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tv   Washington Week  PBS  July 6, 2018 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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robert: president trumprepares to tilt the supreme court to the right, but who will he pick? i'm robert costa. we discuss the confirmation fight ahead, the resignation of e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt and china strikes back o tonigh "washington week." president trump: i spent the st three days thinking about supreme court justices. it's such an important decision. robert: president trump consider his short list retiring c supremert justice anthony kennedy. >> he would like someone with the right jucial temperament. robert: we examine the leading contenrs and confirmation battle that's brewing on capitol hill.
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he resig one day after celebrating july 4th at the white house. pruitt worke relentlessly to roll back environmental regulations and had a close relationship with the president. but scandals into spending and potential ethics violations cost pruitt his job. we look at the legacy he leaves and his successor. plus, after months of threats and brinksmanship, the u.s. begin as trade war with china but at wt cost? we discuss it all with seung min kim ofgt "the wash post." kimberly atkins of the "boston herald," and mark landler of the "new york times." announcer: this is "washington week." funding is provideby -- newman's own foundation donatin all profits to charity and nourishing the common good.
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ku and patricia ewing committed to bridging cultures in our communities. the excellence in journalism founedation, corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you once again, from washington, moderator robert cosbe. : good evening. the decision looms. but presint trump i still deciding. who will replace justicenthony kennedy on the supreme court. the top three contenders all federal judges could secure a conservative majority on the bench. but not before facin a political firestorm on capitol ll. president trump: i think you'll be very. impress these are very talented, brilliant people like justice gorsuch. we hit a home run there. and we're going to hit a home run here. robert: the finalists are
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kavanaugh and kethledge and amy coneyrrarrett. t is the youngest at age 46. while both kavanaugh and kethledge are in their early 50's, a sign the president is intent on leaving a lasng legacy. president trump will make a formal announcement on monday. seun minute -- min welcome back. who is the president talking to as he makes the decisio >> the interesting thing is how the white house has handled this confirmation process, he's talking to everyone you couldth k of. he's talking to advisors, members of congress. but up until 9:00 p.m. when we will know who he ultimately picks, trump is going to hold it very close to his vest. it's mirror image to how he rolled out the nomination ofst e gorsuch in january 2017
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recall that we had no ce. knew it was down to neil gorsuch and thomas hardyman but we weren't sure until gorsuch appeared on that stage that he picked him to replace justice scalia. robert: he's reading theaps. we know the president reads the prin edition of the newspapers. we can thank him for that. one ori your s looked at judge kavanaugh. there's been a lot of scrutiny not only from democrats but from republicans on judge kavanaugh en if he's a conservative. why is that? >> there's one ruling that he made on a jurisdictional issue involving the affordable care act that some point to evidence of squishyness. but he was a member of ken starr
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case investigating the monica lewinsky. he was one of the prime authors of the starr report. and in that report he grounds for impeaching a president and in this was president clinton. he included lying to yo aids or liing to the american public or misleading the american public. the concern that some around president trump have is that a lot of theseds same gro could be applied to president trump in the russia case. an i think that the fear amongst some is that if he is the nominee and sits through a nate confirmation hearing, democrats will seize on this to turn the hearing into a referendum on what are the standards for impeachment and could the standards you laid out 20 years ago apply to the president who nominated you? i don't think it derails his candidacy by any means, but it is a red flag to some people. robert: kavanaugh's experience in george w. bush's.
