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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  October 5, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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10/05/17 10/05/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> the committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. amy: at the senate intelligence committee says it has really -- reached the conclusion russia interfered in the 2016 u.s. presidential election, but says it is still examining whether the trump campaign colluded with russia. , andscuss russia, utin trump with award-winning russian-american author and journalist masha gessen. >> trump used to tell us that putin was brilliant.
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what putin actually said was that trump was colorful. the word "colorful. in russian can also be transcribed in and bush as bright. -- in english as bright. amy: we also talk about her new book, which has just been shortlisted for the national book award. the president trump said tuesday his administration would help puerto rico wipe out its $73 billion debt to help it recover from the extensive damage caused by hurricane maria. then walkedirector back those comments. you will get response from puerto rican born new york congresswoman nydia velazquez, who would to puerto rico with andrew cuomo two days after the storm hit. >> we need to make puerto rico whole again. are 3.5 million citizens.
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these are american citizens. amy: all of that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in puerto rico, more than 90% of the island still does not have electricity from the power grid and half of the island does not have clean drinking water. now more than two weeks after hurricane maria. on wednesday, the director of office of management and budget, mick mulvaney, has contradicted president trump's comments that he would wipe out puerto rico's billion dollar debt amid the catastrophic aftermath of hurricane maria. with the challenges that puerto rico has, the island is at least $72 billion in debt, before the storm. regardless focus our attention right now i'm -- we're going to focus our attention on making sure everyone is safe and that we get through this difficult times. we're not going to deal right now with those fundamental
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difficulties that puerto rico had before the storm. talked about of this, a lot of those issues re: dealt with through previous legislation called promesa. amy: mulvaney was walking back comments trump made on tuesday, during which he told fox news' geraldo rivera that he would move to eliminate the island's debt. meanwhile, federal officials are now concerned that the damage from hurricane maria will lead to nationwide shortages of critical medicine and other supplies, since puerto rico is one of the world's biggest hubs for pharmaceutical manufacturing. we'll have more on puerto rico with congresswoman nydia velazquez of new york, who is originally from yabucoa, puerto rico, where hurricane maria made landfall just over two weeks ago. president trump traveled to las vegas and met with victims of sunday night's mass shooting, in which stephen paddock, a 64-year-old white man, killed 59 people, including himself, and injured nearly 500 people. more than 120 people are still hospitalized. on wednesday, the fbi estioned his girlfriend marilou danley,
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who returned from her trip to visit family in the philippines to meet with fbi agents. she said she had no prior knowledge of paddock's plans to open fire from the 32nd floor of his mandalay bay casino hotel suite onto more than 20,000 concert-goers below. more details also emerged wednesday about how paddock had been stockpiling firearms, including buying 33 weapons in the past year alone. nermeen: from nevada2, utah, california, and texas. authorities also say paddock bought at least twelve devices, known as a "bump stock," that allows semi-automatic rifles to act like machine guns, capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute. some republican lawmakers said wednesday they would be open to legislation to ban the sale of bumps. in nevada, even some gun range owners are speaking out against the lax gun t t tlaws that allw people to purchase these devices and high-capacity magazines. this is a gun range owner. >> there is no reason for an average citizen who wants to
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have a gun to have 100 round magazine. there is no reason for them to forble to buy accessories their gun which makes the can almost fully automatic. amy: in news from washington, the head of the u.s. senate intelligence committee said wednesday it has reached the conclusion that russia interfered in the 2016 u.s. presidential election. richard burr also said the committee is still examining whether the trump campaign colluded with russia. >> the issue of collusion is still open, that we continue to investigate both intelligence that we're notnd in a position where we will come to any type of temporary finding on that until we have completed the process. amy: cnn is reporting a number of russian-linked facebook ads seeking to polarize the u.s. electorate specifically targeted michigan and wisconsin, two states crucial to trump's victory in november. the ads focused on issues such as gun rights, immigration, lgbtq rights, and racial justice
