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tv   Washington Week  PBS  July 31, 2020 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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♪[music] brinkmanship, as the election looms. >> this election will be the most rigged in history. >> president trump relentlessly at ocks the integrityf the vote. and keeps his ope party on edge. >> but i guantee you t election will be november 3 of 2020. >> can congress cut a deal? >> seems to me that senator mcconnell really doesn't want to get an agreement. >> aco themy shutters, and the virus ravages our nation, next. ♪[music] >> this is "washington week." corporate dending is provid by... ♪[music] >> when the world getsli coted, a lot goes through
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your mind. a dedicated advisor can tailort, advice and recommendations to your life. that's fidelity wealthy managedint. >> onal funding is provided by the estate of arnold adams. and the yuen foundation. committed to bridgg cultural differences in our communities.o thoration for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station froik viewers you. thank you! once again, from washington, moderator robert costa. >> goo evening. this panmic has changed everything. for you, fornd me, for president trump. more than 155,000 americans have now died. the economy hast cratered. the nation deals with the horrific fallout, presidentum has brought another issue to the fore.
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the integrity of the election. and this week, i escaped my home office for a day to cover him in action on the road, traveling on air force one to west texas on a wednesday,s part of the press pool. up close, it's clear the jump-start his campaign, which behind vice preside biden in the polls. and speaking in front of fracking fields, he railedai t the democrats, against geotesters in cities where he has sent federals and he vowed to protect the suburbs. on thursday, he turne to brinkmanship over the guardrail of democracy. delayed, after claiming without evidence that voting by mail would lead to fraud. the president doe not have the authority to move the date of the election, which is set by congress, and has actually been fixed since the 19th century. but he canrovoke. an his allies tell me, behind the scenes, he won't stop doing
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so wh just 94 days to go. joining u tonight are four terrific reporters. kaitla collins, white house correspondent for cnn. geoff bennett, white house correspondent for nbc news. john dickerson, "60 minutes"ol correspondent,ical analyst for cbs news and author of "the hardest job in the world: the american presidency." and susanas page,ngton bureau chief for usa today. urces in the wouse abouto your this election standoff, what do you hear? what is e the game? >> well, you know, republican sources i talked to were quick to dismiss the president's notion of delaying the election, dismissing that as moreal presiden trumpn bluster and bravado. emocrats say it's evidef if fact that this -- the fact that this president will stop at nothing to question the validity
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of an election that at the current moment he aears to be s track to losing. they also it's no idle threat. a top trump donor who he appointed as post master general hasade a number of budget cuts and changes at the post office that rightav now resulted in about a two-day delay in the delivery of mai even with express mail. there are postal workers who say if tha does not change come election day, there could be chaos. some 34 states, if completed ballots are not returne in time, they're invalidated. >> kaitlan, what are you hearing? >> geoff is right. not a single major republican has agreed with the president on thise i think h realized it was a mistake that no one was going to support m on,ecause today when he was asked about it, he said actually he would like to move the election up. that he is so confident he's going to win, he'd like to move it ahead af couple o days. but his allies viewed this as a political mistake, because not
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only is he not legally able to do this, but they said it revealed his weak standing and how even he is admitting that th himself, thoe's denied that internal polls have him down. campaign sources say they do. it's the president confirming that hs fully aware that he is trailing joe biden in several of these major polls. instead of portrayg the same kind of confidence you've heard from campaign officials, the elections still a good 190 days away, the president was adtting that he's worried. >> susan, what's the significance of the president's comments coming on the same week representative john lewis has his funeral in atlanta? the. >> you know, i sort of felt tt thursday crystallized the situation of chaos that in this country. he started out with an economic economiche worst decline since we started keeping records. 16 minutes lat, theresident tweets that perhaps we should delay the election. then in that afternoon, a servic that feared three
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american presidents from both parties, speaking in honor of an amer and i thought it did two things. i thought it underscored in whae lous times we are compared with before. also the resilience that i think americans believe we have and hope we have in a turbulent time, bause no one was more optimistic about the possibilities america than john lewis was. >> john, help ustep back here. you've written a book about the presidency. does history offer us any guidance about this moment? >> well, what history tells us is what we should expect from a president, you know. system is the free, fairican peacefulthat creates transfer of power. nsd elections are how you have that peaceful tr of power. a president is a steward of that system. which means he must protect it.
