tv Washington Week PBS May 9, 2020 1:30am-2:00am PDT
robe: an economy and a presidency on the edge. >>his is worse than pearl harbor and the world trade center. robert: the soaring jobless rates stokes fear about a great recession or depression. under pressure and ahead of the fall campaign, president trump pushes to reopen the country and shes back on guidance from the c.d.c. are health experts being sidened? >> i think everything should be based on scice and not vary who was makinhis decision? g and robert: plus, the justice department drops charges against former security advisor michael flynn reviving questions about
power and russia. announr: this is "washingt corporate funding is provided by -- >> life suspect a straight lin and sometimes you can find yourself heading in a new direction. fidelity is here to help you work through the unexpected with financia planning and advice for today and tomorrow. [laughter] ♪ >> kaiser permanente. additional funding isrovided by thee of arnold ams, and koo and patuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cuural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasng and by contributions to your pbs
station from viewers like you. thank you. once, agaom washington, moderator robert costa. robert: goodvening. i hope you're staying safe. to get up to speed on this important week, let's just tur to the latesbo reporting what's happening with the trump presidency and in the nation. first, as to lose olorunnipa writes,he trump administration has now sidelined officials not seen as lal. ey have dismissed jarring statistics and models, praised states for reopening without w meetinte house guidelines and pushed to disban the coronavirus task force. here's what the president had to say onriday. >> what we've done is incredible. we'reoing into transition. i call it transition to greatness. it's going to be transitiono greatness because we're going to
do somethingery fast,end weoing to have a phenomenal year next year. b robeut as peter baker writes inner t "new york times" for a president is who staked his legacy on an economic record thatas shredded by the crisis moving on may be the best way tole salvage his best chances for re-election even if the death toll estimates have more than d. and polls show the public i not ready to restore normal life. so the question in my notebook is this, what's next? what does it all mean? and wha will congress do? we turn to one of the best repo cers onitol hill, susan davis, congressial correspondent for national public radio, to the author of a revealing new buy yolfi, molly ball, national political rrespondent for "time" on the speaker of the housms to peter chief white house correspondent of the "new york times."
and toluse olorunnipa white house reporter for "the washingtonost." you' reported all week on the president clashing with health ex-perpts, with scientist - experts with scientists, what es it look like behind the scene? >> in response to the majorhift.s we are seeing this the president was transparent in we wants to transition away from focusing on the public health crisis which continues to ravage the country with tensf thousands of deaths and he wants to shift towards talki about the economic come bank. he has six months between now and his re-election. he realizes that's a short amount ofime to try to restore the economic situation that was inhilace before situation. now we're at close to 15%pl unment. the president wants to shift towards completely focusingn the economic thenback. wants to turn this into story of an economic comeback that's why he's sidelines a lot
ofhese health officials. he's saying that top public health officials are not beinges allowed tofy before congress. his administration is downplays all kinds ofa scientific d and models which shows how bad of a situation this is. and they're trying to shorten these negatives statistics get out. he has six months to prove to ha the country we're in the middle of an economic comeback. robert: they're not the players in the white house and the president. sue davis, when you talk to lawmakers they're bringing dr. fauci before theene, dr. rick bright, he's going to go before the house. what do they want to learn next week when those two figures come to the hill? susan: well, i think both hearings illuminate why so many lawmakers are eager to get back to washington. the house is loo as early as next week.
fauci will face a much more partisan room. lawmakers have an interest from hearing directly. there's a lot of questions about testing capabilities. whtesting isn'there many of them thought it would be in the previous packages that they passed into law. many ofea them want to directly from him about what the time frame looks like about possible vaccines and treatments. in the debate ofow much legislation they're going to the tone on capitol hill is shifting to familiar battle lines here. he's accusing the white house from removing him from his job about using an ealtia drug h becausee said he didn't have a backing. some lawyers say s heuld be put back into his job until they ragure out what'sle involved. and dem will point out what they say has been mismanagemt across the board.
