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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  September 24, 2015 2:00pm-2:31pm EDT

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of the members of this particular organization. seven of those appeals courts have found that our efforts to strike that balance was effectively reached. there is one appellate court that concluded that it had not and it may mean that there will end up being additional legal action in this area. but i think if anything, this particular case does illustrate the lengths to which this administration has gone to protect religious liberty, while at the same time protecting access to health care that millions of women rely upon. >> just to pinpoint, you were talking to major about the cra stuff. is it safe to say this idea of a continuing resolution that would fund the government until the
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end of the year or the december, the white house would oppose that, right? >> i think that -- i wouldn't at this point pre-judge what that length would be. i mean, i think as major pointed out, and you've got more experience covering these issues than i do, that sometimes it can take a little while for these differences when it comes to the budget to be resolved. >> so you might be willing to accept a continuing resolution to fund government until december? >> well, i think what we would be willing to do is to join the democrats and republicans on capitol hill in support of a piece of legislation that would prevent a government shutdown while also providing congress enough time to work in bipartisan fashion to reach the kind of an agreement that ensures adequate funding for both our economic and national security priorities. >> when was the last time the president spoke to speaker of
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the house john boehner? >> as you know, the president does have on occasion to speak with republican leaders in congress. we don't read out every single conversation that occurs between those two leaders. occasionally we've found that it's more productive for those conversations to be kept confidential. but certainly the expectation that we have is that speaker payner and leader hk cmcconnelll engage in conversations with democratic leaders in congress that ultimately is the responsibility of congress to pass a budget, both speaker boehner and leader mcconnell have attempted to pass legislation strictly along party lines to fund the government, but those efforts have not yielded legislation that has arrived on the president's desk and that means ultimately leader mcconnell and speaker boehner will have to confront the differences that they have with democrats in congress before any
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legislation will arrive at the president's desk. we've encouraged them to do that and we've also made clear our willingness to facilitate those fr conversations so that whatever bipartisan agreement is able to be reached, would be one that the president is willing to sign. >> and quickly on putin, you said putin requested the meeting. did he say why? >> well, i'd refer you to the kremlin for their explanation about why president putin would like to meet with president obama. i think i've tried to make clear to you why president obama believes that a conversation with president putin could be useful. >> the kremlin has been foaeeen right in saying that putin wanted the meeting, being first to be out there to say the meeting would happen. is the president reluctant to
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take this meeting in it seems that the kremlin has been more forthcoming in talking about it. >> some might conclude that it means that the russians are -- >> more transparent? >> or more desperate. they certainly -- i think it is fair for you to say that based on the repeated requests we've seen from the russians, that they are quite interested in having a conversation with president obama and after i think what i would acknowledge is some -- a careful consideration on our end, the president did make a decision that it was worth it at this point to engage with president putin in a face to face meeting to see if the interests of the united states could be advanced in the context of those conversations. this has been a hallmark of the president's approach to arrange foreign policy issues that despite our significant disagreements, the president has been willing to engage in conversations with hope that
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those conversations could advance our interests. but in this case, it appears that president putin is convinced that his position would benefit from a conversation with president obama and if that's the case, hopefully we'll be able to find some common ground and reach -- have the kinds of conversations that would result in advancing our mutual interests. but look, we've also -- we're also quite aware and i think one of the reasons that an offer like this is something that receives a lot of deliberation is that we haven't seen the russians be particularly willing to live up to the comments they have made in the context of diplomatic talks. there are a number of times putin has sat down with merkel and hollande to discuss the actions in ukraine and russia has made any thumb of
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commitments about their ongoing support for separatists. and russia hasn't been willing to follow through on those commitments.eparatists. and russia hasn't been willing to follow through on those commitments. so i think that would explain why an offer from president putin to meet face to face with president obama is one that is carefully considered and deliberated upon before it's accepted. scott. >> what has changed so that you feel this is a productive time to meet with him? >> well, there have been -- we talked before that there have been some engagements between president obama and president putin. a couple on the phone and this summer and a couple in in person last fall. i don't know that i can point to a specific person that has changed, but toy thii do think they have concluded that there
