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tv   Washington Journal Jonathan Swan Discusses the Trump Administration Agenda  CSPAN  May 15, 2017 8:32am-9:03am EDT

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a new media site? what will make you come back for the information that is there? what will make you trust it? caller: that is a difficult question. i would change the question slightly. i would like to know how we get other people to stop watching their one channel. have you get other people to stop watching only fox news or only msnbc and go to a site that is not going to be labeled as liberal, but a website that people will understand. my sister does not like to watch the news, because she figures that only the news of the day is there. there is no explanation to how it will relate to her. she walks into the other room, and she sees our parents watching nothing but fox news. so, she is frustrated. how is the general public going
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to get something that they can all relate to? host: certainly some good questions. we will be talking about it this morning as we take our viewers back across the potomac river to the axios headquarters in arlington, virginia. we are joined now by a political reporter at axios. jonathan, we want to start with lanr story about democrats' p to exploit the comey controversy. take us through what democrats are thinking right now. isst: what they are thinking that they had donald trump in a particularly vulnerable situation, and chuck schumer wants to do this -- use this as a leverage point to get what they want, the changes they want made it to the russia probe. the first amended that democrats are going to make this week is that they want a special prosecutor appointed to oversee
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the investigation into potential collusion between the russian government and the trump campaign. they looking for some of these more independent minded republican senators, like lindsey graham, to support them on this. i am not seeing a lot of movement on the republican side of the senate towards this point of view, that the democrats will but this a key -- of view, the democrats will make this a key litmus test for republican'' patriotism. i think what we are also going to see come up based on my reporting, is that they are going to be calling for james to testify in public at a congressional hearing. that is something's we can expect, what the bigger picture is that they are really -- can expect, but the bigger picture
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is that they are going to really abstract the republican legislative agenda using these types of demands. host: how likely do think it is that james comey would testify in an open hearing? guest: i think quite likely. there was a fascinating interview last week that should have gotten more attention that was with one of comey's long time friends. he was saying, -- and he was very clear about this, this was not based on any conversation he has had with comey since he was fired but based on how long he has known him, he believes that comey will at some point in the future give a full account of his side of the story. he had interesting way of describing james comey. he said that the history of james comey is that he makes
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can agree or you disagree with him, but what he does is explain himself in public in a way that makes people uncomfortable, because he reveals a lot about his thought process, what went on, and the decision-making that was behind it. their jonathan from axios, national clinical reporter. he is here to answer your questions. democrats, the line is 202-748-8000. republicans, 202-748-8001. independents, 202-748-8002. here's a clip from lindsey graham from yesterday on "meet the press." >> right now, i do not believe donald trump is the subject of any investigation regarding collusion with the russian government. however, this tweet needs to be got with. i think the russians did interfere with our election, but
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i do not think they changed the outcome. the president needs to back off this and let the investigation go forward. we need to call james comey and get to the bottom of this. president'she medication strategy over the past 6 -- communication strategy over the past six or seven days, what do you think? guest: lindsey graham is reflecting the views of a substantial number of public and senators. frustrated with the way the president is commenting on the investigation into the russian interference. lindsey graham is sending a signal to the president that he could be a major problem for him if he does not stop intervening in this delicate area. host: how would you describe the white house indications strategy communications
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strategy in the past six days? what do you hear in the white house briefing room? guest: if you really want to hear why -- i laughed because it uses the word "strategy." what happened was that about 98% of that white house press shop learned about the james comey decision by learning -- looking up at the television. shawn spicer and the communications director, they had about one hours notice. there was no strategy, no plan. the president does not care, friendly. he thinks they are -- does not care, frankly. he thinks they are incompetent and that they had enough time to line up people to go on air and defend him. he was trashing shawn spicer
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privately throughout the week. i would not be surprised if he left -- if you let both of them go in the near future. host: jonathan swann in the white house briefing room. he is the national clinical support -- reporter for axios. but get you some callers. first, ryan on the line for independents. caller: good morning. thank you for my call. a lot of people have been comparing the trump and nixon administration, and while i think that is somewhat accurate, i do not think it does us any justice. i think it would do is a much morer service if we drew a historical parallel with the administration which is historically renowned as the worst presidency we have ever had. fact ofnto account the
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foreign policy and the state department that is almost toothless and a presidential cabinet that has a multibillion-dollar net worth, it has provided for a environment of political corruption at the highest levels. the same things could've been said about the buchanan administration. this may sound hyperbolic, but proliferation of slavery and the civil war. the really is a silver lining to this. here's the reason for my question. corruption --e our country had a quantum leap forward in his conscience when it elected abraham lincoln. i am kind of excited and curious to see what our quantum leap forward is going to be. i am also nervous about what will happen at the same time. i'm trista hear from you.
