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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 4, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> o'brien: good evening, i'm miles o'brien. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight, republican leaders scramble to keep momentum on their massive tax bill after an eleventh hour victory in the senate-- a look at what's inside the sweeping plan. then... >> hillary clinton lied many times to the f.b.i. and nothing happened to her. flynn lied and they destroyed his life. >> o'brien: ...president trump pushes back on the f.b.i. as the probe into russian meddling brings down his former national security advisor, reaching the administration's inner circle. plus, protecting the pope-- how fighting the mafia helps rome combat the threats of terrorist groups targeting the vatican.
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>> what you can do is prevent. you prevent by controlling the territory. trying to listen to whatever you can. >> o'brien: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> o'brien: president trump came to the defense of his former national security adviser today. michael flynn pleaded guilty on friday to lying to the f.b.i.
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about his contacts with russia. today, the president called the charges "very unfair." we'll have more on the unfolding russia investigation, later in the program. mr. trump is also throwing his full support behind roy moore, the republican senate candidate in alabama. in tweets today, the president said democratic opposition to tax cuts is "why we need roy moore to win in alabama." moore has denied knowing any of the women who say he pursued them as teenagers when he was in his 30's. but one said today she's come across a signed card from moore for her high school graduation. hundreds of american and south korean warplanes have begun five days of war games over south korea. the exercises began just days after north korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile ever. two dozen u.s. f-22 and f-35 stealth jets joined in the war games, dubbed "vigilant ace." but north korea charged they're
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pushing the region "to the brink of nuclear war." the u.s. supreme court will allow the latest version of president trump's travel ban to take full effect, for now. that ruling came late today, and applies to six mostly muslim nations: chad, iran, libya, somalia, syria and yemen. we get more now from marcia coyle of the "national law journal." to have you with us. walk us through, what did the court do today there is a little legal intricacy to it. >> okay, essentially the court issued an order saying that the president's latest travel ban may take full effect while legal challenges to the merits of the ban are moving forward in the lower courts. there are two federal appellate courts that just this week will be hearing the merits of the travel ban. one is in theth circuit which is be o the west coast and the other in the fourth circuit which is on the east coast.
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lower courts had partially allowed this particular travel ban to go in feblght. but it had exempted from the travel ban individuals that had what they call a bonaified relationship with the u.s. citizens or entities in the united states. >> o'brien: so what happens on the lower courts now, does that all stop? >> no, not at all. in fact, the lower courts are expediting these cases and the supreme court said today that it expects, because it is expediting them, that they will reach a decision with appropriate dispatch. so the travel ban will be in effect not only while those courts are deciding whether the travel ban is constitutional or correct under the immigration statutes but also possibly through supreme court review itself. >> o'brien: so what did as teut court watchers such as yourself learn today reading the tea leaves as to what the court ultimately feels about this one.
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>> okay, you really can't predict with certainty but when the court does something like this, the government which prevailed had to show the court that its arguments supporting the ban were serious. so it may well be sending a signal to the lower courts that are looking at it that it believes the government may prevail this time on the merits. >> o'brien: all right, marcia coyle, of the national law journal, thank you very much. >> my pleasure, miles. the high court also grappled today with a case that could make sports betting widely available. new jersey is leading more than a dozen states against a federal law that restricts sports gambling in most of the country. the arguments continued after the hearing, with new jersey governor chris christie and les bernal of the "stop predatory gambling" foundation making their points. >> those states may or may not ultimately have sports gaming if it were allowed; i think many of them wouldn't. but what they do know is that letting the federal government get involved in states being able to govern their own citizens, in a broad and impermissible way as it was done
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here, is dangerous for everyone. >> government sanctioned sports gambling is extremely predatory and it's really government- sanctioned consumer fraud. it would change the way kids watch sports. in countries that have legalized sports gambling like australia and the united kingdom, kids associate gambling with sports. >> o'brien: the four major u.s. professional sports leagues, the n.c.a.a. and the federal government are opposing the states' lawsuit. new york's metropolitan opera is now investigating multiple sexual abuse claims against longtime conductor james levine. he's been suspended for the rest of the current season, after three men said he abused them as teenagers between the 1960s and '80's. meanwhile, former tv host billy bush says it's definitely president trump's voice bragging about lewd behavior on an "access hollywood" recording from 2005. that comes amid reports that mr. trump is suggesting it's a fake. in sunday's "new york times", bush wrote: "of course he said it." and he said, the president is
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"indulging in some revisionist history." on wall street today, the market bought phone company and bank shares and sold tech stocks, with an eye toward who wins and who loses under a tax overhaul the dow jones industrial average gained 58 points to close at 24,920. the nasdaq fell 72 points, and the s&p 500 slipped two. and, former congressman john anderson died overnight in washington. the illinois republican ran as an independent for president in 1980, against democratic president jimmy carter and republican ronald reagan. he won 7% of the vote. john anderson was 95 years old. still to come on the newshour: what's next for the republican tax plan now that passed the senate. do the president's latest tweets change the russia investigation? houthi rebels kill a former president in yemen's civil war, and much more.
