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tv   Washington Week  PBS  March 8, 2019 7:30pm-8:01pm PST

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robert: democratic demands. talk of pardons. and tensions in both parties. i'm rowert coslcome to "washington week." president trump outraged and dfiant asocrats push ahead on probes into his campaign, administration, andusiness. president trump: it's a collusion hoax. robert: and he knocks his former lawyer. >> i have never asked for nor would i accept a parn from donald trump president trump: michael cohen lied about the pardon. robert: democrats clash overat anti-h legislation. next. announcer: this is "washington week."
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funding is provided by -- >> i was able to turn the rcraft around and the mission e around and was able to so men's lives that night. >> my first job helped me to grow up pretty quickly. that happens when you're asked to respond to a coup. >> in 2001, i signed up for the air force. two days later, 9/11 happened. >> babbel, a langue program that teaches real life conversations in a new language such as spanish, french, german, italian d more. babbel's 10 to 15-minute lessons are available as an app or online. more information on babbel.com. ednouncer: funding is prov by -- koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundatio committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities.
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the corporation for public broadcasting and by y contributions r pbs station from viewers lu. thank you. once again, from washington, moderator robert costa. robert:good evening. house democrats are not waiting for special counsel robert mueller to finish his work. two months into their majority, they're stepping u investigations into president trump and this week the broad scope of their efforts became clear. the house judiciary committee contacted 81 individuals organizations associated with mr. trump, requesting documents as they seek answers on possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power. if anyone stonewalls, subpoenas could fly. joining me tonight, jonathan swan, national political reporter for axios. shawna thomas, washington bureau chief for vice news.
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susan glasser, staff writer for "the new yorke and author of the weekly "letter from trump's washington." and joshua gen, national correspondent for bloomberg "businessweek." shawna, you've covered capitol hill for years.at demo now are broadening the scope of this investigation. all of rheseuests. yet they're getting ahead of robert mueller and his time line. why is that? shawna: i don'think they see it as getting ahead of robert mueller. i think they see it as, for the last two years of the trump administrati h, we haven't any power to do anything, it's time to gather information and see what's out there and if you don't start now, you'll put out 81 requests, who knows how many tcuments they're going get back. that will take a long time to go through that. so while it seems like they're getting aheadf mueller, we don't know what's going to come out of all of this and like the mueller investigation, as we've said it will take a long time, don't know what the conclusions are.
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anything the house judiciary committee does or intelligence or t whatever, is goingo take a long time. i don't see it as getting ahead. it's trying to dig down into the informationmay be able to get a hold ofow. robert: jonathan, is the white house ready for this onslaught? jonathan: they were very slow to get ready. it was very obvious earlyast year that they were probably going to lose the. hou it still took them until november, really, to start preparing. don mcgahn was obviously his way out, the new white house counsel comes in, has to build a team quickly. they've got ready in a hurry but to add to shawna's point, what the house and particularly the judiciary, oversight committeese igence, are doing, they're assuming mueller will be narrowly constraed in his investigation, that he'll stuck to russia,si col, the campaign. and they're saying, hey, we want wa investigate trump's personal business, w to maybe look
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at jarrod -- reported thise morning and s the members, chairman cummings, saying we want to lk into jared kushner's family reality deal bailout last year so there are all these other threads they'll pull which really probably won't show up in mueller's report.ey shawna: on't know what they'll get from mueller's report, either, that will actually get delivered tous the of representatives. that's a murky thing so this -- they're trying to get as much of that as they can. robert: we saw f newsday that bill shine, deputy chief of staff, from fox news, is resigning his post. you wrote the "devil's bargain" inside the white house steve bannon, what does the departure of bill shine mean and who is fighting for president trump?
