AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening.
I’m Amna Nawaz.
Judy Woodruff is away.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: withdrawal.
President Trump under fire from Democrats
and Republicans for abruptly announcing the
removal of U.S. troops from Syria.
Then: The impeachment inquiry grows.
The House subpoenas the secretary of defense
and White House budget director, as a second
whistle-blower with firsthand knowledge of
the Ukraine affair emerges.
Our Politics Monday team is here to break
down the ramifications for the president.
Plus: a modern blues man.
Grammy Award winner Gary Clark Jr. on retuning
his sound in a changing America.
GARY CLARK JR., Musician: It’s because of
this tension and the social climate, race
relations, and fear, and the unknown.
How do I maneuver through that and teach my
kids how to be strong, teach my kids how to
be loving in a world that can be so cruel?
AMNA NAWAZ: All that
and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
AMNA NAWAZ: The U.S. military is on the way
out of Northeastern Syria tonight, and it
appears Turkish forces are on the way in.
The president is touting the U.S. withdrawal,
in the face of widespread criticism.
Guided by the rising sun, the Americans were
on the road at daybreak, leaving the Syrian-Turkish
border on orders from President Donald Trump.
By midday, U.S. bases there were deserted,
except for a few Kurdish fighters.
The White House announced late Sunday that
Mr. Trump was withdrawing all forces on the
He wanted other nations to take the lead.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Let them take care of it.
We want to bring our troops back home.
AMNA NAWAZ: Which could put the Kurdish-led
American-supported Syrian Democratic Forces
directly in harm’s way.
The SDF helped the U.S. defeat the so-called
ISIS caliphate and reclaim its capital, Raqqa.
They also keep watch over tens of thousands
of ISIS fighters and sympathizers in sprawling
The Kurds control much of Northeast Syria’s
northern border with Turkey.
But their northern neighbors consider them
terrorists, linked to Kurdish insurgents in
Turkey known as the PKK.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has
proposed a so-called safe zone on the border,
clearing out the native Kurds and resettling
it with Syrian refugees from elsewhere in
More than three million Syrians have fled
to Turkey since the Syrian civil war began
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through
translator): If this safe zone, the secure
zone, can be declared, we can resettle confidently
somewhere between one million to two million
We can afford that opportunity.
AMNA NAWAZ: Last year, Turkish forces attacked,
and still occupy, parts of Northeast Syria,
including the Kurdish city of Afrin.
In August, Erdogan renewed his threats to
destroy the Kurds:
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator):
Turkey has the right to eliminate all threats
against its national security.
God willing, we will carry the process started
with Afrin and Jarabulus to the next stage
AMNA NAWAZ: The U.S. has long found itself
between the pitched adversaries.
In the past, President Trump boasted of his
ability to convince NATO ally Turkey to hold
off on further attacks on his partner in the
fight against ISIS.
Mr. Trump in late June at the G20 meeting:
DONALD TRUMP: I called him and I asked him
not to do it.
They are, I guess, natural enemies of his
And he hasn’t done it.
They had — they were lined up to go out and
wipe out the people that we just defeated
the ISIS caliphate with, and I said, you can’t
You can’t do it.
And he didn’t do it.
AMNA NAWAZ: But following a phone call with
Erdogan on Sunday, the president appeared
to reverse course.
On Monday, he tweeted that, although the Kurds
— quote — “fought with us,” it was time
for them to — quote — “figure the situation
out’ with their neighbors and with ISIS.
The Capitol Hill reaction was bipartisan and
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said
a withdrawal would be precipitous and — quote
— “increase the risk that ISIS and other
terrorist groups regroup.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it — quote
— “a deeply disturbing development.”
And Trump ally Lindsey Graham called into
FOX News to criticize the announcement.
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is going to lead
to ISIS’ reemergence.
Nothing better for ISIS than to create a conflict
between the Kurds and Turkey.
AMNA NAWAZ: It’s the latest shift in Syria
policy since the U.S. began its anti-ISIS
campaign in 2014.
President Trump made withdrawal a core element
of his presidential campaign, and, in December
of 2018, announced he was bringing home all
U.S. troops there.
DONALD TRUMP: They are all coming back.
And they are coming back now.
AMNA NAWAZ: The president eventually walked
that pledge back, but not before Secretary
of Defense James Mattis resigned.
This new policy would theoretically kill a
deal the U.S. made with Turkey in late September.
In exchange for Erdogan’s restraint against
the Kurds, the U.S. began conducting joint
patrols with Turkish forces on the Syrian
They also forced the Syrian Democratic Forces
to destroy their fortifications on the border
The joint patrols were ongoing just days before
Mr. Trump announced he was reversing U.S.
Around the same time, Erdogan had begun accusing
the U.S. of insufficient commitment to keeping
the border safe.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator):
We have acted with enough patience.
We see that ground patrols and air patrols
are all a story.
AMNA NAWAZ: Now Turkish-backed troops are
amassed on the border, seemingly waiting for
orders to invade.
For a deeper look at what this all means,
we turn to Leon Panetta.
He served as the director of the CIA and then
secretary of defense during the Obama administration.
And Steve Simon, he served as senior director
for Middle Eastern and North African affairs
on the National Security Council staff during
the Obama administration.
He’s now professor of international relations
at Colby College.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both.
Secretary Panetta, I’d like to begin with
you, if you don’t mind.
