PBS NewsHour full episode July 12, 2019

PBS NewsHour full episode July 12, 2019



JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: Secretary of Labor
Alex Acosta resigns amid criticism over his handling of a sex crimes case against billionaire
Jeffrey Epstein. Then: fearing a massive flood — the latest
on a slow-moving tropical storm expected to drench Louisiana, threatening levees around
New Orleans. Plus: As the legal marijuana industry expands,
questions remain about racial diversity in the business and who will reap the economic
benefits. CHAUNCY SPENCER, Social Equity Applicant:
We're hoping that we can correct that by keeping the money within the community, employing
people from our community, and allowing the money to circulate as many times as humanly
possible. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's Friday. Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru break down
the divide among Democrats, the resignation of Alex Acosta, and more. All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. secretary of labor,
Alex Acosta, is out. When President Trump met with reporters at
the White House today, he had Acosta by his side to announce his resignation, just before
Mr. Trump left for a trip to Wisconsin. Acosta had held a news conference of his own
earlier this week, defending his involvement in a 2008 lawsuit involving alleged sex trafficker
Jeffrey Epstein, who then received a jail sentence that critics have called unusually
lenient. Today, Acosta criticized news coverage of
the case, but said he didn't want to be a distraction to the administration's work. The president paid him a compliment. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
He's a tremendous talent. He's a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard, a great student. And in so many ways, I just hate what he's
saying now, because we're going to miss him. But, please, Alex. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. Secretary of Labor:
It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case
that's 12 years old, rather than about the amazing economy we have right now. And so I submitted my resignation to the president,
effective seven days from today, effective one week from today, earlier this morning. JUDY WOODRUFF: The "NewsHour"'s Yamiche Alcindor
was at the White House this morning. And she joins me now here in the studio. So, Yamiche, this Epstein story keeps growing. Late today, we learned there was a court filing
in New York that accuses Mr. Epstein of witness tampering, paying potential witnesses against
him $350,000. So we are watching that new development. But, in the meantime, as we said, you were
at the White House. You were there on the South Lawn. How did this resignation come about? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, this was an uncomfortable
moment at the end of an uncomfortable week for Secretary Acosta. There is a thing call a perp walk, where local
officials, local police department sometimes tell reporters when a criminal defendant or
a high-profile suspect is going to be coming into the police station. That's what this felt like today. It felt like Alex Acosta was being brought
before the cameras to really explain to people that he was the problem, that he's a distraction
amongst all the great things that the Trump administration is doing. And it's important to remember how we got
here. And how we got here is, the president essentially
forced Secretary Acosta to go before cameras earlier this week. He encouraged him to have a press conference,
where he was defending himself against this backlash. The president then took a couple of days to
think about how he did in that press conference, and decided that he just basically didn't
do well enough. So the president is saying that this was Secretary
Acosta's idea, but, in reality, the president decided that he was not going to be able to
stay on because he didn't look good for the administration. Then you add to the idea that the president
is now trying to really distance himself from Jeffrey Epstein. They were good friends. They used to party together, have at times
young women, not underage women, but young women, at these parties. But these new charges against Epstein of essentially
paying witnesses to not talk about the things that they might know about his possible human
trafficking and abuse of children shows that this isn't going to go away. So, even though Alex Acosta is now leaving
the administration, effective on July 19, what we see is that the president might still
be having to deal with this. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we heard the president,
as you — as you say, further distancing himself today from Jeffrey Epstein. So, Yamiche, we know now there have been a
number of high-level departures from the administration, one Cabinet secretary after another. How does what happened today with Acosta add
to this upheaval that's been going on? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The revolving door at the
White House just keeps on spinning. What we have is Secretary Acosta becoming
one of just a number of Cabinet officials who have been forced out or resigned or even
fired at times. I want to put up a graphic for people, an
image of what — some of the people that have left the administration on there. We have Patrick Shanahan, who was the acting
secretary of defense. He withdrew, and he — the president withdrew
his nomination to be a permanent defense secretary because of domestic violence allegations. Scott Pruitt was forced out because he had
issues with first-class travel and possible cozy relationships with lobbyists. You had Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who
resigned because he was essentially upset by the president's announcement that he was
going to be withdrawing troops from Syria. So there are a number of people who have left
this administration in controversy. And then add to that the fact that they are
now going to be even more acting secretaries in this administration. So you're going to have an acting labor secretary. You're going to have an acting defense secretary,
an acting U.N. ambassador. So there's this — in some ways, this administration
is going to be having so many people in these acting roles. And what's important about that is that these
are people that are really going to now be limited. They're not going to be able to really have
the agendas or be able to make the decisions that they might be able to make if they had
permanent jobs within the administration. And it's also important to note that there
are no Latinos in the administration right now. Alex Acosta, as the president was praising
him, was the only Latino member of the president's administration. JUDY WOODRUFF: And these acting positions,
as you point out, because they haven't been confirmed by the Senate, which is what one
needs to do to be able to carry out the official duties. Finally, Yamiche, another issue, one of the
many other issues boiling at the White House, and that is what are expected to be these
