tv Washington Journal Kimberly Wehle CSPAN October 14, 2021 6:33pm-7:22pm EDT
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back with us. she is the author of the book "how to read the constitution and why." in your latest column in the hill, you focus on president trump's actions when it comes to the justice department in the months after the 2020 election. reminding viewers what that judiciary committee investigation found. guest: on nine instances, the former president tried to get the doj to investigate alleged fraud in the election. implication is that was in effort to potentially use the justice department in a political way, that is, have the department help him stay in office. traditionally, doj has separated itself from elections.
the policy has been is if there has been election fraud, it has to be resolved before they investigate fraud. the point i make in the column is if we see donald trump run, which many people believe, and if he were to get in the white house a second round, we will see probably a more blurring of the lines between the president and the justice department and that is a really big deal not just for a trump presidency but for the presidency in general. i talk about the fbi director, the first, j edgar hoover in office for 48 years, basically used the power of the fbi within the justice department to spy on, to bully, to intimidate people all the way from eleanor roosevelt to martin luther king jr. that kind of surveillance police state is a scary state of
affairs. the judiciary committee's report on donald trump's attempt to use the doj to his own ends is a chilling thing to keep in mind when we are talking about the integrity of democracy and the next presidential election and frankly, the midterms leading up to that. in my view that will dictate what happens to the presidential election. host: that judiciary report issued last week. what we found out during this eight month investigation, how close do you think we came at the end of 2020, beginning of 2021 to a full-blown constitutional crisis? guest: we absolutely were probably there. we were there. i live outside washington dc. i was appalled watching people
literally climbing over and desecrating the capitol. we have elected officials running for their lives, as well as those of their staff, many republicans still met and what was a ceremonial process of recognizing the state's certifications of their electors. that is something states do, they hand it to the congress. the january 6 moment is largely ceremonial. it is not up to the congress. we saw many republicans refused to recognize the legitimacy of the state. it is not so much about joe biden. it is about the process. that is a constitutional crisis because it takes the power away from the people. whether you like how your state
certifies electors are not -- or not, the point is you get to choose that at the ballot box. if politicians can snatch that from the state on january 6, that is a problem. we are no longer a democracy. the midterms are so important. if the house and senate shifts to really what is the mainstream republican platform right now, which is what many call the big lie, and it is, and i know we will get into that, even the former attorney general under president trump, bill barr certified it as a legitimate election, what we will see is republicans potentially dominating the congress and deciding in january, 2025 to pick their own president. they will say, listen, look what happened the last time, there was a big lie, excuse me, a lot of fraud, so we will write that
wrong and choose our own president. that is really scary. it is now, we the politicians and we the powerful. even if you like that party, if you destroy the system, one day you will be in a position where you don't like who the politicians are picking to be your leaders. that is no longer democracy. we owe it to our children to preserve it. host: kimberly wehle with us for the next 40 minutes on washington journal. you can join us on phone lines split by political party. (202)-748-8000 for democrats, (202)-748-8001 for republicans, (202)-748-8002 for independents. kimberly wehle, as folks are calling in, that judiciary committee investigation, the republicans on the committee said president trump was informing the justice department about claims of election fraud, that he did not apply undue pressure. this is the ranking member chuck
grassley on the floor of the senate last week. >> this truncated investigation doesn't support the long-running democratic narrative that trump used the justice department to try to overturn the 2020 election. it is truncated because we do not have all the records. this committee only interviewed three witnesses. the available evidence shows president trump didn't use the department of justice to subvert the 2020 election. for example, one witness testified president trump had no impact, i repeat, no impact, the words no impact come from that witness, on what the department did to investigate election
allegations. in fact, the evidence shows president trump listened to his advisors and to the recommendations and that he followed those recommendations. the witnesses also testified president trump didn't fire anyone at the justice department relating to the election. records from this investigation indicate president trump's focus was on "legitimate complaints and reports of crimes." witnesses testified president trump's main focus was on making the department aware of the potential criminal allegations and to ensure the department did
its job. it wasn't president trump directing or ordering specific investigative steps. host: chuck grassley on the senate floor last week. kimberly wehle, those comments and the republican report that came out. guest: i encourage people to read the report itself. we are in an age of misinformation and disinformation. the way to sort through that is to read the document yourself and make your own judgment. you can link to it in my piece for the hill or you can google it. it speaks for itself in terms of what witnesses said including jeff rosen, who according to the report was threatened he would be fired and replaced by someone in the civil division without that expertise which was behind
this notion of using the justice department in a way not traditional. it would be a violation of the hatch act to use the power of the federal government to win elections. that is plainly a crime under federal law. secondly, as chuck grassley himself, the irony himself, is 88 years old, has decided to run again for the senate in iowa -- after the january 6 insurrection, he declined to vote to remove donald trump from office. if you recall, the rationale then was not that this was not a problem, it was that it does not make sense in terms of timing because he is no longer in office so we cannot technically remove someone not in office. even republicans did not argue then that his actions were not impeachable. chuck grassley said he lost.
