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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  March 3, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PST

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03/03/17 03/03/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> i have decided to recuse myself from many existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaign for president of the united states. amy: jeff sessions has recused himself from any investigation into the presidential campaign following reports he met twice with russia's ambassador to the u.s. at a time when he was serving as both a senator and campaign surrogate for donald
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trump. we will get response from marcy wheeler, an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. then we look at the trump administration's plans to slash the power of thehe environmental protection agencncy under its nw head scott pruitt.t. occasioion --ittedd i'i've indicated a messasage tht there are essential to protect. amy: but a leaked copy of the epa's new budget reveals plans to eliminate programs on climate change, toxic waste cleanup and environmental justice, and to /the work staff by 20%, and cut funding for state level clean air and water programs. we will get response from wenonah hauter and bill becker. finally, as honduras marks the first anniversary of the us session nation of the renowned environmental activist berta
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caceres, we look at a new investigation that links the u.s. military to her murder and at a new bill to cut u.s. military funding to honduras. >> in paparticular, the law mandates a suspension of all military aid that the united states gives to honduras until ththe murder c case of bererta s isis solved in an effective manner. all that and more, coming up. wewelcome toto democracy now!, dedemocracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. attorney general jeff sessions said thursday he will recuse himselelf from any investigation into last year's presidential campaign following reports he met twice with russia's ambassador to thehe u.s. while serving as a campaign surrogate for donald trump. the revelation directly contradicts sessions' sworn testimony to congress in january that he did not meet with any russian officials in the run-up
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to november's election. in a hastily assembled news conference thursday, sessions called charges he lied under oath totally false and said he failed to mention the meetings with ambassadodor sergey kislyak because the two did not discuss the campaign. i was taken aback a little bit about this brand-newew information, this allegation -- i have been called a surrogate for trump -- had been meetingng continuoususly with rurussian is whahatand that struck m me very hard and that s what i focused my swswer o in that respect, i should have slowed down and said, that i did meet one russian official a couple of times. that would be the ambassador. thank you all. take care. amy: attorney general sessions decision to recuse himself came just hours a aer presidedent trp said calls for sessions to
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resign amounted to a total witch hunt. trump was questioned by reporters while touring a naval warship thursday. >> do you still have confident in the attorney general, sir? pres. trump: total. >> [indiscernible] pres. trump: i don't think so at all. >> can you explain that he spoke to the russian ambassador? when were you aware that he spoke to the russian abbasid are? pres. trump: i was not aware at all. amy: abc news reported thursday that political funds for use from the senatorial reelection account to meet with ambassador kislyak on the sidelines of the rnc in july. there were growing calls thursday for sessions to resign and even to face prosecution. the aclu demanded an investigation into whether sessions committed perjury and president george w. bush's former ethics lawyer said -- "misleading the senate in sworn testimony about own contacts with the russians is a good way to go to jail."
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on capitol hill, a chorus of democratic lawmakers called for sessions to step down, while demands grew for a special prosecutor to investigate allegations that russia interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of donald trump. meanwhile, the "new york times" reported thursday that two other members of donald trump's inner circle met with russia's ambassador ahead of the presidentitial inauguration. at the december meeting at trump tower in new york were trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, jared kushner, and former national security adviser michael flynn, who resigned last month following revelations he spoke by phone with the ambassador and discussed u.s. sanctions against moscow. we'll have more on the widening scandal and allegations that russia interfered in november's election after headlines. on capitol hill, republican senator rand paul is blasting his party's leadership for failing to make public a draft document of the republican plan to replace the affordable care act.
