JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I’m Judy Woodruff.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: what’s being called
a damning account.
The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testifies
behind closed doors that President Trump directly
tied military aid to personal political help.
Then: shifting alliances.
Russia and Turkey announce a deal to take
joint control of a vast swathe in Northern
Syria, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops
in the region.
And a conversation with 2020 Democratic presidential
hopeful Senator Kamala Harris, as she campaigns
in Iowa ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Our Amna Nawaz speaks with former Secretary
of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen about
her controversial tenure enforcing the administration’s
And finally: Rethinking College.
The airline industry is booming, but the cockpits
are empty — how community colleges are tackling
an unprecedented pilot shortage by preparing
students to take flight.
BRYAN MCKUNE, Manager of Pilot Development,
Alaska Airlines: It’s being very competitive,
and there’s only so many.
And so, as this shortage increases, and the
pool gets smaller and smaller, and you can
imagine it’s going to be more enticement,
All the airlines want to grow.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
JUDY WOODRUFF: The congressional impeachment
inquiry now has critical new evidence tying
President Trump to possible abuse of power.
It came today from the man running the U.S.
Embassy in Ukraine.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor
begins our coverage.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: A new day, a new startling
witness in the growing impeachment inquiry.
This time, it was acting Ambassador to Ukraine
Taylor delivered a 15-page opening statement
that stunned the room.
Taylor said Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador
to the European Union, had been told by President
Trump — quote — “that he wasn’t asking for
a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist
that President Zelensky go to a microphone
and say he is opening investigations of Biden
and 2016 election interference.”
Freshman Democrat Andy Levin of Michigan called
Taylor’s testimony disturbing.
ANDY LEVIN (D-MI): All I have to say is that,
in my 10 short months in Congress, it’s not
even noon, right, and this is the — my most
disturbing day in Congress.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Taylor had been ambassador
to Ukraine a decade ago.
He agreed to fill in again in June, after
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly
In text messages to Sondland, Taylor voiced
He called it — quote — “crazy to withhold
security assistance for help with a political
Sondland then replied: “The president has
been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any
kind” and — quote — “I suggest we stop the
back and forth by text.”
Today, House Democrats said those messages
and Taylor’s deposition are central to their
Meanwhile, there was bipartisan backlash to
President Trump comparing impeachment to lynching.
Early today, President Trump tweeted that
— quote — “All Republicans must remember
what they are witnessing here, a lynching.”
The blowback came quickly.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn:
JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, I think to have
the president classify a constitutional remedy
to an unlawful, egregious act such as lynching
is beneath the dignity of the office of president
of the United States.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Tim Scott, the only black
Republican in the Senate, also spoke out.
TIM SCOTT (R-SC): There is no question that
the impeachment process is the closest thing
of a political death row trial, so I get his
absolute rejection of the process.
I wouldn’t use the word lynching.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: GOP leaders like House Minority
Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell distanced themselves
from the president’s language.
MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Given the history
in our country, I wouldn’t compare this to
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But South Carolina Senator
Lindsey Graham, a close ally of President
Trump, defended him.
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is a lynching
in every sense.
This is un-American.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And White House Deputy Press
Secretary Hogan Gidley said this:
HOGAN GIDLEY, White House Deputy Press Secretary:
He’s not comparing himself to those dark times.
Whether you’re white, black, brown, red, it
His policies have lifted all the boats in
this country, and that is the story.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: All this comes as reports
suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin and
Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban negatively
influenced President Trump’s view of Ukraine.
Both countries view Ukraine as hostile to
their own interests.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And Yamiche joins me now, even
as this story continues to develop.
So, Yamiche, it’s pretty clear that Ambassador
Taylor, what he had to say startled lawmakers
in what he had to say about the administration,
in exchange for information about what happened
in 2016 and going forward about Joe Biden,
that the ambassador was saying the administration
clearly withheld military aid.
But what more did we learn about what he had
to say today?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Bill Taylor, the top U.S.
diplomat in Ukraine, came to Capitol Hill
and delivered stunning testimony.
I spoke to several people who were in the
room, and they told me that there were audible
gasps and that people were really sighing
and really surprised by the fact that Bill
Taylor was laying out what he believes was
a pressure campaign by President Trump and
his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to really
pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats
for his own political gain.
I want to walk through some of that 15-page
opening statement, because it was really stunning,
even as Bill Taylor spoke for hours.
So, some of the things he said was, Ambassador
Sondland — now, he is the E.U. ambassador
— the ambassador to the European Union — said
that he had talked to President Zelensky and
Mr. Yermak — now, that’s a top aide to President
Zelensky — and told them that although there
wasn’t a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky
didn’t clear things up in public, we would
be at a — quote — “stalemate.
I understood stalemate to mean that Ukraine
wouldn’t receive much needed military assistance.”
He went on to say that: “Everything was dependent
on such an announcement, including security
So, what you saw there was Bill Taylor really
walking lawmakers through what he felt was
a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to do things
to benefit President Trump politically.
And it’s also stunning to put in that statement
that Bill Taylor said he pushed back on Ambassador
Gordon Sondland and said, you know, why is
President Trump doing this?
It seems crazy.
And Gordon Sondland told him, well, President
Trump is a businessman, and that he feels
as though he needs to get what’s owed to him
before he signs.
And Bill Taylor essentially said, well, President
Trump isn’t really owed anything from Ukraine.
And Gordon Sondland basically doubled down
and said the president needed to get what
he wanted to get before this military aid
would go to Ukraine.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yamiche, given that, how
does this fit — how did — what Ambassador
Taylor had to say, how does this fit into
the overall impeachment inquiry at this point?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Democrats say that Bill
Taylor is now a central part of the impeachment
They say that his testimony is really evidence
that President Trump was engaged in this quid
Now, a number of lawmakers came out praising
Bill Taylor for his words.
