tv PBS News Hour PBS September 28, 2020 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, trump's taxes: after years of secrecy, the "new york times" reports on the president's finances, revealing massive losses claimed in order to not pay the government. then, high stakes-- we examine judge amy coney barrett's record and the fight ahead for her confirmation to the supreme court. plus, stuck at the dock-- the cruise industry awaits word if it is safe to hit the seas again, leaving many yearning for a holiday. >> for normal working people, we save all year for working, to have your two weeks or three
week holiday, and a cruise is just pure luxury, and it's a luxury that normal working can afford, normally. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> when the world gets complicated, a lot goes through your mind. with fidelity wealth management, a dedicated advisor can tailor advice and rommendations to your life. that's fidelity wealth management.
>> the william and flora hewlett foundation. for more than 50 years, advancing ideas and supporting institutions to promote a better world. at www.hewlett.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: questions about
federal income taxes are swirling around president trump again tonight. the issue has surfaced repeatedly since he first began running for president in 2015. now, a published report says he has paid little or nothing in taxes for years. white house correspondent yamiche alcindor begins our coverage. >> alcindor: a blockbuster new york times story. president trump on defense, over his taxes. and all this just one day before his first debate with former vice president joe biden. this morning, the white house was quick to put out press secretary kayleigh mcenany. >> we've seen this play out before where there was a hit piece about the president's taxes just before a debate. and an inaccurate one at that. this is the same playbook they tried in 2016, the same playbook the american people rejected and will do so again >> alcindor: the times says it obtained the president's tax records from the last two decades. it reports that the documents
show he paid just $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and $750 in 2017, and it concluded he paid no income taxes for at least ten years. it also says, in part: "he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president." and, that "mr. trump has been more successful playing a business mogul than being one in real life." in a tweet today, the president claims to have paid "many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled to depreciation and tax credit." and in a news conference yesterday, he dismissed the times' findings. >> it's fake news. it's totally fake news. made up, fake. >> alcindor: the times also reports the president faces chronic financial losses and he faces hundreds of millions of debt coming due in the years just ahead. the biden campaign quickly rolled out an ad highlighting taxes paid by working americans,
condemning the president's alleged evasion of his share. house speaker nancy pelosi said the findings raised national security questions. >> this president appears to have over $400 million in debt, 420 whatever it is, to whom? different countries? what is the leverage they have? >> alcindor: in a phone interview with msnbc, president's trump former lawyer michael cohen said the findings are disgraceful. he is now disbarred and serving a three-year federal sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and lying to congress. >> so if i went to jail for 36 months on tax evasion, which probably should have been tax omission, donald trump should do 360 years, based upon the numbers. >> alcindor: meanwhile, biden continues to prepare for tomorrow's debate, and, his the president's taxes are sure to be a main to topic as cleveland ohio hosts the first debate for the
general election. i'm yamiche alcindor. >> woodruff: so what does the time's report >> woodruff: so what does the times reporting seem to tell us about president trump's business practices, and how they line up with what other wealthy americans do when paying their taxes. for that, we turn to david cay johnston, an investigative journalist and author who focuses on tax issues, and who has long followed president trump's business dealings. and peter faber, a tax attorney who often advises wealthy clients. thank you so much for joining us. david cay johntson, you have looked at donald trump's businesses for a long time. what do you make of what you are seeing in the time's report? >> the reason donald does not want you to see his tax returns is quite clear, he didn't pay taxes in many years. and, secondly, there is a great deal of evidence in the times' report donald is not doing this through lawful tax avoidance, but he is engaged in tax evasion. that is not a new thing
for the president. he had two civil trials for income tax fraud in the past, and he lost them and found he forged a document. >> woodruff: let's get to that in just a minute. let me bring peter faber in. you've advised a number of wealthy people. how does the president's tax picture compare to that of somebody else of great wealth and how they file their taxes? >> judy, it is fairly typical of a person who is in the real estate business. real estate people, as you know, vey often have loads of income. and they have legitimate deductions, and it is not unusual for a real estate person to have very little, and in many cases, no income tax liability. >> woodruff: so david cay johntson, that being the case, if it is fairly common for people in real estate not to pay a lot of taxes, whether because of depreciation or other advantages, what makes
