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tv   The Bottom Line  Al Jazeera  February 13, 2022 4:00am-4:31am AST

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wet lot be tobacco. well being on his board, the merest project witness on al jazeera ah al jazeera, where every oh, a ha, ha ha robin in doha. you're watching out as ever these raw top news stories, the white house as a phone call between the u. s and russian leaders did not result in any fundamental change regarding moscow's military build upon ukraine's border. the kremlin said the coal was businesslike, but criticize what it described as war hysteria in the west. our white house
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correspondent, kimberly how kit reports. according to a senior administration official, the telephone call between the us and russian president lasted just over an hour. the call was apparently professional and substantive in nature, but there was apparently no change in the dynamic. in other words, the united states reportedly put forward a number of ideas that it believed were in the best interests of the west of the alliance and addressed the key security concerns of russia. however, it is still unclear in the eyes of the united states, whether or not russia has made a decision to take the diplomatic path to resolve the security differences. or go with the use of force and war in for the united states is what they're seeing on the ground, the continued build up of military troops. and the united states saying,
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according to this administration official, that is the belief of the united states. if russia is to pursue that military option, that the result would be nothing short of catastrophic. now, earlier in the day on saturday, we do know that the secretary of state antony blinking, did also communicate to his counterpart that the diplomatic path remains open. that b a, there is this chance to engage in good faith discussions, but that russia needs to de escalate immediately. this is something that was underscored by the u. s. president. otherwise there would be a reaction by the west. in other words, there would be a resolute, massive united transit land take response, and the u. s. president underscoring as well to vladimir putin that this transatlantic relationship is more aligned than ever before. ukrainian primitive load them is zalinski has citizens not to panic. as warnings quote of
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a potential russian invasion, something moscow to noise, but wolf, veterans were amongst thousands marching through the capital in a civilian show of strings. the u. s. is evacuating non emergency american start from its embassy into he's our board, there's each our territory. you know, i have to speak with our people like, you know, like, like breast and, and say people truce. and the truth that we have different information. and now the best friend for enemies that hispanic in our country. and all these information details only for penny doesn't help us. canadian police have begun dispensing truck blocking vital a vital bridge to the us. demonstrated the angry about a cave in 1900 vaccine mandate and restrictions when the police say these stand off as being peaceful. the 60 blockade of the ambassador bridge has disrupted the flow
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of goods between canada and the us. and there had been similar protests in paris, french police broke up a convoy of vehicles that tried to block traffic in protest against pen restrictions. the so called freedom convoys of rally. again, vaccine passes, which are required to enter restaurants and many of the public and use of the nice rank as president has declared that health and electricity work has provide a central services which means it's illegal for them to strike under the essential services act, people could face up to 5 years in jail, have the assets confiscated for refusing to work. people in manchester, england are protesting against the rise of cost of living in the u. k, the british government announced a one time rebate check in response to solar energy bill or protest to say, it's not enough. i've got this on central bank has called on the us president to reverse in order to return only half of the $7000000000.00 in afghan assets held in the us. joe biden has set aside the other half or 911 victims. those were the
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headlines, i'll be back with more news and half and i will return to the bottom line to stay with us. i me i am steve clements and i have a question. well, maybe a couple of questions. why did it take a year for donald trump's archives to be handed over to the government? and if he destroyed so many of his records, did he do anything wrong? legally? let's get to the bottom line. ah, donald trump's legacy with it. he was unconventional and didn't care much, but the traditional norms of the white house, but recently his habit of ripping up papers and throwing them on the floor or in the trash has come under a lot of scrutiny. lots of records that he reportedly was required by law to keep and advised by his lawyers to do so, went into burn bags and were incinerated in the pentagon. the loss says any of
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trump's memos his letters, his papers, even emails, although there is no evidence that trump actually used email much or the property of the american people. they have to be preserved by the white house and sent on to the national archives by law for safe keeping as historical records. this week we learned that trump's team just sent 15 boxes from his home in florida last month. and many documents were torn into shreds stuck together by tape. today we're talking about trump's paper trail or lack thereof, and what it means, not only for historians, but for the law makers investigating the events of january 6, 2021. today we're talking with josh dorsey and investigative political reporter at the washington post who's done some of the really major reporting on this story. and joining me here in the studio are and weisman who has literally fought against every american president since the 1980s, to make sure that their records come back to the public. and is the former chief council for citizens, for responsibility and ethics in washington. responsibility,