How big a change in U.S. policy is this latest
LEON PANETTA, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense:
Well, I think this is a serious foreign policy
blunder that is going to undermine United
States’ leadership and further weaken our
role in the world.
I mean, we’re putting a knife in the back
of the Kurds who basically fought alongside
of us in trying to destroy the ISIS caliphate.
And, in basically leaving the Kurds vulnerable,
we have also opened up the possibility that
Syria will go into the hands of Russia, Iran,
and that ISIS will further strengthen itself.
So, from every aspect, I consider this to
be a very serious blunder on the part of the
AMNA NAWAZ: Steve Simon, you have long argued
that this was a long time coming, that the
alliance with those Syrian — or the Kurdish,
rather, forces there had a very short shelf
life, this was inevitable in some ways.
Do you agree with this decision to withdraw
STEVE SIMON, Former National Security Council
Official: Well, I think it was the right decision,
but it was really not well-prepared, as Secretary
Panetta points out, I think quite eloquently.
It was known certainly since last winter that
this was the president’s inclination, and
he was determined to do it.
He was talked out of it at the time.
But in the interval between the president’s
aborted decision last November and the decision
he’s made just today, nothing was done to
prepare the ground for the withdrawal.
And this, to me, is just — I guess it’s astounding,
because there were options that the United
States could have pursued that would have
reassured Turkey in a way that removed its
incentive to invade Syria under conditions
that we’re looking at now.
But none of those steps were really taken.
And they weren’t taken because there was a
view on the part of the administration that
it would entail talking to the regime in Damascus.
And this was something that the United States
didn’t want to do.
Now, you know, on one level, that’s understandable.
The regime in Damascus is repugnant.
But if the Turks are going to be assured or
reassured that the PKK won’t be a security
problem for them, then, really, the only way
to accomplish that is for these areas of Syria
that are now administered by the Kurds are
reinstated into the Syrian state.
AMNA NAWAZ: Steve Simon, do I take that to
mean that you…
STEVE SIMON: I think that would be OK for
AMNA NAWAZ: Should I take this to mean that
you disagree with the president’s decision?
STEVE SIMON: As I said, the president’s decision
is perfectly legitimate, I think.
It makes a lot of sense.
But the ground hasn’t been prepared for that
— for that movement.
And it could have been.
And it wasn’t because the parties that are
involved didn’t use the time available to
them, between the president’s decision last
November to withdraw and now.
And that’s deeply regrettable.
So the question that we face is how best to
implement President Trump’s decision in ways
that don’t lead to serious disorder, civic
disorder, in the areas of Syria that are administered
by the Kurds and their Arab allies.
It’s a very large area.
And, as your report pointed out, it…
AMNA NAWAZ: Allow me to put that to Secretary
STEVE SIMON: Sorry.
AMNA NAWAZ: Is there a good way to implement
Is there a way to do this in a way that you
think doesn’t lead to a potential resurgence
of ISIS forces or doesn’t put our Kurdish
allies on the ground at risk?
LEON PANETTA: Well, there’s no way to do it,
when you basically give up the only leverage
you have, which is the presence of U.S. troops
in that region.
That’s why the president reversed himself
when he first made this decision back in December,
and he retained our forces there.
If our forces are there, then we can negotiate
with Turkey, we can negotiate with Syria,
we can negotiate with others in terms of how
this transition ought to take place.
But once you immediately pull out U.S. forces
without that preparation, you’re essentially
saying you’re on your own, and Turkey is given
an invitation to basically invade Syria.
Those are consequences that are going to hurt
our credibility, the United States’ credibility,
We depend on allies.
We depended on the Kurds to help us destroy
To suddenly leave Syria and say to the Kurds,
you’re on your own, sends a signal to other
allies not to trust the United States.
AMNA NAWAZ: Steve Simon, does this hurt our
credibility with other allies?
Who would trust us after this reversal?
STEVE SIMON: I think allies are constantly
evaluating the reliability of U.S. commitments.
In this case, I think what gets lost is the
fact that the Kurds had their own reasons
for joining us in this anti-ISIS operation.
They were acting in their interests.
And one of those interests was the hope of
U.S. support for some kind of autonomous arrangement
for the Kurds within Syria along the lines
that the U.S. had secured for the Kurds in
So the Kurds were playing their own game here.
They were pursuing their own interests.
This was not an act of altruism on the part
of the Kurds.
At this point, the U.S. and Kurdish interests
So you’re seeing a weakening of the alliance
that Secretary Panetta has referred to as
a stab in the back, but it’s diverging interests,
and they can’t be helped right now.
Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States.
AMNA NAWAZ: Steve Simon, very quickly, let
me ask, do you believe that U.S. withdrawal
from this area could lead to a resurgence
of the ISIS threat?
STEVE SIMON: Well, I think, if the Kurds are
given a choice of fighting the Turks or fighting
ISIS, they’re going to turn on the Turks.
They’re going to defend themselves against
the stronger enemy and the more lethal one.
And that, in effect, is going to damage fight
against ISIS, because, even though the United
States has been a keystone in the effort to
combat the Islamic State, the fighting and
dying has been done by others, including the
So they’re going to be distracted.
They don’t have the strength to fight a two-front
AMNA NAWAZ: Secretary Panetta, what about
LEON PANETTA: Well, there’s no question that
this is going to give ISIS the opportunity
There are tens of thousands of terrorists
that are in camps that the Kurds have overseen.
They are now going to turn their attention
to dealing with the Turks, which means that
those terrorists are going to become part
of the ISIS effort.
