tv Washington Week PBS August 9, 2019 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
robert: the nation and congress at a crossroads. i'm robert costa. welcome to "washington week." deadly shootings in two cities leave the nationken. president trump says he is open to tougher gun laws. present trump: weeed intelligent background checks. robert: nt makeso commitments, and the n.r.a. pressures him to back off. democrats insist the targeted attack on latinos in el paso is a reckoning. >>nt this presias fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation. trump offers no moral leadership. robert: a focus on domestic terrorism as tensions continue between the president and the
intelligence community. nexts announcer: t "washington week." funding is provided by -- >> whatever they went through, w tht through together. life well planned. see what a raymond james financial adviser can do for you. >> babble, a language learning app that uses speech recognition technology and teaches real-life conversations. daily, 10 to 15-minute lessons erare voiced by native spe and are at babble.com. >> additional funding is provided by --tr koo and ia yuen through
the yuen foundation, committed .o bridging cultural differences in our communiti the corporation for publicti broadc and by contributions to your pbs station from viewe like you. thank you. once again, from washington, modetor robert costa. robert:days after the shootings in texas and ohio claimed the lives of 31 people, the gun debate has returned to washington. president trump expressed confidence on friday that he could persuade republicans to eventually back expanded background checks and said he is talking with t national rifle p:sociation. president tr think a lot of really meaningful things on background checks will take place, including red flags,g mpcludina lot of other very, verytant items. the n.r.a., they love our country. they loveur country so much and frankly i really think they're going to get there --
robert: many challenges remain. n.r.a. chiefayne lapierre said his group remains opposed to the measures under consideration calling them sound bite solutions. meanwhile, senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, has declined to call the senate back. while the president sai that mcconnell is totally on board, mcconnell's spokes man said he has not endorsed any legislation. >> i don't want to engage in finger pointing or making a point. what's happened after every one of these shootings is there's been a temptation to engage inl politi discourse rather than actually passing something. robert: joining me to tonight, nancy cordes, chief congressional correspondent for cbs news, pierre thomas, chief justice correspondent for abc news. amna nawaz, national corresndent for the "pbs newshour," and josh dawsey, white house reporter onr "the washinost."
nancy, you're on capitol hill talking to lawmakers and their advisers, what is mitch mcconnell's position right now? what is the kentucky senator going to do? nancy: it's a great question and i think a lot of democrats and republicans still don't know. hehe has said he wants to get something done on background checks which is notable. we have not heard that t froms republican leader before. he said there is growing support for background check legislation. however, we haven't seen that increase in support from republicans in the senate and mcconnell's own staff made it clear to reporters today that he himself has not endorsed anything specific. robert: so is this talk among mcconnellesnd his a and fellow republicans about giving cover to vulnerable republicans up for re-election in 2020 like corey gardner in colorado. or is it real?
nancy: democrats believe it is not real and believe the overtures he has made is to alleviate pressure on him to act. he had protestors outside his home in kentucky this week and they say the proof will come when the senate returns in 30 days. the senate will nol not come into an emergency session in august so they believe mcconnell is just trying to wait this out until the headlines subside and the country moves on to something else as we've seen happen time and time ain. robert: josh, is the white house going to give any political capital to gun control legislation? josh: that's the question everyone in washington is asking. president trump saying i can bring the n.r.a. on boardnend mitch mcc on board, talking about his popularity, his numbers. but talking to anyone on capitol hill, it comes down to what the
president wants to do. the west virginia senator said the only way to get this done is if the president gives republicans cover to get this done. you talk toawmakers, who have talked to the president this week, they say he's seriouss and this a president who's not a natural sportsman, who's not the biggest proponent of guns in the first place. he was a new york democrat previously so doesn't want to protect at all costs but he said after parkland he wanted to do background checks but theum momeent away. the question is, is the presiden willing to use his bully wulpit andling to go to districts where folks are ther there'snd w still an appetite for the president to do it. robert: is he going to lean on it or not? josh: it's really hard to know. he said this week he's deadly
