PBS NewsHour full episode October 4, 2019
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PBS NewsHour full episode October 4, 2019

October 18, 2019

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: The president’s
push for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens comes into sharper focus. We report on the ground there on what’s borne
out with evidence and what’s not. Then: As our special series on China continues,
we look at how Beijing has forced one million Uyghur Muslims into detention camps, tearing
families apart. GULBAHAR JALILOVA, Former Detainee (through
translator): I’m drinking tea. I’m eating bread. But those helpless people are desperate. They don’t have enough to eat. I see them all in front of me, as if I were
still in the camp myself. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s Friday. Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru are here to
analyze the swirling impeachment investigation and the money race for the Democrats running
for president. All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: From President Trump today,
new denials that he abused his power. And, at the same time, a new trove of text
messages adds fuel to the impeachment inquiry fire. Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins
begins our coverage. LISA DESJARDINS: On the White House lawn,
President Trump started the day with a lengthy, freewheeling defense of his actions, including
asking other countries to investigate the Biden family. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
This is not about politics. This is about corruption. And if you look and you read our Constitution
and many other things, we I have an obligation to look at corruption. I have an actual obligation and a duty. LISA DESJARDINS: This as, at the Capitol,
House lawmakers held a closed-door hearing with the intelligence watchdog, inspector
general Michael Atkinson, who first flagged a whistle-blower’s concerns about the president. But dominating the day was new information,
pages of recent text messages between Trump administration officials. Some see them as proof the president was pressuring
Ukraine for political reasons. Others disagree. The messages indicate the president’s personal
attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was helping craft Ukraine policy and pushing for investigations
in return for a White House visit. That made some other officials uncomfortable. To understand these text messages, first a
look at those writing them, two longtime diplomats, Kurt Volker, the U.S. envoy for Ukraine, and
Bill Taylor, the acting top diplomat in Ukraine, with them, one political appointee, Gordon
Sondland, a hotel owner and Republican donor appointed by President Trump to be the U.S.
ambassador to the European Union. The timeline matters. July 25, the day of the controversial phone
call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. Before the call, Ukraine envoy Volker texted
an adviser to Zelensky, writing: “Assuming President Zelensky convinces Trump he will
get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down a date for a visit by Zelensky
to Washington,” indicating, if Ukraine investigates, they will get a White House visit. Then, an important moment. In the last week of August, stories appear
that the Trump administration is holding up aid money for Ukraine. Then, President Trump cancels a planned meeting
with Zelensky in Poland. A few days after that, September 1, Bill Taylor,
running the embassy in Ukraine, texts Sondland, the political appointee. And he asks: “Are we now saying the security
assistance for Ukraine and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Sondland doesn’t say. He responds, “Call me.” Just over a week later, on September 9, a
few things happen. The intelligence inspector general notifies
Congress about the whistle-blower complaint, and House Democrats announce they are investigating
the Ukraine issue. That day, Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in
Ukraine, seems to see a dangerous quid pro quo here, texting; “I think it’s crazy to
withhold security assistance for Ukraine for a political campaign.” Sondland, the political appointee, responds:
“I believe you are incorrect about the president’s intentions. The president has been crystal clear, no quid
pro quos of any kind.” This as Congress is waiting for a response
from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’s currently in Southeast Europe. Today was the deadline that Democrats set
for him to turn over documents related to the Ukraine investigation. House Democrats are also planning to subpoena
the White House for documents. But, today, President Trump said he doesn’t
know if he will comply. DONALD TRUMP: I don’t know. That’s up to the lawyers. I know the lawyers think they have never seen
anything so unfair. LISA DESJARDINS: The president himself raised
new questions about his interactions with world leaders, when he said yesterday about
China: DONALD TRUMP: China should start an investigation
into the Bidens. LISA DESJARDINS: Today, he insisted he won’t
tie that request for China to a long-awaited trade deal between the two countries. DONALD TRUMP: One thing has nothing to do
with the other. LISA DESJARDINS: But, as Mr. Trump and his
allies mount a defense, today, one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, denounced the
president’s words and actions, tweeting: “The president’s brazen and unprecedented appeal
to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.” For President Trump and Congress, the disputes
may stay in written form a few more days. Congress will be on recess, out of Washington,
next week as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: To help us better understand
all this and more, Lisa joins me now here at our desk, along with our White House correspondent,
Yamiche Alcindor. Hello to both of you. So, Lisa, we thought there was a lot that
was going on already today, much more, as you just reported. Where do things stand right now with regard
to this impeachment inquiry from the Democrats’ perspective? LISA DESJARDINS: Right. Let’s tell you the big picture. Democrats in general think that this is different
than their efforts on the Mueller report. They think the American public is paying closer
attention, is more seriously paying attention to this. And, moreover, they say they’re not seeing
the kind of backlash they were when Democrats were being aggressive about the Mueller report. To me, that reads that there’s still a moment
of decision. But Democrats like where that stands on that
front right now. But they also say they have some big decisions
