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tv   Washington Week  PBS  August 27, 2022 1:30am-2:00am PDT

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yamiche: secret documents and political tensions. a redacted copy of the search affidavit for president trump's mar-a-lago home is unsealed. it reveals new details about his alleged mishandling of classified information. meanwhile -- pres. biden: i made a commitment that we provide student debt relief. i am honoring that today. yamiche: president biden forgives some student loan debt for millions of americans. sen. mcconnell: i am sure the people who benefit from it will love it. the question is, is it fair to everyone else? yamiche: but republicans and some democrats criticized the move. plus -- pres. biden: the mongol republicans are a threat to our very democracy.
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-- the maga republicans are a threat to our very democracy. yamiche: the fight to control congress intensifies, next. >> this is "washington week." corporate funding is provided by consumer cellular. additional funding is provided by the ewing foundation. committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, monitor yummy shell -- yamiche.
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yamiche: good evening. following a judge's order, the copy of an fbi affidavit used to justify the search of former president donald trump's mar-a-lago home was released. the document contained read actions but also revealed that in january trump turned over to the national archives documents with different levels of classification. they included 92 documents marked as secret and 25 documents marked as top-secret. the affidavit said there is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be , the premises. the justice department was also concerned that premature close -- premature disclosure of affidavits may have a significant and negative impact on the continuing investigation and may jeopardize the effectiveness by allowing criminal parties an opportunity to flee and destroy evidence. this is all important
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information. joining me to discuss this and more is scott mcfarlane with cbs news, eva mckend with cnn, and joining means in studio, michael shear, white house correspondent for "the new york times" and allie vitelli, author of the new book "electable: why america hasn't put a woman in the white house yet." scott, we saw this redacted copy of the affidavit. everyone around the country was looking at it. what is most important here? >> every speck of this is unprecedented. page 30 of this affidavit says something we have never seen before, that the fbi argued there was "fruits of crime potentially at the residence of a foer u.s. president. it did not preclude the possibility there are more items
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or people the fbi would pursue. just the fact that we see an affidavit for a search warrant without a corresponding civil or criminal case is itself make. -- unique. usually when we look at court cases, we look at the affidavit which has the plane story behind the case. there is no case here, so it is difficult to get our bearings around this moment. yamiche: kid also said in the affidavit there could be because to believe there might be obstruction found on the premises. i wonder what you make of the significance of that. you talk about it being unprecedented that we were looking for crimes, but specifically this evidence of obstruction, i am interested in your thoughts. scott: we keep hearing the word obstruction in the cases corresponding to january 6. we got a sense of how significant that is. that is a federal crime that has a lot of weight, and we learned about that ahead of the surge on mar-a-lago.
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but between the redaction's, there was a great hilarity to what the federal agents were saying in the affidavit, that there were certain spaces on this sprawling mar-a-lago campus of interest. the 45 office, the 45th president's office at mar-a-lago. the storage spaces. and what the affidavit says is that those spaces are not authorized to hold classified information. the affidavit was emphatic there was secret classified information on the grounds. yamiche: michael, talking about this secret fisa fight information, 25 documents marked secret. i wonder what the significance of this is to you, because a lot of the affidavit are handwritten notes from former president trump. we covered trump together. what does this tell you? michael: there are a couple of ways it is significant.
