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tv   Washington Week  PBS  March 9, 2019 1:30am-2:01am PST

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robert: democratic demands. talk of pardons. and tensions in both parties. i'm robert costa, welcome to "washington week." president trumpra od and defiant as democrats push ahead on probes into his campaign, administration, and business. president trump: it's a collusion hoax. robert: and he knocks his former lawyer. >> i have nev f asked nor frod i accept a pardon donald trump. president trump: michael cohen lied about the pardon. robert: democrats clash over anti-hate legislation. next.no cer: this is "washington week."
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funding is provided by -- >> i was able to turn thean aircraft arounthe mission around and was amee to save two 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 language programth teaches real life conversations in a new language such as spanish, french, german, italian and more. babbel's 10 to 15-miessons are available as an app or online. more information on babbel.com. announcer: funding-s provided by koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities.
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the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, c moderator robeta.ro rt:good evening. house democrats are not waiting for special counsel robert mueller to finish his work. two months into their majority, they're stepping upio investig into president trump and this week the broad scope of their efforts became clear. the house judiciary committee contacted 81 individuals and organizations associated with mr. ueump, ring documents as they seek answers on possiblu obion 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 yorker" and author of the weekly "letter from trump'sn waon." and joshua green, national for bloomberg "businessweek." shawna, you've covered capitol hill for years. democrats now are broadening the scope of this investigation. all of these requests. yet they're getting ahead of robert mueller and his time line. why is that? shawna: i don't think they see it as getting ahead of robert mueller. i think they see it as, for the last two years of the trump administration, we haven't any power to do anything, it's ti to gather information and see what's out there and if you don't start now, you'llutut 81 requests, who knows how many documents they're going to get back. that will take a gong time too through that. so while it seems like they're getting ahead of mueller, we don't know what's going to ce out of all of this and like the as we'venvestigation said it will take a long time, we don't know what the conclusions are. anything the house judiciary
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committee does or intelligence or whatever, is gng to take a long time. i don't see it as getting ahead. it's trying to dig down into the information they may be able to get a hold of now. robert: jonathan, is the white hoe ready for this onslaught? jonathan: they were very slow to get ready. it was very obviousarly last year that they were probably going to lose the house. it still took them until november, really, to start preparing. don mcgahn was obviously on his way out, theewhite 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 thla house and partiy the judiciary, oversight committees, intelligence, are doing, they're assuming mueller will be narrowly constrained in his investigation, that he'll stuck to russia, collusion, the campaign. and they're saying, hey, we want to investigate trump's personal business, we want to maybe looat
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jarrod -- reported this morning and some of the members, chairman cummings, saying we want to look 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. tawna: they don't know w they'll get from mueller's report, either, that will actually get delivered to the house of representatives. that's a murky thing so this -- they're trying to get as much that as they can. robert: we saw news friday that bill shine, deputy chief of staff, from fox news, i resigning his post. you wrote the "devil's bargain" inside the white house about steve bannon, what does the departure of bill shine mean and who is fightingnt for presi trump?
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joshua: i think ther ans is trump himself. he said, "noollusion" 10 different times. the message from trump issthese inations is he's done nothing wrong, there was no collusion. bill shine, who was a powerful executive at fox news, got into the white house and discovered maybe he didn't have that same poher and trump is one who decides his own message and conveys that. robert: susan, you wrote about the white house lack of having news conferences anymore, how they're really in a bunker mentality insidehe media operation around president trump. you've also covered foreign affairs for years. we saw the predent referencing the paul manafort sentencing, 47 months in prison, significantly less than what was expected by prosecutors a sought by robert mueller's team. what is the significance of paul manafort gting the reduced sentence? susan: she's now going to be sentenced on the other set violations here in the district
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that he has pleaded guilty to so he may well get more than the four years once added up. let's pull back to presidenthe trump who's main subject here. number one, you have his former caaign chairma his former national security adviser, a whole array of pple aroundim who are guilty of criminal conduct ory pleading gui to it. this is extremely significant. if nothing else i happened, robert mueller shut down tomorrow with no report, this would already be arguably the most serious set of criminals around the president of the united states that we'vead since watergate, number one. number two, president trump, as josh alluded to, has been sort of mounting his own defense he is essentially trying to get us to define it as "no collusion" and therefore, if that's what comes out of this, then everything is fine. and i think trump once again is showing his communications skills here perhaps but no amount of spinning, about no
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collusion, canhe eliminate facts on the record which are already quite damning when it comes both to the criminal world surrounding donald trump, tou se questions that are already a matter of public record, not only about his campaign's interaction with russian, agents of russia, during the campaign, his own apparent foreknowledge of theses criminal h of the democrats during the 2016 campaign and then there's the whole unfolding bucket of his businesses and the question is whether that's relevant iis presidency or not. if there's one thing to say, it's that the president faces jeopardy that far has metaasized beyond what the mueller investigation is. robert: and he faces potential legal problems on the issue of a pardon, at least his legal team does.ee weichael cohen has admitted to lying to congress but is talking about the trump
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am this week. his lawyer's words dangling a pardon infhe summer o last year. is there any vulnerability there for president trump how is his team handling it? shawna: i 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 basically. ithe thing about michael cohen, though, is that, because all of the information around this, did he talk to his lawyer about it, did his lawyer talk to president trump, was that michael cohen asking for a pardon, also michael cohen has admitte to lying to congress before -- he's not the most relble source. and while sometimes the 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 to refute that so that all kind of plays into the president'sve narra.
