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tv   Washington Journal David Frum Discusses How to Build and Autocracy  CSPAN  February 23, 2017 8:37am-9:16am EST

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president of the national council of negro women from 1957 to 1998 and received a congressional medal of freedom. : i grew up, and even in my religious expense, working with people of different , there wasackgrounds a feeling of openness, and how much each one contributes to the other. there is no superior, inferior. >> and what happened to abraham .incoln's mother lincoln filedn -- an affidavit to have his mother tried for mental incompetence. she could be tried due to
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insanity. david frum served as a speechwriter for president george w. bush, is now a senior writer in "the atlantic," and his current pace, "how to build an autocracy." first explain the autocracy you worry about. guest: when people worry about overbearing governments they conjure up images from 70, 80 years ago, that are as out of date as radio and 70 rpm records. that is not how things are done. there are fewer democracies in the world today than there were in 2005, and many countries they continue to have elections are less democratic than they were -- south africa, nelson mandela, the philippines, hungary,
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poland. argued they have -- i argued they have come to expand democracy. if you are donald trump, and your role as a trillion or -- you need to shut down --how would you do it? it is more possible than you think. i did not come up with any unlikely scenarios. it is step-by-step things you can do in the context of an american government. host: give us a sense of what that vision looks like in your hypothetical 2021 -- hypothetical 2021. guest: let me give you a real example -- if a union leader criticize, he could not tell the fbi to go harass
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the union leader, but he could tweet out the person's name, and that man could be inundated with death threats and drive him out of his house. i'm not making this up. that happened. if a company is not doing enough praise for a project he wants credit for, he cannot get the sec to invest a copy, but he can tweet and knock billions off his stock. lifting companies come into line saying if you have -- we have seen companies coming into line insane if you have good news, you had better credit the president or there will be consequences. t oncan achieve a gri congress to control of the party. congress, though the individuals don't have a lot of regard for donald trump, have shut down investigations of his money scandals, investigations over the russian connection. we will not know if donald trump
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is richer today than he was on election day -- we won't know that because we have no way of knowing that. host: you write what is autocraticoday is let's go with the manipulation of information, and how that works. more, americans, more and begin by choosing the politics, and then choose facts to support their policy -- politics. a recent survey released showing rising approval of vladimir putin among republicans in russia. startup is infatuated with vladimir putin -- donald trump is infatuated with buttercream.
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last night, sean hannity was tweeting out kremlin propaganda accusing john mccain of war crimes. host: if you want to talk to ,"vid frum of "the atlantic republicans -- host: "how to build an autocracy " is the cover story for the march edition of "the atlantic." it would mean a lot of checks and balances would have had to a failed, starting with the separation of powers. how does that fail in what you look to the future for? guest: checks and balances are a mechanism.ot a there only people. the first check is the congress.
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they allocate funds, oversee activities. in an age of polarization, congress has become a check only on presidents of the opposite party. we saw that beginning to appear in the clinton years. strengthened in the bush years, further than that in the obama years, and already strengthen more than that now. oversight were announced, and not one of them involve donald trump's financial activities or anything to do with the trump investigation. right now they are investigating a twitter account of the national park services, at a time where do with the most -- foreign government penetration. host: the a monuments clause in the constitution. aest: the cause lays down
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general principle and you need a statute to make it real. there are no statuettes. describes a gift. cut --al estate company run by the brother-in-law of the present of malaysia cuts the money,amily and for no the clause does not apply to that and it does not apply to the president's family. reportedork times has billions of dollars from the chinese family to the jared kushner family, donald trump's son-in-law. formeravid frum, scriptwriter -- speechwriter for george w. bush, advisor to the rudy giuliani campaign. is our guest. rodney. independent. good morning. caller: good morning.
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how are you doing this morning? host: doing well. go ahead. caller: i would like to say thank god for c-span. autocracy, in years ago,t movie and i believe that guy jim jones was building an autocracy, and the thing of it is when i was watching donald trump's speech this past weekend saturday in florida, and he was saying the news is after him, people telling me -- telling bad things about me, he reminded me of jim jones at the end of the movie. anyway, not having his people put in the ethnic papers, not showing his taxes, going against the nepotism laws, and all that kind of thing -- the people that voted for him -- they should have seen it coming, as far as i'm concerned.
