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tv   Washington Week  PBS  May 10, 2019 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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robert: standos. between the nd china, in the white house, in congress. i'm robert costa. welcome to "washington week." president trump: we have a great attorney general, now theat democr are saying, we want more. robert: president trump asserts executive privilegemu over the ler report, and democrats move to hold the attorney congress.ontempt of >> there may be some other contempt of congress issues we want to deal with at the same time. robert: republicans want to mov on. >> the mueller report has been filed. hinkcase is closed and i it's time to move on. robert: plus -- trade diste. top u.s. and china officials negotiate as markets remnn o edge. next --
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thank you. once again, from washi moderator robert costa. robert:the battle this week between the white house and democrs over the release of the full mueller report has sparked a still raging debate over power in politics, oversight and executive privilege. many republicans insist it's case closed. but tre are som cracks in the g.o.p. side. democratic leaders are frustrated by president trump's refusalo comply with their demands, declared that the u.s. in a constitutional crisis. joining me tonight, peter baker chief white house correspondent for the "new york times", laura barron-lopez, national political reporter forco "poli abby phillip, white house correspondent for cnn, and eamon javers, washington correspondent for cnbc. peter wrote about the president's strategy in friday's "tes."
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his bottom line, mr. trumpem is daringrats to impeach him. the message from the west wing, or shut up, impeach or move on. peter, you've written aook, "the breach," about the clinton impeachment. you'veau cored a book about the impeachment process. when democrats talk about a constitutional crisis, one, are we actually at that moment? and is this battle any different than things we've seen in the past i oneachment and the efforts to move towards there? peter: it's a great question. i don't kno if we're at a constitutional crisis. we're certainly at a confrontation. we may geto a crisis if a court were to weigh in and someone were not to obey the lawful order of a court -- that uld be arisis. we're seeing what we've seen in the past on steroids. in the past we've had presidents who defied or resisted congress when they tried to subpoa things, when they tried to solicit testimony that the
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president didn't want to have. he has -- other presidents have asserted executive privilege but this one is sayingre w doing it across the board, i'm done with this, i'm not plang your games and if you want to, come after me. robert: laura, why is speaker pelosi hold back on impeachment? to protect vulnerable democrats? laura: i think that's a piece of it. we know if democrats go down this route, when republicans did this under clinton, they suffered the consequences politically, the next election cycle and she doesn't want that to hap they just got a hold of the house. they have 40 seats to defend, ones thahey flipped from red to blue. and that there are plenty ofvu erable democrats. i was speaking to some of them today and right now they a too nervous about the escalation and the investigations. they still feel pretty good that pelosi is firm on no impeachment but if this goes on for six mort
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, some of them said that's when they may speak out a tension could bubble up amongst democrats., robert: abhat's the mood inside the administration? the attorney general about to be held in contempt of congress, the house judiciary committee moved that direction, yet he made jokes about it this week at a farewell ceremony for rod ronstein, deputy attorney general. abby: this is part of t president's natural instinct, to push back on these thing t presidenmp views all of the various investigations, which are on a number ofifferent topics, as part of the same effort by democrats to button-hole h and trap him into some kind of legal jeopardy or at the least, some political damage in the futur so i think he and the white house are pursuing a strateg giving not even an inch on any of these things, regardless of whether thetrategy is ultimately going to succeed, there is a sense in the whi t houst they haven't thought through the entirety of all
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these legal battlesut just the mere fact of delayrt is pa of the strategy in and of itself, frustrating the democrats, making it more difficult for them to create a seamless c.rrative to the pub and that is what they're trying to do, even if, down the line, some of these things -- they might not actually succeed on, because there is notll act a firm -- a bedrock to stand on when it comes to the o legalit some of these moves. robert: the house ways and means committee, eamon, issued a subpoena on friday for the president's tax returns, an escalation for their efforts to get documents about the president's finances. where does this lead? do they end up in the hands of theman? eamon: you feel like ultimately the democrats will get the t president' returns at some point. the question is howes many bat do they go through and if it ends up in the supreme court. ultimately, you wouldhink the democrats will be able to get the tax returns. and then the question is, what's in them, and is there anything