So there is no question that what the president
did is going to basically give ISIS additional
ability to reorganize and then threaten the
It’s a terrible mistake.
AMNA NAWAZ: Steve Simon, if those fighters
are released or do escape, thousands of them
in detention right now watched over by the
Kurdish forces, what’s your reaction to that?
What happens then?
STEVE SIMON: Well, first of all, it’s hard
for me to believe that these ISIS fighters
that we’re talking about are going to make
it to the United States and attack the United
States in our own homeland or really have
the assets, the resources, the planning, skill,
and so forth to seriously damage the United
States’ interests in the Middle East.
So it’s — I’m not a big fan of ISIS, mind
you, but their ability to threaten U.S. interests,
I think, is really rather limited.
So, the question is…
AMNA NAWAZ: Do you still — do they pose a
threat to our NATO allies, to our European
STEVE SIMON: Yes, I would say of a limited
But our NATO allies have considerable resources
to deal with this threat.
And, mind you, the ISIS fighters we’re talking
about have to get to Europe to do this.
To the extent that ISIS is an ideology that’s
extremely anti-Western, well, there’s no question
But the ideology doesn’t travel just in bodies.
The ideology travels on the Internet and through
other channels to influence opinion of Muslim
populations in a lot of places, including
The fate of these ISIS fighters in Syria,
where they are still beleaguered, even if
the Kurds are distracted, is not going to
be a major factor in European or United States
It will be a major factor for people who live
in areas in which ISIS succeeds in reestablishing
control in rural areas of Syria.
But the effect on the United States interests,
I think, is really, you know, difficult to
I think the key task right now is finding
ways to reassure the Turks, get them calmed
down, that the Kurds on the Syrian side of
the border will not threaten their security.
And I don’t think that that can be done unless
the Syrian regime, as well as the Russians,
are brought into the equation.
AMNA NAWAZ: Secretary Panetta, I see you shaking
Very briefly, would you like to respond?
LEON PANETTA: Yes.
With great respect, that’s a very naive approach,
to assume that somehow ISIS will never be
able to reorganize and conduct the kind of
attacks that we have seen them conduct in
We have learned that from Al-Qaida.
We learned from the fact that, when we left
Iraq, what happened was, ISIS reorganized
itself and then created a caliphate between
Syria and Iraq that then represented a national
security threat to the United States.
I don’t think we ought to assume that somehow
ISIS is not going to be intent on their principal
goal, which is to attack the United States.
That remains a threat.
AMNA NAWAZ: And, gentlemen, we will have to
leave it there.
Thank you very much for your time.
That’s former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta,
former member of the National Security Council
under the Obama administration Steve Simon.
In the day’s other news: A new round of impeachment
subpoenas hit the White House and the Pentagon.
House Democrats asked for documents related
to President Trump’s decision to withhold
military aid to Ukraine for a time.
The subpoenas went to the secretary of defense
and the White House budget director.
We will look at that and other developments
in the investigation after the news summary.
A federal judge this morning rejected President
Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns
to prosecutors in New York.
The judge called it — quote — “a categorical
and limitless assertion of presidential immunity.”
The president’s lawyers immediately appealed,
and, this afternoon, a federal appeals court
blocked release of the tax returns for now.
Prosecutors in New York want the records as
part of a probe into payments made to two
women who claimed to have affairs with Mr.
In Iraq, the prime minister ordered the army
to leave a Baghdad neighborhood where dozens
of protesters were killed or wounded this
The troops are being replaced by police.
It’s an attempt to ease tensions after protesters
burned tires in the streets on Sunday, and
soldiers again opened fire, breaking up the
But, today, the demonstrators sounded undaunted.
MAN (through translator): We are calling on
the people and the army to stand by us.
Our revolution will continue until the regime
We have demands, and they make promises, but
they do not fulfill them.
AMNA NAWAZ: More than 100 people have been
killed in the last week during protests aimed
at corruption and a lack of jobs.
Hong Kong remained on edge today after a government
ban on face masks sparked another weekend
The first two protesters charged with violating
the ban arrived in court today, as masked
supporters gathered outside in defiance.
Later, the protests again turned violent,
and riot police fired tear gas to control
Two Americans and a British scientist have
won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Medicine.
They discovered how cells react to low oxygen
levels, known as hypoxia.
Dr. Gregg Semenza at Johns Hopkins University
in Baltimore is one of the honorees.
He said today the research on cells and oxygen
could lead to new treatments for heart disease
GREGG SEMENZA, Nobel Prize Winner: The cancer
cells divide very rapidly, consume a lot of
oxygen, and the cancer cells become very hypoxic.
Whereas most of the chemotherapy drugs are
designed to kill dividing cells that are well-oxygenated,
there are no treatments that are approved
to treat the hypoxic cells within the cancer.
AMNA NAWAZ: Semenza will share the award,
more than $900,000, with Dr. William Kaelin
of Harvard, and Peter Ratcliffe of Harv — Oxford,
rather, University in Britain.
The strike at General Motors entered its fourth
week today with little hope for an early end.
On Sunday, the United Auto Workers said talks
had taken a turn for the worse.
Nearly 50,000 workers are still on the picket
lines at 30 GM factories.
It is now the company’s longest walkout since
Consumer goods giant Unilever has announced
it will cut its use of non-recycled plastics
in half by 2025.