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is the potential for some constructive to come out of a meeting between the russian president and president obama. it doesn't mean there would be a major announcement coming out of the meeting, but could it lay the ground work, that possibility does exist. after all, president putin himself says -- at least he claims to share the goals of our counter-isis coalition. it seems like it shouldn't be too hard to convince him to contribute to our ongoing effort. but we'll have to see what president putin is willing to commit to and if he does make any commitments, if he's actuallyilling to follow through on them when it comes to the matters like ukraine, he hasn't been willing do that. >> so while ukraine is at the top of the president's agenda, how much was syria a factor in deciding to take this meeting? >> we're certainly aware as
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we've discussed here of the concerns with russia's behavior inside of syria. and the president has spoken publicly about how russian doubling down in their support of assad would be a losing bet. so we're certainly mindful that that is on the agenda, but not what the president believes is the most pressing issue between our two countries. jc. >> followup, you just mentioned two individuals vee vis-a-vis ukraine issue and chancellor merkel and president hollande. is david cameron in the mix and might a president have a conversation -- does he look forward to the conversation with the leaders who are involved in the sanctions toward mr. putin's activities in ukraine before he meets with mr. putin kind of as a rallying call or conversation? >> well, i certainly wouldn't rule out any consultations with prime minister cameron. in fact if you stick around
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today, we may have a little news in that regard. but the -- there you go. and i think this sort of reflects the kind of enter na international consensus there is about russia's destabilizing behavior inside of ukraine and concerns about russia's intent when it comes to the use of their military inside of syria. again, russia is rating from a position of weakness in confronting challenges in both those countries. but they have taken steps that we believe in both situations are counter row dubt difference when it comes to both their issues but also the broader community's interests. we believe there is a collective interest. and we believe it's in russia's interests to observe those international norms. instead they have flouted them for more than a year now and that has been a source of concern on the part of the
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united states and our european allies. and we've taken steps that have isolated russia and taken a toll on their economy. >> you mentioned that mr. putin has a reason for staying involved with syria. it seems to be -- i don't want to put words in your mouth, but a surrogate nation. >> we sdredescribe them as a cl state. >> the former soviet union also had influence and a desire to find a client state with mr. nassar during that era in egypt. do you think mr. putin may have his eyes on other countries, as well i well, in the middle east? >> i'll don't front confront it ways. when you've been reduced to the 15th largest economy in the world, it means that you're going to have to be very
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judicious about how you choose to invest your resources. and it means that president putin will have to choose wisely as he considers how to account for some of the weakness in russia's interests in some of these other locations. so i certainly wouldn't rule out that he may choose other venues to try to exercise some influence. but his ability to do that will be constrained by russia's international isolation and their declining economy. pam. >> when the president spoke and talked about china and how the administration was preparing steps or initiatives to show china that they were more than mildly upset, was he referring to the economic sanctions and was he also referring to just sort of the u.s. business intrusions or also u.s. government intrusions?
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>> you're talking about on china here? >> yes. >> okay. the -- what the president talked about in the context of the business round table is raising the kinds of concerns that we have in the past about government enabled cyber theft, that we have suggested that china has previously been involved with for the financial gain of corporations inside of china. it certainly has given them competitive advantages over u.s. business. that's a source of significant concern. this is something the president has raised between the two leaders. these are also concerns that president obama raised with his predecess predecessor. so these are long running concerns and these are concerns that have long ben priori been
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of the business community. they recognize that some of this behavior has had an impact on their ability do business around the world and inside china. the president made the observation that many times he would attend a meeting like the business round table or private meeting with business leaders here at the white house where business officials would get exercised about the conditions inside of china and the impact it's having on their company. but yet they have also been reluck tachctant to have the un states aggressively press their case on their behalf because they're worried about either some sort of retribution or retaliation on the part of the chinese. so the president made clear that that had previously hamstrung efforts that were undertaken by the u.s. government to try to protect those business
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interests. so overall, though, this is an issue that will rate highly on the agenda when both they meet and what is clear, i guess the one piece of good news that is here, is that what is clear is that it is clear that china now understands just how seriously we take this issue and how serious we are about getting them to try to address it. >> i know you haven't blamed china for the opm hack, but will the president specifically raise that? >> i don't want to pre-judge any of their conversations. and you're right that we haven't publicly made any pronouncements about -- >> have you privately? >> li >> -- who may have been responsible for it that particular incident. the work of our investigators continues. and there is some conclusions
