tv Washington Week PBS March 2, 2018 7:30pm-8:01pm PST
ilrobert:: c war in the white house and a possible trailed war comi. i'm robert costa. statue tensions, proposed tariffs and stadiumed gun talks. tonight on "washington week." as stream wther batters both coasts, a storm of controversy and conflicts are creating disturbs inside the whiteowouse, from struggles and investigations of president trump's family to trump's ongoing attacks aga general jeff sessions. the president finds himself isolated and angry. this week he took aim at the national rifle association and his own partyver guns. >> we didn't address it, mr. presiden>> ecause you're afraid of the n.r.a. robert:ut changed course the next day after meeting with the n.r.a. he surprised many with his plan
to impose heavy tariffs on global exports of steel and aluminum. >> workersco in ouuntry haven't been appropriately represented. robert: but the announcements sent stockslummeting and stokedears of a trade war. what's the cost of president trump's disruptiv and unpredictable tact six? we'll discuss iall with hallie jackson of nbc news. michael crowley ofit polo. nancy cordes of cbs news, and karen tumulty of the boast. >> w this is "washingtonk." funding i provided by -- >> their leadership is instinctive. they understand the challeng of today.
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foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation, comritted toing cultural differences in our communities, then corporator public broadcasting and by contributions toour pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, fromashington, moderator robert costa. robert: good evening. president trump vowed he would shake up washington h and always embrace it would idea that unpredictability has power. that approach was tested this week whensihe pnt rattled global markets with his surprise decision toaise tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, stepped up his public feud with attorney general jeff sessions, engaged the national rifle association over guns and faced challengesith two of his closest advisors. son-in-law gerald customer in and white house director of communications,ikes --
hurricanes. scrutiny on kushner continues to grow. his white house meetings with executives from two lending companies that issued more than $500 million in loans to his family's real estate business have also drn attention. and home hicks, one of the president's most loyal confidants resigned just one day after she testified before the house intelligence committee, which is investigating russian election meddlin hallie, welcome to "washington week." hallie: thanks for having me. robert:: this week seems differet. president's family under scrutiny. his closest confidants a advisors under scrutiny as well. what made it different? hallie: his inner circle dissipating. a couple of things me this we different. i think it comes from the intersection of the personaic ad the pon the rhythms and
how that affected policy moving forward. the president midweek, after hope hicks testifi in that dramatic moment on capitol hill to lawmakers about the russia investigation, the thing that noys him the most, as we know, he was simmering over there. simmering about the conduct of s attorney general. frustrated by the beating that his son-in-law was taking in the press and the continued headlines about jared kushner. i was told my one person he was feeling angry and depressed. not clinically but feeling low. which put him on a fight and the one that came to h was a fight on trade. over the adve of so calmed globalists. that all came to a head this week which --hether on thursday morning, the president made that seemingly surprise t announcement t caught some of
his ownn staffers o guard about tariffs. robert: it took some in his own party in congress on -- off guard. one wrote every day is a new adventure for us. >> first of all, they don't agree that e president is a trade war is a good thank that w will endl for the united states. number two, the cavalier way he appear told go about this, by leaving a lot of h top aides in the dark, maybe not running the numbers and tnking about all of the consequences beforehand. it was anotherm reminder to t about the way this white house operate, kind of on an ad hoc sis. at the same time they're waiting to see whether he pulls back a little bit after seeing how the stock market reacted. afterts seeing thr from the e.u. that it might end upg putt tariffs on u.s.
