tv Washington Week PBS December 9, 2017 1:30am-2:01am PST
robert: president trump gives his full support to embattled senate candidate roy moore. i'm robert costa. politics and choices amid sexual misconduct. tonight on "washington week." >> in the coming weeks, i will be resigning as member of the united states senate. robert: minnesota senator al franken was one of three lawmakers who resigned this week amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations. he was investigated starting in november after a radio anchor alleged he groped and forcibly kissed her. normal kratz -- democrats called for his resignation. >> we should be held to a higher standard.
robert: and democratic congressman john conyers announced he would retire after facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and pressure from party leaders. across the aisle, arizona congressman trent franks announced he is leaving immediately. plus, the countdown to tuesday's special election in alabama. will voters look past the accusations against roy moore? we discuss it with philip rucker of the "washington post," yamiche alcindor of "the new york times." peter peter of "the new york times" and andrea mitchell of the nbc news. >> funding is provided by -- >> their leadership is instinctive. they understand the challenges of today.
and research the technologies of tomorrow. some call them veterans. we call them part of our team. >> additional funding is provided by -- newman's own foundation. do noting was profits to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics ask excellence in journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the yuin foundation. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, moderator robert costa. robert: good evening. three members of congress were forced out of their jobs this week, brought down in the wave
of women speaking out about sexual harassment and worse. million representative john conyers announced his immediate retirement after a number of former employees lodged sexual heirsment claims against him. the 88-year-old civil rights icon and korean war veteran had searched for -- more than 50 years in the house. bowing to pressure from fellow democrats, minnesota senator al franken announced he will resign his seat in the coming weeks. several women have accused him of groping and forcibly trying to kiss him before he came to washington in his equipment speech, franken did not apologize but did take a parting shot at the president in what he says is republican hypocrisy. >> i of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that i am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the oval office and a
man who has repeatedly braved on young girls campaigns for the senate with a -- the full support of his party. robert: and then republican congressman trent franks, an outspoken social conservative resigned today. the move comes after the house either i said committee opened a probe into conversations he had about surp gassy with two female staffers. it was a week of reckoning in washington and especially on capitol hill. what was so striking was the way the democratic party responded, purging their own. why did they respond this week in this way after being a little bit more hesitant in the prior weeks? yamiche: this is certainly a tipping point in the congress. we had had stories dripping about different people but this week the democrats essentially said we're going to take the strategy of purging our party. we're going to have people thrown out of our party and not
wait for the ethics committee to go through because both john con earliest and al franken denied from the beginning to the end that they were guilty of most of these things. but the democrats said we're not going to do this i think part of it is because with roy moore come together senate, they're gearing up for this argument that roy moore doesn't deserve to have a cement and in this way it might give them a little bit of leverage saying we purged our party already. robert: maybe it was all politics but maybe it was broader. you look at this trent franks situation, talking about surrogacy. he decided to resign immediately today. there's a culture on capitol hill and this is affecting bhomente participants. andrea: the extraordinary thing is wife seen this for decades. i covered the him. i covered clarence thomas, those hearings and noe knew what was going on in judgments of anita hill and clarence thomas and we all knew which senators to tell
our internals to to the -- to got -- no. go near. no one knew you could report anything and i have a lot of questions, why didn't we speak out? we didn't know where to go to either protect colleagues, ourselves or just to get feel reported. there was no way to get anyone reported and the ethics committee was notoriously slow, ineffective and secretive. robert: the white house has had a complicated response. president trump still faces accusations from last year's campaign, more than a dozen women. >> with the accusations that came out last year during the campaign, trump categoryly denied them and fails nod rep decisions. in, he was -- ref cushions. in fact, he was elected president because of it. there are a lot of americans, inclusmeding senator al franken
there who feel likes this president needs to be held accountable for his arkses. it's not just the video where he bragged about sexual assault but the allegations of inappropriate touching, sexual heirsment, sexual assault. the comments he's made about sneak backstage at the beauty pageants he's owned. there's a pattern of behavior there that he's not answered for in the same way others have. robert: what do you make of senator franken stepping away? someone talked about as a 2020 presidential hopeful. a major voits on the progress gretch side of the party. now he's gone. >> he and his people thought hesked survive. he had been a number of women who had been on his staff come out and speak for him. the argument was he was a comedian doing a stupid but he thought funny thing with the
