JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn back to the top story
of the night, the death of one of the most
wanted terrorists in the world, this time
with our Politics Monday team.
That’s 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.”
Hello to both of you, Politics Monday.
TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Hello.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, the lead still is
— we heard the announcement yesterday — is
the U.S. troops went in, in this raid, and
killed the leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi.
Clearly, there are national security implications
here, but, politically speaking, is this — what
does this mean for the president?
TAMARA KEITH: Politically, this is a win for
President Trump at a moment where he hasn’t
had a lot of wins, where, every day, he is
getting a drip, drip, drip of bad headlines
related to the impeachment inquiry, and where
he was taking a lot of heat from members of
his own party even on his Syria policy.
So now he has this thing that is sort of universally
Now, is it the kind of thing that can broadly
sway public opinion?
You know, the way the White House is treating
this, it’s like they want it to be his bin
They sent out this picture of President Trump
in the Situation Room that was very reminiscent
of the picture of President Obama in the Situation
Room during the bin Laden raid.
But it’s different.
Baghdadi is not this outsized figure in the
ISIS, although frightening and concerning
to people, it’s not 9/11, and it didn’t affect
the American public on American soil in the
So with bin Laden, you had an outpouring.
You had people going to the streets to celebrate
With Baghdadi, it was a news cycle.
JUDY WOODRUFF: With the White House reminding
everybody, Amy, of the death of journalists
and the others at the hands of ISIS.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Of
And, look, this is a president who, as he
campaigned and in his tenure as president,
has talked about pushing back ISIS, eradicating
That has been something of — he has focused
as much about making that campaign promise
and checking the box on that campaign promise,
which he now can say he’s had two big successes
There’s, of course, a lot of controversy over
the pullout in Syria and whether or not we
will see a return of ISIS to this area, but,
at this moment in time, this was a very big
To Tam’s point, too, about Osama bin Laden,
you know, when that happened at the end of
April in 2011, then President Obama saw which
was then a pretty significant bump in his
approval rating, about five points.
And by the time June rolled around — so this
was late April, May — he got a little bit
of a bump.
By the time June rolled around, his approval
was back to where it was before the Obama
bin Laden raid.
In other words, this polarization that we
have today was just as significant in 2011.
And so even what we think of game-changing
events, the assassination of Osama bin Laden,
even that did very little to move public opinion
JUDY WOODRUFF: May have only a temporary effect.
And it comes — the timing of it, Tam, was,
of course, interesting because it is as the
House of Representatives continues this impeachment
Today, as we reported, they announced that
they are going to take a vote this week on
I interviewed Vice President Mike Pence, who
said — you heard him, I think, say that the
American people don’t care about this impeachment
inquiry, they want the Congress and the president
to focus on what matters for the American
Does he have a point?
TAMARA KEITH: This move by House Democrats
is the next phase in the impeachment inquiry.
And part of what they will be voting on is
public hearings, having public hearings, making
And so part of Pence’s argument is true that
the American public is not spending every
day checking every headline.
When this goes from being closed-door depositions
to — with some leaked details, but it’s a
little complicated, to public testimony, a
very much more public process, that could
have an effect on public opinion.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think?
AMY WALTER: That’s a very good point, because
I have talked to a number of candidates and
incumbent members of Congress, asking them,
what is it like when you are going around
Are people asking you about this?
And this includes Democrats, as well as Republicans.
And time and time again, even among the Democrats,
they say, really, it’s not an issue that people
in my district are talking about.
They’re much more — they’re much more focused
on their bread-and-butter issues, right?
But what I think is really interesting about
this decision by Pelosi to say, OK, we’re
going to open this process, what she was essentially
saying to Republicans is, you all have made
this process argument now for a few weeks,
saying that this impeachment inquiry is illegitimate
because it’s been behind closed doors, because
we’re not following the same rules and procedures
that have been there in previous impeachments.
Now we’re going to do that.
We’re going to take a vote on Thursday.
Now will we see Republicans in kind respond
with allowing more of their — of the folks
in the executive branch to testify?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
AMY WALTER: Will they comply with subpoenas,
JUDY WOODRUFF: Which, so far, they have resisted.
AMY WALTER: Which, so far, they have resisted.
TAMARA KEITH: Spoiler alert: I can’t imagine
the White House suddenly saying like, oh,
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we will go.
TAMARA KEITH: You voted on this.
Now we’re totally going to cooperate.
AMY WALTER: That’s right.
TAMARA KEITH: And we aren’t going to have
any concerns about executive privilege.
Or, on Friday, there was this move by the
White House to ask someone who had been in
the administration not to testify.
And they cited — they cited an immunity for
top-level aides to the president not to have
to give congressional testimony.
Do we think that the White House is going
to reverse that position just because there’s
an impeachment inquiry officially?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because…
AMY WALTER: No, because that — I mean, I
talked to a member of the House Intelligence
Committee a couple of weeks ago and asked
him that very question of, all right, if you
take this vote authorizing the impeachment
inquiry in the way that Republicans would
like you to do, why don’t you just do that,
call their bluff?
And he said, well, unfortunately, they’re
moving the goalposts as we speak.
I think they would just move it again.
So I am curious to see the reaction of individual
members to this vote and what they are going
to do with this going forward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting, because, as you
— again, as you heard, talking to Vice President
Pence, one of his argument — their arguments
is, this process has been behind closed doors.
AMY WALTER: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now it’s going to be out in
AMY WALTER: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we will see how the argument
AMY WALTER: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Politics Mondays.
So much going on.
Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.