it is clear donald trump lost. i'm paraphrasing but that he bullied election officials across the country in that process. that is an important thing to keep in mind for viewers. elections are run by regular people, our friends, neighbors, teachers, colleagues,, older people who are retired. these are not people committing fraud or wanting to sway the election. a lot of them are volunteer. they came out by the thousands in a pandemic to achieve a goal that is stunning. we should all celebrate them and thank them. this constant refrain that they somehow committed fraud is really inaccurate. chuck grassley has a political agenda in this moment frankly that blinks on the reality, the truth of the facts on the ground
which is that donald trump did what he did which is make efforts to get investigations going into an ongoing election. that is verboten under justice department policy, just to make it clear, because what we don't want is someone in the office at the white house taking the massive law enforcement authority of the justice department and fbi and saying, i do not like that person politically. i will use that against my political opponents. that is authoritarianism. that is less like democracy. that is this split between the justice department and the white house. there is very limited authorized communication because the idea is we want law enforcement, the police, prosecutors to make decisions based on facts and law, not based on who is in the inner circle and being blessed by whoever is in office. that is a really scary america. that is what i object to
regardless of political party in this moment. host: our collars are interested in chatting with you. dallas, texas, democrat. host: you still there. caller: yes. host: go ahead. caller: i was listening to president biden's speech and i was really impressed with the fact maybe that he could help me -- [indiscernible] -- host: we did talk about president biden's speech yesterday. we are now talking about the ongoing investigation into the president's action, the former president's actions after the election, donald trump. steve, anaheim, california,
republican. caller: full disclosure. i am not a trump fan. my question is did you investigate the ballots being mailed to other people's houses, being mailed to voters? 125 ballots. i got four. [indiscernible] you can check out any of these by looking up -- [indiscernible] put a k in front of any new station, you can see november to october of last year. this year, when i went to vote, they told me i had already voted because i had multiple ballots sent to me again. this is what makes us mad. yes, i understand trump did something crooked.
the people supposed to be investigating fraud, they say there is not enough to overturn the election. host: stay on the line in case kimberly has questions for you. guest: on steve's last point, there actually has not been much finding of fraud. not fraud that would overturn the election. something prominently jumps out of florida where fraud happened by the candidate. the candidate, in a state race, put on the ballot or had someone put on the ballot with a similar last name, and opponent. that was fraud. if fraud happens at all, it is probably by politicians. not regular people. the fact california rejected later ballots and said no, you already voted. that is a good sign. what it means is on the other end, when it comes to counting the votes, there are very
careful audit procedures in place to make sure one vote gets through. that is something we should feel good about. the extent to which it is still a problem, i completely agree with steve this is confusing for people, that it scares people that there are mistakes made. the answer is, first of all, let's fund state election officials processes. the federal government have not given money in many years to state and they are having to use their very narrow budget to run these massive elections, multiple ballots. it is complicated and expensive. if we want any of that inconvenience to stop, we should give them the money to run the program properly. number two, there is no reason congress cannot streamline some of this stuff and make some of it consistent across the country. in canada, for example, you get
one form of ballot. it has circles and you x it. everybody from the first to the last vote, it is the same thing. in our country, it is totally confusing. depends on what county, state you are in. this makes it harder for people. it should be easy for people to vote. i agree with that part, steve's comment that this is frustrating and not ok. the answer is not to overturn elections and claim fraud. that is a fraud on the american people, frankly, to be sending that message. let's fund elections and streamline them to make them current with 21st century technology to make it easier for people like steve to vote with confidence. host: this is mark in philly, good morning. caller: where's merrick garland? where is this so-called attorney general we have? in my opinion, the worst
attorney general i have seen since john mitchell. host: what do you want merrick garland to do? caller: i want him to investigate trump's actions after november 3. he called election officials in the states and told them to commit perjury. where was merrick garland? what is this man doing? absolutely nothing. how useless is this guy? guest: i am coming to a similar opinion, if the opinion is, listen, we need him to step up. i agree these are serious, potentially criminal allegations or problems. keep in mind, we have seen hundreds of regular americans who showed up on january 6 and physically stormed the capital. they are being held accountable. they are being criminally investigated.