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>> o'brien: we start tonight with the first of several deeper dives we plan in coming days into the particulars of the republican tax plans, as the house and senate get to work reconciling the differences between the two. a number of provisions found their way into the bills along the way, some related to taxes, some not. tonight, we'll focus on a handful of them, paying particular attention to how each might affect middle, and lower- income taxpayers. for that, i am joined by our own lisa desjardins, who's been following the process closely on capitol hill. veronique de rugy, senior research fellow at the mercatus center, a free-market research institute at george mason university. and political analyst and historian, thomas frank. his 2004 book "what's the matter with kansas" explored the rise of populist conservatism in the
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u.s. lissa you had a long weekend, how are you g? >> i'm doing also. >> o'brien: up late while this was all unfolding. there is lots to talk about as far as differences between the two bills. let's get kind of top line, what are some of the key differences that this so called conference committee, the two sides of capitol hill, as they get together to try and figure out what the bill will be that will go to the white house. >> that's right, that is what he had are doing. the house and senate will appoint select members to join the conference committee part of duking out what ends up being, they hope, the final bill. let's talk about the most important big sweeping parts of this. how about you and i, individuals, what is what is happening here in these bills both plans would cut tax rates but also limit deductions. so while most people would see a tax rate go down, the effect on you really depends on how many deductions if any you take. that is why we see some people with a big cut, some people might see their taxes go up. the big difference also to remember there is that for the
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senate, those individual tax cuts are temporary. the senate says they're counting on those being extended later but it really isn't quite clear. let's talk about the other big, you know, gorilla in the room here. corporate tax cut. that is where the republicans are the most excited about. for businesses, what these plans do, one they both cut the corporate tax rate to 20% from the current 35%. and then also the senate one difference here is that the senate would have a larger tax cut for so called pass-through businesses. those are weeses that sometimes are owner-operated, usually small s-korps and different kinds of businesses that might be owner operated like an accountant or could be donald trump himself. he has a pass-through. >> if we were just talking about what you just mentioned without getting into the real details of the plan, do you think the two bodies could be together, close enough? >> yes, very close and they both have incredibly high motivation to pass these tax cuts. >> o'brien: so the devil is in the details, let's go into them. first of all we know that the affordable care act came front
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and center. and the mandate for coverage. tell us what each side has determined on that. >> this is actually one of the trickier issues. the senate has repealed the individual mandate, requiring all americans to get health insurance. there would be no penalty if the senate version of this tax cut bill went through. the house bill however did not touch health care at all in this particular way. and that is a big difference not just in philosophy but also in dollars. by doing that the senate raised over 300 billion dollars that they put into tax cuts. but miles, the issue on the house side is they have a lot of moderate members who are worried about people losing health insurance or not signing up for health insurance if the mandate is not in place. >> o'brien: all right, tom, the individual mandate which is part of obamacare, the affordable care act, that is something that gets right into middle class country. there is obviously still a conference report that needs to come out here. what is this going to mean for the mid e8 class, do you think? >> i want to teak a step back first. because done all trump as we all know was elected by sort of a
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remarkable series of events, well, a blue clar voters who left the democratic party and went and voted for him. it's very similar to the phenomenon that i documented in kansas many years ago. populist conservatism. and trmp did it by talking to these people about what had happened to their communities, the deindustrialization, bad trade deals, the sort of raw deal that working class people have got in this country for a long time. now ironically it looks like the one big thing donald trump is going to get done his first year in office is deliver a huge corporate tax cut. you know, and there is an enormous irony in. this but this is how it plays out again and again and again with these guys. is that they act populist to get elected. and then once they are in office, of course they turn around and do theetion stu pendous favors for their friends in the c suites, as for the individual mandate, this is going to make ultimately make health care more expensive in this country. i don't think it will repealing
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the individual mandate which is by the way the most unpopular part of obamacare, but the rest of obamacare, the affordable care act really depends on it. you take that away, it's going to be, i don't think it will kill obamacare but it's not going to be healthy. >> what do you think about removing the mandate. is that something that is absolutely essential to make this whole tax plan work? >> the short-term impact on getting rid of the obamacare mandate is one of beneficial for lower income people. something that people don't quite think about is that 80% of the people who are paying the pan date are american families making under 50,000 dollars, right. so these are people who for whatever reason, maybe because health care is still too expense ef. those premiums are higher. they can't afford them or whatever. they decide not to buy insurance.
