PBS NewsHour full episode October 21, 2019

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: under fire. President Trump responds to mounting criticism
over Syria, his willingness to use his own hotel for a gathering of world leaders, and
escalating impeachment inquiry. Then: on the ground in Iraq. We have a firsthand account of the impact
of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria on refugees and the fight against ISIS. Plus: one-on-one with Senator Bernie Sanders. The Democratic presidential candidate discusses
the cost of his Medicare-for-all plan, the difference between him and Elizabeth Warren,
and more. And food for Flint. New programs work to battle the adverse effects
of lead-laden water in Flint, Michigan, with focused nutrition for children. DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, Michigan State University:
Nutrition is like a forever medicine. Children need to always have great nutrition
to limit the ongoing kind of potential exposure from lead release. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump is facing new
weak spots in his wall of support, and he’s urging his allies to get tough and fight. He spoke for more than an hour at a Cabinet
meeting today, and condemned the drive to impeach him. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor
reports. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
So, he made up a lie. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: At a White House Cabinet
meeting, President Trump again lashed out at Democrats. DONALD TRUMP: They want to impeach, and they
want to do it as quick as possible. And that’s pretty much the story. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Acting White House Chief
of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who has fueled the impeachment fire, sat beside him. Last week, Mulvaney acknowledged the president
did withhold military aid to Ukraine. He said the move was aimed at forcing an investigation
involving U.S. Democrats and the 2016 election. Later that day, Mulvaney insisted there was
no quid pro quo. And, on Sunday, he walked it back again. MICK MULVANEY, Acting White House Chief of
Staff: It’s legitimate to tie the aid to foreign aid to other countries. Can I see how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I never said there was a quid pro quo,
because there isn’t. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In his own Sunday interview,
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wouldn’t defend Mulvaney’s original comments. But he said he knew of no wrongdoing. MIKE POMPEO, U.S. Secretary of State: I never
saw that in the decision-making process that I was a part of. The conversation was always around, what were
the strategic implications? Would that money get to the right place, or
would there be corruption in Ukraine? I will leave to the chief of staff to explain
what it is he said and what he intended. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Today, President Trump repeated
his own denials of anything improper in his dealings with Ukraine. DONALD TRUMP: I haven’t heard one Ukrainian
— not one — say that there was pressure of any kind. There haven’t even been reports of it to our
people. Nobody’s even said it. And the reason you haven’t heard it because
there is no pressure. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Still, growing cracks have
appeared in the president’s Republican support. In an interview with Axios on Sunday, Republican
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah issued a broad indictment of President Trump. Romney, a longtime Trump critic, also refused
to take impeachment off the table. SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I just want to get as
much information as we can, make an assessment consistent with the law and the Constitution. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Republican criticism of
the president is building behind closed doors, too. A number of reports say he faced intense private
criticism from Republican lawmakers over hosting the G7 summit at his Doral resort in Florida. Late Saturday, he gave in and reversed his
decision. But, today, he was still defending the idea. DONALD TRUMP: I was willing to do this for
free, and it would’ve been the greatest G7 ever. I don’t think you people with this phony Emoluments
Clause — and, by the way, I would say that it’s cost me anywhere from $2 billion to $5
billion to be president. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The Emoluments Clause is
a provision in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It is also unclear how much money President
Trump has lost or gained since taking office, because he has not released his tax returns. Meanwhile, the backlash from his own party
comes as Democrats are still methodically working through their impeachment inquiry. Tomorrow, acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
William Taylor will testify in a closed-door session as part of the investigation. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Yamiche Alcindor. JUDY WOODRUFF: And Yamiche joins us now to
help make sense of so much of what is happening. Yamiche, hello. So, we just heard the president refer to this
clause in the Constitution having to do with emoluments. He called it phony. Tell us a little bit more about what the clause
actually does refer to and how it fits into the pressure right now on the president. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, the president at the
White House is really lashing out at all his critics who said that it was wrong for him
to host the G7 at Trump Doral, his property in Florida. And he, as you said, called this clause phony. In fact, it is actually in Article One, Section
9, paragraph eight of the Constitution. And what it says in part is that no person
holding any office should accept any sort of present or gift from any kind from a king,
prince or foreign state. And what the founders were thinking were that
they did not want American ambassadors and American lawmakers to have any sort of influence
that would come from European powers. That’s important to President Trump because
there are several lawsuits that say that President Trump is violating that clause by having the
Trump Hotel and other properties and that foreign governments are staying there and
essentially giving him gifts. The president’s lawyers have pushed back and
say that really the hotels are providing a service and that they’re not — he’s not getting
gifts in return, that he’s actually giving them something. But this is all really a big part of the Trump