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protests like black lives matter. the naacp said -- "the utilization of facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the african american community or alleged election manipulation by foreign nations is both disturbing and reprehensible." a new investigation has revealed president trump's adult children ivanka trump and donald trump , jr., were almost charged with felony fraud for lying to people interested in buying apartments in the trump soho, a hotel and condo development in downtown manhattan. the near criminal prosecution was revealed in an article jointly published by "the new yorker," propublica and wnyc. the article also reveals that the case was dropped by the manhattan district attorney's office only after trump's personal attorney, marc kasowitz, visited manhattan district attorney cy vance jr., in 2012 -- only months after he'd donated $25,000 to vance's
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reelection campaign. while vance returned that $25,000 donation ahead of the meeting, he went on to overrule his own prosecutors and instruct them to drop the case against ivanka and donald trump jr. six months later, vance received a $50,000 donation from kasowitz and his friends. secretary of state rex tillerson held a hastily-called news conference wednesday in which he denied he has considered resigning over conflicts with president trump. >> the vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because i've never considered leaving this post. while i am new to washington, i have learned that there are some who try to sew dissension by turning others apart in an effort to undermine president trump's own agenda. i do not and i will not operate that way. the same applies to everyone on
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my team here at the state department. amy: nbc news has reported tillerson was on the verge of resigning last summer, and that he called trump a moron during a meeting at the pentagon with cabinet officials and members of trump's national security team in july. president trump lashed out at nbc over the report, tweeting wednesday -- "nbc news is #fakenews and more dishonest than even cnn. they are a disgrace to good reporting. no wonder their news ratings are way down!" in international news, the u.s.-backed iraqi military says it's seized control of the northern iraqi town of hawija from isis. hawija is home to tens of thousands of people and has been occupied by isis since 2014. it was one of the last isis-controlled territories in iraq. the egyptian government has launched a wide-scale crackdown against the lgbt community, arresting at least 34 people. the crackdown began when egyptian authorities arrested a 22-year-old law student and six others for waiving a rainbow flag during a concert in cairo of the internationally renowned lebanese band mashrou leila,
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whose lead singer is openly gay. "the new york times" reports many of the arrests were made trapped gaysties on media. amnesty international says egypt has carried out at least 10 torturous forced anal examinations against those arrested during the crackdown. in sweden, prosecutors have convicted a syrian soldier of committing a war crime, marking the first war crimes conviction of a member of the syrian military since the beginning of the ongoing war. mohammad abdullah had been living in sweden for three years. the landmark conviction came after syrian refugees in sweden identified him and connected him to a photo he had posted on facebook showing him smiling while standing over a pile of bloody corpses with his boot on one of the bodies. after years of pressure by the syrian refugees, abdullah was convicted in swedish court of "violating human dignity" and
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has been sentenced to eight months in prison. the israeli military has forcibly sealed off the israeli-occupied west bank and besieged gaza strip for the next 11 days amid the jewish harvest holiday of sukkot. human rights groups say the border closures are illegal under international war. -- under international law. it prevents tens of thousands of palestinians from getting to their jobs inside israel. this comes as israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu has announced plans to expand a jewish-only settlement in the west bank, promising a development boom. these settlements are also illegal under international law. in bangladesh, authorities have destroyed nearly two den boats that are used to ferry rohinyas fleeing the burmese military's ethnic cleansing campaign. more than 500,000 rohinyas have fled to bangladesh, amid the violence crackdown. in britain, the oxford city council has voted to strip burma's de facto leader, aung san suu kyi, of her freedom of oxford award over the violence.
