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tv   Washington Week  PBS  February 4, 2017 1:30am-2:01am PST

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susan: president trump charges ahead with his america first agenda. i'm susan davis. we examine the president's board view and the world's view of the president tonight on "washington week." president trump: the world is in trouble but we're going to straighten it out, ok? that's what i do, i fix things. surf president trump's fixes include extreme vetting of refugees and foreign visitors from seven targeted nations. a warning to israel. new sanctions against iran and the threat of more sanctions against russia and contentious calls with some of america's allies have some questioning the president's tough-talking diplomacy. >> this in my view was an unnecessary and frankly harmful
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open dispute over an issue which is not nearly as important as the united states-australian cooperation in working together. president trump: when you hear about the tough phone calls, i'm having. don't worry about it. susan: plus, the latest on the senate confirmation battle on the president's nominee from the supreme court. analysis from margaret brennan of cbs news. michael duffy of "time" magazine. carol lee of "the wall street journal," and pete williams of nbc news. >> this is "washington week." funding is provided by -- >> ♪
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>> additional funding is provided by the xq institute. newman's own foundation, donating all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ford foundation. the ethics and excellence in journalism fun to day. cue and tricia ewen from the foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. and by contributions from your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again in washington, sution sues of npr. susan: good evening. president trump's second week in office was as frenzied as his
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first. it began with the chaotic rollout of new restrictions on refugees as well as visitors from seven majority muslim nations. the week ended with new sanctions against iran and in between the president fired the acting attorney general, nominated a justice to the supreme court and talked his way into a couple of foreign policy clasheses with two of the nation's closest allies. the pails of these two weeks suggest that president trump is not easing into the oval office. what's the strategy here? kimberly: he definitely isn't. there are -- carol: there are those in the president's inner circle who really like this. it's a shock and awe strategy designed to keep opponents on their toes. that includes us, the media. not just his political opponents but also the people who are covering him and they really like that and yet there are others in the president's inner circle that are arguing for less
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of a kind of move as fast as you can kind of strategy and they got a little bit of leverage when the president hit a speed bump over the weekend with his refugee policy and that rollout did not go very well. so -- and then you have the president himself, who loves this and he wants to go faster and he's constantly busy and he prefers this atmosphere and he thrives on chaos and so all of that is resulting in a lot of different things happening in a lot of very small time frame and to go to what world leaders are looking at this and saying -- it's unpredictability from the united states in a way they haven't seen before. there's a lot of anxiety. there's a lot of that on capitol hill. there are those in the president's inner circle who want him to slow down a little bit and he discussed that with them but it's hard to imagine that donald trump is going to slow down. susan: you say unpredictable but
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essentially every the president has done in these first two weeks is something he campaigned on. on one hand isn't this just a president making good on his promises? margaret: yes, but i don't think people realized that would mean picking a fight with australia, for instance that. kind of surprised everybody. i think in that sense that is more what has people worried. we al-- all expected him to be tougher on iran. weaver waiting to see how he approaches china. everyone is wondering about that because the consequences are high. but people didn't expect he would take on australia or mexico in this way. world leaders are looking at that and alliles are nervous thinking about what does this mean for them? it's caused a lot of consternation. susan: musme moo -- michael, one of the key drivers of the strategy in the white house is steve bannon. he's on the cover of "time" magazine this week, which calls him the great manipulator.