serious about it. he said it at a fundraiser in the hamptons today and to the n.r.a. and toub rcans. the n.r.a. is concerned because wayne lapierre has talked to him four or five times this week. they're thinking of launching a campaign against this. but five weeks from now, the president could be in sixse or n other issues of his own making or someone else's making. robert: pierre, what's under consideration right now at lea among republicans and some democrats of red flag laws. whatreed flag laws? pierre: these are proposals that would allow theo police to go t a court and temporarily remove the weapons of someone who is at risk to themselvesr others. the big debates over whether you can put enough due process in the process to make conservatives comfortable that you won't take people's guns, for willy-nilly reasons, and you won't have extraordinary periods
of times where people would not have their weapons. so that is part of the debate. but i have to tell b you,, ntght now i think is a seminal moment for the c because i was talking to a colleague -- where can you go where there's not been a mas shooting? you can't go to elementary school, you can't go to the mall, you c't go to church, to synagogue -- literally every place that amecans onc held as safe havens are no longer safe so i think that's part of why you're seeing -- wal-mart. think of all the people who go to wal-mart every wee i think that's why this debate has a different feel to itouven a lot of people said after sandy hook and the children were murdered, if it didn't happen then, when would it. robert: i was in georgia this week andpoke to father of two,ub 52-year-old rcan, who said i've always supported the second amendmeou but saw what happened over the weekend, it's scary. he said i have two daughters and
i dot want to see anything happen to them. something has to be done on guns. amna, is this a threshold moment, a tipping point for the gun control debate? amna: if history is a guide, we have a tendency to come back to this issue immedtely in the aftermath of a mega-public event takesen another story over the news cycle and we don't revisit it until another tragicn happens. but the data is clear and this is what i haveng been dig through this week, public opinion is where it is president trump saying mitch mcconnell is on board with background checks puts mitch mcconnell in line with the rest of the country. the last poll we did before el paso and before dayton or the gilroy, california, soting, showed that the floor for public support among republicans, by the way, forniversal background checks that cover all gun sales and transfers and close the g show loophole was 86%. it goes up to 96% for democrats
and independents are in the middle so the public support foa increm steps that would have a proveable difference in reducing our serious gun violen problem, that's there. the political will isn't. robert: what aut toomey mansion. forhere's public support background cecks, the measure failed several years ago, expanding background checks to almost all gunurases. nancy: toomey mansion got four senate republicans on board in 2013. only two ofti them are there. toomey -- he's still for it --d uch -- susan collins of maine. to this date not a single other republican has said they would support it and a lot of democratave concluded that it doesn't go far enough and the house passed a stronger bill
in february that's sitting on mitch mcconnell's desk right now. ey want to take that up. so you've got a difficult situation here where ifou're going to get any more republicans on board, you might need to water down a bill that democrats already believe isn't strong enough.rt rojosh, you raised a question earlier about the n.r.a. it's been under siege because wayne lapierre's spending habits have gotten coverage in the "pos and elsewhere. does that give the white house more of an opening to move on guns because, do they perceive e n.r.a. to be in a weakened position? josh: that's a calculation the president is trying to figure out. i spoke tofficials at the ite house who said the president is asking if the n.r. has the power they used to have, can they bring the heat if they go against us in a fundamental way. i think the president's cal clation right now -- if my sources are correct, is that the n.r.a. ist weakened still has a lot of clout and if you look
at the n.r.a. itself, a lot of its members separately care about what the n.r.a. caresou the president, i think, sees an opening to take on the n.r.a. what he' trying to do, though, if you talk to some of the folks around him, he's not have the n.r.a. oppose it but have the mer.a. stay neutral, maybe put out some stas to say a little bit on the fringes but not wage the full throttle campaign that the white house is raid they might wage. robert: but this debate is bigger than guns. re's what f.b.i. director chris ray told the senate diciary committee during hearings last month. >> domesticio terrorism,nt extremism of all shapes and sizes, when it turns to violence, is something that is of great concernt is a continuing, steady, persistent, serious threat we're taking very seriously. a anul lot of the racially motivated violent extremism is motivated by what you might call
