tv Washington Week PBS January 27, 2017 7:30pm-8:01pm PST
>> donald trump lets the world know he is going to be unlike any u.s. president before him. i'm suzanne malveaux. we examine a busy week of executive orders and a diplomatic showdown, tonight on "washington week." >> a nation without borders is not a nation. beginning today, the united states of america gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders. >> after campaigning on the promise that mexico would pay for a border wall, the trump administration floats an alternative plan. to impose a 20% tax on imports from our southern neighbors. >> by doing it that way, we can easily pay for the wall. >> but will congress get behind a plan that would use taxpayer dollars to build the wall?
and tariffs to reimburse the costs? >> we've been talking about this for a long time. >> with pen in hand, the president signed off on a bundle of executive orders. from exiting the t.p.p. and reviving two pipelines, to replacing the affordable care act. but that progress was overshadowed by mr. trump's repeated claims of voting irregularities in the election he won. >> i frankly feel very sad about the president making this claim. i felt sorry for him. i even prayed for him. but then i prayed for the united states of america. >> joining me to discuss how donald trump may be redefining what it means to be a leader of the free world, robert costa and ashley parker of the washington post, and indira lakshmanan of the boston globe and jeff zeleny of cnn. stay with us. that's next. >> this is "washington week." funding is provided by...
>> xq institute. ♪[music] >> additional funding is provided by boeing. newman's own foundation. donating all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ford foundation. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. the yuen 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, suzanne malveaux of cnn.
>> good evening. what a week it has been. by any standard. it is fair to say this has been unlike any jump-start of a presidency we have ever seen. the frenetic pace challenged those around the country and the world and around this table to keep up. president trump ended his first week in office hosting theresa may at the white house, where he tried to disarm the roomful of reporters with a little bit of humor. >> what do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world? >> this was your choice of a question? la[laughter] >> there goes that relationship. >> we have covered presidents clinton, bush and obama's first weeks. but this week was different. i want to start with the press conference in the east room and indira, it lasted all of, what, 18 minutes or so? but it was very revealing. what did it show you about president trump's leadership and what theresa may was trying to do, trying to set him up in that
press conference? >> first of all, i think that donald trump was much more presidential in that press conference than we've seen him at any other time this week, including, i would say, during the inauguration. he was very restrained. he seemed to be sticking to a script. he had all the specific talking points about the special relationship, the photo ops, the so-called optics were very careful with them. he kept stressing how friendly they were. they did seem to have a genuine rapport. what i was most struck by was theresa may actually trying to kind of hold donald trump accountable by saying, well, we spoke and he told me he's 100% behind the nato alliance. and also putting out there that her advice to him about russia was not so dissimilar from ronald reagan's trust. she was saying engage but be careful. i think it seemed like they had a good rapport, actually. >> and trump is not one to usually let people speak for
him. that was very unusual, i thought. ashley, tell me about when you saw that press conference, how he framed things, because it seemed like he talked act everything in terms of relationships and how he was getting something done. >> i was struck by how donald trump -- the geopolitical is personal and sort of every issue that came up, you really saw him put it in terms of himself and his personal relationships. even when he was talking about the relationship he expected he might have with vladimir putin, he almost sounded like someone on a blind date going awry. sometimes he said, i expect to like main people and i like thes than expected. when brexit came up, he said, well, i had a business deal that went wrong in the yirp. even on torture, he said i support enhanced interrogation but i'm going to defer to my general, secretary of defense mattis, he said, because he's a general's general. we know that trump really cares
about people who look like they're out of central casting. >> was there anybody who saw the prime minister out of central casting, how she behaved, how she was able to kind of manipulate him a little bit? robert? >> what a strategic performance by the prime minister. she is operating in this position where it's post-brexit and she's having to think about britain's role in the world. she knows she needs to cultivate a relationship with trump. at the same time, she's seen nigel have a relationship with trump. you see her embracing trump, warts and all. as ashley was saying, it's about a relationship and she wants to make sure this relationship works. that came through today. >> how did it work inside that room where you had the british reporter, who threw out that question, and it seemed that -- it didn't disarm him. he actually used humor to get around that. >> he did. of course, the president had to be expecting that. there wasn't anything out of left field.
