Weekly Roundup: Thursday, April 4
It guess what? What's got big news doing another live podcast on the road? We're going to be in Philadelphia. In fact, we are going to be there on April twenty-sixth to record a live podcast onstage all about the twenty twenty election. We just did this at Atlanta. It was great. But here's the catch. We need your help to make sure it's the best podcast possible. And the way to do that is to head over to NPR presents dot org and grab a ticket to be in the audience. That's Friday, April twenty six in Philadelphia. We'll see you there. Hi. This is the and I'm from Columbia, Missouri. I got my citizenship last year in November. And today, I'm going to cost my vote for the first time in the US for the local mayor and school board elections, which I'm very excited about this podcast was recorded at twelve twelve pm on Thursday, April fourth things may have changed by the time. You hear this? And I would have voted for the first time in the US. Okay. Here's the show. Congratulations. That is awesome and more awesome. That you are voting in local elections, which matter more to our personal lives than a lot of other elections. That was a great time stamp. Hey there, it's the NPR politics podcast. I'm tamra Keith. I cover the White House. I'm Mara Liasson national political correspondent, and I'm too MAC local reporter, and we are welcoming back a familiar voice, Scott Horsely. Hey sky, the great to be back. I mean, most people didn't know that you left. But last time you were on the pod we referred you as White House correspondent. And now you are. I am NPR's economics reporter now you're economics. Correspondent he's staying humble, right? Is always to humble, my real title is chief economics correspondent, which is a little more grandiose than it. Sounds because I'm the only economic force. Chief with with no followers. Well, it is good to have you back in your here. Because we need your help today in this pod. We are gonna talk about a bunch of things we're gonna talk about President Trump's threats to close the border Democrats stepping up their investigations into the president and a potential security breach. The president's mar-a-lago resort and we are going to start with the border. President Trump has been threatening all week to close the border with the US and Mexico. They don't stop with closing the border. They'll close it will keep with close for a long time. I'm not playing games. This got what is happening at the border. That makes the president that he needs to close it. Of course, we should also say that he has threatened this several times before this, right? And he this is his response to a wave of migrants. M- many of them children and families coming from Central America and seeking asylum when they reached the United States and just last month. We saw I think the highest number of border apprehensions in in a decade about one hundred thousand. So now this is a time of year when border crossings do typically peak because it's kind of nice nice time to be traveling. It's not too cold. It's not too hot. But we are certainly on pace to see a relatively large number of crossers for recent history. Although we're still well below the totals that we were seeing say around the year two thousand when when illegal immigration was at its height. So does this require immediate action as dramatic as what the president is suggesting can you give us a little bit more context on what the numbers are. And whether we're actually seeing crisis. The overall numbers are still well below what we were seeing a generation ago, but this is a qualitatively different flow of migrants because we are talking in many cases about children and families and in many cases coming from Central America. Whereas around two thousand it was mostly single men coming from Mexico. And the law requires the government to deal differently with young people who crossed the border and to deal differently with people who come from Central America than people who come from from Mexico. It's much easier to deport a single man from Mexico than it is to deport a twelve year old who comes up from water Mahler Honduras. So the the president has insisted that he doesn't want to simply release these migrants into the US interior to wait out there. They're the process while their asylum claims are being heard, and so in many cases, they are being detained in facilities. And with these numbers, those facilities have gotten very crowded, and it's taken a lot of people and materiel to handle that another big difference is some of these people are asylum-seekers, which means they are entering into a legal process as opposed to somebody sneaking across the border who can be deported immediately. That's rack, that's these are people who have some kind of legal Protech. Action by international law. They get a hearing US law and international law. And now now the Trump administration argues that in many cases, these migrants are gaming the system or exploiting that system that the reason they're coming as families for examples because they know that the law requires the US to treat families differently than with treat single single men. They know the the right words to say to pass the first asylum screening process, and then be admitted to the US the in some cases that may be true that that there is some gaming of the system or taking advantage of the way the laws are written one of the things the administration wants is for congress to go in and rewrite those laws, so they could deport people more quickly. It seems very unlikely that congress is going to be in position to make those changes Mara. Can we talk politics for a second here? Why would the president be talking about shutting the border down the border and immigration was the president's most important issue in two thousand sixteen his critics? Say that he's inciting racial panic that he wants his base to be afraid of what he's called an invasion of immigrants, and he thinks that's one of the most motivating issues for his base this week. I had a chance to ask Larry Kudlow, who's