tv PBS News Hour PBS December 21, 2018 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: divided by a wall. president trump threatens a shutdown, as republican lawmakers scramble to keep the government funded. then, secretary of defense hettis' resignation sends shock waves aroundorld amid fears of a u.s. foreign policy going forward. and, it's friday. mark shields and michael gerson help make sense of this wild week of news. pbs newshour.more, on tonight's >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. s >> this program de possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions t pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: a partial governmenthutdown looms at midnight, after a long day of stalemate. senate republicans could not
muster the votes for a bill that house republicans passed, to nd the government into february. it includes $5.7 billion for a southern border wall, something democrats firmly oppose. but, at a white house event today, president trump insisted again that he will accept nothing less. t >> it's the democrats. so, it's really the democrat shutdown. because we've done ourhing. when nancy pelosi said "you'll never get the votes in the house," we got them, and we got them by a big margin, 217-185. so now it's up to the democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight. i hope we don't, but we're totally prepared for a very long shutdown. >> woodruff: mr. trump said last week that he would take the responsibility for a shutdown. today, senate minority leaderid chuck schumer t is clear where the blame lies. >> president trump has thrown a temper tantrum, and now has us careening towards a truch shutdown ovestmas.
but there is only one way we will he a trump shutdown. if president trump clings to his position for an unnecessary, ineffective, taxpayer-fundedl border wat he promised mexico would pay for. >> woodruff: later, schumer met with vice president pence and other white hoe officials at the capitol. our white house correspondent yamiche alcindor and ngressional corresponden lisa desjardins have been following this all day. they join me now. hello to both of you. so much to follow. so,a, lishere does everything stand now? we just reported both sid say they are still negotiating. >> that's right. judy, i can report now talking to sources ineadership and the republican party that a government showdown is expected, at least a short one. we will see a partial showdown
tonight at midnight, barring a miracle. the senate is essentially waiting for members to return, members who have some gone far west to the dakotas, to hawaii, waiting all day to take an important vote, starting to get the house version, once they thok the vote just a few minutes ago, it was clearhouse bill falls far short of the 60 votes needed in the senate. so senate republicans and democrats have made this agreement, judy, basically to st outside of the process on the senate floor and not take another vote until there is aen deal bet democrats and republicans, including the president. d that means on't know when we'll see the showdown and we don't know what a dealike that could look like. the talks haven't begun in earnest, there hasn't been a talk about what a deal like that could look like yet. >> woodruff: so many questions, lisa. so, yamiche, at the white house, where do things stand from the
president's perspective. he says he's not bending at all. what does your reporting show? >> the president is completely dug in on th demand to have $5 billion for a borderl. wal he wants to get the money before democrats take control of the it's important to note that the department of homeland security, which would be impacted by the government showdown or partial government showdown, held a call today basically justifying whatn the $5 bilould go to. one of the things they said they could build 2 miles of new border wall or replacements. the important thingto note, t president is wagering a lot on this, not only his political capital but actual christmas. he could be witanhout his wife d child because the first lady and barron said they will be going to florida without the president, and if thshowdown happens, the president will be stuck in d.c. by himself. w druff: the president
saying flat out he's preparing to stay in washington. how confident are democrats that they have the right strategy? >> i've seen the confidence only increase for democrats in the last couple of days. in january, democrats offered 5 billion for this wall in exchange for protection for dreamers, children who were brought here illegally. now doremocrats feel strongly that offering $1 billion toon $2 bils the right deal. they feel the presidented mishanhese negotiations and they feel strongly. the house will return tomorrow. i expect the senate to be here, but it's not clear if ts will at all be resolved over the weekend. as to the miles of border front, democrats counter that by saying that the billions of dolthlars president has had for wall or fencing so far, most of it has not been spent yet, and that's a normal process, but because they still have to ramp up the construction. they're saying there's no need
for all this moey now. democrats are digging in just as much as republicans. >> woodruff: what are they ying at the white house about who's going to be held responsible? >> theresident is saying the democrats are to blame because they won't give him the $5 blion he's wanted. the president at first said he would be proud to shut down the government and changed to say now democrats are to blame. he's been tweeting about thisda all one of the tweets he set out was a design of what he would want for the boer wal a large pickett fence with spikes at the top. 's sending the hedges i want this bill and now. that would be important as the president is fundraising for the 2020 campaign using the border wall and showdown as an argument to get campaign money. he started an official wall membership program where people can give money to the campaign ande part of this. but i had a source that said
they would go up against the president if there was a showdown. jobs not walls, end the, showdod they will show photos of immigrants. so the president's opponents are also readying their messa >> woodruff: if the showdown happens, how are government agencies preparing? >> the ageies affected have spent a lot of time in preparinc their contin plan. one thing to note for federal workers is they will receive their next pay czech. if the showdown happens, it may be a little smaer,but the paycheck that's to be affected is not due to get into their bank accounts till january. we took an overall look at exacany what this would we put something together to show our viewers. jare you go. >> dins: of the 15 cabinet agencies, nine would run out of funding if the government shuts down at midnight. they incde some big ones: the departments of homeland security, treasury and justice.
