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tv   Washington Week  PBS  March 17, 2018 1:30am-2:01am PDT

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out? president trumpla rs more senior staff with like-minded advisors. i'm pete williams in for costa.t we discuss the churn inside the white house as robert mueller's russia investigation looks atth trump organization's business ptoctices. night on "washington week." president trump: but there'll always be change. pete: just 14 months into office, president trump reshapes s administration. president trump: i'm at a pint where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and othert things tha i want. pete: this week he fired the secretary of state and chose the c.i.a. director to take over. he's also reportedly preparing to name his third national security advisor in less than a dals have other issues have put other cabinet members on
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ice, including questions over spending and hudson over a $31,000 dining table prosecutor if his office. also,he trump administration slapped new sanctions on russif its atlantic election meddling and attempt to man niche lit the u.s. power grid. wel discuss it th jonathan swan of 25 axios. abby philip of cnn. peter peter of "the new york times," and susan glasser of politico. >> this is "washington week." funding is provided by -- t >>heir leadership is instinctive. u nderstand the challenges of today and research the techlogies of tomorrow.
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koo and patricia yuen through the yuenio found committed to bridging cultural differences in our cemunities. corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.u. thank once again, live from washington, substituting for robert costa, pete williams of nbc:ews. pe good evening. here's a tip for top officials in the trump administration eager to keep their jobs -- don't leave town. james comey found out he'deen fired last year while on a tip to los angeles. rex tillerson was warned he was about to be fired on a visit it to africa and got the news of his-rea you - firing just a few hours after he got home. the president is acknowledgis that he considering more changes after his sudden firing of rex timber son. the president has chosen as his
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replacement c.i.a.r direc mike pompeo. a graduate of harvard mr. t wants gina haskell to become the first woman to lead e c.i.a. she's a career c.i.a. employee. but it could be complicated by the fact she how a torture effort in 2011. word h.r. mcmasteray be replaced after the president suggested he wants to build a new team aligned to his agenda andth style. model inside the white house in recent days has verged on mania, as trump increasingl keeps his own counsel and senior aides struggle to determine the gradations between rumor and truth. peter peter, what is going on? is the president moree
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comfortaaking these decisions or does he want people to fight it out to see who's going to win? peter: this is probably the wildest week of the trump presidency since last week. he likes this kind of churning. he -- it keeps things exciting. remember, he spent 14 years as a reality show host so heikes to keep us on edge to see what'sin happ next week. pete: is that your net or for-- metaphor or is that the y way he really thinks about it? peter: that's the wayy he rea thinks about it. he said at the beginning of his presidency, think of this as a reality show. we have to keep the viewers in prested. othets really, really resist sponsororing a big trimi to cnia for the purposes of showcasing his big policy initiative on the border wall
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and distracting with something else. this president hasoroblem with that. if you want to pay attention to the other thing, fine. he's going to do three, four, five things a day. keep up with him, please. pete: on rex tiller son, what was most surprising, that it happened or that ito took s long to happen? >> i think that it took so long to happen. remember, it was last august he was reported to have said by nbp that thesident was a moron. it's really hard to come back from that. think the president only left him there so long because we'd all been writing stories and reporting that he was on the way out. he decided to show he was the one in charge, not us. but it was ultimately going to happen. pete: abby, could he have lasted longer if he'd been morept a at issues within the administration? abby: programs but probably not. it seemshe was a penalty
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misalignment with the president and they didn't have a sometime of communicating with each other that was effective and teyond, thlerson had a very hard time being second friday tl another chief executive. he came in exxon where he was the top man andand to run things his way. all in all tillerson did not fit into the government particularly wellnd he certainly didn't fit into trump's chaoticorld well at all. at the end of the day, the moron issue became kind of the big elephant in the room with trump, in part also becauseon tille never actually denied it. he still t this day had not denied it. he simply t doesn't answer question. trump knew about it and wasn't happy about it but tillerson's insistence to continue to l it be there was something that kept it front of mind for trump.