I want to also, though, explain that Bill
Taylor talked specifically about the president’s
personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Here’s what he said.
He said his involvement — quote — “shows
how the official foreign policy of the United
States was undercut by the irregular efforts
led by Mr. Giuliani.”
So, essentially, he’s saying Mr. Giuliani,
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney,
his work was intertwined, and that that was
troubling to him.
That dovetails and really goes in with what
all the other people have been saying to lawmakers
that they have come to Capitol Hill.
The ambassador to Ukraine, the former ambassador
to Ukraine, that was removed said the same
And really what we’re seeing is a clearer
and clearer picture of the fact that Rudy
Giuliani was doing the president’s bidding.
But there are lawmakers that say that this
is really just the beginning of this and that
Bill Taylor is going to be possibly leading
to Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the
European Union, being called back to Congress.
They’re also saying that his testimony might
accelerate the impeachment inquiry.
So we are going to have to really see how
these developments continue, as Bill Taylor
might just be the beginning of other people
being called back to Congress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, separately, Yamiche, you
did refer and you were reporting on the reaction
to the president comparing this inquiry to
We heard what some members of Congress have
had to say today about that.
But I know you have been talking to the White
How does this — what does this say about
how they view this impeachment inquiry and
how they’re dealing with it?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: President Trump understands
what a lynching is.
And he rally was trying the use the strongest
language that he felt possible to explain
the fact that he feels as though he’s being
wronged by this impeachment inquiry.
The White House is saying that he didn’t mean
to compare himself to the mass murder of African-Americans,
which is what lynching refers to.
But, that said, there are a lot of people,
including members of the president’s own party,
who are really up in arms with his use of
the language of lynching.
And we should remain — or we should explain
to people that lynching is something that
happened between 1882 and 1958, according
to the NAACP, and about 4,700 Americans were
lynched, and the vast majority of them were
So there are people who are still alive whose
family members were lynched who were killed
just because they were African-American.
So, this is really painful history that President
Trump was talking about.
But, that being said, there are Democrats
who are really saying that this is more of
the same from President Trump, that he’s been
someone who has been using, they consider,
racist language and other things that have
really been making race relations in this
country harder and harder and the divisions
But there are Republicans who say that the
president should feel wronged because they
feel as though the impeachment inquiry is
JUDY WOODRUFF: So interesting to hear the
different reactions from the two Republican
U.S. senators from South Carolina, Tim Scott
and Lindsey Graham, to the president’s comments.
Yamiche Alcindor, reporting for us from the
Capitol today, thank you, Yamiche.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thanks so much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The cease-fire between Turkey
and Syrian Kurds expired earlier today, but
was quickly replaced by a new agreement brokered
by Vladimir Putin, not the United States.
Now the fragile truce will continue, and,
as Nick Schifrin reports, raising the question,
where does this leave the U.S. and its Kurdish
NICK SCHIFRIN: With cameras flashing, Syria’s
top two power brokers met to discuss and divide
In the Russian resort of Sochi, Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat down with host Russian
President Vladimir Putin.
After a six-hour meeting, Erdogan said Turkey,
Russia, and the Syrian regime together would
evict Kurdish fighters known as the YPG.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through
translator): YPG Terrorists and their arms
will be taken farther than 30 kilometers from
Their fortifications and positions will be
Turkish and Russian joint patrols will begin.
NICK SCHIFRIN: That is not what the U.S. expected.
Last week, the U.S. and Turkey negotiated
a buffer zone 18 miles deep and 75 miles wide
where Turkish forces, in blue, entered, and
Kurdish forces retreated.
And this is the area Turkey and Russia agreed
to, the Syrian-Turkish border all the way
to Iraq and the strategically important towns
of Manbij and Tal Rifat, an expanse of more
than 300 miles across.
And after six days, the Turks and Russians
promise joint patrols, indefinitely, within
six miles of the border.
Russian forces have backed and saved Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin called
the agreement a permanent solution.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President (through
translator): In my opinion, these decisions
are very important, maybe even momentous,
and will allow to resolve the situation.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But, today, Russian ally Assad
met with his forces in Idlib, the final rebel
He called the agreement an illegal annexation.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, President of Syria (through
translator): Erdogan is a thief who stole
the factories, stole wheat, stole oil in collaboration
with ISIS, and now he is stealing the land.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. also objects.
Today, the administration’s point man on Syria,
Ambassador James Jeffrey, told the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee the Russian-Turkish
agreement increased instability.
JAMES JEFFREY, U.S. Special Representative
for Syria Engagement: And the process has
scrambled the entire Northeast, undercut our
efforts against ISIS, and brought in the Russians
and the Syrian regime forces in a way that
is really tragic for everybody involved.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The administration has promised
to impose new sanctions on Turkey.
Jeffrey didn’t follow through on those threats,
and instead called the Russian military paper
JAMES JEFFREY: The ability to patrol with
the Russians 10 kilometers deep, and a potentially
not particularly believable Russian commitment
to get the YPG out of that area.
So, Turkey has not really gained all that
much from this.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But it’s not clear the U.S.
can do anything about it.
U.S. troops crossing from Syria into Iraq
were dubbed traitors by Kurds, who up until
last week called them partners.
Today, the Pentagon said U.S. troops would
move to Iraq to fight ISIS. but Iraq said
those troops don’t have permission to stay
in the country.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper promised
not to keep them there forever.
MARK ESPER, U.S. Defense Secretary: The aim
isn’t to stay in Iraq interminably.
The aim is to pull our soldiers out and eventually
get them back home.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, the White House authorized
$4.5 million to help the group known as the
White Helmets, who try to protect civilians
from Assad and Russian bombs.
