tv Washington Week PBS April 18, 2020 1:30am-2:01am PDT
robert: inside the push to reopen and the pushback. >> our team of experts now agrees that we can begin the next front in our war, which we are calling opening u america again. sbert: the president for ahead on reopening the american economy, which has been ravaged by the pandemic. in many states, each day brings >> a small segment of the state is protesting. and that's their right. the sad part is the more likely they're out and out the more likely they're to spread covid-19. robert: thisasparked an intense debate over executive power. >> when somebody's the president of the united states, this authority is total. and that's the way it's got to be. >> the federal government doesn't have absolutely power.
it's the exact opposite. it says that would be a king. robert: next. annocer: this is "washington week." corporate funding is provided by -- >> life isn't a straight line. and sometimes you can find yourself heading in a new direction. delity is here to help you work through the unexpected with financial planning and advice for today antomorrow. aughter] ♪ announcer: additional funding is provided by the estate of arnold adams, and koo and patricia yuen, through the yuen foundaon committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. theti corpo for public
broadcasting and by contributis to your pbs station from viewers like you. thanu. once again from washington moderator robert costa. robert: good evening. it was a critical week for the trump presency. at its core it was about his decision to encourage the reopening of america. he veered from claiming total authority toultimately leaving it in the hands of states. but there's no doubt about where he stands. earlier friy, te president tweeted in solidarity with protestors in minnesota michigan as well as virginia who have grown furious about stay-at-home orders. according to "the washington post," conservative groups havei ord many of these events and joining me tonight are four top reporter who is ha been covering the president all week and asking sharp questions of him and his officials, kimberly atkins, senior washington cporate for wbu, bosn's n.
p.r. news station. peter baker, chief washington correspondent for the "s.w york ti paula reid, white house correspondent for cbs news, and krisn welker, white house corporate for nbc news. and all day iday there have been headlines across the t country abifferent states taking their own steps to reopen or remain closed. this week, peter bakerhad an exchange with the president about these issues. >> canouive us some sense of how many yesdrday, you s 29 states were in good shape? >> well, i think -- peter, i think 29 states are in that ballgame not for opening but i think ahey'll bee to open relatively soon. new york, new jersey are having very tough times. and they'll be there. they're going to be later, obviously. governors. to be up to the
we're going to work with them. we're going to help them. it's going to be up to the governor you're going to see quite a few states start to open and i call a beautiful puzzle. robert: a bfuaupuzzle. i know all of you have been working hard. paula steppedt righ over from the briefing room. president trump stil wrapping it up. from claiming total authority to now stepping back a little bit and saying he's sharing responsibility with the states? >> well, sharing reionsibility, hink sharing blame as wll, right? if something goes wrong tey can say it wasn't him. he provided guidance and the governors provided the decision. there's a real t feart if there are cities and towns and states that oen uptoo early whatever that's defined as being and risk a resurgence of the disease it will require
everybody to go right back where we started shut back down again and cause a lot of unpleasant illness and probably een death if that happens. so i think the president kind of switched between monday and thursday under the idea that look, if i'm go bing toe held responsible for everything, maybe i ought to share that a little bit with ter grs since they're the ones that have the cnstitutional authority anyway. robert: and kristen, they're not following thisayst encouragement from president trump. what have you learned about howi states are re to the president? >> well, really, it's a range. you ve some of the republican-led states, texas for example, florida, which have have not wanted to shut down. ne they were sort of late in terms of doing tha and texas really defiant a really signaliat they are
more poised to reopen more sooner tha some of these other states. and so i think it runs the ga t. when you look at the state like new york, some of the states. virginia, missouri,ic mgan saying liberate these states essentially siting with some of the protest ors saying that some of these state at home orders have been too tough. you see president trump really trying to share the blame of this crisis particularly as he enters this next phase of dealing with it. robert: that's a great point, when we think presidents trump' comments, is there any concern inside of the white house that he's encouraging l unrest? >> if there is it's not getting throh to h. know that this is a president who likes to lead byinstinct, lead with his gut. and this is aresident who is