large-scale immigrant — raids on immigrants around the country by ICE. What more was the president saying about that
this morning? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president insists that
these raids are going to be happening. He said that they're going to start on Sunday. I put the question to him, what do you think
of the fact that now everyone knows about this? Is it putting law enforcement and the public
at risk? Here's what he told me: DONALD TRUMP: It's not something I like doing,
but people have come into our country illegally. It starts on Sunday. And they're going to take people out. And they're going to bring them back to their
countries, or they're going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison
in the countries they came from. We're focused on criminals as much as we can. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president said he's
focused on criminals. But there are a lot of people who think families
are going to be caught up in this. There's going to be this thing called collateral
deportations, where even if you're not an immigrant who's being targeted, if you're
in the wrong place at the wrong time, you might be swept up in these. There are some agents who have told news reporters
that they're worried about having to deport babies and having to deal with families. Add to that the fact that there are all these
groups that are going to now be setting up hot lines and rapid-response networks to try
to really give support to immigrants who are really bracing for the worst. One immigrant today told a national network
that they feel like a hurricane is coming. So there are people that are missing work,
that are really, really scared about this. But the president says that this must happen. JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of uncertainty around
that. And we're going to be following it all weekend
and, of course, reporting on it on Monday. Yamiche Alcindor, thank you. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thanks. JUDY WOODRUFF: As Tropical Storm Barry closed
in on the state of Louisiana this evening, residents and local officials prepared for
its arrival overnight as a hurricane-level storm. As John Yang tells us, the greatest risk may
not be the winds, but intense rain and a likelihood of significant flooding. JOHN YANG: Waves, wind and rain began hitting
New Orleans and Louisiana's Gulf Coast today, as Barry neared hurricane strength. Forecasters warn the storm could linger over
the state through Sunday and drop up to 20 inches of rain, triggering serious flooding. The Mississippi River is already unusually
high from a wet spring. Earlier this week, New Orleans' French Quarter
flooded after heavy rain. Sandbags were being filled and distributed. Flooding could hit further north, including
Baton Rouge. Rachel Young said her family is not taking
any chances. RACHEL YOUNG, Baton Rouge Resident: They're
already preparing, like boarding up windows, got a bunch of sand. Typically, it doesn't flood in that area,
but you never know. So we're taking every precaution necessary. JOHN YANG: Governor John Bel Edwards warned
of the risks. GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): Nobody should take
this storm lightly just because it's supposed to be a Category 1 when it makes landfall. You just go back to 2016. We didn't have all the advanced warning that
we have had today. And we had 56 out of 74 parishes declare a
major federal disaster because of those floods. JOHN YANG: There were some evacuations in
low-lying areas, but New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told residents to shelter in place. LATOYA CANTRELL, Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana:
Stay dry as best as possible. Again, high and heavy rainfalls, this is what
we're preparing for. Make sure that you, again, just stay put. JOHN YANG: In the city's Lower Ninth Ward,
devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of levees, many residents are
sticking it out. But they are watching the levees and potential
storm surge. GEORGIANA MITCHELL, New Orleans Resident:
It's an eerie feeling. You don't ever get comfortable until you know
it's over. CHRISTINE VILLINES, New Orleans Resident:
We're not going to evacuate. We're just going to ride it out. We have kind of taken the attitude that this
is what we signed up for. We live in New Orleans. This is what happens. JOHN YANG: The margin of safety could be thin. In New Orleans, the Mississippi is expected
to crest tomorrow at about 19 feet. The city's levees range from about 20 to 25
feet. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang. JUDY WOODRUFF: State officials said they were
still confident today that floodwaters wouldn't overtop the levees. To explore the concerns over rain, storm surge,
and how long this storm might last, I'm joined by Ken Graham. He's director of the National Hurricane Center. Ken Graham, welcome back to the "NewsHour." So, please give us your — the latest information
you have on the track of this storm. KEN GRAHAM, Director, National Hurricane Center:
Yes, the latest information that we have is just this very large storm, somewhat disorganized,
but, at the same time, strengthening through the afternoon, so 65 mile-an-hour winds, and
just an expansive system covering most of the Gulf of Mexico. So, the latest information, very similar track
that we have been talking about for the last few days, slow movement, so just a lot of
tropical-storm-force winds well outside of the cone and a big rain event. Whether it becomes a hurricane before landfall
or a tropical storm, that difference is just a mile-an-hour. Got to prepare for all the rainfall and storm
surge. JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned several times
the slowness of it. Why does that add to your worry so much? KEN GRAHAM: You know, a slow storm is our
nemesis. Slow and large storms are just — they compound
the issues. The slower the storm, the more chance there
is to dump a lot of that rainfall. The slower the storm, there's more time for
the winds to push storm surge into every bayou and into rivers and bays. So , those slow storms — and we have seen
this in the past with these slow storms — they just cause so many more problems, because
they're just here longer. So, even the winds saturate the soil. Put the winds on top of that, there's more
trees down, more power lines down. You get more power outages in a situation
like this as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know New Orleans was
already hit with a lot of rain in the middle of this week. How much does that compound the concern? KEN GRAHAM: Yes. When you pre-saturate some of the soil, it
really doesn't help things at all, because, you look at this, we don't even issue a risk
higher than this. I mean, this is a high risk of flash flooding. And in the areas in red, that's a moderate
risk. So, yes, you saturate some of those soils,
put more rain on that, it just compounds the issue. That's why we have this just — just this
area here, that we don't issue that very often. So a high risk means there's just a really