but that doesn't mean ts out. 420,000 "essential" employees in those partments would still have to work, without pay, over the holidays. that includes thousands in federal law enforcement and tions. and at airports, tens of thousands of t.s.a. agents would stay on the job-- unpaid. another 380,000 government dployees would be furloug and stay home. often the most visible issue the nation's 58 national parks would have no federal funds. most would stay accessible, but services and facilities would close. there are a few exceptions, like the grand canyon, where stat will spend funds to keep them open. in all, about 25% of the government would feel the impact of the closures. but, the shutdown would not affect programs like social security, medicaid and medicare, the postal service and the military, which have separate h revenue e already been. funded this ye
>> woodruff: thanks to you both. and now to our other major gory, the fallout and ris fear over u.s. foreign policy. john yang reports on the first casual of president trump's decision to retreat from syria. >> yang: defense secretary james mattis' abruptesignation has rattled nervous u.s. allies. the french foreign minister regretd the loss of a reliable partner. >): what i can say is that he is a colleague which i very much appreciate, with whom i ve worked a lot. he's a great soldier, and has been a remarkable secretary. >> yang:n australia, senator jim molan, a retired general who served alongside mattis in iraq, said it's ear australia must depend less on the united states and become more "self-reliant." in washington, the resignation rocked lawmakers in both parties. virginia democratic senator tim kaine: >> jim mattis is one of finest public servants i've worked with in my entire career. >> yang: senate majority leader
mitch mcconnell said he was "distressed" at the news. the mattis resignation letterte was rthy for its absence of any praise for president trump. instead, he cited his differences with the commander- in-chief, writing, "you have the right to have a secretary whose views are better aligned with yours." >> we are going to appoint "mad dog" mattis as our secretary of defense. mr yang: the seeds of discord were present whe. trumpan nounced in 2016 that the retid four-star marine gener would run the pentagon. mattis has made it known that he hates the nickme "mad dog." after that, he repeatedly disagreed public with the president, by supporting nato ced other alliances, cricizing russian interferenn u.s. elections, and opposing thees prent's withdrawal from the iran nuclear deal and ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. then came mr. trump's sudden
decision this week to withdraw u.s. troops from syria, a move mattis strongly disagreed with. at the white house last night, press secretary sarah sanders acknowledged the rift. >> he and the president have a good relationship, but sometimes they disagree. the president always listens to the members of his nationa security team, but at the end of the day, it's the president's t decisimake. >> yang: mattis plans leave the pentagon at the end of february. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: we want to continue our look at secretary of defense mattis' resignation, and what it means going forward, with two men with extensiveen expe in u.s. national security policy. leon panetta sved as secretary defense and director of the central intelligence agency aring the obama administration. he has also servwhite house chief of staff during the clinton administration. and, richard haass was director of policy planning at the state department during the geor w. bush administration.