picture and all. that it turns out one thing almost always seems to lead to more and these folks who come under accusation found themselves with their houses being thoroughly scrutinized. you have a set of hundreds of candidates getting ready to run next year for the house and senate. right now all across the country there are candidates having uncomfortable conversations with their strategists and consultants and their wichese -- wives perhaps and their spouses and children. what did you do? what moo might people have thought you dimmed? let's talk about it now. andrea: some of the polling shows that younger women have a different attitude. different definitions, different tolerance. that's what you saw with kirsten jill brand as well. there are more women in the senate so it's closer to a critical mass. it's not parity but you have more women to speak out. but i also think they are kidding themselves if they can
draw this bright line -- well, we've purged our house before the tuesday election with roy moore even to try to make that points now so they have a couple more day tots argue against roy moore and then for the mid terms because no one knows who is next here. now -- not in this environment, not in all of our industries, not in every profession and one homes at the level of service workers and wait statue and other women who don't have the protections that many of us have. robert: you were also on capitol hill this week covering republicans. this article about you covering flake farenthold, the texas congressman for using taxpayer money. under scrutiny. republican house member. he's not being pressured to resign or stem away from many republicans on capitol hill as the democrats are clamoring for many people on their -- on their
side too step away. what's the difference among republicans? yeganeh: i chatesed him essentially down the hallway and when i finally caught up to him i said do you feel any pressure to resign? he said i've done nothing wrong. i essentially feel like i'm confident in hi -- my position. his leadership has been radio silent on whether or not he should stay. there is some talk that paul ryan is starting to clean up shop. i think trent franks is one of those people. he essential little resigned before the story came out. when i reamed the statement from his office saying why he was resigning, there was this topic of surrogacy. you really didn't understand and then the next day you see this drip, drip of stuff about the $5 million and possibly wanting to naturally impregnant nate a woman. there's this idea that paul ryan knew about this information and said you have to go. that points that andrea made
about onier -- younger women. i was waiting for the press conference to start when jill brand treatment twoo tweeted that yam franken had to resign. it was like 10 minutes and almost every democratic senator said i'm not going to wait for chuck schumer. i'm going to tweet out on this that was remarkable to me. >> that's what matters, is the presence of women in positions of leadership. only 6.4% of the c.e.o.'s of the forchunal 500 companies today are women. here we were and it's still really a family culture at the top of the corporate boardroom, hierarchy and certainly in politics. robert: so what dulls it mean for the white house if sexual harassment and this culture of having a national discussion about it dominates the mid terms next year? >> it's very tricky, not only
for the white house but for the republican party, especially in if roy moore wins this senate election in alabama. president trump has outright endorsed roy moore. he's told his aides improvemently that he thinks roy moore's statement that these accusations are not true matters, that he takes roy moore at his word. if he's around in the senate every day and making comments and showing behavior that republicans, including those in the white house are going to have to answer for, it really complicates the political calling lulls. andrea: one thing i do think is becoming apparent is that we're in the middle of a cultural revolution and we don't know what the rules are. rumente marcus has a thought-provoking column in the "washington post" suggesting that there is a lack of proportionality with al franken and some of the others, especially considering the possibility that roy moore is
going to get elected >> that's part of the conversation, are we able to make distinctions between million dollars and felonies? where does the line be crossed to the points where you have to be fired, lose your seat, pay the ultimate price and is there anymore superb immediate rip accountability? robert: senator jill brand of new york said this week enough is enough at a news conference. we need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is ok, none of it is acceptable. she's having this national moment as a politician. yamiche: she is but when i hear that i also hear al franken say if i had been able to come before the event i said committee, i would have been cleared. there's this idea that his speech was not the speech of a man who was apoll jet i think and sympathetic. he was going away as a fighter saying i want justice. you guys didn't give to it me so i have to step down but i don't
think this is fair. riley president trump is in pencils coil, florida this friday night for a capable style rally and it's just 25 miles from the alabama statement lionel. former white house chief strategist steve bannon rallied alabama republicans earlier in week. while he went on the week against establishment republicans, moore cast himself as a political outsider. democratic candidate doug jones, however, is portraying the race as a referendum on decency and tried to make the case that next week's election also has economic implications. >> does the idea of senator roy moore make it more or less likely that toyota or anyone else would see alabama's image in such a negative way that they would cross alabama off their list and move on to another state?