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he mst work a hard as he can to keep it secure. and also to keepth people's f in that system, because that system will exist after he is out of office. so that's what the president's duties are by the office he holds. and so for ati s president to try to undermine all of that for his own p personalitical gain is wildly at odds with his office. anit's also an echo of what he did in 2016, which is when the polls looked bad, he talked about a rigged election.ac to go to susan's point, he is doing this on a day where he was unailable to give a eulogy for john lewis because of his relationship with the black community and just that that is not a part of his presidency. when you measure what he is doing against thetandards of expect, there is a vast we distance. >> john, it's an important ander, they hover over allrace of this. and federal agents are now in americanities. this week, attorney general william barr was challenged about all ohis by
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representative paul, a washington state democrat. >> when white men with swastikas storm a government building with guns, there is no need for the president to, quote, activate you, because they're getting the president's personal agenda done. but when bla people and people of color protest pice brutality, systemic racism, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers, pepper bombs,ecause the are considered terrorists by the president. did i get it right, mr. barr? federal government and the white house. >> geoff, younere i atlanta this week to cover representative lewis's funeral. you also covered the president. what shouldme cities,cans expect as this election nears? >> i think you can expect the esident to try to exploit racial divisions in the way that he has done. he has sort of fashioned himsele
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as what h likes to call a law and order president. and the way that he hasatone s to call out cities, mostly black and brown, major hicago ands like troit, and try to suggest that those are democrat-run xis explosions of crime and violence elected, that what's happeningis in chicago and detroit will be happening all over the country. that is sort of the explicit argument that mr. trump is trying to makeoe but it't appear to be working. the president's pitch is not reaching the white voters in 'ssuburbia. ot borne out in the polls. >> kaitlan, when i was in texas listening to the president, i kept hearing him railing against the left wing, the so-calledno mob. a lot of talk of vice president biden. inside the white house, when you're talking to trump sources,
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would they rather run against that idea that characterization of the left,ather than biden himself? >> i think that's what they initially planned o doing when the democratic fld was large and the views were expansive. but now what they're running joe biden as that, because he's efforts to do s namely withheir the president recentl saying that joe biden wanted to defun the police. so joe biden expressly said he did not want to do that. and things that make that more difficult ishen joe biden does make these appearances and he does take questions from reporter which he did for the eirst time in quite some t recently, and he said he did not want to defund the police. also, he saide believed that those who violate the law should be prosecuted for doing so. that comes as we'veeeeeng what's happening in portland and other places. biden is making clearhere he stood on that. that's why it's a struggle for the president to label him as that.and he hasn't been successt it.
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and aides lament the fact that he's sometimes picking fights with people like dr. an oony faucin his own team instead of people like the former vice president, who is going t be on the ballot next november. >> what is this infusion of race and this talk of law andan order for the biden campaign as the vice president moves closer to his vice presidential pick. many black women are being considered for that position, as well as senator warren and others. there could be a black woman on the cket soon as the president moves in this direction. >> and that would be groundbreaking. i think that is likely to happen. he's promised to have a woman. i think given the moment that he's in, the idea thatbet would oman of color, i think that is a really song possibility. but -- and i think when he looks -- i think when thes democrn general and the biden campaign in particular look at what the president is doing, they believe that this is not the sam america that it was, say, in 1968 when appeals
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to law and order and racially tinged appeals got a lot of action i that election. in this election, the suburbs are not all white. the suburbs are now more diverse than theysed to be. the nation is more diversion than it was in 1968 or even in 1980. and more recently. and their counting on fferent american electorate to see these appeals in a different in the past.rica has sometimes >> john, can you pick up on that point, about 1968? what different now? what's the same? >> well, what's different now is we have a much more integrated society. the kindsf appeals that susan talked about are offensive to many people who are in the electorate that donald trump needs to get. id tal the coauthor today of "identity crisis," polscical
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ntist. what she noted in our conversation today was she wrote about how donaldrump successfully in 2016 shifted the area of debate in the campaignre to an that he was comfortable with. well, that's what he's trying to do here with issues of violence and theits and anything other than what he is actually facing, which is tough issues on race, on the economy, on covid. he was successful in 2016 in shifting the territory. that is mucho harder to d now. why? because reality is keeping everody's focusn those three big problems. you can try to talk about another issue. but implicit in job of being president is you're supposed to handle those big three programs. and polls have shown usgain and again that americans are disappointed with the president's handling of the problems. ight want to talk about someing else. america wants to talk about those three things. >> kaitlan, let's jump from 1968 back to 2020. you mtioned dr. fauci. he testified before the house earlier friday. but it's unclear a you said how much the president is listening to him.