coming up. Judy, the biggest one is, how narrow do they
keep this? We’re seeing more layers each day, Giuliani,
China, all of this. Do Democrats keep it narrowed to Ukraine or
not? It’s a big question for them. Meanwhile, there’s more information even from
the Senate. The Senate Republican Homeland Security chairman,
Ron Johnson, told The Wall Street Journal today that he also was told there was a quid
pro quo in this effort by Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. He said, Johnson, he asked the president. The president denied it. But the idea, Judy, is, officials thought
there was a quid pro quo. JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is fascinating, that
they’re saying that openly. So, Yamiche, strategy from the White House,
what are they — how are they dealing with all this? Do they have a strategy? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The White House appears
to be mounting a strategy to go on the offense. The White House is now, I’m told by several
sources, preparing a letter to send to Congress that will say, unless the House votes on the
floor for a formal impeachment inquiry, the White House doesn’t have to comply with any
sort of document requests. So the president essentially is saying to
Nancy Pelosi, look, until you hold a House floor vote, I don’t have to do anything that
you’re saying. Nancy Pelosi has said several times that she
doesn’t believe that they have to have a floor vote to have a formal impeachment inquiry. She also points out that the Constitution
doesn’t say that. But what’s important here is that the president,
while he’s sending this letter to Congress, he’s really sending it to the American people. And he’s really formalizing what Republicans
have been saying all week, which is that Nancy Pelosi is actually not going through with
the proper procedures for her impeachment inquiry. It’s also important to note that the president
is looking at possibly going to court now, and that this is really about them playing
the long game and saying, House Democrats, take us to court, and maybe then we will provide
whatever documents you want. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yamiche, as you and Lisa
have been reporting, this is now not just about the president. There are other senior figures in the administration
who are caught up, Secretary of State Pompeo, waiting for his cooperation. Today, we learned they’re asking Vice President
Pence for documents. And just how tangled up are other people,
top people in the administration, tied up into all this? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, the people in the
Trump administration who are facing document requests from House Democrats is growing by
the day. We see Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He had a deadline for today to supply documents. It’s still unclear whether or not he’s going
to actually supply any documents. But, as I said, the White House is saying
now that, unless there’s a formal floor vote, they don’t have to do anything. So that might be the stance that Secretary
Pompeo takes. It’s also important to note that Vice President
Pence is now being asked to provide documents not only about the call between President
Trump and President Zelensky, but also he’s being asked to call — he’s being asked to
provide documents about his meeting with the Ukrainian president in Warsaw, which happened
in September, which happened on September 1, 2019, this year. So what you see is Vice President Pence really
being pulled into this. Now, the president’s office and the vice president’s
office both say that this is not a serious request by the House Democrats, and they think
that House Democrats are really just trying to harass and really, they say, pursue a — quote
— “partisan impeachment.” So we will have to see how the House Democrats
deal with this and how the White House responds. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it just — the story
keeps growing and getting more challenging for all of us every day. Yamiche Alcindor, Lisa Desjardins, thank you
both. In the day’s other news: U.S. businesses managed
to make slight job gains in September. The Labor Department reports that employers
added a net of 136,000 jobs last month. That came as factories shed 2,000 jobs, amid
concerns that the manufacturing sector is now in a recession. Overall, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5
percent. That is the lowest it has been in 50 years. In Iraq, security forces in Baghdad shot and
killed at least 17 more protesters, bringing the week’s death toll to 59. The shooting sent people running for cover,
after they defied a curfew. Hospitals reported dozens hurt, despite the
prime minister’s televised appeal for calm. ADIL ABDUL-MAHDI, ®MD-UL¯Iraqi Prime Minister
(through translator): Your demands in countering corruption, providing job opportunities, and
comprehensive reforms are rightful demands. First, we have to bring life back to normal
in all the provinces. We have to respect the authority of law under
which we are all are living in peace and stability. JUDY WOODRUFF: Iraqi troops have also killed
protesters in other cities this week. The country’s leading Shiite cleric, Grand
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called today for an end to the violence, before, he said, it
is too late. Anger intensified in Hong Kong today after
the government banned protesters from wearing face masks. Thousands of demonstrators turned out, wearing
masks. They protested into the night, vandalizing
storefronts, setting fires at subway stations and defying the city’s chief executive. CARRIE LAM, Hong Kong Chief Executive: If
there’s no violence, if there’s no protests, we do not need to have all these instruments
with us in order to deal with this violence. Of course, if the situation worsens — I suppose
that’s your question — then, as a responsible government, we will continue to have to identify
other means that we could tackle the situation. JUDY WOODRUFF: The protesters wear masks to
avoid being identified and punished. But, as of Saturday, violations could mean
a year in jail. Greece is demanding that Turkey reimpose controls
on the outflow of migrants. Turkey had agreed in 2016 to seal off the
route to Greece. But in the past two months, a new wave of
migrants arrived at jam-packed refugee camps on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos. Greece says that Turkey is using the surge
to ask for more financial help from the European Union. Microsoft says that hackers linked to Iran