The multinational behind brands like Dove
soap and Lipton tea plans to reach that goal
by using more recycled plastic and reducing
all plastic use by over 100,000 tons.
Unilever said today it produced some 700,000
tons of plastic packaging in 2018.
President Trump signed a limited trade deal
with Japan today.
It restores benefits that U.S. farmers lost
when he withdrew from a broader agreement
negotiated by the Obama administration.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial
average lost 95 points to close at 26478.
The Nasdaq fell 26 points, and the S&P 500
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: where the
impeachment inquiry goes from here, as a second
whistle-blower now comes forward; Amy Walter
and Tamara Keith on the fallout from the investigation
into President Trump; and much more.
The impeachment inquiry rolls on, with more
subpoenas and another whistle-blower.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor
begins our coverage of the day’s event.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: A new day, a new round of
subpoenas related to the impeachment inquiry
targeting President Trump.
This time, the Democratic chairs of three
House committees sent demands for documents
to both the Pentagon and the White House Budget
They want information on President Trump’s
decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine.
A whistle-blower has accused the president
of temporarily blocking millions of dollars
to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate
former Vice President Joe Biden and his son
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
This is a scam, and people are wise to it.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: This afternoon at the White
House, President Trump sounded off.
DONALD TRUMP: The whistle-blower report or
whatever the news was so off.
It was so horrible.
I said, I never said that.
Almost everybody that read it said it’s either
perfect or really very good.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In the meantime, a second
whistle-blower has entered to back up the
Attorney Mark Zaid now represents both individuals.
Zaid said his new client, described as another
intelligence official, has been interviewed
by Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s
On Sunday, Zaid tweeted that the second whistle-blower
has firsthand knowledge about key events to
corroborate the original complaint.
Over the weekend, the Trump administration
put no one out to make the president’s case.
But Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
came to the president’s defense.
He chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The reason he had very
legitimate concerns and reservations about
Ukraine is, first, corruption, generalized.
We all know that.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The Republican chair of
the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham,
has vowed to expose the whistle-blowers’ identities
if Democrats move ahead with impeachment.
But nearly 90 former national security officials
who served under presidents from both parties
published an open letter.
They insisted that whistle-blowers deserve
protection and anonymity.
They argue that — quote — “A responsible
whistle-blower makes all American safer by
ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated
Still to come this week, House committees
will hear from several current and former
diplomats and other Trump officials in closed
AMNA NAWAZ: And Yamiche joins me now, as well
as our Capitol Hill correspondent, Lisa Desjardins.
Yamiche, let’s start with you over at the
You have been reporting on this impeachment
inquiry as it continues to expand.
What are you hearing and seeing among Trump
allies and from the president himself?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The White House is really
preparing to push back on impeachment like
it’s a campaign issue.
So they’re not treating this really as a legal
issue, as much as a messaging issue.
So, this week, Vice President Mike Pence launched
a national tour where he’s going to be visiting
districts won by President Trump in 2016 and
then won by congressional Democrats in 2018.
He’s going to be basically making the case
that these Republicans are going to be better
for these voters and that these voters who
liked President Trump enough in 2016 are now
being betrayed by Democrats because they’re
focusing too much on impeaching the president
and not on getting — getting through with
issues like health care or the — or other
things that they have promised Democrats and
So the other thing to note is that the president’s
campaign had a call today where they announced
that they’re going to make it harder for Republicans
trying to challenge the president to get on
the ballot in all these different states.
Now, they say that this is coming not from
a position of weakness, but the president
essentially is going to be — it’s going to
be easier for him not to face people on the
If you’re trying to challenge President Trump,
it’s going to be very, very hard to get on
the ballot in some of these states.
The other thing to note, the Democrats are
actually looking into now having the whistle-blower
— at least the first whistle-blower testify
off-campus, possibly in a shrouded way, so
that you can’t know this person’s identity
either through their face or how you see them.
And that’s pretty unusual.
But as you have the White House making their
strategy, you have Democrats on the Hill essentially
making their strategy.
AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, to you on this now.
There’s some extraordinary steps they’re considering,
so they can hear from the whistle-blower himself.
LISA DESJARDINS: Yes.
AMNA NAWAZ: What else you hearing about what
we should see on Capitol Hill this week?
LISA DESJARDINS: A quick reminder, we don’t
know if it’s a man or a woman yet.
But to speak to what Yamiche music is reporting
that’s very important, what’s going on here,
Amna, is that Democrats don’t trust the Republicans
in Congress, because they know the Republicans
and the president want to know who the whistle-blower
That whistle-blower is protected by law.
So that’s one very important thing to watch.
But also let’s talk about who else is going
to be on the Hill this week.
There are interviews.
One is the counselor to Secretary of State
We will be watching that.
But the two big names this week right here,
first of all, let’s look.
Gordon Sondland, he is currently the ambassador
to the E.U.
He is a political appointee.
He is actually a hotel chain owner, a big
Then, also, we will hear from Marie Yovanovitch,
and actually, I should say, privately.
House lawmakers will hear from Marie Yovanovitch.
She was the ambassador to Ukraine, who we
understand was recalled in that position.
Both of them are involved in this call.
Sondland was, we know, privy to all of the
machinations of this.
And we saw his text messages last week.
Yanukovych has been an issue throughout all
Did Trump try to retaliate against her or
It’s going to be very interesting to see what
they have to say behind closed doors.
AMNA NAWAZ: Aside from the impeachment inquiry,
another topic generating a lot of discussion
on Capitol is this thing we just talked about,
right, the president’s decision to withdraw
U.S. forces from Northern Syria.