this extraordinary in your mind? >> i agree with peter. if you're a big enough family in the real estate and you're paying income tax etion etion. i would tell you to sue for malpractice. but donald trump has licensing details from overseas, for example, and his television show. the times' documents show things such as the deduction of what the times says are personal legal expenses, what looks to be a disguised gift of $725,000 from ivanka trump to her father, rather than paying the gift tax on it. and deductions, 1.4billion deductions for just two years, 2009, not a sort of steady plain over time of income tax deductions as you write down the value of the building. >> woodruff: peter faber, let me ask you
about a number of those things. number one, a lot of depreciation when he doesn't own as puj a much as he did at one point earlier in his career, and how much of his business is licensing deals, other than ownership? >> i think the times doesn't go into detail about how much he takes as depreciation and deductions and so on. but what theimes does point out is that there are a lot of items that he has claimed as business expenses that arguably are personal expenses. for example, the cost of maintaining the seven springs resort in west chester county, the payments to ivanka that david points out, allegedly a consulting fee of $700,000, may well be a disguised gift. i think there are also apparently lump sum deductions for legal fees. and we don't know what is
in those legal fees, and whether they are, in fact, legitimate business expenses. there is some speculation that they may include the payments to stormi daniels, and if so, that would not be a legitimate business expense. >> woodruff: one of the things, david cay johntson, that others have raised is that $750 he says he has paid tens of millions in taxes in recent years. could both be true? could he have paid $750 two years in a row and paid tens of millions? >> president trump did not break down what he meant by that. there are lots of taxes (indescernable). there are state taxes, foreign taxes. he paid the philippines government over $100,000 in taxes. one of the years h paid $750 to the american government. so if you look at all of his taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes for employees, sure, you can
come up with that kind of a number. but the fact ishat in a majority of the years in this century, he paid no income taxes, and some of the taxes he paid were refundable taxes. in 2005, he paid about $36million in something called alternative minimum tax, which he got refunded in future years. it was a short-term zero-interest loan to uncle sam. >> woodruf peter faber, so many things to ask you about, but one of the things is that the president owes $300 million some-odd dollars incoming years, to be paid back in the next four years. that is a lot of money. is it clear he has the monemoney to pay that back? >> we don't know if he has the money to pay that back. my guess is he doesn't have a huge amount of cash. but that is not apparent from the times' reporting. typically people in
business use their cash. they reinvest it. they don't have millions and millions and hundreds of millions of dollars in cash sitting around in a bank account. so my guess is that's going to be a real problem for him in the next few years. >> woodruff: and, peter faber, what questions do you have in order to get a full picture on whether the president has paid his fair share of taxes. what else do you need to know, do we need to know? >> if i were an i.r.s. agent, i would want to know a breakdown of all of the items he has claimed in his lump sum business expense deductions. i would like to know details who he paid, for what, how much, and when. there is a -- you can hide a lot of detail amidst generalities. i think the american people have a right to know the details, not just the generalities. >> woodruff: the chairman of the senate finance committee, senator
chuck grassley of iowa, when he was asked about this times' report, he said, i'm asking how come it is taking the i.r.s. so long to get these audits done. he said, i'm concerned they're not getting their work done. is it common for the i.r.s. to take years and years to do audits like this? >> it really shouldn't take that long. again, we don't know e details, we don't ow what issues have been raised. obviously mr. trump's tax returns are more complicated than yours and mine. nevertheless, it shouldn't take years and years and years to complete an audit. i was surprised to read that. >> woodruff: and david cay johntson, a comment about that, about the audits? >> trump can resolve all of these issues by just releasing his tax returns. at least release your 1040s, and let's see what is going on here. and congress should hold hearings on how we audit returns of wealthy people. less than 3% of people who make over a million dollars a year, including
pele who make billions of dollars in a single year are being audited because we have slashed the i.r.s. we have gotten rid of one-third of the i.r.s. auditors in just the last 10years. >> woodruff: we're going to leave it there. we thank both of you. david cay johntson and peter faber, thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the u.s. senate was largely silent, but come tomorrow, the fight over confirmi amy coney barrett to the supreme court begins in earnest. the federal appeals judge faces confirmation hearings, starting october 12th. a full senate vote is set for ocber 29th. we'll focus on the fight, and barrett's record, after the news summary. the world is on the cusp tonight
of one million deaths from covid-19, including some 205,000 in the united states. that comes as u.s. infections are rising again. at the white house, vice president pence forecast even higher numbers, once the federal government begins shipping 150 million rapid tests to the states, next week. >> the american people suld >> the american people should anticipate that cases will rise in the days ahead. >> woodruff: fo >> woodruff: foris part, president trump claimed again that the country is rounding the corner on the pandemic. but, dr. robert redfield, head of the c.d.c., told nbc news that, "we're nowhere near the end." >> tonight dr. anthony fauci says he has concerns about a member of the white house coronavirus