good chance, more than a 50 percent chance, anybody in that area could see flash flooding
with this system. JUDY WOODRUFF: Ken Graham, what are you and
your colleagues telling people who live in that area right now? KEN GRAHAM: We are telling them that the tropical-storm-force
winds are already making their way on land. It's time to prepare yourselves, and that
time is running out. And we're really letting people know the fact
that just be careful. If the local officials tell you not to be
around these low areas where the storm surge is and the rain and these low areas of the
bayous, you got to get out. If you're told to get out, you have to get
out. The water is already getting there. We have already seen some tide gauges come
up. And these — this is the forecast for the
storm surge, I mean, three to five feet in Lake Pontchartrain, and along the Louisiana
coast up to six foot storm surge. So it's a dangerous situation. And it's interesting, because 83 percent of
the fatalities in the last three years, really, tropical systems, has been from the inland
rain, half of those in automobiles. So we're telling people, just when the rain
is there, the flooding is there, please stay off the roads. JUDY WOODRUFF: People, of course, remember
Katrina and the terrible devastation and loss of life. How do you compare something like this to
that? KEN GRAHAM: Usually, the message that we tell
people is, we actually tell them never to compare storms. And it's interesting, because people's risk
perception is based on their — basically a previous experience when it comes to storms. But every one of them is so different. I always talk about little wiggles matter. I mean, just 20, 30 miles in either direction
could spell a couple feet of storm surge vs. six or seven feet. So, I tell people, be careful comparing storms. They are all different. We spend so much time here at the Hurricane
Center talking about the hazards and the impacts. That's what we want people to listen to. Listen to the forecast for the rain and the
storm surge. That indeed is what's hurting people and killing
them historically. So let's have those conversations. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, just finally, quickly,
how many days, how long do you think we're going to be talking about this storm? KEN GRAHAM: We got — through the weekend. It's been interesting with this slow movement,
so, over the next 24 hours or so, making landfall. But with time I mean, if you look at this,
Monday morning, Monday afternoon, we're still going to be a tropical depression into Arkansas. So, that means heavy rain not just along the
coast, but well inland, Mississippi, Tennessee, even stretching up into Missouri with time. I mean, we're going to be talking about that
into early next week. So, this is not just a coastal event. We got to make sure even people inland are
ready for it over the weekend and even next week. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you so much for all this
information. So helpful. Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane
Center, we appreciate it. KEN GRAHAM: Absolutely. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Congressional
Republicans and Democrats clashed over poor conditions at detention sites along the U.S.-Mexico
border. They spoke at a hearing of the U.S. House
of Representatives' Oversight Committee. And they traded arguments over reports of
crowded, unsanitary facilities. REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): We do have a crisis
at our border. It is one of morality, as we have seen this
current strategy unfold, intentional and cruelly created by the Trump administration, dead-set
on sending a hate-filled message that those seeking refuge are not welcome in America. REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Our agents are just completely
overwhelmed. They are exhausted. Not only are they exhausted out in the field,
exhausted inside the stations processing. They are exhausted with all the rhetoric that
is coming down through the media and this Congress. Our own congressional leaders are vilifying
our agents. These are the people holding America's front
line. JUDY WOODRUFF: Border crossings from Mexico
were down in June, but still exceeded 100,000 for the fourth straight month. Meanwhile, there is word that two House committees
may postpone hearing from former special counsel Robert Mueller on the Russia investigation. He is scheduled to appear before the Intelligence
and Judiciary Committees on July 17. Reports today said that majority Democrats
are considering a one-week delay to allow for a longer hearing and to give lawmakers
more time for questioning. The House today approved a defense policy
bill, including limits on President Trump's authority to take military action against
Iran. It also bars using Pentagon funds to pay for
a southern border wall. Progressive Democrats tacked on other provisions,
and the overall bill passed without a single Republican vote. The president has promised to veto the measure,
but first it has to be reconciled with the Senate version. The first components of Russian missile defense
systems have arrived in Turkey, over U.S. objections. The Turks said that Russian military planes
flew in parts for the S-400 systems today. They were unloaded at an air base outside
Ankara. Turkey's foreign minister defended the move. MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, Turkish Foreign Minister
(through translator): As we have always said, S-400s are a done deal, and the process continues
in its course. Our Defense Ministry has made the necessary
statement. There is no problem, and the delivery will
continue in a healthy way. JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has threatened NATO
ally Turkey with economic sanctions, and says that it will cancel plans to sell F-35 stealth
fighters to the Turks. But Turkey says that its defense minister
told acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper today that Ankara is not tilting toward Moscow. In Chicago, R&B singer R. Kelly had his initial
court appearance today on federal charges of sex crimes and racketeering. Indictments in Chicago and New York say that
he used his entourage to lure women and underage girls into illegal sexual activity. They also allege that he paid out thousands
of dollars in hush money. Kelly was already facing state sex abuse charges
in Illinois. President Trump fired back today at Paul Ryan,
the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ryan, a Republican, retired from Congress
in 2018. A new book, "American Carnage," quotes him
as saying that he could not stand to work with Mr. Trump any longer. In a separate quote, Ryan says: "I'm telling
you he didn't know anything about government" — end quote. The president today called Ryan — quote — "a
terrible speaker" and — quote — "a baby," and blamed him for losing the GOP's House
majority. The Federal Trade Commission has approved
a $5 billion fine for Facebook for mishandling users' personal information. The Wall Street Journal first reported the