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senator paul brought a portable copy machine with him as he unsuccessfully searched the offices of the house of representative for a draft of the bill. at one point, capitol police barred senator paul from entering a room where the bill -- was rumored to be. document was rumored to be. --ator paul told reporters on "we are here asking for written copy of this because this s should be an open and transparent process. in climate news, the top you an official tasked with tacklkling global warmingng says she wass denied a visit with u.s. secretary of state and former exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson. patricia espinosa, head of the un framework convention on climate change, is touring the u.s. and said thursday her requests for a meeting with tillerson went unanswered. meanwhile, the "new york times" reports the white house is sharply divided over president trump's campaign pledge to cancel the 2015 paris climate
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accord. "the times" cited unnamed officials who said trump's chief strategist stephen bannon is pushing the u.s. to withdraw from the agreement entirely, while trump's daughter ivanka and secretary of state rex tillerson are said to be calling for the u.s. to remain a signatory to the pact. in washington, rick perry was sworn in as secretary of energy, following a senate confirmation vote earlier on thursday. 10 democrats and maine independent angus king joined 51 republicans in confirming the former texas republican governor. in 2011, perry famously attempted to p propose abolishig the energy department, but then couldn't even remember the name of the agency. perry previously mocked climate scientists and has called global warming a hoax, but walked back those comments during confirmation hearings, saying some climate change is caused by man-made activity. meanwhile, dr. ben carson was sworn in thursday as secretary
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of housing and urban development. senate confirmation of the retired neurosurgeon and former republican presidential candidate came on a vote of 58-41 earlier in the day. dr. carson has never been elected to any office and has no experience heading a government bureaucracy. the indianapolis star has reported vice president mike pence routinely conduducted stae business over a private female account -- private email account while serving g as governor of indiana and hackers broke into his emails. he used his aol account to communicate with senior advisers on sensitive matters and homeland security issues. the move closely mirrored former secretary of state hillary clinton's use of a private email server to conduct official business, a practice sharply criticized by pence and other republicans. this is then-governor mike pence speaking on cbs's "face the nation" last october. gov. pence: literally, hillary
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clinton had classified information on a private server that she be milled classified information that she said she did not do -- all of these things misrepresented mishandling class of an information, the to conclude she was extremely careless and/or be no recommendation of charges, that to me is the kind of double standard the american people are weary of. amy: "the indianapolis star" reports mike pence's account was broken into by hackers who emailed the pence's contacts asking for money. in a statement, vice president pence's office said thursday pence had not violated the public records act. president donald trump tourereda nuclear-powered aircraft carrier inin virginia thursdsday, usinge massive warship as a backdrop to push his plan to increase the pentagon's budget by $54 billion. agingtrump: right now our front-line strike e and strike
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many, many aircraft, are often more likely to be down for maintenance than they are to be up in the sky. it navy is now the smallest has been, since believe it or not, world war i. don't worry. it will soon be the largest it has been. amy: on monday, trump proposed increasing the military budget to just over $600 billion. daily 10% increase, while deeply cutting the budgets of other agencies, including the epa and the state department. in yemen, u.s. warplanes and drones bombed targets across three provinces overnight, in what the pentagon said were 20 airstrikes targeting al qaeda in the arababian peninsula. they were the first direct u.s. attacks on yemen since a botched raid in january left 25 civilians and one u.s. navy seal dead. the strikes came after the white house said it has given wide latitude to the secretary of defense and top generals to
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carry out attacks without presidential approval. in syria, pro-government forces recaptured most of palmyra two months after isis took control of the ancient city. it's the fourth time the city, which is homome to a world heritage sitite, has chahanged s during syria's civivil war. in egypt, a court has acquitted former dictator hosni mubarak on chararges of murder, over his crackdown in011 1 that kililled hundreds of people opposed to his 30-yeaear rule. the ruling c clears the way from mubarak's release from detention. amnesty international says mubarak's treatment contrasts sharply with that of hundreds of journalists and human rights activists, who face mass arbitrary arrests, unfair trials and torture over theheir politil dissenent. in hononduras, h hundreds of protesters rallied outside the honduran supreme court building thursday to demand justice for berta caceres, the famed
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environmental activist and feminist leader who was assassinated in her home one year ago. eight men have been arrested as suspects in berta's killing, including one active army major and two retired military members. two of these suspects reportedly received military training in the united states. this is berta caceres's daughter berta isabel zuñiga caceres. here to renounce the lack of justice. the authorities one us to feel the case has been resolved. on the contrary, we're saying the process is full of irregularities. amy: at thursday's demonstration in tegucigalpa, police in riot gear fired tear gas at protesters who responded by hurling rocks. protesters were demanding an end to impunity for the killers of more than 150 land rights activists in the aguan valley since 2009. we'll have more on the assassination of berta caceres after headlines.
