tv Washington Week PBS July 19, 2019 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
robert: a reckoning on race and president trump. i'm robert costa, welcome to "washington week." president trump: when you see the four congresswomen, if they don't like it, let them leave. robert: president trump inflames racial tensions, criticizing four minority women who serve in the house. after republicans voice concerns, he backs away from the chant. but defends his supporters. president trump: those are incredible people. those are incredible patriots. robert: democrats and just a few republicans rebuke him in the house. i know racism when i see it. i know racism when i feel it. robert: we discuss another turbulent week next. announcer: this is "washington week."
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koo and patricia yrough the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, moderator robert costa. robert:this week, as my colleague ashley parkern wrote "the washington post," a racist suggestion from president trump that fou congresswomen of color go back became anly angry rg cry and tonight the fallout continues to grip washington and the nation. president trump is defending himself and his supporters. he is swatting a awayusations of racism even as thousands roaredsend her back" at a rally in north carolina on wednesday. here's what the president said today. ump: i'm unhappy ere the congresswoman goes and said i'm going to be the president's nightmare. she's goingo be the president's nightmare. she's lucky to be where i shes.
robert: meanwhil representative ilhan omar of minnesota, a docrat, was welcomed home on thuday night anpoke out against the president. >> we a going to continue to be a nightre to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us and we are not deterred. robert: what's next? and what have we learned? joining me with insights and analysis, bob woodwar pulitzer prize winning author and associate editor of "the washington post." nancy cordes, chief congressional correspondent for cbs news. amna nawaz, national correspondent for the "pbs newshour." >> and susan page, the washington bureau chief for "u.s.a.oday." bob a susan, you've been covering politics for years and have observed thede prey up close. the stock market is up. the economy is str yet the president, he turns to race, turns to these tweets.
why doese do this?b: asier to describe the creation of the universe. but we have to try to understan where it's coming from and if you'll give me dispensation here. i go back to watergate, the day that nixon resigned in the famous farewell address. he was sweating and talking out his mother and his father and finally kind of like this is the essene of what i learned. he said, "always remember, others may hate you but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them and then you destroy yourself." hate was this piston, this poison in theon presidency and i think now 45 years later -- and we've seen it in various incarnations -- but this
is about hate. this is about the legittization of angerend h and it's one of the saddest moments for the country, i think, and quite frankly, i think trump is not going to help himself with this, even though people say, oh, the base loves it. i don't believe it. susan: race is the piston, i think, per president political career. the animatingm principle fhe beginning of his campaign was mexicans are rapists and criminals, we need td a wall. we heard it in recent weeks before the latest controversy, adding a citizenship question to the census, reducing asylum applications, making it harder for people to get asylum, refugees in the country. there is a consistent pattern but i do think the president crossed a new line this week. he's always been provocative.
eaat's part of his a but to suggest that four u.s. togresswomen should go back the countries they were originally from is something we've just never heard from president in modern times. robert: does it fit a pattern, amna? amna: absolutely. the president trafficking in racist tropes is. nothing n but this is one of the oldest racist tro ts in book. this goes back to the founding of this country. every single group that has arrived on this country'sfr shos the jews to the italians to the irish to thehinese who helped us build our railroads to the mexicans broug in to fill a labor shortage, then deported, japanese americans interned after pearl harbor to black kids to brown kids after 9/11. this has been with us since the beginning of this country. the president rolling it out at this point changes the game but let's not forget the president
has this impulse. he had a bad week starting with a judge saying young cannot c your legal team as you fight to get the question ofitizenship on the census. it was a loss for him. a week of headlines about terrible conditions at the border. he's not doing wt he said he would do there. and the weeks -- week was capped off by a disastrous visit by vice president pence t of those detention centers and at that point theresident decided to lean in and get into the middle of this battle that speaker pelosi was having with the members of the squad.d robert: e walk back his comments? was he trying to walk away from the center back chants? what do you make of how he's handd the tweets and the rally?nc he walked them back for 24 hours and then walked back the walk-back and was back to chantin the people "send her back" in the white
house throughout the day on iday. and it almost -- we've seen this time and time again. he was clearly annoyed by the reportin that his wife had to step in and his daughter and even congressional republicans had sent a message to him via vice president pence, that they didn't think this was going to set the right tone for the party. and so after d saying the before that he was unhappy with the chantg, whichrankly didn't make much sense because he in that same speech said himself multiple times, they should leave, they should leave. but regardless he was expressing some contrition and all that changed 24 hours later and heay was back tog it was a great group of fine people. bob: but whatever label you put on this, it really is intolerable. it's not something -- i know a lot ofns republi and they don't like this. maybe they're not going to speak out at this point. but this is not sething that