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candidly, as a foreigner from the outside -- i am interested in hearing from you. candidly, as an outsider looking in, what do you view as potentially our quantum leap forward? guest: so, i think there are a --ppots here it one pot pots here. one pot is that we are only 100 days in. i have avoided making sweeping historic comparisons so far. i want to see how the rest of the year shakes out. there has been talk about the chaos internally, and that has not so much been resolved but fixed to some extent on the national security side with the introduction of h.r. mcmaster. they now have a much more conventional decision-making process there. on the domestic side, it is clear that things are fairly shambolic.
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you have people who are concerned about donald trump getting rid of the fbi director which is something he is within his rights to do, but it does raise concerns because this is an agency that is investigating the campaign that he ran. so, there is that potential collusion with the russians. so, i do see these concerns, and i think it is hyperbolic of people calling this a constitutional crisis. to your second question about with the reaction to that is, i think we are seeing a pattern in the last 25 years of residential campaigns where -- presidential campaigns where you have a reaction to the last president. so, with obama, he was the antidote to george w. bush. you had a guy who was not so big on detail.
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he liked to talk in a more folksy way. he was almost the anti-intellectual. then, you had obama who was a very reasoned, cool, intellectual. now, you have donald trump. i would not be surprised if we n to a version -- a reversio someone who is maybe a more conventional political figure. talk about these different celebrities running, but i would not be surprised if we saw a more conventional response to donald trump. host: jonathan swann, national political reporter at axios. before that, a national political reporter for the sydney morning herald in australia. brian is waiting to talk with you on the independent line from massachusetts. brian, good morning. caller: i do not see what the big deal is.
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news media is owned by corporations now. they own everything. they decide what gets out. bs to keep bunch of tax cuts off of big for the rich. totom line, it comes down the people who call in to congress and the senate and planning about things. they keep track of that. people are complaining about the news media being corrupt and that all the jobs are going to mexico and china. the eu legals are taking -- the illegals are taking all the jobs. the corporations are hiring them because they work cheaper. host: jonathan, i want you to pick up on the first part of that. the caller saying that this is all a distraction from other
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issues. guest: well, i do not really by that, because -- let's just unpack that. if the thing donald trump wants russia, andfrom is i can tell you from my own reporting that he is highly agitated about the russia storyline. he gets enraged by it. if we take that as a premise that he wants to distract from that, then firing james comey objective.ieved that if anything, it has just turned on more of a spotlight to the russia probe. was the question it was a distraction from that or from something else? i kind of missed the train of what this was supposed to be a distraction from. i kind of object to the idea that the comey firing was a distraction from anything,
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because it has probably created the most acute problem he has faced so far in his presidency. host: next caller from fairfax, virginia. good morning. caller: thank you. thank you, jonathan, for appearing on c-span. one question i have for mr. swan is, from watching the intelligence hearings on and off, i will often hear one of the senators say that we all agree that this happened or that we all agree on this or that this person did such and such, but i have never seen any proof or evidence. is aerstand that there need to protect sources and methods, but at some point in the committee have to show proof and evidence to the american people of what did or did not happen. i do not see that occurring. is, the saudis
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employed three lobbying firms, influenceave great over our representatives in the united states but also in great theyin and europe where manage to get the europeans on a -- just toot admit , hillary clinton accepted money from the saudis through her foundation. host: you have a lot going on there. what is the other question? caller: the first question is the need to show proof and evidence regarding the russia charges. host: let's let jonathan swann pick up on that one. i think for now, it is an active investigation. they are still investigating. it is not unusual that we do not
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visibilityr even 75% of that investigation. i think, if and when they come down with a verdict, then we will see more. but there will always be an elephant -- an element of classified information kept secret from the public. i know the media finds it deeply satisfying and so does the public, but that is the way things are. i'm not quite sure what the question was about the saudi part of that question was. host: were moving on to our next caller on the line or democrats. good morning. caller: good morning. the question -- the problem i have is with the media and the non-sourcing. so far, your guest this morning made non-source comments. i understand your to do that to protect your sources.
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when you make the comment that privately president trump is and upset with sean spicer trashing him and will probably let him go, or when you say privately you hear about things donald trump says -- that has no sourcing. i think one of the reason people get -- i think that is one of the reason why people get upset with the media in do not trust them anymore. it just sounds very land and not believable. host: jonathan swann? guest: this is a very important question. let me do my best to answer it. i spend every waking minute of my working life, and so this might allen, talking with people who work at the white house. , talk with people on the hill but really the book of my time is spent with white house officials. a lot of of it is off the record and with senior officials.