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that they have drawn that have been aired publicly. but nothing that we have made a pronouncement about at that point. so i wouldn't want to pre-judge whether or not whether an incident like that would come up in the con tetext of a private conversation between the two presidents but certainly the broader issue will. >> there are reports today that the u.s. and russia have reached some sort of agreement on how to end the crisis in syria, there is an assad adviser sawing this person called a tacet agreement and that there has been some change in the west position. any truth to that, is there any sort of agreement? >> i haven't seen that report. but based on the way that you described it, i wouldn't put a lot of stock in it. >> is there any change in the united states' position? >> not that i'm aware of. angela. >> following up on pam's question and your emphasis on the word publicly in terms of
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si saming blame for the opm akd, is naming china a potential bargaining chip when the president meets with his counterpart? >> i wouldn't speculate on what the eventual conclusion of our investigators who are continuing to look at this matter will be. so at this point it would be too early to speculate on whether or not, you know, we would publicly inch pli case china in that particular matter. i will just say that we have made clear our concerns about russia's activity -- i'm sorry, china's activity in cyberspace. we're jumping back and forth here, so i'm trying to keep up. but -- and there are a racnge o tools at the president's disposal for responding to those concerns. and we to continue to believe that just having some of those tools on the table including
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possible financial sanctions have been effective in serving as a determent and in advancing our interests in this regard. but as for anything that could come up in the context of their meetings, i don't have anything to preview beyond what i've already said. >> let's go back to russia. you've made clear that the u.s.'s top agenda item is ukraine, but the kremlin wants to talk about syria and if there is time, they will also get to ukraine. >> there will be time. there will be time. >> does that portend a tense meeting? >> it might. look, i wouldn't -- the president has described his previous discussions with president putin as blunt and businesslike. i wouldn't anticipate significant overt hostility. but i do think that there is some serious issues that the
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united states and russia have to discuss. and the president won't shy away from raising our significant concerns with russia's behavior in ukraine and other places around the world. >> over the course of the past few months, even take, u.s./russian relations have been described as tense, as strained. chilly, cool. does president putin bear sole responsibility on where u.s./russian relations are right now? >> well, i guess i will say this way. my guess is that president putin is not particularly concerned about the use of those adjectives describing the relationship between our two countries. in fact i think he may feel that that may enhance his status one
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way or another. but the fact is because of russia's behavior in ukraine and their ongoing support for the combined russian separatist forces, the united states has engaged in a policy of working with our allies in europe to isolate russia. and that could result in our relationship -- could result in at least some of those words being an apt description of the relationship. at the same time the president has made clear that he's prepared to waive those sanctions as soon as russia is prepared to demonstrate a commitment to complying with the agreements that were reached in minsk. thus far they will been unwilling to do so. >> in answer to my question, you said it may enhance mr. putin's status, i imagine you mean back
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home perhaps. >> what i was alluding to is i think he thinks it may enhance his status. we've seen russia certainly over the last year and president putin directly over the last year seek to position russia as the chief competitor to the united states around the world. and the president has previously described russia as a regional power to illustrate that they do have influence in the region and are seeking to hold on to the influence that they may be losing in places like the middle east. and that certainly is different than the kind of influence that the united states wields all around the globe. >> you have sometimes personalized things as it relates to president putin, and so has the president. the president once said that putin's shtick is to look like
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the tough guy. he once also said he is it have a public style where he likes to sit back and look a little bored during the course of joint interviews. does that helppublic style wher sit back and look a little bored during the course of joint interviews. does that help matters in terms of the u.s./russian relationship when you and the president himself personalizes things in that manner? >> i suspect that was a question that was in response to a question the president was asked about his personal relationship with president putin. and i think the irony of your question is -- and i don't mean this as a criticism, but i think it is a fact that there is a tendency on part of all of you as you observe these interactions to personalize them and i think that's why the president has tried to -- >> he doesn't even have to answer in that manner, right? >> that's true. but he goes to great lengths to try to answer your questions. and so i think that's what he was trying do there. one other observation about
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this, anybody who subscribes to the "wall street journal" may have seen a picture of president putin -- a plug there. you're welcome -- may have seen a picture of the bilateral meeting between prime minister netanyahu and president putin where they were sitting side by side and president putin was striking a now familiar pose of less than perfect posture and unbottom ted jacket and knees spread far apart to convey a particular image. and so i guess the point is president putin doesn't zeal seek to project this image only when president obama is around. i think this is an image that he seeks to project in a variety of international settings. and he did it as recently as his meeting earlier this week with prime minister netanyahu.