But while millions have already the regime,
nearly 200,000 more civilians have now fled
the Turkish incursion.
Some have already left for Iraq.
Others, like this group still in Eastern Syria,
wait to cross the border.
ZAINAB RASSUL, Displaced Kurd (through translator):
The future is gone.
We left our future.
I left and came here, just so we can save
NICK SCHIFRIN: But it’s too late to save many
Kurdish forces who fought against ISIS and
were killed by Turkish-backed troops.
In total, more than 700 have been killed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And Nick joins me now here.
And with us from Northern Iraq, special correspondent
She’s on assignment there near the Syrian-Iraqi
So, Jane, tell us.
You have been talking to people there.
How are people who live in that area affected
by all these changes?
JANE FERGUSON: As we heard there, Judy, from
Nick’s piece, up to 200,000 people have already
fled that area.
And what we’re likely to see going forward
is a great deal more people fleeing.
There is huge uncertainty.
Now, if this deal does bring an end to the
fighting, that’s only one facet for Kurds
living in that area.
They will be very afraid of the prospect of
seeing within a week Turkish forces across
Although it won’t be as deep across the border
as Erdogan initially wanted, the full 20 miles,
those six miles are still host to many Kurdish
It’s still part of the Kurdish heartland.
So we’re likely to see more people fleeing,
both within Syria, being internally displaced,
but also across the border here in Iraq.
We have seen families arriving every day.
And they’re not just fleeing the fighting.
They’re fleeing the prospect of a potential
Turkish occupation of their homeland.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Nick, what do these changes
mean for the United States, the things that
the U.S. has focused on, including those ISIS
prisoners who were being held by Kurdish fighters?
NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, 10,000 ISIS prisoners,
according to the U.S., are being held by Kurdish
And for the first time today, we saw a senior
U.S. official, Jim Jeffrey, who we saw in
that piece, admit that, in his words, dozens,
not hundreds, dozens of ISIS fighters have
Now, the Syrian Observatory, who tracks pretty
much everything that happens in Syria, says
that 800 ISIS family members have already
And Jeffrey admitted that he has no way, the
U.S. has no way to track any of the ISIS fighters
that have been released.
He expressed confidence that the Kurds who
are still guarding these prisons would still
continue to do so.
But he said that some of the prisons are inside
the new Turkish-Russian safe zone.
And he said he didn’t know what was going
to happen to those prisoners.
And it’s just a good reminder that ISIS remains
The Pentagon itself, the inspector general
just a few months ago said there were 18,000
ISIS members across Syria and Iraq and in
Syria still establishing resurgent cells,
basically trying to become an insurgency again.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And separately from this, Jane,
back to that news conference today with Turkey’s
President Erdogan and Vladimir Putin of Russia.
You were listening to that, along with us.
And you were telling us you were hearing some
of the finer points that were being made.
What were you focused on?
JANE FERGUSON: What was interesting, Judy,
wasn’t just what was said, but what wasn’t
Now, Erdogan has had extremely strong language
in recent days talking about cracking skulls
of the terrorists.
But what we heard of today was this push to
get YPG, or the Kurdish fighters, out of the
20-mile buffer zone.
He was very specific about saying fighters.
Now, he wasn’t specifically saying Kurdish
That’s likely in response to a huge amount
of concern and global concern and fear over
ethnic cleansing of those areas, over a potential
plan by Erdogan to sort of de-Kurdish the
area, so to speak, because, in the background,
you know, the context to all of this and this
buffer zone and pushing these Kurdish fighters
out is Erdogan’s plan that he has talked about
openly to resettle several million Syrian
refugees, most of whom are Arabs in those
areas, in what is the Kurdish heartland.
So that has caused massive concern about whether
or not that would clarify — or qualify as
Now, by saying that they want the Kurdish
fighters out, they haven’t really clarified
what would happen to their families, the people
— the communities that they come from that
live in those areas.
They have not talked about having any kind
of peace deal or any kind of deal for the
Kurdish fighters to put down their weapons.
Instead, they have said they just want them
to leave that entire area.
Where that leaves the many, many other Kurdish
families and civilians who are related to
these fighters is not clear at this stage.
And there’s still a concern that there could
be a huge ethnic shift in that area as a result
of the organization of this deal and how it
pans out in the coming months.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s so important, Nick,
because, as Jane is saying, the Turks are
saying, we’re only concerned about the Kurdish
But some are interpreting that as their being
opposed to all people of Kurdish heritage.
But, Nick, what I finally want to ask you
about is how the map has changed.
And the U.S. believed it had an understanding
with Turkey about how far Turkey was going
to go into Northern Syria.
Now it appears the Turks may be going farther.
What is the U.S. reaction going to be?
NICK SCHIFRIN: The Russian-Turkish safe zone
is four times the size of the U.S.-Turkish
And, today, Kurdish fighters and Kurdish leaders
said that the Turks were attacking them outside
the agreed-upon U.S.-Turkish safe zone.
So both of those are abrogations of the deal
that Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary
of State Mike Pompeo agreed with President
Erdogan last week in Ankara.
And the U.S. has vowed to sanction Turkey
if Turkey acted beyond that deal.
This morning, just a few hours before Jim
Jeffrey testified, a senior administration
official reiterated that to me and a few other
reporters, saying, if the Turks violate our
agreement, we no longer have an agreement
to lift our sanctions and freeze our sanctions.
So, there is a U.S. threat on the table that
was made before the Russia-Turkey deal was
And we will see if the U.S. follows that up.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Assad has more control
over territory today.
The Turkish gains have been cemented.