a white supremacist ideology. robert: pierre, you're at the justice department. how is.j the d addressing the rise of white supremacy and domestic terrorism?pi re: they're deeply concerned. right now the f.b.i. has 850 open domestic terrorism cas. a good chunk of those, 40%, involveed so-ca white nationalism, whistles, if you -- white supremacists. if you look at the tempo, they are the people killing people right now. you look at charl -- charleston, free of life synagogue in pittsburgh and now this in wal-mart. the gilroy, california, incident involving the garlic festival is investigated as a domesticte orism incident so it's of great concern. the f.b.i. set up a domestic
terrorism hate crime fusion cell this past spring to sort of try to marry the information that the bureau is getting in terms of the criminal side and the terrorism side so it's anon ongoingrn and there is a real feel that hate crime reports are pickingp, that something's afoot out there and they want to dealh w it. robert: amna, we learned friday that the el paso shooter sd he was targeting mexicans. you've been to el paso as part of the coverage. how is this shootin in el paso affected the latino community natially? amna: this is something that's not reported enough talking about the shothings. was the largest anti-latino shooti in america in modern history and i think for the shooter to say, as he did telle officials and learned that today, that he was targeting this one specific group, sort of confirms what w knew toe true from the beginning and we've linked that manifesto online this young man, as well. we knew this to be true, that there is a growing sse of
anti-immigrant, anti-lgbt, anti-semitic,i- aslim, anything other than white and male right now movement that is afoot in america. d i think we talked about this earlier when we knew the shooting happened, we knew this is someone who came from outside that community and went to the community to target latinos and here.ans to pierre's point, institutionally, we've h a a reluctance to talk about terrorism in this context that'e it's something part of the fabric of america, who we are. we had trouble moving from a conversation about imported foreign islamic extremist terrorism to what we know is endemic to america but the numbers are clear and resources are not. the obama administration tried to put resources to it. after the cha there was an office created that worked tot anti-recr people seen as vulnerable to the w
ideoloch is a global network of people. the trump administration in its early days basically gutted that office so there's a concern among national security officials that we're not putting the resources where they need to go. robert: what's the scene inside e west wing, josh, when confronted with criticism on the president's rhetoric about immigration and funding for diffent programs looking at whitnationalism? josh: his security adviser said the president has to do more about white supremacy, he has to take the allocation of resources and put them backo where they were pre-9/11, what tom bossert told me this week. robert: what about the rhetoric? josh: the rtoric on immigration, there could be an effort in the white house to cool that but the president, going into a re-election term, sees the invasion, talking about the caravans and immigration, as
key to his message. it's hmad tone a president who will tone down his rhetoric on immigration. we've wched him from 2015 all the way through the 2016 campaign and midterms, when meas up for election, a vote on him and his party and his beliefs, he dials up immigration rhetoric so it's hard to imagine until ie next 15 months you'll see a president saying he'llow tone immigration when it's central to his being. >> hisampaign was asked point-blank this week whether he would stop using the term "invasion" t describe mexicans trying to cross the border and the answer was no. robert: what about congress? are they going to act on white supremacy or mass shootings? >> i don't think congress has a good handle at all on what could be done towh deal wite house supremacy. i think they view it primarily as a law enforcement issue right now and i think that there is real confusion about is there
any way to try to curtail message boards and speech in the way tha these ideas get spread without cutting down on people's first amendment right. i don't think anybody really has a legislative answer to that problem right now, ptly because, as amna said, it really has been sweat under the rug for -- swept under the rug. robertedoes the d.o.j. h an answer for websites and social media efforts that foster white supremacy? pierre: it's a free speech issue in part.u on't have the tools that the f.b.i. used to apply to isis and al qaeda that they can apply to the kkk or neo ne.i, for exam if the f.b.i. sees someone on a bsite saying they're contributing money or funding or any kind of thingo isis or al qaeda, they can charge them with providing material support to terrorists. no such law exist to combat
domestic terrorism. robert: what about the dayton shooter? what has l the f.b.i.rned about that shooter's motives? pierre: they're sgll investigatt. he was obviously a troubled person, killed his own sister in that attac they're still trying to exploit evices, wes understand from our sources, that at least one device he had. ey've not been able to crack it to see what he may have been doing. but o'll share other thing with you. a number of people have come to me this week and asked what are we seeing that's different now and the biggest change that we're seeing is t number of instances where someone armed with a gun comes into a public place and tries to kill a bunch of pasple h grown exponentially. the f.b.i. began to study thi0 in 2 and the country used to average about six incidents a year where someone would come attem public place and to kill someone. in 2017, the last year they did an analysis ont it, was 30
