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PBS NewsHour 9pm update full episode, Jan 7, 2020

PBS NewsHour 9pm update full episode, Jan 7, 2020


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
If Iran does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, they’re going to be suffering the
consequences, and very strongly. JUDY WOODRUFF: Escalation. Iran fires missiles
at bases housing American soldiers in Iraq. Then: An island shakes. A deadly earthquake
strikes Puerto Rico — the latest in a wave of powerful tremors that has destroyed homes
and left people in the dark. And speaking with Senator Bernie Sanders about
his presidential campaign and Iran. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: As we come on the air tonight,
we have breaking news. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has launched ballistic
missiles at bases in Iraq, where U.S. troops are stationed. Casualties are unknown at this
hour. Iran says it is retaliating for the targeted killing of General Qasem Soleimani
last Friday by a U.S. drone strike. This comes as President Trump is being pressed
for more detail about why he ordered the killing of Soleimani. Our foreign affairs correspondent, Nick Schifrin,
is here with me now in the studio. Nick, all this has been breaking in the last
few hours. What do we know at this hour about what the Iranians have done? NICK SCHIFRIN: So, I just got off the phone
with a U.S. military official, who described in pretty good detail exactly the size of
this attack. So, it was a little after 1:00 a.m. local,
with 15 rockets fired from inside of Iran. And that’s significant. And we will talk about
that in a second. You can see some video there of what we believe to be these rockets being
fired, so 15 rockets fired from inside Iran toward these bases in Iraq. Ten of them, so the majority of them, were
targeted at one base, the Al Asad Base in Iraq, right outside of Baghdad. And we believe
that this video is from that base. And you see one strike there. JUDY WOODRUFF: Huh. NICK SCHIFRIN: So, 10 of the 15 rock — sorry
— ballistic missiles fired from Iran at that base, an additional missile fired at a separate
U.S. base in the north of the country in Irbil. That’s Kurdish territory, where the U.S. has
been fighting ISIS and training Iraqi forces as well. And, in addition, four of these missiles failed.
So, total 15 missiles fired from Iran into Iraq… JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. NICK SCHIFRIN: … at the U.S. bases or at
Iraqi bases with U.S. soldiers on them, 10 of them or 11 of them hitting, four of them
failing. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, U.S. troops, we know, are
based, are located at these bases. There are other U.S. bases, places where U.S.
troops are located around Iraq? NICK SCHIFRIN: There are, yes. The U.S. doesn’t like to talk about the number
of those bases, of course. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. NICK SCHIFRIN: But the point is that Iran
chose these targets, chose the main U.S. air base in Iraq. That’s where President Trump visited, met
troops. That’s the base also that President Trump is talking about in the last couple
days, about how expensive and how important it is, as well as this base in the north.
And they didn’t hit other U.S. bases in Iraq. JUDY WOODRUFF: What do we know, Nick, at this
hour about casualties? NICK SCHIFRIN: So, the military is saying
they don’t have an official estimate yet. But I did talk to a defense official and asked
this official that question. And the answer was: We have good early warning systems. So, let’s put that slight strange comment
into some context. These missiles are flying from about 180,
190 miles away. I talked to some missile experts. They take about five to seven minutes to get
to these bases. It takes about 30 seconds or so for the U.S. to spot them, only about
10 or 20 seconds more for these bases to know that they’re coming. So, give or take, there’s three to four minutes
for each of these bases to know that these missiles are coming. It doesn’t sound like
a lot of time, Judy, but the U.S. has been fortifying these bases, has been working with
the soldiers and the service members at these bases to be able to hunker down quickly. And those two, three, four, five minutes really
do allow these soldiers to get to a place where they can withstand, at least they hope,
the impact of these missiles. So, the U.S. military hinting perhaps that
— that those fortifications were successful. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, the Iranians
have been saying ever since the killing of General Soleimani that there would be a retaliation. So, the U.S. has every reason, has had every
reason to expect something. So, one has to assume they were getting ready. NICK SCHIFRIN: Not only were they getting
ready, but they actually put pause on the ISIS campaign, right? The reason that U.S. troops are there are
to fight ISIS and to train Iraqi soldiers. And they actually put pause on that campaign,
so that they could fortify. And they also moved troops around the country to be able
to move them away from some of the bases that they thought were more vulnerable into bases
that are less. They won’t share the specifics of that. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. Right. NICK SCHIFRIN: But let me show you those specific
bases. So, we think that these ballistic missiles
were shot from the Western part of Iran, which you see there. And you see Baghdad in Iraq,
next to Baghdad, or near Baghdad, Al Asad Air Base. That’s that main base that you and
I are — were just talking about. And in the north, the second base where — was
hit, that’s the base in Irbil. Those are the two targets. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it reminds us, looking
at this map, just how close — I mean, Iran, Iraq next door to one another. Iran — General Soleimani was in Iraq, working
with the Iraqi militias and others. NICK SCHIFRIN: Right. And so Soleimani was killed, the U.S. says,
because he leads this network of pro-Iran groups, these Shia proxies, as Iran calls
them, all over the region. And, usually, Iran uses those proxies, using — uses those allied
groups in order to attack the U.S. What’s significant about this strike tonight
is that Iran’s military, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, fired at the U.S., not through a proxy,
not deniable. They announced that they had done it. And the U.S. is now blaming the Revolutionary
Guard for doing this with ballistic missiles, with a higher level of missile than some of
those proxies have. So, this is the first time that Iran has struck
at U.S. bases and claimed credit, usually proxies. It’s also the first time that Iran
has fired a missile at the U.S. or any country’s military in more than 30 years. Again, what Iran usually does is use these
other groups, use this network of proxies around the region. What is significant about this, their escalation,
is that they declare that they did it themselves. JUDY WOODRUFF: Militia groups and others — excuse
me — others, Hezbollah and others in other countries. So, Nick, all this takes place — excuse me
— at a time when the U.S., when people looking at the U.S. relationship with Iran are asking
bigger questions about, what does that relationship consist of now? NICK SCHIFRIN: What does that relationship
consist of? And what is the U.S. strategy for either escalation tonight or de-escalation? And so, earlier today, Judy, I talked to two
experts about that question of the strategy. And I was asking them about the initial reports.