presidency. There are lawsuits still working their way
through the courts. But it’s very clear that the Emoluments Clause
is very much real and not phony. JUDY WOODRUFF: And his offering to use the
Doral hotel to host this next meeting, which was then pulled back, has raised this issue
all over again. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: So we know, Yamiche, today,
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of the Democrats, put out a fact sheet on impeachment. What are we seeing right now in terms of how
the Democrats and the White House are navigating this impeachment process? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Both Democrats and Republicans
really understand that messaging is going to be very important when it comes to this
impeachment inquiry. So, today this morning, Nancy Pelosi and House
Democrats, they debuted this fact sheet. It’s up on the screen. It’s called “Truth Exposed.” And what it really is trying to do is make
the case to the American people that the president is involved in a — quote — “shakedown,”
a pressure campaign and a cover-up. They’re using those words to really message
to the American people what this whole impeachment inquiry is about. The president today at the White House, he
also was doing his own messaging. He said Republicans need to be tougher. He said Democrats are really being vicious
and that they’re sticking together. He also said that they don’t have a Mitt Romney
in their midst, basically saying that my party needs to stick with me, and, Mitt Romney,
he should be really an anomaly, and not — and all the other Republicans should not be doing
what Mitt Romney is doing, which is publicly criticizing him. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Yamiche, I mean,
you put it all together, this has been a rough few days for the president, and not only what
you have been talking about. You had the president’s acting chief of staff,
Mick Mulvaney, having to walk back what he said at that briefing last week. You have had the change of position on whether
to use the president’s own hotel for this meeting with world leaders. You have also got Republicans, as you report
on, breaking with the president on Syria. How is this adding up in terms of its effect
on the president? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president is really
looking at a season of weakness. That’s what — The Washington Post is using
that phrase, and it’s a perfect way to describe what President Trump is going through right
now. His own party is criticizing him about the
G7, about Syria. And he’s also having to reverse himself. We haven’t seen this president really reverse
himself on anything. Mainly, he’s stuck to his guns, except for
maybe on family separation and on the government shutdown. But the president’s really — really seeing,
in some ways, denting what has been a Teflon presidency. And that’s concerning to a lot of people in
the White House, even though Republicans still overwhelmingly support the president. JUDY WOODRUFF: But the president is saying,
we’re going to get through this? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes. He’s saying, I will still be reelected, and
Democrats are really just angry about the 2016 election. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche Alcindor, following
it all, thank you very much. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thanks. JUDY WOODRUFF: American troops began leaving
Syria today, as a tense cease-fire held between Turkish and Syrian Kurdish forces. Where the Americans were once hailed as helping
the Kurds defeat ISIS, today, many in Northeast Syria jeered and pelted American convoys with
rotten vegetables and stones. And special correspondent Jane Ferguson, reporting
tonight from Northwestern Iraq near the Syria border, encountered some of those evacuating
U.S. forces. JANE FERGUSON: U.S. forces left the Northeast
Syrian town of Tall Tamr under the cover of darkness. But protesters with signs blocked the convoys. One read, “Thanks for U.S. people, but Trump
betrayed us.” In the Kurdish held-town of Qamishli on the
Turkish border, residents hurled potatoes. As they follow the president’s orders and
drive away, America’s troops are leaving behind men they fought side by side with against
ISIS. This weekend, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark
Esper said most of the 1,000 troops leaving Northeast Syria are headed to Iraq to press
the fight against remnants of ISIS. That came despite a tweet from President Trump
saying he was — quote — “bringing soldiers home.” Today, he added some U.S. forces will stay
in Syria to protect Kurdish-held oil fields from ISIS and to fight ISIS. In Kabul, Afghanistan, Esper said the move
would be deliberate. MARK ESPER, U.S. Defense Secretary: This withdrawal
will take weeks, not days. Until that time, our forces will remain in
the towns that are located near the oil fields. JANE FERGUSON: But we witnessed a withdrawal
that appears to be well on its way, arriving across the border in Iraq, a massive column
of U.S. Special Forces, on their way to a new base, American flags flying, as Iraq’s
Kurds watched from the street. In Washington today, President Trump modified
his earlier explanation that all troops were coming out. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Well, they’re going to be sent initially to different parts, get prepared, and then ultimately
we’re bringing them home. We’re bringing our troops back home. We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the
rest of their lives. JANE FERGUSON: The U.S. brokered a five-day
cease-fire last Thursday after nearly a week of bloodshed along the border. It came amid widespread panic over possible
war crimes committed by Turkish-backed Arab militias and the threat of ethnic cleansing
against the Kurds. As part of the deal, the Kurds agreed to withdraw
from within 20 miles of the Turkish border in areas where fighting is already under way. Over the weekend, there was some fraying of
the fragile cease-fire, with shelling across the Turkish-Syrian border. Each side accused the other of aggression. Kurdish leaders said shelling from the Turkish
army killed at least 17 people in the town of Ras al-Ayn. TALAAT YOUNIS, Kurdish official (through translator):
The Turkish army and its mercenaries didn’t stop their intensive attacks, aiming to wipe
out everybody, and even now the shelling continues. JANE FERGUSON: In Istanbul today, Turkey’s
foreign minister said it was the Kurds who initiated. He said the Kurds were still honoring the