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yes, sir. >> -- giving this broad slogan made in germany and surprising spin. has there been any communications between the chancellor and the white house or part of the two administrations? >> i'm not aware of any conversations between president obama and chancellor merkel on this particular issue in the last week or so. as i mentioned earlier, the environmental protection agency takes quite seriously the responsibility that they have to enforce the standard undr the clean air act and the expectation is that at least in the auto industry that all companies that are seeking to sell automobiles in the united states will comply accordingly. and based on the admission from volkswagen executives, they didn't just fail to comply, they actually sought to actively
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circumvent those rules. and there will be -- we've already seen some executive level changes in the company and we'll see what additional steps that company decides they need to take to repair what i think could be accurately described as evident damage to that company's credibility. >> and another question. chancellor merkel said recently that they are looking to a resolution, is it like resolving the syrian crisis, one has to talk to a couple of leaders including assad, is that an about-face to the rest of the united states where he said there cannot be a solution? >> i did not see the entirety of her remarks. but the position of the united
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states is quite clear and i think that chancellor merkel is largely on the same page that she understands that so much of the chaos that we have seen in syria is a direct result of the failed leadership of the assad regime. and in order to address that problem and in order to eventually deal with the chaos that isis for example has capitalized on, to deal with the significance humanitarian crisis in the form of syrian refugees, that we need to address the root cause of this problem and that's why the united states has insisted that a political transition inside of syria needs to take place that results in assad leaving power. that ultimately will be the way to solve these problems and there will be challenges that remain as long as he does.
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>> -- end of the transition? >> i wouldn't get into how we see the talks progressing. unfortunately, we haven't seen the talks progress very much of late. that's been a source of some disappointment here. but the united states will continue to play a role in trying to facilitate those united nations-led talks to effect that political transition that we believe is long overdue. alexis, i'll give you the last one. >> the agenda is long, but does the president have any intention of bringing up russia and the u.s. and global international concerns about russia's disposition in ukraine or syria with the chinese president while he's here? >> i wouldn't rule out that that may come up. i don't think that those issues feature most prominently on the agenda. there are things that are most likely to be discussed are things certainly related to cyber security. i would expect that there will be tipped efforts to cooperate
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on the issue of climate change and there may be an opportunity for greater cooperation between our two country. we've certainly been pleased with the commitment that the i chinese people have shown. there have been greater economic challenges inside of china, some volatility in their financial markets. and united states obviously has long running concerns about china's reluctance to more effectively tie their currency to market rates. this is something that secretary lew has talked about quite a bit. there are also broader strategic issues sthat i would expect tha would come up, the south china sea probably the most prominent among them. and president obama raises his concerns about chinese government's respect for basic
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human rights. that is a central value of this country and therefore a national security priority of the united states and this president. and i think he would use these meetings to underscore once again what a priority that is for the united states. thanks, everybody. we'll have a news conference tomorrow early afternoon. the plan is to do it in the road garden weather permitting. the east room will be set up for the state dinner. and then we'll get our week ahead out on paper tomorrow afternoon. okay? >> 21 gun? >> 21 gun salute. so pop your popcorn. coming up in just a few minutes, the u.s. cyber command
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commander admiral michael rogers will talk about cyber security threats to the nation. admiral rogers who is also the nsa director testifying today before the senate intelligence committee, that is scheduled to get started in just a couple minutes from now, 2:30 eastern time live here on c-span3. the pope's historic visit to the u.s. continued today as he addressed a joint meeting of congress. while we wait for the senate intelligence committee hearing to get under way, a look as house speaker john boehner greets pope francis at the capitol. >> your holiness, welcome. really glad that you're here. [ inaudible ]
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>> how are you. good morning. good morning. >> thanks so much for the invitation.


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