have targeted a 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, plus government officials and journalists. The company today reported that attempted
hacks of more than 240 e-mail accounts, with four actually compromised. It didn’t name the campaign that was targeted. Top U.S. officials stepped up the pressure
on Facebook today over its plans to encrypt its messaging platform. The company says that it would enhance user
privacy. But, in Washington, FBI Director Christopher
Wray warned that the platform could become — quote — “a dream come true” for predators
and child pornographers. Attorney General William Barr said that the
government is not asking for a backdoor into any and all communications. WILLIAM BARR, U.S. Attorney General: We would
be happy if the companies providing the encryption keep the keys. What we are asking is some responsible party
have the keys, so that when we can demonstrate a lawful basis, probable cause that crimes
are being committed, we can gain access to that evidence. JUDY WOODRUFF: Facebook says that it can still
identify sexual predators, even in encrypted systems. The U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue
of abortion again, in the midst of the 2020 presidential race. Today’s announcement involves a Louisiana
law that says doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The case is expected to be argued in the winter,
with a decision expected by next June. On Wall Street, the September jobs report
fueled a Friday rally that erased most of the week’s losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 372
points to close at 26573. The Nasdaq rose 110 points, and the S&P 500
added 41. And pioneering actress Diahann Carroll has
died of complications from breast cancer. In 1968, she broke through racial barriers
in “Julia,” the country’s first TV series portraying a black professional woman. Carroll was also a singer, winning a Tony
Award in “No Strings,” and she was nominated for an Oscar in the 1974 film “Claudine.” Diahann Carroll was 84 years old. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: separating
fact from fiction in Ukraine, the country caught in the middle of the impeachment inquiry;
another whistle-blower comes out against the White House, this time from the IRS; Mark
Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru on the widening investigation into President Trump; and much
more. Returning now to our main story, the Eastern
Country of Ukraine lies at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Special correspondent Simon Ostrovsky has
reported from Ukraine for years. And we sent him back to try to find out what’s
true and what isn’t in the actions of Hunter and Joe Biden. SIMON OSTROVSKY: How did Ukraine find itself
suddenly in the middle of an American impeachment investigation? At the heart of the matter are events that
took place in 2016, when former Vice President Joe Biden threatened to pull a billion dollars
in loan guarantees from the struggling post-Soviet nation if its prosecutor general wasn’t fired,
echoing demands of other allies and the International Monetary Fund, who wanted Ukraine’s judicial
system rid of corruption. But President Donald Trump alleges that Biden
did this in order to stop an investigation into a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma,
which his son Hunter served on the board of. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement, because it was disgraceful. SIMON OSTROVSKY: It all centers on this man,
Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general, a bureaucrat who had spent over 35
years as a state’s attorney, first under Soviet rule and then in an independent Ukraine. It has emerged as a central narrative in Trump’s
2020 reelection campaign. NARRATOR: Joe Biden promised Ukraine a billion
dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company. SIMON OSTROVSKY: And the president’s personal
attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has been deeply involved in pushing U.S. officials to have Ukraine
investigate the Bidens and another theory that alleges Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server
and those famous missing e-mails are actually in Ukraine. To deflect from Russia’s 2016 interference,
Mr. Trump has repeatedly called that attack on America’s election process a hoax. But then came the CIA officer whistle-blower
complaint that resulted from the summary of a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelensky, where the American president repeatedly asked Ukraine to investigate
his main political opponent, Joe Biden. I’m here in Kiev to speak to Ukrainians who
were key players in the lead-up to the dismissal of prosecutor general Shokin to find out if
Trump’s theory about why he was fired holds any water. I started with the man who then at the top,
Ukraine’s former President Petro Poroshenko, who personally faced the pressure from Biden
to dismiss his own prosecutor. He told me it was never about Biden or his
son’s business with Burisma. PETRO POROSHENKO, Former Ukrainian President:
We are talking only about the reform of the prosecutor office, to make it independent,
to make it more transparent. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Ukraine’s Independence Square,
known as the Maidan, was the epicenter of mass protests that toppled the pro-Russian
regime of Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 and led to Poroshenko’s election. It was also the site of mass killings of protesters
by security forces. The former prosecutor Shokin’s shadow is felt
here acutely. In the eyes of many Ukrainians, his biggest
failure was that nobody from the former regime was prosecuted for the killing of protesters
here on Independence Square. Parliamentarian Yehor Soboliev was the first
official to demand the prosecutor’s dismissal. YEHOR SOBOLIEV, Former Chairman, Ukrainian
Parliament Anti-Corruption Committee: It was time when people strongly hoped that murders
here on Maidan will be investigated. It was time when people strongly hoped that
great corruption in Yanukovych’s presidency will be punished. In 2015, I personally initiated the resignation
of general prosecutor Shokin. (through translator): Come up and sign for
the resignation of Viktor Shokin. SIMON OSTROVSKY: What ®MDNM¯Soboliev did
was ask members of Parliament to sign a document calling for a no-confidence vote in Shokin. So, you’re saying it wasn’t Joe Biden who
asked for the prosecutor to be fired; you asked for the prosecutor to be fired first? YEHOR SOBOLIEV: Yes, we were campaigning for
his resignation more than half-a-year. SIMON OSTROVSKY: One campaigner was Daria