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every time they were face to face, whether on substantive policy issues or other minute things. pete: we know about their biger dices on the oinch nuclear deal, for example, but does rex tillerson deserve some credit for setting the table for the north creanlfalks or did that happen in spite of it? >> obviously the president'sw. that he was going to meet with kim jong-un was a surprise to everybody, including his own staff. president trump did extraordinary thing. he actually walked in, pulled his aides out of a meeting with south korea and said no, no, i'd like to do this right now. brought him into the oval office. ok at thaticture and it tells you an awful lot, i think, about the trump whiteouse. you have h.r. mcmatch in there. jim milt is, the secretary of
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defense. poor rex tillerson in africa, not even consulted. everybody sitting ld trump says i'll just do it. sure, tillerson was advocating for talks for mths but president trump began - undercatting cutting him, beginning over the summer with tweetshile tillerson was on overseas travel. no one believes this is some sort of thought-out, planned occupant cemetery that donald trump is engang ga -- engaging in remember, there's no ambassador of south korea. the president's longtime envoy just quit the state department so you don't have a long preparation already under way forwehis summit b trump and kim. pete: so there may be a new secretary at the state demprtment, mike . what do you know about his style? whether he might go about fixing the hollowed out state
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department that rex tillerson has left him and how will he be different? >> the most important way he'll be diffes you had a secretary of state which did not speakde to the pre and that ls very obvious to everyone. obvious to foreiders and people on capitol hill. one senator who is very close with mike pompeo and donald trump said to me, you can have separation between the president and his attorney general. t we've seet. trump is -- obviously loathes and depieses jeff sessions, kes great glee in humiliating him. you can have that divide with him and the secretary o state. you can't have that with this position. mike pompeo and trump joke. a similar relationship in the way trump had with mike flynn. they just shoot the whatever. i think you'll have a secretary
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of state that there is no difference between him and the president. and that is going to be the wig e-- biggest difference. pete: thank you for saying whatever. >> mike pompeo knows how to talk to trump. the major task with trump is even when you disagree you kno how to stay say it in a way that doesn't get his back upds. trump to react to people trying to school him or trying to tell himhat to do. it's simply managing your manager. pete: which would the allies rather have, a secretary of state who speaks for the president or someone they find more acceptable? >> i think the first. they can get a message to the president and get message programs in reshaping the thoughts. if they convince rex tillerson of their direction, it meant if thigh convince mike pompeo,
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it's different. >> it's been portrayed in conflicting ways. on the one hand is this about loyaltynd president tmp wanting someone who blindly reflects his policyriorities. on the other hand he's shown with his new economicodvisor, s against the tariffs and publicly a coming outinst him and now he's willingly appointed somebody like that. same thing with mike t think he's just an american-firster. he's much more of a person hawkish conservative almost in the dick cheney mode -- mold when meansd he ump will have disagreements. pete: there's some question abouthether gina haskell might have a tougher time getting confirmed. is there a chance sheight not make it? >> there's a chance, certainly. rand paul has already come out against he were and also against
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mike pomo. with a 51-49n, marhe republicans can't afford to lose a lot of people. the question of torture is going to come up in herings. what was she doing in thailand and what responsibility does she have? that said, she does have the support of some democrats. she woulde the first woman at the c.i.a. e's a career person at the c.i.. a, which probably benefits her in this effort. so we'll see. i think it's unkno at this point. pete: the trump administration announced new sanctions to punish moscow for interfering in the election in 2016 and for and attacks targeting u.s. european power plants. this weekritain condemned russia for a nerve agent attack on aormer spy and his daughter in the u.k. that has left both
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critically ill. the u.s. embassy,ik haley, blasted the russian government for that attack. >> the united states stands in absolute solidarity with great britain. ese united states believes that russia isnsibility for the attack on two people in the united kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent. pete: the british government expelled more than 20 diplomats after announcing that the penny used was developed by the former soviet union. president trump left it up to the u.s. embassy to deliver the strongest combination and didn't mention the sanctions at all. first of all, to you all, this step against theusans, the sanctions, two questions. one is, is it more symbolic than practical and secondly, are you more interested in the fact that it mentioned the hacking -- cyberattacksnhan the elect hack something peter: both good
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questions. on the issue of tangable impact, no, not a lot. these are a handful of people and organizations that probably don't have assets here anyway. the important thing is it's the first statement made in effect by the trump stravings since taking office that the election hackings requi a retaliation, a response by the united states. having said, that we suall have a system where we have nickey hail illinois willing to say tough things about russia. tillerson until he got fired willing to say tough things about russian and the president still not. he didn't mention putin or put a finger on him. you're right, the part about the electric plans is the scary participate. this hadn't been put out by the u.s. government as a russian sdustrialize and it's a sign of how seriouse of this stuff really is pete: we make a l about the fact that the administration issued the sanction