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ethics, washington, we're gonna have to talk about that. and professor david barker, who teaches government and is the director of the center for congressional and presidential studies at american university. josh, let me just start with you. can you lay the groundwork if, as it were, for what we have learned about donald trump's proclivity to just keep keep ripping things up and what are the public equities that are involved here? so what we learned is that former president drums habit for ripping up documents, was indiscriminate and repeated am. over the course of 4 years, various chiefs of staff, lawyers, and other advisors in the white house tried to warn the former president about the public records or requirements that he had to keep these documents. but that he would rip them repeatedly, both in the oval office and the dining room of the of office and in the residence. so what the white house had to do was to come and do a back system where i have a staff secretary and other offices would come through and go through the trash
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cans at night and take them back together. so in the national archive started processing so much of the material after the presidency ended, i'm, they found they were watts of documents that were ripped and taped back together. some of those documents will provide it to the january 6th committee that had still been taped back the other and they found many other documents. they said that were not put back together. i, some of them had been reassembled and some of them had not. and it's been a particularly arduous challenge for the national archives dealing with the habits of someone who ripped so indiscriminately for so long. one of the issues josh, that gave president trump lift during his campaign against hillary clinton was that, you know, she was in a controversy that she had destroyed emails. aah! had used a private email server and that many that she had gone through and delivered some of those emails back. but there were literally tens of thousands, if not more, that she hadn't have. we had any response from president trump about that
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juxtaposition of his concern over hillary's emails versus his proclivity to shred documents. we have not, i, as, as you said, the way partially won the election over concerns about her handling of government records and our e mail. and what we've learned really in the past few weeks is that some of this was already known to be clear. but what we've really seen come to light more than we even knew was that the former president did not follow public records rules. i'm laws as appropriate, but he took in a 15 different boxes of things to morrow, i go, i with him at the national archives to go down and retrieve he shredded at thousands of documents or ripped them up, that they their tape act together. and he's really our folks, you know, involved in the international markets describe this is unprecedented as far as the number of papers they've had to put together and the amount of material they tend to try and retreat from the former president. and they told us yesterday the event,
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they still don't know if there's more material, but the former president, trump's aids, and florida say they continue to search. so really who knows that we've seen the end of this yet or not. i have a feeling we haven't been in weisman, you have sued presidencies before you successfully sued, as i understand it, the trump transition team to prevent that the destruction of documents, if i have that correct. but tell us what the law is. the presidential records act and what you had been trying to secure, not only during the trump administration, but previous presidential administration. yes. so the president of records act was passed to make it clear that the records of a president and belong to the american public. there. our records, our history, not the personal records of a president, they are the right and the act also makes it clear that the president has a legal obligation. well, he or she is in office to create and preserve records. the whole idea behind this statute is that this isn't
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a significant part of our history that needs to be created and preserved. obviously, present in trumps actions are completely at odds with that statue. i know the post reporting, which is quite incredible, has, you know, i think revealed just how systemic and ongoing it was. but we filed 3 separate lawsuit against president trump early on from not in 2017. shortly after taking office came out that aids were using encrypted, disappearing message apps to communicate, which meant no records were being created. it came out in 2018 president trump's practice of ripping up his documents was 1st made public and even then it was so institutionalized that there were 2 people, long staff whose job was to take back his records. we sued because president trump refused to create records of key meetings with platinum or potent 5 meeting by
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lad amir flu lab, not have records correct and can john, he, he directed specifically, but note takers not be in those meanings. and we now know from the washington post reporting, that at least some of the records that were destroy, included communications about his meetings with foreign leaders. and yes, at the end of the administration, we sued and we raise the concern. look, president trump is leisurely leaving office. there is a likelihood that he faced a significant exposure. legally. we fear that on his way out, he is going to destroy a lot of his records. and unfortunately, we didn't get very far in our last who actually was the justice department that was defending the president instead was oh not to worry. we put it what's called the litigation hold in place where you fall. the last to we've told everybody don't
