tv Charlie Rose PBS October 30, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin tonight with our look at politics with al hunt and mike allen. >> well, charlie, it's the republican partese and we're seeing more clearly on the national stage the split that we have been seeing in the house for a long time that we looked at so carefully during healthcare. >> rose: we continue by looking at momentous changes in china and the upcoming visit by president trump in november. david ignatius joins us. >> he now owns china. he is responsible for every bit of its economic, foreign, security policy. they're all his people. there is nowhere else to turn. once upon a time it was collective blame and credit were shared, not anymore. the point of my column this morning was that's a little bit dangerous. when you own responsibility for a country has big as china, if
things go wrong, you have to take the blame, there is nowhere else to share it. and i have been hearing from the china watchers that i respect the most murmurings that even as xi as consolidated power the chance he could have a misstep down the road may have actually increased. >> rose: we continue with roger altman writing about president trump in the "the washington post." >> the underlying cause of such voter anger that reflected itself in trump's election i think the economic. there are just some basic facts that frame that. >> rose: finally this evening, larry sabato of the university of virginia talking about the release of the documents about the kennedy assassination. >> essentially, this guy stood out like a sore thumb. he was a misfit, he was a sociopath, and both the c.i.a. and the f.b.i. knew it. they were tracking him in various ways.
the shocker in this is that not only did the f.b.i. and the c.i.a. not communicate regularly with one another -- and that's putting it mildly -- neither one of them ever told the secret service about lee harvey oswald. this is assassination could definitely have been prevented. >> rose: mike allen, al hunt, david ignatius, roger altman and larry sabato when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
>> rose: turning to politics, president trump is one step closer to getting his tax cut. the house voted thursday to pass the senate's budget plan that allows republicans in congress to try and pass an overhaul of the tax code without the votes of the democrats. for more on this i'm joined from washington by al hunt of "bloomberg view" and also mike allen, co-founder of axios. mike, before we get to the tax reform, tell me what's happening within the republican party when you have some criticism of the president by jeff flake, john mccain, george bush without naming the president and of course bob corker. what does this mean, if anything, today in washington? >> well, charlie, it's the republican parties. and we're seeing more clearly on the national stage what we have been seeing in the house that we looked at so carefully during healthcare. now we're seeing the trump and
bannon part of the party and we're seeing the more traditional part of the party where so many senators now are saying publicly what others are saying privately behind the scenes. but, charlie, here's the twist and here's why a lot of the coverage this week has been very misleading, the twist is all those senators and republicans around the country that think privately the criticisms that mccain and corker and flake and bush and others are saying publicly, they're going to keep it private. trump is strong in their states, strong in their districts and, so, donald trump is now more commanding of the party than he has been at any time. there's not going to be any sort of tipping point when these folks start to speak out against him. so, at the moment, trump very strong with the republican party's house and senate. >> rose: the republican party is how trump's party, al?
>> yeah, i think if anything mike understated the case. this is donald trump's party. jeff flake gave a remarkable senate floor speech. i think you have to go to margaret smith in 1960 with a declaration against mccarthy to find something like it. he talked about how trump coarsened the political dialogue and integrity, it had almost no public effect, at least, because trump dominates the party in washington but particularly out there in the country so jeff flake and john mccain speak out. then you look at someone who you used to think of as an independent like lindsey graham and he's become a trump poodle. so this is donald trump's party. >> rose: so he gets his tax cuts, he gets his tax reform? >> no! >> well, they debt get the a tax cut. they won't get tax reform. this is where republicans and trump are on the same page, they desperately need a success, and this has nothing to do with
economics and everything to do with politics. i think they'll get a tax cut, there will be almost no reform, and i would guess it's not going to be popular. you don't pass big things on a strictly partisan basis and have it usually succeed. >> rose: mike? >> i think mr. hunt is right about the diminished ambition of what they might pass. al follows it so carefully, he should tell me if i'm wrong about this, but i think it's going to be harder people think. the way one person expressed it to me is if healthcare is a sixth of the economy, tax reform is everything. so how do you pull off the specific cuts? and this is, i think, one of the downstream worries for trump is antagonizing the republican senators that we agree that he's strong now, he's strong in these
