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tv   House Democratic Leadership Holds News Conference  CSPAN  September 23, 2020 7:18pm-8:01pm EDT

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justice ruth bader ginsburg passed away last friday at the age of 87. you can continue to watch live coverage of the viewing at our public c-span.org or the is invited to stay from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern and tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. williday, justice ginsburg become the first woman to lie in state at the u.s. capitol. >> up next, house democrats hold a news conference with reporters. this book about legislation that would impose new checks on presidential power while profiting enforcement and congressional of peanuts. this is 40 minutes.
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>> good morning, everyone and thank you for joining us. by theeased to be joined speaker and my fellow chairs to announce the introduction of the protecting our democracy act. in introducing this landmark will, the house is taking another important step in our determination to protect our democracy. since taking office, donald trump has viewed the discuss the constraints on his power and demand for basic transparency and accountability as an inconvenience. he has claimed extraordinary the lawent and broken and purposely undermined the rule of law. he is probed for where his palette -- powers are least constrained. weakness,he has found he has exploited it with great consequence for our nation. the house democratic caucus, under the leadership of the speaker and all the chairs
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represented here, as well as many others, have stood strong. we defended the law, the constitution and our nation's values. even impeaching the president when he was caught abusing his power in an effort to extort a foreign partner for dirt on an opponent. today is the step in our effort to hold this president and all presidents accountable. this is the culmination of many months of work at a caucus to identify the most crucially needed reforms to our laws to constrain a lawless president. some of these reforms have been contemplated for years, others became necessary only when we witnessed the serial abuses of power by this president. this bill is essential. not just because donald trump's so damaging,s been though it has been, but because we owe it to the american people to put in constraints on power. fix what's broken, and ensure there is never another richard nixon or donald trump for either party.
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what has become painfully clear is that even in a dangerous world, the threat to our democracy from outside the country is less and the threat from within. the guardrails that have been built over the country's history and strengthened after watergate have been shaken and broken. example, donald trump has abused power in a fashion that no previous president has ever done. to pardon or commute sentences is embedded in the constitution and is one of the least restrained powers the president wields. a president may use this power to correct unjust sentences or to show mercy to those who have reformed. instead the president has used it to reward his friends, even commuting the sentence of his longtime political advisor roger stone for lying to congress in an effort to cover up for the president. this is not what the founders had in mind. that's why we included a provision to deter the pardon power by subjecting pardons to new transparency requirements if
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they concern a case that directly involves the president or their family. this is one of many important provisions in the bill to prevent the abuse of presidential power. our system of checks and balances, and prevent interference in our elections. watergate, congress enacted a series of landmark laws and reforms. they changed the way politics was conducted. they established laws to ensure that it would be discovered. we are taking a similar step today to restore checks and balances to protect our elections and to protect the legacy of our founders. and with that, i am pleased to turn this over to our leader, speaker pelosi. thank you very much, chairman schiff, for your great leadership. i associate myself with your remarks. i come to this podium to think the chairs for the great work that they have done to protect our democracy. , who led us in this
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discussion, chairman jerry nadler of the judiciary committee, chairwoman maloney of the oversight and reform committee, chairman yarmouth of the budget committee, chair o'laughlen who will be with us virtually. chairman eliot engel from foreign affairs and chair of the ways and means committee. and their wisdom put guardrails into the constitution of the united states because they knew that someone might overplay his or her hand. not ay probably could president would take over the guardrails and that the senate of the united states would be in that undermining of the constitution of the united states. ignoring, dishonoring the oath of office we all take to protect and defend the constitution of the united states, and
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everything that the constitution stands for. during this once in a generation moment, the congress has a sacred obligation for the people to defend the rule of the and restore accountability and basic ethics to the government. and that is exactly what we are doing with protect our democracy act. the legislative pack is sweeping a design to address the presidents litany of abuses to ensure they can never happen again by anyone. ,his package is future focused intended to restore checks and balances, not only during this term, but for any future president. our chairs have crafted a robust reform package that can stand up and prevent an assault on our democracy, including the abuse of the pardon power that mr. schiff has talked about. the soliciting a foreign interference in u.s. elections. the retaliatory attacks on whistleblowers.
