tv Washington Week PBS September 18, 2021 1:30am-2:01am PDT
♪ yamiche: boosters, protest, and perilous times. >> everybody will be ready, more ready for them. yamiche: washington braces for a pro-trumpet rally in support of people charged with attacking the capital on january 6. a new book reveals that general mark millie took secret actions because he worried former president trump might start a war to hold onto power. >> science was on the ballot. the pandemic was on the ballot. yamiche: and political fights over covert disinformation and mandates deepen as an fda panel rejects pfizer's plan for widespread booster shots, but recommends them for americans 65 and older. plus -- >> he will not have my vote on 3.5 and chuck knows that. yamiche: democrats try to
navigate divisions over their agenda, next. ♪ >> this is "washington week." corporate funding is provided by -- >> additional funding is provided by the estate of arnold animals -- arnold adams. committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. sandra and carl delay. rose, herschel, and andy shreve's. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again from washington, moderator yamiche alcindor.
yamiche: welcome to "washington week." i'm yamiche alcindor. pro trump supporters oak into the capital and chanted about killing lawmakers 254 days ago. tonight in washington, d.c., security is tight as support for the writers prepared together for a rally tomorrow. meanwhile, a new book contains explosive details about the follow-up from the capital attack. it says general mark millie thought former president donald trump was crazy and made secret calls to assure people that the u.s. was not going to war. now, some republicans, including senator marco rubio of florida, are demanding that millie be fired. >> it is the essence, a military coup. that's what it would equate to. i don't think there's any doubt that at a minimum, he should be fired. yamiche: but president biden is sticking by general millie. >> all of what's in that book
happened before i became secretary of defense, so i can't comment on that, as well, and certainly i won't comment on what's in the book. i have confidence in general millie. yamiche: and there's major news on covid vaccine boosters we'll talk about later in the show. joining us to talk about another newsweek, zolan kanno-youngs, white house correspondent for the new york times. jonathan martin, new york times. sabrina siddiqui, white house reporter for the wall street journal. and kelsey snell for npr> thank you all for being here. zolan, what are the security preparations underway because of this rally? and how many people are expected to attend? zolan: so based off of the permit that was registered, you can expect about 700 people. at least that was on the permit for these organizers. again, this rally was in an effort to support the defendants that were participated in the
deadly siege at the u.s. capitol on january 6. some of these organizers have been very outspoken in their association, their support with the trump campaign, as well. in terms of security, you can expect to see a national guard presence, unarmed national guard troops, about00, and look, i've been talking to intelligence officials about this all week. they have been trying to relay this message that the biden administration's been putting out for these first seven or so months. we are actually taking this seriously based on bare minimum, acknowledging domestic extremism is a method in the united states, and militia groups, such as the proud boys and far right groups. and you could see some of those extremists there tomorrow. i obtained a document that showed the homeland security department is reporting that they are eecting potential violence. there's no specific plot,
however they have been tracking online chatter that shows people talking about kidnapping a member of congress, storming the capital tonight. but, based on the folks i'm talking to, they aren't expecting another january 6. then again, they weren't on january 5 either. jonathan: the biggest difference between now and then, the congress is not in session. the folks are back at home. they are not going to be physically ndc -- in d.c. but it is striking that the specter of physical violence still looms over american politics in a way we haven't seen in this country since the 1970's. it's very difficult to explain if you don't work in politics or cover politics, but it's such a part of our daily lives now, so much so that there are now members of congress, including one i spoke to this week, anthony gonzalez from ohio, who just don't think it's worth it to stay in politics anymore because you're dealing with, at a bare minimum, hassles at
bestw when you're thinking about your spouse, your kids -- are they safe? are they secure? what is going to happen if i fly in the airport? is only in congress two terms. not quite 37 years old, calling it quits in part because of the security threats. i think that tells you a lot about politics today. yamiche: and kelsey, commerce men gonzalez, there was reporting he would -- congressman gonzales, there was reporting he was using his security. he is saying he is supporting the people who are being charged in this deadly capital siege while also saying the rally is a conspiracy theory. talk to us about what all of this means in the context of the power that president trump still has. kelsey: certainly, i think one of the things i'm watching his republicans don't want to engage in the question. they don't want to talk about