pact, but added that Turkey would resume its operations if the Kurds don’t leave the border
areas. MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, Turkish Foreign Minister
(through translator): Harassment fires continue. I think around 30 harassment fires already
came. And we lost one soldier. And we, of course — as we agreed with the
Americans, we have retaliated. If they don’t withdraw, our operation will
restart. JANE FERGUSON: Amid the upheaval, not just
fighters are fleeing, but terrified civilians too. The United Nations says more than 176,000
people have been uprooted from their homes in Northeast Syria, including 70,000 children. Some of them end up in camps like this, in
Bandarash in Northwest Iraq. Here we met Kasuma Abdul, one of many mothers
who now fears she may be forced to raise her children as refugees. When will you return? KASUMA ABDUL, Kurdish Refugee (through translator):
When will it become a settled country, how we need it to be? We are afraid to return. There is shelling, warplanes and soldiers
there. JANE FERGUSON: More like her arrive at the
camp every day from their homes inside Syria. For people here, there is such an incredible
degree of uncertainty. And that’s because their lives are impacted
by a foreign policy that changes by the day. One thing everyone we spoke with was certain
of was who they blame for this crisis. KANIWAR ABDUL HAMID, Kurdish Refugee (through
translator): Trump is responsible. He betrayed the Kurds. Children have died . People have been displaced. All these people in these tents, it’s Trump’s
fault. He took the decision. He sold out the Kurds. JANE FERGUSON: Kurds like Kaniwar Abdul Hamid
told us they believe strongly the American soldiers don’t want to leave. KANIWAR ABDUL HAMID (through translator):
It’s not the American military’s fault. It was the president’s decision. The military has to follow orders. JANE FERGUSON: Tomorrow, the cease-fire between
Turkey and the Kurds is set to expire. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jane Ferguson
in Dohuk, Iraq. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Lebanon’s
leaders approved economic reforms aimed at stopping mass protests. Vast crowds filled Central Beirut over the
weekend in a revolt against the ruling elite. And, today, demonstrations shut down banks
and businesses for a fifth day. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri met
with his cabinet today, then announced the reforms and hailed the protesters. SAAD HARIRI, Lebanese Prime Minister (through
translator): You have put the Lebanese national identity back in its place above all sectarian
or religious identity. And this is the biggest national victory. I’m not asking you to stop protesting or expressing
your anger. That is a decision that you take, and no one
can give you a deadline. JUDY WOODRUFF: The prime minister’s economic
package promises to deal with massive debt by cutting salaries of top officials in half
and closing some ministries. In Hong Kong, new protests late today brought
new street clashes. Heavily armed police fired tear gas to break
up groups who tried to block roads. That came a day after riot police mistakenly
sprayed a mosque with blue-dyed water, as mass demonstrations turned violent. Today, city leaders apologized. Hundreds of people in Santiago, Chile, defied
a curfew today, after the city became a battleground over the weekend, with at least 11 dead. On Sunday, protesters angered by growing inequality
and a transit fare increase torched buses and vandalized subway stations. Soldiers fired tear gas and water cannon,
and President Sebastian Pinera denounced the protests. SEBASTIAN PINERA, Chilean President (through
translator): We are at war with a powerful, relentless enemy that respects nothing or
anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits, even when it involves
the loss of human lives. JUDY WOODRUFF: Pinera has suspended the transit
fare hike, but he imposed a state of emergency in Santiago and other cities. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
announced today that he has given up on forming a national unity government. His chief rival, former military chief Benny
Gantz, will now take a turn. If he, too, fails, it could lead to Israel’s
third election in less than a year. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
was dealt another blow in his efforts to get a vote on a Brexit plan. The speaker of the House of Commons said that
parliamentary rules do not allow a vote, because lawmakers had refused to act Saturday on the
same question. But he said the prime minister has other options. JOHN BERCOW, Speaker, House of Commons: If
the government have got the numbers, the government can have their way. And it’s not for the speaker to interfere. The judgment I have made is about the importance
of upholding a very longstanding and overwhelmingly observed convention of this house. JUDY WOODRUFF: Britain faces an October 31
deadline to leave the European Union. Canada held a national election today, with
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s job at stake. He has been hurt by an ethics scandal and
by his admission that he wore blackface years ago. Trudeau was joined by his wife and children
as he cast his vote in Montreal. He is vying to remain a leading progressive
voice on the world stage. His main opponent is Andrew Scheer, leader
of the Conservative Party. Back in this country, the three largest drug
distributors and a major pharmaceutical manufacturer reached a settlement with two Ohio counties
in the opioid epidemic. It totals $260 million, and it could lead
to a broader national settlement of more than 2,600 lawsuits. We will take a closer look later in the program. The governor of Texas has declared a disaster
in 16 counties after severe storms, including a tornado, roared through the Dallas area
overnight. The twister touched down near the main airport. It moved eastward, tearing through trees,
ripping off roofs and left thousands in the dark. But the Dallas mayor said it could have been
much worse. ERIC JOHNSON, Mayor of Dallas, Texas: Considering
the path that the storm took, and it went across a pretty densely populated part of
our city, I think we should consider ourselves very fortunate that we didn’t lose any lives. No fatalities and no serious injuries in last
night’s storm, so I think we should all be grateful for that. JUDY WOODRUFF: The same weather system killed
one person in Arkansas and three in Oklahoma. The Trump administration is moving forward
with a plan to collect DNA samples from legal asylum-seekers and anyone who enters the U.S.