he also served on the national security council staff of the george h.wbush administration. he is now the president of the council on foreign relations.el gentlemen,me to you both. it is good to see you. leon panetta, to you first, yo reaction when you learned secretary mattis resigned.t >> i thoughts a sad day for the nation to lose an outstanding defense secretary l o is well experienced with regards to natiocurity policy and also believed in the basicrinciples of leadership, of strength, of our alliances of understanding who ourad rsaries are, principles that i think have served this country well sincworld war ii. to lose that experience, to lose somebody with those principles, i think, increases the danger in this country o not having the
ability to de o with a lotf tairng points in the world meday, and that concerns because i think it puts our nation at risk. woodruff: richard haass, do you agree it puts the nation at risk? >> well, it's certainly a major loss. he was experienced, hwas sober. he represented, essentially, traditional foreign policy. i'll admit my bias, i think it served this country extraordinarily well for three-quarters of a century, so witht him there, it can't be good. but i also tell you, judy, i wasn't surprised th lt heeft. clearly he calculated quite a while ago that he and t president were not on the same page, they weren't in the same book soetimes. i thought it was a question of when, not if, he decided his being there wasn't making enugh of a difference to justify the price you pay int thand of a position. i think what we saw in the last couple of days was simp
inevitable. >> woodruff: given that, leon panetta, was hi better fo to go, given that he could not support the president's policies, or do you think he should have stayed and continued to make the arguments that he was making? >> well, i've had conversations th jim mattis, and i think he knew thaeh would -- he felt his responsibility was to ntinue to try to make sure thlk the administration w in the right path, understanding that he had a erratic president in somebody that was unpredictable. but i think j mattis felt that it was important to try to ensure that we were implementing strong policy for this country, but i also believe that jim mattis knew there might be a point at which he was asked to oss a line that was unacceptable for him, and i think the fact that the
presidenmade the precipitous decision to withdraw 2,000 troops from syria without consultati, without talking to our allies, without reallyth spending time his key advisors, people like jim mat tees, i think jimfelt that that was a terrible signal to send t our allieo send to the kurds who we had fought alongside of and, very frankly, if the united states is not going to stand by its word, i think jim mattis felt it's not worth continuing to try to secretary of defense. >> woodruff: richard haass, how concerd are you that tht kind of advice is not going to be there anymo in this administration, that there isn't going to be someone who has the president's ear, who is saying we do have to stick by our allies, we do have to stand up to our adversaries? >> well, my bigger concern, judy, is even if someone were toas spouse that point of view in the way that secretary mattis
did that this president simply will not listen. i think it's clear, after two years, donald trumis a radical when it comes to foreign policy. he believes cost of leadership far outweigh the benefits, he doesn't believe in free trade or alliance relationships, hera er prefers daily tractional -- transactional approaches. he doesn't care whether a country is democratic or respects human rights, he's looking to draw down troops any. realhere signing that's the danger. it's not whether jim mattis or someone like him is around, it't the commander-in-chief has what i think is a radical view of this country'sthelationship he world, and that will be heard far beyond the middle east. i would think peple in taiwan, in south korea, in opr they saw what this president did, and why would any american ally, why would any country dependt on america somehow believe something like this couldn't happen to them?
we have shredded our reputation for reliability and dependability, and that might be the greatest consequence of the last few days. >> woodruff: so leon pan secretary panetta, i meanwh could be done, i mean, given what we're hearing from yoand from richard haass and a number of others, ithere anything that can be done to either correct the course the country is on under this president's foreign policy or to modify it or to some way -- in some way keep there happening what i hear you two describing as real danger down the road? >> well, for all the reasons richard described is wh i think our nation is at risk right now. there was some comfort in having jim mattis, the secretary of defense, having john kelly as chief of staff, mike pompeo secretary of state, of having
some stability within the oval office that could at least operate as a check with this president. i think the only key here is going to be whether or nt 's willing to appoint somebody asar secrof defense who believes in the principles thati mattis espoused in his letter and that he was about and recognizing that that person would probably face the same kind of situation but at least would provide the experience necessary to not only assure our lies but also assure the american people. and it's also going to take recognition by this president that he can't simply tweet his way to foreign policy and jutional security decisions. he can' stand back without talking to anybody and decide what he thinks is in interest of the country. he's going to have to be moresp sible. this idea of america first, very frankly, is not a policy. in many ways, it's an escapeea
from thety of the kind of dangerous world that we live in. >> woodruff: richard haass, we haven't seen any indication the president intends to change course, he we? >> no, ma'am. i think it'bls prothe triumph of hope over experience to think this predent will change course. it's guy ironic, i spent most of my career arguing for presidential primesy when it comes to foreign policy. i was worried congress would be to pto parochial, and now we're finding the president is e problem when it comes to american consistency in the world but there is very litt we can do to rein him in. we've seen it in syria, afghanistan, the negotiations with north korea, taking the united states out of various trade agreements, taking us out of the climate change agreement, the iran nuclear agreement. almost all the initiative, almost all the discretion when it comes to foreign policy lies
with the execrutive and, he first time since world war ii, we have an executive who opted out of the main stream. >> woodruff: in less than a atnute, to the two of you, wh check do you see out there, realistically, on this cour>>? he check is going to have to be, you know, what our constitution provides, emich is a syof checks and balances. they've never wanted to centralize power th executive, and, so, congress is going to have to step up and ggplay a er role, and people within the administration who feelery strong leabout this country and being able to protect our national security are going to have to step up well. it isn't going to be easy, but i think the system that ourre thers created ultimately has got to serve as the ultimate check on thisresident. >> woodruff: richard haass? i don't think there's much of a chereck. co can do a few things as leon correctly said. people in the administration could sh back if hey're given
