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tv   Washington Week  PBS  March 24, 2018 1:30am-2:01am PDT

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robert: turnover in the white house. ident trump reshuffles his national security team ahead of critical negotiations. i'm robert costa. what it means for u.s. foreignc po plus the president's lead attorney in the russia probe resigns. tonight on "washington week." president trump: i say to congrs i wil never sign another bill like this again. robert: a defiant president trump pushes back against signing a budget bill. the threat of a government shutdown capped off a wild week of staff shakeups and surprise resignidions. the prent continues to reshuffle his foreign policy be , n john bolton t his third national security
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advisor. does the appointmentfolton, a hardliner who supports a preemptive strike agait nor korea and iran, signal a cad -- radical shift in foreign policy? and theepture of john dowd, the president's lead attorney in the russia probe and t addition of the hard-charging federal prosecutor joseph digeno. we discuss it allith geoff bennett of nbc news. nancy youssef of "the wall street journal" journal. jackie calmes of the los angeles times and dan balz of the ton post." >> this is "washington week." rporate funding is provided by -- >> their leadership is instinctive. they understand the challenges of today and research the technologies of tomorrow.
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koo and patricia yue the yuen foundation. committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the ethics and excellence in journalism fo san diego, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewersike you. thank you. once again, from washington, moderate oimp robert costa. robert: good evening. president trump is rebooting his foreign policy team as he repares for talks with north korea and iran over their nuclear programs. next month he will replace national security advisor h.r. mcmaster, a three-star general with hardline hawk johto b of the u.s. ambassador united nations. won't has ban an outspoken adcate of preemptive military strikes. he wrote a controversi piece in the "new york times" to stop iraq's bomb, bomb iran.
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he wrote in the "wall street journal" "the legal case for striking north korea first." senators chucker schesponded bsh -- mr.olton'sendency to try to solve every geopolitical problem with american military first is a problematic one. off, when you look at h.r. mcmaster, the national security advisor, was he let go because of a personalities clash with the presidese, becf a policy difference or was it because of that lk earlier in e week of the president's call with russian presidentladimir putin? geoff: mcmaster's deparchaur has more to do with a personality clash between him and the president. theyisagreed over policy issues. last month the president publicly ruked mcmaster for
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not backing his electoral win. many mcmaster you have a guy who's relentless. he's aggressive. also a scholar and in army parlance, as one person put it, he's all-transit, meaning he likes to lecture and the president is said to have gone red inriefing sessions with that aspect of mcmaster's approach. we're told one of the reasons there has been a delay in mcmaster leaving the white house was that the white house wanted to make surere tas some sort of so landing in place. as his leaving wouldn't be unceremonies as rex tillerson's was. >> his main claim w to fame that he had written in thee sills calledment dirt election of duty" was that the biggest
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miake of the vietnam war was that military generals before not honest enough with mainly linden b. johnson and that with come accomplishment withun uths told. i think his lesson was to be as n did as possible and live by his research and candor didn't endearp him to donald trump. robert: what kind of candor does bolton bring, especially when it comes to nuclear deal in iran. the possible meeting with kim jong-un. >> john bolton has happened positions on north korea and iran. at time promoti preemptive strikes on both. immediately, he'll be a key person in negotiating in the run-up to the talks that the s presidend will happen in may. we'll see if they do. he's in a position where he
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could potentially advocate for those talks and get the best position for the united states or he could sabotage him. he'll have an advantage that incoming secretary of state mike pomp and sect of defense mike -- will not. he'll be in the white house every day. he'll be there all the time and be the sort of first round of advice that he gets. so in that regard he could be quite influential. that said, mitigating circumstance will be all those around them. particularly the def department, which has warned against any strike. it says it's cataclysmic in terms of the consequences and the jefpble who say they find that the iran deal has worked. w thl be the balance between what he's hearing in the white house and what he's hearing around him. robert: dan, sometimes the
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national security advisor is a major power player in an administration. rysometimes it's the secref state. i'mold that bolton does have a pretty strong relationship with mike pompeo. but what do you make of the addition of bolton. is haye hardliner coming in, is he going to totally disru reign policy is or -- is he background a long in many administrations? >> well, he's been in many administrations and he's had establishment mentors and in reefpblets years, he's comerw d much more as a hard liner. i think there are a couple ofth gs about him we'll have to have away. it's one thing to be a fox news yst as an expert on foreign poifls and statement your in the way you think that i ought to be done. it's another thing to be in a white house advising ad presidet ave that responsibility on your shoulders. o i think the one thing to watch is the degree to which he
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tempers himself a bit in the kinds of things he said. i think when you look at this new team, you have t to thinkt pompeo is likely to be the strongt member of that team because he has the longest rhythm with president trump, more than anyone september general mattis. bolton will havetho develop e that but familiar a lot of peop in the foreign policy community alarmed by his appointment. richard haas tweeted today that we're at one of the most perilous moments in recent u.s. history on part becau this nomination. robert: the president appears to be moving to that k. zone across the board in the white house. the appointment of culled low to the white house economic assignment. peter with the new tariffs on china. mcmaster gone and bolton coming