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joshua: i think the answer is trump himself. he said, "no collusion" 10 different times. the message from trump is these investigations is he's done nothing wrong, there was no collusion. bi shine, who was a powerful executive at fox news, got into the white house and decovered ma he didn't have that same power and trump is the one who decides hiswn message and conveys that. robert: susan, you wrote about the white house's lack of having news conferences anymore, how they'rell rin a bunker mentality inside the media operation around president trump. you've also covered foreign affairs f years. we saw the president referencing the paulanafort sentencing, 47 months in prison, significantly less than what was expected by osecutors and sought by robert mueller's team. what is the significance of paul manafort getting t reduced sentence? susan: she's now going to be sentence oon the other setf
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violations here in the district that he has pleaded guiltyo so he may well get more than these four years once addedp. let's pull back to president trump who's the main subject here.er nune, you have his former campaign chairman, his former national security adviser, a whole array of people around him who are guilty of criminal conduct org plead guilty to it. this is extremely significant. if nothingd,lse happe if robert mueller shut down tomorrow with no report, thi wouldlready be arguably the most serious set of criminals around the president of the united states that we've had since watergate, number one.er nu two, president trump, as josh alluded to, has been sort of mounting his own defense but he is essentially trying to get us to define it a "no collusion" and therefore, if that's what out of this, then everything is fine. and i think trump once again is shing his communications skills here perhaps but no
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amount of spinning, about no collusion, can eliminate the facts on the record which are already quite damning whenco it s both to the criminal world surrounding donald tmp, the serious questions that are already a matter of public record, not oboy his campaign's interaction with russian, agents of russia, during the campaign, his own apparented forekno of these democra hacks of the during the 2016 campaign and then there's the whole unfolding bucket of his binesses and the question is whether that's relevant in his presidency or not. if there's one thing to say, it's that the president faces jeopardy thatar has metastasized beyond what the mueller investigation is. robert: and faces potential legal problems on the issue of a rdon, at least his legal team does. we see michael cohen has admitted to lying to congress but is talking about the trump w
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team thik. mes lawyer's words dangling a pardon in the s of last year. is there any vulnerability tprre foident trump? how is his team handling it?na shi talked to some former u.s. attorneys who say dangling a pardon could equal obstruction of justice. it depends, it would be a hard case to prove because you don't know what's in people's heads, basically. ithe thing about michael cohen, thou that, because all of the information around this, did he talk to his lawyer aboutd it, is lawyer talk to president trump, was that michael cohen asking for a pardon, also michael cohen has admitted to lying to congrs before -- he's not the most reliable source. es theile somet president of the united states is also not the most reliable source, when the president gets on the chopper and basically says michael cohen is a liar, it's hard t rute that so that all kind of plays into the president's narrative.
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joshua: we als know, too, cohen spent hours and hours this week testifyinge befe house and we don't know what was said because that was in private. a howeveumber of democrats in those hearings have suggested in various interviews on tv that there really was important information that will come out and whenho t transcripts are released in three weeks, four weeks, it could clarify some of this and maybe kick into gear additional skills. shawna: he apparently brought a lot of documents with him to help prove what he's sayin susan: trump is winning his spin game, at least, every time we're talking about michael cohen and did he ask for pardon and is he credible or w not --re not talking about the serious by theions of wrongdoing president of the united states made under oath in public testimony before congress. we're not talking about the documented checks. this goes to why did i write about theack of professional press briefings, the lack of any kind ofra normalparency for
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any administration, democrat or republican, from this administration, because they would be forced to answer basic questions like why did president trump sign these checks, why did it switch from the president's trust to the president's personal account? there's so many basic questions poat aren't about spin. robert: all-ant questions but when the white house is looking at congress, jonathan, do they think there democrats overreaching? jonathan: yeah, they do. this week they saw as a gift, they did. robert: why? jonathan: because jerry nadler, chair of the judiciary committee, puts out 8 request you look at the list. it's exhaustive. it includes people that -- are they really going to yield much information? some of these people have been dragged -- michael caputo. robert: former president trump t.mpaign adviser. jonathan: ri compare that to the elijah cummings approach on oversight. very targeted, veryelerate, very narrow and concerned with