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joshua: we also know, too, cohen spent hours and hours this week testifying before the house and we don't know what was said because that was in private. however, a number of democrats in those hearings have suggested in various interviews on tv that there really was important information that will come out and when those transcripts are released inhree weeks four weeks, it could clarify some of this and maybe kicko i gear additional skills. shawna: he apparently brought a lot of documents with him to help prove what he's saying. susan: trump is winning his spin game, at least, every time we're talking about michael cohen and did he ask forar an and is he credible or not- we're n talking about the serious allegations of wrongdoing by th presid the united states made under oath in public testimony before congress. we're not talking about the documented checks.o this goes why did i write about the lack of professional press briefin, the lac of any kind of normal transparency for
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any administration, democrat orf republican,m this administration, because they would be forced to ansr bas 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 that aren't about spin. robert: all-important questions but when the white house is looking at congress, jonathan, do they think the democrats are overreaching?th jo: yeah, they do. .his week they saw as a gift, they d robert: why? jonathan: because jerry nadler, chair ofryhe judic committee, puts out 81equests. you look at the list. it's exhauste. it includes people that -- are they really going to yield much information? some of these people haveeen pagged -- michael caputo. robert: formsident trump campaign adviser. jonaaran: right. co that to the elijah cummings approach on oversight. very targeted, very deliberate, very narrow and concerned with
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sequencing. trump wants to call thisch a w 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. ye t we can say publicity doesn't matter but it actually does because the trump organization doesn't have many legal tools to fight backai t congress. they know. it's a political fight for them. they'll fight every step of the way. it wl be a congressional fight. it will go up to the courts. and of course the ultimate question of impeachment is political fight, too. nancy pelosi's nervous aboutpi publicon. she does not want them to get ahead of public opinion on the question of impeachment and when jerrys nadler p out a list like that, he gives trump exactly what trump wants. rort: so it's a leg war, a political war and not an isolated battlerield because are other issues beyond this investigation going on, all
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these investigations, such as the economy. the labor department sd friday that u.s. employers added 20,000 new jobs in february, far below the 180,000 jobs forecast by economists. same time, unemploymen 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 dicit amid trade war. when you're on capitol hill, does that cause republicans to maybe get a littleore uneasy about this white house? there a already tensions about a national emergency declaration, now new economic numbers. shawna: 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 this more but the tax bill
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is all wrapped up inwe this, as . is that they want to run on trump's economic numbers and it hasn a good refrain for him for the most part for the last two years that he has built tatever is going on wit economy that's doing well, he's oentinued it and that's great. if the president that have to run on and the republicans behind him do not have that to run on, then all he really has to run is running against, really, jerry nadler and his witch hunt and that may not help. jonathan: i would say two things. onemp is, t has had pretty good growth, a continuation of obama growth.ym the unempt numbers are good. but trump made two promises on the campaign trail which were fantastical and they're now running up again reality. the first one is that he's somehow going to be able to change and reverse these giant structur the idea that a $330 billion trade deficit with chinahere this is country that has low wages and they sell a ton 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 reality. the, second o and people forget this but on the campaign he said, i'm going to getid of the debt. susan: it's the highest it's ever been. 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 withth low jobs number was scary to economists because it jived with other recent data, consumer spending slowdown, slowing housing starts, g.d.p. falling as the stimulant effects of the tax cutso wear off s the fear for trump, if these numbers aren't an arration,he economy could be in real trouble. it's worth pointing out two things. there was positive news in the reports. the low number could have been an aberration.