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why is that? michael: if you want to be an important white house advisor, you need to have the president's ear, a keen sense of storytelling and a narrative that puts the president right at the center of that story. and bannon who just five or six months ago was running a conservative news site that worried a great deal about the future of the country has become that person. an advisor like we haven't seen in quite some time. he has emerged as the person who is responsible for the tone, if not the exact words of that memorable inaugural speech, who very much pushed the timing and the tone of the refugee ban which we were talking about all week long. and by the beginning of the weekend had managed to put himself on the national security council. with many people -- without many people in the white house or outside of the white house knowing about it. which means he's quite a smooth
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operator in the back corridors of the west wing. it's the first time a political advisor going back 30 or 40 years has had a seat like this. if it's chaos this white house goes on and shock and awe, ban season at the snort of it. >> he is not only the person who from the mr. trump's message to the public but does he also push mr. trump in certain directions? >> there's no question. it's a little bit about bannon's sort of own world view but in trump's place in it. surf bannon talked about seeing the birth of a new political order. that's a dramatic statement. >> bannon has a world view that is semiapock limitic. he sees the u.s. in a series of 80-year circles that begin with crisis, move on to revolt. these are words you can find in his considerable work and
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speeches and films. ghost -- goes past revolt to destruction. he thinks we're in that cycle now. we're going to basically blow up the current order and it's followed by rebirth. he thinks we've been through four of those in this country. this is now the destructive cycle in his view. this very much informs not just some of the policies they've been advancing in the first two weeks but also some of the language. you can pick any of them and hang them on that charlotte. yeah, that's how they are positioning themselves. it's how they justify in many wales with their own all of a sudden and their -- ways with their own audience and backers what they're doing and it's what powers them intellectually. >> he is a figure is someone who programs is most troublesome for some of our allies. they question is he thick skinned enough to truly be the revolutionary he's described
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himself to be and is he not just a disrupter but perhaps disruptive? you heard that from the former prime minister of poland, who is leading the european council, putting the united states in the same bunch at russia and others as being a threat in terms of blowing up multilateral agreements and things like the european union and nato. some of our allies are saying do i need to take him at his word and is this truly what the president of the united states is looking out at the rest of the world with? this idea of breaking up rather than strengthening some of the alliances with some of our oldest friends and allies. that is something that beyond our own boarders and tv screens is causing concern. susan: margaret, specifically on the immigration ban, what has been the global response,
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particularly from the country affected by the travel bans? margaret: if you talk to people on washington and capitol hill, i would have been fine with the content if you hadn't been so messy in the rollout and i think some of that would have been better for some of our diplomats around the world to have executed if they had had better warning. a lot of them were very much caught offguard in going through the loopholes, particularly in a place like iraq. that was for people structuring the national security strategy most troublesome. people any sis who can't come to the united states who can't come and visit their own families, that's a problem. when it comes to some of the other countries on that list, sudan, libya, others, it's not as troublesome. the refugee ban -- even our
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european partners have had a long time. that's a different duration. that's a four-month hold versus the three month on the seven countries. that not just from a humanitarian point of view is on that list. we really don't know what went into crafting this other than the folks with their fingerprints on it. susan: and pete, the president also learned this week that there are limits on executive power. this is being challenged in the courts. the immigration ban is being immediately challenged in the courts. what's the latest there? pete: there are at least 10 lawsuits now. there will be more next week. every civil rights lawyer in america is currently at the word processor trying to figure out a better way to attack this today a judge in boston said i'm not going to butt on a temporary restraining order but other judges said this is killing our
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economy, very bad for our states. ask the judge to put a hold on the executive ordinationwide and the judge said yes and imposed, very late today, a nationwide stop on enforcing the executive order. as a practical matter, it doesn't mean much because all the people who had visas to tom -- come to the united states all went poof when the executive order went into effect last week. they're no longer valid so before anybody can start to come and take advantage of this lull, they'll have to go and get another visa. in the meantime the government will have rushed to the appeals court. and try to get a stay of that order. this is going to be going on for the next few weeks. executive orders rolling out all over the country. susan: any consensus as to whether it's legally sound or not? pete: there, -- there aren't.