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destroy anything. well, the washington post makes it clear that what need to this is what's fascinating to me. you've got literally an administration or a presidency is not just one individual. yeah, there are literally billions of documents that are part of any presidential administration that typically eventually go into the national archives and into a presidential library for later research and, and access. i guess in this case you got one guy present, donald trump ripping up stuff right. that's there, but they are still still will be billions of documents out there. but, but i think the other question is, what legal liability does he really face? i mean, i have yet to see president trump, they say suffer any legal consequence of which i'm aware of, of, of serious, you know, status and haven't seen that happen. so, you know, is it a toothless law? while the para is 2 plus, yes,
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there is no enforcement mechanism in it course has taken the view that congress does not and intend courts to have any role in supervising the president compliance with the law. there are 2 criminal statutes of potentially apply. one of them for hibbitts, with called the degradation of us property. and the 2nd statue criminal also says that it is against the law to wilfully mutilate or destroy records in a federal office. we think that there is a good argument that both of those statues have been violated. and we, i also believe that the element of willfulness is likely met here as well. and again, due to the reporting, the washington post and people like josh, we know that the president was told by 2 separate chiefs of staff and white house council that the, his actions were illegal. and still he persisted with david,
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you know, i have tried to sort of think about not only donald trump but other presidencies and go back to richard nixon who was a president i worked for during the last 2 years of his life. believe it or not, as director of the nixon center. you know, i think kissinger and nixon were obsessed. that there be records are and documentation of their presidency, which when watergate came along, proved to be something that perhaps they wish they hadn't done as much when you look at every white house, since the attitude about taping or about records, how they've managed them, i can't really paint any president since nixon is actually loving the presidential records act because things come back to bite them. so or so, you know, as a researcher and a historian, as a political scientist, looking at this, what are the equities that you care about? what are the behaviors we should be securing from the person who holds the highest office in this land or senior? right, you know, it started with kennedy and then that practice was continued by johnson and,
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and then nixon and not necessarily for the practice of taping the practice of taping, specifically. right. which as you notice came back to bite nixon and rather famous ways. but you know, they talk about how the goal at that time actually was to be able to, to use those tapes against political adversaries. right. i mean, the, the, the goals weren't necessarily all sanguine. but since that time, as, as you noted, that practice has, has been ended. but if you think about the richness that we've gotten from those, those tapes, them from records in general, from, from johnson especially, and next, and, you know, as, as historians and as, as anybody who cares about the country and, and its history and from learning for, from our past, right, we want to want to be able to see what these people did and office, the decisions that they made, the, the thoughts that were going through their minds, the conversations that they were having so that we can learn, right? we can learn what they did, what worked, what didn't worked, and why, you know,
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and that's the only way that we really get a sense of, of our nation's past so that we can build a better future. josh, i'm wondering whether we should not just be looking at the torn papers, you know, in burn bags and, and donald trump's ways back. but also asking questions about official secrecy and what we're not seeing. well, it's certainly true that this president, i had given a paranoid tendency to not want anything personal about him to come out. not any sort of secret that would be embarrassing towards him. and he would often ask aids in meetings to not take notes. he would, he would ask people if they were recording him at times of the former president was kind of a secret of figure in some ways. and what we saw in this case, steve was that we don't really know what else he took. frankly, we don't know what ali destroyed one of the things that my colleagues and i are
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really trying to do is figure out, okay, so the, the national archives is a shifting boxes. what was in this 15 boxes, what else is still there? i'm, you know, there were thousands of not tens of thousands of papers that were ripped up. was just a pattern of practice where he ripped up only sensitive materials that were, you know, he saw as deleterious to him in some way. or was he just flipping things up because, you know, that's, that's what he did. i, there are lots of questions that we stop figure out here. and we have kind of a broad outlines of, of what he was doing. but we still have lots of granular things that really would tell how furious these practices were. were like i, i want to jump to david in 2nd. but josh, i know you're a reporter and you don't often give your views. but just reading your excellent reporting on this, i am asking myself, you and i both know these folks and, and normal people who run for the presidency sort of have the office in law. they understand the public role. they see it. and i'm just wondering who would rip up