works. and the other side of this -- and i say this in a straightforward way. i think the "new york times" did wonderful story talking to people who come from oer countries and they told theirst ies of being in the parking lot or being in school and someone says "go back home" and as tou goough this, you realize, this is really painful. ths awful. this is not just being told something that is iersonal and it's a stab at the heart for people. and that the president is doing this -- robert: it's bigger than politics. it's about identity, about what it means to be an american.na i will say as someone who has been on the receiving end oh
e comments over the course of my life, it's awful. it's awful whether it's someoner in y twitter messages or d.m.'s or someone screaming out the side of a car. and you're absolutely right. it gets to the heart ofe. something e it is different in this time. but to your earlier point about republicans at this point, bob, what's bn striking for me to see is how president trump has basically fced everyone to pick a side and even if you are not coming out anda saying, a fellow party member of his, yes, this is racist, the failure todo o at this moment, the failure to unequivocally say, i believe this to bein dam for this country is almost just as damaging. >> i think there are two questions. one is how does this rank through our culture in a big way and a narrow one about whether it works politically and i don't think we know the answer to that. had a poll this week, before the rally, after the tweets, in whh we asked americans is it
unamerican to -- were the president's tweets unamerican? and we found that democrats said yes and republicans said no. and we found that do you agree with the president's tweets? republicans by two to one sd they agreed with the president's tweets that the four congresswomen shoul go back to where they originally came from. so it clearly works with of his base and the question is, is the reaction that other americans have in finding it offensive and unamerican, how does that play out in an election where we know t states that are going to determine this next election. it's going to be michigan and pennsylvania and wisconsin, which have a lot of white working class voters. bob: but a poll 15 months before the election -- robert: it gives us a snapshot. bob: an invalidnahot, i think. robert: we got a snapshot of house minority leader, kevin macarthy, spoke with nancy this
week nancy: you said a short time ago that the chance of -- chants of "send her back" have no place in this country. why is it a problem when people t?anted but not when the president tweets >> the president clarified that he did not tell somebody but talked about the love of the country. nancy: he said they should go back. >> if you want to read h clarification, he talked about the love of this country and said if you don't love this country, you can leave. robert: nancy, what was your takeaway from leaderccarthy and talking to other top republicans on capitol hill this week? only four rublicans and one independent broke from the president on this house democrats resolutn condemning his remarks. nancy: i was startled by his willingness to tie himself in rhetorical knots in order tci avoid cring the president. he was clearly uncomfortable with the chant and wanted to get that message out there but unwilling to criticize the president at all even though the
president's words inspired the adant. so he a number of caveats for why there was nothing problematic about what the president did and i think tt republican leaders really missed an opportunity here. tch mcconnell was mildly more critical but did a both need to tone it down, with something that was so egregious. it's clear that republican leaders wanto choose their battling with the president and avoid criticizing him and creating a rift h with unless they absolutely have to but this was one of those cases where what he said was so universally r judged to be oe line and inappropriate that i thought they had some cover to basically, as a block, stand up and say that was wrong and they didn't do that. there are so many s iuations whers more of a gray area. this one wasn't. and yet you sawll kevin macarthy and mt republican leaders shying away from
condemnation whatsoever. robert: president trump said real power is fear.ha is what drives republican decision mig this --ecision making on this front? bob: i think you're absolutely right. we don't know what the play on all of this. i think there comes a point where political badminton becomes moral badminton and this may b an example of where this is an amoral offense. if wead kevin mccarthy here on truth serum, you know he is not applauding that. rort: why did he say it? bob: it's party unity, it's trump' i power ands weakness that people have but i am convinced that -- how's somebody going to really think this is a
great thing to say. >> they don't like wha he said t the problem is they do like the fact that he is making these four women the face of democratic party. that part of the strategy they're on board with so that's why they're walking a tight rope here because they don't mind tho atic party being painted as this far left progressive socialist party. robert: you've gotten to know some of these women. you were with them recently atwa events in washington, amna. how have they handled this? being in this intense spotlight? amna: if you l tk atse four women, they have been consistent. this is exactly what they ran on, exact what they saidhey were going to do and they've continued to send the same messages and stick to their messages even through this battle with the president. to nancy's point about republicans twisting themselves in knots, the last 48 hours we've watched people like kevin mccarthy and lindsha g even who four years ago himself
called the president a race baiting bigot twisting into a pretzel to add nuance to language that doesn't require nuance to understand but the president is pushing the focus on these four women, making it a battle about these four women. robert: lling them anti-semitic.am : calling them socialists. at the same time he's pulling theublican party further and further away. bob: he doesn't want a battle with just those four women. he wants them to be the label and the face of the ltist socialist democratic party. now, whether he's justal accide stumbled on something that may work for him in the end or not, but -- tru doesn't think strategically. he thinks impulsively. robert: what about speaker pelosi?