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he never looked comfortable in the presidential mode. thank you very much. host: david frum, a few things there. guest: well, i won't deal with the jim jones comparison -- jim jones of course, let hundreds of people to a mass suicide. that may come true as a metaphor, but let's hope it physically does not come true for anyone. what i will say is that donald trump supporters are not disappointed in him, and i am not sure they will be. he willt people may, betray us -- i am not sure that is true. one of things i posture in the article is there was some short-term economic boost for the presidency. the economy was growing when he took office. it is hard to get a stop economy to begin moving, but once it is rolling, it is not that difficult to get the economy to move faster if you run
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stimulative policies -- big tax cuts, big deficits. stimulative policy stimulates. generateally dislocation and waste, and other problems, but in the two to three-year frame, it works. if they upend. frank, consumers will be less protected, but there will be more bank lending. if they go with these infrastructure programs -- they might not be run efficiently, there might be corruption attached to, but they -- to them, but they employ people. you may see wages increasing for people that might have not had a wage increase for a long time. the assumption donald trump will remain as unpopular as he is at this moment i think is falsifiable. certainly, i think he will likely remain very popular with republicans, and that is enough to hold onto power. host: in terms of comparisons we hear -- what do you make when
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people make comparisons to fascism or the early days of nazi germany? badt: well, the train of has a lot of stops before you get to hitler's station. one of the reasons to study history is so that you can come up with analogies other than the hitler analogy. he came to power in the context of a social crisis so extreme that literally no other advanced country has expressed what germany did in the years of 1914 to 1933. if you reach for those things, you are going to miss. i am concerned about analogies like victor or bound in hungary. hungry continues to have elections. they are free --free, not so fair, but they exist. host: free how? guest: they are free of the votes are counted, but the rules have been written in way to
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favor incumbents. two thirds of the government is the number you need to rewrite the constitution whenever you want, and they periodically to go with the election law to keep the governing coalition above two thirds. and there's a lot of state influence over the media through advertising and other kinds of pressures. the government arranges for independent media, especially in out byto be bought people friendly to the head of the government. -- has not wrongfully arrested a single person in all of this time as prime minister of hungry. a shrewd observer of hungary said to me in an advanced state, the power that comes from controlling the laws, not the power to person desperate secured the english -- persecute , but the power to
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protect the guilty -- then you can make friends. host: jim, democrat. good morning. caller: good morning, mr. frum. i have a statement first, and then a question. my statement, i believe donald trump is completely dangerous. he is a scary guy. my question is, with sam harris -- that was an awesome interview you did with sam harris. guest: thank you. i'm glad you listen to it. caller: my question is, the impeachment -- you said it is not possible. say it isn't so, and i will take your comments off-line. guest: i believe what i said is it is not possible under the circumstances of today. donald trump has not committed impeachable offenses as of today. it is a political standard. it is hard to imagine that with republican control of both
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houses of congress that such a thing would proceed. andachment is also a drama, too painful a remedy. so long as donald trump retains of thed on one-third country, it would be a convulsive act. i agree with you about the danger posed to the integrity of institutions and american freedom. i think the task is not to remove this president before the end of his four years, but to take away his ability to break the rules, and that means that whoever is in congress, if the republicans won't do it, something else will have to -- pass a law requiring the secretary of the treasury to ofease the tax returns anyone who wins a major party nominee for presidency. once you get a major party nomination, you get secret service protection, money for your convention --you sign up for a lot of public benefits.
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it is not unreasonable for the public to want to know we are not -- to want to know you are not taking bribes. of taxfidentiality returns is statutory, not a constitutional right. progress can change those rules. that would be the first thing i hope what happened. sadly, we need proper oversight, another rule, maybe a law that no one works in the white house who does not take a public seller. workshe president's team in the warehouse without a salary, they are not doing us a favor. this idea that you become more independent or more honest --it is exactly wrong. nobody who is up to any good purpose refuses a salary and the duties and obligations that come with it. if you want to be in the building, you have to take a salary, submit to the rules. host: for republicans. gabriel in durham, north carolina. caller: good morning.
