tv KQED Newsroom PBS December 16, 2017 1:00am-1:31am PST
hello and welcome to "kqed newsroom." i'm thuy vu. coming up on our program, with the unexpected passing of san francisco mayor ed lee this week, we look at his legacy and what lies ahead for san francisco's leadership. plus we'll hear from former cia director leon panetta. but first, california congresswoman jackie speier has introduced bipartisan legislation to crack down or sexual misconduct in congress. earlier this month, three lawmakers announced their resignation following sexual harassment allegations. republican trent franks and democrats john conyers and al franken. amid the ongoing national reckoning, speier has also created a twitter hashtag to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment. she recently shared her own story about being assaulted as a
young congressional aide more than 40 years ago. >> like so many of you, i have a me too story to share. i was working as a congressional staffer. the chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth. so i know what it's like to keep these things hidden deep down inside. i know what it's like to lie awake in bed at night wondering if i was the one who had done something wrong. i know what it's like years later to remember that rush of humiliation and anger. >> joining me now is congresswoman jackie speier of san mateo county. tur so much for being here. >> great to be with you, thuy. >> i'd like to ask you about the russia probe. you sit on the house intelligence committee, and we're hearing now that there are a number of witnesses scheduled for next week, but none for january. so what does this mean? what is going on? >> well, we can read between the
lines, i think, and there is a rush to try and shut this committee investigation down. and this week was a great example. three interviews going on simultaneously, one of them actually off the hill with someone who comes to washington frequently, but they wanted to do it now. and so we were actually off the hill doing the interview, had to race back to vote. this is a circus at this point. >> so are they bowing to pru pressure from the white house? what do you think is going on? >> i believe that the president wants all of this shut down. he wants to shut down these investigations, and he wants to fire special counsel mueller. >> and is that what you're hearing, and is it going to happen before the end of the year? >> so the rumor on the hill when i left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week, and on december 22nd,
when we are out of d.c., he was going to fire robert mueller. >> what do you make of that? that is shocking. >> if that were to happen, that is, you know, saturday massacre 2.0, right? >> mm-hmm. >> it is replaying nixon tapes, and it would be just an astonishing turn of events. it would create a constitutional crisis. now -- >> would democrats try to impeach him? would you call for his impeachment? >> i think without a doubt, there would be an impeachment effort. but we have two houses controlled majority in each by republicans. and since the house has to impeach and the senate tries, an effort to try and impeach him would require 218 votes in the house, and right now there are only 194 democrats. >> well, there is so much to watch. we will keep an eye on that, but i also wanted to ask you about
sexual harassment as well. you have been so outspoken on this topic. this week we saw an exchange between president trump and senator kirsten gillibrand of new york. she had called for him to resign because of sexual misconduct allegations. president trump then responded by posting a tweet suggesting that senator gillibrand would, quote, do anything for campaign contributions. what do you make of all that? >> well, at the time i said it was grotesque and that it took my breath away. imagine, this is the president of the united states making a comment like that of a colleague in the u.s. senate. now, he's done it to members of his own party in the senate as well, whether it's mitch mcconnell or jeff flake or senator corker. and, you know, the truth is his conduct is so over the top. it crosses the line so often, not just with members of
congress but with elected leaders around the world, that he is a real liability to us as americans. >> and, in fact, you are calling for an investigation by the u.s. office of government ethics, and we should point out he has denied all 19 allegations of sexual misconduct against him so far. >> so he has denied all 19. at the very least, these women have a right to be heard. and i'm recommending that we have hearings in the house. if the government oversight and reform committee is unwilling to have those hearings, which the chair has basically said based on what you're alleging here, this is criminal conduct. i'm referring this to the department of justice. we wrote back and said, well, we've had many instances in the history of the congress where there have been department of justice investigations going on, be it whitewater or fast and furious, any number of investigations where the house continued to do its work in terms of doing public policy
investigations. and that's what we should be doing as well. >> we showed a clip from what you said earlier, when you bravely stepped forward to talk about your own experience with sexual harassment on capitol hill. and you have now proposed a bill. how would your bill change what you call the culture of sexual harassment on capitol hill? >> well, first of all, let me say that we've taken a huge step forward. in 2014, i introduced legislation to require mandatory sexual harassment training prevention for members and staff. it wasn't even given an opportunity to be heard as an amendment. this year, we've already passed it, and it will take effect. the other component is the me too congress act, which will change the system, because right now it takes 90 days before a victim can actually file a complaint. there's mandatory mediation. there's a mandatory nondisclosure agreement. all of those things should be voluntary, and there should be a victim counsel representing the
victim. >> so you will streamline the process. but is legislation enough, though, because you were in the california assembly and senate. you wrote legislation mandating sexual harassment training, and yet we have a situation now in california where nearly 150 women signed a letter decrying what they say is the culture of sexual harassment in sacramento around the capitol. >> yes. let me tell you, that was so disturbing to hear about that after i had worked and seemingly had created an environment where there would be that kind of training. well, training is not enough. it starts at the top, and you do have to change the culture. and you've got to make sure there's a place for victims to come and that they will have a soft landing afterwards. the reason why they don't come forward is they can't afford to to lose their jobs. >> we have just a little bit of time remain sog i have to ask you about the tax reform package. republican leaders believe they have the votes to pass this. what are you hearing behind the scenes? do they have the votes? >> i think they will have the votes to pass it. it's kind of ironic. this bill has not had any hearings.