What are you hearing on Capitol Hill about
LISA DESJARDINS: You know, I was making calls
about these impeachment discussions, the debate.
Everyone on the Hill wanted to talk about
There is really sharp concern from lawmakers
on both sides of the aisle about what the
president is doing.
Early today, the idea that he was pulling
troops all the way out.
Later today, not clear exactly what he’s doing.
But, Amna, the key point is, especially from
Republicans, even some of the strongest Trump
allies, they say, this makes me wonder about
him as a president.
I had two different offices tell me that,
we think he’s making a big mistake, and the
timing is bad because of impeachment.
He needs his allies there.
And one office said, we’re supposed to be
supporting him now, but this is going the
exact opposite direction on something that
we feel strongly about.
AMNA NAWAZ: Bipartisan concern there you’re
seeing on the Hill.
LISA DESJARDINS: Heavy bipartisan concern.
But the point is that Trump allies now are
sort of — they’re shaken by this decision.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yamiche, made another topic we
want to make sure we get to cover a little
bit, we mentioned it earlier, but there is
another inquiry we should talk about, this
led by the Manhattan district attorney to
get some of President Trump’s tax records.
What do we know about that effort?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, it’s an extremely
And it gets to the heart of the fact that
the president doesn’t want to turn over his
He says it’s because he’s being audited and
he doesn’t want to reveal any of his tax returns
while that’s — why he’s going through that.
Critics of the president say that he doesn’t
want to release these tax returns because
he doesn’t want to show where he’s getting
his money from, or he doesn’t want to show
that he’s not worth as much money as he says.
What happened today was a judge essentially
ordered him to release his tax returns, but
then an appeals court stopped that order.
So what we’re seeing now is that the appeals
court is going to be moving pretty fast.
We might have a hearing as early as the end
of this month, even October 21.
The other thing to note is that the president
has really pushed hard when people have tried
to get him to release his tax returns.
So we should see that this is going to be
something that they’re going to appeal and
It could even end up in the Supreme Court,
because the president is not going to let
this go lightly.
AMNA NAWAZ: Potentially a long court battle
Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins, thanks
to you both.
AMNA NAWAZ: Stay with us.
Coming up on the “NewsHour”: free speech,
the NBA, and the risks and rewards of doing
business in China; plus, musician Gary Clark
Jr. on capturing the tenor of the times.
While the Trump administration navigates this
impeachment inquiry, the Democratic candidates
hoping to replace President Trump in the Oval
Office are still figuring out how much attention
to put on the incumbent.
In a moment, William Brangham will have more
analysis on the politics of impeachment.
But, first, Lisa Desjardins is back now with
a report from the campaign trail, where Democrats
are also rolling out new policy proposals.
KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), Presidential Candidate:
Its so great to be with you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LISA DESJARDINS: The 2020 candidate parade
this weekend went through Charleston, South
Beside the bucolic Ashley River came a chorus
of tough words for President Trump from businessman
TOM STEYER (D), Presidential Candidate: I
am dying to expose Mr. Trump as the fraud
and failure that he is.
LISA DESJARDINS: Colorado Senator Michael
MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), Presidential Candidate:
Donald Trump is a clear and present danger
to our democracy and to our children’s future.
And he has got to go.
LISA DESJARDINS: And former Maryland Congressman
JOHN DELANEY (D), Presidential Candidate:
Trump is the symptom of a disease.
And we have got to cure and end the symptom.
There’s nothing more important, by any measure,
than beating him in 2020.
LISA DESJARDINS: Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi
Gabbard took a different approach.
TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), Presidential Candidate:
That we are all God’s children, that we stand
united as Americans committed to this proposition
of equality and justice for all.
LISA DESJARDINS: Gabbard, who has qualified
for the next debate, did not mention President
Trump by name, instead criticizing corporate
greed and calling for a broader community
TULSI GABBARD: As your president, I am seeking
to bring these values of service above self
to the White House, to restore the principles
of integrity and honor and respect back to
the White House, to make sure that our White
House is once again a beacon of light and
hope and opportunity for every single person
in this country.
LISA DESJARDINS: Not on stage were the three
poll leaders in the primary race, former Vice
President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator
Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders suffered a heart attack last week
and, today, three days out of the hospital,
was back in camera view on a neighborhood
walk with his wife.
QUESTION: How are you feeling, Senator?
BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Presidential Candidate:
I feel very good.
LISA DESJARDINS: At the same time, the senator
is rolling out new policy ideas, today tackling
If nominated and elected, Sanders pledged
to ban corporate donations to the Democratic
National Convention and for any inaugural
And he would block members of Congress from
becoming lobbyists for life.
Sanders has sworn off big donor fund-raisers,
but nonetheless brought in more donations
than any other candidate in the past three
months, raking in $25.3 million, overwhelmingly
from small donors.
Other candidates are also pushing new ideas
California Senator Kamala Harris announced
a plan to fund six months of fully paid family
leave for those making under $75,000.
KAMALA HARRIS: When we talk about child care,
when we talk about maternity/paternity leave,
when we talk about the fact that so many parents
are not only having children, but caring for
their parents, we need to have a much more
LISA DESJARDINS: South Bend, Indiana, Mayor
Pete Buttigieg focused on prescription drug
prices, rolling out a plan in The Boston Globe.