action. It said Facebook would still be allowed to
collect and share data with third parties, but under stricter oversight. The deal still needs Justice Department approval. And on Wall Street, stocks hit new highs,
led by tech and industrial shares. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly
244 points to close at 27332. That's a record. The Nasdaq rose 48 points, also reaching a
record, and the S&P 500 added finished above 3000 for the first time. Still to come on the "NewsHour": how race
is a factor in the legal marijuana boom; strong statements from liberal freshman members of
Congress cause rifts in the Democratic Party; Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru break down
a packed week of news; and Joan Baez reflects on her art and activism as she embarks on
her farewell tour. Now the final installment in this week's series
The Green Rush. In our previous pieces, we have seen how the
marijuana industry is booming across the country. But amid this growth, there are serious concerns
that those most affected by decades of marijuana criminalization are being left out. Yamiche Alcindor is back for this report. It's part of our occasional series Chasing
the Dream, on poverty and opportunity in America. WANDA JAMES, Founder and CEO, Simply Pure
Dispensary: These are all the amazing products that we carry at Simply Pure. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In the marijuana industry,
Wanda James has made a name for herself. She opened her first dispensary in 2009. Since then, her company, Simply Pure, has
become one of the premier brands in Denver. James is also a pioneer. WANDA JAMES: We were actually the first African-Americans
legally licensed in America to own a dispensary. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But, as the industry grows,
James now finds herself more of an outlier. When you look around that cannabis industry,
as an African-American woman, what do you see? WANDA JAMES: White men. White men. White men. White men. (LAUGHTER) YAMICHE ALCINDOR: More and more states are
moving to legalize recreational marijuana. Those efforts have led many to look into issues
of diversity and question just who is benefiting the most from the industry. Data is hard to come by, but a recent survey
of nearly 400 marijuana businesses found that more than 80 percent were owned by white men. The numbers also show that African-Americans
and Latinos bore the brunt of marijuana criminalization. The American Civil Liberties Union found,
between 2001 and 2010, black people were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for
marijuana possession than whites, that despite roughly equal rates of use. ART WAY, Former Colorado Director, Drug Policy
Alliance: The collateral consequences of even a petty drug offense is huge. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Art Way was the Colorado
state director for the Drug Policy Alliance for nearly a decade. ART WAY: You're talking about consequences
when it comes to employment, housing, education. And here we have a demographic who is already
dealing with an uphill battle when it comes to broader structural inequity. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: For James, those consequences
were personal. WANDA JAMES: My brother was caught up in that
at age 18. He was caught with four ounces of cannabis,
which is about $160 worth of street value for cannabis. And that cost him 10 years of his life. When he first went to a privatized prison
system, for the first four years, my black brother picked cotton every day. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Now cities and states are
trying to address this issue, with varying degrees of success. In Colorado, diversity wasn't a part of the
initial legalization effort. ASHLEY KILROY, Director, Denver Office of
Marijuana Policy: People didn't know what they didn't know at the time. I think people were just trying to get this
passed and get started, and then, you know, make sure we get this up and running. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Ashley Kilroy is director
of the Office of Marijuana Policy for the city of Denver. ASHLEY KILROY: We were just trying to make
sure the sky wasn't going to fall. We were worried about what it could do for
our city. We were worried about what it looked like
— might look like for crime in the city, what it might look like for our youth. I know business owners who I talked to, they
were just worried about making sure they didn't go to jail. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Last year, Denver started
a program to seal records of people with low-level marijuana charges. So far, only a few hundred people have applied. And, this year, the city plans to use about
$11 million in marijuana tax revenue for affordable housing projects. ASHLEY KILROY: We have got a lot of these
broad-brush approaches, and we don't think, you know, there's one magic bullet. I think nothing is off the table, and we are
willing to choose whatever we think is going to make the biggest impact for Denver. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Still, advocates say the
city is simply not doing enough. Instead, they want to lower the barriers to
get into the marijuana industry. JOSHUA LITTLEJOHN, Highgrade Brands: Minorities
just don't have a strong enough footprint to outweigh the money issues. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Joshua Littlejohn has been
making marijuana products in Colorado for years. He wants his own license to expand his business. But, so far, he hasn't been able to get one. In 2008, he was convicted of a misdemeanor
marijuana possession charge. JOSHUA LITTLEJOHN: The biggest thing is the
opportunity to change my life, not only my life, but my kids' life and their kids' lives. So that's what attracted me off just out the
gate. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But opening a site can cost
millions of dollars in real estate, legal fees, and regulatory compliance. And despite his experience in the industry,
Littlejohn says investors look at him differently. JOSHUA LITTLEJOHN: I think that it's a fear,
it's just a fear thing. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: A fear of what? JOSHUA LITTLEJOHN: A fear that we're not going
to do the right things, or a fear that, OK, yes, you had this industry before, but you
have only done it illegally. You don't know how to do it, or, I guess,
the level that they feel — and this is verbatim — I have had people tell us, you guys cannot
do how we can do it. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Denver says the city needs
to time to study to issue. It's now trying to collect demographic data
to build a program to help minorities get into the industry. Since Colorado legalized, other states have
tried to deal with this issue from day one. Massachusetts was the first state to include
language in its legislation specifically addressing the issue of social equity. SHALEEN TITLE, Commissioner, Massachusetts
Cannabis Control Commission: I had worked on the campaign in Colorado. And I think that none of us understood at