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suu kyi studied in oxford in the 1960's and met her husband there. thousands have also called for her to be stripped of her nobel peace prize. meanwhile, back in the united states, the house has passed a bill that would make abortions illegal after 20 weeks, except when the life of the mother is at risk or the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. women's health advocates say the legislation is unconstitutional. the white house supports the extreme anti-choice bill, but it's likely to face opposition in the senate. in st. louis, missouri, massive protests continue over the acquittal of white former police officer jason stockley for the murder of 24-year-old african american anthony lamar smith. police arrested more than 140 people overnight on tuesday as protesters blocked traffic on interstate 64. more than 300 people have been arrested since the protests erupted nearly three weeks ago. among those arrested on tuesday were two journalists with the news outlet the young turks. and prisoner rights advocate
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john thompson has died at the age of 55. thompson was a former death row prisoner who was exonerated after it was revealed that the orleans parish district attorney's office had suppressed evidence of his innocence. after winning his release in 2003, thompson became a leading organizer against prosecutorial abuse. he also founded the organization resurrection after exoneration, to support former prisoners' reentry into the free world. this is john thompson speaking in 2013. >> i spent 18 years of my life in prison. 14 was on death row. while on death row, i received seven execution dates. i also watched 12 men be executed. punishmentnusual starts there. to watch a man that claim to be innocent walk away, claiming his
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innocent all the way and then you read it in the newspaper or you know he don't return back cause he h been executed. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now1,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. nermeen: and i'm nermeen shaikh. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. the head of the u.s. senate intelligence committee announced wednesday it has reached the conclusion that russia interfered in the 2016 u.s. presidential election. this comes as cnn reports a number of russian-linked facebook ads specifically targeted micgan d wionsin, twstates crual to trump's victory in november. republican senator richard burr said his committee was still examining evidence to determine if there was any collusion between moscow and the trump campaign. >> any determination on collusion or russia's preferences if we used socially
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-- sully the social media advertising we have seen, there's no way you can look at that and say that that was to help the right side of the ideological chart and not the left, or vice versa. they were indiscrimate. nermeen: president trump has called allegations of campaign collusion with russia a hoax. meanwhile, the justice department is pursuing a separate probe under special counsel robert mueller. well, for more on russia and trump, we recently spoke with award-winning russian-american author and journalist masha gessen. her new book is titled "the future is history: how totalitarianism reclaimed russia" and has just been shortlisted for the national book award. it looks at why democracy failed in putin's russia and how the country descended into a more virulent and invincible strain of autocracy, all in the space of a generation. amy: masha gessen's book is a warning to the united states today. in many of her articles, she points to the similarities
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between trump and putin, and has repeatedly warned of the threat of autocracy under a trump presidency. two days after trump's stunning electoral victory, she wrote an article for the new york review of books headlined "autocracy: rules for survival," which was widely circulated on social media and received over a million views. masha gessen is a visiting professor at amherst college and a regular contributor to the new york review of books and the "new york times." her previous books include the bestseller, "the man without a face: the unlikely rise of vladimir putin." we spoke with her last week and started by asking about her viral story she wrote "autocracy: rules for survival." ,>> the way that peace can about was that on election night, like most people, i was at a horrible party a party that began well and ended horribly. by the time i got home, i got several notes from people i knew
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, close friends and not so close friends and not so saying, what do we do now? rt ofough i were some sot guru a looming disasters. even though i don't think trump and putin of as, that major points of similarity because they have received power in the same way and because they perceive politics through much of the same way, even know they -- they are very different men there is sething that i have learned over 20 years of covering putin and 20 years even more importantly of living in a disintegrating democracy, that i thought i could probably help convey to my friends and to other people. that was the genesis of that piece. i think things have gone pretty much as badly as i had expected. when i was asked what my greatest was, said my greatest fear was a holocaust -- which
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seemed ridiculous a little less than a year ago. we're on the brink of that will stop we have been four weeks. which is something we try not to talk about, because how do you talk about that? i think certainly one of the six rules for autocracy was institutions will not save you. consider the necessary to write that was because at the time, if you remember, a lot of people were trump is the yes, kind of politician who is never been president in this country, but institutions are so strong that he is not going to be able to do that much damage. my sense was a lot of what people thought of as institutions were actually norms and habits and customs. but even formal institutions are actually not designed to stand up to somebody who is dealing with them in bad faith. that is what we have observed. we have institutions that are failing to keep at check on
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trump in many ways. nermeen: what are some of the steps you think, apart from the impact and institutions or together with that, what are the steps that trump has taken that bear the mark of autocratic rule. gesture.erns by this is something that is been very difficult for us i think to assimilate because people who are in the business of analyzing politics and understanding politics think about politics as policy and strategy and sort of a story that has a future. right? trump doesn't think of politics that way at all. he thinks of effective gestures. he thinks of demonstrating his power. so a good example is the tweet about banning transgender people in the military. to scramble to try to understand what had just happened was fascinating to me because one of the first things that people
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reacted was, well, it is a tweet. it is not an executive order. he is the commander in chief. he can tweet his policy of he wants to. to him, that is the most effective gesture. the second order of interpretation was, well, what does this mean? what is he trying to accomplish? he is not trying to calm push anything except to mr. and his power and instinct of lee us on our toes. the less predictable his behavior, the more sort of is oriented toward demonstrating raw power, the more he accomplishes what he intuitively was to accomplish, which is established power. amy: one of the things you say, and you have said several times in the article, you said just now that trump and putin are not identical, but they do share much in common. in fact, in one of your pieces from he suggested that trump in certain ways may actually be worse. you say, let me quote you, "where pigeons a predictable persona is a carefully
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cultivated wine, trump has given no evidence that his madmen act is an act." could you elaborate on that? putin many years, established what he thinks of as power, which is basically being feared, by demonstrating to other world leaders that he will stop at nothing. ofthat sense, his invasion ukraine, which again, a lot of people have tried to interpret and sort of conventional, strategic terms. and that does not hold up because it is a losing war, and extremely expensive war, stored nearly expensive inputs occupation in crimea but it does something very important and continues to do it as long as putin -- it shows putin will do the inconceivable.