He would cap monthly out-of-pocket drug spending
to around or just over $200 for seniors and
anyone who joins a government plan.
The Democratic field remains large.
But just months until the primaries begin,
time for candidates to stand out is getting
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And that brings us to Politics
I’m here with Amy Walter of The Cook Political
Report and host of public radio’s “Politics
With Amy Walter.”
And Tamara Keith of NPR, she co-hosts the
“NPR Politics Podcast.”
Welcome, you two podcasters.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk about impeachment.
Amy, the president, when this whole thing
first broke, said there was no quid pro quo.
Then these texts come out, now a second whistle-blower
has come forward, saying it looks quite clear
that there was a quid pro quo.
But it seems that the president’s defense
of this whole call and this interaction with
the Ukrainians hasn’t changed very much.
What is he trying to do here?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: And
his defenders, at least the few of them that
are going out on television defending the
president, they’re not talking about what
the president actually did or his intentions,
whether it was with Ukraine or asking the
Chinese to investigate.
AMY WALTER: Right.
They’re making the case that this is — we
should be looking into corruption of the Bidens,
we should be looking at the 2016 campaign.
It’s muddying the waters as much possible
in order to get, I think, folks who are not
truly partisan or people who are just sort
of paying attention to this whole affair to
say, ugh, I guess the whole thing is corrupt,
that’s just politicians, Biden over here doing
his thing, Trump’s doing his thing, and then
check out, instead of focusing exclusively
on what the current sitting president of the
United States is doing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tam, is that your sense,
that — one, that that’s what they’re doing?
And, two, is that kind of thing going to work?
TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Well,
the president keeps repeating the same thing.
It was a perfect call.
There was no pressure.
He keeps repeating it, as if, if he could
just repeat it enough times, it would make
it absolutely true.
But the language that is in that call has
even many Republicans saying, that was improper.
Now, his defenders will say, that was improper,
but not impeachable.
And that is the big difference there.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.
TAMARA KEITH: But the president seems to be
very much staying on message.
Also, though, he’s intensified his rhetoric.
He’s using increasingly extreme language,
words like coup and treason.
He is now calling the media the corrupt media.
He — and he’s been pretty transparent about
He says, calling you fake news wasn’t tough
I needed something stronger.
And at NPR, we have sort of charted this,
and his use of this language is increasing.
The number of tweets is increasing.
The president is lashing out as this intensifies
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Amy, do think that this
does any damage to Biden’s campaign?
I mean, we — it seems now that there is really
no evidence that Biden tried to get this Ukrainian
prosecutor out to protect his son.
But there still is the appearance that, if
you’re the point man on Ukraine for the Obama
administration, it is a little dodgy to have
your son working at this gas company that
had been investigated.
In the end, does this hurt Biden?
AMY WALTER: Well, that’s been a lot of the
chatter over the weekend, right, that Biden
has not done enough to sort of push back on
For somebody who’s putting the whole onus
of his campaign on, I’m the electable candidate,
I’m the guy that can, as he says, beat Trump
like a drum, he has not been vocally explaining
this and going after Donald Trump, pushing
back on these claims that either he or his
son did something wrong.
He’s put an op-ed out.
He has made some — in press gaggles, made
some remarks about this, but not…
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But he has not been the
pugilist Joe Biden that a lot of Democrats
want him to be.
AMY WALTER: Correct, wanted to — wanted to
We just don’t know yet if it’s making that
much of a difference.
The reality, I think, is, what impeachment
has done is sort of frozen the 2020 race in
In some ways, that is good for Joe Biden,
because we were starting to see him slipping
in the early states to Elizabeth Warren.
She was starting to gain even in the national
So to sort of freeze that momentum of hers
would be good.
It’s also bad for those lower-tier candidates
trying to break through.
But it’s also not clear if, because Joe Biden’s
name is — to your point, it’s in the news
all the time with just the words Ukraine,
That might be able to get into the minds of
voters, sort of stick there.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tam, what is your sense
about whether this really does matter out
I mean, here in Washington, of course, everyone
is talking about it constantly.
But does it matter?
Does it actually move the lever in a way that
people say, I want to hear about this more
than I do about health care or climate or
whatever might be on their minds?
TAMARA KEITH: Yes, in terms of voters deciding
on which candidate they want to be the Democratic
nominee, impeachment is kind of a nonissue.
It continues to be a nonissue, because all
of the candidates agree, more or less.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And if you were for Trump,
you’re for Trump still.
And if you were for someone in the blue camp,
you’re for them too.
AMY WALTER: Right.
TAMARA KEITH: Right.
We have amazing division in this country,
which is just remarkable, so that President
Trump can go out on the South Lawn of the
White House and say, Ukraine, you should investigate
Joe Biden, and, China, you should investigate
He can stand out there and say something that
many people wouldn’t want to be caught in
private saying, and Republicans continue to
stand behind him.
And, in part, that is team sports.
That’s because the Republican team — he’s
on the Republican team, and he went out there
and he said these things.
So, OK, I guess this is OK now.
AMY WALTER: Yes, the group that I’m watching
are independent voters, who their approval
ratings of Donald Trump are very low.
A little over 50 percent disapprove of the
job he’s doing as president, but only about
40 percent say they want him to be impeached.
So there’s a gap between those folks who say,
I really don’t like — either I don’t like
him or I don’t like the way he behaves, I
don’t like how he’s serving as president.
That doesn’t mean that I want to see him impeached.