illegally. The Justice Department issued the proposed
rule today. It said that the biometric records would be
transferred to an FBI database and used for criminal investigations. On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial
average gained 57 points, to close at 26827. The Nasdaq rose 73 points, and the S&P 500
added 20. And, after 166 years, New York’s Central Park
will have a monument to famous women. A city commission voted today to erect a statue
of three pioneering figures. They are women’s suffrage icons Elizabeth
Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth, who escaped slavery to became a leading
abolitionist. Central Park already has 23 statues, all of
men. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: the latest
from the campaign trail and a one-on-one interview with Senator Bernie Sanders; Tamara Keith
and Amy Walter break down the latest on the impeachment fight in Congress and more; four
drug companies reach a last-minute deal in a high-stakes opioid case; and healing Flint,
how focused nutrition programs battle the effects of lead-laden water. We turn now to the Democratic presidential
race. Candidates spent the weekend working to drum
up enthusiasm among primary voters in the crowded contest. At a Saturday rally of more than 20,000 people
in Queens, New York, Bernie Sanders had a clear message. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Presidential Candidate:
I am more than ready to assume the office of president of the United States. To put it bluntly, I am back. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) JUDY WOODRUFF: Less than three weeks after
suffering a heart attack, the Vermont senator got a big boost, the endorsement of New York
freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Sanders is seeking to establish the legacy
of his political revolution… SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), Presidential Candidate:
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be putting out a plan. JUDY WOODRUFF: … his progressive presidential
rival, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, is fending off criticism. It is over how she’d pay for Medicare for
all, Sanders’ signature health care plan, which Warren supports. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: So, I have been working
on this for a long time now. It’s still got a little more work before it’s
ready to roll out. SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), Presidential Candidate:
I think you have to show how you’re going to pay for things. JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, centrist candidates
like Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg spent
the weekend building on the gains they have made in the race after clashing with Warren
on health care in the last debate. Klobuchar enjoyed large crowds in Iowa, while
a new USA Today poll of Iowa caucus-goers put Buttigieg within striking distance of
former Vice President Joe Biden, Warren, and Sanders. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
American teachers deserve a generous raise, and I’m going to make sure they get one. JUDY WOODRUFF: With teacher strikes ongoing
in Chicago, Biden this weekend, at an event in New York with 1,000 union teachers, promised
better teacher wages if he’s elected president. Today, Warren released a new $800 billion
K-12 education plan that she says she’d fund with a wealth tax. ANDREW YANG (D), Presidential Candidate: There
are a lot of them in the Yang Gang. JUDY WOODRUFF: Elsewhere on the campaign trail
this weekend, Democratic presidential candidates still trying to break through in the crowded
field held events from South Carolina to Alabama to Iowa. And one of those presidential candidates,
Senator Bernie Sanders, joins us now. Senator Sanders, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” It’s good to see you back on the campaign
trail. Congratulations. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you very much. JUDY WOODRUFF: And first question, has this
heart issue slowed you down at all? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Not at all. I mean, I took some time off. I’m feeling great right now. We had a wonderful rally on Saturday. We’re going to be in Iowa in a few days. We’re back and running. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk — I want to move
from your own health to your health care plan, Senator. You would eliminate private insurance, require
no co-pays or premiums from patients, from people. You would give everybody coverage. But the nonpartisan Urban Institute — and
we just looked at their — study that they put out last week — is estimating that, over
its first decade, your plan would cost $34 trillion, more than total — the total cost
of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid combined. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, two responses, Judy. First of all, if we do nothing in terms of
the health care, I think the estimate is, we will be spending as a nation $50 trillion. We have by far the most expensive health care
system in the world. We’re spending twice as much per person as
the Canadians and most countries in the industrialized world. And yet we still have 87 million uninsured
or underinsured, 30,000 dying. We pay by far the highest prices in the world
for prescription drugs, and some 500,000 people a year go bankrupt as a result of medical
debt. We have a dysfunctional bureaucratic system
whose main goal is to make huge profits for the insurance companies and the drug companies,
and that has got to end. Health care is a human right, not a privilege. We don’t have to spend twice as much per person
as any other major country. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator, as you know,
a lot of people are saying that $34 trillion figure is just a shocking number. This reporting we have seen in The Atlantic,
Ron Brownstein, a reporter you know, he’s saying this would literally require more tax
increases than anything the country’s seen since World War II. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: You know, Judy, we are taking
on the drug companies and the insurance companies. We’re taking on the Republican establishment. We’re taking on the Democratic establishment. We are the only major country on Earth that
doesn’t guarantee health care to all people. What these guys keep forgetting is that we
are eliminating — if you’re paying, as is not uncommon, $1,500 a month in premiums,
$15,000 a year or more, that’s gone. If you end up in the hospital with a bill
for $50,000, $80,000, that’s gone. Co-payments are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. For the average American — you know, what
Republicans do is they do these 30-second sound bite and they say, oh, you’re going
to pay more in taxes. They forget to say, you’re going to pay less
for health care than you currently are. Right now, the average family of four spends
$28,000 a year on health care. They will be spending a lot less under Medicare
for all. JUDY WOODRUFF: But just to set the record
straight, Senator, this is an analysis by the Urban Institute, nonpartisan group, not
