PBS NewsHour full episode October 23, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: mounting evidence. A clearer picture emerges of President Trump
withholding military aid to Ukraine for political favors. Then: the social network under fire. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces lawmakers’
ire over his defense of false political advertising. Plus: drawing a parallel. Actor and activist George Takei on his new
graphic memoir about his family’s internment during World War II and the disturbing similarities
he sees at the southern border. GEORGE TAKEI, Author, “They Called Us Enemy”:
I hope that young people are getting this information, and they grow up with it, so
by the time they’re adults, they are going to be a different breed of Americans, aware
of the history of this country. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: A day of spectacle in the impeachment inquiry. Trump-loyal Republicans stormed a congressional
session with investigators and forced it to a standstill for much of the day. That came after Tuesday’s testimony shed critical
new light on the president’s actions toward Ukraine. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor
begins our coverage. REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): We demand open hearings. The American people deserve nothing less. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: On Capitol Hill, more than
30 House Republicans disrupted a closed-door deposition with a top Pentagon official. They staged a sort a sit-in in the highly-secured
room. They also demanded that impeachment inquiry
hearings be opened to the public. North Carolina Congressman Greg Murphy: REP. GREG MURPHY (R-NC): We have secret hearings
that are going on that we, as the elected members of the United States Congress, 435
members, are not privy to. That is simply not fair. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The scheduled witness was
Laura Cooper, who oversees Ukraine policy at the Pentagon. She was expected to discuss the $400 million
in military aid for Ukraine that President Trump temporarily blocked. But Republicans brought cell phones into the
facility, where phones are not allowed. Cooper’s testimony was delayed for hours. One Democrat in the room called it a stunt: REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): The tactics are in an
effort to delay the inevitable. They have obstructed the hearing. It was an effort to intimidate a witness. They brought in electronics into a secure
room. REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We can’t even review the
transcripts. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It was the latest escalation
in a war of words over process. So far, only members of the Intelligence,
Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees have heard the interviews and seen the transcripts. Republicans insist that is unfair. Democrats say it is not unusual to hold sensitive
investigations behind closed doors. Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida sits
on the House Intelligence Committee. REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): I guess, when you’re desperate,
you go back to complaining about the process. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Meanwhile, Democrats sent
a new letter to the State Department demanding e-mails related to the July 25 call between
Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. They also want any electronic communications
between witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, plus diplomatic cables related to freezing
military aid and memos that document any efforts to have Ukraine open investigations that would
politically benefit President Trump. All of this one day after the stunning testimony
of acting Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor. He told lawmakers that President Trump withheld
the military aid in an effort to make Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden
and his son Hunter. House investigators had planned to hear from
other witnesses tomorrow and Friday, but those plans will be delayed by memorial events for
the late Congressman Elijah Cummings. JUDY WOODRUFF: And Yamiche joins me now. So, Yamiche, tell us about — more about this
storming of the — what was supposed to be a closed briefing, a closed interrogation,
the significance of it. And how are the other Democrats and Republicans
reacting? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, Democrats say that
this was really a political stunt by Republicans who are angry about the process and who really
only want to focus on the process because they don’t want to answer questions about
President Trump’s actual actions as it relates to Ukraine. Republicans, though, have a completely different
view of this. They say that this is really about Democrats
not having a lack of transparency — or having a lack of transparency. They say that they’re not really allowing
all members of Congress to partake in this impeachment inquiry, and, as a result, that
is wrong. Tonight, Republicans are really celebrating
this. They think that it was a great thing that
they upended this deposition and had this Pentagon official waiting for hours to testify. They also say that this is really proving
a point that Republicans need to continue to speak out against what they see as an unfair
process. Democrats, on the other hand, are really up
in arms and say that Republicans really violated some critical rules of the House. First, they say that the House parliamentarian
ruled that these Republicans who upended this testimony was actually — they were actually
in the violation of the House deposition rules. Representative Bennie Thompson, who is the
chair of the Homeland Security Committee, he sent a letter to the House sergeant at
arms, who said that — and he was basically saying that the House sergeant of arms needs
to take actions against these Republicans. Add to that that House Democrats are now pointing
to words by former Congressman Trey Gowdy, who once said that depositions behind closed
doors is a really good thing to do because it gets more information out there. They’re now saying that Trey Gowdy’s words
should hold still. Trey Gowdy also once said that rules should
be followed and that there should be no exceptions made. Democrats are also pointing to those words
and saying that Republicans should be listening to the words of Trey Gowdy. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yamiche, see a completely
separate thing happened today. Two of President — President Trump’s attorney
Rudy Giuliani, two of his associates were in court today. They were accused of illegal campaign contributions. They are pleading not guilty, but one of them
spoke about having some of the evidence covered by executive privilege. Now, that obviously refers to the president. What is the White House saying and how do
they see the significance of this? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, this could be really
problematic for President Trump, when you have an associate of Rudy Giuliani bringing