products. f their holding some o fire new mexico they will see the final announcement from the white house. do they make these tariffs foro na >> but there was also this whole series of tweets started, which we say packetically -- practically every day in this administration but there was a series of tweets starting before down dawn this morning where the president is declaring that aade warsre a good thingat and hey're easy to win. it suggests that he isperating completely on impulse and i think he's also operating with an eye to a special election in passive 10s d from now where there is going to be a big -- it's a lot closer than it should be for the republica candidate. and a lot of these voters are going to be people like steel workers and coal mins whom will cheering these tariffs. >> this is not a new position
for the president. as somebody who h covered campaign, he was talking about this at i ralli pennsylvania and ohio and some critical rus belt state his supporters knew he was going to be tough on trailednd based on voters we've talked to, he feels like he's delivering his promise. but the devil is in the details. what's interesting is although the markets did swoon at the end of the day the dow was basically flat and the nasdaq was up 1%. one thing we've seen throughout the trump presidency is a trump -- stock market that continues to grow. we aid see pseudo correction but generally pple don't expect to see trade warses, wars with north korea. their theory is donald trumpay tweets and a lot of dramatic things but the follow-through has thus f been limited and investors seem to
think it will don't -- continues do be. >> one of th interesting things was the effort u. proposing possiblefs tar on bourbon. and who's in kitsch? mitchcconnell, theeader of the senate. >> bourbon and cheese, wisconsin. robert: when you look at what happened this week, a 25% tariff on foreign-made steel, 10% foru um. as hallie said, maybe some of this is a play for the base but michael, when you think about the consequences inside of the white house. when we talk about the staffers and advisors. this administration is driven by relationships with the president d often but -- by the president's instinctsnd you se someone like gary cohen, the national economic advisor, wilbur ross, trailed advisor peter navarro, he sees the administration tilting a different direction, perhaps. >> yeah, there's talke may
leave the administration if the president does follow through on tariffs and personnel can be policy. that's why another interesting component is the fate of.r security advisor mcmaster. so if cohen lves, i do think the markets would reabout badly leaving. i think that would be a signal that trump is willing to take actions with real significant consequences.nk and i t if mcmaster leaves it depends on who replaces him d but that coe a sign that trump is kind of breaking the shackles of some of the relatively conventional foreign policy he's followed up to this time. there's an excellent chance he's going to pull out of the ira nuclear deal. he recognized he would recogne jerusalem as the capital of israel against t advice of many. and what else might he ben
thinkingerms of north korea? that's another big test. but you're right, who is in the white house -- this like an epic reality show but that is -- that has real policy implications. >> there are a lot of fol that listen to a lot of the things you ticked off and say hey,pr ise made, promise kept by donald trump. when you look at the rler coaster ride in the markets, this was not a surprise to people insidenghe west who have been working on the potential trade fall out. they predicted this was likely going to happen a our reporting is they told the presidt this probably would happen. robert: not a surprise to them but a surprise atca repub at the capitol. >> right, in is normally the ki of things you'd forecast, this is where youe heading. maybe you'd consult with republican leaders. absolutely, folks are not surprised that the president cares about this issue. he's talked about it a lot but
the fact he did what he did on thursday took eveone by surprise and, you know, reblicans were alread reeling rsationvery unusual con on guns just 24 hours earlier. robert: what doe it mean, karen, when you think about americans and how these trade policies affect them? karen: it means essentially that if donald trump on this, he's picking winners and losers. the losers will american consumers who will -- prices of anything that has steel and aluminum in it will go up and haere have been estimates prices will go up more than the benefit people are the tax cuts that republicans plan to run on. theendustries that h is trying to protect here will benefit in the short run but, you know, from global em economic trends is not necessarily in their interests in the long run
this is a very dramatic break th republican economic olympics. >> and it's the kind of thing that can get out of contr. once you break that membrane and start taking some of these steps d other neighings retaliate it can escalate quickly. heavy we have a pretty stable economic system where the countries that are a part of the economic order globally don't change things dramatically. >> the losers will also be industries that the president cares a lot about. car companies. companies that use a lot of steel in this country and will see their prices go up and they are sure to be beating down the door of the white house trying to change the president's mind and they could have an fluence as well. >> we talked to a guy named ken wood today. ar he wheat in kansas and he's concerned because if the president goes through with these tariffs, there's a concern
there will be retaliation on things americans export like wheat and soy bean. there's real concern their prices will go up as well it's n just the bourbon and cheese and blue jeages. >> andinally it punishes everybody, our alleys as well as our adversaries. there may be an argument to some sort of tgeted tra measures targeted against china or russia. hits canada, europe. it is a very plunlt instrument. roberthael said they're going to fight back. i asked a white house official about it today. he said the president says the trade deficit is over $500 he's frustrated and he wants to move on to something in a midterm year, not just sit on the tax bill that passed last year but china not going to walk away from this. michael: no, that goes bk to the point about possible calation with unforeseeable