a hearing, the media can play a role. somef our allies will have o do more. in some ways almost take on what s been the traditional american role until the united states decides it's preparing to start doing again what it has done for so long. >> woodruff: sobering observations from richd haass and leon panetta. gentlemen, thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. good to be with you. >> woodruff: and we get reaction now to mattis' resignation, and the spending and shutdown fight, from republican senator marco rubio of florida.he its on the foreign relations committee. we spoke a short time ago aboutc his ns over mattisn. stepping d well, obviously, losing jim mattis, someone of his character and caliber is a big ls, but it's not unusual for the secretary of defense to move on and an administration to sometimes have two or thr. my biggest concern was what he wrote in the letter and seemed to im ply, when put that together with things i've heard from others in the last ten ds
anconsultation with the folks at the administration, seems like we're headed in there ion of not just what's happening in syria but similar measures in other places. a when i loo that and i apply it to what's happening around the world, and i'm deeply ooncerned we're about t undertake a series of foreign policy decisions that are going to undermine our surity, alliances and embolden our adversaries. of course, we hate to lose mattis but we knew they uld come, didn't think he would be hthere for eyears. but what concerned me most was what he wrote in the letter and seems to confirm some of the fears we have upcoming or pending decisions. >> woodruff: we do believe he's the first ense secretary to resign in protest at least in modern times, but what i want ask you is what is the check- we just heard from leon panetta and richard haass -- >> yeah. >> woodruff: -- what is the check to prevwhen is happening what you are worried about and that is moving in a direction u think is dangerous for the country?
>> that's a very good question. a lot of people out there, you know, you hece as you voihe complaints that i voiced, the comeback is, well, do something about it. in the field of feign policy, there are limits to what congress can do. as an example, in syria, you know, congress using the control of the purse strings, we can cut off fundrag for an opeon, but we can't order the commander-in-chief to stay in one or todertake one. signing our role is largely although an important role, is a role of oversight. for example, i would love for us to be having hearings. i know it's the end of the year. but i think it's important for the secretary of sta,the secretary of defense or others to come before the appropriate committees in congress and sor of outline why this is a good idea and answer questions as aen ple with i.s.i.s. you know, the intelligence information that's ilable that's been widely leaked and reported that people disss all the time, but open source reporting, basically that i.s.i.s. has not been defeated and remains a threat in the region and they're
reconstituting themselves into an insurgency.e without ricans there, we know the kurds are likely to abandon the effort to fight i.s.i.s. and return to their home cities to fight the turks. who's going to fight i.s.i.s. on the ground, what's the administration's plan to prevent them from posing th ea america and the syrian territories? that's one to have the roles congress can play to really press on that. >> woodruff: given those concerns and others you've expressed, do you believe this president should be entrusted with foreign policy for this country? >> well, look, i think the president deserves credit for eroding i.s.i.s.'s presence, if you look their territorial control when he tooce and where they are today, it's been a dramatic erosion. he has done what many of us ked foru.s. air and logistical support combined with local grnd forces, in this case the kurds through the ypg and the syrian democracec for that included arab recruits from the area, to fight ice on e
ground. he has done that. my qualm with him now is he is abandoning that effort before it's completely finished. i.s.i.s. still does control territory. so he deserves credit for the first part. i think he's about to make a blunder on the second part. our job is to conince him through the air waves and personally through working with the administration to reverse and change course in that drregard. >> wf: basically you're saying this could undermine everything that happened before if this is allowed to continue. y>> right, and that's think those of us who supported hisor initiatives ongn policy and other measures should tell him. we don't have enough time to talk about all the different problems hat this creates. >> woodruff: senator, do you think that that' bene? a lot of people look at you and other republicans members of congss and say there hasn't been enough of a check on this president, that he hasn't been heldaccountable sufficiently. >> well, i would say it depends on who it is you're talking
about. in the case of foreign policy, de president, we've worked with the white house many things, changes in policy on cuba, sactions on vens ay, and if you look at what he's done in syria, our presence in iraq, afghanistan, our support foin uk he provided them defensive military, capabilities which the prvis administration wouldn't do. you saw the surge and continued surge thm began under the obaa administration in our presence in the asia-pacific region, weti have been supp of those initiatives. i'm the one who filed the bills and put sanctions in place on russia when they interferedy our elections again. it didn't paz, but it had affect on what the national security council wrote up as policy. it's all in the interest of serving our country and helping the administration be successful and we have allies in the administration that greece with us. ultimately, if the president decides to gon a different direction, we should say sand try to do what we can to prevent
that from happening. ry,woodruff: the other sto development today and that is the impasse, over what's going to happewith government funding, a potential showdown of the government. you sawed ths week that you were led to believe by the whit house that theas an agreement, that they changedr thsition on this. how do you assess the white i use handling of this? >> well, look, think the white house should have told us on wednesday that they weren't going to support the version that was before the senateed before we von it. i tweeted that earlier today. i believe that now vice president, who's a good man and doing a good job, but he was at our lun on wednesday anhe said the white house is open to what the senate was working on. if they said otherwise, i think we could he spent wednesday, thursday and on into today working on this matter. but we can't undo tht. i think they could have done that better, didn't, that's passed now we move forward. i don't want to leavnseaid is that what is in the house bill that came over to us is not
unreasonable. there's nothing radical about funding the top ten priorities of a long-term border improvement plan that's in place whh is not allwall, by the way. some of it is but some of it are her things. and if you want to put the migration part of it aside, which is a big problem, but the majority of heroin and fentanyl that are killing people in this country is being trafficked ross the border by drug car tells that are using mexico. that alone justifies $5 billion and is opp wed by peop voted for far more money in the past for border rity. >> woodruff: phi the president is describing that $5 billion as money for a physical wall and that's what the democrats say they oppose. but saturdays the disagreement. >> yeah, but they supported physical wall in the past. 2013 i was part of an effort to pass an immigration reform bill that spent much more an $5 billion and included a wall.