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politically damaging. the president has made the calculation that whatever heat he's taking now is worth taking because whatever's in the returns will be worse. we'll find out. the president has had a remarkable ability to roll through all sorts of things that might have been devastatingli cally to any other politician. he may be able to roll through this one, too, even if the returns comeut. robert: they're holding people in contempt. secretary mnuchin held in contempt about the returns. don mcgahn,xe ecutive counsel, could beel in contempt. could impeachment proceedings, if they moved in that direction, help house democrats compel testimony and get documents? peter: yeah, soumhe at is on the part of some of trump's allies is that the congress doesn't have a legitimate legislative purpose for some of the things they're trying to do. wh t are theying to pass
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here. if they were to formally open an impeachment inquiry, there's little argument against it because that's squarely inhe four corners of their power under the constitution and courts have made clear in the past that congress pursuing impeachment has a greater for overcoming things like executive privilege. now, it's one o these things where the president may get something he may not really want. the dog chasing the car, he may push t far in resisting on the subpoenas that they decide to go formp anchment inquiry to strengthen their hand and suddenly he's in a difrent place. he may think that's a political winn but once y open that, you don't know where it leads. eamon: isn't this a president who likes to fight? this is a president who thrives with a political foil. so if it's the opponent in the general election, the iemocrats no he can be out there punching someone in the nose rhetorically, he thrives and
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rallies his base. to somextt, whether you delay, the idea of fighting helps him,oesn't it? abby: and there's the risk fors democrn the fatigue of all of this. the mueller investigation took two years. getting to the point of peachment will take time and the proceeding will take a long time. there is the risk here, and i think the republicans and the president are banking on it, that the public will get so tired of all of this, they will tune it out and it will become ss important to them. steve bannon used to talk a lot about throwing things out theret sot people can't focus on any one thing and i think that -- president trump has become kind of a mode of operating. not so much pyhaps a strat but simply a way of being and operating, that he is doing so much that people have to focus on that no one can pay at ation to one thi time. robert: what do we hear from special counsel mueller? laura: right now, we aren't sure. it looks likehe may 15 marker
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will come and go and he'll most likely not testify on that day. negotiations,emocrats are ying they're still ongoing, they're still trying to find a way for him a to come testify but there's no set date. hancould take much longer we think. but i want to go back to what abby saidow about thrg all these things out there and the fatigue the democrats may face.a on the cn trail, whether you're out with the 2020 democrats running or inln able house seats, they're not talking about mueller, they're not talking about impeachment, they're asking about healthcare, they're asking about prescription drug costs and so they really aren't cused on this and if it continues, maybe they willtart to be worried about it. per: that's one difference with bill clinton, right? they approached impeachment similarly b clinton didn't talk about this stuff, he didn't want to bring it he didn't fight, fight, fight. he did school uniforms and small stuff. peter: he said i'm focused on the things you're talking about
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on the campaign trail and he went up in the pls during impeachment, successful strategy. trump has taken the other way. he lik to fight, he wants the argument. he has a powerful argument saying muellrg didn't c me, therefore you guys are just party -- partisans. it's more complicated tn that. robert: it's more than an argument, it's a fight. you have the president's personal attorney, rudy giuliani, going over to the ukraine, urging them to investigate joe biden and others. this is a white house fighting across the board. abby: and very much trying to use the sategies they believe were used against them in 2016. in the white house's view, in president trump's view, that they were under investigation and hurt by these efforts toe
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criminalhem after the campaign and i think they want to basically tak that and throw also dost joe biden and what they did with hillary clinton by trying to frame hilly clinton as someone who was corrupt, framing joe biden in that same way. this is going to be a really ugly fig, especially since at this early stage, this is how we're starting out.e robert: emocrats aren't the only people debating their path forward.ld dorump sharply considered richard burr, republican senate intelligence committee chairman af was reported that burr issued subpoena to donald p:ump jr. president try son was totally exonerated by mueller who frankly does not like donald trump, me. robert: the republican-led committee wants the younger mr. trump to answer questions about the earlier testimony about the trump tower moscow
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project. why is chairman burr holding firm whi so many republicans are saying, move on, including senate majority mcconnell, who said, case closed. laura: burr s been known for being independent and trying to maintain this bipartisanship on the senate intel committee which is a house with hse intelligence which totally fell apart in partisanship. so as you mentioned, they seem to bieve or are thinking that don jr. may have liedhe to when he testified before so that's why they subpoenaed him and took this step. robert: take me through majoritc leader mitchnell's thinking here. he goes to the floor and says case closed but on tuesday at the senate lunch privately, he doesn't go after senator burr, he says let the process play out. ter: this was a reminder of the old days on capitol hill