the president's topic Nommik adviser about this as you know, his economic advisors are very worried about the economic impact some of them have called it catastrophic. This is Republicans in the White House and on Capitol Hill, if he does close the border down and the way he explained it was he said, it's an exclamation point. It shows his seriousness. This is such an important issue. There's a principle here. In other words, just he made the analogy to the government shutdown something that Larry cudlow didn't like, but this is the way the president shows what he cares about most. And what he thinks his base cares about most. And the president does have a history of making very loaded threats oftentimes not following. Through on them. But following through just often enough that no one can really be sure he won't go through it. And the government shutdowns a good example, he could threaten to shut down the government. Nobody thought that was a good idea it proved not to be a good idea. But in the end, he actually did it nobody thinks shutting down the US border with Mexico is a good idea. But nobody can rule out the possibility that Trump may just decide to go through with this. And interestingly enough, the Mexican government Lopez over door has said he doesn't believe that Donald Trump will actually do this. Well, and it's not clear that Donald Trump even believes that Donald Trump will do this as the week went on the president has gotten a little bit squishy about whether he would actually follow through. I'm ready to close it. If I have to close it Mexico, as you know, as of yesterday is been starting to apprehend a lot of people at their southern border. Now that sounds like the president's starting to sorta declare victory I've achieved for an exit ramp achieve what I wanted through my threat. And in fact, there's no evidence that Mex. Co has done anything differently than what they've been doing all along our own John been on the border reporting. There's no there's no change in Mexico's behavior with the president by saying that Mexico's done what I wanted. It seems to be looking for a way he can declare victory and not have to close the border, right? And unlike the government shutdown which did have a small economic impact shutting down the border, according to the president's own advisers would have a big economic impact guy, you have been doing some reporting on that in your new role as chief economics correspondent for NPR. It would be a bombshell on the US economy. And and in particular certain industries of the automotive industry is is one that is very highly integrated. As one analyst told me, it's not just that we trade cars and parts back and forth across the border. They are literally assembling cars in Mexico, the US and Canada, and it needs they need all three of those countries. Participating just to complete a Finnish automobile about more than a third of all the parts that we import automobiles in this country. Come from Mexico. So I've been told that if you literally did close the border with Mexico. You would have some auto plants shutting down within hours, and you would have really the whole North American industry grind to a halt within a week, but more importantly avocados avocados would also take a hit, but not just Africa. I mean, tomatoes eggplants, I think that it doesn't really hit home. When you talk about parts to automobiles. But if you take away people's Advocaat does that's really where Americans are going to feel the pain. Right. I disagree only affects people in blue states who like avocado little you don't have to use Konno's on toes salads. I'm struggling to find a third thing. But there there were reports this week that that high poverty sized, hey, we closed down the border. We're going to run out of our Advocaat of supply in a matter of months is that right weeks weeks weeks weeks, and you know, what regardless of what actually happens whether the border is shutdown or not in one way, Trump has one and that is. Is that he has made this what people are talking about. And one of Trump's metrics for success is to dominate the media narrative to keep people focused on the border, whether or not he shuts it that's not the definition of success. Now, sometimes dominating the media narrative is not the same as winning the argument. But at least he's got this issue front and center as if it is the most important problem facing the country. All right. We are going to leave that conversation here for now. Scott, we have to say goodbye to you again. I'll be back. Yes. You'll be back. All right. We are going to take a quick break in when we come back security concerns at the president's mar-a-lago resort. And a slew of new news related to house investigations into the president support for this NPR podcast and the following message. Come from better help better help offers licensed professional counselors, who specialize in issues such as depression stress, anxiety and more connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environments. At your convenience get help at your own time and your own pace schedule secure video or phone sessions plus chat and text with your therapist. Visit better help dot com slash politics. To learn more and get ten percent off your first month HALE fear, Eisenberg here from NPR's asked me another need a break from the new cycle will then head over to ask me another this month. We've got puzzles games trivia and more women in comedy. Joining us is read from NBC's parks and recreation grittily, endlessly Hedlund from the Netflix series, Russian doll and many more. Listen this Friday, and we're back, and we are joined now by none other than Ryan. Lucas NPR Justice. Correspondent hey Ryan are there. So there have been a lot of developments this week, so many it's hard to keep track of them all related to House Democratic investigations of the president and his administration. There've been a bunch of subpoenas authorized and also this yesterday, the House Ways and means committee sent. A request to the IRS for six years of President Trump's tax