by Republicans. But what I want to ask you is, you voted for
Obama… SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: But — but — look, I’m not
denying we’re going to spend a lot of money. But they cannot deny that we’re saving people
substantial sums of money by eliminating all premiums. I talked to a woman in New Hampshire, $1,700
a month in premiums, huge prescription drug costs. Under our bill, nobody pays more than $200
a year. The average American will pay less for health
care under Medicare for all. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, to clarify, you voted
for the — President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re now saying that
it is flawed enough or inadequate enough that it should just be thrown out and replaced? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: What I’m saying is, over a
four-year period, we should expand the most popular health insurance program in this country,
which is Medicare. So in my first year, we expand Medicare to
cover hearing aids, dental care and eyeglasses. And then we lower the eligibility age from
65, where it is today, down to 55, next year, 45, next year, 35. Then we cover everybody. That is the simplest way, the most cost-effective
way to guarantee health care to every man, woman and child in this country. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about, for lack
of a better word, your world view. We have talked to some Democratic strategist
who say to us, look, it’s either going to be Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren when
it comes down to the finalists for the nomination. That’s the view out there. And you, yourself — you describe yourself
as a Democratic socialist. She says she’s a capitalist to her bones. So, for people who are out there looking at
these two world views, what is the difference? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, first of all, Elizabeth
is a good friend of mine. We work together in the Senate on so many
issues. I think that the only way we bring about real
change in this country is not within Capitol Hill. What I believe is, we need a political revolution,
like the labor movement did in the ’30s, like the women’s movement, the civil rights movement,
the gay movement. Millions of people have got to stand up and
fight for justice. So what our campaign is about is twofold. Number one, I do believe I’m the strongest
candidate to beat the worst president in the history of this country, the most dangerous
president, Donald Trump. But, second of all, what I know is that no
president, not Bernie Sanders or anybody else, can do it alone. So, what this campaign is about, it’s not
just winning the election. It is about building a movement of millions
of people who, in fact, will stand up to the greed and corruption of the fossil fuel industry,
the drug companies, the insurance companies, the military industrial complex, et cetera. That is the only way that I know as to how
we can bring about real change. We are the only campaign, I think, who goes
going forward in that direction. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, a question about foreign
policy. As you know, President Trump this month pulled
out 1,000 U.S. troops from Syria, from Northern Syria. He’s been criticized by people in both political
parties as selling out the Kurds. You in the past have been someone who has
been, to put it mildly, skeptical of the value of U.S. troops abroad. What would you do if you were president right
now about Syria? Would you put those troops back in? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, two things. Judy, you’re certainly right. I would say the word skeptical is an understatement. I helped lead the opposition to the war in
Iraq. And, tragically, much of what I feared ended
up taking place. And I will say this, that I think Trump’s
betrayal of the Kurds, people who lost 10,000 soldiers fighting against ISIS, is one of
the worst foreign policy and military decisions ever made by any president in the history
of this country. It is outrageous. And it’s going to haunt us for a long time,
because our allies all over the world are going to say, can we really trust the United
States of America to stand with us? Now, Syria, as you well know, is an enormously
complicated issue. You have got a president there who has used
chemical weapons against his own people. But our job right now is to work with the
international community, with our allies to prevent further Russian gains and Iranian
gains in that region, bring stability to that area, and do everything we can to create a
peaceful situation in terms of what’s going on there right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: So would you put the troops
back into Northern Syria? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, you are asking me how
I would undo the damage that Trump has inflicted on us in that region. It’s something I think that, as a nation and
as a community, as allies, I — we and our allies are going to have to work together
on that issue. But what Trump did is unforgivable in terms
of his betrayal of the Kurds. JUDY WOODRUFF: You would have left the troops
there? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes, I would have. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Senator… SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I think, when you deal with
troop withdrawal, when you deal with the — trying to end endless wars, was you don’t do it based
on a phone call with Erdogan of Turkey, and you don’t do it through a tweet. I mean, these are difficult issues. We want our troops home. I will do everything I can to end our involvement
in endless wars. But you don’t do it just based on a phone
call with the president of Turkey. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Bernie Sanders, joining
us today from Vermont, thank you very much. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you. Good to see you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to Politics
Monday with Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and host of public radio’s “Politics
With Amy Walter,” and Tamara Keith from NPR. She also co-hosts “The NPR Politics Podcast.” Hello to both of you. It is Politics Monday. So, Tamara, you were listening to Senator
Sanders. What did you think? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Senator
Sanders did what many of the Democratic candidates have done, pretty much all of them, which
is criticize the president’s decisions, criticize the way President Trump handled Syria and
the relationship with the Kurds, but didn’t really offer a much clearer view of how he
would fix the problem. And that’s essentially been what all of the
Democratic candidates have been doing, because it’s much easier to criticize the president
than to get into the nitty-gritty details of how you solve the morass that is Syria. AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right,
and the fact most Democrats, like Bernie Sanders, argued, shouldn’t have gone into Iraq in the
first place, want to bring troops out of the Middle East. Elizabeth Warren in the debate the other night