task force. he told cnn that dr. scott atlas sometimes gives information to the president that is, quote, "taken either out of context or is actually incorrect." suicides in the military are suicides in the military are up 20% this year, over last year. air force and army officials say the stress of covid-19 restrictions and isolations may be partly to blame. the army says it is looking at shortening combat deployments as one response. in belarus, mass protests are continuing, and so are the arrests. at least 100,000 people marched in minsk on sunday, and riot police responded with tear gas. in all, 500 people were detained over the weekend. the protesters say president alexander lukashenko rigged his re-election and must step down. new fighting has erupted between armenia and azerbaijan in a longstanding border conflict. attacks began sunday in nagorno-
karabakh, a separatist region inside azeaijan but controlled by ethnic armenians. reports said dozens of people were killed or wounded. neighboring turkey backs azerbaijan, and its president blamed armenia for the trouble. >> ( translated ): i once again condemn armenia. turkey will continue to stand by its friend and brethren azerbaijan by all means and with all its heart. it is time to bring an end to the regional crisis that started with nagorno-karabakh's occupation. >> woodruff: russia also voiced concern, and joined calls for an immediate cease-fire. back in this country, northern california's wine country is on fire again, and more than 50,000 people around santa rosa and st. helena have been told to leave. fires broke out sunday in the napa-sonoma region, and quickly quadrupled in size, burning a
winery, an inn and homes. more than other 8,500 homes and buildings are still threatened. president trump's former campaign manager, brad parscale, has been hospitalized in florida, for psychiatric evaluation. police talked him out of his fort lauderdale home on sunday, after his wife reported he had guns and was threatening to hurt himself. parscale was demoted from campaign manager in july, after a series of missteps. the trump administration's attempt to ban tiktok from u.s. app stores is now on hold. the ban on the chinese-owned video-sharing app was set to take effect overnight, but a federal judge in new york blocked it. lawyers for tiktok argued it would infringe on first amendment rights. >> woodruff: wilbur ross says tonight that the 2020 census will end on october 5th. the move announced today in a tweet comes after a
federal judge ruled last week that the count of every u.s. resident should continue through the end of next month. and, wall street started the week with a broad rally, helped by mergers and tech stocks. the dow jones industrial average gained 410 points to close at 27,584. the nasdaq rose nearly 204 points, and, the s&p 500 added 53. still to come on the newshour: judge amy coney barrett's record and the fight over her confirmation to the supreme court. how the airline industry has been grounded during the pandemic. why the cruise industry is desperate to return to sea. and much more.
>> woodruff: the stakes are high anytime there is an open seat on the supreme court. and it is as true as ever this time around. and president trp has nominated a judge with conservative credentials, amy coney barrett, to replace the john yang has our corage. >> yang: democratic vice presidential nominee kamala harris led her party's criticism of supreme court nominee amy coney barrett today. >> if nothing else, the voters should be very clear about one thing. president trump and his party and judge barrett will overturn the affordable care act, and they won't stop there. yang: barrett, a trump- nominated federal appeals court judge and former notre dame law professor, says her role model is the late justice antonin scalia, a conservative icon. >> i clerked for justice scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons i learned still resonate. his judicial philosophy is mine
too: a judge must apply the law as written. >> yang: if confirmed, barrett would succeed the late liberal icon, justice ruth bader ginsburg, perhaps the greatest ideological shift since 1991 when clarence thomas replaced thurgood marshall. liberals lamented the potential change. >> as someone of color, as a female, i hope this doesn't get through. because i'd really like to see some real justice and someone to uphold r.b.g.'s legacy. >> it is definitely a change from having a liberal in the supreme court to having a more conservative catholic, who is able to speak out about our beliefs in the supreme court. >> reporter: when the senate >> yang: when the senate cnfirmed barrett for the appeals court in 2017, she said the court's roe v wade decision establishing abortion rights w"" settled precedent," even though she has said it wawrongly decided. >> on the appeals court, she h appeared sympathetic to state
laws restricting access to abortion. >> yang: if she joins the court by early november, one of the first cases barrett would hear would be the latest challenge to the affordable care act. as a law professor, barrett wrote in a 2017 law review article that chief justice john roberts 5-4 opinion upholding the law "pushed the (act) beyond its plausible meaning." health care has been at the center of democratic presidential nominee joe biden's opposition to barrett. >> that came up in her appeals court confirmation hearing and led some social conversation to brand them as anti-catholic. >> when you read yor speeches, um, the conclusion one draws is that the dagma lives loudly within you. and that's of concern.