And, of course, Russia has more influence
And it’s not clear the U.S. can do anything
JUDY WOODRUFF: Although they will say that
we have had this understanding, it’s not clear,
as you say, where they go.
NICK SCHIFRIN: It’s up to the U.S. to follow
through on its threat to punish Turkey for
And we will see if they actually follow through
on that threat.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s not only Russia winning
here diplomatically, if you will.
It’s the Russian military.
Jane, they’re along the border between Syria
You were telling us, as soon as the U.S. troops
leave, it’s the Russian troops coming in.
JANE FERGUSON: It’s been a remarkable turnaround,
Judy, in just about a couple of weeks, since
we have seen the announcement from President
Trump that the U.S. troops would be pulling
out, to now seeing Russian troops — not just
Vladimir Putin negotiating this deal in Sochi,
but, yes, Russian troops will soon be patrolling
the entire border area up and down, all the
way here to the Iraqi border.
And it’s been a massive turnaround.
It can’t be stressed enough how much of a
reversal that is.
We have, of course, seen images of Russian
troops entering into hastily evacuated American
bases along that border.
And now we will see Russian boots along the
ground, along the entire stretch of it.
It really solidifies that military presence
along an extremely strategically important
area of the Middle East that cuts between
Iraq and Lebanon.
And the — we will see Russian boots on the
ground there potentially indefinitely.
There’s been no mention of when they would
leave, if ever.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jane Ferguson, reporting from
the Iraqi side of the Iraq-Syria border, Nick
Schifrin here with me in Washington, thank
NICK SCHIFRIN: Thanks very much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Protesters
in Lebanon were out in force again, rejecting
a promise of economic reforms.
Security forces in Beirut and elsewhere tried
to persuade demonstrators to clear the roads,
but thousands still turned out, demanding
the government resign.
WAJDI TAHMOUSH, Protester (through translator):
We are staying in the streets.
This is the sixth day.
And we will stay for 60 if they don’t want
The people do not trust this political class.
We don’t believe them anymore, because, today,
they say something, and, tomorrow, they change.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Embattled Lebanese Prime Minister
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri met with Western
and Arab ambassadors today, seeking foreign
investment to help Lebanon’s economy.
In Afghanistan, Taliban fighters stormed a
checkpoint in the north, killing at least
The attackers struck in the Aliabad district
of Kunduz province late last night and set
off an hours-long gun battle.
Government and Taliban forces have been fighting
in the surrounding region for several weeks.
Lawmakers in Britain voted today to back a
Brexit plan in principle for the first time.
But they demanded more time to consider the
Britain has already asked to again delay leaving
the European Union past October 31.
European Council head Donald Tusk said today
that he supports the delay.
Voters in Canada have handed Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau a second term in office, but
they have taken away his majority in Parliament.
Trudeau won Monday’s national election, despite
an ethics scandal and revelations that he
had worn blackface years ago.
As the counting confirmed his victory, he
and his wife greeted a cheering crowd in Montreal
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
To those who voted for our party, thank you
for putting your trust in our team.
Thank you for having faith in us to move this
country in the right direction.
And to those — and to those who didn’t vote
for us, know that we will work every single
day for you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party
will need support from at least one other
party to form a majority coalition in Parliament.
The new emperor of Japan formally announced
his reign today.
Naruhito proclaimed his ascension as the country’s
126th monarch during an elaborate ceremony,
complete with traditional rituals and costumes.
The 59-year-old inherited the throne in May,
after his father abdicated.
Back in this country, the Trump White House
is bracing for a new book expected to offer
a scathing insider’s view of his presidency.
It comes from the same anonymous official
who wrote an essay last year, and said that
many in the administration were actively blocking
the president’s orders.
The new book will be out next month.
Former President Jimmy Carter has been hospitalized
in Georgia after falling at his home last
night and fracturing his pelvis.
A spokeswoman said the injury is minor and
that Mr. Carter is in good spirits.
At 95, he is the oldest former U.S. president
American consumers will have more choices
under Obamacare next year.
The Trump administration says that 20 additional
health insurance companies will participate
in the Affordable Care Act.
At the same time, the administration is asking
a federal appeals court to rule that the entire
law is unconstitutional.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial
average lost 39 points to close at 26788.
The Nasdaq fell 58 points, and the S&P 500
And the U.S. Postal Service announced a new
stamp today paying tribute to our late “NewsHour”
colleague Gwen Ifill.
It honors her trailblazing, decades-long career
The stamp will be available next year as part
of a black heritage series.
Gwen died in 2016 of complications from cancer.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a conversation
with 2020 Democratic hopeful Senator Kamala
Harris of California; former Homeland Security
head Kirstjen Nielsen on her controversial
tenure at the top of the department; and learning
to fly at community college — students take
on the pilot shortage.
With just over 100 days from the first votes
being cast in the 2020 Democratic presidential
primary, 18 candidates are competing for their
One of them, California Senator Kamala Harris,
she joins us now from Iowa City, Iowa.
Senator Harris, welcome to the “NewsHour.”
And I am going to start with a question we
KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), Presidential Candidate:
Good to be with you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good to be with you.
I’m going the start with a question I have
posed to every other Democratic hopeful we
have interviewed, and that is, why you?
What do you say to voters who want to know
why you are the most qualified to be the next
KAMALA HARRIS: Well, I think there is no question
that justice is on the ballot in 2020.
And justice is on ballot when we talk about
health care justice, reproductive freedoms
justice, economic justice, criminal justice,
you know, justice in terms of equal pay for
All of these things are on the ballot, including
the fact that we have probably the most corrupt
and unpatriotic person that has ever occupied
the White House.
And I have a career and a background and a
history of working on each of these issues
and fighting in the name of the people.