That’s Mara Karlin. She worked at the Pentagon during the Bush and Obama administrations,
now with Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. I also talked with
Michael Doran. He was the senior director for the Middle East on the National Security
Council staff for the Bush administration, now at The Hudson Institute. It’s a think
tank in Washington. And I began by asking Mara Karlin about her
reaction to the initial reports of these Iranian airstrikes. MARA KARLIN, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies: Yes, this is probably the first event that we will see of a slew
of others, Nick. The U.S. set a new bar by killing Qasem Soleimani,
who we can all agree was a horrific human being, who was catastrophic for U.S. national
security interest. But, in killing him, as I said, it’s a new bar, and now the Iranians
are starting to retaliate. And I suspect we will see a whole lot more in and around the
region over the coming days, weeks, and potentially months. NICK SCHIFRIN: Michael Doran, some of the
critics of this attack, as you know well, were worried about a cycle of escalation happening
after this attack. Do you have that worry, especially now, as
we see, as Mara Karlin says, perhaps the first of a few attacks from Iran? MICHAEL DORAN, Former National Security Council
Staffer: Well, it didn’t start with the attack on Qasem Soleimani. The Iranians have been escalating in a very
deliberate fashion since last April, deliberate, but incremental. And that escalation ended
up with the killing of an American. Now we have a new level of escalation, where they’re
attacking us from Iran. We have no choice now whatsoever. We’re under
attack. This is war. We have no choice but to win the escalation ladder. NICK SCHIFRIN: Mara Karlin, are you worried
about, as Michael Doran just said, the escalation ladder? And do we have no choice? Do we just
have to simply keep climbing the ladder, so to speak? MARA KARLIN: It’s profoundly concerning. This has been going on for a while. Both the
U.S. and the Iranians have taken a wide variety of escalatory steps. But hitting someone so
senior in the Iranian national security apparatus is an entirely different ball game. It is still unclear why the U.S. hit Soleimani
where they hit him and when they hit him. And I fear that we are going to spin further
out of control, without a whole lot of clarity as to why. NICK SCHIFRIN: Michael Doran, do you believe
that the Trump administration has clarity as to why they hit Qasem Soleimani and why
this escalation is OK? MICHAEL DORAN: Oh, absolutely. The Iranians had made a decision, Qasem Soleimani
was implementing it, to throw the United States out of Iraq. That’s why they were attacking
our bases. That’s why they killed an American there. And that’s why they attacked the embassy. And we saw it with our own eyes, what was
happening. Those militias on the ground in Iraq are armed, trained, equipped, and controlled
by Iran. Everyone knows that. It’s not — what Trump said to the Iranians is, we’re not going
to play this game anymore where you hit us with militias and we respond against the militias. We know that you’re doing it. And we’re going
to respond to you. This is not something that Donald Trump brought
on the United States. The Iranians have been fighting this war against us now since last
April. NICK SCHIFRIN: Mara Karlin, what about that,
the idea that by President Trump, by killing Soleimani, has essentially restored deterrence
on Iran and that this was Iran’s escalation long before the U.S. escalated? MARA KARLIN: Look, this is a story that lasts
years, to put it lightly, but it is pretty clear that the U.S. and the Iranians are now
in a tit-for-tat escalatory spiral. It is hard to imagine how this turns out well.
And, frankly, Soleimani is probably spinning with delight in his grave. If one of his goals
was to push the U.S. military out of Iraq, it appears as though he may be getting that
wish sooner, rather than later. NICK SCHIFRIN: Michael Doran, you argued before
that Iran was controlling a lot of these militias in Iraq, but, of course, the U.S. military
has great influence over the Iraqi military. It is training the Iraqi military and fighting
alongside the Iraqi military with ISIS. But, at this point, right now, the prime minister
of Iraq is suggesting that the U.S. leave. Are you concerned that the prime minister
has said the U.S. should leave Iraq in response to the U.S. decision to kill Qasem Soleimani? MICHAEL DORAN: Well, the prime minister is
a lame-duck, and until — there is a constitutional crisis in Iraq right now. Until we have a
new government in place, the statements that he’s making don’t really matter. And the key question is not whether we stay
in Iraq or not. We’re under attack as we speak from the IRGC firing missiles from Iran at
an American base. So, the question isn’t anymore what the prime minister of Iraq is saying,
what the half of the Parliament is saying. The question is, what are we going to do about
this direct attack on American forces from the Iranians? And there is no choice here
whatsoever. If we’re to achieve any of our goals in the Middle East, then we have to
demonstrate to the world and to the Iranians that they cannot treat us like this. NICK SCHIFRIN: Mara Karlin, is that how you
see it? Is the response from the Iraqi prime minister less important right now? And does
the U.S. simply need to respond again back where we were, kind of raising up on that
escalatory ladder? MARA KARLIN: Nick, the conversation is completely
changed because of this attack. The U.S. and Iraq are divided. The U.S. is
divided from its European allies. Iran has been facing the largest protests in 40 years.