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this show is so captivating and brings expert insight into issues. i will be quick and i will try not to editorialize too much. i do think what you touched on earlier about information -- the public is severely misinformed about really, where things are, and we fall in these different on thefox news and msnbc left, and it is toxic overall for the understanding of where the country is really, really trending. the oligarchy stance and the a autocracybsolute -- is absolutely real. for one, looking at trump, there is similarity between him and richard nixon, and there is a potential that they would, as he goes further and further into his own corner, as both the left and the right hate him, they would like to see him in page, because that would put mike pence in the drivers seat and they would like that more.
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citizens united plays a huge role here in allowing people at donald trump from the get-go to get to where they are, and that is allowing unfunded, or toimited sources of money come into these folks, these political operatives, so to speak. so, what would you do to roll do in- or what can we this american democracy to roll back what citizens united has allowed to happen, and should it require the states to go to a more federalized, consistent system, and potentially get rid of the electoral college? thank you. guest: the caller raises a lot of adjusting points. let me say this about citizens united --it did not all caps no good. at all donald trump -- it did donald trump no good at all. financed himself, and invoiced the taxpayer for a lot of it. paying high was
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prices to put secret service people on donald trump's plan, but he probably had a net contribution of some millions of dollars that came out of his pocket. that hesitancy do with citizens united. that is been the law of the land -- a candidate can spend unlimited funds on himself or herself. donald trump did better than any republican with small-donor lenders. he did better than any republican getting those. one of the things of 2016 cycle showed is that citizens united has been a disaster for republicans. i have written a lot about this in "the atlantic." buyers the cost take a look. a lot of those articles -- i urge the caller to take a look. a lot of those articles online. there is a second finance system created in which unlimited amounts of money can flow to a campaign provided the candidate himself or herself exercises no control over that money and
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divulges it entirely to a selected campaign assistant. imagine we had a corporation in which the shareholders were never allowed to comedic it with management, in which management was -- communicate with management, in which management was forbidden to release anything until it was over, and there is no law with self-dealing or arm's-length transactions of any time. how would the corporation function? the super pac's set up for jeb bush and to a lesser extent marco rubio, only did harm. they absorbed a vast amount of resources. they made a lot of very bad decisions. a lot of people got very rich. candidates themselves were unable to say knock it off -- that is not want my money spent. the candidates always care about making sure money is spent efficiently. campaign consultants don't. the caller began his
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question talking about the media. i want to read a little bit from "the rulers of backsliding democracies cannotnt a press, but resent it -- extinguish guest: yes, i don't think there is any chance the first amendment will go away -- i do not think "new york times," or "washington post" -- though i can talk about the pressures against the "washington post," in that it is owned by the people that own amazon. they brought pressure on twitter
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in the same way and pressure twitter to restore the accounts of what supremacists who had been -- white supremacists who had been shut down by twitter before the election. you see this in india, another backsliding democracy. you treat the press as the enemy and you inspire the press to do ride it. media,age of social controlling the press is almost impossible, or what you can do is make people cynical. in those days, you talked about the ambitious totalitarianism. created a system -- you signed into it, you believe that, you followed, you obeyed. the problem is something could happen that would dissolution the following and make them suddenly realize i do not -- follower, and make them suddenly believe i do believe this.
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if you teach people instead -- this is what the trump people do .- everything is lies there is no power, only truth. everyone speaks in their own self-interest. all cruises and comes from a place of opposition. if you tell people everyone is a liar, and it turns out you lie to them, they cannot complain. host: pawtucket. james. line for independents good morning. caller: i just wanted to comment. i wanted to comment -- i am frustrated as an independent because all these conservatives and liberals are going back at it, how bad trump is. you have to member, they are liberals, conservatives, they screwed up this country for years, now they are mad because somebody who is going to fight them on every end is going to change everything. and he is probably right about 90% of the things, but people are so thick-headed, they believe what they believe.