that's where a lot of the conversation will be going forward. less about the pandemic and how it happened but how is the trumped -- trump administration is managing the econo going forward. robert: you've been stuttying, talking to the speaker. you think about we only have sin months bet now and the election. there's already been an peachment process. does she issue a subpoena to dr. fauci to come to the house? what does she do to contain this president? >> she did say she hope not to have to subpoena dr. fauci. i think at this point her eyes are -- as far as containing trump trying to stop trump as so many on the left would like her to do, probably more aggressively than she has. i think she's -- she s her sithes in november. her trying to signal to party that if they want to constrain the president they should focus on the election. what she's trying to focus on now is dealing with the crisis,
getting legislation through the congre doingversight but as soup says focusing it on the ongoin management of the crisis. there have been a lot of calls from the left to also d o investigations and oversight of what led to this point. but that is not theus f i think even for the speaker and they want to foc on what they can still do particularly since so many believe that the white house s noteen up to the task that congress is trying to ll that void. they're trying to figure out what they can do to try to help thecans who are out of work, to try to address the public health crisis, t try to shore up the public health system, to try to help states that have been given so much responsibility and try to ease so many coordination blockages that have been occurs. at the same time a lot of law becauserse been confused they've not been on the job in washington, because they've been all over the place, there's not a lot of -- not everybody son
e same page and i think there's a lot ofsi con about how and where they're going to proceed. robert: that point about confusion, peter, it reminds me of the story you just filed for the "new york times" tonight about the coronavirus now being part of the white house story. a staffer for vic president pence, a personal valet for president ump is having the virus now up close and personal in their life affecting the thinking their decision-making at any level? peter: well, not so far as we can tell at this point. but the timing is remarkable. in the time that the president is telling states that it's ok to start reopening, not only ok but they should start to do that, he sees t virus literally surrounding him now in the white house. just two cases so far. hopefully that's all there will ever be. but to have it be personal valet who helps the president in the residence and have a top aid of the vice president who has been one of the chief spokes
white house efforts to curve this virus, both turn time-out be infected, i think is a pivotal moment because it suggests, if the white house, the most prestigious and resource intense workplace in the country cannot completely shuttself off to this virus, how can workplaces across the countries do that. if the white house which has access to tests not only tests weekly or monthly that other businees might try to impose but dailyn cannotct prevent to be part of this workforce, what will these other businesse do? that's a bloment president could ve some guidance to the country about how he thinks they should proceed given how he's instead, he tried to brush it off. he said nice things about katy mill, of course, who has been a loyal aide to him and is married to sten miller another louisville aide. this is the problem for testing. we can be tested negative and
therefore testing is of limited utility. that leaves the country wondering then wha are we supposed to do? the harvard health global initiative said we need to be doing 900,000 tests a day. and right now we're doing 250,000. and that's a real problem for a lot of businesses as they think about what to do goi forward. robert: and i hear it fromve ors i've interviewed, testing, testing, testing to that point. as we s friday, the economic pressures on the white house and every american are just enormous. the department of labor released a jobs report that shows more than 20 million american jobs were lost in april as the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7%. e worst number we've seen like that since the great depression. and the lincoln project, a group of ai-trump republicans the economi carnage on the aming president. >> there's mourning in america,
and under the leadership of donald trump, our country is weaker and sicker and poorer. and now, americans are asking, if we have another our years like this, will there even be an robert: we see this pressure on presidt trump on manpu ican governors but you wrote this week that many republic governors despite all the testing challenges are sving to reopen because what they'reng in their own economy. what's that dynamic like out in the states in place like arizona? >> yeah, the president realizes that he is v nerable to these kinds of attacks, and that's why he's pushing these governors to go ahead andpen up these economiesven though they haven't by a large portion they vice president met the guidelines set out forhe white house for what they should do -- what they should see before they begi opening up. the president was planning to campaign on the economy, 3.5% unemployment before this virus
