tv Washington Week PBS September 6, 2019 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
pete: an indelible debate over the forecaster inhief. robert costa is away on assignment. i'm pete williams. welcome to "washington week." legislative sint, congress returns from its summer recess from a long agenda and a looming government shutdown october 1st. sofight over fire arms. will congress do something to address gunn violence? building wall. the pent gob is -- pentagon is diverting billions. and the house democrats are investigatingth wheer president trump is on those who do not
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thank you. announcer: once again live from washington, substituting for robert costa, pete williams of "nbc news." pete: f sirst wed other sympathies those left coping by dorian -- misery left by e hurricane dorian. we know that the gunman responsible for the rep cent ma shooting in odessa, texas failed a a f.b.i. background check and bought the gun he used from a private seller. the "new york times" reports the issue of new gun restrictions has largely been theoretical in part because the white house has in pollshowing thatun control is politically problematic for the president. mitch mcconnell the senate republican leader said this week on a radiowalk sho that he won't bring p any gun billss unresident trump suppos it. >> if the president took a
positi on a bill so that w ew we would actually by making a law and not just having serial votes, i would be happy to put it on the floor. pete: joining me ws peter baker from the namse. yamiche alcindor from nbc. nancy gerstman, philip rucker fromth "washington post." a and abby livingston. could congress pasa background check bill? about >> i would sayt is highly i put out a cal to a friend in midland which is where the shooting got start. i said is there any change of e sentiment of the people on the ground who felt this? he said absoluty not. on the flip side you go to t ate of texas and you go to houston, the suburbs of houston
is where these elections are being fought. and democrats think they have a real shot of luring republican women to vote for the candidates. and so i just don't see i jt happening. my ink several members of delegation have been in a mass shooting at the basebl practice. ifhat didn't move the on the issue, i don't see how any other mass sotings where. petepe more mass sotings in texas. three of them so far. has that changed the views of the texaselation in any way? getting in front of it this week. senator john cornyn who's an ber of thepowerful m senate. there was a surge soting in sutherland springs and it seemed to rock him. he made changes but nothing sweeping. pete: the agencies giving dills qualifying information for ckground checks. but what about him? >> we've seen this with himit
better in the immediate aftermath, his first instinct is think about gun ls. rom new york. he has been a democrat in the past. i don't think this is aed lineis for him. he was open to the idea. after timeasses, after the. r.a. weighs in after the poll sters weigh in and what his bthe ks about it, he may back off. i think abby is right.ht if it didn't happen in major way after parkland, after baseball game, what makes now any different? pete: every time something like this happens, the speaker says enough is e this will be different. do you get any sense at the white house that thiill be different ever will be after one of these? >> the president was really strong in the first couple of days after the back-to-back
shootings after that tragic weekend where there were shootings in both ohio and b texas. he sngd i'm go bring people together and get them to do things that they haven't done in the pt. we saw the slow backtracking of the preside. admitted to being on the phone with the president of the n. r.a. i asked him are you speaking to mass shooting victims. and the president said i went and visited them at the hospital and they love me. he did not say if he was having real mas sotings conversations with the victims. what that tells mes that he's making political calculations. and that usuallyeads to inaction on the r tublican side when it comes to gun control or gun law changes. pete: philip, what about the n. r.a.? it's having its own problem. but iterms of the white house is it still as powerful as ever? >> it's very powerful and with
republicans in congress. and you're right, there's a lot of scrutiny on t n. r.a. institutionally. they're having difculties as organization. but they still represent a t really powerful part of trump's coalition and of the republican voting. and that's why you see the president so reluctant toha provide sort of political conversation and presidential leadership t push for any gun laups. it's likely -- laws. it's likely thait they will put forth a set of proposals when congressets back the deal with mental health issue like ishment without changing gun laws. pete: do you all agree that it's unlikely congress will the gun laws in any way? >> absolutely crenth. pete: so -- absolutely correct. pete: we saw the fact that the defense department that work on onstruction projects will be delayed because nearly4 billioneis transferred from the pentagon budget to build parts of the