That is off the headlines. The fight against the Islamic State is now on hold, at best. It is a little bit hard to figure out how,
as Mike is saying, any sort of deterrent could be restored. NICK SCHIFRIN: Mike, what about that? The coalition in Iraq did acknowledge that
the fight against ISIS was on hold. There have been other side effects of Qasem Soleimani’s
death. Are you worried about all of that affecting things as the U.S. decides how to respond
tonight? MICHAEL DORAN: The greatest strategic threat
that the United States has faced in the Middle East for the last decade is the rise of Iran
across the region, the proliferation of these militias across the Arab world, the distribution
to those militias of precision-guided weaponry, and the effort of Iran to use those new positions
to undermine the American security system in the region. If we’re going to stay in this region, and
if we’re going to lead this region, then we have to demonstrate that we cannot be pushed
around by Iran in this way. If we’re going to — if we’re ever going to
achieve an Iran without nuclear weapons, which four presidents have said is absolutely unacceptable,
then we have to win this round and we have to win it decisively. There is no other choice. NICK SCHIFRIN: Mara Karlin, in the 45 seconds
or so that we have left, Mike Doran brings up that Iran has been spreading missiles throughout
the region. This, however, is a response, apparently,
from Iran itself, from the Revolutionary Guard. Just explain that significance and how important
and how fraught this moment is. MARA KARLIN: Absolutely. I mean, we are in probably the most tense
moment that the U.S. has been in the Middle East for decades, to put it lightly, I mean,
easily since the Iraq invasion. What’s particularly ironic, however, is that
the Trump administration has continued to be, like previous administrations before it,
embroiled in Middle East purgatory. Its strategy of focusing on China, focusing on the real
geopolitical challenges, on great power competition, are invariably going to melt away as the Middle
East continues to surge to the top of the priority list. NICK SCHIFRIN: Michael Doran, just in the
last few seconds that I have, can you just respond to that, please? MICHAEL DORAN: The United States is much more
powerful than Iran. Iran is like a puffer fish. It look powerful because of these militias
with these precision-guided weapons and because of its boldness. It’s suffering an unprecedented crisis of
legitimacy at home. Its position in Iraq has been challenged by protesters on the ground
who want Iran out of Iraq. It is behaving in this aggressive fashion in order to look
much stronger than it is. We can best this adversary with relative ease. NICK SCHIFRIN: Michael Doran from The Hudson
Institute, Mara Karlin from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies,
thanks very much to you both. MARA KARLIN: Thank you. MICHAEL DORAN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: We know that the White House
was considering a presidential address to the nation tonight, a televised address. They
decided against it. Nick, you are still here with me. We don’t know what the administration thinks
its options are now, do we? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, U.S. officials will be
weighing a response to this, a military response, a kinetic response. You heard Mike Doran argue that point, which
is, look, this was a big escalation. This was a launch from Iran by Iran, taking credit. On the other hand, Judy, there will be some
arguing, perhaps in the administration, that this is nowhere near the level, nowhere near
equal, if you will, to what the U.S. did, disturbing — or killing Qasem Soleimani,
but, regardless, the most tense moment in the Middle East, Judy, in more than 15 years. And tonight’s attack capped a tense day here
and in Iran, in which President Trump was pressed to explain why he ordered Soleimani’s
killing and more than 50 people were killed during Soleimani’s funeral procession. So let’s show us — let’s show you our story
from earlier today recapping all those events. A day in Iran meant for mourning a military
commander will now lead to the mourning of many more. The stampede came during the funeral
procession of Major General Qasem Soleimani through his hometown. All that remained was a pile of shoes. Standing
before hundreds of thousands, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard promised vengeance. MAJ. GEN. HOSSEIN SALAMI, Iranian Revolutionary
Guard Corps (through translator): I say to our enemies, we will take revenge. But if
they take another step in response, we will set fire to the places they love. And they
know where these places are. NICK SCHIFRIN: That language was echoed by
Iran’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who also shut the door to any future
prisoner swaps. MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Iranian Foreign Minister
(through translator): The United States is bound to receive a definitive and certain
response for its outrageous act at a time and in a place where it would feel the utmost
pain. NICK SCHIFRIN: The New York Times reported
that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wants retaliation to be a — quote
— “direct and proportional” attack on American interests and “openly carried out by Iranian
forces.” That’s a contrast to many previous attacks
conducted by Iran’s network of proxy groups. Iran’s Parliament today voted to designate
the Pentagon and U.S. Army terrorist organizations. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Mark
Esper said the ball was in Iran’s court. MARK ESPER, U.S. Defense Secretary: The United
States is not seeking a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one. We are seeking
a diplomatic solution. But, first, this will require Iran to de-escalate. NICK SCHIFRIN: Yesterday, the U.S. military
said it mistakenly sent a draft letter to the Iraqi government suggesting the U.S. was
withdrawing troops from Iraq. Today, Iraq’s caretaker prime minister said
he was treating it as policy, but Esper said there had been no change. MARK ESPER: We are not leaving Iraq. And a
