administration. anita: i will agree with everything that you just mentioned and one last thing. you can see from his tweets and what he says that certain things set him off. when you see a development in the russia probe or whatever. we will have the russia investigation continuing, investigations in the house, and 20 or 30 democrats bashing him, the basically. i think from a personal standpoint, a lot of people are talking about can the democrats and the white house come to an agreement on something? as we have seen, it will be hard for him to push those things aside and come up with an agreement. i think a combination of those
three things means he will likely be more combative. that is what we have seen. this will be three things going on at the same time. i think it will probably be even more combative. as olivier says, you never know. >> questions out there? let me ask a simplistic softball. of those 25 to 30 candidates, what is your intelligence from the campaign side of things, who worries him the most? does anybody worry him? margaret: i don't know if this is cooked enough for them to get a sense of it. presumably, they're watching the same beto o'rourke mania, trying to figure out is there some person either in the existing
pod of candidates who could capture people's imaginations or have a wave about them in the same way that donald trump did. it seems like one of the scenarios he would not want is someone who could beat him at his own game, but it would obviously be with a different type of voter. they're trying to assess on some level the same thing that reporters are, which is who could turn out to vote? and the difference between this time and last time is that when it was candidate trump, it was a set of ideas. when it is president trump, it is a set of results. when you are an incumbent, part of the way you are judged is on what you are able to deliver. if you took a leap on someone to shake up the establishment because you believed that only by shaking up the establishment could you return coal jobs to a
place that is in trouble, is four years enough time? do people want to see the results after four years? the difference between this time and last time, one of the differences is that he will be judged on his record in the first four years. it won't be precisely the same dynamics as it was in 2016. >> more questions? right here. >> megan from cnn. do you anticipate any shift in the dynamic between the justice department and this white house president, given the new ag nom? olivier: that is a great question. i am not as familiar with barr
as some of my colleagues. having not covered the justice department but i did go internet digging when he was announced and i found a fascinating oral history of the attorneys general over at the miller center. by the way, oral histories, there are great ones on senate.gov. some good ones in a couple other places. they are worth reading because you get how it happened from the point of view of the people in the room and with their names attached. it is really fascinating. ted kaufman has a really good one on the senate side. one of the things i found was barr bragging that he was one of the hardliners on the iran contra pardons. that is what i highlighted on twitter. he said others were saying we should only pardon a couple and i was saying, no, as many as possible. not just caspar weinberger. i don't know to what degree that mr. barr from that era and this
era share beliefs. people change. but it was notable to me as we go forward in congress and the courts, and of course mueller. there are all of these things happening. i thought it was interesting that he picked someone who was such an ardent advocate of presidential pardon power. >> david. >> david from cnn. what are the mechanisms for communication between the white house and congress that we should have our eye on? who are the people that will be influencing the direction that this white house takes with this congress? and how do lobbyists from the outside play? what are the entry points as a reporter?
anita: olivier mentioned going from the outside in. i know when i am looking at a particular issue, like immigration, my first calls are to the people who are like-minded with the president or the president's staff. you never know who they have consulted. you could do the same for president obama. there were so many things that the white house had not released, but somehow the center for american progress had some white paper out the week before. the following week, the exact same thing almost came out of the white house. i would look for the people, the groups, the associations, the lobbyists on the same side of the president to find out his thinking. it may not be president trump in
a room with these people, but you can bet that somebody there is talking to them. some staffer is talking to them. i have done a lot of immigration stuff the last couple of years. i know a lot of us have. for that in particular, there are groups that the white house is in touch with, floating ideas out there. that is where i start. don't discount the other side. you want to know how they will fight a proposal or what vulnerabilities they think that they have. for me, i go to -- i just keep calling people that are on that particular issue. you know, the associations lobbyists on that issue. i think that is a great way to go at it. obviously, a lot of people on capitol hill also involved. it depends on the issue you are looking at. they are varied. it depends what issue it is. you can go to the committee or the member of congress.
olivier: ranking members and opposition. great source of information. they have access to the committee workings, the conversations the committee has with the administration. in theory, they're supposed to. ranking members in opposition are a good source. i feel silly saying this because it is so obvious, but there are some lawmakers who are passionate champions of policy x or policy y. they will stay abreast of every wrinkle of that conversation. i will give you two democrats as examples. tim kaine has been calling for a congressional vote to authorize the use of military force overseas for an overhaul of the post-9/11 legal framework in the war on terrorism. he has been calling for that since i think 2012. he stays on top of that. closely. his letters to and from the
department of defense have been illuminating in terms of how this congress wages war without congressional explicit authority. and chris murphy of connecticut who has been pounding the table against u.s. support for the war in yemen since 2013, i want to say. these are people who stay on top of these issues closely. there are 535 examples of people on the hill who are following something closely. there is a member of congress from arkansas who just made it possible for his constituents to text him. he is on top of the way members of congress communicate with constituents. one of the great things about covering congress is, if you care about anything in the world of policy, somebody on the hill wants to talk to you. they want to make a case for why
things are good or bad. it takes a little floosing to -- it takes a little slew thing -- it takes a little s leuthing to figure out which ones your trust, and that's the biggest part of reporting here. that's my in a nutshell. margaret: a lot of this is right in front of you. if you took out a pad and pen, you could draw a circle that started in the oval office and remind yourself of the connections that you know are there. the president's office of legislative affairs. that is their job, right? there are the lawmakers -- this president more than any other president likes to engage with directly, they are in his ear all the time. you know who they are, mark meadows, lindsey graham, tom cotton, probably half a dozen others. the vice president's office.