And when I stand in a courtroom, when I stand
before the United States Senate, and when
I stand before the people of Iowa City, where
I am right now, it has always been for the
people, and understanding that a harm against
any one of us is a harm against all of us,
and also fighting for the people, with the
spirit and the understanding that it’s all
the people, regardless of race, or gender,
or the party with which they’re registered
to vote, or the language their grandmother
JUDY WOODRUFF: So much to ask you, Senator,
but let’s start with something you mentioned.
And that’s health care.
KAMALA HARRIS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You were an original supporter
of Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all.
KAMALA HARRIS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: During the course of the campaign
so far, there have been some exchanges with
you about whether you thought that that should
or shouldn’t include private insurance.
But, in the end, in the summer, you came out
with plan you’re calling Medicare for all.
KAMALA HARRIS: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it would keep private health
KAMALA HARRIS: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I just want to say that Senator
Sanders’ campaign is saying this is not really
Medicare for all.
They say you have folded to the interests
of the health insurance industry.
KAMALA HARRIS: Well, they’re wrong.
I have always supported Medicare for all.
I was very happy to sign on to Bernie’s bill.
And I give Bernie, frankly, a lot of credit
for moving the conversation to where it is
But I thought we could do better.
And, in particular, I have traveled the country,
and there are lots of folks out there who
want Medicare for all.
They want to know everyone is covered, that
we bring costs down, that preexisting conditions
will not be a ban to access to health care.
But also people don’t want us to take away
And similar to Medicare right now, the current
form of Medicare, people have the choice to
get private plans, in addition to the public
plans that are available.
So what I am proposing is Medicare for all.
And in my plan, as distinguished from Bernie
and Warren’s plan, yes, people do have a choice
of getting a private or a public plan.
But it is going to cover everyone.
It’s going to bring down costs.
And, Judy, I should also mention I’m not going
to increase taxes on middle-class families.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about
that, because Joe Biden’s campaign has taken
a look at your proposal…
KAMALA HARRIS: Sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … over the last couple of
And what they are saying about it is that
it pushes this Medicare for all 10 years into
the future, and they say it is going to create
a large, a huge tax increase on the middle
KAMALA HARRIS: They’re just — they’re wrong.
First of all, even Kathleen Sebelius, the
architect of the Affordable Care Act, has
said my plan is the most effective in getting
coverage for everyone.
I give a 10-year window, yes, because, in
particular, our friends in organized labor
said, hey, Kamala, we negotiated down our
wages, or we didn’t take an increase in wages,
so we could have a better health care plan.
And those are usually negotiated over a four-
or five-year basis.
The Medicare for all plan offered by some
others on the stage would do a four-year transition,
which wouldn’t be enough for folks in labor
to be able to renegotiate.
So I said, OK, well, let’s do ours a 10-year,
but the fact remains that, in our plan, over
half the population will be in the plan within
the first five years.
But we do give a longer span of time for those
who need to renegotiate, such as folks in
But the reality is, right now, Judy, 30 million
people don’t have access to affordable health
And doing nothing is absolutely not an option.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about a story
that is one of our headlines tonight, and
that’s what’s going on in Syria.
You know, with President Trump deciding to
pull U.S. troops out of Northern Syria, the
Turks have come across the border.
I know you have been critical of the president’s
decision, but my question to you is, what
would you do differently?
Once the leader of Turkey says, we’re coming
across the border, what do you do?
KAMALA HARRIS: OK.
Well, first of all, I’m the only person on
the debate stage who serves in the Senate
Intelligence Committee, and I am also on the
Senate Homeland Security Committee.
And I will tell you that there is no question
in my mind, and I think most would agree,
that Donald Trump taking this unilateral action,
based on, apparently, a phone call, has now
delivered four wins for — meaning Russia,
Iran, Syria, and ISIS, and has put our national
security at risk, based on his unilateral
What would we do going forward?
Listen, each day, it changes, because he has
basically played into the hands of the Russians,
who are now dictating what Turkey will do
in terms of the Kurds at the border.
And I, frankly, believe that there is…
KAMALA HARRIS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, what
would you have done differently?
I mean, once you had that conversation with
the president of Turkey, President Erdogan,
and he said…
KAMALA HARRIS: I wouldn’t have…
JUDY WOODRUFF: … we’re going across the
border, what do you — do you get into a war
with the Turks?
KAMALA HARRIS: But — well, I think that we
have to understand there are many interpretations
of that conversation.
But there is nothing that was a changed circumstance.
If the United States of America and the commander
in chief of the United States of America says,
we are not going to abandon the Kurds, who
stood with us, fought with us — because,
let’s remember, that was a counterterrorism
That wasn’t a humanitarian mission.
We have been in Syria because of ISIS and
the threat that ISIS poses to our national
And the Kurds stood with us, and by the tens
of thousands, by some estimates, died in battle,
in a battle with us fighting ISIS.
So, in that conversation, to your point, Judy,
there had to have been, there should have
been from the commander in chief of the United
States some backbone to say, we’re not going
to abandon our friends.
We’re not going to stand back and let this
border be opened up, so you can massacre the
people who stood with us.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I don’t want to be too…
KAMALA HARRIS: So, yes, I absolutely would
have handled that conversation differently.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I don’t want to be too speculative,
but your point is that you would never have
taken U.S. troops out; you would leave them
— you would have left them there?
KAMALA HARRIS: No, no, no, that’s not what
We need to end these endless wars.
We need to bring our troops back, but we have
to do it in a responsible way, and certainly
not because Erdogan has said, I want to get
in there and claim that territory, certainly
not because Putin knows that it is in his
best interests and it’s always been part of
his long-term plan to increase his reach into
the Middle East.