Kaleniuk. She heads the Anti-Corruption Action Center
in Kiev, and has been a leading voice against corruption here since before the revolution
that overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader Yanukovych. She demanded Shokin’s ouster for attacking
reformers in his office, and: DARIA KALENIUK, Anti-Corruption Action Center:
Another reason was failure to investigate grand corruption of Yanukovych. Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office didn’t
want to help to provide evidence. SIMON OSTROVSKY: So, in 2015, the U.S. ambassador
to Ukraine took the unprecedented step of telling the country it should fire prosecutors
who were blocking an investigation of the owner of Burisma, where Hunter Biden was reportedly
earning $50,000 a month. Here’s the former vice president speaking
about his efforts to get Ukraine to fire Shokin a year later. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
We will be leaving here, I think it was, what, six hours. I looked at him. I said, we’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not
getting the money. Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. (LAUGHTER) SIMON OSTROVSKY: So, was Biden holding back
the billion to get rid of a corrupt prosecutor or to stop an investigation into Burisma? I asked Ukraine’s finance minister, who was
a deputy minister at the time. OKSANA MARKAROVA, Ukrainian Minister of Finance:
Well, we had three guarantees that were extended to us by the U.S. government, which were a
big help. There were some conditions with regard to
the corporate governance reform. All the conditions were reform- and market-oriented. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Fast-forward to 2019, and
it’s easy to understand why Ukraine’s current government is unwilling to criticize the Trump’s
narrative of the Shokin dismissal, or anything else, for that matter. Ukraine depends on the United States for financial
support for its economy and for its security in Eastern Ukraine, where it’s fighting Russian
troops and Russia-backed separatists in a war that has killed more than 13,000 people. So, when President Volodymyr Zelensky was
asked this week if Mr. Trump temporarily froze nearly $400 million of military and security
aid in order to press Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, he was visibly flustered, and
did his best to steer clear of the political controversy gripping Washington. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President (through
translator): Nothing was explained to me. We didn’t talk about this issue. I asked a question. I wanted — I really wanted to support our
army. That’s why I spoke about it strongly, and
not just with the president of the United States. SIMON OSTROVSKY: So what of Mr. Shokin himself? He failed to appear in court on Thursday in
his own lawsuit claiming he was unfairly sacked. For Ukraine, a country reliant on the U.S.
for support in its war with Russia, this political storm that’s putting it between an American
president and his reelection drive couldn’t come at a worse time. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Simon Ostrovsky
in Kiev. JUDY WOODRUFF: There is another whistle-blower
case that has emerged in recent days. This one involves a career official at the
Internal Revenue Service and the president and vice president’s tax returns. William Brangham has the story. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Judy, it’s not a well-known
fact, but the IRS does annual audits of the president’s and vice president’s tax returns. These audits are supposed to be protected
from politics. But now a whistle-blower has come forward
alleging that at least one political appointee at Treasury interfered in that process. President Trump has long refused to release
any tax returns, and Vice President Pence has also not released any of his recent tax
returns. Jeff Stein is part of The Washington Post
team that broke this story. And he joins me now. Jeff, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” As best we know, can you tell us, what is
it that this whistle-blower is alleging happened? JEFF STEIN, The Washington Post: We actually
first became aware of this whistle-blower complaint back over the summer, when, as part
of his lawsuit against the Trump administration seeking President Trump’s tax returns, the
House Democrat who is leading that push disclosed that he’d received information that suggested
improper interference related to the president or the vice president’s tax returns. What we have learned recently and what we
published yesterday is that that complaint comes from a senior IRS — a career IRS official
and names at least one Treasury official as being implicated in potential interference
of the president or vice president’s audit of their return. I think it’s really clear — and we try to
stress in the story and I will try to stress here — that we do not know what kind of interference
this refers to. Is it someone calling and saying, stand down,
don’t go too hard on the president and his audit or his return? We have no proof of that right now. This could be as simple as an informational
call to say, hey, what’s the deal with the president or vice president’s audit? That said, even that level of communication
case between political officials at the Treasury Department and career department at the IRS,
who are supposed to be completely walled off from political consideration, according to
the former IRS commissioners I have spoken to, according to legal experts, that could
be seen as extremely unusual and potentially dangerous to the integrity of the audit process,
which has gotten so much attention recently. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Has the Treasury Department
responded to this? JEFF STEIN: Officially, no. The Treasury Department spokesperson could
not comment to us. However, we have spoken to administration
officials who tried downplaying the complaint and said that it was based on secondhand information
and hearsay. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You spoke to the whistle-blower,
him or herself. And it’s obvious this is coming forward in
the midst of these accusations that the president and his supporters have made about the other
whistle-blower with regards to Ukraine, alleging that that whistle-blower and his or her sources
are spies or might have committed treason. Did this whistle-blower express to you some
concern about coming forward in this environment? JEFF STEIN: Yes. And that was actually quite striking. He did comment on record to us to say, in
this political atmosphere, there’s been attacks on whistle-blowers. And he said that people who have been silent