very attuned to what his supporters want. he saw the otests happening led by conservative groups that are pushing back against the democratic governors, and it seemed a ost irresistible f them to side with them despite the fact that some of these protests featured hundreds of people actually gathering to in violation of the six-foot distancing rule this the president's own council habeen advising americans for weeks. we do see -- in michigan though, it's a risky -- it's a risky proposition. if the president i thinkin about his political future, michigan is a key state in his it's one he will need to win as he did in 2016. and michigan is one of the places where there is a hot spot. there's a real growth in covid-19 cases. not just in wayne county where detroit is but a lot of the
su hrrounding suburbs whe got a lot of votes last time. so by pushing back against this, it could really backfire on himi polly, let alone saying what it could do from a public health andpoint. lirobert: in terms of p health, i kept hearing all week from business executives that testing matters. if the country isoing to reopen, they need to have testing in place so they feel comfortable and tgy're not goo have liability if they reopen their businesses. facing dent trump was question aft question about this kind of issue this week about testing about his administration's early response to the outbreak as states continue. was paula's exchange and the president defended his action. >> the argument is that you bought yourlf some time and you didn't use it to prepare hospitals or you didn't use it to ramp up testing. president trump: you're so disgraceful. 's so disgraceful the way you say that -- >> what did your administration do --
president trump: a lot. a lot. and in fact, we'll give you a list. robert: paula, you've been persisting pressing the administration of ho the handled february of this year. the white house where you are right now? >> there are clearly on the defensive on this issue of testing. in the briefing a short time ago, they spent about 90 minutes having various task force officials do presentations, power point presentations talking about testing, dfending their record on testing and the headline from these officials is that we do have the capacity in the u.s. to do the testing they need to do to make those local officials, thoseiness leaders even the president's own medical experts comfortable in reopoming the ec let's be clear. the issue isn't just cacity, it's also implementation. over the past several months thi stration has engaged in a pattn of overwhomsing and under delivering of implementation ofesting. it was six weeks ago that the
administration said you will soon be able to do drive-thru testing. they promised a google website b where you woul able to find places to get tested. that's not truly come to frtion. and the president famously promised that anyone who needed a test coul get one. and right now, it's just not clear why they are not using the full authority of the federal government. the d.p.a., d.o.d. lapse, fema we issue a comprehensive testing strategy because seen with other countries, germany and south keea one of theasons they were more successful in had a central national stadium. robert: kim, you want to jump in here? i saw you nodding. >> that's exactly right. and that's what local officials as well as public health officials have been telling me all week. one point that was made dur the briefing today is that testing is not the end all and be all.t that's w dr. fauchy said.
but what is is data. no comnity, no state can implement a successful strategy without daab to b to know where the virus is spreading, where the incidents are coming down, the level of the number of deaths, where it might be a wh place you could start to reopen without the data and you can't have the data without the testing and the states on their own do not have the capacity to dohat. the federal government has that. now, president trump came under fire, was criticized very early on for not using the defense production act for not using other levels at his disposal to ramp up tessng, weeks and we ago. as everyone has said correctly, he hashosen to deflect that blame back to the states rather than take that action he says he's saving it as leverage against private companies. but so far the people on the ground say the data that they need, they do not have and they do not have ghe means to it. robert: kristen, what about these conference cas,he
counsels the president has been having all week in terms of moving forward with the enomy? >>ell, president trump is really reaching out to a broad ath of people to try to get a sense of what the best wais to move forward as kimberly was mapping out. they need to have data in order to do that. having said that, there's so much pressure on themi stration of the economy up and running. he's getting a lot of that from the business community, because businesses, the banks. it runthe ga met. there was a conversation today with vice present mike pence, though. it's worth noting it got heated emwithratic senators saying you are not answering ouwhr question it comes to testing. we don't feel there's a nationwide strategy here. ea and thaty needs to be i place. that's why you see the ra
adminion on the defense during this briefing that paula was talking about. behind this scenes th e is an acknowledgement that they do have to ramp up. they're trying to figure out how to do that. robert: peter, we talk about executive power. you've been reporting on the esidency for years. when the president of e united states claims he has total authority is that true? >>o, it's not true. he heard that loud and clear, not just from liberals and democrats but from conservatives an republicansrepublicans. you heard the fom liz chaney and constitutional experts likeu jonathany who was the only law professor to appr at the impeachment on trump's side. that got through to the he has a lot of authority and leverage if he wanted to use it. there'sng in the