but i think i was so struck by he did stay on script in that moment. as you said, he was presidential. he was in the east room of the white house. and the world was watching, for the first time. and we've had all these markers for new presidents, certainly his inauguration address. but i think today was the second one, standing next to a foreign leader and i think you're absolutely right about how she was embracing him. he loved the photo op in the oval office. they walked hand in hand on the kothe -- >> somewhat awkwardly holding hands. >> somewhat. but i thought it worked fine. it wasn't the special relationship that was taking center stage. it was his real challenges with mexico. he just had gotten off the phone for an hour-long phone call with his first diplomatic really situation or stalemate. also, a russia which he has a phone call tomorrow with vladimir putin. so the theresa may thing was the beginning of a relationship. but boy, he has other problems, here and now, beginning with
mexico. >> and i think one of the things that happened too today was that we heard from the new u.s. ambassador to the u.n., nikki haley, who really, she put the world on notice as well. let's take a listen. >> our goal with the administration is to show value at the u.n. and the way that we'll show value is to show our strength, our voice, have the backs of our allies, and make sure that our allies have our back as well. for those that don't have our back, we're taking names. >> that sounds to me a little bit like trump. i mean, ashley, what did you make of that new language that we heard? >> yeah. what i made is that trump sort of chooses people who are in his image or if they're not in his image, once he chooses them, they quickly adopt a lot of his more brash and bold sort of flourishes. i think that's exactly what she was showing. also, it was a little bit of what she said is what we saw in his executive orders.
even just saying, you know, i'm coming in. i'm being bold. i'm doing this. and, you know, i'm actually intending to govern the way i campaigned, which has surprised some people that donald trump is actually doing what he said he was going to do. >> and robert, what do you make of the fact that they are now saying that there is a price to be paid here for the u.n. and also they expect things out of nato as well, it's not business as usual? >> it was alarming for many of the hawks in washington, people who thought nikki haley would be a more traditional voice in the trump administration, an emissary to the world that wasn't always speaking in trump-style language. but people really assimilate within trump's orbit to the trump style. and what we're seeing from here is someone who is right there with steve bannon and jeff sessions. these are people who don't really believe in international institutions, and if they are going to take part in them,
they're not going to take much faith in them. >> it reminded me of george w. bush saying you're either with us or against us, after 9/11. the difference with that is we had just had a national tragedy. to say you're with us or against us, it was jarring to people at the time. yet there was sort of a trigger for it. in this case, there's no trigger for saying if you're not with us, we're taking your name down. that was really surprising, particularly because in south carolina's governor, he's worked across the aisle. she's been someone who democrats have actually liked to work with. it was surprising and not exactly as diplomatic as one might expect. >> you say there was a war. we were in the midst of a war when he said those lines. often it was used to bring people into the fold after 9/11. do you think, jeff, that people see us at war with them, with the other leaders? is that the perception? >> i don't think yet. but i think the world is trying to figure out donald trump as much as america is. the world is as well. this whole america first agenda
is a little worrisome. but the prime minister, i think, that's why she actually had a pretty genius visit here. she was expressing the president's support for a nato. she said and we confirmed his 100% support for it. he never said it but she said it. i do not think we are at war, certainly not in the way of post-9/11. not at all. we remember those dark days. we covered them together. i think it is different now. but the challenges are, you know, in many ways more severe. but the world is trying to figure out donald trump, without question. >> it's kind of a war almost against global order as is. we think about this globetrotting international banker or an international bureaucrat. trump was running against an order that had been established in both the democratic and republican parties and he's cracking it apart. >> he's a disrupter. >> to make it seem like the -- it's not just that there's some elite order that he's attacking. this is the liberal,
international world order, post-world war ii that for 70 years has kept us safe. the democrats and republicans have agreed on certain institutions like nato to support us. so to sort of be backing away from the liberal world order is certainly worrying people. i talked this week to the former belgian prime minister, who is now the chief e.u. parliamentarian who will be negotiating brexit. he told me, across europe, people are very concerned about what donald trump is going to do to perhaps undermine press freedoms or other freedoms. >> let's talk about the late-breaking news. jeff, i understand that you actually had a chance to see this last executive order that he had issued. and this was one of extreme vetting, coming from predominantly muslim countries. also, we heard something new. that was about christians. and where they might stand in terms of their status in getting >> exactly. we're at the end of only week one. seems like it's a lot longer
than that. there was a flurry of executive orders, memorandum. it's clear this president likes to sign things. really the ones with teeth are the executive orders that were just released this evening on friday evening. it is a campaign pledge he's carrying out, essentially blocking the refugees coming from syria and iraq. and it is also suspending temporarily, for 90 days i believe, people coming from seven countries. so he said in an interview that christians will be to the front tof the line. these are all majority muslim countries here. that is what he's talking about. >> and that's restricting for 100 days or so? >> exactly. and the waiver program here is also sort of central to this. but we are still actually poring through these documents. the white house took several hours to release them. this is complicated stuff. democrats are piling on.