up executive privilege as it relates to a campaign violation, campaign finance violation
case here. The lawyer for Lev Parnas, who is an associate
of Rudy Giuliani, said that his client never actually worked for President Trump, but that
he did work for Rudy Giuliani and did actually employ him at times as his own personal attorney,
and, as a result, there could be executive privileges there. The attorney for Lev Parnas also said that
this is being brought up because a former attorney for President Trump, John Dowd, told
Lev Parnas that he should be talking about issues of executive privilege. Now, all of this is important because Rudy
Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, he’s someone who has really emerged as a central
figure in this impeachment inquiry. And, as a result, Rudy Giuliani’s work could
be very much connected to President Trump. And that could mean that he’s very connected
to these associates. But we will have to see how the White House
responds. I have put out e-mails and calls to the White
House. They’re not talking about this at this point. But it is something that we’re going to definitely
have to watch. JUDY WOODRUFF: And another separate thing
that happened today, Yamiche, this was in a federal appeals court. And this has to do with the lawsuit against
President Trump to force him to turn over his tax returns. In the course of this proceeding, the president’s
lawyer talked about immunity that the president enjoys against any criminal prosecution, any
sort of criminal accusation, which could be pretty broad. So what is our understanding of what this
is all about? And what are the implications? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: This case is involving a
subpoena from New York prosecutors for President Trump’s financial records. They’re seeking them as part of an investigation
into hush money payments that were possibly paid to Stormy Daniels and other women who
allegedly had affairs with President Trump. The president’s lawyers are saying that the
president has temporary immunity because he’s president of the United States. All of this — all of this is happening as
the president’s words from January 2016 are coming back. Let’s listen to what the president had to
say when he was then candidate Trump. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
My people are so smart. And you know what else they say about my people,
the polls? They say, I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth
Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s, like, incredible. (LAUGHTER) YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Now, those comments are
critically important to this case, because the judge and the president’s attorneys had
a back and forth and exchange about this. Here’s what that exchange had to say. And here’s what that exchange was about today. JUDGE DENNY CHIN, United States Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit: What’s your view on the Fifth Avenue example? Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it? WILLIAM CONSOVOY, Attorney: I think, once
the — a president is removed from office, they will — any local authority — this is
not a permanent immunity. JUDGE DENNY CHIN: Well, I’m talking about
while in office. WILLIAM CONSOVOY: No. JUDGE DENNY CHIN: That is the hypo. WILLIAM CONSOVOY: There… JUDGE DENNY CHIN: Nothing could be done? That’s your position? WILLIAM CONSOVOY: That is correct. That is correct. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: So, critics of the president
say that this is really a stunning argument to make. And they say that this idea of temporary presidential
immunity is just not actually part of the law. The president’s attorneys, though, are really
pushing back. So we will have to see how this happens and
how this ends up in this appeals court. But the judge seemed to really want to push
the lawyers on this issue of the president shooting someone and being able to get away
with it, at least while he was in office. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is stunning to even
be thinking in the hypothetical sense about the president shooting someone, but there
you go. Yamiche Alcindor, thank you very much. Our other lead story tonight: President Trump
defends his decision to cede ground in Northeastern Syria. He said today that he’s lifting sanctions
on Turkey, after the Turks and Russia extended a cease-fire, while Syrian Kurds evacuate
the Syrian border region. The president said the credit goes to his
decision to pull U.S. troops from the area. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
By the moves that we have made, we are achieving a much more peaceful and stable area between
Turkey and Syria, including a 20-mile-wide safe zone. Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained
sand. JUDY WOODRUFF: The president has faced bipartisan
criticism that the U.S. pullout abandoned Kurdish partners and green-lighted a Turkish
military offensive. For more on his statement today, we turn now
to our foreign affairs correspondent, Nick Schifrin. So, Nick, you have been following this all
day long. Where does what has happened leave everything
right now on the ground in Northern Syria? NICK SCHIFRIN: Well, President Trump is accurate
that the region right now is relatively quiet. But Kurdish partners of the U.S. and bipartisan
members of Congress ask, at what cost? Here’s what we saw today across Northern Syria,
Russian military police deploying to cities along the Syrian-Turkish border that the U.S.
and those Kurdish partners freed from ISIS, Syrian regime forces going into cities that
they haven’t been in along the same border in more than five years, and Turkey bragging
that they made deals with both the U.S. and Russia, and that their Kurdish enemies, they
call them, are going to evacuate from a much larger area than the U.S. agreed. So let’s look at that area that the U.S. agreed
with Turkey on. That is the U.S.-Turkey buffer zone. It’s 75-miles-wide, agreed upon a couple weeks
ago in Ankara. And let’s look at what — the Turkey-Russia
buffer zone, more than 300-miles-wide. Turkey promised to the U.S. it wouldn’t go
beyond what the U.S. negotiated, but, obviously, that buffer zone is much bigger, Turkey today
saying that they would kill any — kill any Syrian Kurdish fighters inside that new buffer
zone. And Russia said that would be OK with them. So that means the Turkey is abrogating the
deal with the U.S. Now, I asked the senior administration official,
hey, wait a minute, you promised to impose sanctions on Turkey if they abrogated the
deal. Why has the president lifted those sanctions
today? Basically, the official shrugged. He said that Kurdish fighters would have to
leave that entire area and said that’s an issue for the Russians and Syrians, who control
the ground, to deal with the Turks, not for the U.S. And efforts as well in Congress, quickly,
to penalize the Turks for what U.S. officials say might be war crimes, those seem to be
dying as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were telling us, Nick,
this. You also were following efforts by the Trump