constitution that allows him to supersede a governor's authority to have people stay at home. he might have the case to intervene in the case of an emergency. but to say tha is a whole new inrpretation. he basically retreated on that yesterday. and he used the same language he used on monday in reverse. the president of the united ates calls the shots. yesterday, he got on the phone with the governors and says, you all will call the shots. it struck me as not only a reversal, the latest we've seen of my. an effort on his rt to continue to send conflicting messages so that nobody can hold him completely accountable for any particular aspect of this if things don't go right. robert: i don't justve two reporters. i have two lawyers. paula and kim. aula, as an attorney and reporter, what do you make of what peter said? >> the constitutional i crystal clear how the president does not
have absolute power that he claimed. anhe saw that. the legal, political clapback was pretty swift. you see these groups of regional governors saying that they were going to create their own coalitions to decides on a regional basis when it was best for them to open up. you saw constitutional scholars, again, peter mentioned jonathan tuying legally he does not have this authority. ecd low gistically, he was claiming this ically a total authority to turn back on state local economies, schools, low giscally, it's just not clear how he would even dohat. that became crystal clear. that's why you see this swift and now he's defering to the states and local leaders and in doing that issuing federal guidelines and deferring to states he's giving cover to the local leaders who wantock go to business while shielding himself and the white house from any blame if there was a resurgence or new outbreaks.
cobert: does it come down to the governor's ents about the president not being a king to this issue of executive power? >> yes, it goes right against that instinct that he has, the president has that he is the leader in messaerng that hing comes down to him. help doesn't want to listen to experts.sn he d always want to pa attention to the constitution as the ce where missed the 10th amendment in asserting that absolute authority. he is pushing back against -- he also pushes back against criticism. all that creates sort of the perfect storm and the n rfect foilvernor cuomo. but what i've heard from other vernors including governor baker in massachusetts also a republican is governors don't ve much of an appetite to fight with the president right now. they want to get the materials, the testing, the data, and the order to stop the read of the
virus. and they think that incurring the ire of the presiden isot always the best way to go. it's a dateldance. robert: while all this happening the white house vs. the states, the nation's unemployment clveas eached 22 million. democrats in the administrati they're continuing to negotiate tonight this weekend about the small business lending program. that program i part of t $2 trillion congressional deal has maxed out of its allocated $350 billion. senate democratic leader cuck humer said this on friday. >> we've had constructive talks where they're going to continue through the weekend. and i don't see any reason why we can't come to an agrment soon. robert: mitch mcconnell has held firm expanding an agreement beyond the small business program. >> it's absolutely surreal to ic see democr leaders treat support for workers and small
businesses as something they need to be goaded into this reallyhould be above politics. americans need democrats to stop blocking emergen paycheck money and let this job-saving program reopen. robert: kristen, we keep hearing about president trump, his tweets, his daily briefings. but there is a whole other story on the economy and on the congressional side. it seems friday that the two sides are coming closer together to add ome money for hospitals, maybe $75 billion politico is reporting on top $50 million. do you se it being successful this weekend? >> it seems they are making progress. i've hed that figure as well, that $75 billion. democrats saying, look, we want ney forospitals, for state and local governments. they were stalemated, deadlocked
just a few weeks ago. but they started talking again. and that's because the white house has mov fward realizing that they need to give democrs something in order to get this done. there's immense pressure on everyone, both sides of the aisle to renew this fund, but as one administration official told t there'she most pressure on the presidentecause he is the one who sort of left holding the bag if this doesn't get resolved. and so that's why you see the white house moving an inch towards the democrats. will it be done deal? that remains to be seen. they are hopeful. they'll continue to talk t throughout weekend. tuesday is the earliest that they could actually be able to nvote o this. robert: holding the bag and paula, tis president's nam going to be on those stimulus payments going out. how have democratselt about that move from the ministration? >> nancy pesi has criticized that as unnecessary delay, an