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personaloffice for enrichment, and contempt of congresses oversight powers on behalf of the american people, including our lawful subpoena power. our is essential to constitution, our system of checks and balances, separations of powers. each branch of government having a check on other branches of government. it is sad that the president's actions have made this legislation necessary. as with other things, he gives us no choice. for centuries our presidents have shown a respect to the rule of law and any institutions that uphold our democracy. choice toca has a repair and strengthen our democracy, or to look the other way and enable its actions. enablers. that's what those who support the president's actions are,
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enablers of undermining the constitution of the united states. let us recall the words of benjamin franklin. we have quoted them over and over. on the final day of the constitutional convention, he came out onto the steps of what is now called constitution hall and our constitution was adopted. ,s he descended the steps people asked, what do we have, a republic or a monarchy? republicas you know, a , if we can keep it. this congress, article one of the constitution, the legislative branch, the first branch of government, will uphold our solemn duty to keep a passing thisluding bill. with that i am pleased to yield to the distinguished chairman of the jewish year he committee, who has -- judiciary committee, who has been a champion on the oath of office to the
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constitution of the united states. chairman nadler. want to nadler: i thank speaker pelosi, chairman schiff and the other distinguished chairs for their leadership in putting together the reforms contained in the protecting our democracy act. the trump administration has exposed certain holes in the fabric of our democracy by engaging in congress that -- by engaging in things that were once unconstitutional. on topics ranging from manipulations of the census to obstruction of justice, and even during the impeachment process. not only has this administration documents, itduce has ordered witnesses to refuse to appear together on the ground that they are supposedly immune from subpoenas. in fact, just this past monday
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night i received a letter from the justice department informing the judiciary committee that it will now categorically refused to send key officials to our hearings because attorney general barr did not like the questions he was asked during his appearance before the committee in july. refused tongress enforce the rights and courts, we have then forced into a years long process i the administration to run out the clock. it has been more than a year since we sued to have testimony from don mcgahn. the primary source is the detailed examination of the president's pattern of obstruction of justice. that case continues to work its way through the courts. similar delays have greeted lawsuits for grand jury materials for president trump's financial records, and for other important information vertical tower oversight work. that is why the protecting our thecracy act incorporates congresswoman, which provides an expedited streamlined process
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for the house and senate to enforce a subpoena to the courts , and to ensure we can conduct proper oversight. we have also witnessed brazen efforts by the administration to undermine the rule of law by interfering with pending cases at the department of justice on matters that directly implicate the president. whether it was the roger stone sentencing, the michael flynn prosecution, or the michael flynn investigation. the white house is threatened, intimidated the department into doing the president's personal bidding. that's why it includes a first-ever requirement that the attorney general has certain context of the white house for review by the inspector general that is necessary by congress. when the nation's founders wrote the constitution they stood fast to a key principle. that the executive must be accountable to congress, to the people and rule of law. it is vital that we reinsert
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this important principle. i am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the protecting our democracy act so that we may restore these and other checks and balances that are so fundamental to our democracy. speaker pelosi: as i bring congresswoman maloney up, i want to join the distinguished chairman in technology legislation of other members of congress that are contained in the chairman's legislation that they are putting forth, and chairwoman's. and i want to acknowledge maxine waters is doing and report -- in -- very important work on part of preserving our democracy. chair woman of the governor oversight committee
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. maloney: i am proud to stand here with speaker pelosi and my colleagues in government. many of whom are producing this legislation. i am am very pleased to join them in introducing the , toecting our democracy act present presidential abuse and strengthen advocacy and transparency and accountability. former oversight chairman elijah cummings often said, we are in a fight for the soul of our democracy. a presidentssing who retaliates against whistleblowers and inspectors general, abstracts -- abstracts investigation to rule out fraud and abuse, and openly mocks the law. it must stop. we have an obligation to take immediate action to rein in this terrible behavior.
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this landmark legislation will strengthen protections for inspector general's by only allowing an ig to be removed for specific reasons, and prevent them from being fired for political retaliation. i introduce the inspector general independence act with majority leader hoyer and several other members. after president trump retaliated against inspectors general at the department of defense, the department of transportation, state department, and other agencies. increasesge also protections for whistleblowers who expose waste, fraud and abuse. the trump administration has engaged in a sustained assault on whistleblowers. fellow workers have been harassed, fired, embarrassed, demoted. i introduce the whistleblower protection and improvement act,
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along with subcommittee chair jerry conley to get whistleblowers the opportunity to challenge retaliation in court, and prohibit disclosing a whistleblowers identity. whistleblowers helped our committee expose abuses in the white house security clearance process. the administration's nuclear deal with saudi arabia, and investigations into ethics abuses and mismanagement at the postal service and the census department by administration officials. this package of reforms also closes loopholes that president trump has exploited by installing unqualified people as acting agency heads and inspector general's. finally, the bill helps ensure that the line between official business and political activity is not erased. the trump administration has openly mocked and violated the hatch act.