And this is the problem with the way that
Donald Trump conducts foreign policy…
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to…
KAMALA HARRIS: which, it is transactional,
based on a phone call, instead of understanding
that there are long-term, not to mention short-term,
consequences for every act and not to mention
every word he speaks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I just want to cover a couple
of other things while we have you, Senator.
KAMALA HARRIS: Sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that is the impeachment
Do you agree with the approach by the House
of Representatives to focus narrowly now on
the president’s dealings with Ukraine, the
leader of Ukraine, or should this be a broader
KAMALA HARRIS: I’m not going to second-guess
what they’re doing.
But I do believe that, again, as I said, justice
is very much on the ballot.
And there has still not been any real consequence
or accountability as it relates to the findings
in the Mueller report.
We all know that Bob Mueller and that report
were very clear that, but for a memo in the
Department of Justice saying that a sitting
president can’t be indicted, that Donald Trump
would have probably been indicted.
But I think that it is right also for the
inquiry to focus on the matter at hand, which
is that there was clearly — and we know that
from the testimony that we’re hearing about
today — there was clearly quid pro quo, and
that the president of the United States committed
a crime, it appears, committed a crime, even
by his own confession, when it comes to soliciting
assistance from a foreign government in a
way that would benefit his campaign and benefit
him personally and politically.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just — and just in matter
of a few seconds, concern about whether this
impeachment inquiry interferes with the 2020
contest among Democrats, that it takes attention
away from what your message is?
KAMALA HARRIS: I think we can walk and chew
gum at the same time.
I’m here in Iowa City.
The concerns that people have when I’m doing
the town halls and the meetings in living
rooms that I’m doing are varied.
People are concerned about whether their democracy
is being undone by Donald Trump.
They are worried about whether their system
of justice still has any integrity.
Does the rule of law matter?
And they are concerned about the fact that
almost half of American families can’t afford
a $400 unexpected expense or that a $500 medical
bill will bankrupt them.
These are — these coexist as priorities.
And I think we need to be able to never underestimate
the intelligence of the American people to
be concerned about the integrity of their
And that concern is born out of a love of
And, also, they want to know their government
works for them in giving them medical care,
giving them — their children an adequate,
if not a superior public education certainly
than what they’re getting, and a number of
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Kamala Harris, joining
us tonight from Iowa City, Iowa, thank you,
KAMALA HARRIS: Thank you, Judy.
I appreciate it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Trump administration’s
policies on separation of families, migrant
children, border security and immigration
have been some of the most controversial and
criticized policies throughout the president’s
Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen
Nielsen was known for specifically executing
and defending those policies when she headed
the department between December 2017 and April
of this year.
In a rare interview, she sat down this afternoon
with our Amna Nawaz at the “Fortune” magazine
Most Powerful Women Summit here in Washington.
And Amna joins me now.
AMNA NAWAZ: Hi, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you had a chance to talk
Tell us more about the circumstances, Amna.
How did she happen to be at this event?
We were saying this is her first interview
in many months.
AMNA NAWAZ: It is.
It’s her first since leaving the administration,
When she resigned in April of this year, she
basically sort of went silent.
We haven’t really heard much from her then.
And, in truth, even when she was head of Homeland
Security, she rarely gave interviews.
But this was a private summit.
People had to register and pay in advance
It wasn’t open to the public.
It was hosted by “Fortune.”
It’s called Women in Power.
And, actually, her presence at the summit
got a lot of outrage, basically because people
said she shouldn’t be given a platform in
such — in this kind of environment to talk
about her policies.
Actually, people who were booked on the panels
backed out because Nielsen was going to be
there, including filmmaker Dream Hampton,
singer Brandi Carlile, even former Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton.
She cited a scheduling conflict, but a source
close to her told reporters it was actually
because she didn’t want to share the bill
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there is a lot of controversy
around what happened during her tenure.
And one of the things that got the most attention
was the administration’s policy of separating
families at the border, especially children.
You asked her about that.
AMNA NAWAZ: I did indeed.
Remember, in her role as the head of Homeland
Security, she had to sign off on that policy
of separating children from their parents
at the U.S. Southern border.
I asked her, knowing everything she knows
now, looking back, does she regret making
Here’s what she had to tell me:
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, Former U.S. Secretary of
Homeland Security: I don’t regret enforcing
the law, because I took an oath to do that,
as did everybody at the Department of Homeland
We don’t make the laws.
We asked Congress to change the law.
Congress reviewed the law in 2006, and decided
to continue to make it illegal to cross in
What I do wish had worked a lot better is
that the coordination and information flow
were simply insufficient for that number of
It’s heartbreaking that any family felt at
any time that they had to cross the border
illegally, because this is a terrible, dangerous
So what I regret is that we haven’t solved
And what I regret is that that information
flow and coordination to quickly reunite the
families was clearly not in place, and that’s
why the practice was stopped through an executive
AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, I have to point out it’s
somewhat remarkable to hear her all these
many months later saying she doesn’t regret
the decision that is easily one of the most
controversial policies under the Trump administration
we have seen so far.
You can see she stuck very close to the same
talking points that she had back when she
was running the agency, that all they were
doing was enforcing the law.
We have to continue to point out, there is
no federal law that mandates the separation
of children from their parents at the border.
We know that this was done because of a DOJ
policy change, saying everyone had to be prosecuted,
so Nielsen had to sign off on those families
And we also know thousands of children were
separated as a result.
The authorities are still trying to figure
out exactly how many and how to reunite them
JUDY WOODRUFF: Still trying to figure out
AMNA NAWAZ: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And separate from all this
— and you have been reporting on this — are
the concerns that have since been raised about
the effect that this separation has had on
AMNA NAWAZ: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s been a lot of research
and looking into that.