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he will do things that even as he is doing them, continue to be absolutely shocking come so shocking we can't really imagine it. that is a message he is sending both to his people in russia and the world leaders. the conventional wisdom on russia has consistently under putin in the west moved toward the containment and "let's not put the russian bear because the russian bear want stop at nothing." does think that this power, as long as russia is feared in the world, then he is established -- reestablished russia is a great world power. now we have trump who wants to keep doing shocking things, like threatening to obliterate north korea. -- itis just as much seems as much of a madmen act as what putin. basically, one upped putin's game, except for putin, it is at
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least early strategic. not that i think he has any sort of moral limitations on his actions. but to him, doing that unimaginable is a power-play. i think for trump, nothing is unimaginable. he perceives the world in exactly the terms that he puts out in his tweets. he thinks that standing up to north korea is probably equal to threatening it with obliteration and we're lucky if he continues to be just a threat. amy: i want to go to the normalizing of trump. you have trump himself in his statements, and something that you can generally talk about is a very serious issue of normalization. the media in the united states has become more oppositional than usual, to say the least, or maybe for the first time oppositional when it comes to trump because he directly called them out. he talks about fake news cnn and
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he calls reporters by name, so they are defending themselves and tend to sound a little bit , independenty now! media is essential to the functioning of a democratic society, they say. true on a number of issues, like they're talking about him being a liar. they are willing to say that. interestingly, they were not quite willing to say that george bush was a liar when it came to weapons of mass destruction. but i want to go to the areas where there isn't that kind of questioning. on the one hand, climate change when it comes to the nonstop coverage of hurricanes come almost no mention of climate change. not just in fox, but msnbc and cnn. and then the issue of war and bombing. the night that the united states bombed that syrian airfield, when a number of reporters and commentators said now trump has become president or the day in afghanistan he dropped the largest on nuclear bomb in the
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history, themoab, the mother of all bombs. let's go back to syria. we're not going to fox. we're going to msnbc when anchor brian williams referred to the pentagon video of the u.s. missiles fired at syria, referred to it as "beautiful" three times and 30 seconds. >> we see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two u.s. navy vessels in the eastern mediterranean. i'm tempted to quote the great leonard cohen "i'm guided by the beauty of our weapons." ofy are beautiful pictures fearsome armaments making what is, for them, a brief flight over to this airfield. what did they hit? amy: can you hear leonard cohen rolling over in his grave? brian williams. this is cnn speaking on new day friday morning of that week. >> i think donald trump became
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president of the united states. i think this was a big moment because candidate trump has said he would never get involved in the syrian civil war. he told president obama, you cannot do this without the authorization of congress. he seemed unconcerned with global norms. president trump recognized the president of the united states does have to act to enforce international norms, does have to have this broader moral and political purpose. amy: that was cnn. before that, brian williams. masha gessen? >> the thing about normalization is that in a way it is inevitable because this is the reality we are living in. this is the president of the united states. to entirely refuse to normalize him would be to deny that reality. i think that is the problem that faces a lot of journalists, which is, how do you continue to
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do your job, how do you continue to refute your job, seriously, if we have a deranged clown for president? the moment he starts acting a little bit less like a deranged clown, the moment he does -- 159ng like law 59 missiles at syria, which is more normal in terms of the presidency then tweeting, right, got arnold schwarzenegger's ratings on "the apprentice -- amy: which doesn't make it right. >> but it is closer to what we assume presidents do. the spectacle of this country -- we arear is going more accustomed to it. that moment, what for read saqqara says for what brian
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lames is doing, is expressing feeling atief at least for seven minutes like he can comprehend the reality he is called upon to interpret. amy: but isn't there also an element of the major problem for establishment journalists, especially when it comes to war and it is not only around trump, it is just that they did not respond to trump eight differently, that they circled the wagons around the white house when it comes to war. >> absolutely. but that is normal. that is normal in american journalism. this is not new to us. what is new is plugging trump into that role. the thing is, and is sort of loop, he iseedback learning some important lessons. he looks his best when he goes to work. the way that the picture on television changed from the day before missiles were fired at syria to the day they were fired
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was actually extraordinary. the day before, in fact, the day before i was at lincoln center in new york during an interview with nikki haley, who was literally laughed off the stage. in the following day, there she was on television being interviewed one-on-one. a states sounding like woman. there was a lot of one-on-one with trump officials that day, especially with nikki haley, which there had not been for weeks leading up to it. there have been talking heads with usually one trump supporter in three or four more intelligent people. and all of that was gone from the picture the moment missiles were fired in syria. that i think is a very good lesson for him in what looks good. nermeen: apart from that, you have also talked about the way in which the media has responded to his extremely well documented litany of lies.