Where those folks go, to me, are the people
to really watch that would turn the tide one
way or the other.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.
Tam, let’s talk about the — about what happened
with Bernie Sanders last week.
He has — originally, we’re told he has chest
He goes to the hospital.
He puts two stents in.
And then, a few days later, it turns out they
say, well, he actually did have a heart attack.
Does that matter, either the timing of how
they rolled out this news or the simple cardiac
TAMARA KEITH: So there’s been a lot of criticism
of the way they handled it.
The Sanders campaign has clearly been very
defensive about that criticism, and they have
been coming back and saying, no, we were very
We said he had stents put in.
We put Jane out, his wife.
And then, once he was released, they say,
well, we said what it was.
That’s three days.
That is a long time to not know that the leading
fund-raiser in the Democratic field had a
And there is a big difference sort of emotionally
and in the way people feel between, had two
stents put in and had a heart attack.
It’s a big psychological difference, even
if it’s the same thing.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.
Do you have any sense of how this impacts
AMY WALTER: Well, I think his bigger challenge
right now, beyond this, which is obviously
a health challenge, but his biggest political
challenge, her name is Elizabeth Warren.
And she has been really biting into his two
main core support centers that he had in 2016,
liberal voters, especially white liberal voters.
And until she can — until he can find a way
to get those voters back, which I don’t think
they’re going to, that is a bigger challenge
for him going forward.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith,
thank you both so much.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.
AMNA NAWAZ: There’s a firestorm of reaction
to how the NBA is handling a conflict between
its business in China and its approach toward
free speech and human rights.
It started with a tweet from Houston Rockets
general manager Daryl Morey that read — quote
— “Fight for freedom.
Stand with Hong Kong.”
That tweet prompted swift backlash from the
Chinese government and Chinese business partners,
who pulled their money from the Rockets.
Now, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta tweeted
that Morey didn’t speak on behalf of the team.
The NBA, which has spent years trying to develop
its business in China, called Morey’s tweet
Morey went on to delete that original tweet
and posted an apology, saying — quote — “I
didn’t intend my tweet to cause any offense
to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China.”
Mike Pesca is the host of “Slate” magazine’s
podcast “The Gist” and author of “Upon Further
Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History.”
And he joins me now.
Mike Pesca, welcome to the “NewsHour.”
Let’s start with that NBA statement.
You tweeted, calling it cowardly.
Adam Silver is obviously being very careful
with the language he’s using.
Why do you think the NBA is reacting the way
that they are?
MIKE PESCA, Author, “Upon Further Review:
The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History”:
Well, yes, it’s cowardly and it’s shocking
because, so far, Adam Silver in his tenure
as commissioner has been progressive, has
been on the right side of issues, has listened
to the concerns of the players, and I would
also say, by extension, employees like Daryl
There is — the answer is, there’s so much
money is at stake.
It’s not just the perception of, oh, maybe
there are potential customers that we can’t
offend if we take this or that social or political
stance that is maybe dividing America.
When it comes to China, NBA China, which is
the branded entity, is worth, according to
an interview in “Forbes,” $4 billion.
Tencent, which is the streaming service, paid
$1.5 billion to stream NBA games over the
next five years.
And I have to tell you, if you look at the
market, 1.4 billion Chinese potential customers
means that game six of the NBA Finals last
year was actually better watched in China
than in the United States.
They don’t have as much purchasing power,
but this isn’t just, to him, some hypothetical,
oh, there could be money on the line or there
might be some money on the line.
There is a significant amount of money.
That said, the response, the response by ownership
and, I think, the shock and shameful response
by Adam Silver just left a lot of jaws on
the ground, given really the de minimis statement
of support for these Hong Kong protesters
that Daryl Morey tweeted.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you about the response
from the players too.
It’s not rare for us to see NBA Players speaking
out on issues that matter to them.
They often wear protester social justice T-shirts during game warmups.
LeBron James and Steph Curry are among the
most vocal critics of President Trump.
Enes Kanter has too has been — a member of
the Boston Celtics now, who is of Turkish
origin, has been a vocal critic of Turkish
We haven’t really seen much of a response
from the players.
Do you think that there has been a chilling
effect, to some degree, from this reaction?
MIKE PESCA: Well, we did see James Harden,
possibly the best player in the NBA, certainly
the best player on the Houston Rockets, essentially
And we have also seen not just from players,
but an owner, a Chinese — well, a Canadian-Chinese
owner of the New Jersey — the — I’m sorry
— the Brooklyn Nets, Joe Tsai, he put out
a statement that tried to explain how hurtful
Daryl Morey’s tweet was.
But I just can’t quite take that at face value,
because he did things like talk about Hong
Kong being a separatist movement.
I mean, these are Chinese people asking for
human rights, the same kind of First Amendment
rights or due process rights that Americans
And to bring it back to your questions about
why is there this disconnect between when
were players protest or make a statement about
American issues and Daryl Morey making a pretty
— a pretty gentle statement or obvious statement
about Hong Kong, it just shows the extreme
sensitivities of China.
It’s the difference, what if you make a criticism
in a free society, like the United States,
or a criticism of an autocratic society for
being autocratic, like China?
And I know China gives the NBA A lot of money,
but it comes at a cost.
We’re seeing the cost.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, Mike, very briefly — we have
less than a minute left.
But how does the NBA move forward here?
Obviously, they have a huge potential market,
already a huge existing market in China.
We heard Adam Silver qualify his remarks today
a little bit to say that Daryl Morey is supported
in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom
Can they continue to walk that line?