draft, unsigned letter doesn’t constitute a policy change. NICK SCHIFRIN: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
said today the U.S.’ policy of maximum resistance would continue. And he reiterated, without
evidence, the intelligence that led the U.S. to target Soleimani suggested an imminent
attack in the days after the siege on the U.S. Embassy. MIKE POMPEO, U.S. Secretary of State: If you’re
looking for imminence, you need to look no further than the days that led up to the strike
that was taken against Soleimani. NICK SCHIFRIN: President Trump also defended
the intelligence, but walked back an earlier threat to attack Iranian cultural sites. DONALD TRUMP: And we are, according to various
laws, supposed to be very careful with their cultural heritage. And you know what? If that
what the law is, I like to obey the law. NICK SCHIFRIN: On Capitol Hill, lawmakers
continued their clash over President Trump’s Iran policy. Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer: SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The president has
promised that he wouldn’t drag the American people into another endless war in the Middle
East. The president’s actions, however, have seemingly increased the risk that we could
be dragged into exactly such a war. NICK SCHIFRIN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell: SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): When he enforces
his red lines, when he takes real action to counter lethal threats against Americans. NICK SCHIFRIN: Administration officials are
briefing Congress today and tomorrow, trying to create bipartisan support, as they await
Iran’s response. And, Judy, of course, tonight, we now know
what Iran’s first response has been. JUDY WOODRUFF: These attacks on Americans
at the bases, but no casualties is the word that we hear at this hour. NICK SCHIFRIN: As far as we know right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: Nick Schifrin, thank you for
all this reporting tonight. NICK SCHIFRIN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Russia’s
President Vladimir Putin traveled to Syria, as the U.S. confrontation with Iran roiled
the Middle East. Syrian state media released images of Putin meeting with President Bashar
al-Assad in Damascus. The men also met with military commanders. Russia intervened in
the Syrian war in 2015. In the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell announced that Republicans have agreed on rules for President Trump’s impeachment
trial. He said he has the votes to delay a decision on calling witnesses until after
opening statements. That same process was used in President Clinton’s
impeachment trial. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): What was good
enough for President Clinton in an impeachment trial should’ve been good enough for President
Trump. And all we’re doing here is saying, we’re going to get started in exactly the
same way that 100 senators agreed to 20 years ago. JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats say the situation
is different now because the Trump White House blocked key officials from testifying to House
investigators. And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says
he is not giving up. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I am not only hopeful,
but I think there’s a pretty decent chance that we’re going to get enough Republicans
to vote for witnesses and documents during this trial. If there’s no witnesses and documents, we
will have the ability at the beginning of the trial and as we go through it to get votes,
and we’re going to get them. JUDY WOODRUFF: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
has refused to send articles of impeachment to the Senate, in a bid to press for witness
testimony. We will dig into this more later in the program. The U.S. Justice Department called today for
Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, to serve up to six months
in prison. In a court filing, federal prosecutors said that Flynn stopped cooperating in the
Russia investigation and has attacked them instead. He faces sentencing in three weeks
for lying to the FBI. Puerto Rico is under a state of emergency
after an early-morning earthquake. The tremor shook the U.S. territory and its three million
people, with substantial damage along the southern coast. John Yang has our report. JOHN YANG: Cars crushed under collapsed garages,
churches reduced to rubble, scenes of devastation after a magnitude-6.4 earthquake jolted Puerto
Ricans before dawn today. SILVESTRE HORTA, Puerto Rico (through translator):
I was sleeping when the house began falling down, bit by bit. I grabbed my bag I had prepared
and ran outside and jumped off the balcony. Man, it was terrible. I don’t wish that on
anyone. JOHN YANG: A series of quakes along three
fault lines has shaken Puerto Rico since Christmas. This morning’s was centered just off the southern
coast near Ponce, and did its heaviest damage in that region. One man in Ponce died when
a wall caved in on his house. Large swathes of the island were left without
power, and some 300,000 customers lost water service. The iconic beachside Punta Ventana
rock formation collapsed into the sea. Governor Wanda Vazquez declared an emergency
and said the earthquake damage is the worst since 1918. GOV. WANDA VAZQUEZ, Puerto Rico (through translator):
We are talking about a situation that Puerto Rico has never been exposed to during the
last 102 years. So, we are talking about something for which we could not prepare. We are talking
about a situation that happens without notice. JOHN YANG: And with aftershocks rippling across
the island throughout the day, many Puerto Ricans are unnerved. IRIS TIRADO, Puerto Rico (through translator):
What I want to do now is leave. I want to leave, and not stay there anymore, because
I no longer live in peace. If I want to go in a room, I have to think about it twice.
If I go to the kitchen, I am concerned. I don’t want to go in there. JOHN YANG: Officials are warning of more tremors
to come on an island still recovering from the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang. JUDY WOODRUFF: In Australia, firefighters
tried to take advantage of cooler, rainy conditions today, before temperatures heat up again.