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in r rochester, new w yo, , vans toppled more than a dozen headstones at a jewish cemetery thursday, defacing some of the grave markers. new york governor andrew cuomo ordered police to investigate the vandalism as a possible hate crime. it was at least the third desecration of a jewish cemetery in the u.s. over the past two weeks. at the vatican, a prominent member of a commission advising pope francis on how to end clerical sexual abuse stepped down this week to protest what she described as inaction by the church. marie collins, an irish survivor of childhood sexual assault by a priest, said wednesday she could no longer work with the commission because vatican officials refused to implement basic protections for children and vulnerable adults. collinins' resignation came as e archdiocese of new york petitioned a court for permission to mortgage a hundred -- $100 million worth of church property in manhattan in order to fund compensation for victims of sexual abuse by priests.
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msnbc has obtained a leak intelligence document from the department of homeland security that undercuts president trump's rationale for a ban on refugees and travelers from some majority muslim nations. the rachel maddow show reports the leaked document makes the case that most foreign-born u.s. based violent extremists are only radicalized after living in the u.s. for a number of years and are unlikely to pose a threat upon arrival. in an update to a story we reported on thursday, ice has released a 26-year-old el salvadorian asylum seeker who was removed from a texas hospital in handcuffs and taken back to a private jail after she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. on thursday, sara beltran hernandez was granted a $15,000 bond, and her family raised the total sum to secure her freedom. beltran issued a statement thanking supporters who made calls for her release, saying --
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"i can now get the medical care i need and be reunited with my family." you can go to democracynow.org to see the whole discussion on thursday show. in more news from texas, a woman arresteded by immigration officials at a courthouse where she was seeking a protective ororder against an abusisive boyfriend has s now been charged with illegal reentry to the united states.s. countyty officials belelieve tht ththe agents acteded after a tif from irvin gonzalez's alleged abuser. women's rights advocates have argued t that the e arrest o of gonznzalez senends a message to survivivors that if they seeeekp theyey will be deported or jail. , in mississippi, lawyers for daniela vargas say ice officials are preparing to deport the 22-year-old undocumented immigrant without a court hearing. vargas was arrested this week shortly after she spoke out publicly against a february immigration raid that saw her father and brother detained by ice. vargas was brought to the u.s.
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from argentina as a child has a , pending application to renew her daca status granting her permission to live and work in the u.s. and a bill before the arkansas state legislature would prohibit publicly funded schools from teaching the works of legendary historian howard zinn. house bill 1834 would bar teachers from including all of zinn's writings from 1959 through his death in 2010. in 1980, howard zinn published his classic book, "a people's history of the united states," which would go on to sell more than one million copies. the arkansas bill is not the first attempt to censor howard zinn's works. indiana's governor attempted a similar measure in 2010 and arizona lawmakers removed "a 2011 people's history" from schools in tucson as part of the ban on mexican american studies. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.
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attorney general jeff sessions has recused himself from any investigigation into last year's presidential campaign following reports he met twice with russia's ambassador the u.s. at a time when he was serving as both a senator and a campaign surrogate for donald trump. the revelation directly contradicts sessions' sworn testimony to congress in january that he did not meet with any russian officials in the run-up to november's election. on thursday, sessions called charges he lied under oath totally false and said he failed to mention the meetings with ambassador sergey kislyak because the two did not discusss the campaign. >> i was taken aback a little bit about this brand-new information, this allegation that cirircuit -- i have been calllled a surrogate for donald trump -- have been meeting contininusly with russiann that is what struck me very harard and that s what i focused my answer on.