>> yang: judiciary committee chairman lindsey graham has set supreme court confirmation hearings to begin in just two weeks. who is amy coney barrett and what does her record say about what she'd be like on the high court? john adams was a clerk for judge barrett on the federal appeals court in chicago from 2017 to 2018. victoria nourse is a georgetown law professor and was chief counsel to joe biden when he was vice president. >> welcome to you both. johnlet me start with you. over the next couple of weeks, we're going to be hearing a lot about judge barrett's judicial philosophy, hear her legal writings and academic writings, but you can tell us something that isn't going to come through that. what is she like as a person? what was she like as a boss when you clerked for her? >> professor barrett, when i first met her, and then judge barrett, was an amazing boss. it has been downhill ever since i'm not able to spend time with her on a
day-to-day basis. she is unfailingly kind, she is courageous, and she is fair. and she is also someone with an unrivalled sense of humanity, humility, and hohumor. and she is a principled jurist, who will also put the rule of law before any personal preference or public pressure she may receive. >> on saturday night, when she said that justice scalia's judicial philosophy is her judicial philosophy, explain that. and how does it show itself when she approaches a case? >> in two facets, she has explained the impact justice scalia has had on her. she has expressed she is an originalist, and the original meaning of the law, the ordinary meaning of the law, is what controls, if it is
discernable. and she is a texturalist. >> professor, you said that you have -- it's a challenge or a question, the idea of textural interpretation. what is your problem with? >> well, it sounds really, you know, benign and obvious that you follow the rule of law. it is kind of like justice scalia say, a wolf in sheep's justice. justice scalia read a book call "reading law," and i read a book called "unreading the law." i have to tell you the philosophy is not so fine and not so nice for the american people. and why? look at the health care cases. you don't have to believe me. one went up there for what i have argued is a single word that was wrong in the
statute. that is an anti-democratic way of looking at statutes. she has answers that you'll hear at the hearing, but i fundamentally believe if you look at what justice scalia has done, and she has adopted his views on reading law, you will see he reads selectively. >> john, i want to ask you, obviously to respond to what the professor has said, but also get your take on how you think if judge barre is confirmed, how justice barrett would change the court, change the direction of the court, taking this big ideological shift from justice ginsburg to potential justice barrett. >> let me begin by responding torofessor nourse. we are all texturalists now. it allows them to follow the words of the statute duly enacted by the legislature, instead of searching for unknown purposes that could have
been behind the legislators' minds or intents. in my view, texturalism supports cnsistency and predictability in the law. it also prevents judges from being legislators from the bench. and it also prevents judges from imposing their own views or their own public policy preferences into the law because they're constrained by the words of the statute. they can't go beyond. professor nourse does bring up the point when there be times when the statutes can be ambiguous, but there are canons that can guide a judge in finding the ordinary meaning of the statute, and neutrally applying the statutes to the facts at hand. i think what you would see of a justice barrett is the same thing we have seen of a judge barrett on the court of appeals. she has participated in over 600 decisions. she approaches every case with a foundational commitment that either
side might be right, and it is the law and the facts that guide the decision. >> professor nourses, let me ask you the same question about where do you think this shift on the court, this new justice, if she is confirmed, how would this change the direction and ideology of the court? >> well, i have to say that i think this is going to be the biggest shift since the early 1930s. before f.d.r. attempted to pack the court, which i believe was unconstitutional, by the way. i don't support that. but it is tremendous because you'll have six votes. justice scalia's thought about reading text is not traditional, it doesn't go back to 1787, and it has been very hostile to laws because it would have -- if she voted as justice scalia did in the first health care case, as she said, we would not have obamacare. there was a second case, again, justice scalia rewrote that one. what we're going to see is a continued hostility