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the records of their own? i think i'd, you know, do you have a sense that donald trump had all of the office of the presidency or thought just sort of his, you know, a side show think some of the traffic than the accoutrements of the office. he saw that way, but i don't think he cared much about records retention. there was nothing that i saw in the course of 4 years reporting on this with president or sense that led me to believe that he wanted to be careful keeper of his legacy. i mean, a former aid that i've talked to spoke with him about assembling prism. interlibrary say he sees very little interest in the topic and quickly moves on to other subjects. i don't think he saw keeping his papers, the details of his presidency and clean order as high priority. i do not david, i know you want to jump in on that as well. but i'm going to ask you the same thing of someone who study different president, you know,
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we'll see the archive. i've gone to research in the clinton library and nixon library in the reagan library. and what is the public loss? what are people like you lost when you see something like we've seen reported in the washington post, eliminate again there the ability to understand what happened for the past 4 years so that we can learn from it in the future. but one of the things that i really want to try to understand may perhaps from, from, and even, is this distinction, you know, a lot of times it's hard to prosecute someone if, if you can't, you know, demonstrate nefarious intent. try to. and oftentimes you've seen that with, with trauma, say like, oh, well, you know, he's just doesn't know any better or, or he like, you know, as a narcissistic sort of thinks he's above these things. but it's not really that he's necessarily trying to conceal anything. and it was started for him to rip up the pieces of paper and throw him on the floor and so blah, blah, blah. but to me, more than the, than the ripping and the shredding and even the take. i mean i have to interrupt
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you. i do remember when he was giving a state of the union address and nancy pelosi was sitting behind him and ripped off here copies of the union. and he did not look clean. but you know, to me even sort of more concerning maybe than the, then the shredding and or the taking them or a logo or these burn bags, right? which, which, which suggests that there was an actual, you know, practice in place. right? this was burn bags are typically done for classified information, right? so the meaning of classified and non classified as i just wanted to clarify that federal bern bags are about classified information sent to the pentagon. so the question was, what made its way into those right? and it should have been part of that, and as i understand right, it was what trump wanted in there and didn't want to see the light of day which, which seems to make a tougher case against and you know, i guess the question as you look forward and what ought to be some of the practices that we should expect me administration, i must admit,
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i assume josh is the same. i communicate with a lot of senior government, white house officials and i communicate with them both through their official email account and phone number and through their unofficial g mail or aol counts even though someone has a compuserve account, believe it or not. what are the rules if i communicate with one of jo biden's, most senior staff in a private account is someone breaking the law there? well, i know why not breaking the law, but well, what the law says it doesn't prohibit him from getting or you know, receiving or sending from a private account. but that official is supposed to take those emails and put them into an official account. the way the way it has to set up any email center received on an official whitehouse email account is automatically preserved. it requires no action whatsoever on the part of any white house official. but yes,
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the problem is use of unofficial devices and it goes on a lot and we're trying to get the law tightened up on that. but the obligation is on the white house official who gets that e mail from you if it pertains to official business. they're supposed to put it into an official record keeping system. but, you know, again, when we're talking about this, you see how much you give there is in the law. you see that, you know, with no enforcement how easy it is to circumvent it. and now we know the president himself, who is the most significant person in the way it habits whose records are of the highest value was and you know, what i've been thinking about is, you know, you can go to the present the j f. k presidential library, or even at the archives, and they have doodles from as it in kennedy that he created at the height of the cuban missile crisis when our country was facing extinction we thought, and they were preserved. and it's fascinating because they give you an insight,
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their doodles, they're not formal letters, borman memos, it shows you that almost everything a president creates. look, i mean, i think, i think one of the interesting questions that's out there, not just about what the president's thinking, but about the different arguments that are going on around him or her over policy. and you know, much of that, you know, is it becomes part of records in archives. and then looking at the decision, the president might have gone or inputs from foreign leaders, which may very well be part of the material that josh darcy was reporting on from our logo or other things that might be out there. and i guess, josh, my question to you would be with regards to things that we don't know, have you begun to issue for your requests for material that might corroborate or might find information? because again, i know that any presidency is