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in retrospect, i should have slowed down and said but i did meet one russian official a couple of times. that would be the ambassador. amy: on thursday night, tucker carlson and reviewed jeff sessions. >> i think i performed exactly correctly from attorney general of the united states. >> you are foreign-policy adviser, the chairman, i think, of the advisors, to now president trump. in that capacity, do your member conversations you had as a campaign about russia and was there any -- did you have any believe they were putting their some on the scale, rooting for president trump over hillary clinton? what were your conversations about russia? >> i never had any conversations about -- with the russians about this campaign and putting them -- assisting the campaign or anything like that. i went out and spoke in
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campaigned for trump, but i was not involved in anything like that you can be sure. >> i question is, did the campaign believe that the russian government, the putin government, favored trump over clinton? >> i've never been told that. >> do you thinink they did? >> i don't have any idea, tucker. amy: many democratic lawmakers are still calling for sessions to resign, but president trump has said the attorney general has been the victim of a "total witch hunt." sessions questioned recusal comes after michael flynn resigned after it was revealed yet discussed sanctions in a call in with the ambassador and then lied about it. on thursday, "the new york times" revealed michael flynn and trump's son-in-law and senior adviser jared kushner, held a meeting at trump tower with the russian ambassador ahead of the p presidential inauguration. we are joined now by marcy
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wheeler, a an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. she runs the website emptywheel.net. it is great to have you back with us. can you talk about what you think is most significacant in this whirlwind of allegations and now a recusal from attorney general jeff sessions? >> as people think about it, it is helpful to think about the three things we should be concerned about with russia and donald trump. the first is whether or not anybody on his campaign was involved in the hack of hillary clinton, whether or not they work operating with the russians. the second one is whether we know -- and trump was very open about his opening to russia, his willingness to negotiate with russia. the question is whether there was any kind of quid pro quo, any inappropriate influence to get that outcome. the third is that trump has these business associations way back decades with shady
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businessman who have ties to russia. the question in there is, do posingelationships risk undue influence on him going forward, possibly, bribery or some kind of coercion on policy? about these discussions the meetings with the ambassador -- and that is mostly what we're talking about. over and over again, various trump aides or campaign people or associates what have you, met with the russian ambassador to the united states. is not and of itself suspect. people meet with ambassasadors l the time. mike mcfaul who was obama's ambassador to russia keeps saying that. he is a hawk on russia, but he keeps saying we should not make it criminal to meet with russians. what is tricky here is trump's people have gotten questions over and over again, did you meet with at, y, z?
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there is always, as there is with attorney general sessions, there is always this confiscation about it. it raises questions about whether those meetings with ambassador his lack run the oven up or whether there were something more going on. with regards to sessions recusal, it is a very narrow recusal. there was a bad reporting on this yesterday. well, he has recused on every thing that has to do with x, y, and's eight. all he's at is that he is recusing from anything having to do with the elections. so for example, he has already been asked, would you recuse yourself from any ongoing investigation in michael flynn's discussions with russia in the transition period? he did not answer that. did,g out what i just there are these questions of business associations, these questions of quid pro quo to change our policy toward ukraine , those are not election related per se unless they were quid pro
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quos in order to implement this ukraine policy. fromons has not recused that. frankly, those are were some of the biggest smoke is. ps not recused from that yet. he was asked twice during his confirmation process about ties to russia. the one he addressed yesterday was a question in the hearing from al franken about whether he , asas an election official, met with any russians. he pointed out he does. amy: that's go to that clip from the confirmation hearing in january when did senator jeff sessions was asked by minnesota senator al franken whether he knew of contacts betetween trump campaign officials and russia's government. >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i am not aware of any of those
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activities. i have been called a surrogatete at a timime or two in that campaign, and i did not have committee kaisha is with the russians. amy: so as you are saying, often it is not the underlying act from which would not of been a terrible thing foror him to say yes, but it is the cover-up. >> right. he answered only that question, which as you pointed out, in cleveland, a bunch of -- there was an event for ambassadors and a bunch of trump foreign policy people were involved. some of them are the people about whom there are further allegations that are yet unproven of ongoing discussions with the russians. the point is, a bunch of ambassadors in the room, trump's people give their dog and 20 show afterwards. there are more conversations -- maybe not substantive, but with is, at thatthat
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time, republican party was changing their platform to be more favorable to russia. again, was there something about those conversations that led the trump campaign to change the platform? we don't know. those are the questions that should be answered. amy: what about jared kushner, mike flynn -- who is now out as national security advisor -- meeting in decemember at trump tower r with the russian abbasid are? whatat is the significancece of this? what is known at this time about this? >> it is not clear there is that much significance. there is being much made about the fact that kislyak did not come through the front door of trump tower. a lot of people did not come in at the the front door time. there was the meeting with the tech ceos with trump. a couplef thehem did not come through for us to acting maybe tim cook -- does that make you
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may russians by? probably not. i would say definitely not. notpoint is, trump is eating very forthcoming with these relationships. there is this trip, drip, drip of another time. the kislyak ones, we don't have to be all that worried about those. it is the jobb of any ambassador of any given country to wander around and have conversations and try to help out his country. the real queuestions have to do with whether there is any kind ofof quid pro quo for trump -- again, trump ran on becoming more friendly to russia. trump -- you may disagree with the policy, but trump was pretty open about being willing to negotiate on ukraine as distinct from hillary clinton, who was very much a hawk on it. he did not hide that from voters. presidents are allowed to shift and change our foreign-policy,
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and trump has done so in other ways that ought to invite scrutiny -- for example, with one china policy. there has been almost no attention and there probably should be because we know there were lots of conversations leading up to that. the point is, though, we need to have a way to get to these answers. trump's people are not giving it to us. sessions, his recusal is only partial. frankly, there are reasons to worry the congressional inquiries -- there is one of both the senate and house rolled out when yesterday morning. devin nunes, in particular, clearly does not want to have an investigation into donald trump. he was a transition official. richard burr, the head of the senate intelligence committee, was on the same national security advisory committee. what we need is to ensure that are ableee inquiries to follow the evidencnce where theyey go.