but in terms of this phase three stimulus, this was passed in record speed, in record side. white house officials tell me yes, there's a lot of details that need workut on the fly t specifically with refunding they're under a lot of pressure because the president is hearing from outside conservative voiceo that theyot want to necessarily see a phase four. they would prefer to see the country reopen and get back to business. if they can come to a deal on this to refu this specific program, that may help buy them presd on a phase four.re really robert: peter, the reason this s all expired money is because all these businesses have applied foroans and they want to see more loans go out. what's your read? e thlitical theater both sides ultimately com together like they did in phase three in that $2 trillion or not? >> it's hard to imagine they eventually the economy is in such dire straits that both have
an incentive to do something to keep it -- keep it holding up as long as possible until these stay-at-home orders can be effect ily rescinded. think, it's hard to imagine this this negotiation period doesn't eventually lead some plac but you know, we'll see. it's a different era. in previouser rass, this wouldn't have been that hard. but this is moment of polarization. you heard the president in his briefing right now not re than pelosi saying she was on nancy vacation. she didn't want to come back and do hrk trying to pressure her and make her look like she'f inent to the needs of the country that a lot of republicans went after her this week because of pictures involving ice cream. they're trying to turn the table on the democrats even though, course, the incumbent party in the white house is usually the one that owns the party one way or the other for good or will and eventually, of course, if
they get a deal this is a temporary thing that it might not matter. everybody's so sensitive.bout as you point out 22 million people out of work. there's a great incentive. i did the math today, robert. 22 million workers put in to ha unemployments the equivalent of every sngle worker manan or wn 23 states combined. that's a lot o people who are facing pain right now. robert: to that point about pain -- you see itin up clos any community. your heart goes out to people who are losing their job. i love you reporting because you're always keeping an eye on boston for wbur up there. what's happening one thound? we see the stock markets steady. rising off some news off the development of new drugs. but for people in boston in your case, what are you hearing? what are you seeing? >> yeah, and it goes directly to these negotiations. you're seeing the cases -- the number of cases rising in the
states. it's one of its own -- one of the country'athot spots. the same time you're seeing racial disparities and how this -- how this virus has manifested playing out in boston and surrounding communities. and you see the healthcare sy oem. boston ie of the -- the hubs of healthcare in this country. and you're seeing the very -- the big impact on healthcare workers as they are trying to provide aid for people. and it's just those types of communities that the democrats have in mind in this short-term funding negotiation. ey understand and want the s.b. toomplet have these additional funds for small businesses but they sif they don't address healthcare workers, local ficials in this bill, it's goingo be that much harder to get everything they need in the next one and time is runningou that's the main argument for more than just business funding
in this next round. a place like boston is a perfect emple of what they're pointing to. these drugs that people are f optimistic about, they still don't have f.d.a. approval. some tests are still waiting on f.d.a. approv t. so much os is t.b.d. when it comes to the economy. >> absolutely. so many of these business leaders have say robust testing is necessary. they don't mean for covid but anti-body tting. dr. birx is saying how little they know if they have been exposed if they are actually immune. we're a long way from that. there are questions about vaccines. we're a year to a year and a half out for a vaccine. and about whether that vd accin wove to be mandatory in order to be effective. the sours i've spoken with saying based on the nature of this virus, the president -- te
vernment would need to mandate this vaccine in order to truly make it ifeffective. hey don't mandate it then this whole argument that we'll be fine is pie in the sky. robertl that is ale time we have. many thanks to our panel. kimberly atkins, peter baker, paula reid, and kristen welker. first rate group of rep tters. nk you for your time and your reporting. and we will keep bringing you al e to the news as we can. this conversation, it will extra.e on our you can watch that live on our website and on our social channels. but for now, i'm robert costa. good night from washington. ♪ [captioning performed by the naonal captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.visit ncicap.org] announcer: corporate funding if
"washington week" is provide by -- >> life isn't atraight line, and sometimes you can find yourself heading in a new direction. fidelity is here to help you work through the unexpected with financial planning and advice for today and tomorrow. ♪ announce additional funding is provided by -- the estate of arnold adams, and koo and patricia yuen, through the yuen foundation committed to bridging cultural gaps our commities. the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributis s to your thank you.om viewers like you. >> you're watchin
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