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for example, former senior advisor kellyanne conway broke and thedozens of times office of the special counsel recommended that she be fired. president trump refused to act. recently he used the white house and other federal landmarks for partisan political purposes during the republican national convention. white house chief of staff mark meadows said, "nobody outside the beltway really cares about the hatch act." he's wrong. taxpayers care. they expect their money to be used for legitimate government activities, and not for partisan political campaigning. protecting our democracy act authorizes the office of special counsel to find senior political appointees up to $50,000 if they break the law, and the president refuses to hold them accountable. this bill ensures no one is
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above the law, and that all employees are held accountable for their actions. introducemy honor to the distinguished chair of the budget committee, representative young. young: thank you madame young. then that the congress of the united states should have the power of the purse. the power to decide how to raise and spend the people's money. that is the sole prerogative of the congress. embodied int's role his oath of office is to execute the laws of the country. in this case, in the relevant case, congressional appropriations. , manyhout history presidents have tried to circumvent congressional spending decisions in order to
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advance their own personal agendas, their philosophical agendas, and on at least three different occasions congress tried to push back on that by setting some guard rails, as we have mentioned several times today. 1884, thetime in anti-deficiency act prohibits the president from spending money that has not been appropriated by congress. the second time in 1974 when they created -- we created the empowerment control act, which was to prevent the administration from not spending, from refusing to spend funding that has been appropriated by the congress. and then creating the government accountability office, which is an independent agency whose theion is to oversee spending of the committee's various administrations. despite these guardrails, these undermining's of congressional
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authority has continued to take place, and i don't think there has ever been a more brazen violator of the power of the person donald trump. what's made it worse is it's not of some philosophical agenda, it's his own personal, political agenda. we saw that when he tried to withhold funding for ukraine in in hiso get assistance reelection campaign. that brought one of the articles of impeachment that we passed in the house. whether he is moving military funding to pay for the mexican wall rather than having the mexicans pay for it, used military appropriated funds. withhold funding to cities, this policy he does not like. who thinks they are -- in some way.
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of these reasons i reduced a bill called the congressional power of the purse act and that is title v of protecting our democracy act and has three major tenants. it restores congresses the central role in decisions. it increases transparency and accountability. on behalf of the administration. and it strengthens existing budgetary law in a number of ways, through recording requirements and requiring congressional gratifications of decisions to withhold funding to required the department of justice to investigate any illegality that the government accountability office may find. and finally by imposing penalties on those who violate the law. unfortunately, the anti-deficiency act, which was passed in 1884, has other penalties. --.empowerment control does
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ok, you broke the law. we changed those laws and loopholes and strengthened the existing guardrails so that we can reassert the power of to raise and spend the people's money. it's my privilege to introduce a video. chairwoman laughlin.
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[video clip] [inaudible] after four years of the president in modern history. [inaudible] on impeachment. ottawa] it's a stash it's to prevent the future president from abusing the power of his office. these measures presented [in audible]es
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and it worked pretty well until now. to protectro regard our democracy and the rule of law. [indiscernible] that restore our system of checks and balances. [indiscernible] when a foreign adversary reaches out about interfering in our election we should reward them. --tead, the trump campaign and for political activity.