the oll isn't going solve the problem but is part of it. people misunderstand independents purpose. the purpose is to funnel border traffic into areas you can monitor to prevent unlawful migration but also to prevent the illegal running of guns and drugs that are killing ameanrics i believe we'll have a partner with mexico in doing this because the y're nowgetting stuck with the cost of migrants stranded as ty comthrough mexico and dealing with the vicious drug gangs who are making nonny by getting drugs across the border and into a regional marketplace. i hope we'll partner with mexico to confronthe challenges and i think they would benefit from taking away the meg net of porous u.s. border. >> woodruff: marco rubio, thank you very much. >> woodruff: and day's other news, the u.s. supreme court ruled against a ban on granting asylum to people who enter the u.s. illegally. the justices voted 5 to 4 to
uphold lower court rulings against the trump administration policy. chief justice john roberts sided with the four more-liberal justices. justice ruth bader ginsburg cast her vote in the asylum case, before entering a hospital in new york. she is recovering after doctors removed two malignant grths from her left lung. a court statement said there is no evidence the canc spread. ginsburg is 85, and the leader of the court's liberal wing. asis is the third time she been treated for cancer since 1999. wall street's week ended with more losses over worries about n possible reces the dow jones industrial average lost 414 points to close at 22,445. the nasdaq fell 195 points to close below 6,333. s down 22% from its augu high-- now officially in "bear market" territory. and, the s&p 500 gave up 50.
for the week, the dow e s&p lost about 7%. the nasdaq dropped 8%. turkey's president recep tayyipe erdogan todaomed u.s. plans to leave syria. that came as the associated press reported president trump made the decision after speaking with erdogan last week. in istanbul, the tursh leader said he promised the presidentke that twill finish off islamic state militants. >> ( translated ): we will be working on our operational plans to eliminate islamic state elements, which are said to remain intact in sia, in line with our conversation with president trump. in other words, over the next months, we will adopt anyl operational geared toward this goal. >> woodruff: erdogansaid that turkey is delaying a planned operation against u.s.- yrbacked kurdish forces in. meanwhile, the kurds warned theifighters may have to lea the fight against isis to confront a turkish attack.
the u.n. security council voted unanimously today to send cease-fire monitors to yemen. they will watch over the truce in the red sea port of hodeidah, and the withdrawal of rival forces.n' yegovernment, backed by saudi arabia, and shiite rebels aligned with iran, agreed the cease-fire this month. pope francis has demanded that predator priests who have sexually abused children, turn themselves in. he also criticized church leaders who failed to take the problem seriously in the past. francis spoke during his annual christmas message to vatican administrators. he said the church will never again cover up clergy abuse. >> ( translated ): the church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to to justice whoever has committed such crimes. the church will never seek to hush up, or not take seriously, any case. and to those who abuse minors, i say: convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice.