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they have to pay a premium. they have to pay an extra tax. so these in the short-term talking just specifically about this bill, these are the guys who are going to be benefiting from repealing the pan date. >> o'brien: let's go to lisa. lisa walk us through what both student, graduate students in particular. >> colleges and universities, there are two things, there is a lot of details but the two biggest ones, first of all that student interest loan deduction, they that almost elected bernie sanders president because he wanted to change that the house would remove that deduction. so those who have student loans could no longer deduct the interest. the senate keeps that provision. now also kind of in similar philosophy the graduate student measure that you're talking about, graduate institutes now get free tuition even though they are technically employees they teach their own classes. the house would tax the value of that tuition so that say you work, you are a graduate teud at mit, tuition $49,000. that would be taxed as income under the house plan, the senate would not tax that, that is a
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very big hit to those graduate teud-- students bottomline. >> why are they going after the poor grad institutes. >> you have have the keyword, poor, these are people who are politically weak, powerless, who are identified as with the democratic party. you look at universities and who they donate to the top donors of barack o bma and hillary clinton will be all of your research universities. and so this is a political target and people that can't really defend themselves. i was a graduate student once by the way. in case your viewers don't understand this, this is strictly a paper transaction t is not like the university gives you the money and you give it back to them. you never actually see the money, and so it is going to force the university to do some accounting work around or something like that but no, it is just a way, it is just making a vulgar gesture at the other guys core constituency veronique, vulgar gesture, do you think? >> i don't know. i won't question their motives because i just don't know what
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their motives are. but one of the things i find questionable is that they have left, and there is no doubt economicically that this is income, this is income. and by the way, under the tax plans these guys who benefit for doubling the deduction, lower marginal rate,s and so be and so forth, right. so it may not actually end up being as bad as they think. but what i find questionable is that they have left otherwise a lot of money on the table of like tax preferences that they could have gone after that clearly benefit higher income individuals. for instance, they made this deal about the state and local tax deduction and the exemption, the $10,000 exemption, right? this benefits people who itemize, who are vast majority are in the top income bracket, same thing with their mortgage interest deduction, there is just a lot of tax preferences that they have left on the table
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that would have actually gone towards more simp if i kaition and that i would have been, you know, maybe better to focus on this. >> o'brien: we have to leave it there. veronique de rugy, tom frank, lisa desjardins, thank you all for this wonderful taxing discussion. >> o'brien: we turn now to the growing "russia file" that special counsel robert mueller is accumulating. the president himself added to it over the weekend after michael flynn's guilty plea. p.j. tobia begins our coverage. >> i feel badly for general flynn. i feel very badly. >> reporter: president trump voiced sorrow for his former national security adviser this morning, and took another shot at an old foe. >> hillary clinton lied many times to the f.b.i. flynn lied once and they destroyed his life. i think it's a shame. >> reporter: retired general flynn pled pleaded guilty friday
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to lying to the f.b.i. about his contacts with russian ambassador sergey kislyak during the transition. that touched off a running response from the president, starting saturday morning with his renewed claim that there's no evidence of any election conspiracy with the russians. >> there's been absolutely no collusion, so we're very happy. >> reporter: hours later on twitter, he was back, with this: "i had to fire general flynn," he wrote, "because he lied to the vice president and the f.b.i." mr. trump had said before that he fired flynn, on february 13, for lying to the vice president. the reference to lying to the f.b.i. is key because former f.b.i. director james comey has said that the very next day, the president urged him to "let this go", referring to the flynn case. taken together, the two statements could suggest interference in the investigation. and in short order, the president's attorney john dowd said he had actually written
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that tweet. he also said mr. trump did not know in february that flynn had lied to the f.b.i. but that did little to quiet the legal questions. >> i think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice. >> reporter: senator dianne feinstein of california, ranking democrat on the senate judiciary committee, spoke sunday. >> i see it in the hyper- frenetic attitude of the white house, the comments every day, the continual tweets. and i see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of director comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the russia investigation. >> reporter: republican senator lindsey graham of south carolina offered a warning. >> you tweet and comment regarding ongoing criminal investigations at your own peril. i'd be careful if i were you, mr. president. i'd watch this. >> reporter: but michael mukasey, former attorney general
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under george w. bush, said sunday it's all being overblown. >> what i made of it is that a lot of the heavy breathing and speculation is completely unwarranted. that plea agreement, does not, to me, indicate there is much else there. >> reporter: meanwhile, mr. trump fired off new broadsides at the f.b.i. yesterday. he tweeted that "its reputation is in tatters." former obama attorney general eric holder defended the bureau, saying it's the f.b.i., not the white house, that has integrity and honesty. but mr. trump also zeroed in on news that the f.b.i.'s top agent on the russia probe was removed this summer for texts he had sent disparaging then-candidate trump. by this morning, he was branding the special counsel's investigation a "witch hunt."