what president trump is saying or that this rally is happening. we have seen kevin mccarthy, the republican leader in the house, says he doesn't expect republicans to be there. that is more or less the extent the republican leadership is even talking about how this is going to go down. one of the things that's interesting to me is seeing the way the fencing around the capital is being received. it is for the people who live in that neighborhood and the people that work in that building, a stark reminder of what happened. and it's also a clear reminder that they are not in the clear, that this isn't a safe place, that used to be just an office. this was an office where people went to work and more tourist came to see the seat of government. it was an open space where we were able to see democracy in action. that was the part of the job of covering congress. it isn't that way anymore. sabrina: and it's a stark reminder of the idea that there is a danger that limbs. i want to turn to this book. according to reporting into sources who confirmed this with
me, general mark millie and house speaker nancy pelosi spoke two days after the january 6 capital attack, pelosi talking about former president trump, told general millie, "he's crazy, and what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness." general millie responded by saying, "i agree with you on everything." millie also assured pelosi they would keep trump from ordering a nuclear strike. what do you expect about how the biden administration is handling this, but also what does it tell you that president trump is still having all this power when so many people in this administration were worried, legitimately worried he was mentally unstable? sabrina: well, the biden administration is standing by general millie and they want to put the trump administration behind them and not relitigate the chaos and the turmoil within the trump administration. they believe it distracts from their agenda and there are please relevant law enforcement
is taking seriously, the threat of political extremism and domestic terrorism. the republicans, first and foremost, the book reinforces the extent to which there is genuine concern about then-president trump's stability, his state of mind, that he might take abrupt or rash action. he is trying to keep the normal channels of government working. we're expecting to hear more as he testifies later this month and what was supposed to be about afghanistan, but also about the revelations in this book. going back to the broader conversation, all of this reinforces how when former president trump animated supporters around this idea the election was stolen, it wasn't just hyperbole. it wasn't just political rhetoric. it really did feed into the minds of a faction of the population that the democratic process is broken, not believing joe biden is a legitimate president. and now a majority of republicans genuinely believe the election was stolen despite
evidence to the contrary. there's a thin line between rhetoric and calling those same people to political violence. that is why there is so much concern about the lingering effects of all of the events that led up to the insurrection and how we are still living within that context. yamiche: and kelsey, talk a bit about of what we might see when general millie comes to congress. just today, the peril -- pentagon said we killed civilians in afghanistan. there's also all the things we learned in this book. it seems there are going to be fireworks here. kelsey: absolutely. and a lot of this happened when congress was not in washington. when that happens, there's this bottled of energy where they come in and take charge of the moment to talk to the people who have been in the news. and so it will very likely be a lot of fireworks and a lot of people taking that chance to put down estate on not just one issue. it's not just going to be about afghanistan. it will be about the entirety for republicans, i imagine, the
entirety of the biden administration's foreign policy and the way they're. i expect -- they're approaching the world. i expect this to be far broader. jonathan: the right and the left are going to be coming at it aggressively. kelsey: and we will hear conversations about what's happening with the afghan interpreters and these people who are eligible for special immigrant visas, and the people still in afghanistan. yamiche: and jonathan, today it seemed there were so many things going on, talking to sources. you think about the fact that there was this sort of possible page turner on afghanistan and then we're right back here talking about drones. what are the political benefits republicans want to extract? jonathan: every day that goes by that we're talking about the biden administration's missteps in afghanistan is a day that the gop is driving their message going into the midterms. and if you look at the polling data, track biden turned south
to afghanistan last month. obviously they want to keep it focused on what's happening in afghanistan, foreign policies typically don't last that long. kelsey: democrats have been saying that a lot. jonathan: exactly. i think it remains to be seen when we're in october if it's still in the headlines. but look, i think biden appears vulnerable, politically, for the first time since he was sworn in. yamiche: and the lieutenant colonel made famous by testifying before congress about the issues he had with the president's call, he was pushing him to get evidence, dig up dirt on president biden. he is calling for the resignation of general millie. i'm wondering what you're hearing from your sources. apart from the back and forth, is there an issue here? zolan: there is a concern that your top general, yes, the white house is supporting verbally, but his right back in the political storm he saw to avoid
going back to june, when he had to walk in full uniform behind president trump when he took his photo op at the church. general millie really tried to make efforts to remove him and the mitary from politics. guess what? maybe he's saying he had the right intentions based off of calling china to keep the peace, to avoid any conflict. but through whether or not those were his intentions, his right back now in a political storm. yamiche: meanwhile this week, the other thing, so much as happened this week, meanwhile the u.s. hit another tragic milestone. one in 500 americans have now died from covid. breaking tonight, an fda panel rejected the panel for booster shots, but the panel endorsed boosters for americans 65 and older and those of high risk of severe disease. sabrina, where does this leave things with the biden administration? the president came out saying we