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we do have good reason to question whether we are in that position right now. amy: i i want to go to jeff sessions being interviewed by tucker carlson last night on fox news. >> the president has described these questions as a witch hunt and i sasaid that we need to investigate the leaks that have led to this, into a bunch of these stories. do you agree with that? >> we are having a lot of leaks today in washington that i do believe our troubling. a lot of it would appear to be in violation of the law. it is an unhealthy trend, and we have got to do better about it. i believe every department is to take a greater interest in maintaining a proper security. >> do you see this as a witch hunt? >> i do not think what was said about that meeting i had with the russian ambassador was legitimate. beyond it was hyped reason and i think it was unfair. i was glad to be able to address
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it today. amy: that is attorney general jeff sessions responding to talk also -- tucker carlson. leaks are an interesting thing. this is something that devin hard.is really pushing we are getting leaks a pretty sophisticated intelligence committee even wiretap evidence. you know, or is a reason to be concerned that you can be picked up on a pfizer wiretap and have the contents of his shop on "the new york times." that said, the way to stop the leaks if you are in the trump at administration is to appear like you're not fighting this ininvestigation tooth and nail, and they are. i'm not trivially sympathetic with jeff sessions because he was asked twice, once in person and once in writing by pat leahy on an even broader question, and if y you are asked in writing, d you have any contact with the
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russians and that is when you have aides to go to your paperwork and figure out what you did in cleveland and who is been in her office, and you say, no, then, then there is reason to ask why you were not fully forthcoming in her confirmation hearing. about want to ask you this other concern of a group of democrats, the leadership on the house committee probing russia's efforts to interfere with the u.s. election. people like adam schiff, senator feinstein of california are saying the fbi is refusing to cooperate in handing information over. very willing to talk about investigating hillary clinton and then saying a few days before the election come or they weren't, but when it comes to this, what about this, marcy wheeler, , the clash of intelligence agency withth congress? >> you know, i''m a little less worrrried about thihis than the democratic leaders are. that is partly because i have covered jim comey for years.
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he is self-righteous. he likes to think of himself as this great crusader. not necessarily a good thing as the fbi director. i said that when he was confirmed under the obama administration. democrats at that point. h he ws appearing great. the hillary investigation was public. commerce was involved in a. yes, it was leaking like a sieve. was jim c comey did last july completely inappropriate. don't get me wrong. that w was the unusual thing. treatedit should be different league from an ongoing counterintelligence investigation. there are people who, for example, might be sources named in the dossier that christopher agentnt, this mi6 document got leaked by buzzfeed in january -- there might be
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people who were sources of that that have since died and suspect circumstances. four russians have been charged with treason with allegations they are tied to this investigation. the reason you do not want a counterintelligence investigation to be shared with a congress that is obviously leaking is because stuff like that -- not only can the targets of the investigation find out and work to undercut the investigation, but people can get killed or charged with treason. that is not going to help us get to the bottom of this. know, pelosi, shift, our right to be furious atc omey for what he did against hillary clinton. i'm not excusing that. but they should at least take a step back and think about whether they want the fbi investigation to be successful oror whether they wanted to be politically damaging. those may be two different things. amy: set-aside to hacking of the election, when it comes to donald trump's business interest
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and this question of, is he invested in russia and is there something we should understand why he is so favorable to vladimir putin, the question is, do they have something invested in his projects from everywhere from trump soho to his buildings when he could not get credit extended from banks because he is declared bankruptcy so many times and had so much financial problems of the oligarchs supported him and deep concern about what his financial obobligations are to them and hw this fits into this bigger story of him not releasing his tax returns and not the transparent, white people are so concerned -- what people are so concerned, separate from whetherer russia hacked the elections. >> i think that is something that people should -- there are distinct issues, she pointed out, people should remember they are distinct issues. what we're talking about with those business concerns -- and it is not just russia. thisis is an a area where we shd have as many questions about china, if not more so, than
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russia. although, some of his closest associates, you talked about the soho project, our tie to russia and to have ties to the mob will stop that is a very fair question that we should be of to get answers to. does he have relationships with people who have some kind of sway over him, over trump the brand? if so, is that going to lead him to make decisionons that hee otherwise mimight not make? the other thing to remember, trump, you know, is sort of authoritarian. he is culturally. similar to oligarchs, whether russian or chinese or what have you. we need to distinguish those two things. the shady business deals, definitely worth interrogation. is the fact he is culturally authoritarian and racist and so on and so forth -- those are things that were true before the