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sequencing. trump wants to call this witch hunt and i've spoken to democrats who have honestly -- senior house members, who were disturbed and irritated by what nadler did because they thought he just handed trump a witch hunt. yes, we can say the publicity doesn't matter but it actually does because the trump organization doesn't have many legal tools to fight back against congress. they know. it's a political fight for them. they'll fight every step of the wa it will be a congressional fight. it will go up to the courts. and of course the ultimate question of impeachment is a political fight, too. nancy pelosi's nervous about public opinion. she does not want them to get ahead of public opinion on the o questi impeachment and when jerry nadler puts out a list like thaiv he trump exactly what trump wants. robert: so it's a legal war, ali cal war and not an isolated battlefield because there are other issues beyond this investigation going on, all
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these investigations, such as the economy. the laborepartment said friday that u.s. employers added 20,000 new jobs iny, febru far below the 180,000 jobs forecast by economists. at tme same unemployment fell to 3.8%, down from 4% last month. meanwhile, the president, who's railed against trade deficits for years, saw this week the trade deficit surge to an historic high, more than $891 billion, according to the commerce department. the president also facing disappointing jobs numbers on friday, trade deficit amid a trade war. when you're on capitol hl, es that cause republicans to maybe get a little more uneasy about this white house? there are already tensions about a national emergency declaration, now new economic numbers. shawna: republicre nervous about this white house anyway and what 2020 will mean for them but i also think the problem for republicans and you can talk about thes more but tax bill
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is all wrapped up in this, as well. is that they want toun on trump's economic numbers and it has been a good refrain for him for the most part for the two years that he has builts whatevering on with the economy that's doing well, he's continued it and that's great.if he president does that have to run on and the republicans behind him do not havo that t run on, then all he really has to run on is running against, really, jerry nadler and his witch hunt and that may not help. jonathan: i would say two things. one is, trump has had pretty good growth, a continuation of obama growth. the unemployment numbers are good. but trump made two promises on the campaignhi trail were fantastical annn they're now g up against reality. the first one is that he's somehow going to be able to change and reverse these giant structural trade deficits. the idea that a $330 billion trade deficit with china where this is a country that has low wages and they sell a ton of cheap goods into america -- the
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idea that one president through his personal magic can reverse that, it's coming up against onality. the s one, and people forget this but on the campaign he said, i'm going to get rid of the debt. susan: it's the highest it's b evn. jonathan: i'm going to eliminate a few departments. shawna: saying that mexico would pay for the wall was fantastical. joshua: there are other issues the white house has to deal with. the low jobs number was scary to economists because it jived with other recent data, consumer spendi slowdown, slowing housingrt s g.d.p. falling as the stimulant effects of the tax cuts wear off so the fear for trump, if these numbers aren't an aberratio the economy could be in real trouble. it's worth pointingut two things. there was positive news in the reports. the low number could have beebe
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anation. you tend to look at these things in three-month averages. the three-month average for jobs, 186,000. the other good news, year over year, wages a growing faster in the last year than at any point in the last decade so there are takeaways trump can hold up to say things are getting better. shawna: those are really nuanced takeaways.n' joshua: i think wages going up is nuanced. that'sng one t lot of americans can feel in their own lives but if the economy slows down and grows into recession, that cou be a problem they'll also feel in their lives. robert: do you think t could prompt the president to take more dramatic action on trade with the chinese, with xi jinping? susan: it's an important point because timing is everything and these cumbers areing in the middle of trade talks culminating, before there's ncing to be and the white house did annthis week there is going to be a meeting between
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president trump and jinping xi and after the collapse of the north korean summit with kim jong-un so the pressure is on him to come up with a deal. the question is, is it any deal? is he so looking for a positive result to tout that he'll make one very few experts that i've spoken with who are china trade experts believe that structural revolution of the kind trump has effectively promised is realistic at this point. so then the question is, wille nonetheless meet with jinping xi and declare it to be the case even if it's not. jonathan: and to pick up on susan's point. the thinghat china hawks, people who are really concerned about this are worried about is something like trumpaid today where he said i think a china deal would be great for the stock market. robert: a reactive deal? jonathan: correct.