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the protecting our democracy act to -- ithe duty inspires family members to report. in the election campaign act to improve it on foreign donations of information. [indiscernible] engaging and dishonorable conduct what the outcome of our election for health care. [indiscernible]
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to ensure the foundation of our democracy will be sustained for generations. [end of video clip] chairman ingle. >> let me think the distinguished speakers and fellow chairs. it occurs to me it's really remarkable what the house has done to shine a light on this administration's abuses and corruptions since democrats won back the house. whether it was the president's obstruction of the investigation into the trump/russia scandal, the firing of independent inspector general, the
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mishandling of the pandemic, the mistreatment of career public servants, or of course the corruption of our foreign public policy that led to the president's impeachment, house democrats have worked tirelessly. let's be clear, nothing we have accomplished, none of the answers we have got for the american people, or the abuses that we've uncovered are because this administration respects congresses oversight authority as a co-equal branch of government. it's quite the opposite. we have been fortunate that in some cases dedicated public servants have come forward, public servants who knew they might face bullying, harassment, retaliations, maybe even from the president himself. that was especially true during his impeachment. knows that heent thinks he is above the law and is accountable to no one. i have been around here for a wild. subpoena wastime a
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a chairman's tool of last resort. that's because for most of that time administrations understood congresses oversight role. even if they were not happy about it. trump through all that out the window. i signed the subpoena during the impeachment inquiry that mike pompeo simply ignored. another one a few weeks ago and he only capitulated once i threatened him with contempt. i followed him around when he decides to run for some other office in a few years. how can one branch exercised constitutional checks and balances on another branch does not seem to care about the constitution? this behavior has set up a profound and dangerous precedent. i hope during the next administration the pendulum streams back, but we are not willing to take that risk. this legislation we are offering gives legislation to sharper teeth. full to enforce our subpoenas,
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process, a judicial finds government officials who refused to comply. i hope these tools will be necessary, but it's clear that congress needs to stand up and reassert our power as a coequal branch of government. let me now yield to the chairman of the committee on ways and means. >> thank you. thanks to the speaker and thanks to my fellow chairs for bringing us to this moment. our fathers very wisely established a system of checks and balances to prevent against abuses of powers and to ensure the federal government executes these rights. it is the job of the american constitution and reminder that the american revolution was the ability of the people to question the executive ruler. we are seeing a fundamental
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system that is now being put to test. president trump in the administration have sought to remain accountability and eliminate transparency. there was a sound reason in article one that conscious -- congress has mentioned is the first branch of government as a coequal branch of government. and our ability to conduct oversight is a criminal component of legislate. over and over the trump administration sought to impede that work. ourof shocked and of efforts to ensure that the response of the administration of federal law and taxpayer dollars cannot and will not stand. the package that's being introduced strengthens the protections that defend our democracy. some of my colleagues have testified and i want to enforce the role of the congressional subpoena. congressional subpoenas are not requests that recipients can usually press -- easily brush aside. they are a tool the body uses to investigate potential wrongdoing and inform our legislative work
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to prevent future abuses. today's legislation for protecting the democracy act strengthens the enforceability of congressional subpoenas and andrscores that compliance remains not simply an option. the rule of law applies to everything a person in this country, including the president and members of the administration. we are here to reinforce and reiterate our commitment to the law, and our belief in our democracy, and our duty to ensure that government remains accountable to the american people. rep. schiff: i want to thank my fellow chairs and the speaker for going on the responsibilities. we are happy to take a few questions. i want to acknowledge the work of other members of the caucus. productkage is a work
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of a great many of our members. andjoining in that effort reflected in the bill itself is the work of representative:, representative connolly, representative dean, representative jefferies, representative porter, representative porter, representative swalwell, all of whom are original cosponsors of the legislation. with that, we are happy to respond to your questions. are there plans to bring up a package in this congress or wait until next year? it will depend on the availability of legislative time. i would hope to bring it up this year, but our expectation is whether we can bring it up this year or not. it is unlikely to move through a which is under senator mcconnell's leadership and has a -- to many of the president's actions that have
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broken down these very democratic guardrails and institutions. we are not terribly optimistic, but i will say this. i think these reforms will have bipartisan support next year in a new administration. when my gop colleagues will not want to see a democratic president do have to things the current president has done. while i don't expect to see gop support in the senate this year, i do expect we will enjoy bipartisan support in the future. >> presidential candidate joe biden said he opposes packing the court. do you agree with him? rep. schiff: the issue on the supreme court goes beyond anything this package has. i will leave it to the center counterparts to address that issue. i will say this, the package does seek to address one of the the problems, which is degradation of our democracy over the last three and a half
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years is not the work of the president alone. donald trump could not have accomplished what he has in terms of undermining our democracy without the willing help of gop partners in the senate. our system and constitution requires two parties to defend the institutions of the congress, and that includes a coequal branch of government and the congress and the courts. if the senate is going to violate its old rules. if senator mcconnell will violate the rules that bear his own name and stack the court in the last few weeks before the election, that would be something that the senate will have to remedy and is beyond the package. any other questions? >> did you have any time to look at the report that came out on biden and senator johnson? rep. schiff: i had a chance to read the press reporting of a question -- press reporting of it.