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i say he an a --an colleague drafted a 3-7b piece to get its house arrest lifted t was never published. for the pbs newshour. >> o'brien: we take a closer at what we know now with: carol leonnig, an investigative reporter for the washington post. and stephanie douglas, a 23-year veteran of the f.b.i., where she worked on national security and counterintelligence issues. she now works in private practice. carol, over the weekend you spoke to john dowd. what was his explanation of the tweet and what exactly the president knew about mr. flynn and when did he know it? >> so john dowd is the president's personal lawyer. and on seatd at the poses we reported based on two sources that dowd had actually drafted and written that tweet. on sunday morning mr. dowd let me know that that was true. he had drafted it. and he also explained that it may not have been as precise as he would have liked. he used some other words for that and he said that the president didn't know that flynn had lied to the fbi.
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no one told, i should say, no one told the president that flynn had lied. he wanted people to understand that the white house counsel had communicated to the president that flynn had likely told the same inak rat story to the fbi that he told the vice president. >> o'brien: a little surprising that a defense attorney of that stature would be so imprecise. >> well, many people are speculating right now that indeed, the president did know this. but we can't know that for sure. it makes sense, or i should say it stands to reason that if you are told by your lawyer at the white house counsel that the information that flynn gave to the fbi agents was the same as the inaccurate account he gave to pens, that the president-- to pence that the president and his lawyer should deduece that it was a lie or at least omitting important facts. >> o'brien: stephanie, let's talk a little bit about obstruction of justice. maybe a little bit about what it takes to prove cases of that
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type. but how this tweet might or might not fit into such a case. >> well, first of all, to actually be able to charge an obstruction of justice count you have to be able to show intent, right. so there has to be a corrupt intention on the part of the person who is doing something or directing that something take place to basically obstruct justice. so if, for instance, a person asked someone to lie about something, that could be dedueced as an act of obstruction of justice. now we don't have information to suggest that that is what happened. but if someone told mike flynn to provide misleading information to the fbi, that could be dedueced as an act of obstruction of justice. as it goes to the tweet that was actually sent out over the weekend, remember, cases will not be made on just a simple tweet. especially given that the president does a lot of tweeting. he does very reactive tweeting. and whether the tweet was sent out by his attorney or whether he sent it out himself, it
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doesn't necessarily help this case. but it doesn't stand alone as being something that would imply obstruction. before there would be any charge of obstruction, based on anything that was said on twitter or any other social media component, there would be corroborating evidence that would be provided to bolster any kind of charge for something like that. >> o'brien: does it really matter whether the president or his attorney actually wrote out that tweet? >> well, i think the most important thing is is it accurate. i mean there, was there information that the president had that he knew of that mike flynn lied to the fbi. and then the important question is when, if that is the case, when did he know. i mean my immediate thing that i would want to know is if mike flynn after being interviewed by the fbi in february before the departure of james comey, if he returned to the white house and did he tell the president, or did he tell mib in the white
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house that he provided misleading information. and then did the president subsequently terminate james comey. >> o'brien: that would be the issue. >> yeah. >> o'brien: carol, let's talk further about your communications back and forth with john dowd. what did he say about a potential on strks-- obstruction case if at all. >> he said of obstruction, he sent me interesting reading material about this. he believes you cannot charge obstruction of the president. the president can't be guilty of that. but the president is allowed to fire someone in his administration and in this case, the fbi director. i think stephanie's absolutely right. it's the truth of what was the motive of the president that bob mueller is investigating. how much of a obstruction case does mueller have, we don't know. but that's the issue. what was the motive and the intent of the president when he acted. >> o'brien: intent is a tough thing to prove. >> absolutely mdz stephanie, the president, that's not all the tweets we have to discuss. so a series of tweets.