>> woodruff: this week, illinois accused church officials of shielding more than 500 priests accused of abuse in the state, going back decades. mourners gathered in lockerbie, scotland today, the 30th anniversary of the pan am airliner bombing that kied 270 people. families and friends of the victims laid wreaths to honor their loveones. the were similar services the u.s. for the american victims. a bomb destroyed the plane, on a flight from londono new york. a libyan intelligence agent was convicted ofhe crime in 2001. flights have finally resumed at london's gatwick airport, after a series of drone sightings that shut down operations there for 36 hours. the trouble began wednesday and it disrupted holiday plans for thousands of travelers. another drone sighting forced another shutdown today, for 80 minutes. police are still searching for the drone operator.
and backn this country, michigan's republican-run legislature took new aion to extend its authority before a democratic governor and attornef general takee next month. early today, lawmakers voted to give themselves the power intervene in court cases. another bill would limit ballot initiatives. still to come on the newshour: how the new criminal justice reform law can change lives. and, mark shields and michael h gersonelp us understand aee tumultuous >> woodruff: there is a new law in the land today, meant to address two central tenants of ameran life: freedom and justice. in the last 40 years, the federal prison population has 00%.n by more than yamiche alcindor reports on a rare bipartisan push to bring 00big changes for some 180
inmates. >> alcindor: angel gregorio hasn't seen her two brothers in more thacade. they're both doing time in federal prison for murder. n r younger brother is more than 1,300 miles awayaumont, texas. >> just, financially, it's a burden. logistically, it's a burden. >> alcindor: at her spice shop in washington, d.c., she is ping a new federal law will bring her brothers and other federal inmates closer to their families. >> we aren't asking you that you open up the floodgates and let everybody out ofrison. we're just asking that you bring them a little closer, so we cane come and see hug them, talk to them, not have to spend so much money on phone calls c just to stnected. >> alcindor: under the new criminal justice law signed by president trump today, federal inmates will be placed prisons within 500 miles of their families. that's just one of the changesmi from the first step act. it's a rare bipartisan effort w that deah both sentencing and prison reforms.er it will also landatory
minimum sentences. it will retroactively change sentencing dispariti drug crimes, including for powder and crack cocaine. lech differences have ofte to longer prison times for african americans. those changes will benefit about 2,000 inmates. sey could shave 53,000 ye off sentences over the next ten years. the bill would also end life sentences under the three-strike law established in a 1994 crime bill. there are also changes to encourage prisoners tort ipate in recidivism programs. in an often bitterly divided washington, the bill was passed overwhelmingly by both chaers of congress. it united conservatives like the koch brothers with liberal groups like the a.c.l.u. even celebrities like kimka ashian voiced their support. but the road to "yes" was long. >> this is truly a landmarkti piece of legis. it's the biggest criminal justice reform in a generation. >> alcindor:hat was three years ago. judiciary chairman chuck
grassley and a bipartisan senate group announced a similar effort. then-president obama pushed hard. he became the first sitting president to ever visit a federal prison. >> that's what strikes me. there but for the grace of god. >> alcindor: but tor effort fell when senate majority leader mitch mcconnell wouldn't fot it come to vote. >> in this racthe white house, i am the law and order candidate. >> alcindor: mcconnell was bowing to pressure fro republican base, and a vocal "tough on crime" candidate named donald trump. in a crowded field of 17 g.o.p. candidatesmr. trump consistently led in the polls. after the election, mr. trump doubled down on being "a law and order president." >> when you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in.ug i said, please don't be too
nice. >> alcindor: so how di president go from "lock them up" to "let them out?" some point to mr. trum in-law and white house adviser, jared kushner. >> this is an issue i had personal experience with. >> alcindor: kushner's motivation was personal. his own father served 14 months in federal prison, after pleading guilty to illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering. >> we're putng too much money towards warehousing people who we don't need to be warehousing. that money should instead be going to lawmakers on thene front to keep our communities safe. >> alcindor: another thing that angel thin is a stark increase in the number of people going to jail for drug offenses. i think once anything starts br impact folks who are not just black ann, then you getar this sort oftisanship. you know, like, now that you p ve so many white people who are being lockedr these drug offenses, it's like, okay, we need to do something about this. you take what you can get, right? >> alcindor: in november, the president came around.
>> i'm thrilled to annmy support for this bipartisan bill that will make our communities saar and give former inmate second chance at life after they have served their time. >> alcindor: still, not every cpublican is on board. arkansas senator tton remains a vocal opponent: >> i think many ofhe policies in this bill are deeply unwise, to allow early release from prison, thousands of serious, repeat and potentially violent felons over the next few months. >> alcindor: some of the bill's liberal opsition-- and even some of its supporters-- say it doesn't go far enough. illinois senator dick durbin: >> we're not finished. it's entitled the first step. what's the second step? >> alcindor: the new law applies only to federal prisoners. that's less than 10% of the 2.3 million people behind bars. advocates say they will continue to push for more reforms, including at the state level. for the pbs newshour, i'm yamiche alcindor.