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in. what's happening inside of the white house that's making the president move in this drecks? idea logical shift, a personal shifts, a transition? >> i think it's a persona shift. a matter of personal president doesn't really have an it lodge. when he w asked during the campaign, where do you get your twice? he said i watch the shows. he's bringing all the people from the shows into the administration. one thing they have in common -- these jobs we've talked about. whether it's bolton as national security advisor or larry cudlow, head of the national economicns c. those two jobs within the white house are jobs that you are supposed to be a honest broker and not hold forth with your own opinion so much as bring the opinions of the administration
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to the president and lay out options and these aoth two people up cannot see standing by and not expressin >> you make a great point and i think we're seeing the f continuation a trend that's developed over the last two weeks. the equipment of tillerson. sometimes people disease napetted as globalist but all people who have tried to put guardrails around the president's hawkist --awsh sort of mesh first guardrails. these are all happening weeks ahead of crucial decisions. robert: why is this happening? becausof the allegations of infidelity on the president on cable television, which he watches by the hour? there's a lot of political pressure on political. why is this happening? >> the indications we're getting is he's hearing mor comfortable in the job and rather than hearing from conflicting views,
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he's forming his own comfort level. he seems to be formingcl a c of people who val date how he thinks natiopol securitcy should be cared -- carried out. in some ways it'sum an at for someone who feels more comfortable. there is one key area where he disagrees wh the president, which is on russia. he has called russia a foe after a salisbury attacks where a suspected russian spy was poiseened as was his daughter. bolton tweeted out that he wanted stronger measures against russia, very different than president trump who's talked about talking tota russia. y congratulated vladimir putin on his election win sunday despite advice to the contemporary. robert: we used to go and meet with trump didn't have a chief of staff. flat struure. everyone will go there and meet him. is that where we're going?
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>> it's been speculawo that d if general kelly leaves as chief of staff, the president will not replace him. in part woo we're -- what we're sighing is the transition that never happen it would first time. that transition, as we know, was rocky, not well organized and they've made a lot of very hasty decisions.w and i think what you've seen, as the president hastt more comfortable in personal. some he is clearly comfortable with, some not. he's repopulating in a way he's more comfortable. robert: amount significant change. john dowd, mr. trump's lead attorney in the russia investigation resigned. the 77-year-old lawyer reportedly encouraged the president to corporate with bob mueller. but steve bannon suggests that dowd was fired for talking too
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much about cooperation. >> think that's why essentially more aggressive attorneys got brought in are now -- i think president trump is going to war in this. robert: trump did hire former federal prosecutor joseph digenova to join his team, a washington lawyer known for defending t presidents and for attacking the special counsel investigation on cable news. when you look at digenova, excuse me. mtalian and sometimes even mispronounce va. my grand parents would be unhappy with that. but he's a lot like cudlow, a presence the president has seen on tevision. th real issue is white shoes attorneys in washington are turinning down the offers from the white house. a lot of law firms said no thanks because of the political sks involved, conflicts. >> from the beginning, when you
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sawhe lawyers that he surrounded himself with. michael cohen, mark cassowitzd ohn doumed subsequent lip. it was open talk in washington about how is it that a man who's thesident of the united states couch such a low-wattage, second-rate legal team around him? then he started to bring in people that were more representable. robert: dowd. cobb. >> exactly but the way he'te tr him, who of any repute would wants toork with him? people like ted olson. >> tedlson mentioned he's touch turned down the trump legal teamwi. he said he was an hencive at best about joining them. john dowd said he was frustrated one, thathe president wasn't taking his advice but also that
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the president was bringing in other people to the legal team to include jody by. and mark cazowitz, another touch talker is also in the president's ear, even though he officially stemmed down leading the legal team relating to russia last year. in is all happening as there are ongoing facto-face negotiations between the trump legal team and representatives from the special counsel about a meeting betweensi the pnt and robert mueller. >> where ds this stand? >> they've been talking about it r months but the trump administration is trying to stall by providing' key documentsnd those questions may not come up in the interview . th the preside >> the president has said any number of times i would like to testify personally.
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yet it's been clear for hat the lawyers around him thinks that'sd idea. it will be interesting to see whether that posture changesth degree to which those take a different turn about whether will he or will he not testify in person? if you're his attorney, that is a very tough decision to have to make on his behalf, particularly when he keeps saying i want to doyle. w robertve seen the posture turn a little bit in a significant way on how he goes after the mueller probe. for months his advisors kept saying lay off the tweets about bob mueller but in recent days, 's been tweeting more than ever. >> by name. before because of the fears that he would fire muller and maybe seeing the reaction to that. at a time when republican senators called that a red line.