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some of them very critical of the fbi itself, your former agency, saying it was in tatters. what do you think about those tweets and do they fit into this case at all or are they kind of a side show? >> honestly, i think it's a side show. i mean there's been, you know, times in the past where the bureau has come under scrutiny for a lot of different things that have within interpreted by pom titions from either side. and they take a certain amount of like media buzz as a result. and this is just another time. we know that the president has said a lot of things about the fbi since he's been in office. a lot of them have not been very complimentary. but it serves as a distraction and is a-- but at the end of the day the men and women of the fbi will get to work and will recognize it for what it is, a distraction. >> o'brien: there's a lot of
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what about hillary clinton in all of this. and the president is suggesting there is a double standard here. do you see one? >> well, i mean, first of all, i don't know what information he has to say that he knows for certain that hillary clinton lied to the fbi. i think if there is evidence that hillary clinton lied to the fbi the fbi would take that very seriously and would continue to investigate it. and i don't think that there would be, should be a double standard on that. >> carol, you cowrote a fascinating piece over the weekend which takes us sort of inside the mueller bunker, if you will. maybe he wouldn't like that term. but this is where people are going and testifying. and some of the people have been there, spoke to you. what were your big impressions as you wrote that piece and as you heard from them? >> well, one thing was the dizzeing array of questions that people are facing. i mean some of the interviewees either through their friends or they themselves told thaws they were there for eight and nine
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hours straight. they had food brought in, partially because they didn't want to be noticed near bob mueller's investigative layer and partially because they really actually just wanted to get this interview over with and keep working thraw lunch. the other thing that struck me were the teams of prosecutors and agents that sit down, rotating in and out of the office, almost like a boxing match, okay, we have a fresh team coming in to talk to you about x. okay, now here is another fresh team. the other thing that struck me was were the details about the impression that people got that this is nowhere near over. that this is quite the beginning stages in a way of a long-running investigation. >> o'brien: just a quick word about that i demeanor, that was interesting to me. >> so one defense lawyer told us that he felt that this was a jock you lar, confident, relaxed crowd. and that gave him the heebie jeebies. he said when he wasn't talking about his own particular person
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but he said when you see people behaving that way, that are prosecutors, you feel like oh my gosh, in a heap of trouble. >> o'brien: the heeby jeebies, carol will on ig, stephanie douglas, thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> o'brien: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: what the mafia has to do with protecting the vatican against terrorism. rollbacks to two national monuments. and our politics monday team on the alabama senate race as polls show roy moore is making a comeback. but first, the civil war in yemen has claimed thousands of lives since it began in 2014. the country has spiraled to the brink of famine. one of history's worst cholera epidemics will have sickened one million by year's end.
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and today at least one more life ended amid the conflict: a man central to yemen's recent, modern history. ali abdullah saleh spent more than 30 years as yemen's president. he was forced from office amid yemen's arab spring, in 2012. a wily navigator of yemen's often-shifting loyalties and intrigue, he once said governing his country was like "dancing on the heads of serpents." in 2014 he joined forces with houthi rebels who opposed the government that replaced him; that government is backed by a saudi-led coalition getting u.s. support. last week, he switched sides, abandoning the houthis, and claiming he wanted to turn a "new page" with the saudi-led coalition. this morning, he was killed after an explosion at his family compound in the capital, sana'a. for more on this, i'm joined by jon alterman, a former senior state department middle east official. he's now a senior vice president and directs the middle east program at washington's center for strategic and international studies.
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jon, good to have you with us. >> thank you for having me. >> o'brien: saleh's death is shifting allegiance, a lot to unpack in a short period of time, first of all, who was this man? >> he was a former military officer who became president in 1978. in many ways engineered where the country went. he unified north and south yemen. he was constantly making deals with everybody. and one of the reasons why people thought that his switching sides might be good is because he was so unprincipled that he might be able to make a deal between the people attacking yemen, the houthis fighting for a certain vision of yemem and he might be able to bring this together. in the end he didn't have a chance. >> o'brien: as president he aligned himself with the saudis. and as not president he aligned himself with rebels who ultimately are aligned with the iranians. was that just a marriage of convenience, an opportunistic thing for him to regain power or was there something more afoot. >> everything about ali abdullah
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saleh was opportunistic. he lined him-- allied himself to the united states and sell rolled for the iraqis fighting the u.s. and said to americans i need more reps weapons for counterterrorism. i think what he was trying to do was find a way to advance his interests in yemen. and if he wasn't going to get it in the southis and emirateis he was going to get it from the people fighting the saudis and emirateis and make a deal with them. he fought the houthis and he was fighting with the houthis, there was never a principle. but if you have this grinding war, somebody who is willing to negotiate over everything is a potential tool. >> o'brien: so we had a situation which was described as kind of this bloody equilibrium, almost, now that he is removed from the picture, is there any opportunity to change the equation 20 try d-- to try to solve this problem? >> i think the u.s. government needs to test the proposition that this creates an opportunity for a new kind of diplomacy. what you have with chaos in yemen is it creates opportunities for the iranians