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i'm sure the kremlin is pleased. narrative the hazards origins in the kremlin and has been propagated by kremlin .gents in ukraine more than that, as senator johnson has repeatedly admitted, the port -- the point of the report is a political one to have an impact on the election. and the idea that taxpayer resources are used for political purpose is something that we address and our hatch act provisions in this bill. but of course, if you have growing numbers of the senate who are using taxpayer resources to advance a kremlin originated smear, there is little we can do of senators are willing to participate in that. any further questions on the bill? have you had any discussions with vice president biden or anyone on his team about whether or not he would endorse something like this?
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another way to look at it might be the erosion of negative power. is there any pushback that perhaps he is doing that to say he might take the white house? rep. schiff: i think the vice president has spoken repeatedly about the priority he places on restoring our democratic institutions, restoring our checks and balances. while we have not discussed the provisions of this bill, i think he has been very supportive of the concept to underline this need toion that we restore accountability and transparency. we need to strengthen the guardrails of our democracy and i know he has criticized a lot of the actions that this bill seems to protect against. so we look forward to working with the vice president and what we hope and expect will be a new administration to make this law, and to make sure that no president can again violate the rule of law away the current
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president has. >> how quickly would you want to bring it up next year under president biden? rep. schiff: i view this as a sequel to hr one. the package of reforms designed to strengthen our franchise. the right of our democracy is the right to vote. so hr one for he squarely addresses efforts to suppress the vote, disenfranchised communities of color, gerrymandering in the different states with dark money in elections. this i think is a natural follow-on to that. and that it tries to protect our democratic institutions whose foundations have been laid by that vote. when we take our last question and i will invite my colleagues to respond. >> vice president biden did speak with the senate democratic caucus last week. have there been any conversations with the overall
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democratic caucus about what the relationship between a president biden and house democratic caucus would be should he win the presidency question mark has a been a general conversation? rep. schiff: not that i improve me too, but that does not mean that is not happening. my colleagues,te if they would like to add on to any of the comments or questions that we have heard from the press. , when heresident biden served with president obama he constantly came and spoke with us. he was friends with so many people, he worked on so many issues. i probably worked with him when he offered the violence against women act. he has a tremendously strong relationship, i would say, with the congress and the senate,
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given his service. i had the occasion to hear him -- to someom to stem of my constituents last night. he was very strong on some of these reforms principles. he did not specifically mention this bill, but the soul of our democracy and returning us to respect in the world and respect for our institutions. although we have not spoken to him, just knowing his record i think he will be a strong supporter of this package. >> thank you, everyone. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
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visit ncicap.org] who will control congress in january? stay informed on all the races leading up to election day, with c-span's campaign 2020 coverage. watch the candidates debate and election results on c-span. watch online at c-span.org, or listen on the free c-span radio app. c-span, your unfiltered view of politics. announcer: c-span's washington journal, every day, taking your calls live on the air on the news of the day and discussing policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, discusses thiss year's presidential campaign in the battleground state of north carolina. then, washington post associate
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editor, bob woodward, talks about his new book, "rage." watch washington journal at 7:00 a.m. eastern thursday morning. announcer: watch book tv's coverage of the 20th annual national book festival this weekend. this virtual event hosted by the library of congress features online author discussions, plus call-in segments. saturday, gail collins with her book, "no stopping us now." >> since the 1970's, there's been this transformation of the economic role of women in america. announcer: at, she joins us for a discussion, taking your phone calls live.
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then, "his truth is marching on." >> here's a man in 1940 that repeatedly, in the american south, 50-60 years ago, acted in the tradition of essentially an early christian saint. announcer: followed by a live call-in segment where we will take your questions, sunday at 7:00 p.m. eastern, the book "cosmos." "cosmos" was an effort to give the broadest possible [indiscernible] coordinates in space and in time. announcer: at 8:00 p.m., the d."k "reaganlan >> i wrote about the corporate world savagely
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[indiscernible] announcer: watch book tv's coverage of the 20th annual national book festival this weekend on c-span2. announcer: a live look outside the u.s. supreme court, where the casket of the late justice, ruth bader ginsburg, has been lying all day for the public to pair the respects. their respects.

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