some republicans are uncomfortable. but of all the orders release, a lot of fine print in here which really affects immigration. this is a serious thing he signed. and he has the authority to do it. >> just from a more process side, you mentioned he signed this, this afternoon, and we just got this executive order, the text of it. it came out around 7:02 on a friday evening. that reflects the way the trump white house is operating, which is incredibly chaoticically. and these executive orders are getting -- his aides are working overnight and scrambling. he's sort of signing -- they're getting written right until he signs them. that's why the white house is having this difficulty sort of rolling them out in a way that makes sense. >> i want to make sure we get to this. this is a very public spat between trump and mexico's president over who is gonna pay for this wall. the nasty twitter exchange between them and this cancelled trip. robert, i know you have inside information on that phone call that took place, because i'm
sure that trump didn't really anticipate or expect that the president was going to say, ah, forget it, i'm not coming. >> well, when the cameras are off and the lights are off, there's a different donald trump, a different president trump in this white house. and based on my reporting, my sources tell me that this was an extended call. it was actually quite reflective of the dynamic that trump first encountered when he first went to mexico during the campaign. he's in the beginning of a negotiation about the border wall, even as he has this public drama with president peña nieto. he has to have a long, extended discuss about what he can actually do on trade, possible teatariffs, to make sure some funding comes from mexico, even if indirect, to help fund this project. >> i think there's so much flourish going on that i don't want us to forget the nuts and bolts of all this. he keeps talking about mexico trade and the mexicans have gotten an unfair deal over all this. in fact, five million u.s. jobs depend on mexican trade.
in fact, mexico is the third biggest supplier of goods to the u.s., seven biggest export destination for american goods. were we to suddenly tax a 20% tax onto mexican goods, not only would everything become more expensive at places like target and walmart where a lot of americans shop, i think people would be quite shocked about that. i hope he thinks through some of these things or that someone on his policy team talks to him a little more. you can say that a trade deficit sounds bad, b but the actually reality of our trade with mexico has been good. and the jobs that have gone away have gone away largely because of automation. >> the fight is going to be with the white house and capitol hill, because they have to pay for that wall, $15 billion. some house republicans like the idea of this 20% tax that the white house sort of floated and endorsed. most do not. so -- >> like lindsey graham. >> well, i have to -- can we talk about the tweet here? this is what he tweeted earlier.
he said, simply put, any policy proposal that drives up coast of corona or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. mucho sad. >> maybe that's a way of communicating with donald trump. not to mention, i hear 80% of limes in the u.s. are imported from mexico too. >> a lot of these congressional republicans were in philadelphia over the last few days. privately, a lot of them are telling me they don't like this governing by executive order. which was one of the chief criticisms they made of obama. now there's this fleurly coming out. >> wasn't there -- >> it was a tape about what happened at this retreat on thursday. they said, we can't -- we have to come up with a replacement for the affordable care act or else it's going to be trump care. that's how one congressman put it, and we'll own it in the 2018
midterms. there's still a lot of confusion among republicans about what do they actually do on health care, what do they leave in place, do they have to put it out by root and branch, the term they often use? >> and ashley, talk about trump supporters here, because you brought a really -- wrote a really good piece. it was very interesting. although we are a little bit kind of spinning around here, just trying to keep up the dizzying pace, but that people look at this and say, why would you be surprised? >> sure. so one of the best lines i think we all thought that came out, that the media took trump literally but not seriously, and trump supporters took him seriously but not literally. what we realized in this first week is that everyone should be taking him both literally and seriously, because his executive orders, while he may not -- while you need some congressional action, he is coming in and doing everything he said he was going to do. and also, in terms of his supporters, he had this sort of mixed week where he hit all of his key messages from the
campaign, on jobs, immigration, trade. but he overstepped and overshadowed his message by sort of these distractions on the crowd size of his inauguration and making these fabricated claims on voter fraud. one thing in talking to republican pollsters, they say his voters are going to give him an incredible amount of leeway and latitude before they get upset. so he could probably have, they said, as much as two or three years. and if he doesn't do everything he accomplished, they'll say, well, at least we got the wall. we wish mexico had paid but... >> how big a problem do you think it was that he did promise this investigation into this alleged voter fraud, and that now, you know, i'm sure republicans are looking at it, looking at the numbers of what this is going to potentially cost the taxpayers? >> i think it was a big mistake. it was not supposed to happen this week. he was talking to congressional leaders on monday evening and he talked about the election fraud. and then it kind of -- i was in
that white house press briefing on tuesday, where sean spicer was asked repeatedly, does the president of the united states really believe that there were three to five million votes illegally cast here that would question democracy? he said, yes, probably no investigation. the next morning, a tweet came out, we're going to investigate. so in some respects, his conspiracy theory, the president's, have now become more reality, because the weight of the white house is behind them. he's still not signed an executive order on voter fraud. i'm told he could do it this weekend or early next week. but no republican, including mitch mcconnell, he said in an interview, he thinks it's a waste of time, money. but the president is not letting it go. >> but, jeff, you were also -- they were on the cusp of doing thing, right? you were there at the white house, waiting, with the pool. >> they were supposed to sign an executive order, again, on election fraud on thursday evening. it didn't happen. we were all sort of standing around. we had just flown back from philadelphia. and something changed, something happened.