consequences. the u.s.-china relationship is so important in so many ways. we spend a huge amount of tine ta about america and russia and for good reason but if you talk about people who tak a big-picture view of how the world is evolving and politics, they say the u.s.-china rhythm is actlly theore important one. donald trump hammered the chinese on the campaign trail land his audiencesed it. he's been fairly soft on chi but he's getting frustrated there are not more results there and this might be a sign we might be gettingor confrontational. robert: you look at president zing ping and he continues to exert his control in china. the gun debates and onhe same y students from marjory douglas stoneman high school,
the president convened officials from both sides of theal. the president said he supported an immediate ban on bump stocks upported raising the age for buying them and seemingly supported background check. democrats in the room urged the president to take the lead to make pr.gress. >> president, it's going to eave to be you that brings republicans to table on this. >> iike that responsibility, chris. it's time that a president temmed up and we haven't had them -- i'm talking democrat and republican presidents. they have not stepped u unbert: the president's apparent openness to new legislation did not last long. the n.r.a. leaders who met with him this week signaled that the president may back off. that makes some congressals probably pleased on clip. when we look at the talk on guns, does it translate
to action in the coming months? nancy: only if he keeps with the cme position, which he's already independened he y not. he could have some impact if herm to hammer away at his participants dale after dame saying we need to change our stance on this, we need to be open to uniform background checks but it doesn't appea that that's going to be the case. just as with immigration, where he initially appeared to side with democrats but then got hammered notust by his base and by conservative news outlets but also by some of his own staffers who told him no,ve you o go this way. it looks like the same scenario is playing out here a that's why republicans -- by and large didn't freak outy when he rea appeared to break with them son -- on some pretty significant aspects of the debate because they assumed that he'll get back to his usual ways, just
wait a couple of days. robert: cox tweeted the president and the vice president support strong -- don'tt w gun control. who's the trump that matters? the one that had dinner with the n.r.a. or the other? >> swrorning -- i don't think you can separate them. but i do think you are already seeing the walkback from the white house sayingik things well, that was a debate, that was a get the ball rolling out -- kind of a session w president. i spoke with one source close to the n.r.a. today about whatk i ths one of the most interesting pieces of this gun detective, which is t raisi minimum age to buying somema auc weapons to 21. you've seen some businesses, l.l. bean comeut saying
they'll put this in effect on our own. dick's sporting goods. the n.r.a. is not going to compromise. you may see a push to say states can do that. robert: you've been tracking some of the companies, carolinag dick's sport guns. all these companies are reacting to the gun debate. as you look back at political history, though the president may not be able to execute o some of what he's talking about, is having a republican president talking thi way about guns some kind of breakthrough in the gun debate? h nanc -- if he were consistent but he's probably not going to be and we're seeing corporations t responding toir customer bases. ck's sporting goods, their stores are in the suburbs where there are a lot of suburba women. young people, they're big customers. while the polling s willw that young people are as likely as any other group to own a gun or live in a house wh a gun, their attitudes about the
bance between gun ownership rights and gun control are completely the am sit of those of older ameecans. th corporations are looking at their customer baleses and i think seeing where the -- bases and i think seeing where the public sentiment is going. michael: it may b this is a pivotal moment but i still remember the million mom march after the combine shooting. that had a limited eect and eventually expired. to change the laws in this country, you need really sustained attention commitment and passion on the side of people who want to make the change and you just haven't seen that whereas on the other side you have this intensity of commitment, money, determination the n.r.a. and its alleys. i think a likely outcome is thao ld trump, like many americans in the amp path --
aftermath of the school shooting got fired up and talked about doing things but the moment will pass and you'll see the same pattern. >> they're taking some action in florida following the shooting buon areessional candidates really pushing for something right now? >> i think the challenge is that for the democratic party, while their base is ptty united on the gun issue. it never ranks in polls as the number two or number three issue for voters. on the other hand, it does often for pretty high up the conservative voters so that's why you don't see ata sed push among democrats. they have this bump stock issue. they had finally reached agreement with republica a couple of months ago after the las vegas shooting to get rid of bump stocks. what a huge breakthrough and then you didn't hear a lot on -- about it for a couple of months. that's because as passionately
about it as they may feel it's winning issue a for the democrats. can the parkland studentshange things? that remains to be seen. robert: they have been everywhere, those park land activists. respect them and wish them the best. we'll have to leave it we'll continues the conversation on the "washington week" extra where we'll talk about president tin's claims that russia has created an invincible nuclear weapons system. and believe it or not president trump has named his 2020 campaignaner. you can find usig wees and all weekend long. i'm robert coa. enjoy your week. -- weekend.
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