the time how important it was to include in the law from the beginning that it has to
be intentional and deliberate. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Shaleen Title is one of
the commissioners on the state's Cannabis Control Commission. It created a licensing program that prioritized
applicants from areas designated as disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition. They also plan to set up training and technical
assistance programs. But here, too, progress has been slow. The state has granted about 150 licenses. Only three have gone to minority business
owners, and none of the priority applicants have had their applications approved. This is huge. CHAUNCY SPENCER, Social Equity Applicant:
Well, this is only a small portion of it. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Chauncy Spencer is one of
those applicants. He wants to open a dispensary and grow operation
in Boston. Much of the delay comes from the municipal
approval process, and, for him, the biggest barrier isn't financial. CHAUNCY SPENCER: We don't have the political
capital, we don't have the knowledge base to get things moving. And it's extremely unfair, when we have to
go up against lobbyists who have millions of dollars at their disposal. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Still, the costs are high. He says, while waiting to get approved, he's
spent more than $80,000 on rent alone. CHAUNCY SPENCER: Used to come and have pizza
right over there at the House of Pizza. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But for Spencer, who was
arrested in 2004 for growing four marijuana plants, something that would now be legal
in Massachusetts, it's worth it to be a part of the industry. CHAUNCY SPENCER: We're hoping that we can
correct that by keeping the money within the community, employing people from our community,
and allowing the money to circulate as many times as humanly possible. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Cannabis commissioner Shaleen
Title acknowledges the flaws, and says more can be done. SHALEEN TITLE: I think the major lesson for
other states is, what Massachusetts has done is the bare minimum. I would like to see loan funds. I would like to see more reinvestment into
harmed communities. I would like to see expungement and just,
in general, more of a central focus. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The state is now planning
to offer certain licenses exclusively to social equity applicants for two years, pending public
hearings. There's some cause for optimism. Advocates in states like Connecticut and New
Jersey, which are interested in legalizing marijuana, say social equity will be a top
priority at every stage. Still, as millions deal with the scars from
the war on drugs, there's deep skepticism that any state can fully undo those harms
and get inclusion in the marijuana industry right. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor. JUDY WOODRUFF: With two dozen Democratic candidates
vying for the party's presidential nomination, the debate over what the party should stand
for is front and center. As Lisa Desjardins reports, that battle is
also playing out inside the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. LISA DESJARDINS: For the House speaker, a
difficult issue. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I said what I'm going
to say on the subject. LISA DESJARDINS: That was yesterday, when
Nancy Pelosi was asked about the public airing of what had been mostly private frustrations
in her caucus. Those began months ago, as a group of new
members, including New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pushed openly for the party to move more to
the left. At one point, she protested in Pelosi's office
for her sweeping progressive Green New Deal. Pelosi reached out, offering Ocasio-Cortez
a spot on a new Climate Change Committee. But she turned it down, pointing out that
temporary committee had fewer powers than others. Soon, Ocasio-Cortez and three other freshman
women of color emerged as a tight, vocal group of activist members. But they didn't openly break with Pelosi,
until this month. WOMAN: This is bigger than a funding debate. WOMAN: That's right! LISA DESJARDINS: As Congress heard more news
of child deaths and poor treatment of migrants at the border, Democrats initially passed
legislation to force better conditions. But that bill hit a wall in the Senate, SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We already have our
compromise. LISA DESJARDINS: So, Pelosi compromised, agreeing
to a more generic border funding bill that didn't require better treatment. The only Democrats voting no? Those same four freshmen, sometimes called
the squad. And Ocasio-Cortez's office went further. Her chief of staff raised race in a tweet
that attacked moderate Democrats, writing: "They certainly seem hell-bent to do to black
and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did the '40s." He deleted those words, but a few days later,
Pelosi told The New York Times the group made themselves irrelevant, saying: "They're four
people, and that's how many votes they got." Then, on Wednesday, Pelosi went behind closed
doors with her caucus, making an extraordinary plea for unity, at one point saying that members
should come to her with complaints, not tweet about one another. But the squad of four felt they were being
wrongly scolded. And Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post:
"It was just outright disrespectful, the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color." That comment resonated with another prominent
Democrat, progressive caucus leader Pramila Jayapal, who also said: "I don't think the
speaker is used to having a group of members who have bigger Twitter followings than her,"
which brings us back to Pelosi's response. REP. NANCY PELOSI: At the request of my members,
an offensive tweet that came out of one of the member's offices that referenced our Blue
Dogs and our New Dems essentially as segregationists. Our members took offense at that. I addressed that. We respect the value of every member of our
caucus. The diversity of it all is a wonderful thing. Diversity is our strength. Unity is our power. And we have a big fight, and we're in the
arena, and that's all I'm going to say on the subject. LISA DESJARDINS: This all goes deeper than
large personalities at odds. Pelosi's Democrats have real policy divides
between moderates, many of whom are in vulnerable districts, and progressives, who are not. It is a fight about not just who Democrats
are, but what they want to do. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins. JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to the weekly analysis and that means Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru,
syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru of "The National Review." David Brooks is away. Hello to both of you. MARK SHIELDS: Judy. RAMESH PONNURU: Hi. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let's pick up, Mark, on