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russians hacked the election, for example. it just takes some nuance to remember what we really should be able to get answers on, need to be a little get answers on, and those things which are donald trump being donald trump being straight up about who he is and who voters, for better or worse, elected in november. amy: are you concerned of a new kind of cold war developing, led by democrats, that could be used to justify, interestingly, what donald trump is pushing for, the president who is more favorable to russia, which is a nuclear arms race, a new nuclear arms race, and a massive increase in the pentagon spending? >> not just that, but also come as mike mcfaul has said, it should not be illegal to speak to russians. that is not illegal in this country. if democrats are pushing for it to be illegal, that is a problem because that is when we get into justlevel of suspicion for
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under change, which we should be in support of. amy: marcy wheeler, thank you for being with us, independent journalist that runs the website emptywheel.net. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodmaman. new details have e emerged on te trump administration's plans to slash the envirironmental protection agency. according to a leaked copy of the epa's 2010 budget the , agency's overall budget would be slashed by 25%. staffing would be reduced by 20%, or by about 3000 jobs. the plan calls for the complete
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elimination of epa programs on climate change, toxic waste cleanup, environmental justice, and funding for native alaskan villages. it would slash funding to states for clean air and water programs by 30%. new epa administrator scott pruitt appeared to downplay the severity of the cuts in a speech thursdsday to ththe u.s. confefe of mayors. >> in this s budget discussionn ththat is ongoing with congress, -- it t is just startining, so e are concernsns about some oof te greaeat programs that epa hass n a partrt off historically. i want you to know with the whwhite housuse and also with congressss, i am comommunicatina message that the s superfund program, water infrastructure, state funds, are essential to protect. amy: the proposed cuts to the epa's budget come as the trump administration has vowed to roll back obama-era epa actions, including major climate change regulations like the clean power plan and climate change research.. on tuesday, , trump signgned an
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executive order to begin the process of rewriting the 2015 water jurisdiction rule known as waters of the united states, a law opposed by many conservatives. the act gives the federal government broad authority to limit pollution in major bodies of water as well as in streams and wetlands that drain into those waters. this is president trump speaking at the signing of the order. pres. trump: the epa's so-called waters of the united states were always one of the worst examples of a federal relation, and it is trtruly run amok and isis one oe rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers all across our land. it is prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they are supposed to be doing. it has been a disaster. the epa's regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands. and regulations and permits started treating our wonderful
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small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. they treated them horribly. amy: all of this comes as the white house continues to grapple with its position on the paris climate agreement. trump vowed on the campaign trail to back out of the paris deal, a promise that senior adviser and climate-chchange denier steve bannon is urging the president to keep. however, secretary of state rex tillerson, the former head of exxon, said during his senate confirmation hearing in january that he hopes to stay in the climate pact. well, for more, we are going to washington, d.c., where we are joined by two guests. wenonah hauter is the executive director of food & water watch. and bill becker is the executive director of the national association of clean air agencies. welcome both of you to democracy now! whatat about the slashing g of e epa prprograms and staff? >> it is oututrageouous. i think we haveve to put itit in contexext. the e slashing of staff would pt the numberer of employees down o about 12,400.
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in 2010, there were 17,000 employees. so we have already seen sharp $10 of the epa budget from billion in 2010 to now it would be $6 billion. it also takes the number of epa employees down to about 1985 levels. we should be clear, 90% of the epa programs are run by state agencies. half the staff is located in regional offices. so scott pruitt is talking out of both sides of his mouth. he said during his hearing that he believed that the states should be enforcing environmental laws, yet they are cutting the budget so that the states will not have the funding
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to be able to keep our most precious resources clelean. amy: waters of the united states rule. talk about the significance of this. amy: i think most americans believe safe drinking water is important. they want their tapwater to be safe to drink. if there are chemical pollutants going into the small streams, they eventually reach a large body of water that in many cases is going to be used for drinking water. the american farm bureau has been one of the largest anything to dost with protecting water bodies. they really represent, not small farmers, but agribusiness and the chemical industry. so this is really going to be devastating to drinking water, along with the other c cuts that we're going to see.