about these attacks need — know better and should stand up, and that this — what could
discourage or deter people who see wrongdoing in the government from speaking out and identifying
and could pose a serious, serious harm and serious challenge to the ability of whistle-blowers
to do that. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Jeff Stein of
The Washington Post, thank you very much. JUDY WOODRUFF: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: the devastation
wrought by China’s forced detention of over one million Uyghur Muslims. And an update. Late today, the House of Representatives’
Oversight Committee formally notified the White House that it is issuing a subpoena
for documents related to the impeachment investigation. Now to the political analysis of Shields and
Ponnuru. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields
and Ramesh Ponnuru of “The National Review.” David Brooks is away. Hello to both of you. So, the news just keeps coming. It’s been a week of cascading information
about what the president said in a phone call. And then the president himself, Mark, reinforces
this with announcing to the world that he’s urging China to look into Joe Biden and his
son Hunter. My bottom-line question for both of you is,
is there fire here? Is there evidence, in your mind, of either
a law that’s been broken or a violation of the president’s oath? Or is this just smoke? MARK SHIELDS: I think there’s more than smoke,
Judy. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on
TV, but there’s certainly a strong case to be made that the president openly solicited
and sought the intervention and involvement of a foreign government on behalf of his own
candidacy, an American presidential campaign. And I think, usually, it’s the law that’s
in dispute in these cases of a big argument, rather, about facts. There’s no real argument about facts here. They’re pretty much out in the open. And the president really opened it up on the
driveway on Thursday, when he bid China to come in and come up with information, unflattering,
libelous or criminal information, on Joe Biden and his family. JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, do you see this as
either a law broken or a violation of his oath? RAMESH PONNURU: We have this tendency to see
scandals in terms of hidden events that have to be uncovered. And so we can’t always process when the president
says something in public, the way he did with respect to China, when he openly, publicly,
with the world watching, said that he wanted China to investigate political opponents,
and that his treatment of China in trade negotiations would depend on that. All of his defenders have been saying, no
quid pro quo. We saw a quid pro quo on national television. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, of course, the president
said today — made a point of coming out today and saying to the press, no, there’s no quid
pro quo. I’m not tying what China does with regard
to these investigations to the trade negotiations. But he did say that yesterday. RAMESH PONNURU: Right. He said it. And he — I think he realized that he made
a mistake, and he is trying to un-say it. But it also shows you that he will undercut
the defenses that his allies make, which is one reason why a lot of Republicans have been
heading for the tall grass. They don’t want to be out there defending
the administration with a line that the administration itself might abandon. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mark — Mark… (CROSSTALK) MARK SHIELDS: No, I think Ramesh’s point is
salient and right. There’s been a little bit of the old Sherlock
Holmes story about the dog that didn’t bark, the story of the dog that, when the race horse
was stolen, the dog didn’t bark in the night, which suggested that maybe it was somebody
inside the household who was responsible for the crime. The dog didn’t bark. There’s no Republicans — usually, Republicans
— there’s a number of Republicans you can count on to be on television. There’s no such term as indecent exposure
to them. If there’s a microphone and a camera, they’re
there. All of a sudden as Ramesh puts it, they’re
in the tall grass. They don’t want to. And the reason is, Judy, that there is no
White House strategy. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. I mean, the difference between this and Bill
Clinton in 1998, when Clinton effectively compartmentalized, I’m going about my business,
Donald Trump, as one leading Republican said to me this week, ought to be working on prescription
drugs. He ought to be doing that and holding meetings
on it, and this and that and the other thing. And he’s totally obsessed with this. And he — so if you’re going to defend him,
you don’t know what you’re going to be defending an hour from now or certainly tomorrow morning. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see a — did you see
a — do you discern a White House strategy in all of this? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think, as often is
the case with this administration, there is a strategy for holding the president’s base
supporters. And that may well be enough, because you need
a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate to convict and remove a president from office. So if you’re looking forward to the endgame,
just maintaining your base is enough. I don’t see a strategy right now that is trying
to change the minds to of people in the middle. JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Mark, the congressional
Democrats, the House Democrats — and we just mentioned another one — they’re asking the
White House now for documents. I was told just a moment ago it’s White House
Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, among others. They’re asking for documents as they pursue
these investigations. But they have asked Secretary of State Pompeo. They have asked Vice President Pence. This is not — they seem to be moving briskly
with this. What does that tell you? Is that the smart course? Should they be taking their time? What do you make of this? MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think events are very
much in the saddle. And I think it’s moved a lot faster than anybody
anticipated. If a week ago, you had suggested that the
president was going to call for the arrest and trial on treason for the chairman of the
House Intelligence Committee this week, and go on at a pace, as Ramesh described, as his
negotiation on trade with China on the basis of information on the Bidens, you know, it
— so I don’t think there’s any master plan here, Judy. And the White House’s decision to say, we