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you point, in particular, and :ot the only example, of npr his lies "misstatements." could you talk about with the danger of that is or what you think the danger of that is? >> i think this is one of the ways in which we can really get a chance to sort of re-examine journalistic practices in america and assumptions of some american journalism, which is that it always exists sort of out of time and out of place. it is the view from nowhere, which is a thing in journalism, and american journalism. it translates into pretending we don't know what came yesterday and we have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. how that relates to the idea of not calling his lies lies is that npr explains that in order to -- that a lie is an intentional fiction.
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and since npr doesn't have a direct line to trump's soul, they don't know whether he actually intends to mislead us or whether he accidentally makes a mistake. amy: for example, when he talks about his outsized from that it was larger than president .bama's and you see the picture it is small and he says it was larger. >> npr doesn't have a direct line to his brain, so they don't know how he is perceiving the picture. maybe he is just seeing more people in that picture. .ook, it is absurd but i think it communicates something important, which is basically npr is going to insist every time it happens, it is like it never happened before. the only way you can claim he has perhaps accidentally misstated facts is if you don't remember that he did exactly think five minutes ago in 10 minutes ago and 10 days ago and 10 years ago. that is a real sort of abdication of
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responsibility to engage with the reality that they are supposed to cover. amy: award-winning author and journalist masha gessen. her new book is "the future is history: how totalitarianism reclaimed russia." it was just shortlisted for the national book award. back with her in a minute. ♪ [music break] amy: "make america great again" by the russian protest band pussy riot. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen
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shaikh. we continue our conversation with award-winning author and journalist masha gessen, author of "the future is history: how totalitarianism reclaimed russia." nermeen: i asked gessen how she thinks president donald trump is distorting language. example she cites is on nato, one that trump said at one point that nato is obsolete. and then later that it was no longer obsolete. >> the way he is mangling the english language is something dangerous.k is so americans are a little bit innocent to that danger. this is where oddly, having grown up in the soviet union and lived in russia as a journalist for some years, i am externally sensitive to what happens to language. to totalitarian journalist -- italian journalist about this. they lived through much milder form of what i am served in russia, but they say berlusconi
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over 20 years of his reign, did so much damage to the language, they are so recovering their ability to describe what they're dealing with. trump does two things. mean theports to opposite. so when he does things like he calls the russian investigation a witchhunt, it is the opposite -- he uses the phrase witchhunt to mean its opposite in several ways. the most important is to reverse the relationship of power. a witchhunt by definition used to be something that people with power could perpetrate upon people who did not have power. here is the most powerful man in the world saying he is the victim of a witchhunt. but he also uses words to me nothing. like a thing cannot be, first obsolete and then the longer obsolete. ofse are distinct kinds
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damage telling which, but they make our shared reality mushy. how do you use terms that no longer mean anything or have come to mean their opposite, which also is a way of meaning nothing. as a journalist, i have worked in the language that has been violated in similar ways. first of the soviet regime using words to mean opposite, where literally freedom -- the word "freedom" was to mean"unf reedom." under putin, observed words being used in very much the way trump uses them, just to mean nothing. just to create a kind of cacophony in which you never can get a grasp of what is going on. trump is doing both, and that is going to make our recovery from trump, which inevitably will come, that much more difficult. amy: i want to ask you about trump's attraction for putin,
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why you think that is, and if putin has the same feelings about trump. >> so i think trumps attraction to putin, again, people have tried to figure out, what does putin have on trump that trump keeps praising him? i think the yell historian put great, putin is the dictator that trump place on tv. trump really wants to be prudent. he thinks that is what power looks like. he thinks politics is about exercising raw power. is ainks 86% popularity sign of extreme popularity and extreme effectiveness. amy: 86%, that is what putin has. >> that is a totalitarian level number. you're no longer talking about public opinion because there's no public and there is no opinion. you're just taking the temperature service of