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at very low cost to help their folks. it creates opportunities for the islamic state and al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula to grow. i think the u.s. does have a keen interest in trying to settle things down in yemen. the houthis may feel much more isolatedded, weaker than they felt before. it's unclear what will happen to the forces that used to be aligned with saleh. the saudis and emirateis have been looking for the door to get out of this crisis for some time. i think this is really a time for the united states to explore whether we can put this conflict behind us, or at least get on the road to a resolution. >> o'brien: and mile when while what we is a terrible humanitarian crisis, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world complete with a blow cade for supplies what can be done in the short term 20 help these people suffering. >> the saudis say they are doing a lot. but the fact is we have the largest cholera epidemic as i understand it in global history. diphtheria breaking out, 20 million people who are food insecure. i think the u.s. needs to work
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with the saudis and the emirateis and others to get urgent medical services in to get food in, to understand there simply isn't a military solution to this. you can't starve the houthis out. you will have to have a political deal. and we should be looking for that deal. >> o'brien: a failed state in yemen. that is a national security concern for the united states and the rest of the world, isn't it. ncern, not only becauseity of-- yemen is at the gateway to the red sea, leading up to the seuz canal, but also because the problems in yemen have metastasized, there have been plots against the united states that originated in yemen. as long as it is in turm moil, totally ungoferred-- governed space, i think will there be are persistent threats against the u.s., saudi arabia and our friends. >> o'brien: do you suspect it will make matters worse or is there an opportunity. >> i think in the near term there will be a lot of people
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looking for revenge. it's unclear exactly what happened. it will take a little while for the dust to settle but i think it's imperative that we and the saudis and emirateis and others look to see if we can seize on this incident to change the dynamics, to change the equation and move this stalemate toward resolution. >> o'brien: jon alterman, thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> o'brien: as christmas approaches, law enforcement throughout europe is increasing security measures. it was this time last year when a terrorist rammed a truck into a pedestrian christmas market in berlin, killing 12 people. other major european cities-- paris, brussels, barcelona, and nice-- have been victimized by terrorism in recent years. but one country, italy, has remained remarkably unscathed. special correspondent christopher livesay in rome went to find out why.
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>> reporter: christmastime has arrived, a holy season for the catholic church, and the thousands of faithful who turn out to see the pope. added visitors means added security, and for good reason. the swiss guard, charged with protecting the pope, have said it's only a matter of time before terrorists hit the vatican. but while paris, london, and other european capitals have been targeted, rome has been spared. in recent days, isis has called on lone-wolf terrorists to weaponize their vehicles, in order to shed "christmas blood" at the vatican. isis videos have made similar threats on the pope, declaring" we will be in rome." that's gotten these visitors on edge. >> i guess i'd be worried about a car coming through. >> i appreciate the security measures, because you never know what can happen, right? >> reporter: stefano dambruoso is an expert on counterterrorism, and a member
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of the italian parliament. >> ( translated ): without a doubt, we're well aware that having the vatican here in our country's capital raises the danger of islamist terror attacks. to prevent that we've heightened cooperation between law enforcement and secret services. >> reporter: they've also built barricades preventing vehicles from approaching monuments and tightened security around sensitive targets. >> you got a knife inside? >> reporter: ...none more sensitive than pope francis. while the faithful are seeing this... >> spirito santo, amen. >> reporter: ...italian police are seeing this, the command center for vatican security, surveilling every inch of st peter's square and the surrounding area. so these are the eyes on all of the vatican. >> yes, a good part of the vatican. >> reporter: so this is the with this joystick you can zoom in and zoom out and scan the whole area. it's a level of security that goes hand-in-hand with decisive
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prevention. >> when a terrorist, a jihadi terrorist, comes with a bomb near to the objective, it's too late. >> reporter: giampiero massolo was the head of italian secret services until 2016. >> what you can do is prevent. you prevent by controlling the territory. trying to listen to whatever you can. >> reporter: it's a proven method italy cultivated over decades of battling another violent enemy, says antonio nicaso. >> the mafia helped italy prepare for terrorism, because the italian government used the same system they utilized for decades to deal with organized crime, building intelligence and controlling the territory. >> reporter: he says, it's also in the mafia's best interest to deny terrorists access to
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weapons, weapons they'd need to buy on the mafia-controlled black market; an attack would raise heat from police, and that's bad for business. >> the idea that violence is the only way to attract police and media attention makes criminals avoid violence, so the mafia don't like people to come in italy and do something, because that would increase police presence on the territory. >> reporter: you could say the mafia has helped italy prepare for terrorism accidentally. >> italy invested a lot in intelligence. and that is what makes italian police well-considered worldwide. >> reporter: that means undercover agents, wiretapping, sharing information across all levels of law enforcement, and swift action in the face of potential threats. so far this year, italy has
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deported almost 100 people for reasons of religious extremism. that seems rather aggressive. >> we usually don't wait. there is a good cooperation with the judiciary, and if we have suspicions, we send people away. >> reporter: sending people away, while fighting terrorists abroad. italy has been a chief american ally in the war on terror since 2001, with troops in afghanistan and iraq. experts worry that could make italy a target for retaliation, a country with a growing muslim population of nearly two million. khalid chaouki is italy's only muslim member of parliament, as well as the president of the islamic cultural center at rome's grand mosque, the biggest in europe. however, many mosques operate underground, he says, as italy does not recognize islam as an official religion.