want a vote on the impeachment in the House, that puts a lot of House Republicans in a
bad position. I mean, do you want to vote against an impeachment
inquiry and then get overcome by events, I mean, to put you in a position November of
2020 when you wanted — it looks like you wanted the dust everything under the rug,
because, given the velocity with which disclosures are being made, that’s a very risky vote for
a lot of House Republicans? JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. Do you want to give the Democrats, the House
Democrats, a grade on how they’re pursuing this? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think there have been
some errors. I think that Chairman Schiff’s dissembling
really about his contacts or his staff’s contacts with the whistle-blower was an unforced error. But I think the key thing going forward, the
Democrats have to internalize that the politically smart thing to do is not to constantly be
trying to figure out the politically smart thing to do at each step of the process. They have got to handle this like a serious
inquiry for adults and not be distracted by every moment’s polls. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think they’re doing
that right now? RAMESH PONNURU: I think that they are trying. I think that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made
a very concerted effort to get Democrats to take a step back a little bit, not be gleeful
about condemning this administration, but to rather have a posture of seeing where the
facts go. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, you have been watching
this city for a long time. Do you think this is something the Democrats
can get done? They have said they want to get it done as
quickly as possible. Can they get something like this, the inquiry
finished, move on potentially to an actual impeachment vote in a matter of a few weeks
or month? MARK SHIELDS: I think probably months, Judy. But, I mean, just take somebody like Mike
Pompeo, secretary of state. They were talking seriously a week ago about
him running for the United States Senate from Kansas. He was the logical inevitable candidate of
the Republicans. I think he’s a lot less so today. I mean, this is reaching out and touching
more and more people. I do disagree with Ramesh on NICK SCHIFRIN:
and the Intelligence Committee. I think it’s absolutely natural that the whistle-blower,
a professional public employee, would go to the staff. I mean, he has been surrounded by people who
have been hostile. And I think it’s very — it’s very frank,
and we ought to take notice of the fact that the only reason we’re aware of what’s happened
is because of career public employees. (CROSSTALK) MARK SHIELDS: This is not — these weren’t
political appointees. These are people who are nameless, faceless,
who get attacked by every cheap shot in a political campaign. But at Foreign Service and at CIA and the
Department of Justice — the I.G. was a Department of Justice 15-year attorney. So, I mean, I think it’s time to give some
credit to the people who did put their vow of service above their own self-interest. (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me. I do want to turn to the 2020 candidates here
and ask you quickly, number one, is Joe Biden hurt by this? What do you think? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, Biden, I think, had
been sinking in the Democratic primaries, and Senator Elizabeth Warren had been coming
on pretty strong, even before this story really blew up. But I think that those trends have continued
since that story has blown up. I don’t know if the — if Biden has been sufficiently
agile in making his case and being aggressive and saying, look, the president is afraid
of me. I think he’s started sound that note, but
it’s a little late. MARK SHIELDS: OK. Joe Biden ought to take a leaf out of the
campaign of Grover Cleveland, where he was nominated at that convention by General Edward
Bragg, who said Cleveland had alienated the Democratic organization, the corrupt Democratic
organization, and big money on the Republican side. And he stood up, and he said, we love Grover
Cleveland for the enemies he has made. That’s — Joe — Joe Biden ought to have the
— his campaign ought to have the wit and wisdom stand up and say, it’s obvious that
they’re terrified. They’re so terrified of Joe Biden. They don’t want to run against Joe Biden. And that’s why Trump has been doing everything. And I think that’s — that’s a natural way
to come back. But I agree that he has slipped. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one thing that has — new
information that’s come in, and that is how much money the Democrats have been able to
raise in the last quarter. Joe Biden came in fourth among all the Democrats. And I just want to say that I just learned
both The New York Times and The Washington Post are reporting tonight that Bernie Sanders
did have a heart attack this week. We knew that there had been an incident of
some sort. He had two stents inserted in an artery. MARK SHIELDS: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: But we now know, the reporting
is that he had a heart attack. Having said that — and we just showed the
graphic there, Ramesh — he earned — he picked up more than $25 million, Bernie Sanders did,
better than all of the all — of his competitors. Elizabeth Warren after — came in after him,
and then Pete Buttigieg, and then Joe Biden. And we just showed our audience — we’re going
back and forth here, but we just showed them President Trump’s amount. And it’s $125 million, of course, overshadowing
everything that the Democrats have done. But, Ramesh, what do we learn from these numbers,
if anything, right now? RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think that they tend
to confirm the trends that we were talking about, that Warren has been rising, and that
Biden has been sinking. Biden is closer in his fund-raising haul to
Andrew Yang than he is to either Senator Sanders or to Senator Warren. We know that Senator Sanders has a strong
fan base. And I think one thing this fund-raising appeal
shows us is that he’s not going to be fading out. He’s not going to be muscled out of the primaries
in favor of some other candidate, but can stay in the long haul, if he wants. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, about 30 seconds. What do you see in these — in these numbers? MARK SHIELDS: Money matters. I mean, make no mistake about it. I think Warren — Bernie, God bless him. His numbers in the polls have been slipping,