returns. And this is a big deal because unlike all the other modern American presidents, President Trump has not shared his tax returns as he was running for president or even as president Tim what's up with this will, you know, this is a big thing because the president has run on being such a successful business person. It's been the backbone of his campaign the backbone of his qualifications to be president. And a lot of Democrats have long suspected, maybe he's not as successful as he has portrayed himself to be in the answer for a lot of Democrats to that question would be in his tax returns. So the House Ways and means committee through an obscure part of the law can request certain tax returns for individuals. And they're doing it in this case, let's any individual, isn't it? I believe you can you can use this for any individual. It's been sparsely used because usually congress is not interested in. Delving into the personal tax returns of a single American citizen. And what's interesting about this is that this is a multi pronged approach from house. Democrats not only is the House Ways and means committee interested in this. The house oversight committee has said that they've been talking to an accounting firm with access to some Trump's tax returns. And that they are considering issuing subpoenas for ten years of Trump's tax records. And I believe that the committee has said that the company is willing to to do. So so long as they've been subpoenaed the kind of want subpoena coverage in order to provide these they're willing to provide these documents, but they want legal cover in the form of a subpoena. Did they were forced to do? So okay. I got a question our guys just because they're curious and they want to see if the president's is rich as he says, he is theirs. God they have to have a better reason for that. There have been a lot of suggestions in the press through investigative reporting about whether the Trump organization broke any laws when it comes to taxes or insurance claims or loans. And what is what is Trump's response to the spend so far he's still? So, you know, he's always said, oh, I can't release my returns because they're under audit. And yesterday, he said, I'm always under audit. I think that the House Ways and means committee could easily figure out whether he's under auditor, not by asking the IRS. And then the president would have to decide if he wants to make a legal fight about this. He could order the IRS not to turn them over. And then it goes to court and on the on the question of audits. I think that Michael Cohen was actually asked about that during his testimony on the hill. And he said that he was never given any indication from the president himself that that he wasn't eat under audit. It was basically stone. Wellstone stumble. The question for me is is this even an answer which prevents him from providing those tax returns being under audit mean you can't provide tax. No, there's no bar against that. As a matter of fact, every United States president has his tax return audited. Like once your president. It's an automatic. That's correct. So I. I have a thirty thousand foot question for you guys. I was gone two weeks. I was on vacation. Congratulations little a little couple of things happened while I was gone. But the question I have about the tax returns. And this kind of continued democratic press in the house. There has been a lot of pushback from the White House about how this is essentially Democrats going after president whom they hate this is driven by hatred and not actual investigative needs. How is this push for tax returns going to play politically? And does this help or hinder the president? I think that the it's incumbent on the house of representatives to say why they want them, you know, how it fits into an investigation about the president. They have to explain that. Otherwise, the president can say you're just on a fishing expedition, but opposition Congress's investigate presidents of the opposite party. That's what happens and for the the Democrats. They always going to have this challenge of balancing pushing. Legislation even if it can't get passed by the Senator signed by the president pushing legislation that helps them lay down a marker for twenty twenty. You know, explains their message what they wanna do and investigation. So they've got legislating and investigating and they have to make sure that they do both incorrect measure, otherwise the public could conclude that all they're doing is going after Trump. Okay. Let's turn to mar-a-lago. This is the president's resort in Florida. He likes to call it. The winter White House, though, it's becoming quite clear that the security procedures there aren't anything like they are at the real White House. And Ryan this week. We learned that a Chinese national was arrested there. That's right. This is a very curious incident. There are a lot of kind of holes and information at this point in time. But what we do know is from what was filed in a in a criminal complaint. The woman's name is Eugene Jiang. She's in her early thirties. What she managed to do was illegally get onto the grounds of the club. She at the first checkpoint told the secret service that she wanted to go use the pool she was allowed in. She had a different story when she was inside. She said that she was there to attend a United Nations Chinese American friendship association event, she was detained questioned by the secret service in the course of all of this. It turns out that she was carrying four cell phones, a laptop computer and external. Drive a thumb drive that contained malware as well as to Chinese passports. I bring all that stuff. When I go to the pool. She didn't have a swimsuit contraction. Why would you need to passports to go to the pool or even to go to more Longo or even go tomorrow? Log out there are a lot of questions that come out of this. It's not entirely clear who this woman is what this is all about whether this is something sinister. Whether it's something silly does raise concerns about possible, espionage. However, obviously, China