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>> we give the possibility to some bad teachers to profit from these problems, of non- recognization, to say to them" italy doesn't want to recognize you. we can exploit you in a different way." and you can never be italian and really muslim. >> reporter: isis has issued several threats against rome in recent weeks. are you worried? >> i worry for our country, for our city, for our community, and also for me and my family. >> reporter: he also worries about the future of isis. while it rapidly loses ground in iraq and syria, chaos and fighting continue to spiral out of control in libya, just a few hundred miles from italy. >> ( translated ): the concern is tied to the close proximity to our territory. the caliphate has been
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practically defeated, but the terrorists haven't, and they're now moving to other failed states, such as libya. >> reporter: just one more factor keeping italian intelligence on high alert, abroad and at home. given the increasing risk of self-radicalized, lone-wolf attackers, italy's former intelligence chief concedes no amount of security is a guarantee against terrorism. >> why we haven't been yet hit. but yet! let's hope it will last. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm christopher livesay, in rome. >> o'brien: president trump traveled to utah today where he dramatically cut back the size of two national monuments in that state.
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it fulfills a pledge made months ago, and continues the trump administration's rollback of key parts of president obama's legacy. william brangham has the story. >> brangham: in salt lake city today, president trump announced his plan to downsize two national monuments, to rectify what he says were overreach by prior administrations. >> as many of you know past administrations have severely abused the purpose and spirit of the antiquities act. >> brangham: the announcement comes after interior secretary ryan zinke completed a months- long review of 27 different national monuments across the country. today, the president took aim at two different spots in utah. the first is bears ears, which was declared a national monument a year ago by then president obama. today, trump proposed shrinking the 1.3 million-acre monument by 85%, turning it into two smaller, separate monuments
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the second is grand staircase- esclante, designated by president clinton in 1996. its 1.8 million-acres will be reduced by almost half, and split into three smaller pockets of land. both obama and clinton declared these monumens using the antiquities act of 1906, which gives the president broad legal authority to protect historic landmarks, including cultural and natural resources that sit on public lands. but today, president trump, who had the full support of utah's all-republican delegation, again argued that these prior designations amounted to a federal land-grab. he argued these lands are better managed locally, not from washington d.c. >> some people think the natural resources of utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in washington and guess what, they're wrong.
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>> brangham: but the president's move has also sparked protests from conservation groups and native american tribes who call the president's announcement "a monumental mistake." the bears ears region is considered sacred to the five native american tribes who trace their ancestry to the site. filled with rock art, its home to over 100,000 native archaeological and cultural sites. native groups worry these sites will become damaged and inaccessible if they lose federal protection. several of those groups rallied over the weekend and today in utah in advance of the president's arrival. ethel branch is the lead lawyer for the navajo nation. >> to continue who we are as navajo people we have to have access to places like bears ears to pristine repositories of culturally significant resources in order to conduct our prayers. >> brangham: 10-year-old robbie >> brangham: today's announcement will likely continue to be fought in the courts. it's unclear whether a president
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can use the same antiquities act to undo a predecessors designation. experts on both sides say that decision that could alter the future of american land conservation. for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham. >> o'brien: as we reported earlier in the program, president trump threw his support behind alabama senate candidate roy moore today. john yang is here with more on the impact of the president's endorsement and the republican tax overhaul. >> yang: miles, to discuss all that, it's our usual "politics monday" team: amy walter of the "cook political report" and tamara keith of npr. the president had been dancing around this racial. -- race, he had bnl bashing the ren can and democrat. the first time that really came out endorsed roy moore, called m to give him the endorsement. what do you make of this shift.