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should he pick someone with that bush link? does thatliatter to repns? ost t matters to republicans. they don't like that very close alliance with the bush family. but on the other hand, president trump, we know likes to judge by hisut. now, 90% of the work on this was done for hime by heritage foundation by the heritage o put together this list that he had since the campaign of conservative folks that conservatives would love that would keep the evangelicals with him and oers. but the conservative groups helped to get him that far. now he wants a judge by his gut. he really likes kavanaugh. he liked his look. his liked his family. and i think that's t oneng that has put him ahead of the game here. and i think thene bush cion was less apparent. robert: you're hitng on this
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list from the campaign. the president is pulling from similar ideological profiles with a lotes of judicial potential nominees but you think about why is he sticking to this list? one of the story this is week about senate minority leader chuck schumer. 's saying go with merritt garland who president obama nominated in 2016. and you think for a moment the president is prey unconventional. but is it because of mcconnell that he's not thinking of that option. >> he was thinking that he would ick to this prescribed list of -- people. yo heard the elective affairs director saying if there's a vacancy we will stick to that list because that list recall during the presidential campaign gave reassurance tove
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conservaho is were initially a little bit skeptical about this donald trump whoas a democrat who had proclaimed that he was-c pice. it gave conservative voters ainsurances -- assurances that he would govern like a republican leader. that's why this list was so important. what was interesting to me that besides thecd schumer ae when i was speak to some key swing votes shortly after justice kennedy's announcement they were pushing the president to look off that list. this list didn't come from the white house solely. so why is it out there? robert: if not - kavanaugh- let's say the president moves away from ca gnaw, what about the clerk for justice kennedy and you have amy cey barrett being pushed by a lot of social conservatives saying she's young. she's a notre dame law
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processor. year he was nominated a ago but she could galvanize the culture wars onssues like roe v. wade. i think there's a difference and it is between amy coney barrett on the one hand and judge kethledge and kavanaugh on the other hand. the social conservative side of amy barrett is a big issue for some people. you'll recall there was this mous prior hearing where senator dianne feinstein said to her about her catholic fth, the dogma lives within you. that's something that finestein was harshly criticized by catholic leaders but it got out deep concern particularly if roe versus wade would be on the table. i think she's a traditional gorsuch style jurist. one of the things that's remarkable act him is how much he looks likeho gorsuch.
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they're fishing buddies. they have the same kind of lifestyle. they come from the middle of the country. if what makes you comfortable is another neil gorsuch you're going to go with kethledge. to the extent there's a split it's betwe the more traditional perhaps pro-business types that would be kftwble a gorsuch kethledge and the social conservatives who would like to ke a blow with barrett. susan collins had said she doesn't want anybody who expresses a hostility toward roe. that would raise questions like barrett than the other twoid caes not that she may not vote for any of them. but that would be a tougherse . but i think for president trump himself why he has said that roe v. wade that it's gone in his presidency, he said that in his campaign. he has fought against what he sees judicial activists,
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democratic judges w he thinks are biased and will rule against some of his administration's policies. this list whiz compiled by conservative -- this list was compiled by conservative groups. he has a list of people who he thinks are conservativ , who are republicans and who will rule on his side. i don't think he has a big problem sticking wit robert: you've been covering the senate for years. can senator schumer keep his conference together? does he let some red stateo democratsnd vote for the nominee? >> he is underme tous pressure from the base to keep his caucus together. w able to keep them together to repeal the affordable care act using collins and mercove ski who bawould fight against repeal. you're dealing with reall complicated mterm elections