states and districts, but if you've only got 52 republican senators, so you can only lose a couple, senator mccain, senator bob corker of tennessee already reluctant to vote for tax cuts that just add to the deficit. now they have even more cover to that, the president this week saying that bob corker, who's the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, couldn't win an election for dog catcher, you lose a couple of them, and tax cuts, even modest ones, start to look shaky in the senate. then over in the house where you have the math problem you had during healthcare, you have this divided republican conference, house members, if it starts to look shady or starts to look uncertain on the senate side, they'll say, am i going to take a tough vote where i'm going to vote to eliminate some tax breaks for interests that are important to me? like, that could mean even tax
cuts could go down. >> rose: also on capitol hill next week, i think, some of the giants of silicon valley are coming to testify. mike, we have been hearing about the idea that these companies are so powerful, and they're so engrained into who we are today that they need some supervision, some monitoring, perhaps some regulation, maybe even breaking up. does that idea have legs? >> well, it does and it's getting increasing legs because it appeals to both republicans and democrats for different reasons. charlie, this could be a remarkable scene. tuesday and wednesday on capitol hill, something that we haven't seen in years, it's been years since facebook has testified, representatives of facebook, google and twitter testifying before the senate judiciary committee and
next day before the senate and house intelligence committees, looking into what happened in the 2016 election, what's done preemptively in 2020 and the subtext of that as you rightly say, what else is going to be done to rein in these companies? on the left, democrats concerned about the concentration of wealth and power, wondering if the companies should be broken up in some way or regulated more as a utility. then as we talked about on the right, among republicans, so much suspicion of these platforms. a little ironically, perhaps, russian ads had on the social platforms, they seem to have, if anything, helped donald trump, but republicans look at these companies as political actors, they look at them as advocates for the other side. people want open borders, more progressive social policies, so republicans also would love to take the big tech down a notch. >> rose: al?
>> well, mike, as always -- is on to something. he said tell me earlier if i'm wrong. i have been trying for 20 years now and never have been able to. i agree there's a right and left coalition angry at big tech, i think the coalition will break down when it comes to what can you do about it. for all the concerns and anxiety, this is an enormously powerful group. remember their fight against the hollywood studios who they clobbered four or five years ago. so my guess is a lot of sound and thunder but in the end not a whole lot will happen. >> rose: there is also the issue of sexual harassment, which is happening and lots of conversation, lots of women coming forward. we're seeing a lot of talk about what it means and where it's going. is this touching washington? where is it in the nation's capital? >> well, charlie, what we're
seeing is that industry by industry, this is becoming a subject of conversation, of investigation, an what's fascinating about it, what's so instructive for your viewers, how quickly this has happened. it was three weeks ago plus a day or two that the "new york times" broke its story about harvey weinstein, and look at the industries it's touched since then, including media and, charlie, i think next is government, and you were right to bring in washington. one of the fascinating sort of leading-edge stories of this week, associated press correspondents and a couple of state houses asked around and with just a few state houses involved, came up with hundreds of people saying that, when it comes to lobbying, when it comes to legislation, that some of these issues that arose in hollywood also are issues in
state capitals. so, charlie, there you're going to see investigations, accusations. so this is going to be if not the story of the year, one of the stories of the year, because every industry has their list. every industry has targets. there are a lot of men who are rightly worried that they're next. >> rose: al? >> charlie, i agree, the california state legislature already has taken action and i think congress will be the next target. >> rose: let me turn to the president. notwithstanding what we've said about the senators and the former president who spoke to them, two former presidents who spoke about the president, he's getting ready to go to china, and i want to talk about that, but what are the difficulties that he faces right now in this fall season, as he tries to get some legislative victory on the board and he has steve bannon now attacking the republican
establishment. where is he in terms of his own presidency? what's the moment for donald trump? >> charlie, he starts off with historically low popularity and, as we've said earlier, he's got great strength in the republican party which means he has none among democrats and is really weak among independents. that's not a good political position. might help you with your own party caucus but i don't think he engenders a lot of fear among very many democrats around the country. there is a whole question about whether he can govern. i think that was implicit in some of the stuff george w. bush said, and there's a question of-- i mean, general kelly was going to bring order to the white house and he's had a miserable week i'm not sure he'll ever quite recover from. so i think for all the successes we alluded to earlier, and i would add the opioid speech which i think was a rare moment
