tv Washington Week PBS March 15, 2019 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
♪[music] >> can president trump and speaker pelosir hold t parties together? i'm robert costa. welcome to "washington week." >> congress has the freedom to pass this resolution. and i have the duty to veto it. >> president trump vetoes legislation to end the national emergency. 12 senate republicans break, joining democrats in delivering a bipartisan rebuke in declaring a national emergency tos access fu sets a dangerousew precedent. >> this is not about the president. but this law, mr. president, is wrong. is a rebellion brewing among republicans? plus -- >> i don't think we should impeach a president for political reasons a w i don't thin should not impeach a president for political reasons. but you have to be ironclad in terms of your facts >> what's behind the speaker's
strategy? answers and analysis, next. ♪[music] >> this is "washington week." funding is provided by... ♪[music] >> babble. a language program that teaches real life conversations in a new language, such as spanish, french, german and italian and more. babble's 10- to 15-minute lessons are availab as an app or online. more information on babble.com. >> additional funding is provided by yuen foundation. committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting. d by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thankou! >> once again from washington,
moderar robert costa. >> good evening. we begin with a tragic storyhe that has world's attention. 49 people, killed. and at least 20 wounded inside a mosque in new zealand. the attacks unfolded in the city of christchurch. police have charged an australian man with murder. theunman publish a manifesto with racist and anti-immigrant creeds. yog me, bob woodward. and margaret brennan, moderator of "facehe nation," and senior foreign affairs corbett for cbs news's "face the nation," and jake sherman, senior writer for politico and coeditor ofok play president trump expressed his condolences on friday and when asked by a reporter h ife believed white nationalism was a rising threat, he said, no. and he called it, quote, a small group of people, with ve very
serious problems. end quote. margaret, aou report on foreign affairs, is the president correct in his assessment of the threat o white nationalism globally? >> it is not a problem t be minimized, even in this country law enforcement, f.b.i. has out 900 or so domestic terror investigations of that. they are linked to white nationalist groups. but there is a concern that the receipt kick and the actions of some of these group have only increased, in terms of becoming more hard-core. around the world, though, this is something we have people often blame a lot of this on the president, because he has used to his political advantage, playing on anti-immigrant toms. but i would argue, he's a symptom, not a cause of some of this. even out of theop en debt crisis, the rise of right-wing groups in greece and other countries in europe, really playingff of this wave of
migration that is only increasing economic disparities. there' anger, dislocation there. you heard hillary clinton in 2018ven talk about it and sayr that chancelgela merkel was dealing with weakening democracy in that country because of the migration crisis. i don't want to give too much credit to the theory of this 28-year-old killer by in i means but in -- by any means,ut it is becoming even more mainstream. and i would argue, partilarly in the case of anti-muslim rhetoric, it is accwated in a that you wouldn't accept hate speech about other groups. if you even look at president trump campaigning on banning an entire religion groups from entering this country, muslims and the muslim ban, it's hard to illed inhat, if you the blank with another religious group, that that would be in any way tolerated as receip rhetori. the president did not use the term terrorism.
>> what about inside of new zealand? what has been the response inside of that country? >> it was interesting to see the prime minister, a very strong woman, say, look, we are going to change our gun-control laws. so it's going to be interesting to see -- it's going to be important to see if that becomes oda or a precedent, not only in new zealand but elsewhere, to break thiseaock -- i mean, the insanity, the vileness ofin this of attack. you know, it just -- as they s say, itcks the conscious. >> we'll keep an eye on that and ke reporting on all of that. our hearts are with everyone in new zealand tonight but let's turn to the white house and the roiling debates here oonr immigra and executive power. president trump signed his first veto today, rejecting a resolution that wou have ended his national emergency.