it's being introduced today so that they can take action on monday. we still don't know what's in it. we only have highlights right now. we haven't even seen a copy of the bill. and this is going to be rushed through the congress and put on the president's desk so he can announce that he has given us a great christmas present. well, it's a great christmas present for those that are at the top end and for corporations, not so much for those of us that are on the other side of that spectrum. >> congresswoman jackie speier, we appreciate your time and happy to see you here today. >> thank you. now to international affairs. last week president trump recognized jerusalem as the capital of israel. he also said he would move the u.s. embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem. the announcement was praised by israeli leaders but condemned by palestinians. meanwhile, north korea's latest missile test is the most alarming yet, demonstrating a range capable of reaching the entire u.s. mainland. for perspective on these international challenges, we hear now from leon panetta. he served as cia director and
defense secretary under president obama. he was also white house chief of staff for president bill clinton. director panetta, thank you so much for being with us. >> nice to be with you. >> we have seen protests, some of them violent, over president trump's announcement this much that the u.s. is now considering jerusalem to be the capital of israel. some experts have warned this could be an end to the peace process. what is your take on this? >> well, i think it certainly was harmful to the ability of the united states to play a role in negotiations. we have always traditionally felt that jerusalem ought to be one of those issues that ought to be discussed as part of the larger number of issues to be resolved in a peace agreement between israel and the palestinians. and the fact that the president now has taken that off the table not only hurts our position in terms of being able to negotiate
peace, i think it also sends a bad signal to others in the region with regards to their participation in a peace process. >> what do you think is the strategy behind making the announcement at this time? it does seem rather sudden. >> i don't understand frankly what the strategy is here because all of his national security team plus the secretary of state all urged him not to do this. but he went ahead and did it. now, you know, obviously he made a political commitment during the campaign that he would do it. he probably viewed it as fulfilling his campaign promise. but when you become president, there are much more important issues to consider than just whatever you may or may not have said in a political campaign. >> another intensifying situation right now is north korea, and just about every modern president has been frustrated by the options there. secretary of state rex tillerson
is now saying that the u.s. is open to talks and negotiations with north korea without any pre-conditions. does this signal a shift in strategy by the trump administration? >> well, you know, it's hard to tell because secretary tillerson will say one thing one day, and then the white house will reverse whatever he said the next day. i hope that they do reach out. i hope that we can find a way to sit down and try to resolve these issues. north korea, without question, represents a very serious threat to our national security. >> do you think the approach so far is exacerbating tensions? we have senator lindsey graham, for example, saying publicly he thinks there's a 3 in 10 chance that the trump administration would strike first, and even a 7 in 10 chance that they were to launch another missile test. what kind of impact is that kind of language and rhetoric having on our relationship with north korea? >> well, i don't think it helps
very much. the problem is, is you increase these tensions, the chance for some kind of miscalculation or mistake increases. and the key right now, it seems to me, is that the united states has to continue a policy that really stresses containment and deterrence. and that means building up our military presence there, creating some kind of missile shield that will protect japan and south korea as well as the united states, and continuing to put pressure on both china and russia to increase sanctions and to try to urge the north koreans to sit down and negotiate. that's really the primary strategy. a military option is -- and i'm very familiar with that, having worked on plans to provide a military option. the problem is there are no good options because the consequences would be the result of a nuclear
war and millions of lives lost. and that, very frankly, is not an option that we ought to play with. >> director panetta, i also wanted to ask you about the mueller investigation. we have seen a number of guilty pleas, including from michael flynn. what do you think the direction of that investigation so far, and where do you think it might be headed next? >> well, i know bob mueller. i have tremendous respect for him. i worked very closely with him when i was director of the cia and he was fbi director. and i think he is somebody of great integrity. he's a professional. he is a law enforcement official. his primary objective is to find the truth, and i have a great deal of trust and confidence in his ability to determine what the truth is here. there's no question that the russians tried to interfere in our election process. that is supported by 17