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amy: you are head of the national association of clean air agencies. how is the air we breathe affected by these proposals? is going to be overwhelming. it is going to rip the soul out of state and local governmental implementation. there are more people who die from air pollution today, 40,000, then from almost not only every other environmental problem, but most other social problems we face. amy: like terrorist attacks. >> like terrorist attacks, like trump driving, like gun violence. and yet we do not have the luxury of sweeping these budget cuts under the rug and ignoring them. there are three basic problele with the budget cucuts. number one, as she said, it slashes the epa staff and the epa budget by 20% to 25%.
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that is unsustainable at a time when we need epa to be the backstop. second, as you pointed out in your preliminary remarks, this budget cuts eliminates 38 very important bipartisan successful programs ranging from brownfield development to reducing diesel emissions from trucks and construction equipment. it eliminates almost entirely money that goes to the great lakes. it eliminates thehe radon progr. and finally,, wenonah was gettig to this come at a time when president trump and administrator puritt are saying, let's get regulation out of washington, d.c., away from epa, and give it to the states, and in the same breath, they are cutting the federal grants to the states to do ththis work by 30% to 40%. that is unacceptable. the bottom line, if these cuts
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go through, we can almost guarantee with certainty that there will be more premature deaths and more sicknesses throughout the country. the public should be outraged at that. amy: wenonah hauter, this battle in the white house over whether to withdraw from the paris steve, theord with what supremacist, white nationalist senior adviser a president trump on the one side, and interestingly, rex tillerson, the former ceo of exxonmobil, secretary of state now, on the other. in thisu talk about this recent revelation of a film that exxonmobil put out on climate change decades ago? we are ready know about their decades cover-up of their own ofearch on the threat climate change and human involvement in it. >> first of all, i'm not too surprised to see the trump
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administration talking out of both sides of their mouth. isknow that steve bannon strictly ideological. in fact, once to destroy the environment and many people in it. rex tillerson, when he was ceo supported theally paris agreement. the paris agreement did not have hard targets or sanctions. the most concrete thing and the agreement was to use measurements that each signatory would use measurements that can be verified going forward. to have a seat at the table, as he said. and does not want to appear to be as strident internationally. but we should be clear that we need to do a lot more than be one of the signatories to the paris agreement. and of course, there is now some talk that congress would
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actually make it the treaty and there would have to be a vote in congress -- which is nonsense, since it is not actually a treaty. fromr as the shell film 1981 -- amy: 1991. >> i'm sorry, 1991, "climate of concern." it laid out many of the problems that we see today -- climate refugees, famine, the erratic weather. it is not too surprising that shell put out this film at that time because we know that from the 1960's, at least, shell, exxon, chevron, the american petroleum institute -- they were meeting and talking about science. they were hiring scientists to do climate research so they could be on top of policies
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related to climate. what they did not do is stop using fossil fuels that used that signs for the propaganda ,achine to continue investing as shell has come in the tar sands, in supporting lobbying machines like alec to lobby against the policies that would actually protect us against whiche change -- really is the most pressing issue we have going forward. amy: bill becker, are these done deals, slashing staff by 20%, slashing the climate justice area of epa and all of the other issues that we have been talking about? does the public have any involvement? >> it is not a done deal if we can help it. i was one who received a copy of the leaked document. my goal was to shine as bright a
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light on the details of this document so that other groups -- wenonah's route and many other groups including congress -- can weigh in and allow the public to understand that the air they breathe, the water they drink, can be hazardous to your health and it takes money and staff, not only at epa, but at the state and local governmental agencies to protect public health. these were laws set by congress. they were to be administered by state and local agencies with epa oversight. we will do everything in our power to try to restore these recommendedd cuts. fofortunately, we have already heard from some congressmen anad senators, republicans included, that these cuts simply in many instances are not sustainable. we are to work to make sure they are not going to be cut. amy: we will link to that document democracynow.org at.