12 republican sators broke ranks, supporting the measure that would have diverted fedoal money a border barrier. >> this for me is a matte of defending the constitution and the balance of powers that is core to our constitution. >> demrats said the number of g.o.p. defections should have been higher. >> he has been vindictive,us contempt calling out people who oppose him. so it's not v an easyote. >> bob, in your latest book, you quote something that candidate trump told us in 2016. real power is fear. when we look at this vote in the senate, the republicans, some of them broke ranks. but my of the stayed with the president. is it because of fear of a primaryhallenge, fear of his wrath? >> lots of politicsn this. i think in the end, it's a loser for trump and that anyone can read the constitution.
it's ceryar, congress controls spending. he is trying to divert from that. and on a small scale, but it's just not going to -- it's not gonna work. and we know it. and quite frankly, i think trump knows that. >> sue, when you look at senator tom tillis of north carolina, a republican, heriginally was opposed to the president's move. >> on principle. principle, opposed. >> but he flipped. why? >> not only did he flip, but he flipped in the moments leading up to this vote. it is one of the more spectacular flip-flops we've seen in the senaten recent years. i think it speaks to the politics of this. yes, i thi a republica afraid of a primary, afraid as a seens having distance from the president on his signature issue. the wall is the signature issue of this presidency. a republican like a tillis in state like north carolina, where you have a lot of ambitious
conservatives,ho would look at a vote like that and suddenly see a path to come at him. so his turning in the end, i just tornk speaksto the fact that republicans are so reluctant to go against t president, and it's even more remarkable when you know how many of them privately think that this is such a bad move. not thecyational emerg itself but trying to do this constitutional challenge. most of them privately are really worried about the long-term precedent this sets and they still stick with him. >> jake, senator t is up for re-election in 2020. we talked about his op ed.d that w principle that he had at first. a lot of senate republicans, theyo say it'she congress's role to appropriate money. was it the vote here, more about congress asserting itself than trying tod defesident trump or break with president trump? >> i think it was. i think it was congress tryingom to set sort of guidelines. i got the impression, after talking to members, and i think sue would say theha same, the white house said, come on, do this for us, do this for the
president. and senators were like, we've been doing stuffor you for the last two years, and this is a bridge too far. think in the case of tillis, yes, north carolina isg. blu what conservatives always tell me is you still need republicans to come out for you. and they're afraid that those cross currents, a competitive democratic candidate, plus a republican stayi at home, not coming out, is a dangerous combination. i agree with bob. this is a loss f the president. it shows that people are going to split from him. i don't think we're a entering new phase. i think it will be interesting to see whether the president strikes back. i don't believe he will. and tillis kind of sold his soul -- not his soul but sold his vote for a promise to work with trump going forward. we all know that the president often times says he's going to work ons legislatively and then never follows up. so it will b interesting to see how those politics play for tillishe >> whenresident looked at
this, he was told by majority leader mcconnell and others, this was a loser. yet he plowed forward. is that because he's making a case for his voters to stick with him i02 >> it's interesting, because as sue was just referring to, when you speakrivately to republicans, even some of them who voteddeith the pre, will say to you, i don't really know why we're having this fight. we didn't needo vit. so if there was a point the president and the white house was trying to make, it's not clear to his own partyxactly what that was. but you see -- you know, we're talking about -- and this is what i f fascinating, this debate within the republican party, are we constitutional conservatives or arey we b any means necessary trumpian republicans? which isf the sort o voting with the president. those who choose to go that direction make the case simply on, well, i do believe there's an emergency. they justify it that way. the conversation about whether this is actually, you know, hlly legal or correct interpretation o things are
supposed to be implemented makes a lot of republicans uncomfortable. >> bob, we're two and a half months into a divided government you've studied the presidency for decades. for a president to have this kind ofeft at this moment, in a divided government, whatel does it us? >> i don't know. but this is one of those issues that's not going down in the history books, i don't think, simply because people in congress covet few t things. bu thing they covet the most is the power to dec money is spent. they all know that conservatives, liberals, republicans, democrats, even k independenw that. so this is going to wash away. what's interesting is for trump to draw that line here and actually it's the first veto, astonishing,e after two years, and it's a kind of veto into the blue, because, you know, what does it mean?