towards the congress, and this court also loves the presidency. they're very interested in what justice scalia misquoted the constitution in my view when she said the president has, quote, "all executive power," and that's not what the constitution says. so i think it is a momentous disappointment. unfortunately, i think it is going to be mired in a terrible politics, and i hope people will focus, as john and i have, on these theories and what they really mean, not just the sayings. all lawyers are happy to give you gat words about the rule of law and all of that. look at what people have done with the philosophy, not what they say about it. >> because you talk about this momentous -- this big moment a shortime before the election, a fundamental shift in the balance of the court. you worked for joe biden not only in the white house but on the hill, when he was on the judiciary committee. we're going to hear a lot
in these hearings. what is fair -- what's a fair line of inquiry and what do you think is out of bounce? >> i certainly think her children are out of bounce. i think her religious views are out of bounce. i was actually nominated to her court, the seventh circuit. i never got a hearing, but my kids were threatened. i think people have to be very carul now. people are so worked up because of the pandemic, and there is just way too much enmity in there. biden was one who talked me i can really enjoy judge barrett's company and we can have a great debate. but i can say that i think her views are dangerous. and so i hope that we work hard to focus on the view, stay away from the kids. >> john, you know the judge. she has been placed in this situation, not of her own making. and even the environment in which her nomination is going to be considered. how do you think she is
going to be able to handle it? >> john, i think she will be able to handle it very well. i know judge barrett. she is someone with amazing fortitude and poise and principle. and she'll carry those same attributes as she goes through this very difficult process. professor nourse, i appreciate you saying what is out of bounce, but i respectfully disagree that her views are dangerous. she is someone who neutrally applies the law. and her neutral principles have been respected by the unanimous bipartisan support she received from the notre dame law faculty, as well as her co-clerks. when she clerked for justice scalia, every one of her co-clerks supported her during her co confirmation to the seventh circuit. >> john adams, and victoria nourse, we have to leave it there. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you very much.
>> woodruff: as september comes to a close, a challenging deadline for u.s. airlines looms. as amna nawaz reports, carriers across the industry are struggling to stay solvent, in some cases perhaps to survive, during the cornavirus pandemic. >> nawaz: judy, u.s. airlines received about $25 billion in federal assistance earlier this year, as part of the cares act. as part of that deal, airlines promised to not cut jobs until october. but the industry continues to struggle, and several carriers now say they have no choice but to furlough up to 35,000 employees this week. unless they get more federal aid. for more on this, i'm joined by nick calio. he's the president and c.e.o. of airlines for america, the trade association for the country's leading passenger and cargo airlines. >> welcome back to the
"news hour," and thanks for being with us. a lot of people look at this and say once the airlines had the money in hand, the first chance they got to furlough employees, they took it. so why give them billions more now if they're just going to do the same thing? what do y say to that? >> i would say that the facts be belie that notion. the airlines are doing everything they can to keep themselves liquid and afloat and keep employees on the job. everything from cuts in executive compensation, numbers of management, voluntary furloughs and leaves, voluntary retirements, going to the market to inrease liquidity. and that first money, which was 70% grants and 30% loans, went directly through, a pass-through directly to employees who were kept on the job, and kept on the job for very good reasons. we thought there would be an uptake in travel now by this time. early in the summer, it
liked like there would be, and there was anoer surge and there wasn't. airlines a little different than the other industries involved. we have probably been the hardest hit. number two, our employees undergo retraining and recertification all of the time. so if they leave the job, you can't just bring them back the next y and say, start up the arplane and have it take off. >> i'm confused. you said back then you thought that airline traffic would be back up to somewhat normal or near normal, something you need to sustain the industry. no expert thought it would be that way within six months who were you listening to who told you things would be back to normal -- >> i did not say ck to normal. we thought there would be an uptake. we never thought it would get back to number. in 2019, we were flying record numbers of passengers. 2.8 million passengers, and 58,000 tons of cargo every day. we're not going to reach those levels for a while.