is a major espionage concern for the United States. They are very aggressive in going after US government secrets US trade secrets in mar-a-lago is this is a rich target. This is not like Camp, David. This is not a hermetically sealed US government facility. This is a private club. And so for the secret service to try to protect this in seal this off in keep the president physically safe is not impossible. It's not all that hard to do. I was told by a former secret service agent. What's very difficult in a place like like mar-a-lago is keeping it clean from a counter intelligence. And this is this goes into all the questions that have been raised about Donald Trump's security procedures or lack of them talks on a cell phone that some people have said is unsecure likes to mingle with the public at mar a Lago. So a lot of questions about how safe and private his conversations really are to people like the Chinese who want to hear what he's saying. And remember, this is not the first time that there has been an incident that raises security concerns at mar a Lago. There was the incident back in two thousand seventeen when he was having dinner on the terrace at the club with the Japanese Prime minister, Shinzo Ave. And there was a North Korean missile launch in suddenly they turned their dinner table on on the terrace into like an open situation room, and they're talking about how to respond guests. We're taking pictures of them and twit end posting them on Instagram that incident as well. As the incident that happened over the weekend with his Chinese woman points to counterintelligence. Concerns for people in the secret service people in the intelligence community. This is not an ideal environment in which to have to to try to protect government secrets. All right changing gears in an earlier podcast this week. We talked about a former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flora's who said that former vice president Joe Biden had acted inappropriately at a campaign event in twenty fourteen kissed her on the back of the head Biden gave a statement after that first allegation since then a few other women have come forward to say that Biden made them feel uncomfortable at times as well. And then Biden responded by putting out a video. And the bone is protected personal space have been reset. And I get I get I hear what they're saying. I understand it. And I'll be once more mindful. That's my responsibility Meyer responsible, and I'll meet him Mara. Does this actually change anything for him? Vice president Biden was aware. And so were his advisors that this stuff would come out. It's all on tape. He's done it in public. He's very tactile politician the women who have complained about this say it made them feel uncomfortable. But that none of them said it was sexual in nature, and the interesting thing about this whole episode is that it went on and on and on without hearing from the former vice president until that video his staff put out statements. But this is the first time we've heard him talk about it. I think it's the he had got some positive reviews. People said good that statement is the way to talk about it. He talked about his own response. Ability for respecting people's space. And the big question is how much do Democrats care about this? And I think it depends on which democrat you ask when you talk about Democrats as the zero tolerance party for me to incidents. What do they have zero tolerance for a kiss on the head? It's easy to say you have zero tolerance for sexual harassment or or sexual assault. But all of the other things you might want to call them microaggressions Democrats have to figure this out. And that's what's going to be really interesting when and if Joe Biden gets in whether this is a big deal or not well, and he's definitely acting like somebody who's going to get in. Yes. Of course, everybody thinks he will. But until he does we get to say when and if all right, we're going to take a quick break in when we come back. Can't let it go support for NPR in the following message. Come from the American beverage association, America's beverage companies are working together to support families as they reduced the sugar in their diets coke Dr Pepper, and Pepsi are providing more great tasting options with less sugar or no sugar at all. Smaller portion sizes clear calorie labels, and reminders to think. Balance more choices smaller portions less sugar. Learn more about how they're working together at balance US dot org. Now that Macy's has lost all its territory what happens to the people left behind. She chose Tyco. So fat that she issues finding Syria enroll and what about their children? How it ends a new series on in bed, and we're back, and we're going to end the show like we do every week with can't let it go. Where we all talk about one thing. We just can't stop thinking about politics or otherwise. And I am going to go first. So President Trump is expected to name Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Herman Cain does that name. Ring a bell for anybody. Sure. Fathers pizzas and dude nine nine nine. So he was a presidential candidate in two thousand twelve I was assigned to cover his nine nine nine tax plan, which he explains this way. Throwing out the current tax code because it is a mess and then passing legislation with the nine percent business flat tax a nine percent, personal income flat tax any nine percent sales tax. So that is the nine nine nine tax plan. So I was already to dig in on the nine nine nine tax plan win all of a sudden all of these allegations of sexual harassment came out against him. And so instead, I ended up chasing him around the capital trying to ask him about sexual harassment. So shortly thereafter, he went from front runner in the Republican field to pulling out of the race. No longer running for president. And he ended his campaign with this. When I believe these words came from the Pokemon movie. The media pointed that out. I'm not sure who the original author is. So don't go ride an article about the point. But it says a lot. About where I am. Well, I am with my wife and my family and where we are as a nation. Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. Is never easy. When there's so much on the line. So, you know, I think that this could be adjusted to be a poem about the fed funds rate. The big question for me is whether we're going to be aiming for nine percent inflation, right? I have a question about the poem itself. It actually is from Pokemon. So my understanding is that there is a Donna summer song that was on the Pokemon movie soundtrack. And that is where it came from. But Herman Cain kept saying a wise man once said or a famous poet once wrote, and it turns on the famous poet was the Pokemon movie and Donna summer. It's not like they couldn't have Google that and figure that out back twelve but. It was a long time ago as many moons ago, it was many moons ago. But I believe we did indeed have Google back that all right Mara. Why can't you like what I can't let go of is the current it candidate in the democratic field Pete Buddha? Judge otherwise known as mayor Pete. He is the thirty seven year old vendor. Canned mayor of south bend, Indiana, who is getting tremendous amounts of buzz in the democratic primary and raising a lot of money and in my inbox. This week was a article he wrote in two thousand and three which for him is not that long ago when he was a student at Harvard where he had a very thoughtful analysis of new album by Dave Matthews, but it got me thinking what can't this guy? Do. He is a Norwegian speaking jazz, pianist Arabic interpreter gay married roadscholar veteran. He's thirty seven years old. Did I say that before and he's running for president and the great. Thing. What I can't let go is the great thing about being the current it candidate is he isn't going to be subjected to the same kind of scrutiny that other candidates are people can just revel in all the wonderful things about him. The thing that jumps out to me. The most is that he was at Harvard in college in two thousand three I was attending college in and around that he's incredibly young for someone who is not only a candidate for president but running his own town. And and is rising in the polls. Wait, wait, wait. Did he say the Dave Matthews was good or bad because that could really affect his president him. It wasn't. It was thoughtful exegesis about the current the the the new two thousand and three album of Dave Matthews and how it compared to previous ones and how it fits into the post nine eleven political climate, right? Why can't you like so I'm gonna shift gears a bit into the world of sports who so? Also going to give a bit of a shout out to my roots. So I grew up in Wisconsin. I can't call myself a lifelong bucks fan because the bucks were horrible for most of my life to be quite Frank. But the bucks are finally back. They are legitimate. They with four games left in the NBA season. They have a two and a half game lead atop the Eastern Conference. This is something that I very much enjoy to see I never thought that I would necessarily see this happen that the bucks could win win the conference. Winning an MBA crown is something else entirely. We'll see what what happens, but this has been a fun year as a temporary bucks fan or a resurrected bucks fan. And I can't actually say that I've watched a game this year. But I do check the standings. You're still very exciting. I'm still very excited about this Tam. Why can't you like, oh, I'm going to shift gears a little bit too? I mean, my my Clegg this week is about nipsy hustle. He's he's a rapper who was killed this week. But I don't want to focus on the on the downside of that. I want to focus on his legacy and what he leaves behind. I mean, this is a fascinating character. Nifty hustle is is a is a deeply motivational rapper who came from a life of poverty and escaped a life of gang violence. He had been associated with the crimson his early years to become a very successful rapper who was intensely interested in investing back into his own community. He was really interested in diversity in Silicon Valley and tech. He was really interested in getting some sort of pipeline between the inner city and Silicon Valley, he even started a community center. Just so that youth in in Crenshaw, California could get interested in technology and inside. Science, and it it's it really raises bigger questions about the kind of character, we expect not only from our politicians. But also from the people we put on when we listen to music, and when we watch movies and things like that as well. Yeah. And then tragedy is he was supposedly about to meet with the police to work with them on solving gang violence. Right. The day after he was killed. He was supposed to have a meeting with the LAPD about. How do we get kids out of? Plus Bryce one slice. Not to digest swamp. We'll be back as soon as there's news you need to know about. In the meantime, head to NPR dot org slash politics newsletter to subscribe to a roundup of our best online stories and analysis. I'm Keith I cover the White House. I'm Mara Liasson. National political correspondent, I'm to MEK political reporter. Cover the Justice department and thanks for listening to the impair politics. Hustle price. One slice got the bone guys. Swap. So I suppose this means that you had heard of him before he was killed. Yes. And he he's very popular. And did he earned himself after nipsy? Russell. I know is a comedian. I don't long past. I think but I'm assuming that's why he took that name. I'm gonna have to get back to you get back to you because. Yeah. Nipsy russell. I mean, we can Google them. Let's cut this embarrassing question for I don't know the answer to that question. I'm going to look that up. You've never heard of nipsy. I don't know. Russell is. Nipsy hustle. Well, he Russell nipsy hustle. American comedian. Let's see nipsy Russell do. You have a picture. Yeah. He's stage. Name a play on the name of comic nipsy. Russell originated Maher for being so old. And so right dight was Russell born nineteen eighteen about that. That.