administration to reassure, in the face of all this, American allies in the region. NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, this is interesting. So we have seen military officials in the
last few days and State Department officials trying to reassure allies and partners that,
as critics put it, that the president abandoned Syrian Kurds, so they’re trying to reassure
that, no, you guys are not going to be abandoned. So, we heard from the top military official
in the Middle East today, General McKenzie. He was speaking in Washington. He said that U.S. strategic strength has never
rested solely on U.S. might, but, rather, the partnerships and alliances that we have. And we saw State Department officials in the
last few days go to Iraq. They went to the Kurdistan regional government. And you can see the map there. On the right is the Kurdistan regional government. And on the left is the Kurdish territory in
Syria. So we’re talking about U.S. officials going
to Iraq and visiting Iraqi Kurds. And a senior State Department official said
the trip was to reassure our Kurdish friends in Iraq that we remain committed to them and
how important they are to us. Judy, this official wouldn’t say whether they
were reassured by that reassurance. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, they’re understandably
asking questions after all this. NICK SCHIFRIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. JUDY WOODRUFF: Nick Schifrin, thank you. NICK SCHIFRIN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Mass
demonstrations in Lebanon entered a seventh day, with no end in sight. In Beirut, protesters lit flares, waved flags,
and handed out food to comrades. Main roads remained blocked, and schools and
banks remained closed. The demonstrators accuse the country’s political
elite of destroying Lebanon’s economy. Police in Britain have a horror story on their
hands, 39 bodies discovered in a cargo container on a truck. The truck was found early this morning in
an industrial park east of London. Authorities say they believe it came from
Belgium as part of a human trafficking operation. PIPPA MILLS, Essex Police Deputy Chief Constable:
A murder investigation was launched. And the lorry driver, a 25-year-old man from
Northern Ireland, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody. At this stage, we have not identified where
the victims are from or their identities, and we anticipate this could be a lengthy
process. JUDY WOODRUFF: Police confirmed that one of
the victims appeared to be a teenager. The rest were adults. Back in this country, major utilities in California
announced new blackouts, as wildfire conditions worsen again. Pacific Gas & Electric said that its outages
will affect 180,000 customers in the Sierra Foothills and San Francisco Bay area. And Southern California Edison said that it
may cut power tomorrow to some 300,000 customers. On Wall Street, a day of modest movements. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 45
points to close near 26834. The Nasdaq rose 15 points, and the S&P 500
added eight. And Google is claiming a breakthrough in blazing
fast computing speed. The company says that its experimental quantum
processor needed less than three minutes to make a calculation that would take thousands
of years on existing supercomputers. IBM disputed that today. It said that its top-line machine can actually
do the task in 2.5 days. Both sides agree that quantum technology is
still years away from practical use. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: free speech
and falsehoods — Mark Zuckerberg mounts a defense of Facebook before Congress; what’s
on the line for Chicago teachers striking in the country’s third largest school district;
2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bennet weighs in on health care and Syria;
and much more. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrived on Capitol
Hill in Washington today, and was put on the hot seat about mounting concerns from Republicans
and Democrats. Amna Nawaz has the story. And, for the record, we should note, the “PBS
NewsHour” produces some content as part of a business relationship with Facebook. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s the first appearance from
Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill since lawmakers grilled him over privacy concerns and other
issues around Cambridge Analytica a year-and-a-half ago. Zuckerberg’s testimony before the House Financial
Services Committee was ostensibly to build support for Facebook’s new cryptocurrency
project, Libra, a global digital currency originally set to launch next year. MARK ZUCKERBERG, Chairman and CEO, Facebook:
The idea behind Libra is that sending money should be as easy and secure as sending a
message. I actually don’t know if Libra is going to
work, but I believe that it’s important to try new things. I view the financial infrastructure in the
United States as outdated. AMNA NAWAZ: But that project has drawn harsh
criticism and lost support among regulators and the financial industry. REP. ANN WAGNER (R-MO): Scores of stable partners
have dropped out. Why? MARK ZUCKERBERG: Well, Congresswoman, I think
you would have to ask them specifically for their… REP. ANN WAGNER: Why do you think they dropped
out? MARK ZUCKERBERG: I think because it’s a — it’s
a risky project and I think that there’s been a lot of scrutiny. REP. ANN WAGNER: Yes, it’s a risky project. AMNA NAWAZ: Zuckerberg acknowledged the anger
surrounding Facebook. MARK ZUCKERBERG: I get that I’m not the ideal
messenger. AMNA NAWAZ: But he was hit with criticism
on multiple fronts, including his decision to allow false claims in political ads to
stay on the platform. The decision to allow this ad, which is endorsed
by President Trump and includes false statements about former Vice President Joe Biden and
his son Hunter, is drawing fierce criticism from Democrats. Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine
Waters of California grilled the Facebook CEO on the matter. REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): How does this new policy
benefit you? Because it seems that a policy that allows
politicians to lie, mislead and deceive would also allow Facebook sell more ads. MARK ZUCKERBERG: From a business perspective,
the very small percent of our business that is made up of political ads doesn’t come anywhere
close to justifying the controversy that this incurs for our company. So this is really not about money. This is — on principle, I believe in giving
people a voice. REP. MAXINE WATERS: You plan on doing no fact-checking
on political ads? MARK ZUCKERBERG: We do not fact-check politicians’
speech. And the reason for that is that we believe
that, in a democracy, it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians
are saying. AMNA NAWAZ: Speaking last week at Georgetown
University, Zuckerberg strongly defended his decision to allow false or misleading ads,
on the grounds of free speech and other principles. MARK ZUCKERBERG: Now, you know, given the
sensitivity around political ads, I have considered whether we should stop allowing them altogether. Banning political ads favors incumbents and