said, I want to get all the troops out of the Middle East. So, to answer your question of well,, what
do you do now about Syria, well, that gets a little complicated. JUDY WOODRUFF: It is. AMY WALTER: It is, which is what being president
is about. It’s complicated. JUDY WOODRUFF: And he went on to say — I
was trying to ask him, Tam, to elaborate on what the differences are between him and Elizabeth
Warren, both the most progressive candidates in the race. And he’s been reluctant to talk about it. But this — and this time he stressed he wants
a revolution; she would do it through Capitol Hill. TAMARA KEITH: Well, and that does seem to
be the distinction between them, is that Bernie Sanders has always talked about a revolution,
and she talks about big structural change, but it’s all within the structures that exist. Like, she wants to keep the house, but tear
down the guts, and he kind of wants to blow the thing up and try something different. And that is sort of how they have approached
the campaign. That said, he has been very cautious about
really trying to attack her in any way. He has been very cautious about that, I think,
in part, because he knows that she is the candidate in this ray race other than him
that is most likely to go toward his vision. AMY WALTER: Well, plus, he doesn’t necessarily
have to go after her. Every other candidate is doing that for him,
which we saw in the debate last week, right? There was a big target on top of her head,
and all the candidates were coming at Elizabeth Warren, most specifically, as you mentioned
in this interview with Bernie Sanders, about how she pays for her Medicare for all plan,
which she said this weekend that she’s going to have more details, finally, very soon,
and they’re working out all the details. JUDY WOODRUFF: In coming days. So, how — do we agree on how much of a threat
she is to him right now? TAMARA KEITH: She is absolutely a threat to
him. She is also absolutely a threat to Vice President
Joe Biden. And you can sort of see how much of a threat
she is in this race, how she has gained in the polls, by looking at what the Democrats
on stage did with her. They were going after her. And it wasn’t just that they were going after
Elizabeth Warren. They were — many of the moderate candidates
were, in a way, trying to show themselves as, well, you know, if this Biden thing doesn’t
work out, if he slips a little bit, hey, look, I’m auditioning to be the moderate alternative. AMY WALTER: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: And they have done that, and
they have continued to try to play off of that, haven’t they? AMY WALTER: Well, and that’s what you have
seen this weekend, Pete Buttigieg getting a lot of media attention. New poll coming out this — I guess it was
this morning — from Iowa showing Buttigieg now moving into third place in Iowa. So, he has been trying — we have been talking
about this for a while now — to be this bridge candidate between Biden and Sanders/Warren,
saying he may be — he’s a little bit too old, too establishment, this idea of returning
to normalcy is just passe, it’s not going to work. These guys over here, too far to the left. I can be that nice — I’m going to be more
progressive, but not as far to the left here. But you’re seeing now Amy Klobuchar, who also,
for the first time, really came out and sort of stood her ground as the moderate in the
race. What we don’t know yet is if there’s enough
room for all of those folks in this race. Joe Biden has really sucked up that lane all
to himself. He really will need, as Tam pointed out, to
slip in order for one of those other counties to move in and potentially dominate that piece
of the debate. JUDY WOODRUFF: And particularly striking,
Tam, as Amy says, that Buttigieg took over third place, beating out and knocking Bernie
Sanders back to fourth in Iowa, which has to have the Sanders folks worry. TAMARA KEITH: Right. Well, and, also, Pete Buttigieg has a lot
of money. If you — we got all these campaign finance
reports out over the last week, and Buttigieg has more cash on hand than Vice President
Joe Biden. In fact, a lot of people have more cash on
hand than Vice President Joe Biden. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about the president,
Amy. Rough few days, as we were talking with Yamiche
earlier, impeachment, Syria, the continuing blowback over that, now the discussion that
hasn’t gone away about his being willing to use his own hotel to host world leaders, and
they pulled it back, but it’s still out there. AMY WALTER: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this another blip, another
quick storm moving through, or is this the last… (CROSSTALK) AMY WALTER: Waiting to see if there’s a lasting
set of problems. And, again, this president’s approval ratings
just do not budge, good times and bad. And if you look at the average where he is
right now, it’s somewhere around 41 percent or 42 percent, which is where it’s been for
the past four, five, six months. What we really don’t know as we’re moving
along, seems to me, is where we are in impeachment and how — if anything new is going to change
that will change the way Americans in which view this. Is there going to be some amount of information
that could blow this open one way or the other, either the majority of Americans saying let’s
not impeach or the majority of Americans saying overwhelmingly that impeachment should happen? I just don’t see that happening right now,
which means we have an impeachment vote, the Senate doesn’t vote to convict. And for the very first time in American history,
we have a first-term president impeached running for reelection. JUDY WOODRUFF: But it drags on, Tam. It’s going to last for weeks and weeks. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. There are the mile markers that people talk
about of Christmas and New Year’s and whether it slips past that or whether it wrecks everybody’s
holidays. You know, it is — right now, it’s all happening
behind closed doors. All of these various interviews are happening. There are going to be transcripts maybe that
will be released, but it’s not happening out in public. There aren’t these big splashy public hearings. And as a result, it’s hard for this kind of
thing to move public opinion. It’s getting — this story started out very
simple. It is getting increasingly more complicated. You need more lines and circles and things
on your chart to try to understand who all the players are and what all the characters
are in this growing drama. JUDY WOODRUFF: Although Speaker Pelosi is
trying to keep this focused on the Ukraine transaction. TAMARA KEITH: But even the Ukraine transaction
has gotten much more complicated. AMY WALTER: Has gotten very complicated. JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of players. But it looks as if there’s a — I mean, there
is a deliberate effort on the part of the Democratic leadership in the House to keep
this as focused on that as possible, and not let it… AMY WALTER: Yes, and to keep this as — keep
it as focused on the issue and to keep the timeline as narrow as possible. I think the longer this drags out, and if