what we just heard in Lisa's report, what's been going on all this week, this series of
disagreements between Speaker Pelosi and a group of newly elected women Democratic members
of the House They have been called the quad squad. What do you make of this? How serious a split is this? MARK SHIELDS: It's serious, Judy, in that
it represents a profound change in our politics. When I came to Washington shortly after the
cooling of the Earth… (LAUGHTER) MARK SHIELDS: … there was a rule that you
didn't get to learn any freshman member's name until he or she had won a second term,
because they — that was what their first term was about, was learning the place, learning
what they're supposed to do, and then getting reelected. That is no longer the case. I mean, AOC comes in with 4.7 million Twitter
followers. So, she doesn't need the traditional means
of communicating, going to a press release or talking on — even on television. She's just available. So it's a real — politics is the most imitative
of all human art forms, with the possible exception of political journalism. Donald Trump showed that tweeting gets you
directly to voters, that you can bypass traditional media. That's what these people are doing. I just wish that the four members of the Mod
Squad had ever served in the minority and known for eight years what it was like, and
the effort, energy, talent and skill of Nancy Pelosi and people who worked with her to win
back the majority after eight years. JUDY WOODRUFF: And they're accusing her of
being too — not liberal enough. Ramesh Ponnuru, how do you read this? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think there are two
different voter bases going on here. Nancy Pelosi has remarked that she and these
members are in deep blue solidly Democratic districts, where a room temperature glass
of water with a D after its name could win the election. But most of the Democrats who won the swing
districts that made the Democrats the majority, they're in moderate districts. They can't take the same positions. And you add to that, they don't have the Senate. So there's always going to be frustrations,
when legislation passes the House, and then doesn't get anywhere in the Senate. We had a loss for the Democrats on immigration. And part of what's going on here is a blame
game, where people can't just accept you have got one half of one of the three branches
of government. There's just some times you're going to make
— you're going to take some losses. JUDY WOODRUFF: You're referring to that vote
a few days ago on money for the border, wherein Speaker Pelosi, as Lisa reported, Mark, ended
up going along with Republicans. MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No, exactly. And just picking up Ramesh's point, it's only
— what is it now, 12, 15 years ago since Barack Obama electrified the political world,
and particularly the Democratic Party, at the convention in Boston, where he said, we
don't — we worship an awesome God in blue America. We have gay friends in red America . There
is no red United States. There's only the United States of America,
not a blue United States. And I just wonder if that kind of a speech
and that kind of a spirit would be well-received in this present climate of Democrats, who
are fractious, divided, and I think an increasingly divisive group. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this — Ramesh, from your
perspective, is this the kind of split that lingers into next year's and infects and spills
over into the presidential race? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I don't think that many
voters are going to vote on the basis of this kind of inside baseball dispute between Democrats,
especially since none of these members of Congress are going to be on the presidential
ballot, the ones that we're talking about anyway. But I do think that it makes it harder for
the Democrats to have a unified message, where they're talking about their shared agenda,
and they're prosecuting the case against Trump, if they're all pointing fingers at each other. MARK SHIELDS: It's a very good point, Judy. I mean, the reality is that the Democrats,
I think, are misreading the results of 2018. In 2010, you will recall, the Republicans
won a stunning majority in the House. And Barack Obama was reelected two years later. In 2000 — in 1994, Bill Clinton was crushed,
and yet — Republicans swept into power for the first time in 40 years, and two years
later, he was reelected. A congressional election midterm is entirely
different from a presidential election. And I don't think that's quite understood
by some of these fractious Democrats right now. They'd better figure out — 30 million people
voted in the primaries in 2016; 135 million voted in the general. But that 30 million, what is said will be
remembered all the way through to the last hour in November, the first Tuesday after
the first Monday, by what is said in New Hampshire, what is said in Iowa. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. MARK SHIELDS: And I think Democrats would
be well-advised to remember that. JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to turn to President
Trump, Ramesh. And, yesterday, we were all waiting for the
president to announce that he was going to sign an executive action or take an executive
action in order to add a citizenship question to the census. As the day wore on, we learned that the White
House, the president decided not to do that, a complicated set of reasons. It was more — it was harder to do than they
thought it was going to be. Instead, they are ordering government agencies
to put out information, to share it with the Commerce Department, so we know more about
who's in this country without documents. What does this say about President Trump's
efforts to go after immigrants? Does it know an end? I mean, what else do we look for here? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think it says a couple
things about this administration. One, this is the biggest legal defeat that
it suffered. It had a mixed legal result from the Supreme
Court, but the ultimate end of it was that they didn't get their way in putting the citizenship
question on the census. They ran up against the clock, and they ran
up, frankly, against their own incompetence. That's the takeaway number two. The Supreme Court said, you can add a citizenship
question to the census, but you have got to dot the I's and cross the T's and provide
us with your reasons. And that was what the administration was incapable
of doing. That's, I think, what led them to this place
where this basic priority, they are not able to follow through on. JUDY WOODRUFF: But do you end up in a situation,
Mark, where ordering the government to turn over health records, Social Security records
of individuals who may or may not be citizens, does that end up being even more invasive
than rounding — I mean, than asking them to answer this question? MARK SHIELDS: Potentially so, Judy. But I think it was a stinging defeat and rebuke
of the president. And the president doesn't admit defeat. I mean, I think this was a way out. I mean, the president took a stinging defeat