need to get booster shots for all americans that are eligible. this is a much narrower decision, a much narrower recommendation. sabrina: it's a blow to the biden administration because weeks ago, they announced plans to give out boosters to the american public in september. and they had said that most americans would be eligible for a booster eight months after they got there second dose. we are now talking about much smaller subset of the population, although there was some criticism from scientists in the government that the biden administration was pushing boosters. they felt the process has been rushed, that the data isn't there to demonstrate the need for boosters f all americans. they feel like it's more supportive of the idea that people who are immunocompromised, in nursing homes, seniors, more of a need for boosters there. and there's also been criticism that the u.s. is giving out boosters at a time when the developing boosters -- developing world still does not have access, israel, italy also
looking at booster shot plans. this is certainly putting the brakes on what the biden administration was hoping to achieve and it remains to be seen whether there will be a new timeline for boosters. for now, it looks like only seniors will get a third dose of the vaccine. yamiche: and jonathan, i didn't know if i was going to bring this topic up ever, but we were talking about nikki menage -- nicky minaj, who tweeted about disinformation, which she claimed that her cousin's friend became impotent because he got the covid vaccine. scientists say the vaccine has nothing to do with impotency. it is not because that. it does not have issues with fertility. but you also covered the california race where covid this information was part of that. it's california. it's a very blue state. but what does that state tell us about the game plan for democrats and republicans? jonathan: i think in blue and pule states, it tells us democrats are going to try to exhume the political ghost of donald trump.
he may be out of office, but they're fun to keep him on the ballot the best they can. you saw gavin newsom do that. i think his challenge this summer was not that he was in real danger of being recalled, because the sort of moderates in the state turned on him. it was the democratic majority in the state fell asleep. guess what? he woke them up because he was able to put a face on the recall, larry elder, who is a kind of, a pre-trumpian talk show radio host that had a 10 mile wide oppo file of comments he had made over 25 years on talk radio, but running in a deep blue state. if you can't beat him in california, turn in your cart as a democrat. yamiche: including the fact that larry elder said reparations should go to slaveowners. we don't have time for that because it's too much. but representative gonzales retiring says what about the road ahead? are there nine more to go?
we're talking about nine because they are the nine republicans who voted to impeach president trump. jonathan: yes, so i think he is likely not going to be the last of those 10 to call it a career. it's not clear to me who or when the others will step forward. keep in mind one other factor that striving this, reapportionment. a lot of them don't know what this eats are going to look like next year. that's the kind of thing that can solidify your decision to call it quits. but i think this is an important moment, politically. i connect recall a midterm and one party that was going to be more clarifying. this puts the tea party versus establishment stuff in 10 years to shame. i think next year, the question of, can any anti-trump folks in the gop, can they survive? and if they can, it calls into question what kind of clout president trump still has in the primary of his own party. if he would beat all of them,
clearly it's his party. kelsey: i think that's a question that comes first. will they try? yamiche: you were jumping in. i'm wondering, and a lot of democrats i've been talking to, are republicans going too far? not only when it comes to covid, but a conservative rate a host died after marking the vaccine. there's also the issue of voting rights. do you think there's worry they are going too far? and you democrats think they can capitalize on this? zolan: they may be worried about it, but i don't know how widespread that is. i look at governor greg abbott, a guy trying to rise in the republican party. that is somebody who you just talked about, the abortion fight. you talked about him trying to replicate the trump playbook by going to the border, seizing on immigration, stoking fears around border crossings, as well, something the former president did. it's not just the house, let's be clear.
it's not just house republicans trying to replicate this trump playbook. it's going on throughout the country. yamiche: in the meantime, president biden is facing mounting challenges, including on immigration. the u.s. border patrol says more than 10,000 migrants, most from 80, are being held -- haiti, are being held on a bridge. tell us about what's going on here and what is the plan for these people? zolan: sire. so what you have -- sure, so what you have right now people being kept on the bridge on the u.s. side of the border, and del rio. that elrick -- in del rio. the area of the bridge is on the rio grande, where people have died trying cross. just to give you a glimpse of how fast this is moving, when i talked to somebody today, they said that number had gone up to 11,000 people. a government official told me that. these arpeople that have crossed, and now what cvp says is that they are too overwhelmed.