of looking presidential, i still think this is still a very troubled presidency. >> rose: mike? >> and, charlie, you mentioned the china trip, and i know that has been on your mind for a while. this fascinating asia swing, the choreography of a presidential trip abroad, always so vital, but this is going to be one of the most fascinating presidential trips that we've ever covered, because he's going to be going to japan where he's going to see the emperor, he's going to be going to south korea where so many american citizens are worried about what might be happening on the other side of the border, and he's going to china where president xi has never looked stronger, his name written into the constitution. president trump will probably ask him for tips on how to get that done. ( laughter ) but all of this is designed to bring pressure on north korea, and that's why this is so delicate, fascinating reporting
this week, a split in the white house, do you take the president to the dimilitaryized zone. >> rose: right. >> such a frequent stop for presidents that they decide not to do that, concerns about both the look and the physical danger that might be involved. >> rose: north korea will be clearly one of the topics there, and we had this week from the director of the c.i.a. sort of an alarming assessment of where the north koreans were, and we have an interesting piece coming up on "60 minutes" this weekend about the same subject. al, north korea, where are we? >> no, i think there is certainly more talk about a possible military solution now. it's not to say it's going to happen, but it's a serious situation and, you know what? nothing's going to be accomplished without the chinese, and xi jinping right now, not only in china, i imagine donald trump in the
american constitution, james madison, thomas jefferson, and trump, somehow doesn't come together, i think around much of the world there is a feeling hat the chinese leader is a more formidable and enduring figure than the american leader. and you know, nothing good can happen in north korea-- i'm not sure any good can happen anyway-- but it can't happen without the chinese. >> rose: mike allen, al hunt, thank you so much. >> have a good weekend, charlie. >> rose: have a great weekend. >> rose: turning to further elaboration of events in china, china's communist party held its congress this week, its 19th congress. president xi jinping was officially enshrined in the party charter during the ranks of deng xiaoping and mao zedong.
david ignatius, set up for me how xi jinping became what he, is, what he wants to do and why in the seeds of that may be a threat to his power? >> this week's party congress was a kind of coronation of xi as a supreme leader that china hasn't seen since mao zedong. we can see from the beginning it was a decisive attempt to change the nature of what had been a collected shared, fairly cautious leadership after mao, after deng xiaoping. he was correct in seeing as
china grew rich, the bribes paid to party officials, to generals in the army were beginning to weaken china, to eat out the core of the system and make people doubt the parties fitness to rule. so as i noted in my column this morning, in the last five years under xi's leadership, 1.5 million members of the communist party have been disciplined. 270,000 have been prosecut. 11% of the central committee has been prosecuted for corruption or other crimes. the same thing has happened in the military. 13,000 officers have been sacked. 50 generals will be replaced. so during the last five years of xi's reign, you have basically a complete turnover in the leadership of china and the new people are his people.
so what that means is that he now owns china. he is responsible for every bit of its economic, foreign, security policy, they're all his people. there is nowhere else to turn. once upon a time, it was collective, blame and correct were shared, not anymore. the point of my column this morning was, that's a little bit dangerous. when you own responsibility for a country as big as china, if things go wrong, you have to take the blame, there's nowhere else to share it. and i have been hearing from the china watchers that i respect the most, murmurings that even as xi has consolidated power, the chance he could have a misstep down the road may have actually increased. >> rose: what happened to xi shong who was no longer on the standing committee?
some thought that if he was, it would give xi an opportunity to say we are no longer honoring the 65-year rule. >> there's a lot of speculation about the chief enforcer of xi jinping's anti-corruption campaign, heading the so-called discipline inspection committee, and was thought his tenure in that post, his tenure and senior positions might be extended as a kind of forerunner of a similar extension for xi when he finishes his second term as general secretary. typically there's been a ten- year term limit. and it was thought he might break that. there are rumors in the west that there may be issues involving won ke shawn and his family.
i think the most likely theory is he wanted to save the mold- breaking for himself. that he didn't want to use that unusual tool too early, for his ally wong, but said maybe it's time for him to continue as leader. there's no one else in the wings. this is the first time in decades that there hasn't been a next generation leader pre- selected. so we'll head to the end of the ten-year period without an obvious successor in place. >> rose: most of the people in the standing committee are over 60 themselves. >> they're older people, xi's contemporaries. there were thoughts there might be some younger people, in their '50s. the party secretary was one thought.