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you tend to look at these things in three-month averages. tehree-month average for jobs, 186,000. the other good news, year over fasterages are growing in the last year than at any point in the last decade so there aakways trump can hold up to say things are getting better. shawna: those are really nuanced takeaways. ua: i don't think wages going up is nuanced. thing a lot of americans can feel in their own lives but if the economy slows down and grows into recession, that could be a problem they'll also feel in their lives. robert: do youhink this cou prompt the president to take more dramatic action on trade wi the chinese, with xi jinping? susan: it's an important because timing is everything and these numbers are coming in the tddle of trade talks culminating, beforre's going to be and the white house did announce this 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 summi 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 positiv result to tout that he'll make one very few experts that i'veho spoken with are china trade experts believe thattu strl revolution of the kind trump has effectively promised is realistic at this point. so then the question is, will he nonetheless meet with jinping xi andeclare it to be the case even if it's not. jonathan: and to pick up on susan's point. the thing that china hawks, people who are really concerned about this are worried about is something like trump said 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 buy 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 of f technologym american businesses, the stuff that really matters, china has no interest in delivering on that. robert: meanwhile, job numbers, trade talks, investigations -- capitol hill, there was infighting this week over a resolution condemning hate and bigotry, revealing cracks among democrats who debated intensely. the democrat controlled house adopted the bill. the measure was in responsemmo ts related to israel from freshmangr cswoman, elhan omar, that ve been criticized as anti-semitic. >> i don't believe it was intended in an anti-semitic way but the fact is, if that's how
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it was ierpreted, we have to remove all doubt, as we have done over and overgain. president trump: the democrats have become an anti-isel party. they've become an anti-jewish party.e robert: country is understandably on edge about the rise of anti-semitism when you t think tragedy in charlottesville, thee massa a pittsburgh synagogue. this debate about the coresswoman's comments, a freshman democrat, have also exposed fault lines in theat demo party about israel and foreign policy. what's your read on what happened this week as the democrats went at each otherho abou to frame this legislation? shawna: i think what they realized is that they stumbled 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 berniesa ers and alexandria ocasio cortez support of elan omar,
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part of the support she got was also from the congrescuonal black c not because of the words she said and things seen as anti-semitic, but because they felt that a person ofolor was being attacked in a way that a lot of people who say things that are almost just as bad or just as tad, especially republican side, have not really been attacked for. so there was this fissure of, do you understand kind of how this looks and howhis feels when t erybody is ganging up on this woman. think the thing that happened after they passed that anti-hate resolution which was anti-hate on multiple levels, not just anti-semitism -- is that 23 republicans voted against it which showed a weird -- they messaged this pretty well democrats. they really forced the democrats into a corner to really,na witht ng her, condemn one of their own. and then 23 of them voted against an anti-hate measure thatas anti-white nationalism
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and anti-semitism and changed the story instant instantaneously. robert: we're seein 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 that was part of what drove sony american jews and others to be afraid of the comments made by omar. the u.k. has been roiled by oissuesf anti-semitism. what was interesting here, evough, was that there really was at or backlash, as shawna said, to the idea that omar wou be singled out a lot of republicans i talked to this week on the hill were not happy a cut herments but were galled by the fact that a democrat would have to stand up and apologize for this s whenh terrible things are being said every day by republicans like steven king c who's madements
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in support of white supremacy, president trump who has retweeted anti-semitic images and said other things. what it did was illuminate a split in the democratic party that might not have been there 10 years ago. robert: president trump saw these comments and commented on them todayms and so be already running against the forcrats, as anti-israel, 2020. jonathan: right. jewish voters haveov whelmingly voted democrat for a long time. this is something they're trying to shift. robert: we'll be paying attention to all these issues and important debates.r onversation continues at 8:30 p.m. live on the "washington weekxtra" live on facebook, youtube and our website. i'm robert costa. have a great weekend. announcer: corporateding is provided by --
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>> i was able to turn the aircraft around and the mission htound and was able to save two men's lives that n >> my first job helped me to grow up quickly. that will happen when you're asked to respond to a coup. >> in 2001, i signed uthe air force. two days later, 9/11 happened. >> babbel, a language program that teaches rl life conversations in a new language such as spanish,rench, german, italian and more. babbel's 10 to 15-minu lessons are available as an app or online. more o informationn babbel.com. announcer: funding is provided by --ic koo and pa yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differencei in our comes. the corporation for public
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broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbsom station iewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the letional captioning institute, which is responsibor its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org.] >> you're watching pbs. ar - [nrator] explore new worlds and new ideas
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