border wall. this affects projects in nearly half the states. so is there anything that congress with can do to change this? or is this a done deal for this budget year? >> the t democrats areing to figure out wha to do. one of the most importantoshings to in this is that the speaker of the house has been in that chamber over 30 years. her father was a member. and trumpk a shot the house of representatives singular power of the purse. this i extremely troubling for the democrats. whether or not they're ableo pull something togethe amid thet funding f that we face every september is an open question. pete: they can change it for the fisca year. the supreme court threw it o saying the partys that sued in california, environmental groups and communities didn't have any legal standine and that m it clear the president had the power to do this what about next year? will congress try to put t money back into th projects and try to get these projects
funded >> is it in the democrats' interest to say te're goingo ones to rescue the military families. 're not going to have a new middle school or is it in their best interest to say your president is the one that did that. if you want to change him, you have to vote him out. the argument tt the president is penalized people who are normally part of his base, the military community is one that resonates with the democthts. threradent could say, look, i've given the military a lot more money than obama did. and the question is whether that overcomes the concerns about these particular projects. pete: so a showdown over funding the border wall, shut the government down for a while, are we going to see that again? is the president going to ask for more money for the wall? >> wey well may. i don't think he's going tong st. it was his signature problemst promise.
and he knows his re- 14 months away. he's got to show some movement in terms of constructing thatwa . he fls like he's going to deliver on that pledge. he's not getting the money he needs from theroemocrats in congress. i think he' going to continue demanding for that money. but also continue these sort of budget maneuvers that we saw this week and may see in the future where he's tryin to reallocate the money and to abby's point i a way that t democrats allege unconstitutional. s one sourced that there's a real reluctance tockfill it for the military because it continues to encourage the president to continue to d this again. pete: there are some interesting peoplere that affected. this is normally something they would howl about. for emple mitch mcconnell. he seems not to be objecting to what the preside is doing. >> the republican party is in lockstep with the president in a
way we haven' seen before. they often quarrel even with members of their own party on issues like home state projects. we don'tee that with president trump. he's instilledti a discipline oa ar or a loyalty or whaver word you want to find so they don't --y t might stand up to they're not going get in his face. >> i think what's most trike -- striking abo a the loyal that peter is describing is they're choosing toheide with president over a middle school that's overcrowded where children have to e in the library because they can't neat the cafeteria. where teachers are being -- are having to use their own moneyeo educ students. and these are the children that are the children of service members. these -- one principal tol helene cooper in the "new york timeme that these are the children that are bearing the burdens of the war that we're
fing. itit an incredible thing that therepublicans are sticking with the president. but i shows you why they're sticking with the president on other hard things. pete: we l arnedutow the face of congress will be changing with more repub tcans sayiy will not run for re-election. this brings to 13 four the number of senate republicans who are retiring or resigning. so what is this? they just don't like being in the minority partyn the house? is that whats t about? >> i think the thing to take from texas and why we've h cad mald translate nationally. the filing. -- pete: the filing in line foror e general election? >> for re-election. so they have to decide sooner. so this is probably a leading indicato of otherlaces. think what we've entered to in texas is the first few were
generational change where maybe they thoht they were going to lo re-election. ngress is a very sociable place. people are saying, my friends aren't coming back. we're in the minority. why are we here?it entering io new territory at lst within my delegation. pete: the republicans don't think there going to takehe house next year? >> i think they would stick around for the possibili of chairmanships for the committees or subcommittees or lea the agenda and pass legs. it looks like that may not happen. pete: is it the fldt --t also be that they're tired of defending the president? >> when i think about all these retirements i think about being a reporterho is sticking s my camera or notebook in the republicans' faces. what about this tweet? a lot of times thelicans will say, yes, we back the prident.