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there are constitutional questions about whether it treats people fairly and whether due process applies to immigrants. two conflicting laws. one says the president has the power in order to protect national security to prevent a class of aliens from entering the country. the president says that's all i've done. on the other hand, another federal law says you can't discriminate against immigrants on the basis of what country they come from. so the courts are going to have to resolve this apparent tension. >> when the acting attorney general resigned was more needed of that than needed to be? was that an invitation to being sacked and were there people at the justice department who thought that was a perfectly fine thing to revoke? pete: yes, to both questions. sally yates. the acting attorney general at d.o.j. she said i can't enforms this
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because i don't think it's wise or just. it was almost an invitation to the president. he took the bait and no matter what happened she would only be there a long time because jeff sessions is about to get confirmed it would appear and he will come in and enforce it. susan: the white house today also levied sanctions on iran. michael flynn says iran has been put on notice. what's driving those decisions and this stuffer stance on iran? >> this is one of president trump's campaign promises. he also said it would be tougher on iran. he did not agree with the iran deal. he was very critical of that. iran kind of gave him an opening in the sense that they tested a ballistic missile and the president responded very swiftly. there are a couple of interesting things about that. one is the sanctions they levied are ones that the obama administration pulled together and they still have obama's main sanctions person at treasury
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leading this, who played a huge role in the iran deal that the current president hates. there's that and that's why they were able to move very quickly. but the rhetoric when you talk -- the rhetoric matters and that sort of tough talk leads -- i think people who are concerned about it is that it can lead to a real escalation and there's a tit for tat and what does that mean and where does this go? when you have the national security advisor and i would i was told the president himself said the day before, i want a strong statement. i want you to make it and make it in the white house podium. that's a dramatic shift from president obama who while maybe he would get behind sanctions, he didn't do them in such a bombastic way and that matters. steven axelrod tweeted today these are essentially obama-era
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policies delivered through clenched teeth. [laughter] susan: does any of this undermeanwhile the 2015 deal the u.s. struck with iran? margaret: potentially. let's see how that plays out and how it's swallowed in teheran. i thought the it was interesting that the administration officials who did brief us on this very much indicated this was separate and apart from the nuclear deal that on the campaign trail we were going to employee up. now we're putting that aside and going to specifically deal with ballistic measures. i thought it was interesting that michael flynn, the national security advisors said from the white house lumped in a group of rebels within yemen involved in a civil war with one of our allies referring to them in a paper statement today as terrorists while they're not under u.s. law designated as that.
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characterized an attack on a u.s. vessel as an attack on a u.s. vessel and started to lay broader groundwork towards confronting iran in terms of how they act in the middle east. and this is going to be fascinating to watch. does this now extend to syria? do we start confronting iran and their proxies everywhere they are. certainly some of our allies in israel, saudi arabia and the emirates are very interested in how we complete that sentence. i think it's just started today at the podium. if you talked to policymakers they'd say we haven't caught up with the policy yet. susan: not only that, you have a president who has a republican congress who would love to get tougher on iran. also democrats. there are a lot of things that democrats and republicans wanted to do that president obama would block on iran and now you have a president who's way out there
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and who's said he'll go really far and that will be a test. will he go where congress wants him to go? >> while i don't know it's clear whether he wants to scuttle the deal or not. he might not and actually still get tougher on iran and actually keep the deal. where we saw him this week try to scuttle the deal as he informed congress officially he was going to open the door to renegotiating nastya and he let both our canadian and mexican allies know, that to the extent they are still allies. but that's a real change and that's not one of obama's policies through gritted teeth. that's going back to george herbert walker burke through four presidents who followed. he said he would do that on the campaign trail too. susan: the white house did seem to take a more diplomatic tone this week in israel and settlements saying we don't
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think it helps the peace two -- process put we don't encourage it. then the president in conversations with the leaders of mexico and australia -- is his tough-talking by plomesi, does that apply to our allies now too? >> by the way is tough talking diplomacy? >> does it work or sit work something >> the most interesting thing isn't so much that the conversation with australia ended badly but it leaked to u.s. officials so quickly. >> what does that mean? >> whether tough talking is diplomatic certainly it's a part of public diplomacy for this president. if australia officials leaked it -- but it was clear that u.s. officials leaked it. which is they wanted to say that this was a tough-talking president. >> or u.s. officials who didn't like it >> that was true but given the pattern it seems to me they want to change the tone, change how