cases in a year. so that's schools, malls, all the places i discussed. the is exponential increase in people showing up in these kinds of places and thereill come a point where i think the american public demand something be done. robert: amid all of this theres wanother cabinet shakeup. the president has chosen joseph mcguire, retired navy admiral, correct of the national ocounterterrorism center, serve as acting director of national intelligence toeplace dan coates. the announcement came hours after sue gordoumr two official at the agency, resigned. are members of the intelligent community, nancy, and leaders on capitol hill, concerned about this tumult or not? nancy: they're very concerned and the head of the senate intelligence committee, richard burr, made it clear he did notwa sue gordon to leave. he had a great deal of confidence in her and it's been very importanto democrats and republicans alike on capitol hill that the president hav an
independent voice at the d.n.i., someone who will tell him thingd hesn't want to hear especially since this is a president that we know does not always believe what he's told by his own intelligent community. so they were very con reports that she would be forced out. burr did say kind things about mcguire, said he has confidence in his ability to step into role. i think the thinking is that it could have been worse. robert: we've seen many acting people inside of the is there a cost to having that across the government? nancy: absolutely. especially whe you're looking at intelligence officials. one of the reasons we have those public airings and we go into the background, we get a sense of how this person would report to the president, what information is going to ter decision m there are more acting heads for national security and intelligence officesr than e before. we went several months at the pentagon without a hea as well. and it's troubling for a number
of reasons, also moving into an election year, russian interference will a big problem. it's one of the reasons that the nominee that president trump floated,sm congr ratcliff, was dismissed in a bipar bsan wayause they weren't worried about his credentials. josh: the president has said he likes acting heads, he thinks they're more pliable and easier to get them to do what he wants. historic turnover in this administration, almost double any p othersident departures. the president doesn't seem to be concerned. he named john ratcliff, congressman from texas, to run d.n.i. andia says the m does the vetting for me. names them on a sunday in tweet, by friday he drops out and he'so on someone else and there's time after time when dishaosures come out about cabinet secretaries that have been damaging whereke law say we're not going to put this person, confirmed.s
fo thrown out of office or resigned because of trudges -- troubles and it continues. robert: what does this signal to the intelligence community to have dan coates and sue gordon leave at the same time? pierre: some of the career professionals are obviously concerned b when i talked to my sources across the board, they say, look, we hobe ao do. politics are what they are but we have thrts from alaeda to the situation with iran to nort, ko we can't afford to take our eye off the ball so that is the good news that even though there's dion at the top, the career people in the field know they have to get it done. robert: who could the president nominate for d.n.i.? josh: pete hoekstra, ambassador for the netherlands, fred frye,
bolton's old guy. there would be a lot of concern in the intelligence community about him. the president says he has six to 10 names and he'll be analyzing d.n.i. choices and interviewing them and claims that aer the rat -- ratcliff debac that he's asking officials what they think in advance. robert: does this mean that secretary of state pompeo isfi ly in control along with national security adviser bolton? you have gene haskell who is low profile. nancy: and you have to wonder how long pomo will sti around if he wants to run for senate in kansas. this reflects the president's long-time frustration with the entire d.n.i. apparatus. he has chafed against the authority of the d.n.i. and so frankly he's looking for a way to diminish the role that die ctor of national intelligence has. the problem is that anybody who
ninates, if that person doesn't have the approval of republicans in thes senate, i not going anywhere. so he's realized he does need to work with the head of the senate intelligence committee. pierre: whoever he hires, that person will face the pressure from the people doing the wor to s these are the facts, this is what you need to know about this threat and we will not have it fudged. robert: thanks, ever yody. apprecia being here on a friday night. thanks for watching us but next on the "washington week era," we will talk with reporters from texas and ohio about how those communities in el paso and dayton are coping with this week. otch it on our website, facebookr youtube. i'm robert costa. have a great weekend.
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