but we can reach levels that make the industry sustainable, and that's what we were hoping for. we thought we would be back up to 50% by the end of the summer. we haven't been. we were down 96% in april. and then right now we're running down about 70% below what we were year over year. >> you mentioned the record traffic back in 201998. i found a headline from august 2019 said, the u.s. airline is booming, but it is worth mentioning all of the airlines had record profits, double-digit operating margins and billions in revenue. a lot of people are wondering, shouldn't the industry have had more cash reserves to mitigate this pandemic? >> if you go back to march 1st to look at some of the financial crises that were occurring, all of our airlinesere judged to have, quote, "fortress balance sheets," and they
were designed to withstand an event three times greater than 9/11. and that did not happen. this is a once -- we hope it is a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, certainly, but through no fault of our own, those balance sheets were wiped out. we had taken all sorts of measures. we hired 186,000 new employees in the last decade. their pay had gone up and their pensions had gone up. i kept talking about it being the golden age of air travel. so did j.d. power, because everybody was flying. it was affordable and accessible like never before in this country. and then the virus arrived. and everything changed. >> so united today announced a deal with its pilots, and they said ey'll spread the reduced flying time across 13,000 pilots rather than having to furlough 3,000. do you think the airlines can come up with more creative solutions like that to save some of those jobs? >> we're a very resilient industry. if you look at all of the
members, they're being very creative. they're doing everything they can to keep their employees in place because they understand the human cost of losing your job. and, again, it gets back to you can't take a pilot off the job and bring him back the next day. the same with a flight attendant, the same with our machinists and gate agents, because of the safety issues and the recertification that has to go on. so we're trying to keep them on board so as the recovery happens, the airlines are there to empower the recovery, to take people where they want to go, to visit their families, to do their business. >> mr. calia, you have a reputation on washington, d.c. as being a very forceful broker. for years you worked as a legislative affairs assistant under george w. bush, and you know what it is po pull together toh deals. and they have not been able to pull together on this next round. do you think they will be
able to come together on another funding deal? >> i'm hopeful; i'm not necessarily optimistic. times are different, i guess, now. where the speaker of the house is coming out in terms of the number and where the president said he would go up to, that's ample ground, right in the middle. there has got to be a compromise somewhere in the middle. because it is not just the airline industry. there is a lot of people suffering. again, what happens is when you knock people out of their jobs, they go on unemployment, they're not paying their federal, state, or local taxes and they're not paying into social security and they're no long spending money. that has a ri ripple effect on the economy. and so there is an economic imperative. so i'm hopeful they can find a deal. there were some bright spots over the weekend. and today, we in the airline industry, working with our pilots, machinists, are doing everything we can to ask
people to get to the table and start to talk. >> that is nick calia, president and c.e.o. of american airlines. thank you so much for your time. >> thank you for your time. >> woodruff: as election day nears, we take a closer look at the potential political fallout with amy walter of the cook political report and host of blic radio's "politics with amy walter." and errin haines. she the editor at large of the 19th. it's a nonprofit and nonpartisan newsroom reporting on the intersection of gender and politics. tamara keith is away. >> woodruff: hello to both you. so, amy, this "new york
times" story about the president's taxes, reportedly he paid very little on a lot of -- excuse me -- on a lot of income. he says it is all fake news. and you're telling us that, hey, it is another day of donald trump at the center of the news. so what are you thinking about this? >> yeah. another day of donald trump at the cter of the news isn't always a very good thing for donald trump. this is a president who is sitting now somewhere around 42%, 43%, in terms of his overall job approval rating. and the focus continues to be on either things that aren't really great for him, whether it is his handling of the covid pandemic, or in this case, still controversy swirling around his taxes. this isn't new information, obviously, judy. this has been out there for quite some time. some of the data in here is definitely new and
groundbreaking, but in terms of voters' perception of the president, i don't know that it changes anything. but what it does do is keeps the focus on donald trump instead of on other things donald trump would like to be talking about, namely, his opponent and the shortcomings of his opponent. so clearly this is a time the president behind in the polls with low approval ratings needs to be on offense. he can't afford to be on his back foot right now, and that's where he is. >> woodruff: so, errin, how are you looking at this? it is a day of focus on the president. it is not a day we're talking about joe biden. and it is not particularly great news, even though the president says it is all fake. >> yeah, you're right. and aside from the specific issue of his taxes, right, because the majority of americans are not tax attorneys, but unlike russia or the ukraine, those kinds of conversations, the issue of taxes is sml that is
literally a kitchen table issue for millions of people in this country who are taxpayers. so kind of the surface-level gist of this story is something they are able to understand even if they don't have time to kind of digest the very thorough reporting of the "new york times." but the other thing, aside from the specific issue of taxes, is this does kind of hit on a recurring theme, you know, that the idea that the president has misled americans about who he is. he has portrayed himself to voters as somebody other than who he is, rich, successful, but most of all, to his supporters, somebody like you, right? well, most americans are paying way more than $750 in their federal income tax. so i think that, you know, is kind of disconnected from the narrative that he pushes to people. now, you know, whether or not for his supporters that is going to be