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totalitarianism. that is what trump instinctively aspires to. the feeling is not mutual. putin thinks trump is a clown. he has made that abundantly clear. amy: how? >> well, early on, remember trump used to tell us that putin called him brilliant. what putin actually said was that trump was colorful. the word "colorful" in russian can also betray slated to english as bright. so and must have translated -- don amy: what is the word? >> the word is yucky. the literal translation is vivid. be vernacular would colorful. someone must have translated trump as bright. trump inflated bright to
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brilliant. moscow ininterview in september of 2016, asked putin, you called trump brilliant. what did you do that? putin, you could see how thrilled he was because free much like trump, he loves it when journalists are wrong. he says, well, i never said that. id you believe things you hear? if you go back to what i said, i called him colorful. that just sums of his attitude toward trump. every comment he is made since, the way that russian television has treated trump it either portrays trump as the man who power -- russia is very happy with the narrative that russia elected the american president -- or they treat trump as a bumbling idiot who can't
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get anything right, including his relationship with russia. which, for all the russia conspiracy, the relationship between the u.s. and russia has never been worse. it hasn't been worse since the end of world war ii. we are deep into the territory of mutual diplomatic expulsions. at this point, the american embassy in moscow have been forced to stop issuing visas to russian citizens because they are so poorly staffed that they actually can't process visas. brink ofe're on the losing diplomatic relations altogether. amy: you're the author of "the future is history: how totalitarianism reclaimed russia." you have been fiercely critical of russia. you're fiercely critical of the trump administration. but you are also fiercely critical of the story that has
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predominated now of russia's interference with the u.s. election some of that ended in the victory of trump. why? >> well, because i just need more things to be fiercely critical of, obviously. [laughter] word that also has almost lost its meaning because we use it so much them in a way it is a distraction. this is a very difficult point to try to convey. but i think conspiracy thinking is really dangerous to culture and the political culture. it is very hard to stay away from conspiracy thinking when there may have been a conspiracy. we don't know if there was a conspiracy. even if there was, we should do our best to try to not engage in conspiracy thinking. one is that it lends itself to fantasy. it lends itself to this idea that once we discover the trump
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colluded with the russians, we will magically get rid of trump. for is not going to happen two reasons. one, it is extremely unlikely the investigation, when it is over -- and it will drag on for a long time -- extremely unlikely it will produce the kind of solid evidence of collusion that would -- could be used as a legal basis for impeachment. it even more important, there's not going to be any impeachment as long as republicans are in power in both houses of congress. from isn't a direct line any conclusions from the russian investigation to getting rid of trump. but more important, it creates the fantasy that we can find a reasonable explanation for the election of trump that will somehow let us out of this national nightmare. the national nightmare is that americans elected trump and he is president. like trump.n't
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even if there was collusion, that isevery hypothesis a play the russian investigation is proved, still, americans elected trump and he is president. he is doing incredible damage to this country. while so much of the media is obsessed with putin in the russia story him and every american citizen has limited bandwidth, even if the internet has unlimited bandwidth. the more we engage with the russia story from the last ring gauge with our lived reality of democracy in this country. nermeen: as you say and one of your pieces, the sole investigation into russia is actually helping trump and the media's obsession with it. could you talk about the role of the intelligence community in the media reporting on russia? >> i think this is one of the --t disturbing things about especially the early coverage of
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the russia theory. which was that all of the early coverage was proven by leaks from the intelligence community. the problem with leaks from the intelligence community -- the problems are obvious. one is that they can't be corroborated. two is that your sources control the timing is sort of the visage of the leaks. basically, journalists become mouthpieces for people in the intelligence community or may or may not be pursuing their own goals that have nothing to do with informing the public. their job is not to inform the public. that is the media's job. but a close enough relationship gets the media out of the business of informing the public and into the business of being mouthpieces for the intelligence community. we should be highly skeptical of anything that comes from the intelligence community based on the express that america media have had recently.