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instead, he has retweeted items that have been discredited. and you pressed the president about this. here is a snippet of that exchange. >> the woman that you said is a great doctor in that video that you retweeted last night said that w masks don'tk and there is a cure for covid-19, both of true. health experts say is not >> i thought her voice is an important voice but ino know ing about her. >> last week -- real quick -- thank y very muc everybody. thank you. >> kaitlan, what is the story here? >> so thiss this woman the president retweeted. her names stella immanuel. she's a doctor out of texas. p thesident elevated a post where she was saying things like there's a cure for covid-19, otich obviously there is the president elevated it to his 84 million followers on twitter. his son subsequently tweeted it as well. the question was, why is the president elevating things where he clearly wasn't aware of her past comments? you saw what his reaction to
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that was. even the next day, when i sawnt the presi again, and i asked him if he regretted retweeting someone who is discredited, whod has bizarre claims in the past, and he said no. he stood by that. it really does a give you indication that as aides here at the white house are insisting that the pre ldent istening to his team of experts, you can out otherlso seeking people who will reinforce his beliefs, even if they are not backed up by scientific studies. >> kaitlan, a follow-up. it also loore like thedent is seeki reinforcement from his own voters. we all saw that imagef president trump in florida. a crowd greeted him at the airport. based on youor rng, is the president isolated at this time inside the white house? this week, he seems isolated. differs with his message, when people liked dr. fauci, but what was s stunning this week was how republicans really isolated the president and left him onhi own after he sugsted delaying the election.
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people who a typically his allies and will act like they did not seeheweet were coming out and saying what he said was wrong as you saw, the other living three presidents, with the exception of jimmy carter, who isn't traveling for health reasons, they all spoke anded immortalohn lewis, while the president stayed back in washington andwe won't a questions about john lewis or about his legacy. >> geoff, on the virus story, there is the health front and economic front. the $600 federal unemployment benefit expires friday, leaving millionsf americans anxious. and we're seeing congress right now trying to cut a deal. what's theatt with chief of staff mark meadows and the attempt to wor with speaker si. >> of course, the usual trump era caveat applies that this changes hour by hour. the folks who are doing the hard thinking and negotiating about this, which is house speaker p
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nancosi and on the white house side, chief of staff and treasury secretary, they are meeting saturday morning at 9 a.m. to sort of pick up and see what they can hash out. but the demrats and the republicans, the white house, cannot agree on a deal. senate republicans in the white house can't really agree among themselves on issues like iction moratorium or even provisions so that people can'te businesses, covid-related lawsuits. to take this out of abstract political terms and to hum,ize what it really mns is right now people who have been dependent onha additional $600 of federal employment insurance won't get it. most states actually cap unemployment that comes directly from the state. so in florida, for instance, the most you can get from the state is $250. if you were getting $850 up until this w week, imagit losing $600 a week would mean to your family, because, you know, that money does not make any
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whole. but they do come to rely on it. and hopefully with congress leaving tomorrow reallyor a three-week break, hopefully both sides can comeo some sort of deal. >> susan, you're writing the book on saker pelosi. she's holding her position. she doesn't want to take tha short-term offer from the white house. she wants a more wholesale deal. you know speaker pelosi better than anyone. what's her position? what do you read intoll this? >> well, speaker pelosi would point out, if she were on program, that they passed their bill 10 weeksing w aks ago havn waiting for republicans in the senate to take it up, for the republicans have been mostly debating between themselves. i think whe these offers came of shorter-term and small deals this week, i think speaker pelosi saw no reasongr to to them. the democrats think they're in a powerful positiohere to gotiate some of the aid they
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want. the differences between these two sides are enormous. the differences amount to about $2 trillion now and eve in today's spending climate, $2 trillion is a lot ofoney. >> john, when you look at this standoff beten congres and this white house, what do you see? i mean, this is an economic crisis. we've seen the g.d.p. numbers five years of growth, erased. what is the standoff -- what does theof sta reveal to you? >> well, you have, first of all, a policy difference among republicans you've got republicans running in mor purple states who really want that $600 and want some cction fromgress, because it affects their political fortunes. have kind of refound theirns who fiscal restraint and concern. it's been missing for the las three years, as donald trump has increased the deficit numbers. but there's now thison debate republicans. when i talked to economists, important.his is all very