Scores of fires have killed 25 people and destroyed 2,000 homes in recent weeks. In New South Wales, some 130 fires are still
burning, and 50 of those are out of control. Crews say there’s only so much they can do. BRENDAN O’CONNOR, Balmoral Volunteer Fire
Chief: Either when the good lord opens up the heavens and gives us weeks of rain, or
it burns to the coastline. It’s really the only options. It is too large to put out. Anything that we’re doing just isn’t working,
and that’s with all the aircraft as well. We can slow it down, but, yes, very hard to
stop. JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest estimates put damage
from the fires near $500 million. Back in this country, Facebook has announced
a ban on sophisticated doctored videos known as deepfakes. They use artificial intelligence
and other tools to generate false, but realistic video clips. The company says it is part of
an effort to fight online disinformation. The Trump administration today proposed rescinding
a rule against racial segregation in housing. The Obama era standard mandates local plans
to address the problem. The Department of Housing and Urban Development said today that
the rule is overly burdensome. And on Wall Street, worries about Iran welled
up again today and pushed stocks down. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 119 points
to close at 28583. The Nasdaq fell about three points, and the S&P 500 slipped nine. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: we speak
with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders just weeks before the Iowa caucuses;
the standoff between Senator McConnell and Speaker Pelosi over Trump’s impeachment trial;
and much more. Democratic presidential candidates have been
speaking about Iran as they seek to contrast their foreign policy visions against that
of the current commander in chief. In New York City, former Vice President Joe
Biden said President Trump’s decision to strike out at Qasem Soleimani was dangerously incompetent. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
So the question is, was the reward of removing a bad actor worth the risk of what comes next?
We don’t have evidence to suggest that Trump or anyone around him thought serious about
— seriously about that calculus. JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in an interview
with ABC today, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren expressed again her own doubt that
the president made the right move. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), Presidential
Candidate: He is part of a group that our federal government has designated as a terrorist.
The question, though, is, what’s the right response? And the response that Donald Trump
has picked is the most incendiary and has moved us right to the edge of war. JUDY WOODRUFF: And joining us now from Burlington
to discuss the Soleimani attack and more, Democratic presidential candidate and independent
Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders, thank you very much for being
with us again. Let me ask you first about Iran. You have
criticized President Trump for targeting, the killing of General Soleimani. You called
it an assassination. But if the administration is able to produce
hard evidence that he was going to attack Americans, would you then say this was justified? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Presidential Candidate:
Well, that’s a hypothesis. We haven’t seen that evidence. Frankly, I doubt that evidence
is there. Judy, I — what is going on right now feels
to me exactly what I saw in 2002 and 2003. And that was the lead-up and the justification
for the war in Iraq. I opposed that war vigorously, and it turned
out to be one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of the United States.
A war with Iran would likely be even worse. So, I will do all that I can to make sure
that, in this instance and in other instances, we solve international conflict diplomatically,
and that we try to put an end to endless wars. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, you have said that
this was in violation of international law. So, does that mean you believe President Trump
has violated — has committed a war crime? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, when you go around
assassinating leadership in governments, you are setting a precedent which says to any
country on Earth, hey, all we got to do is name these people terrorists, call them what
you want, and we can assassinate them. I think the world and this country is sick
and tired of endless wars that have cost us trillions of dollars, while our infrastructure
is collapsing, our health care system is dysfunctional. We have to deal with climate change and invest
heavily in transforming our energy system. Judy, in my view, we do not need to spend
trillions of dollars more in a war. JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, on Iraq, you
have called previously for removing U.S. troops from Iraq. As you know, the Iraqi Parliament has said
U.S. troops should leave. Would you, as president, have U.S. troops pulled out? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, I want U.S. troops
out of Iraq. I have wanted that for a long time. But you bring them out in a measured,
intelligent way, working with the Iraqi government and with our international allies. What’s happened here, after the loss of 4,500
American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, trillions of dollars, essentially,
we are being booted out of Iraq. So, do I want to end the war there in Iraq
and bring American troops home? Absolutely. That is what I will do as president. But I don’t — it’s a sad state of affairs
to see, after all of this sacrifice, to see our troops booted out of the country. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, a couple of questions
on domestic policy. There are polls now that show most voters
would prepare to build on Obamacare, rather than go to a single-payer system, which is
what you advocate. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, depending on the
poll that you look out. The vast majority of people in the Democratic
primaries absolutely support a Medicare for all, single-payer system, because they understand
that, when we are spending twice as much per capita as the people of any other country,
and yet 87 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, 500,000 people go bankrupt
because of medically related bills, all at the same time as the health care industry
and the drug companies made $100 billion in profit last year, people understand this system
has got to change. And my own view is that, after 100 years of
talk in this country about the need to guarantee health care for all, now is the time to take
on the greed and corruption of the drug companies and the insurance companies, expand Medicare,
and provide a Medicare for all, single-payer system for all. It will cost the average American substantially
less than what he or she is paying today. That is the direction we have got to go in. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in connection with that,
Senator, you recently acknowledged that a lot of people would lose jobs in a transition
to Medicare for all. You talked just recently about a program to
provide jobs, to provide job training to people who lose their jobs under the program. Are
you guaranteeing that people who lose their jobs under this new system would have a job? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We have built in a very
generous transition period. One of the reasons we’re spending twice as
much per person as any other country on health care is, we have enormous administrative waste.
We have all kinds of people in the bureaucracy administering thousands of separate health
insurance plans. We need more doctors, nurses, psychologists,
psychiatrists, counselors. We need people to deal with the crisis of opioid addiction.
We don’t need more people just arguing for — representing the insurance companies, telling
us that we’re not covered, when we thought we were. So we have a very generous transition period.
But, at the end of the day, Medicare for all will create more jobs in health care than
we will lose, because, when you open the doors to health care for all Americans, we’re going
to need more practitioners, more people providing health care, not just filling out forms and
having a massive bureaucracy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Something else, Senator. In recent days, you have been saying you don’t
believe Joe Biden can win this election, because you said he would bring a lot of baggage.