but, I mean, he got $25 million. They — he has a committed donor base. Elizabeth Warren’s surge, both in the polls
and in money, is impressive. Make no mistake about it. I don’t think this campaign is going to be
won or lost on money. I really don’t. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well… MARK SHIELDS: Among the Democrats. JUDY WOODRUFF: One thing is for sure right
now, that it’s the president who’s getting most of the attention in this — in this campaign. MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, Ramesh Ponnuru,
thank you. MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. RAMESH PONNURU: You’re welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, we continue our series
“China: Power & Prosperity” with what the U.S. calls one of the worst human rights crises
of our time. Uyghur are Muslims who trace their roots back
through thousands of years to Central Asia. Today, most of them, about 11 million, live
in the Chinese province Xinjiang. They represent less than 1 percent of the
population in a country that is more than 92 percent Han Chinese, the ethnicity that
China traces back to an ancient Chinese empire. Communist China has long persecuted people
based on their religion. But the U.S., international groups, and Uyghurs
say this is different. They accuse China of throwing Uyghurs into
camps and targeting their religion and entire culture. With the support of the Pulitzer Center, Nick
Schifrin reports from a city many Uyghurs have fled to, Istanbul. NICK SCHIFRIN: Istanbul is 2,500 miles from
Xinjiang, China. Muslim Uyghurs who live here are free, but
their minds are still imprisoned. GULBAHAR JALILOVA, Former Detainee (through
translator): I never imagined this could happen in the 21st century: innocent people subjected
to cuffs on their hands, shackles, and black hoods over their heads. NICK SCHIFRIN: Gulbahar Jalilova lives alone
in a small apartment. The injuries she suffered in Chinese detention
two years ago have healed, but she hasn’t gotten over the memories. GULBAHAR JALILOVA (through translator): I
saw them, 14-year-old girls to 80-year-old women. They take them for interrogation. They would come back, and their bodies were
bruised, their heads swollen. After three months, they put a black hood
over my head and took me away. NICK SCHIFRIN: Is it still upsetting? What are you thinking about? GULBAHAR JALILOVA (through translator): I
feel like I’m in there right now, there in the cell. I will never forget this as long as I live. They destroyed my life. NICK SCHIFRIN: Abdulsalam Mohammed also found
sanctuary here on the banks of the Bosphorus. He and every Uyghur we spoke to live in self-imposed
exile, because they are too scared of the Chinese government to go home. Can you describe for us what that detention
center was like? ABDULSALAM MOHAMMED, Former Detainee (through
translator): They brought everyone in there because they called us suspicious. There is unimaginable oppression inside. Every day, they’d toss us a little bread and
water, so that we didn’t die, and, every day, they would interrogate 15 or 20 of us with
unbearable brutality. We are a people who’ve lost their freedom. We became their target because we’d studied
religion and because we had influence in our society. They locked us up in jail. Then, after taking us to a camp, they’d tell
us that we hadn’t done anything wrong, that they were just educating us. NICK SCHIFRIN: The Chinese say they are reeducating
Uyghurs by teaching them Chinese and vocational skills. This is state media video. The detainees we interviewed and international
researchers call it staged and scripted, a facade that hides what’s really happening. As seen in the only video that exists of a
camp under construction, the entrance has an iron gate, the windows have bars, and the
cells look like jails. And in this drone video the U.S. believes
is authentic, prisoners in blue with shaved heads are kept blindfolded and are led away,
one police officer per prisoner. Mohammed says what the Chinese call schools
for reeducation are actually prisons for brainwashing. ABDULSALAM MOHAMMED (through translator):
The 10 hours of class they would teach one day were the exact same 10 hours they’d teach
the next. The goal was to change our minds, our faith,
our beliefs. It was a plot to force us to renounce our
religion. NICK SCHIFRIN: The Chinese call some Muslim
Uyghurs extremists and terrorists. In 2009, Uyghurs in Xinjiang’s capital rioted. Almost 200 died, and hundreds more were injured,
mostly Han Chinese, the ethnic group that represents 90 percent of the country. Uyghur militants affiliated with al-Qaida
took credit for this 2013 attack in Tiananmen Square that killed two people. And China blames male and female Uyghur militants
for this 2014 knife attack that killed more than 30. Those attacks are claimed by Uyghurs who call
Xinjiang East Turkestan, which self-declared independence in the early 20th century. China says it’s administered Xinjiang since
60 B.C., and Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China is fighting separatists. WANG YI, Chinese Foreign Minister (through
translator): The education and training centers are schools that help the people free themselves
from the influence of extremism and terrorism, and acquire professional skills. The centers are anything but horrific concentration
camps. NICK SCHIFRIN: But in Xinjiang and a neighbor
province, residents say China’s launched a campaign against Islam. The government has partially or completely
destroyed at least a dozen mosques. And Uyghurs say the Chinese only targeting
their religion. In Istanbul, Uyghurs describe how China criminalized
Uyghur language and all Uyghur culture. International researchers have called that
campaign cultural genocide. China has even banned Uyghur music. Yusup Sulayman sings about a culture that’s
been lost, and a people who’ve been silenced. YUSUP SULAYMAN, Family Members Missing (through
translator): They’re disappearing our famous artists, composers, and songwriters before
anyone else. They’re disappearing our intellectuals. They have burned what they wanted to burn,
and scrubbed what they wanted to scrub. NICK SCHIFRIN: He gave us photos of all his
family members who have disappeared into camps. He hasn’t heard from any of them in more than
two years. YUSUP SULAYMAN (through translator): The absolute
worst thing is that I don’t know whether they’re dead or alive. Our communication is completely cut off. NICK SCHIFRIN: Abliz Ablikim says many Uyghur
men have been powerless to protect their families from the Chinese government. Can you tell me how a Han Chinese basically