last November. We learned today it was Paul Ryan's fault
that the Republicans suffered the loss of the House in November of 2018. The closing of the government, that wasn't
a defeat for the president. So he can't accept that it is a defeat. I think all of this, quite frankly, to look
at it in a very uncharitable way, is nothing but a fear campaign to intimidate people from
the census, and therefore to lead to an undercount. JUDY WOODRUFF: A fear campaign? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, look, I think that there's
an open question about whether congressional districts can be drawn based on voting eligible
population or based on total population. And, obviously, what Republicans want to do
is draw the lines according to the voting-eligible population, because that will increase their
representation in Congress. But that's the real motive. (CROSSTALK) RAMESH PONNURU: But they weren't willing to
say it and defend it openly in court. And, again, I think that that's why we ended
up with this — this alternative, which, as you point out, does have some privacy implications
that are troubling. MARK SHIELDS: The problem is the Constitution. I mean, there's nothing about voting age population
in the Constitution. RAMESH PONNURU: Well, the Supreme Court just
left it open whether — so we will — we would have to see. MARK SHIELDS: No, but I think it's pretty
clear we're talking about — in a census, we're talking about the number of people. At the same time, we have got a number of
social programs, the formula of which is based upon the people of — who need it in an area. If you're living next door to people, and
you need and your family is in — qualifies for a needs program, and you're denied it
because somehow they're undercounted in your district, I mean, that's unjust and, in the
final analysis, inhumane. RAMESH PONNURU: Well, that's right. I mean, there's a lot of federal money that
is tied to these sorts of numbers. So the stakes are very high. JUDY WOODRUFF: Quickly circle back to the
Democrats, to the presidential race. We had some movement in the presidential race
this week, Mark. Eric Swalwell, the congressman, got out. The billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer,
who's Mr. Impeachment, he's the one who's run millions of dollars of ads advocating
the impeachment of the president, is in. He's now running. This comes in the same week that Bernie Sanders
issues his — announces his anti-endorsements, billionaires and millionaires, who he says
he doesn't want their endorsement. How much money does — how much difference
does money make in 2019 in American politics? MARK SHIELDS: It is the mother's milk of American
politics. JUDY WOODRUFF: Still. MARK SHIELDS: And, as Mark Hanna said, there
are two things that matter in American politics, money, and I can't remember the second one. And there's no question about it. And, obviously, the number of people who contribute,
650,00, or 130,000 in September, contributors necessary to get on the stage in the Democratic
debate. So it is. It is important, and whether you can hire
people, run a campaign and all the rest of it. As far as Bernie Sanders, he's just borrowing
a page from Grover Cleveland, whose nominating speech at the 1884 convention was, we love
him most for the enemies he has made, and, therefore, to identify the special interests,
big money that is opposed to you, and to thereby give you a virtue. And I think it's a totally legitimate strategy
on Bernie Sanders' part. RAMESH PONNURU: You know, the money obviously
matters. There is a reason politicians spend so much
time raising it. But there are so many past candidates who
have been big spenders and not gone all the way. MARK SHIELDS: That's true. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. RAMESH PONNURU: John Connally in 1980, Phil
Gramm in '96, Jeb Bush in the 2016 cycle. I think — so, if you're Tom Steyer, it's
not going to be the money that determines whether he wins or not. It may be a prerequisite, but what he's got
to show is that he's got a message that takes off. And maybe being an impeachment obsessive will
be what does it. Maybe enough Democrats will be frustrated
by inaction on that front that they will rally to him. But that, I think, is the question. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is whether impeachment, Mark,
is the cachet that can get him, not just into the debates… MARK SHIELDS: If it is, Democrats have just
written the longest suicide note in the history of American politics, if that's the case,
Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Speaking of billionaires, we
want to finally remember someone who ran for president twice back in the 1990s, Ross Perot. He died this week. Mark, he was remembered as somebody who talked
about deficits and standing there with his charts. Some of us who covered those campaigns remember
it well. MARK SHIELDS: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: What is his legacy? MARK SHIELDS: His legacy is not to be confused
with any other billionaires who have run for the office. He was sui generis. And he, quite frankly, in 1992 ran a campaign,
Judy, that forced the two parties to confront the national debt. If you recall, from the founding of the country
to 1980, nine wars, one Depression, we had run up a total in debt of some $1 trillion. In 12 years of supply-side economics under
Reagan and Bush, we had quadrupled that. And Ross Perot said, you got to do something
about it. It's unfair to your children and your grandchildren. Democrats didn't want to go near it, because
they were dying to get back in to get the keys to the treasury. Republicans didn't want to touch it because
they acknowledged it happened on their watch. Bill Clinton was forced basically by Ross
Perot persuasiveness to address it. And they were the only balanced budgets in
the past half-century, since World War II, Bill Clinton's, as a consequence of that. JUDY WOODRUFF: And only a little more than
30 seconds. RAMESH PONNURU: The strongest third-party
showing in the last 100 years, in part because of that. I think the other thing that comes to mind
is whatever disagreements one had with Ross Perot, he wasn't running for himself. He wasn't running for fame. He wasn't running for fortune. He was running as a patriot who had serious
concerns about his country's future. And that, I think, is something to admire. MARK SHIELDS: Amen. JUDY WOODRUFF: And on that note, we thank
you both, Ramesh Ponnuru, Mark Shields. MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you. Finally tonight: Joan Baez has been a major
voice in American folk music and politics since the 1960s. Jeffrey Brown visited Baez at her Northern
California home recently, as she wraps up her career with a farewell tour. It is part of our arts and culture series,
Canvas, our look at American creators. JEFFREY BROWN: On her current tour, Joan Baez
sings "Deportees," a song about migrant workers she's been performing for decades, a familiar
theme, with new relevance, and a familiar voice, even as it's changed, from her famous