as soon as theamas are off and they're off the record you have them saying, i don't want to thik about i think there is a little bit of fatigue in the idea that their legacy and reputations are tied to president trump. m it's aifferent republicanre party than whey of them joined. many joined for fiscalli disc, standing up to russiaia or free trade, a lot o these issues that are on opposite sides of the president. it's not great to have to swallow some of these things in the name o party unity. pete: i want to ask you abo ano the e. latest report of new jobs came on friday. the number was lower than expected. employers added 130,000 l month. that was well below estimas. you have written that the presiden is sort o blaming companies and not any of his owr policieshe drag o the
economy. tell us about that. >> he's look ahead to next year, of course. the strongest card he has play for re-electi has been the economy. he gets the most credit for that. the economic growt that we've been seeing come toruition, he knows that a problem. number one would be jay powell. the chairman of the federal reserve. us, the media because we're talking down theconomy. i don't know how muc effect we have on it. he s sms to ascribe great pow tos. he's addedmerican companies. he said if you're upset about the tariffs you're doing a bad we're starting to see a little bit of a turn, one thing that he's done very well is sell the economy. he too an economy that w growing under president obama and unlike president obama sold of it. o it made poll numbers go up.
for the first time in august,w e poll that sa more americans think the economy is growing worst than better. and we saw the consumer confidence index grow larger than any time since 2012. these are bad indicators for mt he's trying to talk the economy ck up. pete: could we see moreariffs? is he going to want to get toughewith china? >> the that's the $1 million we might -- "we" meaning americans need to pay because we have to do this to china. he looked up t the sky and said i am the chosen one. the president is selling this economy that he's forced to do thisise i think realizes that companies are buckling under this and people are getting frated. >> let me ask you this question. the president says hes's impeing th tariffs to help american workers and to even the plang fiel in the international
markets. is there any sign that these tariffs are helping any sector the economy, are helping any american workers? >> i'm not sure that there is a clear sign of that. we're seeing a lot of signs that thes tariffs are having a strain on particur industries in america, and you know,ust the way the math works with consumers e up paying for more washing machineses dryers have cost m m m because of this trad war. the presides see t war sort of lead and ral to his commitment with his political base -- pete what can he say next election? look at what tarfs did for you? what will he say about that? >> that's the troublese we're in the middle of this trade war where the ramifications seem t be negative. you see it among farmers and in the ag community. some of those key states he needs to win re-election. he's hopinor some sort of a
deal with china. we're nothaures ever going to come to pass. matter as long as he acts tough with china? >> some of his sad visors say s voter some of his advisors say they want him to take on china and i'm here to stop it and that is resonating with hisase. pete: president trump made his mark on theederal response to hurricane dorian. don't you wish you could write like tha he said it threatened alabamah whought an immediate response from the national weather service in birmingham. they said no,o, alabama would nt see aeny impact. then the presidenthowed this chart in the oval officeo his alabama with a line drawn in by hand showing that the hurricane would keep going beyond the official projection. he tweeted this map from early e oror from a florida ate agency that included a few possible tracks over alabama and
georgiao seekingustify his original statement. so what happened here? is everybody just a little bit right here. how much of a howler was whatow president trump did? he was imprecise. if another president would have said that, well, andel was c cl on it the way he was. it idn't mean thats going to be the same as in florida or the carolinas.as i was jus going to say that there could be some affect. he doesn't back down. here we are in day six, d six of this story, a story that otherwise in other president would not givenhat kinin of oxygen by contiing to fight it out. but he wants to fight it out as part of his case against the establishment, the media, theit that are taking on. and they're fdraising on this. pete: in what way? you can buy pens. five for. $ go to brad parcal.