so it's typical, you know, in opening week at the white house. these people are working very hard, trying to figure it out. it's like any new job. takes a while to settle in. but the executive order, congress is not going to put up with this that much longer. congress is here to legislate. he's supposed to sign bills into law, not executive orders. >> i wonder whether part of it is also the concern about this voter fraud thing. he's complaining about people being registered in two states. supposedly his own son-in-law and daughter is registered in two states. >> right. well, let's talk about putin and russia, because obviously there's going to be a very important call taking place on saturday. and i wonder what will come of that in light of the fact that there has been so much of this back and forth and this public posturing. what do we make of that conversaton? >> of course, there's a lange lg standing affection in a sense for russia in the trump white house. it's fascinating to think that this call is coming a day after
the british prime minister was talking to trump. she was reiterating to him the importance of western europe, nato, these different alliances that have been longstanding since world war ii. now he gets on the phone with russia, who is trying to rethink it all. and how trump moves on this is going to be one of the central tensions of his presidency. >> we need to look for the kremlin readout of that call. it was the kremlin that put out a read out last time before trump did. it will be interesting to see how they play it, to see whether he has flexibility on sanctions. >> sure. finally, we know that trump has declared a war on the media. we heard from steve bannon saying that we are the opposition party officially now. but he also told the media to shut their mouths. on the one hand, you hear this kind of harsh rhetoric. but then i'm sitting around this table and you guys get all these little juicy tidbits from those trump people, those inner circles. what's happening? >> one thing that's happening is
donald trump's management style. which is sort of competing centers of power, all vying for his brain basically. as you know, competing centers of power, intention and friction, while donald trump may think he may be right, it may lead to good deals in business and even good policies and ideas out of the white house. it also leads to a lot of leaks, because you have everyone desperately trying to undermine everyone else. that can be good for journalists. >> steve bannon said the media should shut up but he also said they should listen more. i think he's right. we should listen more. we didn't see this election coming. i think we should listen more to what america is doing. but they should too, listen more to what their voters are saying, if he's going to be able to sort of keep them motivated. >> indira, how does this resonate with you, in your experience overseas? >> having been a longtime foreign correspondent and having worked in countries like china and cuba, i get a little bit
nervous when i hear people say, you know, the media should keep its mouth shut or talk about alternative facts. that's not the kind of stuff we're used to hearing in a democracy. but i think this is just a call to action for all of us as journalists to keep up our role as a watchdog press. look for facts. not allow alternative facts to be out there. we have every right to insist on the truth. >> i've covered bannon for nearly a decade. and the one thing i took away from this interview he did with the new york times, he wants this fight. he wants to have a confrontational relationship with the media for political purposes. it helps him to have a foe that he can point to, especially the democrats are disorganized. he can say the media, that's our enemy. that's why we can't get things done. >> but the truth shouldn't be the enemy. >> we gotta leave it there, guys. thank you, everybody. really appreciate it! our conversation continues online with the washington week extra. we'll tell you who made the short list of candidates
president trump is considering for the supreme court, plus a closer look at the recent march on washington in friday's march for life. you can find that friday nights after 10:00 p.m. at pbs.org/washingtonweek. i'm suzanne malveaux. thank you for joining us. have a great weekend! >> funding for "washington week" is provided by... ♪[music]
>> additional funding is provided by... the xq institute. newman's own foundation. donating all profits from newman's own to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. the ford foundation. the yuen 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!
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