You said you don’t think he would create the kind of excitement and energy that’s needed
to defeat President Trump. Are you saying absolutely he would lose to
President Trump? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: No. No, no, no, no. I’m
not saying that at all. I think that any of — I happen to believe,
it will not shock you, I am sure, that I am the strongest candidate to beat Trump. But
I think other Democrats, including Joe Biden, can do it as well. But here’s my point. To beat Trump, you’re
going to need a massive voter turnout. And the only way you do that is through a campaign
of energy, of excitement. You have got to bring working people. You have got to bring
young people into the political process. The truth is, as I think most people know,
Joe Biden voted for the war in Iraq. Joe voted disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and
PNTR, which cost us millions of jobs. Joe voted for a bankruptcy bill which really has
hurt working-class families. Joe was on the floor of the Senate talking
about, in his view, the need to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I don’t think — I think Trump will have a
field day with that. And I just don’t think that the Biden campaign can create the energy
and the excitement we need to defeat the worst president in the modern history of this country. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, I know you believe you
would win the nomination, but, as you said, if you didn’t, are you prepared to support
Mr. Biden? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Absolutely. JUDY WOODRUFF: What about — I want to ask
you about one of the other candidates, though, because you have talked a lot about the billionaire
class. Would you be prepared to support Mike Bloomberg,
if he were the nominee? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I will support — look,
as I have said many time, I think that, in Trump, we have a pathological liar, the leader
of a corrupt administration, a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe. I am — I will support any Democrat who wins
the nomination. Hopefully, I will be supporting myself. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Bernie Sanders, joining
us from Burlington, Vermont, thank you very much. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we turn back to the impeachment
standoff on Capitol Hill, a clash that features two familiar figures: Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell and the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. For more on all this, Lisa Desjardins. LISA DESJARDINS: The impeachment process against
President Trump remains essentially stuck in neutral tonight, with still no word on
when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may transmit those articles of impeachment and spark a
Senate trial. To make sense of the impasse between Speaker
Pelosi and Leader McConnell, I’m joined by two Capitol Hill veterans who previously worked
as their top aides. Nadeam Elshami was Pelosi’s chief of staff
from 2013 to 2017, when she was House minority leader. Steven Law was McConnell’s chief of
staff from 1991 to 1996. That’s before McConnell became majority leader in the Senate. Law
currently runs the Senate Leadership Fund. Thank you, two chief of staffs. No one knows
these two leaders better. Nadeam, I want to start with you. Speaker Pelosi is trying to do something unprecedented
here, use timing to change the shape of the Senate trial, to get more witnesses, as we
reported. What is the strategy here, and how do you think she looks at any risks of that
strategy? What’s she doing? NADEAM ELSHAMI, Former Chief of Staff to Nancy
Pelosi: Well, I think what she’s doing here is very important. We have got to take a step back. And it took
five weeks for the impeachment articles of President Clinton to be transmitted to the
Senate. LISA DESJARDINS: I think it was three weeks,
but I hear you. NADEAM ELSHAMI: Three weeks. So we’re close. And at the moment, what she’s focusing on
is the Constitution. This is absolutely critical issues before our country. The House did vote
on articles of impeachment. However, the president and the White House demanded that none of
the witnesses that the House wanted that know directly from the president to come before
Congress and testify. Now the point is, what kind of pressure can
she put on Leader McConnell? And we have seen over the past few weeks, we have Ambassador
Bolton said he’s willing to testify if he’s subpoenaed. More evidence has come out. And
the president continues to say some pretty interesting things on Twitter. LISA DESJARDINS: Steven Law, do you think
Leader McConnell is feeling any pressure? To some people, he’s kind of an enigma, not
to you who’ve worked with him. What do you think is going on behind the scenes
with him right now? Is he feeling any of this pressure? STEVEN LAW, Former Chief of Staff to Mitch
McConnell: I don’t think he’s feeling pressure, particularly. I mean, one of the things about the Senate
is that it — not just Leader McConnell, but there is a sense of institutional prerogative.