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during the careers of many people covering the leaks now, of leaks being used to mislead the american public in fundamental ways. nermeen: you said earlier that one of the problems with the of session with run russia investigation is it -- russia investigation it prevents us from thinking about why americans elected trump. and one of your pieces, you talked about the effects, the kind of looking at the longer view, the effects of 9/11 and the concentration of power in the executive branch. can you say what you think some of the historical, although not that long ago, reasons are that trump was elected? >> that was aps i wrote when i theasked to write about livestock fire. i think this program has faded a little bit. but early on in the trump presidency, a lot of people were saying, oh, he is going to use an event to consolidate power,
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to create a state of exception. in that event is going to be like a terrorist attack. of course, the terrorist attack is inevitable, it is just how trump is going to use it. my argument is basically that the fire, as i'm sure you know, in 1934, the parliament building in berlin burned and kittler, we just reselling been appointed chesler, used it as a pretext for restricting -- political freedoms in really profound ways, and ways to create a state of exception what carl schmitt called the state of exception. climbing extraordinary power. has happened in this country. it happened in the wake of september 11.
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the state of emergency that went into effect three days after september 11 has never been lifted. it was renewed by president obama every september for seven years of his presidency. the seven septembers he was president. we continue to be in the state of emergency. the war powers act passed with one dissenting vote. three days after september 11, continues to be in effect and has been used for president obama and now i president trump. there is been a 16 year run of concentrating, increasing concentration of power in the executive branch under george w. bush, basically, in the interest of shoring up more military and surveillance power. under president obama, for some of the same and for some other reasons having to do with congress that was intent on paralyzing him.
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basically, i think that chain of events did a lot to create the possibility of trump. to create the possibility of a politician who could run for odd a credit in this country and get elected. danica award-winning author and journalist masha gessen. her new book is "the future is history: how totalitarianism reclaimed russia." when we come back, congressmember nydia velazquez has just returned from puerto rico. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: we turn now to puerto rico in the aftermath of hurricane maria, the strongest storm to hit the island in nearly a century. more than two weeks later, more than 90% of its 3.5 million residents remain without electricity, running water, and adequate food. after president trump visited puerto rico on tuesday, he told fox news his administration would help puerto rico wipe out it $73 billion debt dealt it recover from the extensive damage caused by hurricane maria. pres. trump: we are going to work something out. we have to look at their whole debt structure. they owe a lot of money to her friends on wall street, and we're going to have to wipe that out. you can say goodbye to that. i don't know if it is goldman sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that. we have to do something because the debt was massive on the island. amy: trump's comments tuesday
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night shook financial markets. on wednesday morning, white house budget director mick mulvaney walked back the remarks, saying they should not be taken word for word. >> dealing with the challenges that puerto rico has, the island is at least $72 billion in debt, $120 if you go by other accounts, before the storm. we will focus our attention right now on rebuilding the island, repairing the island, making sure everyone is safe and that we get through this difficult times. we're not going to deal right now with those fundamental difficulties that puerto rico had before the storm. by the way, not many folks have talked about this yet, a lot of those issues are already dealt with through previous legislation called promesa. amy: this comes after trump tweeted last month that "puerto rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt, is in deep trouble" with "billions of dollars owed to wall street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with." for more, we go to capital hill, where we're joined by congress member nydia velazquez,
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who comes from new york, but was born in puerto rico. actually, right where hurricane maria made landfall. we welcome you to democracy now! can you respond to this issue of the debt, why it is so significant? you went to puerto rico right after the storm hit, level for president trump. u.n. with new york governor andrew cuomo. talk about what you say needs to happen now. gethat we need to do is to the federal government to provide the resources that we need in order to rebuild puerto rico. and that should be the focus. the reality is, puerto rico is running out of cash, has no liquidity. this is not the time to deal with the public that -- debt. doesn't a letter to the president asking -- working with the administration to get an infusion of cash