you're writing the book on the speaker, historic speaker. she's had tensions with members of the group. representative ocasio-cortez is a democratic socialist. o representatir has had a different view on israel than many mainstrm democratic members of the leadership. at the same time, this has unified the democratic party. is there pressure on her to move forward with impchment with urgency because of this week? enormouslyit's complicated for her. it united the democratic caucus but she was trying to minimize these four young members of congress. other democrats in the caucus make the point -- she mad this point -- they're the only represent indo not the caucus more voters than they have themselves although they have a huge social media presence and momentum among the most progressive democrats. this upended her efforts to put distance here and put them down a littleec bitse of course the democrats united behind them. and it did fuel calls for impeachment but nancy pelosi
remains totallyonsistent that impeachment would be the wrong thing for democrats to do and she is trying tol that back. robert: as we've discussed, this debate over the president and race is not isolated. it affects e tire presidency and trump white house's relationship with congres thiseek, immigration remained at the fore. the debt limit looms and former special counsel robert mueller is prepared to testify next week. on imm tration, aclu filed lawsuits trying to block the mrump administration's move to end asy protections. the new rule was put in place to try to tamp down the o numberf people crossing the u.s.-mexico border. amna, what does the new rule mean for migrants? amna: the rule is being challenged. it effectively ends anyrbility largely central american migrants coming from non-contiguous countries to come into the u.s. and claim asylum which is byge and l what's been happening with those numbers going up over the last
year and a half in the last couple of months had ticked down to seasonal historical trend. the rule, you can't come into the united states ande m an asylum claim if you haven't already made the claim innt another c you passed through -- el salvador, honduras and guatemala, where most people crossing the souther border are coming from. the reason it's problematic is becae it's illegal. anyone under national law or u.s. law can come into the united states and make a claim at a port of entry. you have to have agreements with other countries. we know the trump administration was trying to get guatemala to sign on as what they call a third sa country. they were unable to do that but pushed ahead with the rule anyway. it's now challenged in court and it's the same story again and again with some of the trump to endtration's effor even legal migration to the country. robert: we also saw this week thctg secretary of the department of homeland security
grilled on capitol hill about the migration centers and the immigration policy. are democrats o making progres are they still feeling like they're stymied with thi administration on immigration? >> i think they very much feel stymied. this issue sort of sank away from the headlines this week because so much energy was taken up by the feud with the squad but i think you had something like 20 or 25 democrats from the house and senate down at mccallin, texas, just yesterday and today. so they're eager to put that back in the headlines. this is becoming parties partisan fight, the president and republicans arguing that if conditions are bad, b it'sause democrats haven't given us the money we need to improve the situation and democrats arguing you're the one putting all the people in detenon camps and i you didn't, you wouldn't have these terrible conditions. robert: the white house and congressional leaders negotiate over ant spending agree to
raise the nation's borrowing limited befors congress lea for recess. the u.s. government hasn't been able to borrow since march when a cap on borrowing took effect that promptedhe latest talks. the debt limit again. you wrote a book on it, "the price of politics." bob: unfortunately i did and it sounds like an abstraction but's not. it actually can sink the economy and peoe don't really g that. i think lots of people on the hill really don't get that. so it's a dangerous time and i think we may look back on this summer and a lot of the skirmishes, though important, the real issues are financial stability and possible war. robert: why doe matter? would interest rates spike? the stock market rattl if the debt limit is not extended? bob: yes because treasury bills aren't as valuable because they're not going to pay the
interest because the not allowed to pay the interest. and you've got a whole financial system in the country and the world built around that so -- but i agree, it's not sething that somebody's going to go to the barricades over. >> both these issues, raising the debt ceiling and reaching an accord on immigration, we're not able to do either one of them easily and it's a sign of how politics have broken down so all we can do is have a big fight over provocative tweets. robert: would speaker pelosi cut a deal? >> it's interesting because speaker pelosi and republican leaders seem to haveonsensus over the debt limit but it seems we have a showdown cning betwhe president and his own acting chief of staff because president tru who has criticized republicans in the past for cutting deals too quickly on t debt limit, wanting them to hold out, is now saying it's sacred, you don want to mess with it. we know his acting chief of
staff felt very differently when he was in congress. he was one of the rabble-rousers who was forcing showdowns over the debt limit because he felt so strongly about getting concessions from democrats, importantly budget cuts so it will be interesting to see how those two negotiated. robert: when the president came in, u.s. governmen had 19 trillion in debts. now it's over $22 trillion. even if youe nic mulvaney, you're now on the inside of president trump. >> we don' e knowctly what's happening inside the administration. it was interesting to see steven mnuchin and larry cut low out with that same line stressing we will reach a deal, this is crucial. robert: they want the market to stay up. >> absolutely. the messaging is there the
qution ishat's happening behind the scenes towards agreement. robert: what does speakerwa peli ? more spending on non-defense programs? >> more spending on veterans programs. republicans are insisting on offsets. that's one of the things getting negotiated o the hill. you feel like the congressional leaders could negotiate a deal.t it's justng it through this process, including the white house, that makes it so difficult.rt ronext week, bob, robert mueller comes to capitol hill. we have about a mute left. one thing you're looking to hear from? mr. muell bob: something new, something concrete. hard evideade. he it clear in his report on the major issues, trump gets off for the moment. now, that can change in a minute. the other issue is potential war. i did a chronology, 20-page chronology abo iran. robert: are we heading to war? bob: you read the chronology and
you say the title o march to war. robert: the march to war.el bob: god us. robert: what a way to end this program, indeed. god help us all.d thanks, everybody, for watching. coming up on many stations, t "pbs newshour" psents inside the mueller report, a look at the results of the special cosel's two-year vestigation. tune in next wednesday for the "pbs newshour's" live coverage of the mueller hearings starting at 8:30 a.m. eastern time. i'm robert costa. have a great weekend. announcer: corporate funding for
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