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who have 10 democratic senators that trump won in and three of them voted for neil gorsuch last year. we're looking at heidi hicamp, joe mancic who have expressed openness to considering fairness of the nominee speaking of amy coney barrett has deep indianae joe donnelly is from indiana. if it is her, he's going to be under tremendous pressure. robert: we're all going to try to break the story this pretty hard to break who is on this short list. but we'll try. let's turn to another big story. rmer e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt, despite months of unwaiverupport from president trump, he resigned on thursday. there are multiple probes in his
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misconduct. along the allegations ex-traff gant travel, office furniture and a sound-proof phone booth. renting a condo asking his staff to put his travel charges on his personal cdit cards and to assign his task of finding his job.a six-figure the mounting scandals generated criticisms from both parties. >> it' unbelievable. any other administration democrat or republican he wouldg have beene month and months ago. >> he is acting like moron. and he needs to stop it. >> in his resignation letter, he said the unrelenting attacks on me personal lip and my family are unprecedented and has taken a sizable toll on all of us. president trump stood by pruitt until the en. he tweeted. scott has done an outstanding
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job. pruitt will be replaced by his deputy andre wheeler, a former call industry lobbyist. robert: mr. wheeler. we know about all the controversies. we laid them out about mr. pruitt. but mr. wheel comes in this same agenda of pulling back obama era regular lage, working closely with different coanies. that to me may be the big story goesthat the pruitt agenda on without pruitt. and perhaps even more effectively. some people have said some of the regulations are the rollbacks. they face legal challenges and it has been overshadowed by all the controversy around scott pruitt. you have someone who is coming very close to the coal industry who understands the regulations and rule making very well willo better at carrying out the president's agenda of ro ting back thesengs and being more pro-business. >> i think one of the points to
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make about sco pruitt's demise is that people have failed for very different reasons in this administration. rex tillerson failed because of his inability to develop a relationship with the president. in scott t pruitt's caset was never a problem. he had by all accounts a robust relationship with the president. the esident stood by him because of his success in rolling back obama era initiatives through just an absolutely staggeringumber of questions about eics. it's mostly remarkable how long thisuy survived and that tells you how successful he was viewed as being by the people who are in mr. trump's base who cared about rollingme back enviral regulations. robert: and he had an impact. if you think about not onl the greenhouse gas egulations and coal plant regulations, the climate paris accd. >> you saw his effect in terms
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of the envolonmentalies but at some point -- there was a point where for the administration and for the president it just went too far. and frankly, for senate republicans who had to deal with this mounting drama from the e.p.a. from the administration, that point where it went too far was months ago. i was talking with senate republicans in early june when the last batch of negative ruories towardst broke about his behavior at the e.p.a. i remember senator joany ernst who is not a trump antagonist by any means saide her patie levpl was "pretty much fed up." john thune told me he was wearing thin on pruitt. pruitt was supposed to testify citol hill some time in august before the senate environmental and public committee. but he was able to escape in time before he was able to go urn the grilling. robert: it s alle was
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isolated in the end, in the cabinet. didn't have aelationship with chief of staff john kelly. and his own staff was burning him in these congressional testimonied. the one person that was on his side was the most important onet which w president of the united states. and the reason they were able to keep that close relationship was he spent a lot of time in the white house. if youook at his resignation letter which was so effusive. he literally diafied. i was blessed with this opportunity. that is what trump likes. he likes that loyal and that praise and ha closeness. that's what kept him onboard for so long when even people close to trump who wanted to advance trump's agendaere fed up with him. that's what ultimately led in the end to his exit. robert: but is a revealing moment about the president even at his rally this week didn't really want to pile on, on mr.