intelligence agencies. the real question is what was the role of the trump campaign and individuals next to the president and the president himself as to whether or not there was any effort to, in fact, conspire with the russians in this effort. so i think the real challenge here is to allow mr. mueller the opportunity to continue to conduct his investigation. he's made good progress. let's give him the room to determine exactly what happened and what the truth is. we have a responsibility to find out what happened, who was involved, and make sure that it never happens again. >> mr. panetta, we talked with you earlier this year right around the time of the inauguration, and back then you said you had some concerns about mr. trump's governing style but that you would adopt a wait and see attitude. it's now about a year later. what are your thoughts on the direction that president trump has taken so far? >> well, i've been in public
life 50 years and worked one way or another with almost nine presidents. this president has clearly changed the office of the presidency. republican and democratic presidents always felt that the presidency ought to be dignified, that it ought to embrace the values of this country, that presidents ought to work to unify this country, not divide it, and that presidents ought to appeal to the best in americans, not the worst. in addition to that, this president has changed policies that both republican and democratic presidents have embraced, whether it's on trade, whether it's with regards to climate change, whether it's involving issues like jerusalem, whether it's issues involving health care. and the president, in basically
disrupting these policies, has not really developed a strategy for how he's going to replace what he's done. so i think the verdict at the end of this first year is that we've had a presidency in chaos. whether or not it will straighten out, whether or not this president will change in office, i doubt it. that remains the question because i think the country is becoming increasingly concerned about the direction that we're taking. >> director panetta, thank you so much for being with us, joining us from monterey. happy holidays to you and your family. >> and a happy holiday to you too and all of your listeners. >> all right. thank you. we turn our attention now to the unexpected passing of san francisco mayor ed lee this week. he died tuesday, reportedly of a heart attack. he was san francisco's first asian-american mayor and dedicated decades of his career to service in city government. under his leadership, san francisco enjoyed a boom in the tech sector and boldly embraced its sanctuary city status.
but with the economic boom came skyrocketing home prices. joining me now to discuss mayor lee's legacy and where san francisco goes from here are former san francisco supervisor david chew, san francisco chronicle city hall reporter rachel swan, and kqed government senior editor scott shafer. nice to have all of you here. the public memorial service for mayor lee is this weekend, and assemblyman chu, how would you describe his legacy? >> i think as we're all reflecting and grieving, we're all thinking about what that legacy is going to be. for me, part of it is going to be working with many of us at city hall to bring an era of civility and consensus building. he certainly he tackled the challenges of the day from working to bring us out of the great recession to addressing the housing crisis we have. i would say certainly for the
chinese-american community, his historical ascension as the first chinese-american inour city, i think these are all parts of his legacy, and we will certainly be reflecting on more. >> rachel? >> we came ed lee came up in ci hall as an administrator, head of public works at one point. one thing that was unique about him is he was very passionate about nuts and bolts type issues, not necessarily the things that drive headlines, but he cared about small businesses, about recycling and environmental issues, fixing potholes. these were the things that really got him going. >> things that mattered to residents and neighborhoods. >> yeah. and he was known for taking walks around the city, i guess, without his staff and visiting business owners. >> i would add to that, that he's going to have, i think, a complicated legacy, starting with how he became mayor.
he was an accidental mayor. he never ran for office, never held office, never really wanted to be a public official, you know. but he stuck around and was here for seven years, and i think as assemblyman chu said, he brought a tranquility that had been missing. there was a lot of bitterness between the mayor's office and the board of supervisors before that. he presided over a dramatic change in the city. i know we'll talk about some of those things. there were big winners and big losers, and i thing some felt that the city's character has changed in the last seven years, and it's a very mixed record in terms of how people feel about that. >> a number of people would say the tech industry was the winner in all this. when he took office seven years ago he said his top priority was jobs, jobs, jobs. he did accomplish that. the unploinlt rate in the city now is 2.7%. with that growing well came a host of other problems, scott. >> huge. i think almost any mayor in america would have loved to have the economy that ed lee presided over and helped to create. but, yes, there were problems.