>> woodruff: the white house and congress may have clinched thatl new crimustice law this week, but this evening, they are on the brink of a partial s governmetdown, even as they continue to process the resignation of the defense secretary. dsre to analyze this week of upheaval are shind gerson. that's syndicated columnist mark shields, and "washington post" columnist michael gerson. david brooks is away this week. hello to both of you. >> judy. >> woodruff: i don't think, mark, you could call it an orderly week in washington. yes, there was this agreement that the president signed, the criminal justice reform bill today, but here we are just hours away from yet another government is shutdown.
>> it seems eons ago senator schuman and spaker pelosi met with the president and the president manfully stepped up and said i'll take the shutdown happy to put it on me. then in agreement with the senate that they'd fund it through the new year and then come back ad revisit it, and then immediately a revulsion, if you would, from the presint's longest and strongest supporters, tv commentators to right such as rush limbaugh, ann coulter, and said this was a sellout on the wall, and ulter going so far to say his presidency was a joke, and that he had scammed the american people. so now we have to have funding for the wall or els so that's really where it is.
i mean, it's loggerheads inerever loggerheads are found, i somewhere outside of boseman, montana, but that's where it is.ha >> woodruff: m, the president is point ago finger at the democrats. the democrats are saying you'whe the onsaid a few days ago you would be proud to othis shutdown, so where does the fault lie? >> big picture. this shows how easy the president of the united states is to manipulate. here he agreed to a deal, and some of his toughest supporters, limbaugh and coulter and some of the time in the fox news morning programs, came out against it, and he changed his view like a puppet on a string. it was really extraordinary, a sign of weak eadership. and i can bet you that russia and china and north korea look at something like that, about how easy this president is to manipulate. that's the conte for this.
you know, so i don't think that he can make a particularly good case, having agreed already to something rather reasonable, you know, that he changed his view with good reason, he can't make thuf case. >> woo and we heard senator rubio saying they were told at the white house a few days ago by the vice president that they had ageed -- >> at the luncheon of the senators. right. >> woodruff: so, mark, is there any good outcome from this? i mean, they're ill negotiating. >> they're still negotiating, judy. d i don't know. u know, i think there may be some political necessity right w for it to be shut down for a while, the president, don't know. but it's tough. i mean, the people are leaving town, have left town, and, you know, the trauma of the week was cretary mattis, with no question about it. that was the monumental event. i would say that there waslarm
after the president's appearance at helsinki with mr. ti i think there was alarm after the firing of f.b.i. director comey, but there was pani bipartisan, non-parents panic in this city, the country and the world when generajim mattis left as secretary of defense. i mean, he was seen, and i think rightfly so, as the thoughtful, well-read, well-prepared, country-before-self leader who believed in reciprocal burden d benefits to the united states with other countries and was fighting that cause and had some influence on donald trump, but left on his own terms. >> woodruff: and we talked about thiearlr in the program with some of our other guests, leon panetta, richard haass, senator rubio, michael,oe but whatthis say about this president that at this
stage, two years in, he and james mattis are separating?ta >> iked with a non-histrionic member of -- republican member of the senate today who said twice during the course of our conversation,we are in peril, we are in peril. some of the reason is because all of our allies did rely on him to provide the intel is the president serious abouthe attacks on ours not and he assured our allies, bute played another role with republicans in the senate to provide a level of assuramoe that the basic appearances government were being filled. they could say i don't like his tweets and his policy is absd and he changed his mind on this and i'm critical of all this, but at least he hazmatties in that place, and now they have lost "but at least," and that, i think, is the big change. you know, you look at his
resignation letter, which coldly and rationally sad to th president, you do not understand our friends and you do not understand our enemies, and that's about it, right? i mean, there's no one else to understand. it was a comprehensive critique of the predent by the secretary of defense. you know, not an angry one but a very serious one, and to leave that as a document of our time is, you know, unprecedented, extraordinarily. m >> i think back, to the anonymous person who wrote that letter to the "new york times" that iside this administration, i'm fighting for the things that matter to this country. but where is tth check? i pus question to senator rubio and the others, where is the check on the president for those who think the things are just going to run amok now? >> not to be partisan, but ie think it's republicans, the
kind of people michael was talking to today that ve talked to who basically have been mute, who stand paralyzed by the mark saford experience, namely the former governor and congressman from south carolina who president trump opposed and defeated in his primary,d i think they have lived in mortal fear. it's time for them to man up, ep up, and i just -- i think, judy, the matt thing is so big, picking up what michael said, most responses in this town to anything that happens are in silos politically. they're politically abedi. on this one, you had almost the same statement fromseneca, south carolina's favorite son and donald trump's new best friend lindsey graham, lindsey graham a hawk on defse, and nancy pelosi, the democratic leader from the bay area of san francisco, a ca carrying liberal, and they both said the same thing, the loss of jim a