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we are blessed that we have good access inside the white house it one thing i will tell you -- inside the white house. . one thing i will tell you is that there has not been a story i have written about this administration that his been contested on the facts by the white house. so, i cannot name my sources if they have not given me permission to. often times, the only way i can get information out to the public is if i give them anonymity. that is part of the working conditions we face as reporters. i understand the grave trust problems we have in the media, but i will tell you that what i have told you is not hearsay or rumor. it is from somebody that i trust, who we trust, who we know from having conversations with the president, and if the president has not contested that fact, then i would have you
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dwell on that, too. we did a report today that had no sources named, it was unimpeachable he -- but it was completely sourced about donald trump's opinions on his staff, and we have had no call back itm the white house because is the truth. host: is there a litmus test about creating trust when it comes to sources' names? guest: there is a litmus test we use for our sourcing. number one, we have to be satisfied that the information is true. that involves multiple sourcing. i do not take people at their word. i assume everyone is pushing their own agenda. cross is about referencing in establishing that
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a fact is true. the next step then is, is this person simply trying to unfairly smear someone using us as their barrier to hide behind? i do not like to give people anonymity if all they are doing is taking a cheap shot at someone. the example i just referenced that donald trump was reference -- venting about sean spicer, that is an important information to come out, because it foreshadows what he might end up with his communications team. so, that is a piece of information that is true, uncontested from the highest levels in the white house, and i think it is important to be out there in the public domain. host: next caller from new york. you are on the line with jonathan swann. caller: i was wondering why the
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obama administration told donald trump not to hire mike flynn, because the obama administration fired him but they let him have his clearance. that does not make sense. i called a bunch of democrats, liberals, and i asked them why they did not ask obama to pull his clearance. host: jonathan swann, some of the history there? i think there is an important detail missing from that narrative which is that barack obama fired mike flynn, and that is in important piece of context. i do not think there is any kind of great mystery behind the fact that president obama warned donald trump about mike flynn. to be clear, there are differing reports about if that was done in a lighthearted fashion, kind
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of in just, because mike flynn has done a lot of trashing barack obama in public. so, i do not think there is any great conspiracy behind obama saying this to donald trump. -- he obviously turned against mike flynn and fired him. he thought he was somebody he did not want in his administration, and things got pretty poisonous from there. host: caroline on the line for democrats in washington, d.c. good morning. caller: can the president lie like he does and get away with it? every day, he comes out and he lies, and then the other press people, and tv and they lie. is that ok? that should not be ok. do the people in this country not see what is going on? host: jonathan swann?
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guest: no, it is not ok to lie. our job is to point out when they have made a falsehood and try to correct the record. that is what we tried to do every day. we tried to constantly square what they are saying in public with what they are doing in private. it gets back to what they caller was asking about sourcing. to haveimportant sourcing, because you can square what is happening behind the scenes with what is being said in public. host: what do you make of sean spicer's complaint that the press is trying to make everything a gotcha game with the administration? guest: i have no patience for that. this is a lot of the to pressure that's -- this press
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bashing. when you talk with them privately, these people tend to be less adversarial than they are public. but, i have no patience for that. we have to be precise, and if they make mistakes -- and if we make mistakes we should correct them. the same standards should be applied to them. they need to be precise in the way that they talk, and they have not been in the past week. -- next callerr on the line for independents from west virginia. good morning. caller: i think donald trump is doing a fabulous job considering the number of lying people he got boxed into. i was always a democrat. i did not leave my party. i ran like hell because of what they stood for. i was just in north carolina,
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and i did not see any transgender people in the bathroom trying to get in. what we have is a liberal agenda that is straight out of hell. , cannot trust the news media because they are lying every day. if you start line a little bit, it soon does not matter what you do, because it is all about the money. host: can i ask who is taking the money? caller: i am saying the liberals are taking a lot of money, and that is why the news is so messed up. has anyone care that suarez a plan for world domination and he is sacrificing children -- host: jonathan swann, if you want to pick up on that line of trusting the media? look -- there is a crisis right now in the news media which is a crisis of
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trust. i do not think that is hyperbolic. talked about it earlier where people do not trust what they see in the newspaper or on television. look, i do not have any grand solutions to that problem, except for at the things i can control at my level as a reporter. i work hard every single day to verify every single word i put out to the public. it is my name above those words. if i made a mistake, then it is my name above the mistake. if i make a mistake, then people should judge me on that mistake. that is all you have in journalism, your reputation and that your sources trust you. i do not know if that is a satisfactory answer. the problem is immense, and we really need to stop being so opinionated. destructive on twitter with journalists popping off
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about their opinions on the president. people do not need to hear my opinions. they just need to hear my , and that iss what i try to do every day. host: jonathan swann, think you so much for your time this morning. coming up in just a minute or two, we will be changing our discussion to health care. we are going to be joined by an healthalth care -- axios care reporter. our next caller is dorothy on the line for democrats. caller: when the guy called in about mike flynn's security clearance, does the president give or take away security clearance? , you allquestion is have not come on and say what donald trump's regulations that he has pulled how they affect
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the public. gm mentioned the consumer intention best protection agency. -- gmg pesticides mentioned the consumer protection agency. letting pesticides be used in certain construction materials good can you -- materials. can you talk about the regulations he has taken away and the harm it could do to public -- the public in general? certainly topics we can cover, and i would point you back to tuesday of last week where we had an entire show on the coal industry. an environmentalists came on and spoke about the swing rule that the trump administration rolled back. it was an extreme protection rule that was moved at the end of the obama administration.
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thank you for bringing up other topics we can discuss.
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