and the other side of this, which -- which has interested me very much is, why didn't nancy pelosi make aru deal with on this? it's a small amount of money in terms of the fedgeal b she could have -- i know she is getting lots of praise b forng tough and kind of shoving it to him, but she could have gone in a practical sense and talked to him and sood, we'll give you this. it's a small -- it's small, but i want a, b, c, d and e. >> you're writing a whole book about president trump and congress coming out next month. what's your read on this moment, divided government? >> i think on that note with pelosi, i don't think she had much incentive to do that. i think sue would probably agree. i just think she had president against the ropes. and, you know, there's an interesting moment. i probably shouldn't say this, but there'sn interesting moment in our book where one of the characters says, a lotf people said, during the shutdown
fight, this is really a proxyho fight for is more powerful, nancnancy pelosi or donald trum. nancy pelosi won that fight. and i think she kind of brom therked off. >> but why shouldn't you say that? soon you're going to be outmarketting -- [laughter] >> well, you've written a few, that's right. w >> st about speaker pelosi? do house democrats override veto or try to? >> they don't have the votes. it's simpleyoath. need two-thirds in both houses and they're not even close. i do think this is also a bigger story, the story of executive power. this was a story in the obama presidency, in the bush presidente. part of the reason why presidents have been able to make these power grabs is that congress has been a weakened and weakened branch. and the executive overrea is, in some wayct a pro of legislative underreach, right? that they have not been onlegislating on immigra all these questions that have gotten to this point. so the fundamental, probl the brokenness of congress and a presidency that's going to use
that pucer vacuum to it up is going to continue to exist. >> speaking of vacuum, domesoec policy dsn't operate in a vacuum. avat does it mean for the administration to development on the foreign poifer as they face all of these challenges here at home?l, >> whe president shocked many people by not going for the deal he was presented withn north korea. john bolton really won that fight, one of his more hard-core advisors there. at this point, tugh, secretary of state mike pompeo left the door open again today despite north korean officials saying we might resume testing, which is really the bare minimum agreement that president trump was able to get out of kim jong-un. it's hard to effect firing off l r missile unless you test.
if they stop that, you've got to believe that diploma is gone here, but they are desperate to ntntinue to keep that door open at this p even with the knife fight you saw within the diplomats trying to sit down at the table in hanoi. >> bob, we see these tensions among republicans about executive power. we also saw it last weekend, vice president cheney talking to vice president pence, at a pte -- ata prieete securityng, taking on the national and instincts on foreign policy. is the republican party now cracking across the board? >> if i mayaythat was a great scoop, because you had the transcript of the between cheney and pence.it and heras just so clear. cheney is pushing, pushing. he finally says your foreign policy is like barack obama's.n, i m talk about a kick to the privates.
[laughter] >> that is it. and so this is a big issue, foreign policy, the theory of it. more important, the practice. i think the situation in north korea i dangerous. kim jong-un stiffnt presi bush -- president trump. i mean, he just said, no, not gonna do this. and trump pulled ay, somewhat gracefully, but he's not -- hees t like being stiffed. and so you got a situation that i would keep on the front of your mind. >>utheney, what's interesting there is he said whispered,y have which is that has been the dirty little secret of that of president trump's policies, they're the same as the obama policies, particularly the isi b campaing one of them. it was interesting to have him sort be confrontational on
that. we haven't yet heard, even from those on the 20/20 field yet. exactly what is america's role in the world? what do you think we're trying to do, and how do we do it? thatally haven't had conversation as a country. >> and we're talking about repuican debates on foreign policy. bu the democrats are dealing with their own debates, and on impeachment this week, house speaker nancy pelosi declared she is not interested in impeaching president trump forow. other democrats, like congressman schiff ofrn cali, chairman of the house intelligence committee, and senator chuck schumer said they support the speaker's statement but that impeachment not completely off the table. speaker pelosi's straty, is it to signal to those suburban voters whod helift them to the majority in 2018, we're not going over the line? i think it's multifaceted and complex. i think what she was trying to do was, as we all know, reporters are roaming through