that didn't happen. there's speculation xi didn't want it to happen, the younger guy beginning to jockey for position. but he's going to have a group of contemporaries and essentially unchallenged rule. his faction now dominates both the bureau itself, 17 to 25 members, and the standing committee which is the key ruling body, four of the seven members, so he's really in the driver's seat in every way possible. >> rose: now that he's consolidated the power and stands alone, will china be different, more aggressive? does it have ambition for greater influence around the world? >> i think, charlie, that may be the most important corollary of the party congress that we've just seen. china, under xi, is now being more explicit and direct about its ambitions, not simply to be
a regional power that exercises more authority in the south china sea, but to be a global power. xi talked a lot in his lengthy 3.5 hour speech to congress about the strategy known as one belt, one road, which is the chinese idea for consolidated trade all the way to europe through central asia. it's a very ambitious scheme and about china projecting economic and ultimately military power. xi also, in his report to the party, sketched a process of growth for china not simply through his tenure but all the way to 2050. in that sense, he has ambitions that i think that go beyond his personal ambition to be a mao-like leader. he has a vision of china, calls it the china dream, and i think americans need to understand that china sees american power weakening, it's preparing its on
own instruments-- financial military and otherwise-- to fill the space that, in chinese eyes, america is giving up. >> rose: and especially in technology. you see the rise of chinese technological companies that are in some cases bigger than the companies they were parallelling. >> xi's speech made note of the specific technologies that china wants to dominate. internet communications technology, artificial intelligence, go down the list. one thing that he didn't talk about specifically but that the chinese talk often about at other venues is quantum computing, a subject i've written a new novel about. so the scope of china's ambition and xi's personally, i think is really central now, and americans need to see it clearly. the period in which the chinese, the phrase was hide and bide. make your power less visible, bide your time, wait for
america, hang out in the shadows, as it were. that period's over. >> rose: there is coming to china, a man from the west, from washington, d.c. >> indeed. >> rose: what's the significance of this and what might come out of it? >> so, charlie, i think president trump's visit to asia, but in particular to china which begins november 3, is the most important trip of his presidency to date. the chinese understand that trump is reaching out to embrace xi. the trump who threw last year's presidential campaign attacked china, china's raping us on trade, all the rhetoric, that's gone, he now speaks of xi as my very good friend, a very good person. as you noted, he likened him to a king and didn't do it that critically, but almost-- almost
enthusiastically. he may have ambitions of his own. but i think he sees xi jinping as a kindred spirit. they're both kind of big guys physically, tall, burly. they both have a very direct, emphatic style of leadership. xi, in china, sometimes known as big daddy xi, xi dada, i think trump would love to be seen in a similar way. i think the chinese will go all out to make this visit as friendly, as successful as possible, a big welcoming ceremony, the chinese can put on a spectacular show. i think there will be efforts to make the relationship appear very much personal, warm, maybe involve the families in some way. >> rose: yes. >> i think the issue we should focus on, because there be a lot of confetti tossed in the air, the issue we could focus on is
whether the chinese are actually willing to deliver more on north korea and trade in particular. president trump has made a big bet that china will help by really squeezing north korea, will help him get more from north korea in terms of actual negotiations about their weapons programs than any president's gotten before. he also hopes that the very unbalanced trade relationship that the u.s. has had with china for decades will change, that the chinese will recognize the price of our exceeding to their greater role will be their being a more responsible and balanced playing field in trade. so that's the way both sides are setting the table. i think both sides have such a strong interest in this visit being successful that, you know, the headlines will probably be positive, but the chinese will have to move some especially on north korea. >> rose: david ignatius, thank you so much. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: have a great weekend. >> you, too. >> rose: we'll be right back.