enough, like one story, even though the "new york times" says there will be more reporting on this issue, whether one story is enough of a counterweight to his years in public life, his many seasons on the apprentice, and his four years in office, given the many things they voted for, that is really uncle. but it is almost certainly going to be among the first questions in this debate. and it is the thing that is going to be in the conversation for voters to least think about, as they are already voting in states across the country. >> woodruff: for sure. i want to ask you about the debate ijust a moment. amy, i want to come back to something that the president, we're sure, was hoping would be a positive for him, and that's his choice of judge amy coney barrett to the supreme court to fill the ruth bader ginsburg seat. is this something that is likely to excite his conservative base, win him
some votes of women. where we see the president is trailing joe biden? or could it have the opposite effect and energize more of the democrats? >> right. this is the day we were supposed to be talking about a really successful rollout for the president this weekend of his supreme court nominee. this would be his third appointee to the supreme court. definitely something he wanted to be able to go into the debates talking about. and, of course, that has been drowned out. i also do wonder to your point about who does it excite, if it doesn't end up being just a wash, that while it may excite some conservative republicans, those folks were already on donald trump's side. there has definitely been some erosion of support for donald trump among some groups of voters that he had won over in 2016, but among those
evangelical, white voters, that level of support for him, at least that we've seen recently, has been pretty solid and pretty consistent. instead, what we don't really know about is a backlash to this among democrats. and it's pretty clear that democrats are about as fired up as we've seen them, certainly in recent years. we know we're going to hit historic turnout, and so i think at the end of the day, what we end up finding out is both sides have incredible turnout, but the problem for the president is his base is simply smaller than joe biden's base and coalition. the other thing we know, judy, every time over the course of his entire presidency, every time the president has found an issue that motivates his base, his base sticks gether and they're supportive of it, but we find it doesn't just have an equal reaction among people who don't like him. it has an equal and even stronger reaction among the other side.
his strong disapproval rating among democrats or those who y they did approve of the job he is doing as president, has always been significantly higher than those who say they love him. >> woodruff: errin, what about the people you talked to in terms of whether this does the president more harm than good? >> tere are certainly democratic women, black women, who were thrilled at the prospect of a joe biden victory equalling a black woman finally being the next woman to be nominated and possibly confirmed to the supreme court. so they're very energized. they were already movated to vote in this election around the issue of systemic racism and other issues. the supreme court is something i'm hearing is very much on the ballot for them. ruth bader ginsburg's legacy is looming large for democratic women. you've seen, you know,
kind of the public grieving for her, which could translate politically at the polls, as i said, early voting already under way. and folks arsaying they are going to the polls with justice ginsburg on eir minds as they do that. but there are conservative women who are hailing this choice, maybe not as vocal, maybe not as visible as some of the enthusiasm and energy we're seeing on the other side. and maybe they are celebrating or approving of this choice, even as it may not be kind of the top priority for them when you think about issues, like, frankly, the pandemic, issues like child care, issues of the economy, that may be a little higher on the hierarchy of needs in this kind of chaotic election season which is a reflection of everything. i do think it has a potential to have an effect on both sides.
>> woodruff: a little less than a minute, i want each one of you to tell me what you think each man has to do at the debate tomorrow night. amy? >> donald trump has to come out on the offensive. we know that's where he likes to be anyway. a sitting president a month out from an election, coming from behind, he needs to come in early and often, put biden where he hasn't been very often in this race, back on his heels. for joe biden, just be steady and project the sense that he has throughout the campaign of being a unity candidate. >> woodruff: errin, what does each one have to do for you? >> president trump is going to have to focus on how he has delivered for his supporters and the american people. and joe biden isoing to have to cus on how he believes the president has not and how he will do that instead. >> woodruff: all right. i've written all of this down. we're going to come and ask you next tie what happened. errin haines hanes and amy
walter, thank you both. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: cruise ship companies are waiting to learn this wednesday from the centers for disease control whether their billion dollar vessels can soon set sail again. they have been prohibited from cruising since the sta of the pandemic, and hundreds of the luxury floating vessels, part hotel, cabaret, buffet, and amusement park, float at anchor, and idled. but in britain, these boats cruising to nowhere have become quite the attraction. from weymouth in southern england, special correspondent malcolm brabant reports. >> reporter: for the british, covid signalled goodbye west indies, hello weymouth. not just for potential passengers but also the ships themselves. >> it's a crying shame. it's quite sad to see them all out there knowing people are missing holidays and will they ever get back to normal?