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it raises the question of why the former president did not just deal with this as soon the national archives and the federal officials started inquiring. it is hard to understand, had asked scott said, there is so much redacted that i am not sure of affidavit -- if the affidavit answers questions. but if president trump had seen these documents before, and be with they were, had handwriting on them, there was a reason he wanted them and a reason why he said i made a mistake, here are the documents back. clearly he did not because they found more after the affidavit was filed. they went in and found more information. i think ultimately, over the course of the next weeks, months, however long this goes, that is the question i am going to be looking for, why did he want these and why didn't he give them back? yamiche: there are so many questions michael is alluding to hear, one is the sense that the
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fbi has not identified all potential criminal confederates or located all evidence related to this investigation. that means there could be more to this story. what do you make? ali: that is a lot of information that we are already looking at, the fact that there were hundreds of documents not being stored in the correct fashion. the fact that they are not sure they have gotten them all, that is stunning to think about as we move forward. what is also interesting is that the doj clearly knew what they were dealing with. it is clear that they knew he was someone that could try to punch back first and preempt what the doj was trying to do. that was a striking package -- passage not only because they knew what he was dealing with, but clearly they are talking to multiple people inside of trump's orbit, so much that they knew exactly where to look for these documents, and that is a threat we are going to tug on in the coming weeks and months. yamiche: ali in some ways wrote
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the intro to my next question, trump punching back. president trump lashed out at the fbi and doj. he made a graphic where he released a statement that said they missed a page showing all black lives, and it was hard for you to read, it says "make america great again" through all those redaction's. i also want to put up an abc news poll showing that trump sold over the gop has strengthened since the fbi search. -- trump's pulled over the gop has strengthened since thebi search. it has risen 7%. what do you think of all the politics? eva: i have been in pennsylvania, georgia, pittsburgh, and atlanta over the last couple of weeks, and what has surprised me when i speak to democratic voters as they very much are concerned about the former president and the future health of our democracy. i think sometimes in washington we are concerned that we are
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having a conversation that does not mirror what was happening in the country. they are concerned. i think what we are going to see his democrats releasees on this and say look, the former president has no regard for our sacred institutions. that is the argument they are going to make based on this search alone. even though the former president has not been charged. i very much think this will continue to be a factor as we talk about november. yamiche: eva is talking about this idea that the democrats are sort of crafting their messaging. president biden said they would let the doj determine whether national security was compromised, but today on the line could see president biden -- on the line you could see president biden wanting to say -- what do you think of former president trump, his handling of doments, and he just said "come on."
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>> there is great irony in all of this. former president trump is being assailed and potentially having electoral damage based on handling this classified information after he spent so many months assailing hillary clinton for emails and mishandling documents. there is some great irony here. i think joe biden would love nothing more than two sort of jump in with both feet. the hatch act, the law that prevents political activities, does not apply to the president himself. i think you will see, over the course of the next couple of months before the midterm elections, you will see him again. he was already more aggressive at his speech yesterday, and i think you will get more pointed. in some ways, but democrats were saying -- what democrats were saying was the former president's troubles in mar-a-lago, writ large, is going to be the thing that motivates
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the democrats. yamiche: scott, let's talk about troubles. there are a lot of unanswered questions. what do you think are the most important of the unanswered questions? what is going on next? scott: whether or not there is a civil or criminal case filed, there is no certainty that one will be. there is going to be an appetite as to what are these things that are potentially in a storage space at a private resort in florida? what was compromised? that is why we hear the leaders at the house and senate intelligence committee saying they would like briefing on what might have been compromised , a confidential briefing in a secure location in the u.s. capital, where you are authorized to disclose classified information. senator mark warner issued a statement today reiterating his interest in getting briefed on this.
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if something has been compromised, congress needs to know, because they have oversight over u.s. intelligence and classification records. yamiche: ali, you are running the halls of congress along with scott. what do you make of what he is saying? ali: i wish they were here still, because i would love to ask these lawmakers in real time, many of them wanting to see what is in the affidavit. i asked lisa murkowski what she thought. she said she wants to see what is in here, because in large part, the republicans whose knee-jerk reaction was not to immediately defend trump want to see what they are dealing with. the senate reaction has been differed from the house reaction . i think mccarthy's response immediately after the search said it all from what we are going to hear from house republicans, which is they are going to vehemently defend trump right now, and if they retake the house, they are going to do all the investigations around this and try to muddy the waters
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as much as possible, despite the fact the doj has been careful in taking unprecedented steps to actually investigate and search the home of a former president. yamiche: eva, when you think about the politics of how this is playing out, you mentioned being in georgia and pennsylvania, i wonder what you think on where this goes next. eva: we will have to see how this continues to play out. i wonder if some of the republicans who were initially very supportive of the former president sort of maybe have regrets about that response. i do wonder if we are going to see any republicans shipped their strategy as it gets closer to november and sort of distance themselves from the former president. does this entire mar-a-lago episode become too politically toxic? yamiche: talking about november is where we are going next. as the midterms get closer, we
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have seen president biden in the white house, they are turning up there heat on the criticisms of the gop. president biden accused republicans highlighted with president trump of turning toward "semi fascism." this comes after president biden made other big news this week. on wednesday he announced to the government would cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loans for millions of americans. but republicans and even some democrats were quick to criticize this plan. i want to go to you, michael. you think about president biden using semi fascism -- that is a big deal. what is his thinking, and what is the white house strategy? michael: the white house has a two-pronged strategy for the next several months. one is to really spend a lot of time touting their accomplishments. if you think back to march and april of this year, it was really doom and gloom for democrats.