soprano voice, with its three-octave range. It's part of the reason she told me this will
be her last tour. . JOAN BAEZ, Folk Singer: My first vocal coach,
a very smart man — I was in my 30s — I said, "When will I know it's time to quit singing?" He said, "Your voice will tell you." And it has. JEFFREY BROWN: Baez has been making music
in public since the late 1950s, renowned for reworkings of traditional ballads, as folk
music rose to popularity. Her first album came out in 1960. From early on, political activism mixed with
the music. She sang at the 1963 March on Washington,
against the Vietnam War, and on behalf of many other causes over the years. But this is the last? JOAN BAEZ: This is the last. JEFFREY BROWN: But when we met recently at
her Northern California home, as she prepared to go back out on tour, the 78-year-old had
more down-to-earth concerns. JOAN BAEZ: I'm not as young as I was yesterday. JEFFREY BROWN: Right. Are you feeling it as you prepare to go? JOAN BAEZ: Feeling my age? JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. JOAN BAEZ: Always. JEFFREY BROWN: Yes? JOAN BAEZ: Mm-hmm. Stuff hurts. You know. You're laughing. (LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: But you're still going to get
out there on the bus? JOAN BAEZ: I'm going to get on that bus and
hope it doesn't completely break my whole system. JEFFREY BROWN: Last year, Baez released an
album titled "Whistle Down the Wind," 10 songs by writers she admires.It was her first recording in almost 10 years
and, she says, also her last. JOAN BAEZ: Conceptually, it was like an echo
to the first album. Josh Ritter wrote a folk song, folk song,
folk song, "Silver Blade." And the first album had "Silver Dagger." JEFFREY BROWN: The earlier song was a traditional
folk ballad of a wronged woman. The new one captured on this music video has
a new twist. JOAN BAEZ: In the first song, "Silver Dagger,"
the young maiden, her mother's threatening her, don't get married. The guys are all like your father. And she caves, you know? JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. JOAN BAEZ: And in the new one, not at all. She rides off with the guy she falls in love
with. He turns out to be a rotten guy, and he rapes
her in his castle. And instead of her crawling away, to never
again have anything to do with a man, she stabs him in the back with a silver blade. JEFFREY BROWN: Right. JOAN BAEZ: Which, ladies, doesn't mean you
have to assassinate the guy. You just don't have to let him treat you like
that anymore. JEFFREY BROWN: Baez says she's not a nostalgic
person, but she has been going back to listen to her younger self. JOAN BAEZ: Yes, I have been listening to that
voice. It's hard to connect it with myself now. And it… JEFFREY BROWN: You have been listening to
it, just… JOAN BAEZ: Just to listen to it now, because
it's brilliant, and it's one of a kind. And I can say that because my job is maintenance
delivery. And the rest of it really is a gift. JEFFREY BROWN: And when you look back at that
person who had that voice? JOAN BAEZ: Ballsy. JEFFREY BROWN: Ballsy, yes? JOAN BAEZ: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: Ambitious? JOAN BAEZ: No, not ambitious, really. JEFFREY BROWN: No? JOAN BAEZ: Not for myself. Probably very ambitious about the politics,
trying to get something done, and reading everything and, being on top of it, and in
that sense, you know? JEFFREY BROWN: Do you feel like the moment
shaped you? Or were you and others kind of shaping it? JOAN BAEZ: Well, that was a special period
of time, during which this enormous amount of talent just exploded. And one of the problems now is that people
look back and they want that now. And you can't have it. I mean, you can't have a repeat. Something new has to emerge. But, yes, it formed me, and happy to say,
yes, I helped form it. JEFFREY BROWN: These days, Baez stays active
in political causes, but warns people against romanticizing the '60s. She calls herself a realist. JOAN BAEZ: We're facing a massive defeat. If not the administration, then it's global
warming. I don't know whether my grandchild is going
to have a life, let alone a good life. My remedy for that is, be in denial 80 percent
of the time. JEFFREY BROWN: Be in denial? That's how you feel? JOAN BAEZ: Yes, to just put one foot in front
of the other. And you take the 20 percent and you do your
daily life. And part of that has to be, what are you going
to do for everybody else? What are you going to do for the human race? And, for that, everybody has to choose. But they have to choose. JEFFREY BROWN: She looks to young people to
speak up and take action. JOAN BAEZ: I'm not the standard-bearer. I'm not the — out in the front of the line. The kids are doing that. They really are. And I want to support them any way that I
can, because I think the kids are probably the only ones who really get it about climate
change. I really do. They look in their future and they see, do
we have one? JEFFREY BROWN: Baez has a new creative outlet
now. JOAN BAEZ: He's about two-thirds done. JEFFREY BROWN: Painting portraits that once
again mix politics with art. She calls her subjects, people like Nelson
Mandela and Gloria Steinem, mischief-makers. JOAN BAEZ: This is the only kind of, I know
what I'm going to do and retire kind of thing. JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. JOAN BAEZ: It's probably not going to be fixing
my roses, although that'll be part of it. JEFFREY BROWN: You just used that R-word,
to retire. Is that what you're doing? JOAN BAEZ: No. I have never used it before. It's sort of like saying 80. When I realized I'm going to be 80 in two
years, I was just mortified. And I walked around the house saying, 80,
80, I'm going to be 80? (LAUGHTER) JOAN BAEZ: Until it lost its horror. JEFFREY BROWN: Joan Baez is now performing
in Europe on the final leg of her final tour. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown
in Northern California. JUDY WOODRUFF: What a voice, still, Joan Baez. On the "NewsHour" online right now: With a
new documentary exploring the life and work of Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison,
we share recommendations for seven authors who have followed in her footsteps. That and more is on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour. And coming up on "Washington Week," Robert
Costa will have the latest on the Trump administration plans to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants
this week. Plus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi tamps down reports
of tensions between House leadership and a group of freshman lawmakers dubbed the squad. That's later tonight on "Washington Week." Tomorrow, on "PBS NewsHour Weekend" Saturday,
the latest from Louisiana on Tropical Storm Barry. And, for now, that — of course, we will be
following it through the weekend. That is the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. Have a great weekend. Thank you, and good night.

Posts created 26570

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top