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tv   Washington Week  PBS  January 14, 2022 7:30pm-8:01pm PST

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>> sedition charges, could be usion in the fight for voting rights. members of the extremist oath keepers group charge for their role in the capital attack. >> omicron with this degree of transmissibility will ultimately find it just about everybody. >> the supreme court strikes down the president's vaccine or test mandate for big businesses. pres. biden: i am tired of being quiet. >> president biden doubles down on voting rights legislation. pres. biden: do you want to be on the side of martin luther king or george wallace? >> but it failso get his own
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party behind that push. >> i will not support separate actions that set the underlying disease of division affecting our country. >> next. >> this is washingtonweek. corporate funding is provided by -- >> consumer cellular. additional funding is provided by -- the hgyuen foundation, sandra and carl delay magnuson, robert and susan rosenbaum, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> good evening, everyone, and
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welcome to washingtonweek. this week we start major developments into the investigation into the january 6 attack. re than one year after the insurrection the justice department has brought the most serious charges to date, seditious conspiracy against the leaders and members of the far right extremist group known as the oath keepers. they are accused of attempting to overthrow the united states government. joining me tonight, and national security and law enforcement reporter at the washington post, jeff bennett, and leeann caldwell. welcome to you all. thanks so much for being here. dublin, i went to start with you. seditious conspiracy is not a charge we hear often but it is the most serious charge related to january 6 so far. what do you know about why the department of justice brought
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the specific charges against these specific people more than one year after the attack? >> we know this is a question that justice department prosecutors have been wrestling with for at least nine months. when you look at the law, it makes it illegal to conspire to take down the u.s. government, to act to try to prevent the enforcement or execution of u.s. laws. it is in some ways good description of what happened on january 6 but it is so rarely used because lawmakers and prosecutors are afraid it could be over used or abused if it became a regular thing, and the judges are not big fans either. here they finally decided to go for it in large part because their understanding of what the oath keepers did that day and in the months prior so perfectly matched the way that law is written. >> do we know anything new about
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the oath keepers? you know about another extremist group, a broad voice, who were also out there and contact they had with the trump white house. >> we do not, but the thing to remember is the moment the election was over in 2020 a lot of these far right extremist groups were in a common public conversation about how to stop the seal -- steal, in their words, creating fantastical notions of what voter fraud could have taken place, and there was this broad public conversation which involved discussing an insurrection act among other things and all of these pieces were coming together and crystallizing in december of 2020, and that is how we ended up at january 6. >> leeann, what about capitol
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hill? the house select committee continues to investigate the origins, they have tried to get kevin mccarthy to cooperate. >> on capitol hill that is the focus is what the committee is doing, and they are pretty far alonin their investigation. congress usually moves very slowly, and on a scale this january 6 committee is moving extremely quickly. they have spoken with more than 350 people, and we do not hear about those. the ones we care about are the ones they do not speak to, the ones who have been subpoenaed, the ones who were not willing to cooperate with the committee. there are a lot of people who are cooperating. they have gotten more than 25,000 pages worth of documents, the latest development was a request for leader mccarthy to come and speak. he sent a very strong signal
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that he is not going to end a strong signal he has sent to the rest of his were public and members if they aresked to cooperate with the committee, and just last night there was a new front on that and they said -- sent subpoenas for social media companies including twitter, meta, and read it -- re ddit. jamie raskin told me one critical part of this investigation is going to be what they get from those social media companies, this is going to be not only a people driven investigation but a data-driven investigation on the. >> i have to ask, big picture when you see the department of justice moving forward in this way, does that tell you or signal in any way they have moved into a new phase of accountability? the investigation into january 6 , and what you expect to happen
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next? >> before they are done arresting and charging people there will be more than 1000 people charged in january 6 for a wide array of crimes. this week's events indicate they are moving up a run here and it is an important wrong -- rung. this does not mean they end up making a lot of similar charges for seditious conspiracy. with the oath keepers did was pretty unique. there was a lot more activity to do, or cooperation to be gained in more details to come out. they have a pretty good worldview into how the oath keepers did what they did and what. >> more work for you ahead it sounds like. that is dublin, thank you for being with us tonight. onto another big story from this
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week, earlier in the week president biden and vice president harris went to atlanta where they spoke forcefully on the need to change senate rules to past voting rights protections. pres. biden: is a threat to our democracy so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail. if that bare minimum is blocked we have no option but to change the senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this. >> among those not in attendance , some of georgia's leading voting rights activists boycotting biden's remarks in protest. >> we do not need him to come to georgia and use us as a prop. what we need is work. >> majority leader mitch mcconnell -- minority leader mitch mcconnell dismissed the speech as profoundly presidential. >> the president's grant