the hallways every day in the capitol, sticking microphones in lawmakers' faces, saying, are you ready to impeach the prsident? pelosi saying, there's no impeachment now. she's also setting a guide, so when the mueller report does come out, if it's bad enough that they have to impeach, she can say, listen, i didn't want to do this, but this stuff is band this is illegal and we need to do something about it. and i think that was her general goal. and just one more thing. she said a lot of this stuff before. the only new part was sheai this is news. >> a progressive -- are prressive democrats unhap with her statement? >> i mean, progressive democrats have wanted to impeach tru in the last congress too. i do think, though,i f pel i agree with everything that jake said, that she was trying to take it off the table. but when she said, in order to go down that pass, it would have to be overwhelming and bipartisan. she may have s an impossible
bar, if you consider, i don't know even know what it would take to get any kind of critical mass to break with the president on that level. >> bipartisan could b level. >> but overwhelming is the other. >> yea and impeachment is a big step. and pelosis reali that. and it always, in the end, turns on the quality of evidenc and if you look at the evidence that is out i there, quite frankly have not seen the kind of clear evidence that there was something that trump did. there are all kinds of questions and mueller may come up with something. there's -- that's certainly ssible. but it's not out there. and i think that is the voice of speaker peli saying, this is the real world we live in right now. we haven't seen it. >> we've seen some evidence, through the mueer probeome out this week -- we saw a sentencing, another sentencing for paulanafort, the former trump campaign chairman.
sentenced in d.c. feral court top of what happened the previous week in virginia. s's now going to prison for quitee time,bout seven years. we saw in paul manafort's sentencing a lot of crimes about lobbying, tax fraud, bank fraud. when the white house looks at that case, are they looking at paul manafort is someone they want to pardon, or is it politicallyricky at this point, despite the president voicing support for manafort? it's certainly politically tricky. you even have lindsayram -- an ally of the president, cautioning against that. what i also think is interesting is what happened in manhattan, almost the moment that we heard that sentencing.re n d.c., which was -- you saw the southern districtyof ne move forward with ngveiling or the 16 counts that they are bg against paul manafort, an array of financial crimes in yet another court. that's significant because that could necessarily be wiped away
with a presidential pardon,it becaus happening at that state level. i think there's a lot to explore there with t sequencing of some of this. but the president continues to, you know, play down the idea of a pardon but leave the door open to it athe federal level. >> bob brought uper the mue report. on capitol hill, there was a vote this week to make the mueller report public. overwhelming support for that among democrats and many republicans. when you think abo that mueller report on the horizon, senator lindsay graham, mostly ally of president trump, already calling for a second special counsel to investigate the department ofat justice. ind of political war is coming on the hill? >> oh, man. a hugenkne. i t two things. a, there's mixed expectations for mueller. we were talki about this little bit before the show. a lot of people t thinkt -- are trying to keep their expectations tempered in the tse that i doesn't come up with anything huge. we don't know. we're not prosecutors or f.b.i. agents.
ihink the political war over how to interpret the mueller t says, no matter what i is going to be epic, given what we all know about congress. >> and howhe hardre gonna wanna see all the evidence that robert mueller saw. >> all the evidence, all t interviews, everything. there have been republicans who have said, put i all out there. >> yes. but the issue here is, again, the quality of evidence. and it's going to turn on that. and you can look at everything that's put out, and if there is not something thatoves the needle in terms of definingum te presidency or improving the trump presidente, which it could, if there's nothing explosive. so that is going to be a giant deal. >> a giant deal. bob, we'll let you have the last word tonight. thanks, everybody, for jockey us. our conversation -- for joining us. our conversation continues on the "washington week" extra.
i'm robert costa. ve a great weekend! ♪[music] >> corporate funding is provided by... ♪[music] >> babble. a language program t thatches real life conversations in a new language. such as snish, french, german, italian and more. babble's 10- to 15-minute lessons are available as an app or online. more information one. babm. >> additional funding is provided by yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities.
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