some of them are being sentenced. they are having to hire lawyers or get public defenders that are overworked. they are having to pull into their own pockets and take from their family budgets to provide criminal defenses. that is on the backend, the people that showed up. what about the people inside government? that is what the judiciary committee is looking at. i agree merrick garland should be doing that. the window is closing politically. i am not a political pundit or expert but the midterms are going to change the entire story here. if, as many in washington expect, the control of houses go to republicans, some people think it will happen based on gerrymandering and the new census data regardless of voting. all these investigations in congress around january 6 will shut down. we have a bout a year.
garland is presumably investigating. the question is, will it produce indictments? federal and state prosecutors are really careful to make sure they can win criminal claims before they bring them but this may be a moment where that kind of level of 99.9% certainty may be democracy itself, for lack of a better word, to perceive that, and i do not mean that around donald trump that supersedes that in the moment because i am very concerned we are seeing the twilight of american democracy. host: you argue in your column that congressional democrats should take legislative actions now to brace for what might happen if republicans win in 2022 and if donald trump were to regain the white house in 2012 for. watch should the legislative priorities be now for 2024?
guest: post-watergate, congress put in a bunch of legislation to make sure the nixon break-in that led to the resignation is not allowed to happen again. it is sort of the rules of the game. you have to have personnel rules. people will steal. likewise for government actors. one, there is an old statute from 1887 called the electoral town act that is really squishy. that is what allowed the potential, january 6, for the congress to take the election away from the american people. that needs to be clarified. if the american people vote, that counts, not what members of congress decide for themselves. there is not in this moment any legislation to fix that. democrats need to do that right away. the second is the freedom to vote act that amy klobuchar and joe manchin, there are many
people on board, that would do some things steve mentioned. streamline things across the country and congress has that authority under the constitution. that would make it easier for people to vote and stop this nonsense to make it harder. we are seeing it in texas and georgia. republicans and democrats, it should not be so hard to vote. the third piece is the john lewis voting rights act. 1965 was designed to implement the 15th amendment which gave formerly enslaved people, black men mainly, the right to vote. that was taken away through cute maneuvers in the state. voting rights act fixed that. 2013, supreme court gutted an important provision of that. we have seen a lot of these anti-voting laws come back. supreme court says you know what congress? you can fix that and spend as many years, the john lewis voting rights act would fix that.
the supreme court told congress to do that. that would be another piece. the democrats have problems with the filibuster, with joe manchin and kyrsten sinema who have issues. these other priorities, infrastructure and other things. my argument is if the ship sinks in a year, these other priorities also go by the wayside. things people care about, lgbtq rights, immigration, health care, climate. all of that will be at the whims of whoever is in power if the voters no longer matter. democrats need to step up and use their tiny majority in this moment -- it is not a mandate -- in the next year to shore up democracy for the people of america, all americans, republicans, democrats, independents so that we can still decide our own leaders. host: john, ryan lander, wisconsin. caller: thank you for taking my
call. i have no problem voting in wisconsin. that usually takes me 15 minutes. i drive to my polling place, stand in line and cast my ballot. i come back home. we need to have 50 separate state voting -- [indiscernible] -- the easier you make it, the easier it will be to hack into it. [indiscernible] -- finally being answered. in wisconsin, there was some stuff that went on in wisconsin. maybe i will go to your website and read the findings from the election commission. there was definitely stuff going on that were not with the state constitution in wisconsin and
pennsylvania. do you agree with that? did that happen? did it not? there were some shady stuff happening in this election due to the pandemic rules? i don't think we should have all the same rules. guest: great point, john. i appreciate the opportunity for clarification. i am not at all suggesting we water down rules to invite fraud. absolutely no way. i am not suggesting we somehow have a universal federal system of voting, absolutely not. if you think about it, we can do our banking transactions on our phone. , we can manage our health care very personal private things on our phone. i am not saying we should vote on our phones. maybe we have to physically vote . i am not against voter id. there are ways of voting that is not a headache. in other states it is very difficult.