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yesterday -- rant yesterday was incoherent, incorrect, and beneath his office. >> president biden went to capitol hill to rally democrats to back his push, and jeff bennett, that is where i turn to you. the numbers in the senate just are not there. is there any concern in the white house that the president is spending too much political capital on a plant that has a near zero chance of success? >> is an interesting point. based on my reporting one of the reasons president biden and not invested more fully in this issue of voting rights much earlier in his term the weight many members of the democratic base wanted to because you knew th was the likely outcome. can you help intractable this process was because there are not the votes to move this
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legislation through regular order. kirsten cinema and joe mentioned --manchin, their stated positions on doing that as not changed. i thought it was particularly interesting that just one hour before president biden made his visit to the senate where he was ping to broad and cajole and persuade democrats in the senate to get on board, you have kirsten cinema deliver that floor speech cutting up the president before he was even able to arrive there on the senate making his case, and the president left the gathering speaking about this process saying we missed it, you missed the opportunity. he has pointed to history. if you look at the course of american history most civil rights legislation has failed at least on the first pass, but to
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quote him he says we always go back and try to get it. there is no plan b right now, there is no legislation, no executive action taken meet the moment, that can addresshe problem that exists right now given that you have 19 states having passed 34 loss, that number -- laws, that number is expected to growth that not only makes it harder for people to vote but has injected partisans in this process that for the most part has been apolitical. >> talk to be about seven or mansion -- senator manchin and sinema. what do we know about where they are now and do democrats think there is any daylight for them to shift on? >> there is no daylight, they are not going to shift. this meeting yesterday by
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president biden behind closed doors with democrats, senator cinema's people tell me he knew what her position was. she reiterated her position last week, last month and the one that she had for many months before that, and senator joe mansion -- manchin, even though he was involved in these negotiations for weeks at a four months even, you never got there , and this is a pattern we have seen twice just in the past few months with senator manchin, that he talks with his fellow colleagues leaving them thinking there is room for him to change his mind and then he just pulls the rug right out from under them and he does not. the question i have is if senator schumer moves forward
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with this vote on changing the rules next week is -- is it going to be just those two democrats? >> where does this leave the president? you heard the speech he delivered about the importance of voting rights protections, he called it a threat to our democracy, existential in the way that he presents it. is there anything else in the way of executive actions or any other action he can take that would work? >> not unilaterally. there has been talk on the hill of a bipartisan group trying to find a way to rewrite the electoral count act and make clear the vagaries in that lot that president trump tried to explain -- exploit. that was the process where the
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president had vice president fence -- the idea is to change the law and to firm up the weighthat it is written, but that is no substitute for the asymmetry here where you have a growing number of republican led states changing laws, and i talk to advocates and organizers who say in the past they have always been told out organize the suppression. the way some of these laws have been written they cannot out organize it. >> voting rights top of the agenda, so too is the pandemic and on thursday the supreme court blocked president biden's test mandate for big businesses but left a more limited mandate or health care workers in place. it was another blow to a white house struggling to control covid's bread as tests remain scarce and trust of the official
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response plummets. at a senate hearing on capitol hill dr. anthony fauci accused senator rand paul of attacking him for political gain. >> go to rand paul' website and you see fire dr. fauci with a little box that says contribute here, you can do five dollars, $10, $20, $100, so you are making a catastrophic epidemic for political gain. >> joining me now is a national health policy reporter for the washington post. >> let's start with the supreme court ruling, the president responded, said it is unfortunate, disappointing but says he is calling on states and businesses to still put the same rules into place and are they likely to do that? >> i think it is unlikely businesses that have not done this yet possibly going to do
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it. there were companies waiting for permission or the federal government to carve a path for them to do this and give them political coverage to do it. you have seen major employers like united airlines, tyson foods who put in place a vaccine mandate and saw the vaccination rate increased dramatically, but a lot of companies that have not done it yet probably are not going to and they were waiting to see this case was going to play out. we are in a moment where there were a lot of labor shortages. they are struggling to have enou workers, so this is a huge blow to the biden plan, only recently have you seen them turn into something other than vaccination as a major tool, and the vaccination rate has not botched -- budged for the last few months. >> what about the plan to get more tests out there?
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the white house announced they are billing -- buying a total of one billion tests, 500 million it will be available on january 19, the test will ship seven to 12 days after that. is all of this happening too late? >> it is late for the current surge that we are dealing with although some experts note there are signs the search -- surge might be slowing on the eastern seaboard, but the u.s. is a huge country, it has not peaked in many parts of the country, so the testing website will be useful for the part of the country that will deal with her rge a couple of weeks after the eastern seaboard and major metropolitan areas that we have seen. it happens regionally, it is not all happen at once, and you saw president biden announced yesterday that will purchase an additional 500 billion tests to deal with future waves.