the affordability crisis really exploded because there was an influx of people. there were so many jobs, high-paying jobs in the city, and so the population went up by tens of thousands. of course that put a demand on housing. traffic is worse. you know, he also happened to be mayor at a time when lyft and p uber exploded. i think the quality of life issues, traffic, cost of living, homelessness, those are really unresolved issues that in some ways were made worse in part by the tech explosion. >> did he make progress on homelessness? that was his other top priority, rachel. >> i would say looking back, ed lee, maybe you could say at the beginning of his second term, perhaps earlier, he sort of pivoted from being the jobs mayor to being the housing mayor, at least in terms of like his messaging and his focus. >> he opened the navigation centers. >> navigation centers became very much a part of the ed lee brand. i mean and they're a big thing
in san francisco. i mean the top concern on most voters' minds is homelessness and the visibility of homelessness and clearing up the encampments for better or worse. so he started the -- i mean he got the department of homelessness started with support from the board. he got the navigation centers started, built a lot of -- >> yet we still see the tents taking over the sidewalks in many neighborhoods in san francisco. so it sounds like he made some progress, but it's still very much an intractable problem. >> he's facing a city with very glaring income inequality and some -- >> excuse me. i would just add in fairness, so is san jose, and eric garcetti in los angeles. these are big city problems exacerbated by the inequality of income. >> assemblyman chew, the current
acting mayor, what can we expect to see from her in terms of priorities? you were once a supervisor yourself. >> i think clearly the challenges that are facing our city are what our acting mayor and the board of supervisors and all of us who are city leaders need to focus on, focusing on continuing to address the housing crisis, homelessness on our streets, the congestion that scott talked about, the income inequality. and i think it's important for us in the wake of the tragedy that's happened for us to figure out how to pull together and continue to build consensus on these challenges that have -- that certainly san francisco had been dealing with in the last couple years, mayor lee had been dealing with. but some of these are issues that mayors -- many mayors, including, you know, half a dozen mayors who have tried to tackle homelessness have had to deal with. >> what is the governing style? can she pull that consensus together? mayor lee was non-flashy. he was dubbed steady eddie at
city hall. what is london breed's style? >> well, she's the board president, and, you know, she's been good at running the board meetings. she's not a heavy hitter with legislation. she's not a scott wiener or david campos or dare i say david chew. her big issue this year has been safe injection sites. she helped form the task force. it remains to be seen whether she can be a great unifier at city hall. >> i think her first job is to really show stability, you know, that the city is going to continue to run. you're not going to see her firing department heads. i think the biggest change you'll see is in personality. ed lee was famously as you said, steady eddie, low key. when he walked into a room, heads didn't turn. he was a very low-key guy. she's not that way. i mean she's very -- she has a big personality. she's funny, a little profane,
not afraid to drop a few, you know, profanities here and there. so i think she'll -- she's going to have to learn what her style is because she hasn't played on this kind of a stage. i mean this is an enormous difference being mayor versus board of supervisors president. >> and again she's acting mayor. there will be an election on june 5th to choose a new mayor. assemblyman chew, you ran against mayor lee in 2011, and are you thinking of running for mayor on june 5th when the election rolls around? >> you know, i've been in the last couple of days, i've told folks that i wish that everyone at city hall could have a 72-hour or one-week moratorium to grieve because i think at this time we all need to take stock and to thank mayor lee in our different ways and to grieve on the tragedy that just occurred. but obviously city leaders will think about the future of the city at the appropriate time,
and it's important for us to again come together, figure out how we move things forward, and to carry on those aspects of ed lee's legacy, including his civility, including his focus on delivering results and getting things done. >> fair enough, but that wasn't a -- [ laughter ] all right. i will leave it there. you know, london breed, regarding her role now as acting mayor, will she be able to hang on to that, scott, or do you think the board of supervisors will likely take a vote, try to appoint someone else as interim mayor? >> they're certainly talking about that. they may not want to talk about publicly, but they're talking about it among themselves. you have to get to six votes, and she can't vote for herself. so there's some thought that they may want to level the playing field. i mean it's been, i think, 2003 was the last time we had a mayor's race that was open and where there wasn't an incumbent running or someone that had a leg up, gavin newsom versus matt gonzalez. so i think there may be a hunger
and even still resentment that that didn't happen when gavin newsom left office. i think you may see someone appointed from the board who is definitely not going to run, someone older, someone like louise renny, for example, or ed harrington, former city controller. >> i haven't heard those names in quite a while. >> someone like that would be fairly sure not to run. louise renny has got to be 82 or something. but i don't think you're going to see, say, one of the people thinking of running, say jane kim, mark farrell, who may well want to run, i don't think you're going to see them get six votes at the board because then you have the same problem they perceive with london breed which is sort of having a head start. >> well, much to watch. again, this weekend will be spent honoring the life and legacy of ed lee. and i want to thank you all for being here today. assemblyman david chew, rachel swan, and also our politics and government senior editor, scott shafer. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. and that will do it for us.
please tune in over the next two weeks for our encore show on the arts in the bay area and our half hour special, stand up san quentin. and we'll be back in the new year with our regular weekly show. you can find more of our coverage at kqed.org/newsroom. i'm thuy vu. thank you for joining us, and we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season. ♪
robert: in alabama, an epic upset. and republican urgency on taxes. i'm robert costa. the victory by democrat doug jones upends both parties on the hill. and ahead of the midterms. tonight, on "washington week." president trump: we want to give you, the american people, a giant tax cut for christmas. robert: president trump says republicans are on the verge of passing a sweeping tax cut bill, one he says will boost the middle class. critics say the tax overhaul would provide generous cuts for corporations and the wealthy and would add more than $1 trillion to the national debt. >> robbing the future, ripping off the middle class, and why? to reward their friends, corporate america. robert: the massive package ul