during the pandemic, for example, if you were a student, there was one state, i cannot remember the state, forgive me, if you were a student in college he would have to find someone else in your state, in a pandemic, on campus to vote. things like that don't necessarily help with fraud. they just make it harder to vote. i don't think that should be the case. with respect to wisconsin, i do not have my finger on all these investigations but i do teach law school, a course called civil procedure, which is how do you bring a case from the beginning to the end in a federal court? what are those rules? what i teach my students is federal and state judges are bound by rules of evidence. they are bound by procedural rules. what they do goes on appeal to a higher court. they have much less discretion to make descriptions --
decisions if there is not hard evidence. there were 60 plus lawsuits filed across the country relating to fraud. none of them went anywhere. there wasn't any there. we have seen in michigan, some of the lawyers that brought these lawsuits have been sanctioned because they were so lacking in fact. rudy giuliani lost his license into states because he made arguments and filed lawsuits that were lacking in fact. if you and i are sued, we want to make sure the judges don't let people sue us based on bogus allegations or made up stuff to bully us. that is in place in the court system. i am less concerned about audits in arizona -- the audit found more votes for joe biden -- what politicians are doing to find alleged fraud and what happens in the courts. i have confidence that the rules around courts make it really
hard to not do the right thing frankly when it comes to basic, should you go pascoe in a lawsuit and those lawsuits were attempted. lots of people on republican side are trying to find fraud. none of it was found. i am happy hour election was so secure, as bill barr mentioned. host: we are chatting with kimberly wehle, author of the book "how to read the constitution and why" taking your phone calls as usual. this is jean on the republican line, park ridge, illinois. caller: good morning. thank you, professor, for your insights and education. i am from illinois. we have been going through public integrity issues for many years. to understand the future, we have to circle back to when john f. kennedy was elected, when he phoned in and asked mayor daley
how many votes do you have for me/ he said how many more do you need? public integrity is everything and not just in illinois. this absentee ballot seems to be the linchpin for not only mine but other cities where there could be corruption involved. last but not least, i would like to see the u.s. attorneys get more involved, especially in illinois to make sure we have a strong legal and clean election process. thank you. guest: i agree. public integrity is crucial. i think we have lost sight of that frankly in america. you are going to make sure that whoever watches her children are ethical and has a value system. you're going to make sure your teachers and friends follow certain levels of integrity, that they are honest, reliable, kind of maybe?
all of these things matter. we seem to have checked it at the door when it comes to politicians. red versus blue, i don't care. politicians are not our best friend, certainly not more than other voters. it is we the people, not we the politicians. john makes an excellent point. we need to be skeptical across the political spectrum. this voter integrity issue is very important. the thing that is shifting now is not so much casting ballots but counting ballots. the counting part affects everybody. when the u.s. was established, the constitution, the only people who could vote where white males who had money and owned land. we have had a fight since then as to who gets to go into that. it was african-american males under the 15th amendment.
then it was women under the 19th amendment. we are still fighting who gets to cast ballots. what is happening now across the country after january 6 is that the laws in the states are being changed to give politicians the power to count the ballots. this, based on my understanding is new to american history. you could be a white male landowner in 1887 and the next round politicians could say, we think your vote was fraudulent. we are going to cancel it. this was a red flag moment. the house was on fire. let's say we agree we will have the most stringent voting laws across the country, banning any conceivable concept of fraud. fraud is already a crime. a lot of people have a reason not to commit fraud. it has been a crime for many years at the state and federal level. what is happening now frankly in the republican party across the country is that republicans are
saying, we get to decide who's vote counts, even after you cast it. that is what happened after a lawsuit brought by the texas attorney general which went to the supreme court saying before other states, we want to cancel all those. this is not just democratic or republican voters, not just white voters, male voters, brown voters, black voters, this is a problem. we the people should be able to pick our own politicians. we should be able to hold them accountable. right now, this sneaky thing happening across the country, 18 state so far, are passing legislation to say politicians ultimately gets to decide who wins. that is a scary moment for american democracy. that is why i am ringing the bell here. i hope we can hold hands across political parties and realize this is about our children's well-being and the existence of freedom and liberty itself for anyone in america.