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>> the president had clearly as you say been moving in this direction. and the white house justification is one that i think a lot of voters make too, which is the president is essentially saying i would rather have someone who agrees with my agenda then someone who dubt. now there's also a moral issue in terms of the things that moore is accused of. but a lot of people make that bargain. they make that-- voters make that choice. voters in the general election often feel that they don't have the luxury to care about moral concerns. they have to care about their issues things like abortion or the judiciary branch. who the judges would be that are picked. and it's a very similar evolution as what happened after the access hollywood video came out, right before the 2016 election. initially there were a lot of republicans that are like he should withdraw, this is over, this is terrible. and then eventually they mostly all came back home. and you also saw mitch mcconnell
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essentially coming back home with moore. >> yeah, it feels very similar to that trajectory that we saw after the access hollywood tape and now we are seeing in polling that roy moore, after being behind for a little while now is coming back up in the lead. a very narrow lead, only about two and a half points if you average the most recent polls. as we know donald trump likes to get in front of the parade, right. so if roy moore isn't truly picking up steam, we venl a week left in the cap pain he wants to be the within at the end of the day not only did i endorse this guy when so many other republicans were distancing themselves, but i was the reason that he won. right, and you can see him saying see, i still have the juice after his candidate, his original candidate luther strange lost and then he came out and endorsed over twitter the republican gubernatorial candidate in virginia who also lost. so this would be a needed win. the one thing also to point out for roy moore is that maybe a win for donald trump, he can claim it as a winnings but for republicans in the senate, this
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is going to be very complicated. remember, we have at least one senator, the head of the national republican senate committee, saying that he should be expelled if he wins. mitch mcconnell still saying that the ethics committee should investigate. this is going to be a real tough and awkward time for republicans should he come in there. and of course roy moore is not exactly a team player. so how he deals with leadership and a conference that's already trying to distance themselves from him is going to be really challenging. >> you mentioned the parallels with last year's election. the campaign, the women who came out with allegations against donald trump, now billy bush has raised that issue again with his op ed in "the new york times." one of the president's accusers has a hearing in court tomorrow in new york. in the current environment, is this issue going to come back on him or is this the argument that
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the voters knew about this, like they knew about bill clinton, and they made their decision. >> well, that's certainly the argument that the white house is making. which is voters put him in office after they knew about these charges against. of course president trump, candidate trump denied those charges and continues to deny them. but there's not a lot of recourse after an election. voters get to say and voters only get to say every four years when it comes to the president, and with members of congress, every two years or six years. >> and i think the other answer, we don't really know the answer. right, we still have members of congress right now who are being asked by members of their own leadership to resign. and we don't-- some of them are up for election this year. some are next year, some aren't. but will those folks be pushed out by leadership or castigated in some way by people who aren't their voters.
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that's the challenge right now for congress, right, is to show the voters that they are taking this seriously. but they also have the limitation that well, yes, we aren't your constituents. >> so now in the house and senate and capitol hill starting to hammer out the differences is between the two versions so they can send one bill to the president for his signature, how big a deal is this for the republicans. >> they feel very positive about where things are going. obviously they're still a lot to work out. but there's a sense that this is sort of a dream bill for a lot of republicans. it doesn't just cut corporate taxes and some taxes for other americans. but it gets rid of the estate tax or at least modifies it. it-- it gets rid of the individual mandate for health care it does all-- and, and, the big selling point for republicans is that it begins shrinking the size of government. they believe that this is going to put pressure on states and localities that have high taxes
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to lower their taxes, to be competitive. and they think that this is actually going to set up an imperative as soon as the spring to start cutting entitlements, things like medicaid and food stamps. >> this will be the first big legislative win for the republicans this year. >> that's right. >> does this change the political environment for the mid terms at all? >> it's a really good question, i have been asking a lot of political strategists that today. and here's where you start off, you start off with the public that is already pretty sceptical about this bill. only about 25 to 30% saying that they ak tiffly support it. so republicans have their work cut out for them in not just passing it through congress but they still have to sell it to voters as something that is a good thing. democrats know what their-- the weak points of the bill are. they will say this is great, now we'll force states to have to cut their budgets. well, a bunch of people who live in those high tax states say i can't take the write-off any more. >> i was pointing out, the
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republican, the voters are different. democrats really see this as nothing butt a winner for them in 2018 because there are so many holes to poke. the real question is if the economy continues to do well in 2018, i think that helps republicans. they can come back and say well, it's growth thanks to us. >> and little bit of time left, this city has been consumed by the michael flynn guilty plea on friday. and all the talk over the weekend. amy, you looked at races across the country. are democratic challenger talks about this. >> i sat down about a month ago with a whole bunch of house candidates who are challengers and republican districts. none of them talk about russia. none of them talked about trump. they all talked about these are the kind ol issues, health care, taxes, what's going on in washington. >> amy walter, tam keith, thanks a lot. >> you're welcome. >> you're welcome.
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>> o'brien: on the newshour online right now, opioid-driven deaths during hospital stays in the united states quadrupled between 1993 and 2014. that's according to a new study released monday. we dig into the research on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm miles o'brien. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century.
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>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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wes: we're the history detectives and we're going to investigate the untold stories from america's past. gwen: in this episode we uncover a story of political intrigue and presidential power concealed in this firehouse logbook. why in the world would ulysses s. grant be here instead of washington or even philadelphia, where the centennial exposition was? elyse: we use forensic analysis to discover the amazing history behind this exquisite little face. i mean, we need to figure out, is this a person? is this an effigy? is it an amulet? and most importantly, how in the world did it get here to the mantoloking beach? tukufu: and we delve into atlantic city's murky past to find out if this baseball field is evidence of corruption

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