>> wit the signature of the president. >> not sharpie. pete: it has consumed a lot of air time onn cable and newspapers. the initial statement was implied that alabama was going w to be hit when, in fact, the forecast said the storm track could bring tropical force winds from alabama which were up to 30 miles an hour. and in my home state of wyomi that's a calm day. was it wrong for the president to say "hit"? was it wrong for the weather service to say itn't be affected? is everybody littlbit guilty here? >> it seems a little bit murky in terms of the president's language. but it is remarkable that we have national weather service network rebuking andsehastising ially the local alabama office saying you should not say that the tresident is wrong. if the national service is to b
believed, then you would say thathe local service or lal office was not 100% correct. thre said, it's very clear that someone likely the president drew an extra par of the national weather services map that was not included in that day'sorecast. that was clearly -- pete: was it clear who drew it? >> not to me. but who knows? wrong.t regard, he was clearly nk what we saw was the president double down as he does on health care or o immigration. and he's in some ways had good poticall consequce by showing that in his character he's someone who won't back down om a fight and would even fund raise from it. pete by way, alabama -- he said alabama wou be grazed. that's his comment. you had a piece looking at how some seniorou wse people assess his summer. it said the two months between offered a fresh and vivid d
portrait of the president as seen b's tru critics, incompetent, indecisive and inefective. whatrehe missed steps? >> this was the summer before the re-election campaign gets going. they try to broaden their appeal. ey lay a foundation. and trump according to some of his own aisors missed that opportunity. he spent his summer attacking the squad, the fr congresswomen of color. assaulting his visit to baltimore. and botchedisits following the shootings. and we could go on and on and it was whip-saudi plow massy. it was a series of consequences and controversys that hen large part created himself that his allies and advisors feel it was a period of self-sabotage.
pete: what about the possibility ofmpeachment? that's another i that was not on your list. ishe house going t seriously move on impeachment? and what about this thing that the house wan to look into about whether the president offered pardons to hom pand securiple who said if i do that mr. president it would be against the law. did -- and said, no i'll pardon you? is that for real? >> we've seen moving forward the impeachment on differe levels. pelosi has been reluctant on this. the new topics b the trenging um is that this goes beyond ruia. the freshmen aho in trump districts are not wanting to have this debate. and i think the question i have, you've got some very 'em d passiouse member who is want to move forward on this. but the political climate is changing. the presidential campaign i moving in. dodo thatsi entm within the larger democratic world remain
there? pete me ask you both in the little time we have left, about two minutes left. is the election going to be out the economy? >> i don't see it about the economy wn the central thing that the president continues to talk about i i immigration. and he conties to kwluse a lot of people see as racist language. the economy will beart of it. largely a lot ofemocrats that i talk to really feel as thgh there is a segment of the population that are under attack because of their identity. what moves them is their denttity and the president feeling as toe he is protecting to do with america -- feeling as to he is protecting america. >> this is the songe calling card they he. it's not just going to be about the economy. it super important because it's the important salient, you know, achievement hean point to. i've givenou the greatest -- it doesn't matter that the numbers don actually add up to
the greatest economy er. it's a good talking point. the larger question is i think it's going to ben an elect about donald trump, right? we can define that however that's defined. can he maket about the other candidate? he did. he did it that to hillary clinton. can he make the democrat an acceptable alternati to sn pete: thanks for watch k. ing. -- thanks for watching. robert costa will be bac next week. w nek we'll be talking about vice president's visit. i'm pete williams. have a great wkend.
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-so far,we've eatene in the shape of an actual sandwich, eaten angel food cake that tasted like the devil incarnate, and eaten a chocolate shard that's made me insulin-dependent. how will we survive for another nine weeks? -well, more importantly, nghow are the bakers go survive this week's challenge? -last week, our baker's dozen tackled cakes. -oh, my god. i can't do it. -please don't break. please don't break. oh! -oh, no! -while the pressure of the tent was too much for some... -holy... -i'm, uh, behind... -y. -...stressed. -yep. -...it got the bof toby... -don't try that, mary. -...and he was the first to leave the tent. -oh, that look good! -but others excelled... -success! ha ha! -the overall appearance and the thought of it is exceptional. -...and rob was crowned this year's first star baker. [ applause ] -fantastic.