stay with us. >> rose: roger altman is here, founder and senior chairman of the investment banking firm everco. he has an op-ed in today's "the washington post" which he writes "the election of donald trump was in many respects the greatest presidential election upset in modern u.s. history. now with his presidency reeling amid a special council probe, multiple resignations and absence of legislative achievements and dismal approval ratings, many americans already seem to view his victory as the equivalent of a 100-year flood. in other words, the type of surprise today's voters won't see again-- except they will." i'm pleased to have roger altman back at this table. why will they? >> they will because the underlying cause of such voter anger that reflected itself in
trump's election, i think is economic. there are just some basic facts that frame that. if you just look at wage trends, if you look at household income trends, if you look at the financial condition of american households, and if you look at income mobility, you see stagnation. >> rose: stagnation for two decades. >> yes, wages haven't risen in this country. the federal reserve does a survey every three years of what they call the wellbeing of the american household. they found 46% of american households could not meet a $400 emergency expense without borrowing or selling something. >> rose: and you suggest that signals a new era of extreme voter discontent? >> yes. >> rose: so the american dream, essentially you're suggesting, is over. >> yes. >> rose: because the dream was
that each generation would do better than the previous. >> and the data shows today, and this is very profound research done at stanford, data shows that for those who were born in 1980, the 1980 cohort, roughly 35 years old and in their prime working years, only about half of that cohort is going to live better than its parents. and if you were to measure the 1990 group, which is now obviously 25, 27 years old, and they haven't done that yet, but you will likely find less than half is going to live better than its parents because this trend has been going down steadily for 40 years. >> rose: and why is the trend going down steadily? >> well, most economists would ctors-- globalization, technology, the decline of unions and stagnant results on
education in this country, college completion rates, for example. and these trends, unfortunately, as you know, are very deep- seated and very long-term and they're not likely to abate. nothing suggests these trends will abate. therefore, there is nothing to suggest this vast income stagnation will change and, therefore, the arrange that we saw in 2016, i think, is the beginning of a period of election volatility driven by that voter anger and that we're going to see continued surprises, and trump is just the first. >> rose: yet you also say it is possible to imagine a bold policy agenda that might move wages up. it could involve elements of other wish lists like infrastructure, tax reforms, steps to increase college entrance and completion rates, expansion to have the earned income tax credit and better defenses against abuses of overtime pay and work schedules and all of that. you're saying it's possible to
imagine, but are you saying you can imagine it, but it won't happen because of the political-- ? >> yes, yes. >> rose:-- gridlock? >> if, in a perfect world, and we don't live in that, of course, there are five or six great big steps this country could take which, at least over the next few years, four to seven, eight years, could well move wages up, and i cite a few there. let's just take the example of a giant federal infrastructure initiative, talking about $1 trillion to $2 trillion over 20 years, that's something we should have done five to ten years ago. infrastructure is not on the agenda now in washington, for reasons that are strange. but it's a perfect example. >> rose: on the agenda but it's after so many things, tax reform-- >> both sides agree we should have an infrastructure initiative, they just can't
agree on how to finance or govern it and it won't go anywhere. president trump said it ought to be done by private capital. that's an unsound idea in so many respects. democrats typically view this as grants to mayors and governors, and that's probably not perfect either, historically, but it's the type of thing that's a perfect example of what we could do in a different political environment, but we're not doing. and, so, you just can't say to yourself with a straight face that we're going to take any of these steps that could possibly have a medium turn upward impact on wages. we're not going to do them. >> rose: there continues to be a debate among political scientists and sociologists that the income pressures that kept wages where they are come from cultural factors such as rebellion against the establishment, or something else? >> well, you know there is a big debate now as to what caused this election result in 2016.
one side you have sociologists who think it's primarily cultural factors, resentment and anger toward the establishment as people see the establishment and economists who think it's primarily economic factors. my own view, these two are interrelated, because economic stagnation causes resentment. i think it's one issue, not two, but i think at the very bottom is the vast stagnation. >> rose: you were an advisor to secretary of state clinton. did she believe in this, appreciate it? did she understand it? >> she did understand it. she didn't need help from me to do that. most people understand these issues. >> rose: it speaks to the economic discontent, the problems people are having, the frustration, wage stagnation, it
speaks to all those things, yet they listen to another candidate rather than her. >> well, there are so many factors that explain her failure to win. but i think you had a very angry electorate. he was talking about blowing everything up and changing everything. that for reasons of this unhappiness and stagnation appeal to people. >> rose: look at the economy today. we just had-- 3%-- >> 3%, as reported today. >> rose: we have stock markets going through the ceiling. what's going on? >> well, you know, there's a widespread view right now in the investment community, that we're seeing what they call synchronized global growth.