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we relate to other countries. in the simplest explanation it's that it was of a piece. when he said don't pay attention to that, the phone calls are fine. >> but i think it's -- as someone who often travels with secretaries of state or outside the borders of the u.s. you often hear around the world of the longer memory that americans have and this idea of hitting a restart with this president or in this moment or the idea that what the president tweets at 6:00 a.m. manlte be the policy by 4:00 p.m. because you haven't listened to his sur gates and those he's empowered to explain it is something i think is potentially a risk because things get lost in translation as they are. so i think particularly on the national security front, there are so many things that are so sensitive where diplomacy always matter. it's interesting you got rex
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tillerson, a man who ran one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world who knows worlds matter. is he the guy who does the cleanup on the tweet or the guy actually crafting the policy that follows the tweets? >> what do you think? susan: we don't know yet. >> the allies have to figure out the relationship with donald trump on the one hand and the united states on the other and are they always the same? >> >> yeah, who has which portfolio? did we learn that michael therein -- flynn this week as the iran portfolio? we don't know. does steve bannon have the europe portfolio? i don't know that yet. i think it's important that the vice president is going to europe within the next week and a half or so. to tune inic to a security conference and on to drussles -- brulls the -- brussels. there was concern that the
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united states sit down with the allies before we sit down with russia and i think the vice president going there sends a message that we are going to commit. susan: now, pete, normally the nomination of a supreme court justice would be what is driving the show. president frump dominated judge neil gorsuch. 49 years old. currently judge for the 10th court of appeals. he holds degree from harvard and oxford and worked with two justices. he was in a group of about 21 justices that president trump said he would chews from the court. why did he rise above the rest? >> a couple of reasons. one, he approaches the law the same way scalia does. he believes you should interpret the constitution based on what the founders melt and that you should interpret laws starting with the text knot with what the drafters meant.
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that's a very scalia thing and he's legal writings tend to be sort of like scalia. very accessible and readable. sometimes even entertaining. so he's smart and i think the second thing was they think he was more confirmable. some people on the list, for example, william prior of alabama who had said some very incendiary things about the roe v. wade decision. which was a problem with him the first time he was confirmed. and he's young, 49. he's going to be on the court potentially if he's confirmed for a long time and finally, he's somebody that anthony kennedy can be comfortable with. he's a former clerk. kennedy went out for his swearing many in denver. >> how comfortable? some people think one of the great advantages of having him nominated is he might lure tony kennedy to retire early. >> there are some who say that
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and the theory of that is -- it's no secret that anthony kennedy has said to some that he's thinking about retiring within the next year or so that would give a huge opening for the trump administration because here you're going to swap neil gorsuch for anthony kennedy conservative. but anthony kennedy is the decider, the swing vote on the court. so if the conservatives get that seat, it's a whole new supreme court in every sense. so the theory of, that what michael is talking about is that anthony kennedy would look down the bench and see neil gorsuch and think there's goes the neighborhood i better stay. on the other hand he would say well, this guy was a former clerk of mine. i guess i can defer to him now. i don't know. i've talked to some people in the process who strongly deny that was any kind of a factor but others who say it might have been. surf we know that we have quite the confirmation process ahead of us.
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>> six weeks from now. susan: we have to leave it there. thanks, everybody, for being here. i appreciate it. >> thank you. susan: our conversation will continue on line on the "washington week" extra where we'll talk about president trump's unconventional remarks at the national prayer breakfast and the influential role of another top white house advisor. find that on the "washington week" extra at pbs.org/"washington week" after 10:00 p.m. on friday and all week long. i'm susan davis, have a great weekend. >> funding f.b.i. for "washington week" is provided -- for "washington week" is provided by -- >> xq institute.
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♪ >> additional funding is provided by boeing. newman's own foundation, do ho night all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the excellence and ethics in journalism foundation. the ford foundation. ku and patricia ewen from the ween ewen foundation. the corporation from public broadcasting and by contributions to you to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >>
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