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bill becker, executive director of the natational association of clean air agencies. wenonah hauter executive , director of food & water watch. when we come back, the anniversary of the debt of berta caceres. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: to see our intervieiew and rformance e of anna on democracy now!, go to demomocracynow.org. we end today's show by remembering renown honduran environmental activist berta caceres. she was assassinated one year ago in her home in la esperanza, honduras, just before midnight on march 2, 2016. berta caceres was the co-founder of copinh, the civic council of popular and indigenous organizations of honduras. in 2015, she won the prestigious goldman environmental prize for
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her decade-long fight against the agua zarca dam, a project planned along a river sacred to the indigenous lenca people. on thursday, hundreds rallied outside the honduran supreme court building to demand justice for berta caceres and for the license of the company behind the agua zarca dam to be revoked. eight men have been arrested as suspects in berta's killing, including one acactive army mamr and two retired military members. two of these suspects reportedly received military training in the united states. also thursday here in washington, d.c., georgia congressman hank johnson reintroduced the " "berta cacers human rirights in honduras a ac" which seeks to w withhold u.s. militatary aid to honduras untnl the honduran governmenent addresses human rights violations by its police and security forces. we turnn now to a new investigation that reveals further ties between berta caceres' killing, honduranan military intelligence, and the united states. joining us from london is nina lakhani, a freelance journalist
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who has been based in mexico and central america for the last four years. her piece for the guardian is "berta caceres court papers show murder suspects' links to u.s.-trained elite troops." nina, welcome to democracy now! what are those links? >> the u.s., over the last decade or so, has realllly focud a lot of its military training in central america on special forces. we know that over a period of 2008-2014, the u.s. went 21 times two honduras to train their special forces. two of the military men who have been charged with her murder and the attempted murder of gustavo castro was special forces. one was a major, a veteran , at leastrces officer
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seven years according to his military records. and henry hernandez, a sergeant, who had left military in 2013, but he was special forces for three years and worked under the direct command of major diaz. amy: what about douglas bruce deal? >> he did receive some training as a cadet, believe, just before he finished his initial military training. both him and diaz, when into the military together, both went to the u.s. to receive training courses. training in early the school of americas i think back in 1997. amy: talk about the evidence you have seen from text messages to phone calllls. and if you canan re-create for s what you think to place. >> the evidence really points to
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militaryll-planned operation that took place that night. what we know from witnesses is police and military checkpoint as you come into esperanza. that night, many witnesses have tommy and other investigators that there was no one there that night. there was no in at the base that night. we know from phone records and from testimony that hernandez new jetta fromhe working a private security, in the months leading up to t the assassination, have working togethther in privivate securit. we know they were in esperanza leading u upe times to her murdeder. people --our
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hernanandez admits to being thee and at least three other civilians who have been accused of murder wewere p placed at her house because of telephone analysis. they went in. they knenew what they wewere do. they knenew where they were goi. all ofof the evidence pointsts o the house. in an out -- inside and outsidee had been under r surveillance. her house was a gated interest. there was a guard there that night. very likely they had communication with him. i met with him before because they came in -- it was very dark. it is not isolated place. they knew were the door was. they knew where she would be sleeping. the evidence points to her house and the area surrounding it had been surveyed, has been studied beforehand. all of that points to like a military-type operation. hernandez is the one military person placed there that night.
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like i say, he was special forces. he had worked under diaz. -- he event ay decorated sniperer. it i is not c clear whether he y triggeger that night, but it wod appear he wawas in charge of the operation on that night. amy: why would they want -- >> he was a low-level military officer, and the rank of sergeant. bertahy would they want caceres dead? >> i don't think the people under arrest probably did. the context of her death -- she was the most well-known activist , not only in honduras, but probably in america at the time of her murder. none of the individuals who were under arrest, none of the eight had anything personal to gain from her being killed. of --e idea that someone
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celebrated as her could be murdered without at least the implicit knowledge of people higher up in the armed forces or even the government and the company, i think is highly improbable. none of the eight under arrest had anything personal to gain. amy: but the government? and has the u.s. been held accountable? -- i don'tthe u.s. think the u.s. government -- they would not admit to bearing a's a responsibility to bert assassination. i interviewed her around 2013 the elections and she was publicly denouncing the fact she have been told and then made aware that her name appeared at the top of a military hit list in which i think there were 16 -- she was one of 16 activists.
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amy: we're going to continue this conversation after the broadcast and post it online. nina lakhani, thank you for joining us. we're for social media full-time fellowship. vxck our website.
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