And you look at the Constitution, which governs this, and it doesn’t say a lot, but it says
some very simple things. First of all, the House has the sole power
to impeach and the Senate has the sole power to try the case. And the operative word in
both of those is sole. Each one has its own respective role. And you can’t try to dictate
the role of the other. And I think that Speaker Pelosi made, in my
view, a miscalculation trying to think that she could force Leader McConnell’s hand or
the Senate’s hand to do something that he wasn’t inclined to do, at least with respect
to agree to somebody else’s process being put on him. And I think that is actually now
starting to fall apart. LISA DESJARDINS: We’re talking about these
two leaders, but I want the hear from them. I want to play some sound of what Speaker
Pelosi and Leader McConnell have said recently about impeachment in the last few months. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We want you to defend
that Constitution, which has a republic in it, as Benjamin Franklin said, a republic,
if you can keep it. We see that as our responsibility, to keep the republic, instead of an attitude
of, Article 2 says I can do whatever I want. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We exist because
the founders wanted an institution that could stop momentary hysterias and partisan passions
from damaging our republic. LISA DESJARDINS: Article 2, a reference to
the president’s constitutional powers. These are both students of history, both of
them. However, they also have an urgent goal, keeping their majorities, a political goal. I want to ask both of you, how do both of
these leaders look at the politics? How important is that in their thinking? Nadeam. NADEAM ELSHAMI: Sure. Right now, we are sitting here discussing
witnesses by Democrats. Democrats are demanding that Leader McConnell provide an opportunity
for these witnesses to come before the Senate and say what they know. LISA DESJARDINS: But could Pelosi look like
she’s obstructing the process if she waits too long? And could that hurt some of her
vulnerable Democrats? NADEAM ELSHAMI: There is nothing in the Constitution,
as my friend Steven Law said here, that says that the House has to transmit these articles
in a certain amount of time. So, clearly, she is using this time to make
the case. We are protecting the Constitution. We are protecting the institution, and we
are trying to ensure that the American people actually get a chance to hear from those witnesses. Look, if I was Leader McConnell, I would think
to myself, I want to make sure that the president’s fully exonerated, and I have the opportunity
to bring before the Senate these witnesses who the president says will exonerate him
fully. I would do it in a heartbeat. LISA DESJARDINS: Steven Law? STEVEN LAW: Sure. A couple things on that. I mean, first of all, I think it’s important
to point out that the rules that are now likely to be adopted in the Senate to direct the
trial are identical to the rules that were agreed upon on a unanimous and bipartisan
basis to control the trial in the Senate of the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton. And under those rules, there is no exclusion
of additional evidence, no exclusion of seeing witnesses and taking their testimony. But
it starts out on the front end with just receiving the articles and having the case presented
by both sides. And then, at that point, there is an opportunity,
if it’s deemed necessary by the Senate, to call witnesses to have additional testimony. So, the idea that the Senate is against any
potential for witnesses testifying is simply a construct of the other side. The key issue here is simply, does the Senate
get to decide its rules vs. others thrusting that upon them? And do we have a procedure
that works? And you asked a minute ago about the politics.
I think most people outside of hothouse that is Washington just are probably viewing impeachment
as a piece of overchewed gum. They have heard about it for a long time. A lot of Democrats
have been talking about it since the president was inaugurated. And I think they would like a process that
works expeditiously to bring this to whatever conclusion needs to be brought to. And I think
the speaker made a miscalculation, deciding to try sort of a theatrical exercise. I’m
going to hold back the articles of impeachment until I get what I want out of the Senate. And now that I think that’s starting to fall
apart, I think that move is starting to look smaller and more political than I think she
wanted it to be. LISA DESJARDINS: So much to talk about, and
we have just one minute left. Both of your former bosses are very good vote
counters. And few people realize that they don’t seem to crack the whip, so much as they
spend a lot of time knowing their members and working with their members. But, clearly, the votes right now, Nadeam,
are not there to remove this president. And I want to ask both of you, quickly, how
much do you think this could impact the election in November, what’s happening with impeachment
now, briefly? NADEAM ELSHAMI: Well, I don’t think they’re
thinking about how it’s going to impact the election. I can tell you that for a fact. I think what they’re thinking about is how
this is going to impact a fair trial in the Senate. And that’s why the speaker did what
she is continuing to do, making sure that the Senate has a trial that is fair, that
presents all the evidence, and putting some pressure on Speaker — on Leader McConnell
to move forward. LISA DESJARDINS: Steven? STEVEN LAW: Yes. I mean, it is partly my job to think about
the political impact in the elections. And I do kind of doubt that impeachment is going
to be the dominant issue in Senate elections next fall. But I do think there are going to be House
members, Democrats who ran in districts that Trump won, who promised that they were going
to try work with this president who are largely now going to be running mostly on impeachment.
And for some of them, I think that’s going to be a very difficult thing to explain to
their constituents. LISA DESJARDINS: We will see. They’re talking
about other issues now, but I think we will be talking about this more. Thank you, Nadeam Elshami, Steven Law. Appreciate
it. NADEAM ELSHAMI: Thank you. STEVEN LAW: Thanks so much. NADEAM ELSHAMI: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Political turmoil deepened
today in Venezuela, as supporters of President Nicolas Maduro tried to open a new session
in the National Assembly without opposition members or their leader, Juan Guaido. The U.S. recognizes Guaido, not Maduro, as
the rightful president of Venezuela. Special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports
from Caracas, with support from the Pulitzer Center. MARCIA BIGGS: Opposition leader Juan Guaido
tried to force his way again today into the Parliament he is supposed to be running. When
we arrived, opposition members were stuck outside, and supporters of President Nicolas
Maduro had taken their seats. On the agenda? Major items for a country in
economic freefall, raising the roughly $5-a-month minimum wage, addressing the gasoline shortage,
and what to do with political prisoners. At the helm was Luis Parra, who on Sunday
was elected as speaker in what many believe to be a sham vote. “This is a farce. They don’t have a quorum.