>> i was in that room in birmingham a few days ago and roy jones talked about his democratic valleys, his alabama values and that speech was a pitch to suburban business-minded republicans and can he close that gap? >> he's trying to make it clear that he would be an independents time of senator from alabama with their interests in mind. the problem is he's got president trump with his big megaphone almost every day now saying he's a puppet for chuck schumer and nancy pelosi, distorting his record to make him seem like a typical democrat. andrea: the big drawback for him with alabama voters is his view on abortion. being pro choice is a really hard path for them to follow. they are going to try to energize the vote, do something about turn out. there's some data down there
indicating that absentee ballots are out, there could be a higher turnout. john lewis and other civil rights leader are going to be down there trying to turn out the black vote but you're right. the president is trumping everything -- no pun sfwenleded with his message that this man is somehow soft on crime, which is lewd crowls considering that he prosecuted the klan. yamiche: i go back to the equipment with i interviewed after that access hollywood story came out. they were telling me two things, yes, i understand that trump is brash and talks in a way that is inappropriate but hi -- my husband and other men in my life talk that way. over women say i've dealt with things that were difficulties and i've been able to overcome them. there's this idea that when roy moore is saying i asked their parents for their permission, this is almost a fight between
good and i'm. i wonder if he's also going to the culture of alabama saying you have to understand, this is the culture. i'm participate of the culture. a child almost of alabama. for some people that feels familiar. robert: yes, the culture of alabama. when i was at this restaurant, working class neighborhood this womening happen. white voters, black voters. it's no. just democrat vs. democrat, blue vs. red. it's about alabama's past and culture versus its future and its national reputation could be on the line. >> i think it's also about the idea that alabama is under assault by outside elites. that's the appeal that roy metropolitan is making. don't let these outsiders like the "washington post," excuse me for saying and the liberal democrats and the established republicans like mitchell mcconnell tell us who we should have as our senator. it's an effective argument.
you saw the holes they're trying to poke into the stories of some of the women today, whether extra writing had been done on the yearbook or not. trying to give voters a reason to say it's ok to support roy moore. don't let the outsiders tell you will what to do. robert: phil, president trump going to pensacola but not alabama? philip: a classic trumpian move. the white house had said early on he would not be going to alabama. he makes it out as a rally to thank his supporters. robert: the white house said on the plane on the way down, it's not that we're not going to alabama, it's about that we're going to pence carol:. roy moore gets elected by the u.s. senate. there was talk maybe he'd face expulsion. he'll certainly have an either i said investigation. walk that back in the republican party.
andrea: mitch mcconnell has done a complete flip on this and they want that vote. it's fascinating to watch with the tax bill at stake, they want that vote, they want that seat. it's obviously going to be a republican seat no matter what, you know, what happens in this election when they get down to the midterms and people have to run again the next couple of years. it's going to end up being a republican seat but -- robert: you wonder, though. virginia, the democrats did a little better in virginia in this november 2017 election. could there ever be a little bit of a turn in the deep south? andrea: sure, people are saying down there it's very close, that thesked imagine a scenario where doug jones would win. but to them, this seat is more important than anything else right now. i think what they may discover is that winning this election is actually going to cost them seats in the midterms because
they'll have roy moore hanging around their neck as an albatross. yamiche: i also feel like roy moore is an example of how mitch mcconnell has lost control of the republican party. you talk to people close to him and they tell me that this is not what he wants to be talking about. he did not want roy moore in the senate. he had said he should step aside. almost no one cared he said. that so there's this idea that mcconnell is in this place where now that he has roy moore, he's essentially acquiescing to the will of the people. this is an example of president trump really being the leader of the republican party and mitch mcconnell having to follow him at all costs. andrea: people are overlooking other parts of roy moore's record in september he was justifying slavery as saying that was america-first values.