we're seeing an acceleration of global growth, china doing better, europe finally beginning to come to life, and some improvement in the u.s. growth rate. we saw that today. 3%'s a good quarter. and that is the main factor driving markets to these breathtaking levels, and i think there is reasonable data to suggest that, yes, global growth is doing better and the i.m.f. changed its forecast, so forth. i happen to think the stock market is at scary levels, but that's a whole different issue. but the data i talk about in this piece-- excuse me-- the stagnation i talk about in this piece incorporates the very latest data. so, yes, the economy is doing a little better and yes in the past couple of years average hourly earnings have ticked up. >> rose: employment is down-- unemployment is down. >> 4.2 hrs.
>> 4.2%. >> rose: right. but that's all reflected. >> rose: so all those economic factors whether market factors, g.d.p. factors, employment factors signaling that the economy is sort of coming out of-- >> if you said or anybody said we're going to be able to grow at 3%-plus for the next quite a few years, we would see wages and incomes improve. >> rose: so growth of the economy is crucial is this. >> yes, but our demographics, simply, for example, the declining size of our workforce, as the population ages and a large percentage of working age males aren't in the workforce for all sorts of reasons and the opioid epidemic is a lot of them. >> rose: technology. so forth. >> but our demographics basically say we don't have the
capacity today to grow on a steady year after year basis of 3%. we don't. we have about a 2% long-term growth potential just based on the size of our population which slowed way down. >> rose: are you saying any politician suggests we can achieve a g.d.p. between 3% and 4% is-- >> well, if you could wave a wand and take a series of the steps we talked about here, you could probably get the growth rate up for a medium-term period of time to that level, i mean five years, six years, something like that. but do we have the capacity today in the united states to grow a 3% for the next ten or 15 years? we don't. we don't. we would have to have a very, very different immigration policy and we would have to see our population as a whole start to grow instead of be stagnant. you can't grow-- i mean, growth is a function of basically productivity-- or capital and labor, to put it that way, and the workforce in this country is
not particularly growing. so you can't grow at a rate of 3% to 4% for a long term if your workforce isn't growing. and japan is seeing this problem to a very deep degree because this population is declining. >> and it's an older demographic than us. >> right. so it's good to see economy show a 3% growth rate and it has shown some little blip in wages these last two years, but the long-term trends aren't changing, in my view. i wish they were. >> rose: nothing we can do-- that's politically feasible today. >> rose: so we have to change our politics. if we change our politics, we can begin to-- you're a democrat and we expect you to say, we have to change our politics, though some republicans are saying that. >> well, it doesn't have to be a democratic wave. if we somehow magically entered into a period, even a relatively brief period of bipartisanship
following, for example, a great crisis, if there were to be a great crisis, 9/11, god forbid, something like that, we might have a period of partisanship and you might be able to do some these things over a relatively short period of time. but absent bipartisanship, you can't do these things. >> rose: we talked about the economic results that are in, do you expect to see if we don't do any of the recommended things here, to slip further behind in terms of wage growth, economic growth, in terms-- >> as you know, and you've had debates on this show to this effect, there is an enormous debate about the long-term demand for work and whether technology is going to undermine the long-term-- >> rose: i say this all the time, here, every table i sit at-- >> probably the number one social and economic issue. >> rose: exactly right. >> yeah, and i happen to be a bit pessimistic on that. i know the technology created as many jobs as it has destroyed
historically, but i think the accelerating pace of technology which is astonishing, suggests to me that it is going to undermine the demand for work. so i think over the next ten or 20 years as they say in the piece, we'll see continued stagnation, unhappy voters and they will produce elections to surprise us. in the long term, it looks difficult. >> rose: steve bannon says what's going to happen in this country, we'll either have economic nationalism from the right or from the left. the left would be bernie sanders, the right would be steve bannon. >> well, one outcome that would not surprise me would be to see either in 2020 or 2024 the exact opposite of trump. >> rose: that would be from the left, populism from the left. >> exactly.
you know, we have a-- i don't know if i would call it a tradition-- we have a dynamic in this country, at least in the modern era, voters tend to want the opposite of what they have. obama following george w. bush, et cetera. after trump would be elizabeth warren, somebody like that. >> rose: but are they more likely to be able to get the relationship and the agenda passed? >> no. >> rose: why not? >> because the country is so polarized and, of course, the politics reflects that. so if you had a massive wave where both houses of congress went the other way, in this case democrats, and you had-- the democrats would pass a lot of legislation, yes, but i don't see that happening-- i don't want see the pendulum swinging that far in this country myself. >> rose: roger altman. back in a moment. stay with us. we'll talk to larry sabato about the kennedy assassination. stay with us.