whoever the media chooses to cover. But, practically, even if we wanted to ban
political ads, it’s not even clear where you draw the line. AMNA NAWAZ: His speech came after the Biden
campaign wrote to Facebook, Twitter and Google asking them to take down the false ad. Social media companies have been criticized
by President Trump and other Republicans as well, who feel conservative voices are silenced
on the Internet. Republican Andy Barr of Kentucky: REP. ANDY BARR (R-KY): Will you commit that Facebook
will not censor any political ad placed on your platform or in support of President Donald
Trump? MARK ZUCKERBERG: We believe that people should
be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. That doesn’t just go for Trump. That goes for any of the candidates. REP. ANDY BARR: Don’t be bullied by politicians
who want to censor politically incorrect speech. AMNA NAWAZ: In June, the president said he
thought the U.S. should sue Facebook and Google for what he says is unfair repression of his
political messaging. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Look, we should be suing Google and Facebook and all that, which perhaps we will, OK? AMNA NAWAZ: Democratic presidential candidate
Elizabeth Warren has been taking aim at the social media giant. In a tweet, the Massachusetts senator wrote
— quote — “Facebook is actively helping Trump spread lies and misinformation. Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump
once. They might do it again, and profit off of
it.” Nearly three years after U.S. intelligence
agencies found that Russia and other adversaries used social media to influence the 2016 election,
Facebook and Instagram, along with Twitter and Google, are still grappling with how to
approach political messaging on their platforms ahead of 2020. For a closer look at these issues, I’m joined
by Vanita Gupta. She is the president and CEO of the Leadership
Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition representing 220 civil rights groups. She also served as acting assistant attorney
general and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under President
Obama. We have invited Mr. Zuckerberg to appear on
the program as well at a later time. Vanita Gupta, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” VANITA GUPTA, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney
General: Great to be here. AMNA NAWAZ: So let’s start with Mr. Zuckerberg’s
defense of that decision to leave political speech, including political ads, up on his
platform unchecked. He says it’s a matter of free speech, free
expression. What do you say to that? VANITA GUPTA: I think that that is a ruse. The problem with leaving politicians’ speech
unchecked, unchecked by fact-checkers, will allow massive voter suppression and misinformation
to reign on the platform. And this is a real problem. This isn’t kind of a hypothetical issue. We saw how Facebook was weaponized by foreign
actors and domestic actors in 2016. And, right now, this move to totally exempt
politicians from the same community standards that you and I would have to abide by, as
private actors, is reckless for our democracy. AMNA NAWAZ: Is it a slippery slope, though? This is another argument that he makes. If they start to police this and start to
decide what is true, what is false. Do we really want a social media company that
doesn’t have a journalistic ethos or mission to be the arbiter of what’s true and what’s
false here? VANITA GUPTA: But the reality is, Facebook
decided to do this for private citizens in the last couple of years. They recognized that they are not the government. They are a private company, therefore don’t
have the same First Amendment obligations in quite the same way. And, as a private company, they decided that
they would actually police hate speech and white supremacist speech and activity on the
platform. What is so troubling here is that they have
decided that politicians, who have historically been the very perpetrators of voter suppression
throughout our history, are going to be held to a lower standard than you and I are, as
private — as private citizens and private Americans. And that seems incredibly dangerous, in a
time where, increasingly, we have politicians that are emboldening and using the world’s
largest megaphone of this platform to basically spread lies, use fear-mongering and other
tactics to chill political participation. AMNA NAWAZ: I want to get to a couple other
concerns you have raised with them. You worked with Facebook for years, we should
point out. But you have raised concerns about their protection
of civil rights, about specific posts that can be used, for example, to discriminate
in housing matters, whether the company even has enough diversity in their own ranks. You spoken with the leadership, with both
Mr. Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Have you heard anything from them, either
in those conversations or in the testimony today, that says they’re going to seriously
address some of those concerns? VANITA GUPTA: So, the Leadership Conference,
the organization I work for, pushed Facebook to actually start a civil rights audit. A bunch of our organizations were pushing
for this. And over the last year, I will say, there
had been some progress made. As I said, they had announced a policy to
really combat hate on the platform. They were settling some more of the housing
litigation and announcing a policy to combat unlawful targeting, racial targeting in their
ads policies. The problem is, is, we were starting to make
a little bit of progress on voter and census — fighting — having set Facebook fight voter
and census disinformation and misinformation. But this recent announcement basically has
threatened to undermine all of that, because it allows for politicians, as I said, who
are the very perpetrators of voter suppression historically, basically to go completely without
any checks on them whatsoever. And what’s kind of created this massive cognitive
dissonance is, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are saying, no, no, no, Facebook
will take the elections and voter suppression very seriously. We will take down when officials might lie
about a polling location or poll hours. What they’re failing to recognize is that,
in 2019, voter suppression looks a lot more like racial appeals, like deliberate campaigns
for misinformation. You could have local officials basically do
a coordinated campaign, saying, we were going to have police officers stationed outside
of every majority black neighborhood on Election Day. Or we could have local officials or the president
say, you know what, if you fill out the census, and you’re Latino, we’re going to give your
information to ICE. And what Facebook is saying is, that’s fine. Even though it’s completeness information,
we’re going to allow that to stand. AMNA NAWAZ: I want to be clear about this,
because there is an election at stake here. They have said, based on what they learned
from the last election, they are taking specific steps to try to better protect themselves