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but the big concern is that the only way you get the economy going again is if you get the virus under control. and the virus is not under control. and the reason t virus is so important is that people are not spending and behaving in the econeey the way they to, because they're afraid. they're afraid of getting sick. ey're afraid their friends getting sick. that's what has got a lid on the economy. so all the various measures, disappointing as it is, that congress has enacted,ly it's reot the main thing. the main thing is getting the economy can get going.he the economists point out the clock is ticking. th longer this takes to get worked out, the more businesses people get left out of theore american economy for a generation. >> kaitlan, can y speak to what john just talked about, the element of fear? this week, herman cain, thesi former pntial candidate and ally of president trump, he died at aget 84. he was a the tulsa rally the president held a few weeks ago. louie gomer, another ally,
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hantracted the virus. what does allt mean, the way it's coming closer to this president as the white house a movead? >> i think it really hit home for them. also, don't forget, the national security adviser, robert o'brien, also tested positive for covid-19 recently. so it is in their circle. lately president trump has been doing interviews, talking about people he kno who have died from covid-19. when we talked about herman cain, he did acknowledge that cain had attended his indoor rally with thousands of people. aides pointed to something cain's family and friends had said, that he'd been doing a l of travel. but i do think it became more real forhe it was really a wake-up call for them. and also for people who were arnd herman cain. >> geoff, who ends up cutting this deal? is it speaker pelosi and secretary mnuchin, or does mark meadowshissert himself as of staff?
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>> it's interesting. there was this thought that when meadows camehe over to hill to serve as president trump's chief of staff, that theti negot and relationship between democrats on t hill and between lawmakers and the whius would be better. but it hasn't really come into fruition. and so for the most part, yes, you're right. it's still definitely house speaker nancy pelosi and the treasuryy secretary. >> senator mcconnellanted this liability coverage for businesses. what does that tell you? is the presideor eagler a deal -- eager for a deal, because of the, poll numbe because of the g.d.p. data? >> yes. and the president wants a deal.t but s republicans want a deal too, because the economy is so catastrophic at this point. that'sot gonna have only most importantly effects o american lives, that's going to have a lot of politicaln consequences november as well. senate republicans, mitch of a payroll tax cut, which is
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what the president has been insistteg he w now you have the white house walking away from what is mitch mcconnell's red line, which is liability protection. i think that's one of the things republicans t negotiate.ility o one other thing. it's incredible that the president is not more involved in the negotiation over this bill. thisoss the important thing happening in washington today. and the president himself is not engaged. >> john, jump in here. >> well, thats -- p susan her finger right on an extraordinary point. the president is the most powerful voice in republican. and then -- in public. and alsoec presumablyse he has quite a lot of control over the republican party. he is a player who a could have real effect here. if you go back and look at the president's rhetoric in 2016, what didel he himself as? a deal maker who could get people in aet room and the deal done. he has been absentrom this
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bate, both publicly and privately, and that's pretty much been the case going all t way back through his administration, and thepe uasive power of the president could really be deployed inta this ie. and the president has chosen to talk about other things, to talk about mail-in ballots and other things like that, which are not the main concern of the country at the very ment. >> well, we're gonna have to leave it there for this week. what a group. wh a week. kaitlan collins, geoffjo bennet, dickerson, and susan page. we appreciate all of your reporting a time. and thank you all for joining us. weill keep takin you as close to the new we can. and on the extra, i'll go one-on-one with john to discu his new book. you can find that discussion on our website and on our social media. but before we go, one last final goodbye to a civil rights icon. >> when we do form a more
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perfect union, whether it's years from now or decades or even if it takes another two centuries, john lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better america. [applause] >> what a life. i'm robert cos. good night from washington. ♪[music] ♪[music]
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>> corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by... usic]♪ when the world gets complicated, a lot goes through yo mind. with fidelity wealth management, a dedicated advisor can tailor advice and recommendations to your life. management.h >> additional funding is provided by t estate of arnold adams and the yuen foundation. committed to bridging culturalff ences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to yr pbs station from viewers like you. thank you!
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tents, bunting, glastonbury, glenbourne. i love a classic british event. i wish we were going to one, mate. i he very thing for you, chum. mel: in the beginning... that is one of the best things i've seen in bread ever. well... there were 12. [sighs] now... oh, no there are 3. how long have wgot? [theme music playing]

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