>> rose: on thursday night the trump administration released thousands of government files regarding the assassination of president john f. kennedy which took place november 2, 1963. in a last minute decision president trump vowed to advice us in withholding certain documents from publication over national security concerns. joining me now is dr. larry sabato, founder around director for the center for politics at the university of virginia. his team of researchers is currently reviewing the kennedy files. i'm pleased to have him back on this program. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. appreciate it. >> rose: let me begin with this, what might be-- what are historians looking for here and i know you're continuing to look at these documents, what might they find? >> well, there are little gems throughout, charlie, little
nuggets, and i think, gradually, these nuggets will fill in pieces of the puzzle we have never quite fully understood. but what are we looking for? we are looking to see if anything contradicts the basic conclusion reached by most people who have really examined the assassination that lee harvey oswald was the shooter, probably the lone shooter, that's my view, in dealey plaza. we want to know more about him. we want to know his motive. we're still unsure of his motive thanks to jack ruby, who i consider one of the real villains of the kennedy assassination. had he not shot oswald, it's most certain the police would have gotten his motives rather quickly, by hook or crook rather quickly. >> rose: do we know anything about why jack ruby did it? >> not in these documents we've seen so far. i want to stress, we've got come
i want to stress, we've not come close to finishing the work just on these, and the ones that trump held back may well include more information about ruby and oswald and everybody else. that's the good stuff. what we've got now basically doesn't change the time line of the assassination, doesn't change the basics, but it adds some interesting little qualities to it that we weren't fully familiar with prior to this. >> rose: like? >> well, i'll give you an example. one document had been released in part before this, and this particular document shows that a telephone call was made to a reporter at a cambridge newspaper in the united kingdom. the call came in at 12:05 p.m. dallas time, 25 minutes before president kennedy was assassinated. the anonymous caller said, you
better call the u.s. embassy, there is going to be big news coming out of the united states. either that's the greatest coincidence in world history or it suggests that somebody knew something from some source about what was going to happen in dallas. what's new about it is we didn't know that british intelligence had checked that out and checked the reporter out and, to the extent they were able to do so, they validated it. they were never able to find the person. in those days it was impossible, particularly if you were calling from a phone booth. so we'll never know who that anonymous person was, but it certainly was odd. >> rose: what else? i mean, that's a fascinating tidbit. >> oh, there are so many other things. there's a cuban intelligence person in 1967 who's chatting with another cuban in an interview, and they were discussing the kennedy assassination, and one of the cubans said to the other, you
know, lee harvey oswald must have been a pretty good shot. and the second cuban said, oh, he was. he was very good, i knew him. well, a, was it true? was it true? maybe they were bragging. but if it were true, how did he get to know lee harvey oswald? was it at the cuban embassy in mexico city when oswald went there seven weeks before the assassination and spent six days, charlie, six days. we know about a few hours when he went to the soviet embassy and the cuban embassy. what happened? and also, j. edgar hoover suggested to the warren commission, his sources told him fidel castro said, as oswald was leaving the cuban embassy, i'm going to killed john f. kennedy, i'm going to prove my feilty to the revolution, i'm going to
kill president kennedy. >> rose: i missed that. who said i'm going to kill-- >> j. edgar hoover. >> rose: who said-- oswalt said that. >> rose: i'm going to kill kennedy and prove my fidelity to the revolution? >> yes. that's what hoover said to the warn commission. why didn't the warren commission follow up? they didn't have access to castro, and they downplayed the mexico city incident for obvious reasons. president johnson, j. edgar hoover and others, in various ways both formal and informal, communicated to chief justice warren on the warn commission that the last thing they wanted for anything to come out of this commission that could trigger a nuclear war between the united states and the soviet union. johnson feared the american people if they thought the soviets or the cubans had anything to do this, would demand retaliation and it would inevitably lead to nuclear war. >> rose: there comes out of this also the name of someone called el mexicano.