we get into 2020, the conversation about impeaching a president during an election year, that
becomes tougher for Democrats to defend. Thus far, they have the benefit of, at least
on the process argument, the majority of Americans are with them on this idea of having an inquiry. But as — again, if this drags, drags, drags
out and we’re five or six months away from an election, are Americans still going to
be approving of this inquiry? JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, it is Politics Monday,
so much going on. AMY WALTER: Always. JUDY WOODRUFF: Always. Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you. AMY WALTER: You’re welcome. TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: Today was supposed to be the
start of a landmark trial against drug companies and distributors for their respective roles
in the opioid epidemic and the devastating toll it has left across the country. But just hours before a jury was set to hear
arguments, several companies announced a settlement with a pair of counties in Ohio. This trial was expected to set the benchmark
for more than 2,000 other lawsuits against the companies. As William Brangham tells us, that reckoning
has been delayed, for now. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today’s $260 million settlement
covers just two of the roughly 2,400 cities, counties, states and Native American tribes
that have suits pending against the major corporations involved in the distribution
and sale of opioids. This settlement involves the big three distributors,
McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health, as well as Teva Pharmaceutical,
which is an Israeli drugmaker. But thousands around the country are watching
to see whether a much bigger national settlement can be reached, possibly as high as $50 billion. Let’s look at how this deal took shape and
what comes next. Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post has
been covering this case from the very beginning. He’s in Cleveland, where the settlement was
announced. Lenny, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” Before we get to these other thousands of
cases that are still pending, some form of an agreement, tell us what was settled late
last night between these two Ohio counties. LENNY BERNSTEIN, The Washington Post: What
the counties and the drug companies have agreed on is that, instead of going to trial, the
big three distributors will provide $215 million in cash, and Teva will provide another $20
million in cash and anti-addiction drugs. That money goes as quickly as possible to
the people in Cuyahoga and Summit counties, who need it for treatment, for law enforcement,
to take care of foster children, for all the needs created by the opioid epidemic. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And my understanding is
everyone is watching this particular case, the one that was just settled, to see it as
something of a bellwether. How would a jury react to the evidence presented? How would a jury react to the counterarguments
made. Is that right? LENNY BERNSTEIN: Precisely. This was chosen by the federal judge, Dan
Polster, as a bellwether, a litmus test, of how other communities might fare at trial. Well, you didn’t have a trial. So the jury didn’t get the numerous questions
that the plaintiffs were going to put before them in their effort to say that these drug
companies are culpable for the epidemic. What you got instead was a negotiated settlement. So, that gives us some data, a reference point,
but it doesn’t give us an up or down on the drug companies’ behavior. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just to bring people who
may not be following this that closely up to speed, can you just remind us, briefly,
what are the plaintiffs arguing, what are the defendants arguing in these multitude
of cases? LENNY BERNSTEIN: Sure. Let’s start with this one. The plaintiffs argued that the drug companies
created a public nuisance — that is, they endangered the health of residents of Cuyahoga
and Summit counties, by pouring all these opioids into the public domain, where, inevitably,
some portion of them would be diverted to illegal use. They also accused the drug companies as acting
as a cartel, almost like a drug cartel, by working in concert to spread the message that
these drugs were not that addictive and that they could be used for a wide variety of aches
and pains, but actually only intended for cancer pain, end-of-life care, certain diseases
that are extremely painful. So, many of the other plaintiffs have adopted
similar arguments. In fact, the public nuisance argument that
I referred to carried the day in Oklahoma, where a state judge agreed that Johnson & Johnson
had created a public nuisance, and ordered that company to pay $572 million. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And my understanding, too,
is that the companies themselves have argued, look, we were operating in a regulated market. The FDA, the DEA, they were all supposed to
be looking after this, and that we were — we were really not guilty in all of this. But I wonder if you could just tell me, help
us understand now. If the — if a jury trial wasn’t held, and
this settlement is a bellwether of sorts, what are we to read from this settlement for
all of these other cases? LENNY BERNSTEIN: Well, it’s fuzzy, but it’s
more information than we had before. Thousands of other communities are looking
at this settlement right now, as well as the drug companies themselves. They’re looking at this settlement. And everybody is trying to assess the strengths
and weaknesses of their relative positions. There’s also the attorneys general who have
sued the drug companies in state courts. And they want in on the action as well. So everyone is trying to assess the strengths
and weaknesses of their position in this sort of global negotiation, which is very fluid,
and trying to come up with where they might position themselves to gain the most. Now, we know that the drug companies are not
going to hand out 280 — I’m sorry — $260 million to thousands of counties. There’s just not enough money for that. So where do we go from here? How do we negotiate? Some people are going to have to come up,
some people are going to have to come down, some people are going to have to change their
time frames, if a deal is going to get done. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: My understanding from some
recent reporting is that there’s a bit of a dividing line amongst the litigants in this
case, that some attorneys general are seeming to want to push for a tougher fight, and others
seem to be more ready to settle. Is that — is that how you read it? LENNY BERNSTEIN: Yes, but that’s largely in
the Purdue Pharma case. As some people — your viewers may remember,
Purdue Pharma is also trying to craft a huge nationwide settlement that would get rid of
all the litigation against them over OxyContin. And the attorneys general are divided roughly
along party lines. More Republicans are interested in settling
with Purdue, where Democrats are interested in pushing harder for more money, particularly