hit. now we're at a level o unemployment 20 million jobs lost in the month of april that wen haven't since the great depression. the president realizes that he's going to be the victim -- or the target of relentless attacks for his handling of this virus especially the fact that so many millions of the americans have lost their jobs. others are struggling to get by. that's trn he's pushing these governors, some of whom seeing their own numbers in their owno statesuickly open the economy, potentially put pple social distancing measures because if they don't do that people are going to continue sing their jobs and that's goin to have a very heavy everyone whoce for is up for re-election in november especially the president. robert: molly, i was reading your book "pelosi." you have a line in the book thas er favorite word is leverage. is that correct? >> absolutely. it's the focus of all of her
efforts. robert: to take that point, now congress has to do on what they're going to do founding the states. are f --ding the states? are they going to he a liability protection deal? as this veteran politician approaches this cross roads, what's on her mind? >> i think she has leverage in this situation. she feels that under heavy cricism froboth sides, the right for negotiating too harned the right for not negotiating leveraged up to this point. as but that was part of the reason that you saw in the last big bill that that 3.5 bill that the demand for state aocal funding was dropped in those negotiations because the theolitical pressure from the states will be too overwhelming for the republicans to ignore especially as other types of fundingun out, business
funding, unemployment funding that the republicans are going have to come tohe table and get something else across even as mitch mcconnell h t saidhat the liability funding is a red line for him -- not funding, the liability measures and even as others have tried to sort of downplayed the notion of bailing outhe state i think we're going to hear increasingly from st tes red and bluet they need this money and, you know, because they've been explicitly put on the front lines of this effort by the president who said that the states ought to be taking the lead and has deferred to the states even if you take that on its face as a sorf federalist argument that the states are best positions to be close es to the penald lead the charge, the states are saying you can't give us all this responsibility and not equip us to follow through wit it. we're going broke. our revenue has cratered. a lot of states do want to try to signal to peep that t light attend of the tunnel. they want to be able to show peoplehere is a pla for
opening up. we have a way to do this gradually and safy and make people feel protected and taken care of. it's hard to do that, you know, without leadership in washington, without coordination om washington and especially without funding from washington. robert: sue, can you jump in on that? because you're talking to sources, republican and democrat . are you hearing details about a deal in the works tt is goi to provide more direct payments to ericans, that is going provide the kind of payments that states need to shore up their budgets? >> well, what's really interesting what's happening right now is the parties are taking two very different tactics to the next phase. republicans are saying let's see where this goes before we commit to anything. thers a sense that they want to put brakes on the spending certainly by senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. that there's a sense that they don't want to do anything in may. they want to get to the summertime to see how much assistance will be needed. mocrats are talking about
passing it as soon as next week a minimum of a trillion dollars funding, w additional direct assistance with more money for food stamps and other federal programs. when you talk about the word leverage, i think it's important to think aboutns the rea why democrats may have more leverage here. i talk to republican strategist that told me they did internal polling on the cares support that had things like the small business loans and they told me it was the most popular piece of legislation they have sing.d congress p right now the public is very supportive of not only congressional action but big government spending that's going to directly lmprove theires. and that's just a reality that republicans will have to confront if we're still talking unemployment. robert: we're going to be tracking all of your reporting and molly's and to roos and pete's. the pandemic is happenies.
ent trump's response, but it's all coming as the attorney generalill barr is flexing his own power this week the departmentf justice dropped the criminal case against former national secury advisor michael flynn, retired army lieutenant general who pled guilty for liing to the f.b.i. the gamplet decided to reexamine the case and as i wrote with colleagues, the decision was greeted as a triph by the a presiden his allies who have argued for years that flynn was set up be was dire alarm by trump's opponent who saw move as an attack by the rule of law. asked by cbs about how storians would view this decision barr said this. >> well, histories is written by the winners. so it depends on who's writing the hbetory. : peter, this isn't over, though. the judge still has to sign off on the motion. judge sullivan has been ght.