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basically, the chinese want to pull out their checkbook and a bunch of soybeans and gas and trump with beat his chest and show off all the deals and then give vague, wishy-washy language, about stealing american intellectual property and forcing the transfer technology from american businesses, the stuff that really matters china has no interest in delivering on that. robert: meanwhile, job nbers, trade talks, investigations -- capitol hill, there was infighting this week or a resolution condemning hate and bigotry, revealing cracks among democrats who debated intensely. the democrat controlled house adopted the bill. the measure was in response to comments related to israel from eshman congresswoman, elhan omar, that have been criticized asnti-semitic. >> i don't believe it was intended in an anti-semitic way
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but t fact is, if that's how it was interpreted, we have to remove all doubt, ase we hav done over and over again. president trump: the democrats have become an anti-israel party. they've become an anti-jewish rty. robert: the country is understandably on edge about the ri of anti-semitism when you think of the tragedy i charlottesville, the massacre at a pittsburgh synagogue. is debate about the congresswoman's comments, a freshman democrat, have also thesed fault lines in democratic party about israel and foreign policy. what's your rd on what happened this week as the ermocrats went at each o about how to frame this legislation? shawna: i think what they realized is that thetuled into an even larger conversation, not just about anti-semitism, but about racism and a bunch of other things. and while a lot of people are pointing to sort of bernie sanders and alexandria ocasio cortez supportn of e omar,
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part of the support she got was also from the black caucus, not because of the words she said and things seen as anti-semitic, but because they felt that a person of color was being attacked in a way that a lot of people who say things that are almosus as bad or just as bad, especially on the republican side, have not really reen attacked for. so t was this fissure of, do you understand kind of how thi a look how this feels when everybody is ganging up on thisa but i think the thing that happened after they passed that anti-hate resolution wch was anti-hate on multiple levels, not just anti-semitism -- is that 23 republicans voted against it which showed air -- they messaged this pretty well against the democrats. they really forced the democrats into a corner to really, witho naming her, condemn one of their own. and then 23 of them voted against an anti-hate measure that was anti-white nationalism
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and anti-semitism and changed the story instant instantaneously.rt rowe're seeing a debate in the u.k. with the labour party about israel, reckoning among those who count themselves part of the rising left. joshua: there is and i think thatar was of what drove so many american jews and others to be afraid of the comments made by oma the u.k. has been roiled by issues of anti-semitism. what was interesting here, though, was that there reallywa a revolt or backlash, as e awna said, to the idea that omar wouldngled out. a lot of republicans i talked to eris week on the hill were not happy about comments but were galled by the fact that a tand upt would have to and apologize for this when such terrible tngs are being said every day by republicans like steven king who's made comments
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in support of white supremacy, president trump who has retweeted anti-semitic images and said other things. what it d was illuminate a eplit in the democratic party that might not h been there 10 years ago. ident trump saw ese comments and commented on them today and seems to be already running against the democrats, as ai-israel, for 2020. jonathan: right. jewish voters have overwhelmingly voted democrat for a long time. this is something they're trying shift. robert: we'll be paying attention to all these issues and important debates. our conversation continues at 8:30 p.m. live on the "washington week extra" live on facebook, youtube and our websiti' robert costa. have a great weekend. ce announr: corporate funding is provided by --
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>> i was able to turn the aircraft around and the mission around and was able to save two men's lives that night. >> my first job helped me to grow up quickly. that will happen when asked to respond to a coup. >> in 2001, i signed up for the air force. two days later, 9/11 happened. >> babbel, a language program that teaches real life conversations in a new language ersuch as spanish, french,n, italian and more. babb's 10 to 15-minute lesso are available as an app or online. more information on babbel.com. announcer: funding is provided by - koo and patricia yuen through the yuen fouation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public
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