specifically from foreign interference, for example, letting people know which news comes
from state-owned media. I hear you saying what they have done is not
nearly enough. VANITA GUPTA: Yes, they have made their protections
against foreign actors more robust, but they’re failing to recognize the degree to which domestic
actors throughout our history, but particularly now, are weaponizing misinformation and racism
to basically have — as a partisan and electoral advantage. And I think that that is dangerous. Most broadcast news, when they are — they
are posting these ads, do have to make decisions around fact-checking. They are requiring disclosures to protect
the authenticity of the speaker. And they are either putting warnings up or
quarantining ads that have — that contain misinformation like this. And — but what we are seeing is, this platform
is now being allowed to be weaponized, just as it was in 2016, by domestic actors for
exactly the kind of behavior that I think is so corrosive to our democracy. AMNA NAWAZ: Vanita Gupta, president and CEO
of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, thanks for being here. VANITA GUPTA: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: The Chicago teachers strike
enters its fifth day, with no clear sign it might end anytime soon. As John Yang reports, teachers are calling
for changes that include, but also go beyond traditional pocketbook issues. And they charge that the city’s new mayor
is changing her position since coming into office last may. JOHN YANG: Thousands of striking Chicago teachers
converged on City Hall today. As new Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered her
first budget, the teachers had their own spending priorities. JESSE SHARKEY, President, Chicago Teachers
Union: The people of the city of Chicago demand funding and resources to go to the services
of the city. We have to have schools that work for our
children. We need a budget which speaks to our priorities,
not just the priorities of developers. JOHN YANG: For the fifth day, the strike canceled
classes for more than 360,000 students in the country’s third largest school district. The city and the Chicago Teachers Union are
at odds over several issues, including higher salaries, smaller class sizes and the union’s
demand for additional support staff, including nurses, counselors, and librarians. Union president Jesse Sharkey rejected the
mayor’s call for teachers to return to classrooms. JESSE SHARKEY: She wants us to simply give
up on some of the most basic things that we’re asking for. And that’s not the way labor negotiations
work. JOHN YANG: Lightfoot was elected on a progressive
agenda and an education platform that includes some of the very changes the union is asking
for. Now she says the city can’t afford them. LORI LIGHTFOOT, Mayor of Chicago, Illinois:
There’s a finite amount of money that’s available. You know, as you know, we’re barely two years
way from a moment where CPS was on the verge of insolvency. There’s not an unlimited pool of money. JOHN YANG: Striking teachers say she has turned
her back on her pledges. MICHELLE WELLS, Teacher: We need things in
our classroom that we’re not getting. I have students that take medicine. I don’t have a nurse to help me out, except
for one day a week. JOHN YANG: Parents are also feeling the toll,
scrambling to find day care for their kids as talks drag on. But some say they still stand behind the teachers. LEAH SONGER, Parent: We know that it’s a sacrifice
that we need to make in order to support the teachers. JOHN YANG: With no end in sight, the union
said they will back on the picket lines again tomorrow. Negotiators have been meeting for several
hours every day since the strike began. Education reporter Brandis Friedman has been
covering the strike for “Chicago Tonight” on PBS member station WTTW. Brandis, thanks so much for joining us. What’s your sense of how far apart the two
sides are? BRANDIS FRIEDMAN, WTTW Chicago: You know,
John, it’s kind of hard to tell. Over the weekend, it seemed like we took a
few steps forward. And then, Monday and Tuesday, it seems like
we took another couple of steps back. I know that they — both sides are saying
they feel like they have made some progress, but then something would happen, like Mayor
Lightfoot sent a mayor — sent a letter — excuse me — to CTU leadership a couple of days ago,
saying, you know what? We have made progress. We have given you much of we have asked for
— what you have asked for. Why don’t you and teachers come back to work
while we continue negotiating at the table? And we heard CTU president Jesse Sharkey and
vice president Stacy Davis Gates say that they felt like that’s not how negotiations
work and that their hopes of progress had been dashed. But I think they are making some progress
and they are working towards each other. But they’re sort of buttoning up these last
few days over exactly how far apart they are on what we know to be the sticking points. JOHN YANG: And some of the sticking points,
I mean, it’s not just the usual pocketbook issues of pay. It’s things like class size, prep time, support
staff. Why are those issues so important to the teachers? BRANDIS FRIEDMAN: You know, the union says
that they are looking to make — that they’re on the precipice of one of the most important
contracts for Chicago Public Schools, because they want this contract to be the one that
makes Chicago Public Schools into what they keep referring to as the schools that Chicago
students deserve. I think they have attempted to make the case,
of course, that their working conditions are student learning conditions, and in the absence
of these nurses, and librarians, and social workers and counselors, teaching the students,
educating them is harder, because they’re not getting all of their needs met. And so they see this as their responsibility
to take on and to get it in writing in the contract to improve the schools for their
students. JOHN YANG: And this is the first big test
for the new mayor, Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Some of the things that the union wants in
the contract are things that she talked about, supported in her campaign. So why is this an issue now? BRANDIS FRIEDMAN: So, she did support all
of — much of what CTU is arguing for, but she didn’t say, I’m going to put it in the
CTU contract. So a lot of folks will say that some of what
CTU is asking for, affordable housing, for example, doesn’t belong in the teachers collective
bargaining agreement. The teachers has argued that they want it
in the contract because they don’t trust politicians. Just because she campaigned on these issues
doesn’t mean that she’s actually going to make good on them. For Mayor Lightfoot’s part of it, she says
that she campaigned on these issues, and that some of them have been written into the Chicago
Public Schools’ budget that was passed back in August. CTU says, that’s not good enough, we need
it in the contract, so that we have enforcement mechanisms to hold you accountable, to hold
you to what you say. JOHN YANG: This is putting a hardship on a
lot of parents in Chicago, who have got to find things for their kids to do during the