>> yes. >> rose: who is that? >> this is-- no one's entirely sure. this is a very odd incident. we're investigating it. i think i'm going to take a pass on that one for the time being. >> rose: because you don't know enough yet, or because it's so tantalizing, you want to have more before you say anything? >> both. both. we want to find out what we can find out. and, charlie, you've seen intelligence files before. this is really what is a lot of this disclosure. you have raw information here. you have a lot of gossip and rumor and innuendo and people writing down anything that might anybody who called in said and a lot of it's just junk and it wasn't true. it wasn't true then, and they may not even have taken time to debunk it. >> rose: one theory is that both the c.i.a. and f.b.i. wanted to cover up their own for the lack of a better word --incompetence.
>> well, charlie, they dropped the ball on lee harvey oswald. think about this guy. he was one of the few american defectors to the soviet union. who wanted to go to the soviet union back then? he defected. he was a very strange person before that. had been arguing marxism in his marine barracks with others and gotten into fights about it. then he comes back, after having defected, with money provided by the state department, and almost immediately is campaigning on behalf of fidel castro in new orleans. and then, the story gets more complicated, but essentially this guy stood out like a sore thumb. he was a misfit, a sociopath and both the c.i.a. and f.b.i. knew it. they were tracking him in various ways. the shocker in this is that not only did the f.b.i. and c.i.a. not communicate regularly with
one other, putting it mildly, neither one told the secret service about lee harvey oswald. this assassination could definitely have been prevented. >> rose: that noncommunication pervaded the government all the way up through 9/11. >> it sure did and supposedly fixed after that. i'm sure there are still problems we don't know about. it's human nature, agencies want to reserve information to themselves, knowledge is power and they have the power as long as they have the information, which is another reason why they're arguing so strenuously to keep many of these documents hidden. >> rose: but at the same time, are you suggesting and do you know that those documents that have been redacted, that they are withholding for now, are some of the things that is really containing the questions that most everybody wants to know more about? in other words, what they are hiding or keeping for themselves right now on national security reasons is the very thing that
most people, analysts and researchers, know contains possible further understanding of what happened? >> well, that would be my guess. there is got to be some reason why they think it's so sensitive. it can't just be that there's the name of some source, and they're suggesting that the ones who are living-- there can't be many-- would be endangered, potentially, and now they're adding their families, too. well, you know, people have families for generations and decades and centuries. is that going to be the permanent excuse for keeping this private? there is got to be something in there that embarrasses them or that gives us a new theme, a new line on the assassination, and they're not interested in letting everybody know what that is. >> rose: did hoover ever talk about this, to any degree? >> only privately. he liked to talk to the president about it, some of the senior people in the justice department and senior people in his own operation.
he had strong opinions about lots of things. he was furious at the dallas police department. the f.b.i. had called and asked them what they needed, that it was essential to protect oswald, and the dallas police department said, "oh, we don't need any help, everything's fine, nothing will happen." well, we know what happened, and hoover went through the roof and called it inexcusable and realized immediately what it meant. it meant no end to conspiracy theories. no end ever. we'll be talking about this 200 years from now. not you and i, but others. >> rose: robert kennedy's son told me in dallas and only one time, that his father never believed the warren commission or something close to that. that doesn't say he had a theory as to what happened, but he said he was troubled by the warren commission's report. can you tell me more about that? >> yes, that's exactly true, and
i've had a chance to talk to a couple of the kennedys over the years, and they all report the same thing, that it seemed impossible to bobby kennedy and also to jackie kennedy that this was the productof one man's imagination, that he managed to carry it off. although, strange things happen. it is possible, if you look at human history, some of the least people can take care of some of those with the most to offer, but the kennedys thought, at various times, it was castro seeking revenge or the anti-castro cubans seeking revenge because of the bay of pigs, or that the soviet union might have been involved or that the mafia, the fact the ennedys pursued jimmy hoffa, other members of the mafia, sam giancana, who knows? all the evidence and every piece of investigation done by a neutral party not trying to prove a particular theory,
suggests oswald at least was the lone shooter. now, if others were involved, that's another subject entirely. it's possible there were people behind oswald. >> rose: larry, thank you so much. a pleasure to have you on the broadcast. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: larry sabato from the university of virginia. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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