they have a lack of capacity. they are struggling to process fast enough so that they are then going to put these people under the bridge so they are not suggested to the heat -- subjected to the heat and what have you. we sell these conditions under trump, and there were health incidents. this is a humanitarian crisis right now for president biden. it will be interesting to see, this is a president that has kept in one of the more restrictive trump border policies of trump's time, title 42, public health authority to turn away migrants. it will be interesting to see whether or not and who gets to say -- stay, who gets processed and released into the u.s. yamiche: kelsey, he is talking about the crisis at the border, but there are mounting crises on the democrat agenda. where do you think this is going in terms of the way democrats are going to prioritize, what they have to do, especially when you have senators -- i was talking to senators who seemed
pretty angry at these two. the anger was palpable. kelsey: certainly. immigration plays into this because they are trying to do some measure of immigration as part of a broader reconciliation package. the more that immigration is a headline, the less likely democrats are going to rally votes for that. they may get a gift from the senate parliamentarian that it comes out of the bill without having to do anything at all. but all of the controversial elements of the bill cannot be stripped up. they will have to deal with the dynamics of their own party, and they have problems on taxes. they have problems on drug pricing. they have problems on the overall cost of this bill. so it's not just the big picture issues of ending $3.5 trillion. it's the finer points and what makes it possible to pay for spending. they don't seem to be near a place where they're going to get an agreement, let alone move forward with reconciliatio before this vote that's supposed to happen just a few days from
now on the narrower immigration -- sorry come in for structure built. we're in this place where democrats have a lot of cards o the table and no clear way to pull them back together. yamiche: democrats have a lot of cards on the table and no clear way to pull them back is in ellicott -- eloquent way to say they have a lot of problems. they have a lot issues, but a very eloquent way to put it. sabrina, france literally said we are pulling back. we are recalling armed ambassadors from the u.s. and australia because of this new australia, u.s., and the u.k., a new defense agreement that was announced this week. president biden set america's back. i'm the guy that's going to be stable. but then the french minister is now saying president biden is acting like former president trump, backstabbing was a word he used this week by the french, also saying that he is unpredictable. how does this impact all that
the president's trying to do? sabrina: well, i think one of the big challenges for president biden's he wanted to reset transatlantic relations, and now he is in the midst of the major spat with one of america's oldest allies. and look, this was a deal president biden negotiated with the u.k. and australia. it's a major blow to a deal that the french and the australians already had been negotiating and was a major piece of france's domestic ambitions. it also does affect france's own regional influence in china. to think that this all comes back to so much of biden's own agenda comes back to trying to counter beijing, and so they have been willing to place a priority, perhaps even at the expense of u.s. allies, on almost this trump he and policy, desktopia -- trumpian policy, the threat of countering china.
and now you have this deal that's been negotiating to counter beijing, but we'll have to see how the dynamics play out in the coming days, secretary stanton doing damage control. he did indicate france was given very little notice, and that seems to be where the challenge was, but they didn't give france sufficient notice. yamiche: we don't -- we only have about 10 seconds left, but we were sitting in up news conference where president biden did not take questions. zolan: just real quick, we did have an official tell us the french were only told about this arrangement the morning just hours before president biden would go out the announcement. that definitely fueled some anger. the other take away we should have, there are going to be questions about nonproliferation argument. president biden has also advocated throughout his career for nonproliferation, denuclearizing. now, i am still looking for an answer as to if you're going to share materials to build
submarines, that's probably going to be highly enriched uranium that could build nuclear weapons. if not that, what is it? yamiche: it's a key question and thank you all for this sort of crazy week, summing it all up for us. we will have to leave it there for tonight. thank you fosharing your reporting. and thank you for joining us. don't forget to tune into the show next friday. we'll have bob wilbert and robert costa to talk about their new book. and tune in monday for one-on-one interview with the president of columbia as world leaders gather for the general assembly. our conversation will continue on the "washington week" extra and social media and our website. we'll talk about fnce's anger over the new agreement, and handling the very nasser sex abuse case -- larry nasser sex. abuse case. i'm yamiche alcindor. have a good night. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪
>> corporate funding for "washington week" is consumer cellular. the estate of arnold adams. the human foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. sandra and carla magnuson. rose, herschel, and any shreves. the corporation for public broadcasting and by ntributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪
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