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nobody went against obama the last eight years with all the .llegal stuff he did what about fast and furious? nobody investigated. that went away quicker than anything. if you go back in obama's history, there is a lot of stuff the press never covered. end of his term, president obama issued a gigantic exec in order creating legal status for people in the country illegally, despite the law that says congress regulates immigration and naturalization. a lot of people said things, including me. the courts said he could not do it. when the courts said he could not do it, he stopped doing it. that a lot of the imaginary scandals about president obama turned out to be
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imaginary. yeah, if you conjure up things that do not exist, you cannot be shocked if the press looks at them and reports they do not exist in congress does not act on them because they do not exist. fast and furious with a policy mistake, but it was not a scandal. they were trying to track the flow of weapons back into mexico, and they did it in a way that proved ineffective. not the first on the government had what somebody thought was a good idea but was proven to be a bad idea and was then shut down. country ist that the in ruins and donald trump is going to change everything, i can think of a lot of ways the united states could be improved. by and large, i think it is a pretty successful country. we have had some bumpy economic times and some hardships, but our parents and grandparents got a lot of things right. let me point to the global
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structure of peace created after world war ii for our alliances and democracies around the world. in the age of nuclear weapons, it contained the soviet union and china without any major great power in war. there was the anomaly korea on our side, and russians fought wars, too. no one in 1950 would have imagined it possible. but donald trump is tearing apart our nato alliance. the number one foreign policy goal is soviet union and russia, and that was to cut the connection between the united states and germany, and that was to make europe weak. stalin and others cannot do it. donald trump is doing it. i do not think he is serving the interests of this country. he is changing things, but the changes are not improvements. host: republican, go ahead. caller: good morning.
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i think it is doing the country into service to use the word talk receipt -- the word autocracy with president trump's presidency. all he is doing is waking up a sleeping giant, america. hinkine been duped into and alwing govnment set the standards for how this country should operate and exist, and over the last 50 years, this country has been dumbed down. it is just breathtaking. donald trump is just the messenger. he uses that term a lot in his speeches. he is just pointing out to america how great the people of this country and free enterprise and a capitalist system. he is trying to awaken it, because it has been handcuffed by government for decades. guest: the reason donald trump
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won the republican nomination and why he beat candidates like marco rubio and ted cruz was because he was the least antigovernment in the field. by the way, this is something he may have even gotten right from a political and policy point of view, everybody else was singing from the old republican hymnal of paul ryan's budget plan, big tax cuts, big spending cuts, less medicare, less medicaid. donald trump said that we're going to keep medicare as it is an social security as it is. he is very hazy about his replacement for obamacare. the others would cost less and deliver lest, but donald trump said his system would cover at least as much. although he did have a tax plan with big tax cuts in it, he insisted his tax-cut plan was the biggest was because he had all kinds of benefits for other people, as well.
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the one thing donald trump was not was a messenger for reticle free enterprise. on the contrary. his business career is one of takere, especially as he advantage of special concessions and special advantages for politically favored businessman. that is what he has always done. -- the callert seems to have been a more regular republican, but donald trump is not like a regular republican, not like ted cruz. he is a different thing. we have seen that already. i work for the business administration, and we are speaking at the end of february. why this time in 2000 one, the george bush tax plan was available for everybody to read. it would become law by the end of may of 2001. it was substantial.