if politicians get to pick and choose who they like and don't like, that is not liberty. that is not a good picture for the future. host: 10 minutes left in this segment. our conversation about merrick garland sparking a big discussion on our twitter feed at @cspanwj. matt writing in, apparently not a crime. dr is concerned he is not suited for ag at this stage of our history. could there be any more blurring of lines between the biden administration and ag merrick garland? rick saying, what will he get to replace him? trump and his crew will get through this unscathed. comments from social media. dorothy on the line for democrats, raleigh, north carolina. caller: good morning. i would like to make a suggestion. i was an election judge.
i know what goes on when you go to vote. i want to express that and give you suggestions, c-span. about the laws republicans are making, you don't need 300 laws. why do you need so many laws for id? if there was all this voter fraud, how come no one has been charged? if i saw you robbed a store and no one gets arrested, nobody has been arrested. people who said they seen fraud -- you know it didn't happen. no one is locked up. trump was the president at the time. the doj never pointed to anybody because there never was anybody. in order to make the voting better, we should have all paper ballots. this is my suggestion.
you should go wherever you go to vote -- schools can seat 40 people at a time in a cafeteria. you can feed ballots into the machine. you have that paper and you have a body with it. that is how you stop these long lines. two is, i do not understand why trump hasn't been arrested for trying to bribe the secretary of state, what was it, in georgia? he was on the phone trying to bribe. that is against the law. host: you bring up several points. guest: a lot of great points. the paper ballot point, my understanding is european countries have gone back to paper ballots. it is a little arcane.
i think it is a great idea. these voting machines are not controlled by the government. they are controlled by private parties. let's make it really easy to trace the stuff. totally agree with that. as far as fraud, she makes a great point. there have not been any prosecutions. also keep in mind, those of us who voted, the presidential election is at the top of the ticket but there are lots of people below that including members of congress who got in office claiming the top of the ticket was fraudulent but there part was not. we have to bring common sense to this. if the ballot was fraudulent, and maybe we have members claiming fraud who are in their fraudulently, it is time to move on. let's talk about the issues that bother americans. people are struggling to put food on the table. worrying about climate change, the pandemic. we shouldn't be looking at this fraud stuff. we should be arguing around
issues. as long as politicians talk about this fraud stuff, we are not in a position to move forward to things that matter for regular people. host: paul, myrtle beach, the palmetto state, independent. caller: i am in charleston actually. one quick question. just went through the 2020 u.s. census. the federal government did that online mostly. why can't we do the voting online? guest: i have asked experts at m.i.t. about that. my understanding is the most recent technology, they are still not entirely sure about whether it could be fraud free. i am not an expert in that. we do a lot online. we bank online. that is pretty important. they are working on that. it is a good point. keep in mind, we are not rushing in that direction because of potential for fraud.
many multiple multiple experts have said, government experts under donald trump, that this was a very secure, probably the most secure election in the history of america. that is a reason to celebrate. we have other big things we should be worrying about. i wish we were not having to worrying about it but we do. host: has there ever been a concern about the census and fraud? guest: i don't know so much about fraud but the problem this last round is people who have access to computers, it is easy to fill out the form but there are many americans who don't. traditionally, there are census workers that go door-to-door, under bridges, to get the people that are without homes, they go to get people english is not their first language or they are elderly and do not have access to technology. because of the pandemic and donald trump's indecision, that
process was cut off prematurely. a lot of people didn't get counted that would have gotten counted but for the census. the census numbers are set in stone, once certified, for 10 years. those numbers are used to determine how many members of the house of representatives each state gets, number one, and how much money each state gets. regardless of whether you have access to a computer, your state still needs money and representation, for all people, regardless of how much access they have to technology. that is the sad part of the census. the pandemic probably truncated it in ways that created inaccuracies. host: willie, republican, texas. caller: good morning. welcome back to the washington journal.