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they felt like they had to accomplish much of the president's agenda. there was this flurry of activity this summer. the student loans that were just mentioned, the legislation to do climate change, drug prices, gas prices down, things kind of looking up a little bit, so one half of the strategy is touching all that progress. the other half is really attacking republicans, drawing that contrast and saying to voters, look, you have a choice. it is not just a referendum on joe biden and what you might think of the democratic rule in washington. it is if you don't want this, look at what is out there. this phrase ultra maga, they are trying to link all republicans to donald trump. to say that agenda is really extreme and whether you are not totally satisfied with joe biden, that is the alternative. that is their twin strategy. yamiche: as part of that strategy, day they are trying to get things done that can hold up.
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student loans was part of a promise that biden made on the campaign trail. what is your sense of why this might happen right now, and might we see all student loan debt canceled? michael: i think that is highly unlikely. the president was pushed during the campaign by his more liberal rivals when he was running against warren and sanders. he was pushed to do something on student loans. i think over the last 18 months he has had a lot of delay -- there has been a lot of delay because he was still very uncomfortable about the idea. there is some level of unfairness that i think even the democrats would acknowledge. you are picking and choosing groups, who is going to get a benefit. some people are and some are not. he finally came around to it, but i think this is the limit. i don't know that it will be able to be pushed much further. yamiche: ali, you are shaking your head. president biden, when this
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announcement was made, you had some progressive democrats championing it, others saying it was not going far enough. the president of the naacp saying it should go even farther because it affects african-americans in a particular way, but you also have moderate democrats saying this could hurt inflation and make it worse. what is your take? ali: from moderate democrats people we were hearing from, like want to be senator tim ryan running in ohio, and the senator from nevada, they are speaking out against this decision, and we are also hearing from frontline democrats on the house side of this, speaking to the unfairness. but on the other side of this is the reality progressives have been talking about, that this helps people not be saddled with this debt for the entirety of their lives. this is impacting millions of americans. some of them are not even americans who are working with college degrees right now. i think that is part of the conversation that might be left out, that some of these folks had to drop out of college for
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whatever reason and are not getting the higher earning benefits of having that education behind them, but still having to pay that student loan debt. that is a piece of this conversation. it is a moment for biden to say it is a promise made in a promise cap, although it does not make him the most popular person with everyone, because progressives still want more and moderates do not want this at all. publicans i have spoken with feel like this is a moment for them to have an in road the conversation they want to have in the midterms, which is that it is all about economy and inflation. this provides an of new -- an avenue to do that, even as democrats tie to as a binary, not just making this a referendum on biden, but trump is back in the news cycle, let's member biden versus trump. that is what the white house would like to campaign on. yamiche: according to gallup, president biden's job approval is hitting a record high right now. it is up to 44%, his highest in
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a year. we should note that still means he is underwater in some ways -- 53% of americans are disapproving -- but how does that square with what you are seeing? scott: we are going to get a real good sense of how popular democrats think this student loan decision is, because we are less than 75 days until the midterm elections. on behalf of my children and children everywhere, i asked rhetorically, where did the summer go? it is a chancfor candidates to articulate their message. let's see next week if we see a bevy of new campaign ads for democrats mentioning the student debt issue. i can tell you what we saw this past week, new abortion rights ads from democrats. they saw what happened tuesday in upstate new york in the hudson valley, where a democrat won in the first real head-to-head republican on
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democrat battle for congress since the supreme court ruling in june. democrats exceeding expectations. here, more ads about abortion rights after an election in which they democrat made abortion rights his primary issue. let's see of student debt becomes an issue in the next 75 days. yamiche: eva, you have been on the campaign trail. how are people viewing student loans and this action by president biden? eva: this is an issue that does not fall neatly along partisan lines. i think the argument we have heard from republicans is that this is really a deal for the wealthy and that working-class people in middle -- in middle america are going to be paying for the elites. but that does not really pass muster, because you have woing-class folks in middle america who are saddled with student loan debt too.