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pruitt. itppeared to be based on a lot of reporting this week that it was john kelly the chief of staff that said it's time. >> i thought that was an interesting footnote to the story. because if you ask people in our story to handicap who would last longer, scott pruitt or john kelly. w we probablyld have said scott pruitt. a lot of us work at places that have been running articles predicting john kelly's hayesy exit. and it turns out that it was john kelly who administered the death blow to pruitt. he's still exerting influence and stbll has the at critical moments to say, mr. president, this has gone faren gh. >> can the democrats take the pruitt w controversies, takt the e.p.a. has done and make it a midterm issue or does thi fade with the president's trip to europe with the president me
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making a supourt pick? >> i think it stays. the europe trip and court nominee will consume our attention. butoc dts will continue to hammer home that look, the president promised to clean it up. and this seems to be aswampy as it gets. that is a message you will hear. i don'txpect confirmation battle over a permanent replacement of the e.p.a. any time soo because andrew wheeler is sure to carry out the policys that were alrea part of the reason why senate republicans re more confident when they started to speak out about pruitt thatw after andre wheeler you had someone that they trusted ince p that will fadeaway. robert: let's leave it thea. ch has accused china of starting one. on friday, u.s. tariff's o $34 billion wor took effect. the president ice 25% tariffs
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cover more than 800 chinese products including machinery, medical parts and auto parts. china put tariffs on soy beans an other products.th is the president being the president. where is secrechry m versus peter navarro the trade advisor? is there an internal fightr is the president just driving it all? >> i don think it's much of an internal fight. i think the president and navarro were winning. the president didn't justn campaign this tough trade talk. this idea that the u.s. has been in awful trade deals andhat's hurting the american worker and the american company. this is sdething he's belie for decades. this is a genuine -- this is as genuine as it gets when it comes president. and he believes that being tough and issuing tariffs and starting ade wars with china is a good
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idea. some people agree with him. but even some who agree with peaps tariffs -- china needs increased tariffs, you know it would be nice if we had se allies. unfortunately, the president is picking trhade wars w everyone. we are standing alone while we're pickingrade wars with e e.u. we don't even have canada on our side. we're fighting with them too. that's bringing a lot of concern that a pro tracted trade war could really affect the economy. and there's no chance that china is going to back down, at least not now. >> kim makes the right point that this is on the list of core beliefs donald trump, trade and the need for fair trade in s view is a core believe. and he's delivering on it. what's interesting is that gary cone and sve mnuchin and wilbur ross the commerce secretary hasd warim that if he he goes down this path the
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economy will suffer. that has r -- caused trump to consider and throw it open to a negotiate. -- negotiation. as the job marketti has ced to hum along and the stock market has shrugged off a lot of theserade related shocks. i think he's feeling that he has a lot more room for maneuver than perhaps these more traditional advisors told him. and that makes him even more incline to start with the peter o, steve bannon school which is really where he firmly is now. bo robert: what the math? the president cares about his base and the middlheof country, farmers? you look at the people who get hit trade it's a lot of these agriculture producers. >> we mentioned s beans and pork. that will get hit as the trade wa escalates. robert: do they care?
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it seems like they're sticking with him or no? >> i've beealking to a lot of people from the agricture states as they try to push president trump away from the trade war. but a lot of what lawmakers are saying which is really interesting to me is that their voters, thearrs back home are saying we trust president trump. we're going to give him a littl bit of maneuvering room, negotiating room. we mayot like what he's doing but we have enough faith in the president that he knows wha he's doing, which i think is a dally interestingamic. robert: the grievance towards the global economy seems to keep the bonds together. >> yeah, that tough talk is reala. pop we're early enough in this process that the tough talk h m ta through the mid terms. the question is come 2020 when we tt see -- start seeing the job losses or the farmers feeling that will they stick with it.
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sobert: the republicans have their own conce about china and trade as well. >> they. do and it started even before the election with hillary heinton who went against t.p.p. and the democrats have sort of figuring out where theyre when it comes to trade. and they haven't really landed yet. >> and the one point i would make as this begins to unfold the question is what is the president's end game? is he really ready to stomach a series of retalltory measures leading to some uncertain end or does he view this to someli extt i'm going to scare these guys enough that they're going to come to the t tle? nk he would probably tell you it's the latter. but i'm not sure some of his advisors don't see an in a punishing all-out trade war. the question next is what's the plre? you've sthe europeans, the mexicans and the canadians but to what end?
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when will we sit down and work things out? robert: thanks everybody for the great conversations. be sure to watch the pbs news hour on monday for special coverage of president trump's announcement of his supreme court nominee. our conversation will continue online on the "washington week" extra. you can finthat later tonight onee pbs.org/new thanks for coming to the table. we'll see you next time.
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anuncer: funding for "washington week" is provided by newman's own foundation donating all profits to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethsn journalism foundation. k and patrick ewing foundation mmitted to bridging cultural differences. and from contributions from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsibio for its cacontent and cacontent and
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