day, now that classes have been canceled. How much support is there from the — for
the teachers from the parents? And is there danger that it’s going to go
away as this goes on? BRANDIS FRIEDMAN: You know, it’s hard to say. Like, we know that a lot of the parents who
do support CTU, they are vocal. There are multiple organizations in Chicago
that have expressed their support. Some parents are on the picket line with their
kids and CTU. Now, the city does work with some sister agencies
to make sure that students have places to go, like the public library. And schools across the city have been opened
and staffed by members or employees from central office, as well as principals, for the students
who have to come to a school. And as far as whether or not, you know, they’re
going to lose parenting support, I know that not all parents do support CTU in this. Whether or not they are a majority or minority
of all parents, it’s hard to tell, of course. Not all of them support CTU, and they are
struggling. But I don’t think that the length of this
strike is going to have either side change camps. JOHN YANG: Brandis Friedman from “Chicago
Tonight” on WTTW, Brandis, thank you very much. BRANDIS FRIEDMAN: You bet. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado
is one of 18 Democrats vying for his party’s presidential nomination. Like other presidential hopefuls, he’s making
his case to voters why his health care plan is better than his opponents, even as issues
like Syria and impeachment have taken center stage in Washington. Senator Bennet joins us once more. Thank you very much for being here. SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), Presidential Candidate:
Thanks, Judy, for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s talk first about
Syria. It’s in the headlines. You’re a member of the Senate Intelligence
Committee. My question is — I know you have been critical
of what President Trump has done there, taking U.S. troops out, but what would you do differently
as president? Would you have taken the troops out in the
first… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Well, I never would have taken
these troops out. In the first place, unlike many things in
the Middle East that we have done wrong, this was a case where what we were doing was working. We had been there for five years. It was a critical mission to defeat ISIS. We had lost six Americans, which is tragic,
but only six Americans. The Kurds lost 10,000 Kurds in the same actions
that we were taking. And we had managed to deal with ISIS, which
is not the same thing as finishing or ending ISIS. And, today, the president’s put us in a position
where we’re not going to have the opportunity to deal with ISIS if they reemerge. And Syria, Russia, and Iran, and Assad are
splitting up the region. JUDY WOODRUFF: But the president of Turkey
is telling you, we’re sending our troops across the border into Syria. You’re saying U.S. troops would have faced
off against Turkey’s… (CROSSTALK) SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: All it would have taken was
a strong president to say, don’t even think about coming across that line. And the evidence that Erdogan had not come
across that line is that he didn’t through the Obama administration and through the Trump
administration. This was a moment of incredible weakness on
the part of an American president, not just abandoning the Kurds, but rolling over for
Erdogan. Erdogan would never have done this without
a permission slip from Donald Trump. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, right now, would you put
U.S. troops back in there? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I don’t think that’s feasible. I don’t think that’s viable. This is one of those cases — where the president
seems to think that he makes these decisions, and then he’s got all kinds of optionality. What he’s doing is foreclosing options. And one of those is our putting troops back
in Northern Syria. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s ask you… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I just hope the ones that
are leaving can get out safely. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about health
care. You call your plan Medicare-X. SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: It would create a public option. And you say it’s cheaper than the Medicare
for all plan that Senator Sanders, Senator Warren have proposed. But, as you know, what they say is that, when
they eliminate premiums, they eliminate co-pay, they eliminate deductibles, that means, they
say, that it would be a net savings for consumers. Why isn’t that idea better than… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I know they say that, but
America doesn’t believe it. And even Vermont didn’t believe it. They tried to pass something similar to this
in Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont. And when they saw what the costs would actually
be there, a 10 percent tax increase on individuals, an 11 percent tax increase on businesses,
they rejected it, just like the American people are going to reject a health care plan that
raises $31 trillion in taxes. Bernie Sanders and I are the only two people
in this race who’ve been consistent on our positions for the last 10 years. And he has been. And I honor his consistency. Just like he says he wrote the damn bill on
Medicare for all, I wrote it on the public option. And it not only is cheaper. It actually would benefit the federal treasury. And I think we could cover everybody in three
years, without stripping the American people of their choice to buy health insurance or
a public option, if that’s what they want, and without raising taxes at all on the American
people, much less massively. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you believe that a Democrat
who is the nominee who proposes single-payer — a single-payer plan, which is what Medicare
for all would be, enhances the prospects of President Trump getting reelected? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I do. I hope any Democrat will beat Donald Trump,
but this is not just about beating Donald Trump. It’s about winning a majority in the Senate
as well. And if these candidates can’t even be candid
about what — how they’re going to pay for these plans today — I mean, Elizabeth Warren
has a plan for every single thing, except for how to pay for her health care plan, which
is something that she’s had since the very beginning of this election. Bernie is honest about it. Bernie is telling the American people, I can
— at least I can pay for half of my plan, which is $16 trillion, by raising taxes on
everybody in America who are making $29,000 or more. That’s never going to fly, Judy. And it’s never going to — you — I mean,
that’s one way to lose a Senate race in Iowa and Colorado and Arizona. It might be a way of losing the presidency. JUDY WOODRUFF: You… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: And it’s so unnecessary. JUDY WOODRUFF: Impeachment. You — excuse me, because there are a couple