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i am interested to see how this rolls out. i will say something that often happens is when these different programs are targeted, and this one very much is, is that it takes a longer time to implement. let's see if the federal government can actually work with some effectiveness on this and when these loans are actually canceled. that will make all the difference, is this actually going to work when it is all said and done? yamiche: it is a good question and a big question. michael, coming back, it is clear they have -- they are having a week at the white house. the white house social media team had a whole thread attacking biden and a bunch of republicans, including marjorie taylor green, for going after student loan forgiveness but having received forgiveness of their ppp loans with ties to covid. what is behind this at the white house? michael: somebody ate their
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wheaties. if you have watched the official white house twitter feed, it is not exciting, it is not tiktok. it is pretty boring usually. they came to life and were very aggressive in pushing back. i think you can make a case that they were a little bit unfair in the comparison. the ppp loans which were for small businesses and restaurants, were entirely designed to be forgiven. that was the whole idea, that the money was essentially a bridge while businesses were going to get back on their feet because of the pandemic. the idea was you given the money but you are going to ultimately forget it. student loans were not designed that way. there is a bit of unfairness there, but politically i think it did exactly what the white house wanted, to get people talking and to put some of these republicans back on their heels, because it is a bit of a --
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yamiche: hey punch in the nose, really. eva, i want to ask you about a man named maxwell for us -- maxwell frost, a 25-year-old political advisor in -- political organizer in florida. he won his primary. if he wins, he would be the first member of gen z to go to congress. you have this new generation that is younger than me going to congress, which feels a little crazy, but also it shows that the democrats have a bench that is willing to go to congress. what do you make of his win and what it says about the democrats? eva: this is where the energy is in the party, with young progressives of color. this is where it is. i think what i am watching is, are the octogenarians in power going to support them, or are they going to stand in the way? another space to watch is the primaries in new york, where
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that very much was not the end result. one could argue that the progressives of color were ifled in new york by the democratic apparatus. this no doubt is where a lot of the enthusiasm is. but i am not yet convinced that the democrats in control of the party like where this is headed, are willing to invest and support that base. yamiche: last question, ali. what do you make of what he is saying? ali: i look at the results and i see a bad night for women. nikki fried not getting the nomination, and carolyn maloney, the powerful chair of the oversight committee losing to another powerful chair of the judiciary committee and jerry nadler he made the race about the idea of the old boys club still in play. the gender was a factor on tuesday night as well. yamiche: good point.
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thank you to our panelists for sharing your reporting. don't forget to stick around for washingtonweek extra. ali vitali discusses her new book "electable." find us on our website, facebook, and youtube. don't forget twatch tomorrow for a report on the disturbing spike in gun violence ravaging philadelphia this summer, saturday on pbs. thank you for joining us. good night from washington. >> corporate funding from washington is provided by -- >> concealers -- consumer cellular has been offering no contract plans designed to help people do more of what they like. our team can help by a plan that fits you. for more, visit >> additional funding is provided by the ewing foundation . committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities.
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robert and susan rosenbaum. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ ♪ >>
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