They have paid people to sit in our seats,” this opposition M.P. shouted. “We are 120 members of Parliament who have
the right to be here,” shouted another. Members of Parliament have been stuck outside
while the new Parliament started the session without them. That includes Juan Guaido. Suddenly, Guaido breached another entrance
behind us, arriving at the gate and pulling his supporters inside. National Guard troops
tried to fight him back, but he remained defiant. JUAN GUAIDO, Opposition Leader, Venezuela
(through translator): The leaders of the National Assembly are here. This is the session. Did
you see a person running, running to hide because he can’t face anyone, not the people,
not anyone? The leadership is here. MARCIA BIGGS: Troops then tried to block the
door to the Assembly. But the crowd pushed through, making its way into the hall and
then taking a victory lap. Members were just beginning the session when
all of a sudden the lights went out. Juan Guaido and his supporters have now stormed
the National Assembly Palace and taken what they believe is their rightful place. They
have started the congress. And, as you can see the empty seats here, the government supporters
all left, cut the lights, cut the mic. They’re now having to shout to be heard. Undeterred, they continued on, swearing in
Guaido as the new speaker of Parliament. JUAN GUAIDO (through translator): Today, over
this Constitution, we want to live, to be reborn, to speak no more of death, but instead
of life in Venezuela. MARCIA BIGGS: Back in Washington, Secretary
of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Guaido on his defiance in the face of Maduro’s supporters. MIKE POMPEO, U.S. Secretary of State: The
Maduro regime’s campaign of arrests, intimidation and bribery could not derail Venezuelan democracy,
nor could its use of military forces to physically bar the National Assembly from accessing the
Parliament building. MARCIA BIGGS: But after Guaido left, Maduro’s
backers regrouped and reentered Parliament to have their own session and take their own
victory lap. All this leaving the Venezuelan people to
wonder which one of these dueling parliaments and leaders is actually in power, and which
one will address the country’s dire economic problems. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Marcia Biggs in
Caracas. JUDY WOODRUFF: The long-awaited criminal trial
of Harvey Weinstein began in New York City this week. Amna Nawaz has the details. AMNA NAWAZ: More than 80 women have accused
Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct going back decades. But the New York trial, where jury selection
began today, is based on charges brought by two women. Weinstein faces one count of rape
and one count of criminal sexual assault. He has maintained his sexual encounters with
the women were consensual. Just hours after the trial began, a separate
rape charge was brought against Weinstein in California, one of several criminal charges
filed in a complaint there. Jodi Kantor, along with fellow New York Times
reporter Megan Twohey, first broke the Weinstein story more than two years ago, and they co-authored
the book “She Said.” Jodi Kantor joins me now from New York. Jodi, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” A lot of people will think, when there were
so many women who came forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein, why is this one
case based on just the stories of two of those women? JODI KANTOR, The New York Times: Well, remember
that so many of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, if you think of a kind of ocean
of complaints out there, are not actually eligible for criminal prosecution. When you apply the statute of limitations,
that ocean gets smaller. When you talk about acts that are not just sexual harassment — I
mean, many of the allegations against Weinstein are very disturbing. There are tales of harassment,
of abusive behavior, but those allegations aren’t necessarily criminal. You can’t go
to jail for them. So the ocean gets smaller then. If you talk
about women who are willing to come forward and participate in the process, the ocean
gets even smaller. So what we’re left with is this very narrow
case that stands in contrast to the huge number of allegations against him. But that’s part
of why the news from Los Angeles about him being charged there was so significant, because
it means that Harvey Weinstein is now fighting these kinds of charges on two fronts at the
same time. AMNA NAWAZ: So, Jodi, what about those two
cases now in New York and Los Angeles? Could they have an impact on each other? JODI KANTOR: Well, the obvious thing is, they
significantly increase Harvey Weinstein’s legal jeopardy in combination. Even if he gets off in New York, he will face
a trial in L.A. Now, what’s interesting is that there’s a woman, an alleged Weinstein
victim, who is actually involved in both cases. She is part of the charges in L.A., and she’s
supposed to be a supporting witness here in New York. AMNA NAWAZ: Tell me about that jury selection. Now, lawyers have to pick 12 judges, six alternates
from a pool of hundreds of New Yorkers. Especially for a case like this, how critical is that
process? JODI KANTOR: Really critical, really complicated. First of all, remember that conviction requires
unanimity from a jury. So the question of the selection of jurors, it’s essential, both
for the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution wants people who will believe
these charges. The defense wants people who will be skeptical, who they can create doubt
and questions. On the one hand, the defense, I think, especially
will have a preference for people who haven’t read a lot of the news of this case. On the
other hand, given the way it’s dominated the news for two years, it seems like that will
be almost impossible. AMNA NAWAZ: Jodi, you been outside of the
courthouse. Some of your colleagues have been reporting from inside that courtroom. Weinstein
has already run afoul of the judge in this case. The judge got quite angry with him today. Tell me about what you can share about his
conduct, both the way he entered the courtroom and what’s been going on inside. JODI KANTOR: You know, I was standing yesterday
morning with a group of alleged Weinstein victims who were waiting outside the courthouse.
They wanted to not confront him verbally, but they wanted to look him in the eye as
he came into the courthouse. One of them even said that she had not seen
Weinstein since the alleged violation years beforehand. So they were waiting. And he sort
of swept into the courthouse without giving them a glance. He was surrounded by his legal
team. He was sort of hobbling with a walker. But the judge, who — Justice Burke, who is
a very exacting judge — he’s a former prosecutor, has a reputation for being fair, but tough
— he has already admonished Weinstein in the past. They had a cell phone problem in
the courtroom several months ago. Today, apparently, Weinstein did it again,
and the judge was very tough on him. He said to him — feels like it could have been a
line in a movie. He said to him: Mr. Weinstein, is this how you want to go to jail, for using
your cell phone in a courtroom? He was essentially threatening to remand him
to a jail, unless Weinstein played by the rules. AMNA NAWAZ: A dramatic beginning to a trial
that’s sure to take several weeks to unfold. Jodi Kantor is going to be following it all. Jodi, thank you so much for being with us
today. JODI KANTOR: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that, that’s the “NewsHour”
for tonight. You may go online to follow the latest on
Iran’s response attack on American and coalition targets in Iraq. President Trump says he will have a statement
tomorrow morning. I’m Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.

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