of other things I want to… (CROSSTALK) SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Go ahead. JUDY WOODRUFF: You waited to endorse an impeachment
inquiry, you said, because you believed it would have to have broad public support. But with information that’s come out about
President Trump, the phone call with the president of Ukraine, the request about Joe Biden, are
you now convinced that this president should be impeached by the House? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Well, I’m absolutely convinced
that he committed impeachable offenses. And I’m absolutely convinced that we should
have the impeachment inquiry that we’re — that we’re going to have. And I think the stuff that he’s done, whether
— is reprehensible. And our standard has fallen so low, Judy. I mean, these congressmen today rushing into
a secure briefing, like a mob, President Trump pretending that the rest of the world isn’t
watching us abandon our allies in the Middle East, and that the American people are going
to stand for having a president who, in this instance, is asking Ukraine to weigh in on
the election by digging up dirt on Joe Biden, this stuff is terrible. JUDY WOODRUFF: You know, if the House impeaches,
it moves to the Senate. There would be a trial that would go on for
weeks, if not months. Are you worried all that interferes with the
Democrats running for president? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I’m not worried about it,
because we have a job to do and we have a solemn responsibility to fulfill in the Senate. What I hope for is that this whole process
is going to end up leading to a place where we can restore the American people’s confidence
in our exercise in self-government and in the rule of law. And I hope to play a part in that. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Michael Bennet, seeking
the Democratic nomination for president, thank you. SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Thanks for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations says more
than 170,000 Syrian people have fled their homes since Turkey launched its cross-border
offensive more than two weeks ago. Nick Schifrin recently sat down with journalist
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, who has followed the lives of some of those forced to adapt yet
again. NICK SCHIFRIN: Long before the Trump administration
announced its withdrawal from Northern Syria, the people of that region struggled through
an extraordinary few years, revolution against the Assad regime, the brutality and radicalism
of the Islamic State, the battle to defeat ISIS, and the subsequent struggle to stabilize
and rebuild. On the front lines of that fight are so many
men and women, now forced to readjust again as the U.S. withdraws. For their story, we turn to journalist and
author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Gayle, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” Let’s talk about some of these people who
you have followed for years. Many of them fled ISIS. Talk about the woman who you met leaving Raqqa,
ISIS’ former headquarters, was nine months’ pregnant. GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, Journalist/Author: Yes. Yes. When we first met this woman named Batoul
two years ago, she had just delivered a baby who was around four pounds. And no one knew what would happen. She had fled the Islamic State during the
siege of Raqqa, had given all her gold, every bit of savings to a smuggler, who got her
out as part of a five-car convoy. Her car was the first car. The fifth car blew up as it drove over an
ISIS land mine. And over the past two years, I have really
watched her fight for normalcy. And she, the last time I saw her in May, was
so moving about how things were going well. And she said: “Look, thank God our children
are all in school. We have this fragile stability.” And she really was, I think, to me, a mom
whose life is on the front lines of this fight against extremism. And she told me: “Look, we don’t want the
world to save us. We can do the work, but we just need some
space and some normalcy.” NICK SCHIFRIN: The people who needed that
space and normalcy also sometimes needed the space within their own families. You and I have reported from there. And you found a woman with an extraordinary
story whose own family were ISIS supporters. And then she fled in order to give her children
a better life. GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Yes. A woman named Malika, who I have met a few
times over the past year. She’s from the town of Deir el-Zour, and was
talking to me about how her husband joined the SDF, which were the U.S.-backed forces
who fought ISIS. Her husband died fighting ISIS alongside other
members of the SDF who were backed by the Americans. And she talked to me about how her in-laws
had afterward wanted to take control of her children. She has two boys and a girl. And she said: “No way. I will not have my children grow up among
extremists. I’m actually going to give them a chance of
education.” And she talked to me for a while about her
daughter, and how she wanted her daughter to be educated. And even when I pressed her about what she
wanted for her daughter, in terms of a husband, she said: “I won’t even think about that right
now, because I want her to be a teacher or professor or something I never had the chance
to be.” NICK SCHIFRIN: That fight for stability, that
fight for a better future isn’t only been done by Kurdish people who we have been talking
about, of course, in the news, Gayle, and Arab families who you have just talked about,
but also other minorities, including Christians, right? GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Yes. Malika is from the Arab community. And here is a young woman, Nitha, who I met,
who is from this Bethnahrain Women’s Protection Force, which was a group of Christian young
women who had formed early in the ISIS fight and joined alongside the Kurds, and then later
the other Arabs who were part of the SDF, the U.S.-backed forces. And she talked to me about how, when she first
joined this all-women’s force, her mother and father had been very against it. They thought it was shameful. And then, when they realized that her unit
was part of protecting Christian communities from the Islamic State, Christian communities
who had been besieged by ISIS fighters, kidnapped and worse, they were really proud. And they had come to really accept her decision
and be very proud of it when they went to church on the weekends. And so she was talking to me about how she
is in law school now, and was recruiting the next generation of young women who are going
to be part of protecting their futures. And she said to me: “You know, Gayle, our
generation is very different. We’re educated. The young women are educated. And all we want is for stability and security
in our area.” NICK SCHIFRIN: And how important is it that
these people who you have just — whose stories you have just shared and the people you have
met throughout your time there find that stability and are able to change their futures, in your