also this weekends we had the racial issue with john lewis saying that he will not attend the opening of the mississippi civil rights museum and sarah sanders lecturing john lewis about not understanding the meaning of the sack filingses of the civil rights leaders who are being honored by that museum. robert: roy moore has said he doesn't want to see muslims serving in the u.s. congress. he's said comments that are against gay rights and gay people. >> he's twice been thrown off the alabama scourments because he wouldn't follow the law and he was a controversial candidates long before these women came guard and mitchell mcconnell didn't want him on there because he was a bomb thrower, a loose canen and he lost that primary. luther strange was appointed by the governor there and lupter didn't win. interesting about what mitch mcconnell could do if moore is
elected. does the senate really have the power to unseat an elected representative of the state of alabama for actions that took place prior to his service in the senate? a lot of questions here to be looked at. yamiche: also, is it democratic? alabama had a week to consider, much like people had weeks to consider president trump's allegations. if they fill still want roy moore over doug jones, how do you tell alabama what's best for them? i think it's really touch but i think going back to moore's comments on slavery because to me it's remarkable that he actually valleysed that. i think for a lot of african-americans who heard make america great, they felt the president and a lot of his supporters were saying go back to this time when african-americans were in chains or in segregated schools. it seems remarkable that people
are going to the polls to votes for him. robert: inside the white house, roy moore may win but it could be by a narrow marginal. they're looking at virginia and alabama, the trump bails and seeing some of the more moderate republican voters saying no thanks to either president trump or a trump-aligned candidate. does that worry them? >> it does and going into the medicine terms you have a number of competitive races where there are going to be real divides between the trump bails and when -- what his corps supporters wants and a lot of the more suburban voters. the house is very much up for grabs in 2018 and so many of those races will be determined in the suburbs where there may be a lot of republican voters but they're not trump republican voters. andrea: one other thing about the al franken story, i think the democrats may discover that that seat is very much in play in 2018 because there's going to be this caretaker appointment of
a lieutenant governor and this cement, especially if there's a strong republican candidate. there's talk of tim po lenty, the former -- pawlenty, the former governor running. that could be a loss. robert: president trump did much better in minnesota than anyone expected. a crowded democratic primary. the mississippi senate race is going to be complicated. alabama, it's a tight race. minnesota could be in play. this is why would times with big issues, important issues. we'll have to leave it there. thanks, everybody, for joining us. don't go anywhere if you're watching because our conversation will continues on a special half hour "washington week." it airs next on most pbs stations and we'll talk about late-breaking developments in the russia probe, in the international fall oucht over president trump's decision to recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel. if you miss it, you can find it
online later tonight and all weekend long at pbs.org/ washington week. i'm robert costa. thanks for watching. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> funding for "washington week" is provided by -- their leadership is instinctive. they understand the challenges of today and research the
technologies of tomorrow. some call them veterans. we call them part of our team. additional funding is provided by newman's own foundation. donating all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the you yuen foundation, commit told bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> you're watching pbs.
paul, wishing you a very happy christmas. my love, mary. mary. narrator: this christmas, mary and paul's bakes will take you through the festive season in spectacular style. wow, it's good. that's lovely. paul: the idea is to get people trying something different this christmas, and hopefully it becomes a tradition in their houses. narrator: mary makes a snowy-white christmas wreath pavlova... oh, it is christmas. don't you dare.