>> reporter: jenny day has come to see a ship that once transported her to the norwegian fjords. she's anxious to regain her sea legs. >> for normal working people, we save all year for working, to have your two weeks or three week holiday, and a cruise is just pure luxury, and it's a luxury that normal working can afford, normally. >> reporter: 50 miles to the east is a boat in demand. the cruise ships' bind is a bonus for skipper paul derham. >> the moral of the story is try to take every opportunity. >> reporter: normally the mudeford ferry serves an inner coastal waterway, but this summer the so called ghost ships have been an irresistible diversion. >> we first advertised it when we came out of lockdown. we were a bit slow and i made an announcement to the passengers. anybody want to go and see any cruise ships that are out in the bay? and a load of hands went up. and we've been inundated with phone calls wanting to see the cruise ships. >> reporter: derham spent three decades a cruise ship bridge. the aurora was his last posting.
( horn sounding ) >> i've been everywhere from mumbai to melbourne and now i'm back in mudeford and to see my old ship, it gives a few pangs i suppose. >> reporter: the pain is far more acute for the world's 60 cruise operators. when this commercial was shot last year, a record 30 million passengers were carried on 350 ships, making this a $150 billion global business. before coronavirus struck, the cruise industry was enjoying a boom period. the shipyards couldn't build them fast enough and the industry was really confident about getting new clientele from china and south asia. but now? >> i think it would be naive not to acknowledge that a couple of companies have gone under during this time, and there's a risk that a couple more m do so. >> reporter: speaking from belgrade in serbia, captain alex downes, an independent cruise consultant. >> it's important to note that ships are still being purchased, ships are still being built, contracts are being signed and i
think that's a real indicator that the cruise industry has a lot of self confidence in its ability to restart. >> reporter: there were small steps in italy last month, as passengers boarded a ship for the first time since lockdown after the government lifted its ban on cruising. this ship didn't stray beyond italian waters. in hungary, cruises along the river danube have resumed. cleaning protocols on board have been intensified, and this liner cruises at three-quarters' capacity. kilian weber from switzerland was one of the first aboard. >> i don't think they booked the boat fully, i think the's still some cabins that they left open so that it's safer and then we have to wear masks when moving so it seems like it's a safe experience. >> reporter: when the pandemic began, cruise ships earned a reputation as incubators for the disease. nevertheless on the mudeford ferry, enthusiasm for cruising was abundant. >> now i've seen these ships it's given me the inspiration to try that type of thing once
the pandemic is over. >> reporter: louise gallagher works in britain's national health service, and is hyper conscious of the risks. >> personally i don't fear the virus so much because i think i would probably only receive minor symptoms. but i am worried what i may pass on to others, more vulnerable people. >> reporter: cruise fan jody carter drove 200 miles just to catch a glimpse of the ship that gave her such a memorable holiday five years ago. >> i just hope that something happens soon that makes them be able to go again because no passengers get the experience and joy that i got out of it. >> reporter: american operators are hoping that the center for disease control will lift the ban on cruising. they're promising to improve hygiene and to test all passengers and crew before boarding. other measures are inevitable says alex downes. >> on existing ships we will see some modifications much like we see ashore with regards to social distancing and barriers.
>> reporter: not everyone swoons about cruising. the ghost ships have upset environmentalists concerned about emissions, damage to the sea bed, and light pollution at night. >> perhaps they should do cruises to nowhere. i can see countries don't want 2,000 people walking down their high street who've come from wherever. perhaps they could do cruises to norwegian fjords and not actually land anywhere. >> reporter: but cruising still has an allure for the skipr. >> i think i'd like to split my time halfway between the mudeford ferry and have the winter on the aurora in somewhere warm. that would be ideal. >> reporter: given the ghost ships' uncertain future, that remains something of a ftasy. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant in poole bay. >> woodruff: and on the newshour online, join us tomorrow for special coverage of the first presidential debate between president donald trump and former vice president joe biden. you can read more about all of
the ways to watch and participate on our website, that's pbs.org/newshour and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> the kendeda fund. committed to advancing restorative justice and meaningful worthrough investments in transformative leaders and ideas.
more at kendedafund.org. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & co." here's what's coming up. 7:30 in the morning this town started to burn down. within three hours, it was gone. >> paradise found. as fires rage across california, oscar-winning director ron howard shows us what happened to the people left behind. then a shocking twist for the real life hero the world knows from "hotel rwanda." why he's now under arrest in his own home country. plus -- >> what i'm hoping happens through this process is that all of a sudden we see education as one of the most important priorities we can focus on.