ended up as a member of your family? ABLIZ ABLIKIM, Uyghur (through translator):
Ever since the government began locking up most of the men, women, children, and the
elderly have been left behind. The government has sent officials to be ears
in these households. They sent one to my uncle’s house. NICK SCHIFRIN: Ablikim takes out his phone
and opens a grainy photo, his aunt in Uyghur clothes, his uncle in Uyghur clothes holding
his baby cousin, and then a Han Chinese man posing like a member of the family. But he’s not a member of the family. Was he forced onto your family? ABLIZ ABLIKIM (through translator): He was
forced. He wouldn’t be able to live there if he weren’t. NICK SCHIFRIN: State media does stories on
Han Chinese inserted into Uyghur families, and calls the program United As One Family;
1.1 million Han Chinese have been sent by the government into Muslim homes. In your opinion, why is the Chinese government
doing this? ABLIZ ABLIKIM (through translator): They refer
to Uyghurs as criminals. If we ask them what our crime is, they say
openly: Aren’t you Uyghur? That’s crime enough. NICK SCHIFRIN: In Xinjiang’s capital, a huge
statue of Chairman Mao looms over the city. In multiple interviews across China, we heard
the same thing: China is fighting terrorism and fake news. Su Ge is a former ambassador and former head
of one of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s think tanks. SU GE, Former Chinese Ambassador: China and
the United States, I think that we feel the same about extremists. We also have this danger of terrorism. The best way to eradicate radicalism is to
provide education, to provide development. NICK SCHIFRIN: There have been cases of imprisonment
that are on a mass scale, not just of terrorists or suspected terrorists, but actually entire
families and entire cities. SU GE: Well, to us, that’s just somebody’s
trying to write a story about it. NICK SCHIFRIN: Meaning you think they’re fiction? SU GE: Yes. But I would say that, if you have only interviewed
those people who, for some reasons, who are paid somehow… NICK SCHIFRIN: Do you think they’re paid to
tell these stories? SU GE: I do not know. I’m only saying that they must have a source
for income. You ask them, how many policemen have been
injured just by the — by terrorists? NICK SCHIFRIN: But in the name of pursuing
terrorists, international researchers say China turned Xinjiang into an open air prison. Local residents say police keep a close eye
on all Uyghurs, interrogate them wherever they go, check their documents every few feet,
and forcibly collect DNA samples. And researchers identify at least 85 camps
and probably many more across Xinjiang. All of them are recently built. A barren field in August 2016 became, in one
year, what researchers say is a former school turned into a camp with barricades and barbed
wire. Just six miles away, researchers say another
camp started being built in early 2017. By late 2018, there were barricades, watch
towers, and barbed wire enclosures, and more than a million square feet of buildings. The U.S. says more than a million Uyghurs
have disappeared into Chinese detention. On the outskirts of Istanbul, Uyghurs have
been doing their own building to try and protect their identity. It’s a school where hundreds of Uyghur children
are being raised and educated in Uyghur language and history. The children are all right, because their
memories aren’t formed. But the adults stare into the distance, trying,
but failing, to forget. Aqil Shamsky is the English teacher. AQIL SHAMSKY, English Teacher: First, my mother
was arrested. And three months later, they released my mother,
dead, dead body. My mother was very healthy, felt like she
was at home. Three months later, she died. NICK SCHIFRIN: It is impossible to walk through
here without adults asking to share their stories. So we assembled five of them. Could you raise your hand if you have multiple
members of your families currently in the camp in Xinjiang? Sirajidin Abdukadir fled Xinjiang after the
Chinese threatened to take his passport. Today, he is the school security guard. He hasn’t heard from his family since he left
them three years ago. SIRAJIDIN ABDUKADIR, Security Guard (through
translator): I told my children farewell, and we will meet again. That’s the only thing I got to say to them. I never thought this would happen. I’m security here. They provide my meals. At this age, I cannot do anything else. That is what God gave me. I’m incredibly lonely. NICK SCHIFRIN: Everyone here has their own
stories of family imprisonment, both of Tursun Yasin’s brothers, 42-year-old Abdugeni Musa’s
daughter and other children. Ablet Tursun spent one month inside a camp. And 72-year-old Amina Emet is the principal’s
mother. Do you know where your children are? AMINA EMET, Missing Family Members (through
translator): I don’t know. I am searching for any kind of news every
day. NICK SCHIFRIN: The Chinese say they have closed
the camps and Uyghurs have returned home. But everyone here says their family members
are still missing. Emet’s 19 children, grandchildren, and their
spouses are still missing. AMINA EMET (through translator): I wish God
would free us from the Chinese. The Uyghurs are too weak to resist. There are no Uyghur people left, no people
left in our homeland. My eldest son passed away years ago. I basically raised the two of his kids myself. But even they were taken away. AQIL SHAMSKY: Now every Uyghur, no matter
of inside of jail or outside of jail, is feeling the same thing, fear of disappear from the
world. NICK SCHIFRIN: A few miles away, Gulbahar
Jalilova’s mind is still in detention. GULBAHAR JALILOVA (through translator): I’m
drinking tea. I’m eating bread. But those helpless people are desperate. They don’t have enough to eat. I see them all in front of me, as if I were
still in the camp myself. NICK SCHIFRIN: After she was released, she
wrote down all the names of the people in her cell, just one of what could be tens of
thousands of cells across Xinjiang, China. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Nick Schifrin
in Istanbul. JUDY WOODRUFF: Extraordinary. Tomorrow, on “NewsHour Weekend,” our China
series ends with Nick Schifrin reporting from Hong Kong. And on our Web site, we take a visual exploration
of the so-called reeducation centers, where one million Uyghurs are now being held. And you can watch all the stories from our
series “China: Peace & Prosperity” online at PBS.org/NewsHour. And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Have a great weekend. Thank you, and good night.

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