MIKE PESCA: Well, I think what Adam Silver
wants to do is make it go away.
I think that he doesn’t want the Rockets to
fire really one of the great G.M.s in the
sport and a very smart person and a person
whose influence goes beyond the sport.
So that’s number one.
And, number two, I think Adam Silver will
say the right — try to say the right things
for both his constituencies, the U.S. audience
and the Chinese audience.
Perhaps he was surprised by the backlash,
but he really shouldn’t have been, because
what Daryl Morey did was, as I have said so
many times here, pretty de minimis.
And if you can’t make a stance between — or
if you think that it’s a true controversy
between the repressive regime of China and
what the protesters are standing for, you
don’t know the real meaning of controversy,
AMNA NAWAZ: Mike Pesca, he’s the host of the
“Slate” podcast “The Gist.”
Thanks very much for your time.
MIKE PESCA: You’re welcome.
AMNA NAWAZ: Blues, rock, and soul artist Gary
Clark Jr. opened the 45th season of PBS’ “Austin
City Limits” on Saturday night.
The hometown favorite has gained a worldwide
following in just the last couple of years.
Jeffrey Brown recently joined Clark on the
road in Richmond, Virginia, to see how the
Grammy winner keeps capturing fans and headlines.
It’s part of our ongoing series on arts and
JEFFREY BROWN: In the title song of his latest
album, “This Land,” Gary Clark Jr. sounds
an angry cry about the racism and hatred he
sees in America today, and a confrontation
he himself had with a white neighbor after
he bought a new ranch outside his hometown
of Austin, Texas.
GARY CLARK JR., Musician: Basically, “This
Land” is me saying, yes, there’s all this
around, but forget everybody.
Nobody can bring you down in your head.
Nobody can make you feel less than.
Nobody can make you feel not equal to.
Be strong, be proud, be humble, but don’t
let them break you.
JEFFREY BROWN: Clark is on tour singing “This
We joined him at a concert at the historic
National Theater in Richmond, Virginia.
But the song’s tense sound and lyrics are
just one emotional tone for a man now reaching
ever-larger audiences with his guitar and
On the tour bus, it turns out, the band relaxes
watching golf tournaments.
Do you like this life, the traveling life?
GARY CLARK JR.: Yes.
I mean, I used to go to concerts all the time.
I would see the bus pull up and the band hopped
off the bus.
And what goes on in there?
GARY CLARK JR.: You know, golf.
JEFFREY BROWN: Golf.
JEFFREY BROWN: Clark is a proud product of
Austin’s famed 6th Street music scene, one
club after another, a wide variety of live
He got his first guitar at 12 and was quickly
grabbed by the sound of the blues, where,
still in middle school, he found an immediate
GARY CLARK JR.: It had this raw thing, and
there was guitar players up front, and there
was lead guitar playing.
There was improvisation.
And when I saw these people playing blues,
and when I went down to that blues club, it
was filled up with smoke, and those old guys
are cool with their leather jackets and their
Stratocasters and their Amps, I was like,
man, I want to be part of this.
And they welcomed us, being 14 years old,
to have your elders welcome you and be excited.
JEFFREY BROWN: They probably didn’t have too
many 14-year-olds coming to…
GARY CLARK JR.: They didn’t have any at all,
JEFFREY BROWN: The welcoming into the blues
community would culminate some years later
in 2010, when Clark was invited by Eric Clapton
to perform at his legendary Crossroads Festival.
GARY CLARK JR.: It meant something to me.
I felt like I was a part of something.
JEFFREY BROWN: A brilliant guitarist.
But backstage during sound check in Richmond,
the 35-year-old Clark told me he’d never actually
taken a formal lesson, and much of his education
came from watching guitar greats on the venerable
PBS program “Austin City Limits.”
GARY CLARK JR.: Yes, just dub the tape and
just watch it over, pause, rewind, see what
the chord shapes were, play it in slow motion.
JEFFREY BROWN: And who were you listening
Who were you watching?
GARY CLARK JR.: I was watching Stevie Ray
Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, and Eric Clapton,
B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Bonnie
JEFFREY BROWN: He would play at the White
House in 2012, win a Grammy two years later.
But Clark never saw himself as limited to
the blues and had begun to feel constrained
by what the world expected or wanted from
His newest album, his third studio recording,
is his most varied statement yet, a broad
palette of sounds, including reggae, a Prince-like
falsetto, straight ahead Chuck Berry rock
‘n’ roll riffs.
GARY CLARK JR.: It was just pick a color and
Let’s see what happens.
I felt like I was just ready to just bust
out running and let’s what else is out there.
So, I just took that approach.
JEFFREY BROWN: These days, Clark is paying
back his Austin roots, mentoring younger local
musicians like the Peterson Brothers, who
he took on the road with him as an opening
And also now, in his music, the hopes and
fears of being a parent.
Clark and his wife, Nicole, have two young
He says that and the world they’re growing
up make him want his music to reach deeper
and have greater impact.
GARY CLARK JR.: It’s because of this tension
and the social climate, race relations, and
fear, and the unknown.
How do I maneuver through that and teach my
kids how to be strong, teach my kids how to
be loving in a world that can be so cruel?
JEFFREY BROWN: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m
Jeffrey Brown in Richmond, Virginia.
AMNA NAWAZ: And that’s the “NewsHour” for
I’m Amna Nawaz.
Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.
For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.