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where you had the independent committe chairman who was able to do what he wants. this is thee case wh the overt message from leadership is, this is over, it's done, move on, and one chairman out there saying i have a few questions and i want them abby he's not running for re-election which gives him power. robert: but senator t is up in 2020 and he's notrr echoing ut is rallying behind president trump and donald trump jr. naby: if you're running for re-election in trump's party, you have to be clear of where you stand on this iss of donald trump jr.'s subpoena. it is not one of those things where the president and his allies will look the other way if people are suddenly saying it's ok for this to happen. perhaps the only exception to
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that might be mitch mcconnell, but it's friday. i don't want t say what's going w happen next week. robert: i don't to say what happens next hour. abby: exactly. the president has been known to lash out at peoplef they doesn't believe they're loyal enough. robert: and senator tillis has a primary foe. abby: this is where it hurts the mostor republicans, when they're at risk of being primary. this is about republican party politics with the president at approval. you cannot go against the president. you will face a challenge in the primary. the pnt has been willing to back primary challengers in other races. they're not going to stick with the incumbentve time. robert: you can feel the heat between the white house and congress thieek. senate republicans, house democrats. and trade talks between the and c continued on friday without a deal.
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the trump administration raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of good president trump sounded optimistic on twitter writing that his relationship with chinese president jinping xi remains strong and that tariffs could be removed. for now, reuters repts it may take three or four months for feel theshoppers to pinch but the tariffs could affect products from handbag to electronics to clothing. it is estimated the tariffs could cost the average u.s. family $760 a year. ter, trade has been a signature issue for the president. i think back to your january interview with the president, he's talking about tariffs, even with a deal with china, he wants xriffs to be a part of it. he's pushing jinpi to the brink. how does this play out?pe r: they felt the chinese had backed off of something agreed to during the talks,hat they
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had agreement on changes that would be made. the chinese were saying it would require us to change laws and we're notilling to do that. trump people flipped out and he's playing hard poker, he raised the bet. he's making the case this is good for americans, better than if we get a deal. which seems to misunderstood these are the americans paying the tariffs, n the chinese paying the tariffs. it may be three or four months until the effect is seen. so far, it looks like a lot of americans who like trump have been willing to give him a break, thinking he's on our side, we know there may be short-term pain. but that's a-t shom situation that may not last. peter: does it affect the 2020 map,aura, if people in the midwest feel pain on the tariffs? tuura: i think it could. there was a in march done by ucla and berkley ttht said impact of these tariffs is felt the most in republican leaning counties in the midwest so if they decide that they
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don't want to put up with this anymore after sticking with trump a little bit, that could not only hurt his chances in 2020 but also b downlot whether it's the senate or house campaigns. a robert: whut the market, eamon? at cnbc you're tracking it andg talkith investors and white house officials. they took a dip early but ended positively on friday because of optimism from the administration. eamon: we came in th morning at 6:00 a.m., futures were up this morning and all week long leading up to the tariffs, t debate was how much the dow would be down but the dow went up. we don't know why. robert: liu he, vice premier of china is still here. aesident jinping xi sending letter to president trump, hoping for engagement. there are t leaves. eamon: the question is where do we go from here. talks continued thrrngh mid g and then they stopped. we saw the chinese leave the
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room. theuestion is where do we go from here? i talked to steven mnuchin, treasury secretary, late thisrn afn, and asked if there were meetings planned but he said not now. as we sit here now, we don't know when the next round of talks is, who goes whose capitol. the talks said this will go on but we don't have a date certain to look forward to. so now markets have no certainty about where this will go and maybe that's the way markets like it because they warmed toit oday. abby: it's not clear when president trump and president xi will engage. in the past they've needed toato to push past log jams in thesey conversations and t didn't. between yesterday and today, they didn't actually have asa convertion beyond the letter that the president received from president jinping xi so i think that to me is a signal that the