And you talked to Secretary Nielsen about
AMNA NAWAZ: I did.
There’s been a lot of scrutiny since the policy
was ended, a lot of people called to testify
before Congress about what they knew and when
they knew it.
We know officials on the HHS side — that
was responsible for the care and the custody
of those children — said, we were raising
We knew this would be traumatic for children.
We didn’t want them to do this.
We also know there were people within DHS,
which was Nielsen’s agency.
So I asked her, did any of those concerns
reach you about the harm to children?
Here’s what she had to say:
Did people ever specifically raise to you
the concern that children would be traumatized
a result — as a result of this policy?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: Not when
I was — not during that…
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: No.
AMNA NAWAZ: Not directly to you?
You never heard those concerns?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: Not from
I mean, I think from the biggest…
AMNA NAWAZ: From child welfare experts, anyone
outside the government?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: Yes, from
the biggest — from the biggest — this was
nothing new, to be clear.
So, from a staff perspective, I think there
was this belief that to not enforce the law
would encourage trafficking, would encourage
child to be — children to be used as pawns.
And the law enforcement officials had taken
an oath, which is why the operational entities
recommended that we choose to enforce the
We never forced it 100 percent.
If you had two parents coming across, we chose
specifically not to refer both parents, so
that one parent could stay with the children.
As I said, we did try to limit as much as
possible any tender-age situation.
But it wasn’t — it clearly wasn’t working.
So we stopped it during an executive order.
And we have been hopeful that Congress will
look at this and really take very seriously,
what is the best way to do this?
I mean, the debate — the debate is very false.
AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, we know now, contrary to
what Secretary Nielsen was saying, that tender-age
children, she had said, were never separated.
We know now dozens of those children under
the age of 5…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Those very young…
AMNA NAWAZ: Exactly — were separated.
We also know it took the administration several
weeks after putting the policy into place
before they ended it with an executive order.
And there are still concerns about ongoing
separations at the border.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Amna, there was, again,
another ongoing discussion about whether this
was a new policy or not.
I think, while she was in office, she said
there was no policy.
AMNA NAWAZ: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What did she have to say today?
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, this has been the line from
the administration: This wasn’t a new policy.
We have to continue to remind people about
the facts around this, that this was a policy
enacted by this administration.
It wasn’t done by previous administrations
in this way.
They changed the prosecution law, which made
them change the separation law.
It’s a bit of a semantic argument they have
It’s not an official policy, but it was definitely
a new practice.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Amna, did you
ask her about why she left?
She was, what, in the administration 16 months.
AMNA NAWAZ: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It was tumultuous.
What did she say?
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, there was a long history
of reports about tension between Secretary
Nielsen and President Trump, him wanting her
to go further to try to stop some of the large
numbers of people that we saw coming across
the southern border, and her being unwilling
to do that.
We know that he tweeted back in April that
he wanted to go in a tougher direction when
it came to immigration.
Within 72 hours, she had handed in her resignation.
Here’s what she had to say about why she left
What led you to resign from this administration?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: Well,
what led me to resign is, there were a lot
of things that there were those in the administration
who thought that we should do.
And just as I spoke truth to power from the
very beginning, it became clear that saying
no and refusing to do it myself wasn’t going
to be enough.
So it was time for me to offer my resignation.
That’s what I did.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, Judy, we should remind people
the agency remains in a bit of turmoil.
When Nielsen left, Kevin McAleenan took over.
He has been the acting secretary since then.
Just 10 days ago, he actually announced he
is resigning as well.
He has a few more days left on the job.
But we still don’t know who the next person
will be to lead this 240,000-person agency.
That will be the fifth person to fill this
role in the administration.
JUDY WOODRUFF: No permanent choice.
And we don’t even know who the acting next
choice will be.
AMNA NAWAZ: Not yet.
We do not.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Amna Nawaz, thank you very
And now to a critical issue facing the airline
industry, and that is an unprecedented pilot
Pilots are retiring in droves, as it turns
out, and not enough new pilots are being trained.
Boeing says the global aviation industry will
need 800,000 new pilots over the next 20 years.
Special correspondent Cat Wise recently traveled
to Bend, Oregon, to visit a community college
It is part of a broader effort by community
colleges to better prepare students for the
work force, and the latest in our series on
Rethinking College and part of our regular
education segment, Making the Grade.
ADAM MITCHELL, Flight Instructor, Central
Oregon Community College: So, today, I think
we will work on — we will do some steep turns.
CAT WISE: On a recent morning, student pilot
Beverly Taylor and instructor Adam Mitchell
headed to a small plane at the Bend, Oregon,
BEVERLY TAYLOR, Student Pilot: Parking brake
CAT WISE: As Taylor went through her pre-flight
checklist, and closely examined the plane,
Mitchell quizzed her.
ADAM MITCHELL: What’s our nose strut called?
BEVERLY TAYLOR: It’s called — I know it — oleo.
ADAM MITCHELL: Yes, air oleo.
BEVERLY TAYLOR: Air oleo.
ADAM MITCHELL: Yes.
CAT WISE: After nearly 70 hours in the cockpit,
Taylor earned her private pilot’s license
earlier this month, the first step on what
is often a time-consuming and expensive journey
to become an airline pilot.
Growing up, Taylor never thought she’d be
where she is today.
BEVERLY TAYLOR: I grew up kind of poor, like,
single mother, we lived in a trailer park.
And none of my family members went to college.
They all had kind of nothing — no huge jobs,
so I never pursued it.
CAT WISE: After high school, Taylor spent
six years in the Navy.
When she got out, she learned she could use
Bill to pay for pilot training.
She could have applied to one of the four-year
aviation programs around the country, but
she wanted to get her new career started as
quickly as possible.