money from the Sackler family, which owns the — owns the company. Now, all of that is playing out in bankruptcy
court, a totally separate venue from the ones that we have already talked about. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is there any chance — I
mean, this judge in Ohio has said he wants to bring all of the parties together and force
a settlement. Is there any chance, from your reporting,
that a grand settlement may not actually come to pass? LENNY BERNSTEIN: Well, the alternative is
really sort of untenable. Imagine if 2,400 cities and counties, one
by one, went through lawsuits, or right up to the edge of a lawsuit, as Cuyahoga and
Summit did today, again and again and again and again against various drug companies,
some against the pharmacies, some against the distributors, some against the manufacturers. We would be at it for decades. So I think there is little alternative to
some kind of a widespread, global negotiated settlement. But, right now, we’re not there. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Lenny Bernstein
of The Washington Post, thank you very much. LENNY BERNSTEIN: My pleasure. JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been five years since
the Flint water crisis first rose to national attention. While it’s not over yet, it has given rise
to initiatives that encourage good nutrition to combat lead exposure and to improve overall
health. We sent John Yang to Michigan to take a look. JOHN YANG: A professional chef leads a cooking
class for kids in a kitchen at the farmers market in Flint, Michigan. They’re not just learning how to make pot
pies, tacos and baked cheese sticks. They’re learning healthy eating with foods
that doctors say help limit the amount of lead their growing bodies absorb, milk, dried
fruits and green leafy vegetables. It’s called Flint Kids Cook, and it’s one
of a number of programs that started or expanded after the city’s public health crisis, which
was triggered by high levels of lead in the drinking water. Pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, who was among
the first to sound the alarm about lead in the water, explains that the metal is stored
in bones and can reenter the circulatory system. DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, Michigan State University:
In periods of, for example, poor nutrition in the future or stress or pregnancy, it can
come back out of your bones into your bloodstream and cause that neurotoxicity all over again. JOHN YANG: But research, she says, shows that
certain nutrients decrease lead absorption: iron, found in lean meat, spinach and beans,
vitamin C in tomatoes, citrus fruit and peppers, and calcium in milk, cheese and yogurt. DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: That’s why nutrition is
like a forever medicine. Children need to always have great nutrition
to limit the ongoing kind of potential exposure from lead release. JOHN YANG: The six-week Flint Kids Cook course
is an outgrowth of the nutrition prescription program at the city’s two big pediatric clinics,
including one run by Hurley Medical Center in the same building as the farmers’ market. Every child who comes here for an office visit
gets a food prescription: a voucher for $15 worth of fruits or vegetables. And because the clinic is right here at the
farmers market, that prescription can be filled right away. The 3-year-old program of one-time vouchers
given at every office visit is among the first of its kind geared toward children. Michigan State University’s Amy Saxe-Custack
had the idea of adding cooking classes as a way to introduce kids to more kinds of produce. AMY SAXE-CUSTACK, Michigan State University:
Virtually everyone told us that the kids were choosing fruits, because they weren’t familiar
with vegetables, and wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a way to get them to sort of
accept and eat vegetables more often? JOHN YANG: Nikki Bormann works at Steady Eddy’s
Veggies in the market and has seen the effects. NIKKI BORMANN, Steady Eddy’s Veggies: There’s
a lot of kids that come up. Their parents will bring them in and, like,
actually let them pick out fruits and veggies for themselves. So that’s pretty cool, instead of parents
coming in like, well, maybe my kid will eat this, or maybe my kid will eat that, we will
try this today. JOHN YANG: Food stamp recipients can also
get a nutrition boost with Double Up Food Bucks. A national nonprofit called the Fair Food
Network operates the program in more than 25 states. For every dollar spent on produce or milk
products, participants get another dollar to spend on more fruits, vegetables or milk. Shirley Triplett used her benefits at the
farmers market. What did you buy today? SHIRLEY TRIPLETT, Flint Resident: I bought
broccoli and apples so far. JOHN YANG: And you use Double Up Bucks with
this? SHIRLEY TRIPLETT: Yes, I do. I love that program. JOHN YANG: Merchants like it, too. Marvin Kattola is co-owner of Landmark Food
Center. MARVIN KATTOLA, Co-Owner, Landmark Food Center:
I keep encouraging my staff to encourage and teach the customers about it. It’s good for the customers. It’s good for the business. JOHN YANG: Double Up had already been in Flint
since 2009, when the water crisis hit. Oran Hesterman is founder and CEO of Fair
Food Network. ORAN HESTERMAN, Founder and CEO, Fair Food
Network: We went to work and really expanded the program from one location to now about
a dozen locations throughout the city. JOHN YANG: In 2015, 9 percent of the city’s
food stamp recipients used Double Up. Now 60 percent are doubling their money on
fruits, vegetables and milk. Or they could get healthier by growing food
themselves in gardens, where, experts say, using lead-contaminated water has little effect. That’s the idea behind a 10-year-old group
called Edible Flint. Last year, this demonstration plot, roughly
the size of three city house lots, produced nearly 2,000 pounds of kale, tomatoes and
other produce. JULIE DARNTON, Edible Flint: Sometimes, people
will actually drive up with requests, like, do you have green tomatoes today? JOHN YANG: Julie Darnton is on edible Flint’s
leadership board. JULIE DARNTON: The demonstration garden grew
out of a desire to have a learning laboratory for people where they could see techniques
and learn about different ways of growing food. But since the water crisis, we really have
had a focus on connecting what we’re doing here with people’s health. JOHN YANG: Health is also the focus of Flint
Kids Cook. There’s evidence these kids take what they
learn home. Michigan State’s Amy Saxe-Custack: AMY SAXE-CUSTACK: Since the class, they’re
wanting to write the grocery list and they’re running through the grocery store and saying,
we need this, we need this. JOHN YANG: And at the end of their six-week
session, the young cooks proudly serve dinner to their families, a tasty lesson in good
nutrition and good health. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang in Flint,
Michigan. JUDY WOODRUFF: So heartening to see something
positive coming out of that. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.

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