mattis wragedy for the country and a lo that's incalculable. so that's what i say about the sense of panic.uf >> woo and you have the comment, unusual comment from the senate majority leitch mcconnell, michael, saying that he was concerned about the reason -- just what you were citing -- the reasons that secretary mattis gave s letter. but my question remains, where is the check? if there should be a check, where is it going to come from? >> well, unfortunately, senator e bio is right on foreign policy policy issues, esident has a lot of leeway. they can't force him to stay in syria. and part of this concerns not just personnel. it's actually policy.g gettt of syria is a terrible idea from many different perspectives. we are in the process of pursuing a buildup to a major operations against i.s.i.s. inph the ates valley but now is off the table. you know, it gives the turks
free hand with the kuds. those things are also bothering members of congress. you know, they register their ti ent in debates in the senate, there will be congressional debates on that. we'll see how they react the broader mueller report, that will be very, very important. but, you know, there are limits to what you can do on foreign policy, i'm afraid. >> woodruff: anwhat abt in domestic policy, mark? >> well, judy, i think that whae e seen, quite honestly, first of all, you've got a democratic house that's coming in and that has struck fear, but you ntink what the presidid and the way he did et this week ascoar as syria wancerned and now afghanistan, and i think that we've lacked a puic debate in this country. there hasnfu been a thoug serious debate.
congress hasic abded its responsibility. successive administrations, in my jument, failed to mae a public case, entertain public criticism and debaten ths issue. but the way it was done, the decision was arrived at for thet presidenjustify it solely on the basis of it was a micampaign pro he was keeping some two years later, it suests to me that there is panic within the white house and within the white house residence. we have seen the spotlight, the flashlight and then the spotlight focus on trump university, and what it saw i closed down. we saw in the trump foundation, the chitle foundation, they closed down. then on the inaugural, the campaign and now the administration. i think what we see in the president, judy, is a preside c who ncerned and so alarmed shat what the mueller report is going to reveal he's going to have to hold on to that 35 or 40% base and he will do anything
he can. i think it's that serious and grave. i don't think anybody really gauges how in peril this keesidency is, except a few republicans i've t to really believe that the end is probably in sight. >> woodruff: t end wha the end of this administration. >> woodruff: in what way?re the muellert will be so serious that the democrats really don't seek impeachment, but it's almost going to be inevitable that the house would onbe forced to vot it. >> yeah, i've heard one depublican today that i talke to call this the beginning to have the end, they felt that. at is going to be the only question, when the mueller report comes out, and the strength of the report willin detethat. i think there are at least some republicans that are talking noe that the pre needs a challenge in the primaries, and that he needs to lose
reelection. t right now these are not loud voices in the republican party because the base has not turned, but you do hear that sort of talk among responsible republicans. >> woodruff: sober note at the end of a week i think like no other. >> like no other week. >> woodruff: like no otherha weeki remember in washington, and i have been here for 40 years. michael higerson, mark elds. >> you game in the third grade? (laughter) >> woodruff: thank you both. thank you, judy. >> woodruff: as we've been nmreporting, a partial govt shutdown is on track to begin at cldnight tonight, but how long it will last is r. the u.s. senate agreed late today to new negotiations on federal operations into february. the major obstacle remains presid $5 billion to fund a wall on the
southern border. democrats firmly oppose that idea. senate leaders say they willte not n anything until everyone-- including the president-- has agreed to a deal. and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you,nd we'll see youso . >> major funding for the pbs newshour h been provided by: >> financial services firm raymond james. >> bnsf railway. >> consumer cellular. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their s-lutions to the world's most pressing problem follfoundation.org. >> the william ara hewlett foundation. for more than 50 years, advancing ideas and supporting institutions to promote a better world. at www.hewlett.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. d by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned byss media acroup at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> you're watching pbs.
tonight on "kqed newsroom," as governor jerry brown to leave office, we talk with him about his life, legacy, and his hopes for california's future. plus from a e midterlection that altered the nation's power balance to troubling revelations about big tech, a look back some of the top stories of 2018. >> and comedian paula poundstone on politics, podcasts, and performing without a script. we'll hear how got her start in stand-up right here in sn ancisco. hello and welcome to "kqed newsroom." inm thuy vu. we b with governor jerry brown's farewell. he's leaving office janua, 7th handing off theaton to governor elect gavin newsom. during his tenure, he reversed the state's fiscal woes and is leaving a suplus of