BEVERLY TAYLOR: I’m 27 years old, which is
I know that.
But I’m not fresh out of high school.
And I don’t want to have to go through the
whole bachelor system.
So, this is a good opportunity for me.
CAT WISE: Taylor is about six months into
a two-year pilot training program at the Central
Oregon Community College in Bend.
It’s one of about 70 similar programs at community
colleges around the country gaining in popularity
as word spreads about opportunities in the
KARL BALDESSARI, Program Director, Central
Oregon Community College Aviation: This is
an unprecedented time to be interested in
CAT WISE: Karl Baldessari is the director
of the program, which began 13 years ago and
currently has about 200 students enrolled
learning to be airplane, helicopter and drone
Seventeen percent who begin the program complete
it, and there’s a waitlist to get in.
KARL BALDESSARI: So if you’re on a westerly
heading while accelerating, the compass is
going to swing temporarily to the north.
CAT WISE: Graduates walk away with an associate’s
degree in aeronautical science and all the
flight hours and certifications needed to
be a commercial pilot.
The price tag for airplane students?
About $80,000 for tuition, fees and flight
A four-year aviation bachelor’s degree can
cost more than double that.
Many of the students, like Taylor, are military
veterans, using their G.I. benefits to launch
into new careers.
Taylor’s instructor, Adam Mitchell, is also
a fellow vet.
ADAM MITCHELL: We like to showcase everyone’s
first solo, because it’s when they are actually
sort of becoming a pilot.
CAT WISE: The 37-year-old is a former enlisted
medical specialist for the Navy and Marines
who completed both helicopter and fixed-wing
For the past eight months, he’s been teaching
to build up his flight hours.
But he’s about to move on.
ADAM MITCHELL: I have just hit 1,000 hours.
Actually, I think today’s flight put me over
So I just got picked up by kind of like a
regional corporate airline up in Seattle.
CAT WISE: Mitchell’s quick move into the new
job probably wouldn’t have happened just four
or five years ago.
Back then, new pilots would typically spend
several years teaching and flying commercially
before earning enough hours to become a corporate
or eventually an airline pilot.
Starting salaries at the regional airlines
were about $25,000 a year.
Now, because there is a big demand for flight
instruction time, recent pilot grads like
Mitchell are getting their required hours
done a lot faster.
And Baldessari says, because of the pilot
shortage, the airlines are ready to snatch
KARL BALDESSARI: Today, the difference is
that after, about 15 to 18 months as an instructor,
these airplane pilots can move directly to
The regional airlines will take them right
on, and those airline salaries have essentially
CAT WISE: The pilot shortage is leading to
greater competition between the airlines for
new talent, and some companies are now recruiting
student pilots while they are still in school.
BRYAN MCKUNE, Manager of Pilot Development,
Alaska Airlines: Good afternoon.
How you all doing?
Super jazzed, super jazzed, super excited
to be here.
CAT WISE: Bryan McKune is the manager of pilot
development for Alaska Airlines.
BRYAN MCKUNE: We’re the fifth biggest airline,
but we’re probably the top place to work at.
CAT WISE: McKune visits the Central Oregon
Community College campus, and 22 other aviation
programs, twice a year to recruit students
for Horizon Air, Alaska’s regional carrier.
Many of the other major airlines now have
similar recruiting efforts.
BRYAN MCKUNE: Just keep us informed of your
MAN: Yes, I have been doing that.
BRYAN MCKUNE: OK, good.
MAN: I have been getting e-mails about that.
CAT WISE: Students accepted into Horizon’s
competitive program, like military vet Bryce
Thorton, receive a $7,500 stipend for school
costs and a guaranteed job after they graduate
and meet the required flying hours.
BRYAN MCKUNE: We don’t want to end up in a
situation where we don’t have pilots.
It’s being very competitive.
And there’s only so many.
And so, as this shortage increases, and the
pool gets smaller and smaller, you can imagine
it’s going to be more enticement and more
All the airlines want to grow.
CAT WISE: How much the industry grows will
depend, in part, on efforts to diversify and
expand the work force.
BEVERLY TAYLOR: I’m going to turn off the
fasten seat belt sign at this time.
WOMAN: Currently, just 5 to 7 percent of pilots
in the major airlines are women.
Baldessari says one of the goals of his program
is to improve those stats.
KARL BALDESSARI: I think it’s important to
actually market ourselves to women, to show
them that this is absolutely a viable career
path for them.
It’s just as important to be able to employ
women faculty, instructors as mentors, as
role models, as examples of exactly what you
can achieve in this industry.
CAT WISE: There’s also an effort under way
to recruit future pilots while they are still
in high school.
The Central Oregon Community College aviation
program recently donated a used FAA-certified
flight simulator to a nearby school in Sisters,
Oregon; 35 juniors and seniors are enrolled
in a unique program teaching them to become
pilots before some even have their driver’s
Sheryl Yeager is the school’s flight science
SHERYL YEAGER, Flight Science Instructor,
Sisters High School: The fact that we can
hook them in high school, and then funnel
them into COCC, which is kind of the plan,
it’s a career waiting to happen.
And it’s a really good career.
CAT WISE: Back at the Bend Airport, student
Beverly Taylor is perfecting her takeoffs
After she completes her training next year,
she plans to keep her options open, but she
wouldn’t mind becoming a test pilot for NASA
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Cat Wise in Bend,
JUDY WOODRUFF: And on the “NewsHour” online:
Conventional wisdom has long held that organic
products are healthier for you and better
for the environment.
But a new study challenges that assumption,
predicting that more organic farming could
actually lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
We consider the implications of these findings
on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.
We will be watching that.
And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight.
I’m Judy Woodruff.
Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.
For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,”
thank you, and we’ll see you soon.