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this is the first time we have seen either white house actually try to plan ahead on the testing front. two years in we never have enough tests in the middle of a surge. >> we note this administration -- know this administration came into a horrible situation. after an impressive vaccine rollout they seem to have lost momentum, control in many narratives. do you get that sense from people in the white house you talk to? >> president biden himself said he was hired to solve problems, but so many of these problems appear to be persistent certainly and await this white house did not expect, and when it comes to the covered crisis ere are legitimate questions as to why the white house was not legitimately prepared in terms of testing, there is a new effort to send out mass to
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families, why was that not started earlier given that dr. fauci talked about how he expected the winter to be pretty tough when it comes to covid. this is before people knew omicron was on the scene. the biden administration certainly believes it deserves credit for pivoting quickly, when they recognize there is a problem, to change plans quickly enough to address it, so that is what starting next week americans will be able to go online and request rapid at home covid tests, and they should arrive 7 to 12 days after their requested it, so the idea is any american family who needs at once: vitesse -- covid -- wants covid tests can get them. >> i have to ask you about this other confusion around the guidance that has been coming
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from cdc and other health officials, because people are really confused, and the credibility of these officials has taken a hit during the pandemic. do you see it cdc officials, other health officials changing up how they are messaging to ease some of that confusion? >> that is a great question. the cdc did come out with new guidance today on higher-quality masks and it was also confusing. it said kn95 and n95 mass would be better, but the cdc is in a tough position because they are not a regulatory agency. there has been a lot of confusion and mixed messaging from various administration officials about what is in the guidance, what is not in the guidance, and you've seen it way out across the country where people who have been careful for two or more years now are trying their best to comply but they are having to make individual risk assessments because it is not entirely clear what people
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are supposed to be doing. it is so dependent on specific situations, on where you work, you are a health care worker, and essential worker, it is confusing for people who want to follow the guidance to know what they are supposed to do right now. >> a confusing time for a lot of people. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> all of this brings us to something cheap on america's minds, the economy. inflation has surged to a 40 year high end americans are feeling the pain of price hikes. covid and winter weather are snarling supply chains. the biden administration is under pressure to take action. let's turn to leanne on this. i wonder about the movement of funds early independent from the federal government, the top of a lot of people' is minds is there
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more help on the way? >> it is yet to be seen, there are discussions happening about more health, more assistance for small businesses, some more relief aid, but there are a couple of things going on. there are some concerns were members they want to know how all of the money as been spent already, at the billions and trillions of dollars thatave gone out the door. that was a debate during the last big covid relief bill as well and that is a large part of what republican said they would not support the last one, so there is still some of that left because that was such a massive infusion. if there is more relief aid democrats and republicans are in disagreement of how to pay for it, so these discussions are happening but they are stuck, and they do not seem to be in it
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at this movement. >> this is a president grappling with the ones -- once in a century pandemic, a recession, what is at stake if you cannot get his arms around both the pandemic and the economy? >> potentially has reelection -- his reelection is at stake. president biden has spent half a century in public life, the white house press secretary was as this thing early in the week, and she said the hard things are hard, and this president realizes simply accept the fact that he bears responsibility for all that goes well and all that does not. in this white house you do have a group that say they are committed to confronting the challenges that they face. on the inflation side of things,
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the president, the white house and his economic advisers have a limited toolbox to address inflation given that it stems so much from the covid crisis, but with the president also knows is that key will be judged by this, perhaps not on voting rights, perhaps not on any sort of domestic agenda items. people will judge in based on the way they feel about their own lives and the way they feel about their own kitchen tables, whether it is food in the grocery scores -- stores come up with her kids are able to go back to school and whether or not there families are safe and healthy given this crisis. president biden is not responsible for all of it, cannot necessarily solve it on his own but he does know he will be held to account at the end of the day whether it is the midterms or the 2024 reelection. >> jeff bennett always making
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clear for is why all of these issues mattewhat we outside washington, i cannot thank you both enough for joining us and for sharing your reporting tonight. we will continue our conversation on president biden's challenges and on the economy on washingtonweek extra. tenant monday to the pbs newshour, martin luther king the third discusses his family's latest bush for federal voting rights legislation. thank you so much for joining us. good night from washington. ♪ ♪ >> corporate funding for
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washingtonweek is provided by -- >> 425 years consumer cellular has been offering no contract plans designed to help people get more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can help you find a plan that fits you. >> additional funding is provided by the estate of arnold adams, the human -- hgyuen foundation, sandra and carl magnuson, robert and susan rosenbaum, the corporation for broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ >>
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♪♪ ♪♪ [ indistinct conversations ] -boy #1: do not spill it! -boy #2: make room. [ indistinct conversations ] -boy #3: aah! -girl #1: hey, we're lighting a fire! -boy #4: hey! -boy #5: speech! -girl #2: speech! -boy #5: our town might've burnt down so it seems fitting that we burn all the [bleep] they gave us down, too.
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