got the best party host right there, john. three quick questions. was it a constitutional crisis in your mind when the congressional black caucus, they all objected to bush, bush again and trump's election? also, how much have you done your own inquiry into the massive election irregularities in these key states starting with the blackout of counting ballots in the middle of the night and the large discrepancies and duplicate votes and chain of custody issues? the last thing, you talked about the blurring of the lines between the executive branch and the doj. have you met the garland-biden team? seems to me garland has his hands in a bunch of investigations -- i would wonder
how in the world, i have never seen the do that type of thing, the fbi get involved in investigating parents in schools. check that out. have a great day. guest: one in particular? host: take up the one you want. guest: the last point on garland, i have not seen reporting he is blurring lines between joe biden and him. i have seen reporting of joe biden saying i need you to do this so i can be secured in my second term. that is the problem. if i saw that i would be just as hawkish on it. the first point, yes, you're right, the electoral count act, the old statute, does allow members of congress to object to state certifications. that has happened in the past. it has still been ceremonial. no one expected there would be enough votes to trigger a
process where the congress would pick the president. that is what shifted in january. if you watch the footage, there was death, destruction, widespread desecration of the capitol building itself -- this was a historical moment, there is no equivalent to the history of america. there should be in the statute a trigger. if you are going to object, you need to have actual admissible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt or some other standard. clear and convincing something like that. i agree. we need standards for republicans and democrats to make sure the people pick the elections. i do not have the army and expertise and infrastructure to investigate fraud. the republican party does. they have not found any yet. georgia, for example, hand
accounts multiple times. we should feel really good about this. we should not be pointing fingers where there is no evidence. i have not seen it. it has not been produced. if it were there the political machinery would show it. i feel good about the fact there was no serious documented fraud in the 2020 election. host: garden grove, california, kelly, democrat. caller: good morning. thank you so much for having this platform. i wanted to thank the professor for bringing us to the point where it is very important that our elections are secure. i feel very secure that our last elections and the previous election was secure. i have been an absentee voter for 30 some years in the state of california, which i understand there are several states which have complete absentee ballots that have been
secure. it is preposterous that we are sounding these false flags. we are going to lose our democratic system of electing our officials if we don't all get on point. i have a question. in orange county, where i reside, we are able to go through our register of voters. they have a wonderful app you can logon. they say we got your ballot, you can go on, check, and say where you voted, who you voted for in current and previous elections throughout the tenure of your voting. i was wondering if that is something that is regular throughout the u.s. or is that a privilege we in orange county, california have? not just orange county but you know, a richer area?
thank you so much for your time. i appreciate listening to you. guest: california also sends out info in advance about what the ballot will look like. that varies across the country. this is a weird wrinkle in our democracy. the right to vote is not in the constitution affirmatively. that is shocking to people. if it were, things wouldn't be messed around with. because of the sacred right, it is the foundation of all our other rights. we get to fire people if we do not like how they are acting. that varies across the states. first amendment rights are the same in new york as in california. the other point i wanted to make in response to the call is this idea of misinformation. people that are wondering about fraud, i really encourage you to go get original sources. get on your secretary of state's website and find the facts
yourself. we are in a digital age where algorithms by big companies, these big online media companies, big data companies, they are feeding information into your facebook feed based on your clicks. this is not like 30 years ago where everyone picks up the newspapers and reads facts. we have to train ourselves, like sherlock holmes, to find facts. go to original sources. everyone watching, whether you are concerned about fraud or you think there was no fraud, go find your own original information and draw that opinion. don't listen to politicians. there are too many allies out there now and it is too important to rely on politicians who have another agenda, that is to stay in power when it comes to something as sacred as the right to vote. please please please pay attention to how important it is to save democracy itself. the window is closing. we have about a year.
after that, politicians could very well be in charge of all our rights. that is a red light moment. it is not a republican or democrat thing. it is in everything thing. thank you for listening. could not be more important. host: not bad to read the u.s. constitution. there is a good book on that. "how to read the constitution and why." the announcer: washington journal. every day we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day and we discussed policy issues that impact you. friday morning, afghan british journalist discusses on the ground reporting from kabul and the new pbs frontline documentary. then, the national conference of state legislatures on states and
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