skeptical of michael flynn's rejected a lot of the arguments his defenseeam had made. what the justice department did in dropping the case was they said -- they didn't say that michael flynn didn't lie. what he said he shouldn't have been asked the que tion in first place because there was no viable investigation going on at that time that would he required that interview. and that the answer that he gave untrue as i might have been was not material or especially rellvapt to such an - relevant to such an investigation. the judge would possibly look at this with a scans and maybe he's not so interested in dropping the charges. it would be pretty unusual for a dge to insist that prosecution go forward that it self doesn't want to go forward this eve though the defendant has pleaded guilty not ce but twice. we'll see what he does. but it's important to remember what this is and what this n't. it's not a statement by the justice department that michael
flynn didn't lie. what it's a statement about i that the previous justice department and f.b.i. shouldn have prosecuted them. they abused their they seemed out to get him rather than to find out the uth. robert: is the administration going to bring him back -- going to bring back general flynnt or im on the campaig trail? what are you hearing? >> i would bede surprf we see him back at the white house. but this is already a very unusual situation in which somebody who i pleaded guilts saying that he was wrong to plead guilty and he's ei essentially let off the hook. president trump has said a lot of positive things about michael flynn. they're trying to use this to distractme with f the face. challenges they the white house press secretary talked about mr. flynn for minutes. they want to spend a lot of time talking about this. they think this is a police cal win forhem. they've seen bill barr deliver a
number of wins for him by intervening in cases by certainly try to re-do the mueller investigation and discredit its origins. and this is the latest it ration in which the president can can say, the mueller investigation was part of this witch hunt, part of thehis deeptate coup against my administration even though there's a lot of evidence that shows that the mueller investigation was a real inidstigation. itea to a number of guilty employees by a number of people that are in president trump's orbit and there was a willingness to accept informationhat was coming from the russians that was negate about hillary clinton to promot someat iormation such as the information we saw in wikileaks. the mueller probe made it clear that there was a lot of contacts between people that are trying to push thisnformation during the 2016 election. and this latest episode shows
that the attorney general was trying to discredit all of that. robert: so molly, if the president is going to go relitigate the russia probe, what is t speaker going to do? is she going to engage? are house democrats going to talking about their own russia investigation? >> i doubt it. i, thi you know, the campaign strategy for the houseoc dts for 2020 and democrats mostly in general is the same as in 2018 which is to ignore trump, assume that the backlash to trump whatever -- to whatever extent it exists is baked in.ea part of then that we've seen the president's approval ratings be so stubborn and stable is that so many people have made up their mind about them and nothing can change their opinion because they already didn't like him or they had alrea been complely bought in. the feelings they had iso talk about healthcare, the handing of the coronavirus crisis and try
to make an issue na the democrats are interested in governing. the president said, everything they do is because they're haters. and that's the case that he's going to make. that's the flynn development plays into this entire narrative that the trump campaig sort of mauga mood yeah world have created, this sort of alternate universe where he, a victim ynn has bee of this terrible witch hunt. and to the extent that they can contue to make that reality seem real, they can shutoutls everything and so the democrats have tried to focus on, yw, trying to show that they're focused on issues instead of being drawn into that whole debate, wch gets very messy, very fast. robert: sue, quickly i'veeen seeing grumblings about chris wray pressuring the president to push him out because he's not doingo enough t overhaul the f.b.i.
what are you hearing about the director? >> there's a lot of republican frustration about christopher way in part because they don't feel like he's bn transparent or proactive in rooting what many republicans see has been ha politicized justice department against the president and also to the publiconcerns that were unearthed in reports suggesting abn the surveillance courts. they he hasn't done enough that he'saking their concerns seriously. it's important to remember, he washonfirmed w 92 votes in the senate. and the thing that republicans don't want right now is ati conts confirmation hearing for a new f.b.i. director. a lot of that discontent while they're comfortable talking at it publicly, realistly they're settled in to have him stay in that job. be as always it's entirely up to the president of what happens there. robert: what are yo hearingn wray? the same? >> i think the president is tsenchanted with wwray.
while i don'tnk he's going to fire him there's some bad blood. with this president anything can happen. robert: anything can happen. we're going to have leave it there as always. as always, anything can nap the trump administration. thank yovery much for being here to our reporters, molly ball, peter baker, to lose olorunnipa and susan davis. thank you all for jonathan:ing us. we will keep taking you as to the news as we can when anything can happen. on the extra, we will head to the "washington week" book shelf and discuss molly's book "pelosi." find it on social media. and toll the mom out there including my own.y ha mother's day. i'm robert costa from washington. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.visit ncicap.org] ♪ announcer: corporate funding for "washingn week" is providedy
-- >> life isn't a straight line and sometimes you can find yourself heading in a new direction. fidelity i h here top you work through the unexpected with financial planning and adve for today and tomorrow. announcer: kaiser permanente. additional fundi is provided by theer state of arnold adams d by t koo and patricia yuen foundation, the corporation for public broadcastg and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