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president and the u.s. side is not yet ready to engage with kind of want china to sit out there and sit in these tariffs lor a little bitger. they're trying to up the pressure so that jinping xiha believes he has no choice but to take some really tough steps and as peter putnts the chinese would have to change their laws.'s a pretty major s there are real reasons why they may not want to do that so puts a lot of pressure on that government to act and that's what president trump is hoping will make thee. differe robert: let's stay with that for a second. take us inside o. chi jinping xi, like president trump, ahead of state, facing his own internal pressures within his communist party from ple.chinese p what's the dynamic over in china as they deal with presidentp? tr peter: it's not the same kind of system, rig? ey don't have a democracy but they have economic pressures.nt a big c with a lot of
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consumers and a lot of workers. you can't simply say, let's move hundreds of billions of over the course of 10 years without consequences. they face enormous pressure to make sure there's employment. we're seeing a lot of the world fying president trump. china saying, wait a second, on thisrade deal. we see the north koreans firing off missilesin a iran doing something that have keour people w up. the venezuelan coup, the failure of thehr ove that happened this week. a lot of things on the map right now and i think all a of these independent but play into each other a little bit because they see people standing up to trump and not necessarily paying a price. robert: the chi hsee about a million to two million in camps over in china. why isn't the administration, based on your sourcg bring
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up this issue with the chinese as the talks continue? mon: this is an administration that has said we're not going to lecture other countries about human rights, we're going to negotiate in a real politic way in terms of representing american interests and they' not raised that issue to a level of prominence for american interes. this is a president who calls himself tariff-man for a reason. tariffs are simple and the president believes an effective, unilateral, diplomatic, economic tool to use to apply pressure to get the deal he wants. it's very appealing to him. he feels he wants to leave these in place each -- even if the get a deal because ultimately it will reset u.s. tradere tionships around the world and benefit his core voters ahead of 2020. robert: another current to pay attention to, as the u.s. facess challe with north korea. its dictator, kim jong-un, launched short-range ballistic
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missile tests this weekend and the u.s. seized a cargo ship carrying coal for violating sanctions. is this situation with north korea, the missile tests, a reminder from the region and from tne c, in a sense, that the u.s. and china need to orwork on north together? these issues are coupled in some y, perhaps? laura: i think they might be. i think we're seeing the ramifications of the failed summit, we're seeing trump trying t grapple with these issues and even though trump appears to be not too concerned about what's going on, i think that we're h more and more from lawmakers, a bit ofne unea about what happened this week. robert: is the white house uneasy? by: i think president trump, even today, tellingpolitico" in an interview that he's not too worried about chairman koi is with these ballistic missiles. he's significantly downplaying the step even though he spent
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about a year talking about how thebsence these kinds of tests were a sign of progress in these talks. the failure of these talks to succeed really might be a harbinger of a faire of president trump's overall approach, not just in north korea, but with china, with iran, with venezuela. he cannot always use hon pe relationships with other leaders to resolve all of the underlying problems and that's been the bedrock of his strategy with north korea and it hasn't worked. eamon: i wases in hanoi formm tt and when it fell apart, it fell apart quickly and you could feel the level of chaos there at the end as the u e. lely. when you talk to white house officials, they say, we walked away from a potentially bad deal and more importantly, north korea has been put in a box. they haven't been launching h missiles, theen't been taking aggressive steps, they're talking to us. so all that's good and the fact that we didn't get there on thes
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deal, that m we'll come back and dry again. now if they're back io a phase where they're launching missiles, retesting, that takes that talking point away and it will make the administration nervous about north korea. the question is what can they do about it? robert: thanks, everybody, appreciate you being here on a friday. our conversation continuesto on "washiweek extra." we will discuss more foreign policy and how it's being tested r president trump and debated inside his administration. watchn it o our website, facebook, or youtube starting at 8:30 p.m. eastern. to all the moms out there, happy mother's day. i'm robert costa, good night. ce announ corporate funding is provided by --
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>> babbel, a language program that teaches rl life conversations in a new language sun, as spanish, french, ger italian and more. babbel's 10 to 15-minute lsons are available as an app or online. more information on announcer: financial services firm, raymond james. additional funding is provided by -- koo and patria yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broaasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the al captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> you're watching pbs.
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