the vice president served in congress. his team has connections into the hill. there are those folks. and there are the people inside this white house who know democrats as well, ivanka and jared. this is already in front of you. you already know all of this, it is just a matter of reminding yourself of these connections. check every box. there are people you should always be trying to check in with or see who they are meeting with and it will help you to understand what the back channels are for these ideas. >> back of the room. >> [inaudible] influence of religious organizations in this administration. it seems like something that has been under the radar. every once in a while you do see a reference to it in random stories. i wonder whether there is more influence of the religious right than we may be aware of on a
variety of issues. olivier: evangelical voters are the backbone of his support. that is not exactly answer your question because that is a voter-base and not an organization, but i would say that this project of remaking the federal judiciary in a conservative image has been the single biggest payoff. they are getting a generation of judges on the bench. on the federal bench. lifetime appointments. i am not as well versed in the religious organizations and their influence. i can't really speak to that, but i would make those two points. anita: i am also not that well versed in it but i am reminded of something a colleague told me. when they came into office, people were looking at mike as the go to person on
these issues. when you talked to a couple of these organizations, they have been pleasantly surprised at how donald trump has basically done everything that they have asked. i am not saying, they are asking and he is doing it. i am just saying it is as if it were mike pence. that mike pence would not have done anything different. they have been happy with that. i can assume that the interaction between those groups and the white house, but i don't know that. it was one group in particular that told my colleague that it is kind of under the radar, but they have had this great relationship. they feel a door is always open and they can go to this white house. >> we have time for one or two more quick questions. anybody out there? let me ask something. one of the things that popped up before the election was a tax cut. is that going to come up again or was that floated and will go away? olivier: the house republicans talked about that last summer. they said they would try to set
up another vote in the fall. it felt at the time like, wouldn't it be great if we could do a symbolic vote on taxes to remind people, even if it didn't get through? they did not expected to get through because it wasn't in their favor. but i don't see how that gets revived. not the republican version. democrats are in control of the house. could democrats choose to include very specific tax cut language? absolutely. it's not going to be the republican blueprint. anita: right after the election, the president had a press conference. nancy pelosi had a press conference. it was interesting to see the policy issues that they both mentioned. i think the only one in common was infrastructure. i could be wrong, but it was close to that.
when you talk to people who are looking at this, that is the one thing they say that they might be able to agree on in some fashion. although, they have big disagreements. i don't know about the tax cut. that is not something a lot of people have been talking about. >> if you talk to any reporter in the beltway, they tell you the same story. democrats are breathing a gigantic sigh of relief. in february, march of last year, that the president did not start off his time in office by dropping off a conventional infrastructure on package, which would have probably force them to cooperate and work with them. now you're hearing, we need to work on infrastructure. the house dems want to set their own terms. they don't want to do the president's way. margaret: the only thing i would add to this is we manage to get through an hour without talking about the economy. the economy could be on equal footing with mr. mueller, and larger footing depending on what
happens, could be an absolutely determinative factor in how 2020 shapes up and in this administration's reelection prospects. you have to look at tax cuts as part of the broader picture. where is the economy going? what are the implications of tariffs, natural economic cycles? people use the r word. all of that matters. as a result, you could certainly see renewed talking points about tax cuts to benefit "voters." that doesn't mean it will translate into anything but it could become part of the rhetorical debate. >> i think we need to draw this panel to a close. i want to thank all three speakers. [applause] i also wanted to give a quick shout out to the university of maryland for providing this space and for pointing out that one of our panelists, margaret, is a umd grad.
we will have a quick changeover. take a quick break but be back in a few minutes and we will get started on the next panel. >> sunday night on q&a -- >>, the american nazi party that , witho rally stormtroopers giving the nazi salute, that rally was for the george washington university. there was a very active fascist movement associated with the phrase "america first." >> sarah churchwell looks at the history of the terms "america
dream"and "the american ." her book "behold america sunday at 8:00 on c-span's q&a. >> coming up this weekend on book tv come on sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on after words, citizens united president david bossi and former trump campaign manager cori lewandowski. interviewed by investigative journalist cheryl atkinson. >> i do not want to be conspiracy theorist that we refer to many of these people as a november 9 club meaning they were fans of president trump the day after he got elected. they likely did not vote for him but they found an opportunity to join an administration which was young and inexperienced to further their own agenda. >> as part of becoming president he listened a lot to republican
leaders in washington and took advice from folks that i do not know he would do that same ink today. i think during that transition and in the first month or two of his administration come the learning curve was incredibly steep just like it is for every single president of the united states. onre is no class or degree being president and it is a learning curve. >> watch book tv this weekend on c-span2. vote of 56-41, the u.s. senate voted thursday to recommend that the u.s. and its assistance to saudi arabia for the war in yemen. and in a separate resolution blamed the death of a journalist jamal khashoggi on the saudi crown prince. the vote on that resolution was unanimous. both measures would have to be approved by the house for them to go to the president but the house