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that means they endorse the findings, that the russians rely did hack. do you accept that part of it and given to the message we were putting out on the cyberattacks, do we sell the fact that the trumps administration i fully onboard with the intelligence counity's findings? jonathan: you asked me about the trump administratio not donald trump. they were two separate entity that is require different analysis. has the trump admistration given the good housekeeping seal of approval to the muellers? indictme yes. but does donald trumpccept mueller's investigation as legitimate? no, of course he doesn't. yone who's spoken to him privately will tellou will that. it's this dual track system agian. senior off who think it's
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completely credible. i was with me conowac morning. on the house ielligence committee. he won't say a bad word about mueller. trump doesn't think that. trump thinks it's a witch-hunt. pete: we had their preliminary rert out, their sort of initial take on. ey're through doing t interviews. does the trump administration mostly agree about what we heard this week, that the russians weren't trying toelp trump? >> no, mike conway regrets the language used in that first talking point. the talking point bsically said that they don't agree with the assessment that putin wanted trump to beat hillary. what he's saying isor a nuanced point and he regrets that it came out that way. his points is he doesn't trust the trade craft that lay under
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it. that it meets the standards of the i.f.c. it's the hou intel committee. >> just one parties on the cheap. >> just onearty on the committee and we're going to get a dissent by theemrats. we'll get some of it next thursday and it's goiry to be controversial on that point and also on the central point they're making which is there is no evidence that there's been any collusion. pete: abby, was it slow coming out, susan and what's the significance of the u.s. adding its voice to this and saying us too. >> of course it's slow. the bottom line is that the united states and united kingdom have haallong-standing spe relationship and this week, i think we did not show ourselves to be the very best o friendsf great britain in the world. we signed only and did sort of the formal things that one would do as allies but the president of the united stes was not there right alongside teresa
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may, who gave reallyhe one of speeches of her career in parliament this week w inch she personally blamed vladimir putin for this attack. the nerve agen is one of the deadliest thingsanufactured in the former soviet union. there are only two possibilities for this, which is number one, launched n government a terrifying attack with a chemical weapon in a crowded british city or number two, they've lost control of this deadly well. either outcome is terrible. the british government has shared intelligence with the unit states saying that it was the russian government. this now hpens days before the russian presidential election and i can put that in quotes. we know the outcome of the election on sunday. vladimir putin will be re-elected to another six-year term and he's already, by the way longest serving rushing leader since joseph stalin.
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this may be exactly what putin wants. he's not only attempting to o knock his turn colt former spice and sending a messagef toug guyism. he's now gotten the west playint right his campaign thing, which is the west is united ainst me and therefore you hied me as your leader. >> but for the house to punishment occupant that statement was the bare minimum they needed to do at this point in time to reassure not just great britain but all of europe that they were there to stand with them when literally, a chemical well is deployed in the middle of a crowded city. but the president was that same day, hours later, asked eout attack and his own words were commute whoo -- muted. hessential little said it's a sad thing that happened. it looks likebet might hav putin. that's not in any way what this ort sort of situation warranted and president trump
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still is demron stating this -- demonstrating this reluctance to go as far as he needs to go. the white house and people like nickey hailry -- haley are t fryi do the forceful part but when it comes to the president and his mouthpiece, sanders, the press secretary, it's alws a stem believe a condemn nation. pete: there's a report that the trump organization is papers frombusiness the trump organization. it was trump who said if the mueller investigation started going after his business, that would be a red line. >> it was an interview we did last july with the president and ee did couch the president. we said if h went into your financials that is went beyond russia so there is that exten weight clousclalls there. we asked would that be crossing your red line? he said yes. we don't know whether the subpoena covers busine matters
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beyond russia at this point. president trump's red line on in things can change from week to week but it's an important issue and something to watch. pete:hank you all. find out how you can support your pbs station which in turn supports "washington week." and on the "washingt week" extra, we'll talk about the secrecy surrounding t the soon be released book by former f.b.i. director james comey, plus the election in pennsylvania where a democrats wopears to hav a reliably republican district. you can watch us tonight and all weekend long. robert costa retur next week. i'm pete williams, thanks for watcng. >> funding for "washington week"
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is provided by -- >> thehi leadersp is instctive. they understand the challenges of today and research the technologies otomorrow. some call them veterans. we call them part of our team. >> american cruise lines, proud sponsor of "washington week." >> additional funding is provided by newman's own foundation. do noithnalting all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the commond. g the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation,
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commitmented to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. thank you. >> you're watching pbs.
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