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there wills no way be any tax activity. it is not possible. there is no plan on the table, no agreement. it would be amazing if it happens by september. the reason is because donald trump is not that interested in any of the free enterprise ideas. he is interested in building his own authority and using the power of the state to advance his family's own business activities. while there is no tax plans, his sense of the two uruguay and abu dhabi to sell condos. host: we're speaking with david frum. tony is a democrat. good morning. morning.ood i think it is embarrassing, donald trump, and there was the zi-ism in europe,
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and there was a speech that was pretty much the same as donald trump's. all the people being oppressed were by the government or by the immigrants or the minorities in that country. he has pressed the press and the courts. that is what scares me about donald trump. i am a lifelong democrat, and i will not drink the kool-aid. guest: please do not make this analogy. it is so obviously untrue that it discredits all the things that are true. after hitler's became chancellor in january of 1933, first week, hundreds of people were beaten and many dozens killed by nazi thugs in the streets. that is not happening in the united states. when you say, where are the dead
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bodies? i guess we have nothing to worry about. vladimir putin, one of the most nasty dictators in the world, has used assassination as a tool of state. the number of russian citizens to death by vladimir putin in those 17 years is probably in the low hundreds. it is not like the mass killers of the 1930's and 1940's. is not even wrongfully arrested anybody. zuma in south africa has not wrongfully arrested anybody. there are authoritarian leaders that do not use of violence like they did in the 1930's. it were was not in it for what he could get. hitler's had a vision, a crazy
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and evil vision, but a vision. donald trump has no vision. he is in it for what he can get. he wants to shutdown legal mechanisms that will get in his way. do not use this analogy. it is misleading. peoplet majority of think the analogy is foolish or wrong or crazy, and then they say, ok, there is no problem. host: a call from arizona, independent. caller: yeah, hi. when it comes to the way the constitution is laid out and how we have seen congress and the president kind of go against each other, my question is, you calls on soul ryan much power in the house and senate to decide what goes to and they can silence elizabeth warren or whatever it might be, and now we see donald trump signing incredible amounts of executive orders. i remember when president obama signed the dream act, and
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republicans were furious about that. are we just now seeing the ways that our checks and balances maybe do not talents out -- do e each other out as well as they should? cannottheir president and nor congress because congress appropriates the money and confirms his cabinet, but he can work around congress. when you look at the trump cabinet, it is a reasonably normal group of people. departments, you have some not perfect candidates, such as ben carson who is not well informed on housing policy. there is a question about betsy devos. for the state department, defense department, cia, everyone is quite creditable. wherein the white house,
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there is not senate confirmation, that it looks like star wars. people who should not be working in government -- you would be worried if they were working for the mayor of your town, and there they are in the white house working for the president of the united states. people with ties to foreign governments. washead of cyber security escorted out of the executive office building by armed guards because he flung to his background check because of dodgy business activities. business activities have to be pretty dodgy for you to be physically ejected from the executive office. host: just a minute or two left. cpac in washington, d.c., and president trump speaks tomorrow morning. today, mike pence is speaking. stephen bannon is expected to speak today. you can watch all of those on c-span. when you watch, what will you be
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looking for? collapse ofinal conservatism into trumpism. it was aervative, coherent body of ideas. now it is what trump says it is. if he says we are all-in for moscow, we are all in for moscow. seen for a shaky if a structure program. it is just a remarkable implosion. usple have been talking with for a long time. i think it is fair to say we are at the end of conservatism. your time thise morning. , jim kessler will join us. he is with third way. he will be talking about the new blue campaign. that is coming up in just a minute on the "washington journal."
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"afterwords"ht on -- >> our focus was to try to get justice for trayvon. these obstacles were in our path. what parent do you know that has a 17-year-old that if something happens to them, they would not want answers? >> we understand there is a bigger picture, something more important than just the death of our son. there are other lives out there
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that we're trying to impact. >> on the fifth anniversary of the death of trayvon martin, his parents talk about their son's life and death and their experience with the judicial system in their book "rest in power." they are interviewed by a washington post national reporter. >> five years removed, what do you think of the legacy of your son's life and of his death and of the activism because of it? look at million cities united in the group and phrase black lives matter. what comes to mind when you think of that? >> first and foremost, we definitely think of trayvon as a young man who galvanized this country. >> it is not just who trayvon
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martin was but all young black and brown boys, and some girls, as well, that have been killed and nobody has been held accountable. >> sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on "afterwords." watch c-span as president donald trump delivers his first address to a joint session of congress. this congressp: is going to be the busiest congress we have had in decades. >> tuesday and not a clock p.m. eastern on c-span and . listen on the c-span radio app. continues. journal" senior vicessler, president for policy and one of the cofounders of third way. what is third way? guest: a think tank in , andngton, d.c.


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