opinion? GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: I mean, this is not
about sentimentality. This is about American national security. We talk about the war on extremism, fighting
the Islamic State, fighting people who have these kinds of ideologies, and — as an abstraction,
but these are the women whose lives very much live on the front line of this battle. And they are the people fighting each day
for security, for stability in their own neighborhoods, and really against the extremists who would
bring all kinds of insecurity, not just to their area, but certainly well beyond. And that’s why I think their quest for normalcy,
their push for a very fragile stability matters deeply to each of us. NICK SCHIFRIN: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, thank
you very much. And thank you for all your reporting. GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: Long before
George Takei made his name in the TV show “Star Trek,” and later became a popular civil
rights activist, he and his family were rounded up by the U.S. government during World War
II and put in Japanese internment camps. As William Brangham learned, Takei’s recent
graphic novel connects the way some view immigrants today with how his family and over 100,000
others were treated nearly 80 years ago. Their conversation starts, just as the book
does, on the day Takei’s family was taken away. It’s part of our regular arts and culture
coverage, Canvas. GEORGE TAKEI, Author, “They Called Us Enemy”:
We were at the front window just gazing out, and, suddenly, we saw two soldiers marching
up the driveway, carrying rifles with shiny bayonets. They stomped up the front porch, and with
their fists began pounding on the door. And, that, I can’t forget. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Really? GEORGE TAKEI: My father came out, answered
the door. And we were ordered to leave the house. They were questioning my mother. And when she came out, she had our baby sister
in one arm and a huge duffel bag in the other. Tears were streaming down her face. That was, to us, shocking and absolutely scary. NARRATOR: The beginning of America’s war with
Japan opened very badly for America’s Navy. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It was 1941. The U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor had just
been attacked by the Japanese. And now American soldiers were coming for
George Takei’s family at their home in Los Angeles. Fearing that people of Japanese ancestry were
potential spies or saboteurs, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, and
more than 100,000 people across the West Coast were rounded up. Can you help us understand why you think America
reacted the way it did? I mean, Pearl Harbor was an absolute tragedy
and a surprise brutal attack. GEORGE TAKEI: Prior to Pearl Harbor, in the
media, the characterization of all Asians, we were either buffoons or silent, passive
servants, or cruel, evil villains. And so that stereotype was turned against
us. We were Americans, but we looked like the
enemy. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The world first got to know
George Takei when he played Hikaru Sulu on the hugely popular TV show “Star Trek.” GEORGE TAKEI: Completing the seeding orbit,
Captain. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Forty years later, “Trek”
fans still mob him at sci-fi and comic book conventions. Takei has also become an influential civil
rights and LGBTQ rights activist. But, for years, he’s also been telling the
story of his family’s internment during World War II, in a memoir, on Broadway. ACTOR: They’re treating us like animals. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And now in a new graphic
novel titled “They Called Us Enemy.” GEORGE TAKEI: There have been documentaries
now, there have been other books written, and yet to this day there are people that
don’t know and are astounded when I share this story with them. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Back in 1941, young George
and his family were forced to leave their homes with only the bags they could carry. People lost their homes, their cars, their
businesses, either sold in desperation or stolen outright. GEORGE TAKEI: There just wasn’t time to sell
everything. My father sold his car, a Pontiac, dark green
Pontiac, for $5. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Five dollars? GEORGE TAKEI: It was better than just leaving
it there. People lost everything, things that they couldn’t
sell abandoned and raided by those vultures. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Throughout the book, Takei
contrasts his parents’ anguish about their treatment with his more childlike view, like
when they were initially detained at the Santa Anita racetrack in Los Angeles. GEORGE TAKEI: Later on, I remember my mother
saying it was the most degrading, humiliating thing to take their children into this horse
stall with the pungent smell of horse manure. But to 5-year-old me, I thought it was fun
to sleep where the horseys sleep. (LAUGHTER) GEORGE TAKEI: I can smell the horseys, you
know? So two different reactions on the same event. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Takei and his family were
later sent to live behind barbed wire in a camp in rural Arkansas, one of the 10 permanent
camps spread across the U.S. They weren’t hurt or interrogated, but, in
some camps, especially when the government tried to get people to sign notorious loyalty
oaths, protests were met with violent pushback. Takei and his family were kept imprisoned
for nearly four years. When the war ended, the camps were closed,
and everyone was let go. Takei and his family went back to Southern
California penniless. They had to start over again. You have been telling this story for years,
on stage, in memoirs, in speeches, on commissions, now in this graphic novel. Why is this — why do you keep wanting to
tell this story? GEORGE TAKEI: Because, today, we are living
through another cycle of this story of mindless inhumanity. Latinos coming from Central America and Mexico,
desperate people fleeing violence and poverty, now children, infants are being torn away
from them and put into filthy cages with poor hygiene, human waste, and poor diet. This kind of repetition of the same sort of
thing that we went through 75 years ago is being repeated. And with this book, I hope that young people
are getting this information at that point, and they grow up with it, so by the time they’re
adults, they are going to be a different breed of Americans, aware of the history of this
country. We have plenty of glorious chapters. Some of the darker chapters are the lessons
that we really need to learn. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The book is “They Called
Us Enemy.” George Takei, thank you very, very much. GEORGE TAKEI: Thank you for allowing me to
share. JUDY WOODRUFF: It has to be such a powerful
story. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening,
when I sit down with Vice President Mike Pence. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.

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