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some interpretted the decision to start using him by name and floating t idea as where was that line? was there real red line or something short of that? tweeze -- thes tweets are seen as his way posbly to shame it or impact it. robert: i spoke to senator flake earlier and he brought up impeachment if the president fired him without cause. but there doesn't seem to be a ve to protect mull we are legislation. jackie: no, the is -- it's interesting how they put a lid on that. house speaker ryan and senate majority leader mcconnell said they have assurance fro white house that he will not fire mull sore legislation isn't nelms. he's fine. theame two leaders, mcconnell and ryan, also said yesterday thathey had talked to the
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president and helped promised them he would sign th $1.3 trillion spending bill only to wake us and see trump is thinking of vetoi it. in the end he didn't veto it but that makes you wonderf that assurance about his signing it is not 100% long in. w certain are we about the talk that mueller will be able finish his investigation? we'll have to see if we ever get to that point but again, it'sairly remarkable that, i think, in many ways the fesidentt emboldened sending out the trial balloon vi tweet base tonigh facts that he did not get the pushback he expected fromepublicans. robert: he's so unpredictable. hi was a hot week. every dale som new and more happened today, friday. despite a frida morning veto threat, the president vinyled --
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signed off on a $1.3ll tn spending package to keep the perating vernment through september. mr. trump warned lawmakers that he would never again ape prove such a bill,sa citing unnec spending on some programs and insuoricient funding his promised border wall. he also talked outs democrats as talks continued to stall over the status ofum undted dreem immigrants known as dreamers. he's erupting saying i want the i want the money for the wall. i'm unhappy with different facets of my administration, yet he still signshe bill. >> i think he probably had no choice but to sign the the ends and i think everybody assumed that he will and thet twhe put out this morning is his way of blowing off steel and when he says i'll never sign
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another bill like there, i think th is potentially a hollow promise. but i think it's a reminder to republicans andn everybody o capitol hill that he's going to operate the way he sees fits for himself. that he's not going tolayall in a team way. he wasn't part of these negotiations and he's going to say i'm washing my hands of it. >> his team was. >> his team was but not the perspective. >> oy trump speak for trump. robert: there was a big development with the military and the spending in this package. >>e brought up military his edly in th announcement. $60 billion more than last year. at the% they're stressing readiness and training and maintenanc parts of this budgets yet he was stressing the nine new aircraft he's going to build, the 14 ships, the toys, if you will.
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they're talked about sort of getting back toasics and he was really focused on these multibillion dollarorms, the f-35, more blackwks. even an aircraftarrier, two destroyers. these are kinds of developments and building of equipment we haven't seen in a long time and so -- at a time t whenre are so many strings on the military because of the 17 years of war. robert: any concerns by the white house over the spending here? g.o.p., the tea party movement? they were deficit hawks. t and ht faded away? >> that's what influenced the president'set t he said there were parts of the bill we were unhappy about but it reflected our priorities for the most parts so we had to sign it. that's exactly what mu laney told reporters yesterday. said is the bill perfect? no, but it reflects our
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priorities so the president is going to signt. of course, the difference in those 24 hours was the president sent that tweefments. he was trying toereflect co among the conservative base who tried to cast this as n wasteful gover spefpbleding and framed his change of heart through his efforts with the military. he couldn't necessarily throw away the argument made by secretary jim matusz tha the military -- matusz that the mill stormy needed this money. robert: he's watchingte ights division and despite what his advisors say, he says i'm going in a different direction. >> it's not going to win him any battle unless congress i as the last thing the republicans wants in this midterm election season. 's against the
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republican-controlled congress and this is not going to help his party in the midterm elections as they struggle to hold on to their majority. robert:av we'll to leave it there. thank you so much, everyone. lways a pleasure. our conversation will continues on the "washington week" extra where we'll preview this weekend, watch for our livepls. it wil address school safety and gun regulations. plus, those three pending lawsuits against president trump. you can watch it online later tonight and all week long at week. robert costa. have a great weekend.
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>> fundingon for "washingt week" is provided by -- >> tpir leaders is stinctive. they understand the challenges of today and research the technologies of tomorrow. some call themetans. we call them part of our team. >> my dad once said to me tragedy has a way of defining people. what the hell happened, teddy? >> you're treating this like a wime scene. >>e told the truth. orr at least ou version of
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>tor, where can -- when can we expect some answers? >> we're in this deeper than we thought. >> these three at ricks are not going to hold numb a court of law. >> what have i done? >> additional funding is provided by -- >> american cruise lines. proud sponsor of "washington week." >>ewman's own foundation, donating all profits from newman's foodu ps to charity and nourishing the common good. koo and patricia yuen for the yuen foundation. the ethics a excellence in journalism foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station fro viewers lik you. thank you. thank you. >> you're watching pbs
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narrator: tonight from ken burns and lynn novick, it was exactly what america wanted. and it csught us completely by rise. it turned citizens into crinals and criminals intogs. it changed the very nature of our democracy--twice. prohibition. [cheering] man: what a stupid idea it was that people actually thought you could get away wh this. that you could actually ban alcohol, completely eliminate its usage in american society. it's a preposterous idea. narrator: it was a struggle between small towns and big cities. the wets and the dries, with the whole country caught in the middle. man: it's not that sin iso terrible, it's that sin is very attractive,


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