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a great number of people are communicating. so would those documents that donald trump be shredded be held in other parts of the government? and can you, can you explain to our audience what a for your request is for your requests of freedom of information request. we frequent frequently used as reporters, historians and others use them as well to try and get public records from the government. it's more difficult with the executive branch because there's so many protections there where they don't have to destroy certain things in the white house, but a lot of government agencies, a lot of other official places. i do not have that same protections. and one of the things that we've often tried to do to realistically is look for other places that would have to disclose. even if the, if the west wing proper eye does not, ash some of the documents. you know, steve, it's, it's hard to believe would be anywhere other than i and the west wing. i mean, we believe a lot of the things that he took were, you know, letters from, from our leaders or, you know,
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documents and he viewed as sensitive on the new york times reported last night that he actually took up a piece of clothing and we don't really know exactly what that is and that he took the amos sharpie map from her again. doria and they took all sorts of things that were going a personal to ham. and whatever seems it's, i'm not sure would be privy to any sort of other foyer request. ah, what are the other things that we've been trying to figure out is in, in a lot of these documents, are there, are there duplicates? right. you aids, i have copies of these things do in other advisors, do people who also would have provided them would they exist in some other form, even if a former president himself did not provide? oh, thank you for that. let me just ask you last minute we have 30 seconds each, david, can you just share with us what you think the, that trump has permanently change the norms by which a president behaves and is expected to behave? or do you think they'll be a bounce back to something like we used to see before? well, i worry that he had a minute. i don't have a crystal ball with
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a say for sure, but i mean, i think typically that's where you see it historically. every time a norm is degraded, it rarely bounces back, you know, and, and i think that, that trump has as a sure, in an era where, you know, we see in general behavior by all kinds of politicians that at various levels that we didn't use to see a lot of copycatting and you know, your, i admire your expertise in, in suing administrations for the public good. but when i see unenforced subpoenas, when i see a lot of legal wrangling out there that doesn't have consequence, i guess my question would be the same. are we now because there has not yet been legal consequences applied for a change in presidential norms? going to see a permanent shift in those norms? i fear we are, i'm hopeful, you know, post watergate. there were a lot of reforms that were inactive. they saw what poles, phoenix and ministration was able to exploit. there's certainly been an effort to
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do that. now. i know i'm part of a group that's pushing for some reforms to the record keeping laws. i wish i could be more optimistic though, given the comp composition of congress. i will say, i partisan. yeah. right. yeah. yeah. well that's and i want to thank all of you journalist josh dorsey incredible reporting lawyer and weisman and professor david barker. thank you so much for all for being with us today. thank you, steve. thank you for having me. so what's the bottom line? president richard nixon was obsessive about record keeping and he wanted notes and audio tapes of everything documenting his presidency. the watergate scandal change that though, and pretty much every president since has had a kind of a complicated relationship with records in archives. but none has worked as hard as president. donald trump, to destroy records of his own presidency, whether he is being malicious or not. presidents work for american citizens, their records belong to the people, and their time in office becomes the nation's history. comforted by that idea fully
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and he saw the job is serving him personally, which is why he more than any other president we've seen thinks nothing of personally ripping the shreds. documents that tell the story of the trump years. there's a law against doing what he did, but thus far we haven't seen many consequences for those laws. if he can get away with it other presidents down the line will think they can do. and that's the bottom line. ah ah diet, define who we are. but who are we? if we don't know what we're eating in a disturbing investigation into globalized food fraud, people and power reveals long hidden scandalous practices. the def, infiltrated international wholesale markets, and supermarket chains. and asks, what's really on our plates. food in glorious food pond to on al
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jazeera, katie's culture today is steeped in the regions way to the magic past. and horses are a way of life. talk to out is it goes to katie, stand to discover more about the cultural and economic significance of these majestic creatures. katy's downs horses, wings of pride on al jazeera. ah, he won't yield as ever with me. so robin, and don't remind her of all top news stories. the white house, as a phone call between the us and russian leaders did not result in any fundamental change regarding moscow's military build upon ukraine's border. the kremlin said the coal was businesslike, but criticize what it described. does war hysteria in the west?
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woven trends were amongst thousands marching through kevin, a civilian tribe strength. the u. s. is vacuum eating non emergency american staff from its embassy in the ukrainian capital president vladimir zalinski has a.


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