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because otherwise, the government will not be able to function. that should be the primary focus , to make sure that puerto rico has liquidity, that puerto rico can have safety and security that is needed, and also provide access to health care, to the health services that are so important, particularly in the aftermath of this hurricane. amy: the jones act. are you calling for an extension? there was a waiver for 10 days after enormous outcry that texas and florida had gotten it, but puerto rico hadn't. explain it significant and what you're demanding now. why is the joan act so important, -- jones act so important, what it is? >> it is important because it is not only about putting together relief effort in trying to remove the debris and to all of
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the cleanup that needs to happen, but it we want to put puerto rico back on track in terms of economic recovery, the jones act really is an obstacle. ability ofinders the transporting all of the supplies and all of the materials that we need, including oil and fuel. not only that, but it makes it more expensive. , put iti'm asking is away for at least one year. i'm working with members to introduce legislation that would call for a five-year waiver so becomes ao rico -- it tool of economic development for puerto rico. nermeen: compass member velazquez, you would to puerto rico very soon after hurricane maria made landfall. can you tell us what you saw? >> i saw what president donald
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trump didn't see. i saw the destruction, under investing in the people of puerto rico. 90% still today, 95% of the people in puerto rico out of 100 do not have electricity, drinking water, medicine, hospitals. they don't have power. as we saw yesterday or the day before, the day before, the governor right after the president left the island said that the toll of death increased, has risen from 16 to 34. today you read the papers , doctors in puerto rico are very concerned. many people could be exposed to
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many illnesses because of polluted water, because of the lack of medicine, because of the lack of medical supplies. ,my: congress member velazquez your assessment of the trump and what it is doing a puerto rico? trump goes down, to say the least, quite late. he is hurling rolls of paper towels of people. he attacks the san juan mayor and talks about puerto ricans as wanting everything done for them. your thoughts? quite depressing, frustrating, watching the images coming out of tha event make me angry. i believe it was an insult and lack of respect to the people of puerto rico, fellow citizens who were expecting from the president to go there for
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comfort and gay assurances -- and give assurances that the federal government will be there, that he understood the pain. but the important message was, we're going to be here all the rebuilt. every go is instead, he was talking about the cost to the federal budget. how could you? people are dying, when people such issuesg, raise that you did not raise when you went to texas of florida? these are american citizens. these are fellow citizens. so i was quite angry that he wealthy part of puerto rico and i was expecting for him to really grasp the severity of the crisis by going
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into the most isolated area, the most devastated area. so he would be able to come back and then put forward every relief recovery package that makes sense based on the real needs of the people of puerto rico. racism id you call it --? >> i think what it shows is how out of touch this president and this administration is right now on the damage that was caused in puerto rico, the destruction. i don't know if it is racism or that next but i hope week we are going to be passing a short-term relief package. and after that, we need to work on a robust long-term package that would include the resources for puerto rico to be able to
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rebuild. nermeen: congress member velazquez, do you think the debt should be forgiven and if so, what do you think the effect would be on the reconstruction effort? makes such aent statement. he did not discuss how he will achieve that. the mechanics, we don't know. but i will say this to you. forget about public that right now. the most important aspect and tomitment from my end is fight, to get the resources that we need. if we don't make puerto rico hold, you're going to see a massive migration of people coming into the united states. aree funds or others who owed money, they need to forget
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that puerto rico will be able to pay anything. if anything, we have to take care of retirees in puerto rico and the pension liabilities. -- cannnot be forgiven that be forgiven? >> there is a way in terms of the authority of the federal government, then i will support it. amy: i want to ask you very .uickly about daca you represent many people from puerto rico will stop again, puerto ricans are american citizens. 3.5 million american citizens. but there are many undocumented people in new york. we want to just ask about what should happen -- today is the deadline for them to apply for renewals of their daca status under the deferred action for child arrivals immigration plan, which shields 800,000 young people from deportation. what is congress doing on this
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day? >> the democrats filed a discharge petition that will require 218 signatures. we are not there yet. we got all of the democrats to sign that discharge. we also introduced legislation, the dream act. or 200.02 we are working very hard reaching out to moderate republicans and reaching out to some of my colleagues in new jersey to see if we can get the 218 votes that we need in order to bring a bill to the floor. in the meantime, we have met with the administration. commitments that they will not proceed to deport the dreamers. amy: we have to leave it there. nydia velazquez, they can for
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being with us, new york congressmember born in puerto congressmember born in puerto rico
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