PBS NewsHour full episode December 11, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: in the hot seat. Senators grill the Department of Justice top
watchdog over his report on the Russia probe. Then: the Jersey City shooting — what we
know so far about yesterday’s hours-long gun battle between two attackers and the police. Plus: Britain and the ballot. Ahead of tomorrow’s general election, citizens
of a divided kingdom weigh their options as Brexit looms. LYNNE O’LEARY, Voter: I just feel that it’s
probably one of the worst times ever in British politics. And we’re at a situation where everybody just
seems to be fighting for themselves, instead of sort of working collectively to do the
best thing for the country. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The origins of the investigation
into President Trump’s campaign and Russia were under the microscope today on Capitol
Hill. The inspector general for the Department of
Justice sat for a daylong hearing about his recent report examining accusations of political
bias in the FBI and how the bureau conducted itself in the early months of the probe. William Brangham reports. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Before the Senate Judiciary
Committee today, diametrically opposed views about one of the most controversial and sensitive
FBI investigations in recent history. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): There is no deep
state. Simply put, the FBI investigation was motivated
by facts, not bias. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The system failed. People at the highest level of our government
took the law into their own hands. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The sole witness today was
Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice’s inspector general. He detailed the findings of his over 400-page
examination of Crossfire Hurricane, the initial FBI investigation into Russian election meddling
and what role the Trump campaign may have been playing. Horowitz quickly dispelled one of President
Trump’s main theories: that the FBI launched the probe to derail his campaign. MICHAEL HOROWITZ, Justice Department Inspector
General: We didn’t find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or
improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct those CHS operations. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Horowitz also said that
text messages from Peter Strzok, a key FBI official in the probe who repeatedly wrote
derogatory things about candidate Trump, also had no bearing. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Based on your investigation,
personal political views expressed in text messages didn’t motivate the opening of the
investigation of ties between Trump campaign advisers and Russia; is that correct? MICHAEL HOROWITZ: Ultimately, we concluded
that those texts messages, which we found last year were entirely inappropriate, didn’t
ultimately play the role in Mr. Priestap’s decision to open an investigation. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But Horowitz went on to
detail numerous cases of errors and omissions by FBI officials, particularly with regards
to so-called FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page. MICHAEL HOROWITZ: Nevertheless, we found that
investigators failed to meet their basic obligations of ensuring that the FISA applications were
scrupulous — scrupulously accurate. We identified significant inaccuracies and
omissions in each of the four applications, seven in the first application, seven in the
first application and a total of 17 by the final renewal application. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Horowitz testified that
these applications relied heavily on the controversial Steele dossier, a set of unproven allegations
compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, and paid for, in part, by lawyers
working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Horowitz said his investigation showed that
FBI agents had evidence that Steele’s information was questionable, but they hid those findings. MICHAEL HOROWITZ: We are deeply concerned
that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate handpicked investigative
teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations. The circumstances reflect a failure, we outlined
in the report, not just by those who prepared the applications, but also by the managers
and supervisors in the Crossfire Hurricane chain of command, including FBI senior officials
who were briefed as the investigation progressed. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Former FBI Director James
Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report? MICHAEL HOROWITZ: I think the activities we
found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this. SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Every American really should
be terrified by this report. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Republicans continually
portrayed Horowitz’s investigation as a deeper, damning indictment of the FBI and the DOJ. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): These are not typos. These are not small, inadvertent errors. These are grotesque abuse of power. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But Democrats stressed that
these actions didn’t betray a larger culture within the agency, and that the broader Russia
investigation did find extensive wrongdoing. SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): I just thought it was
worth repeating that the Mueller investigation produced 37 indictments, guilty pleas and
convictions, and none of those are called into question by your report; is that correct? MICHAEL HOROWITZ: We don’t address that at
all. SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I didn’t find any
conclusion that the FBI meddled or interfered in the election to affect the outcome. MICHAEL HOROWITZ: We didn’t reach that conclusion. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Given that there’s a separate
ongoing investigation into the Russia probe being run by U.S. attorney John Durham, it’s
clear that the scrutiny of the FBI is nowhere near over. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham. JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have more on that story
after the news summary. In the day’s other news: Democrats in the
U.S. House of Representatives begin work this evening on approving two articles of impeachment
against President Trump. The Judiciary Committee will consider two
separate accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Committee votes could come tomorrow, sending
the articles to the full House for possible action next week. A sweeping defense policy bill passed the
House this evening and headed to the Senate. It authorizes nearly $74 billion for the fiscal
year that began two months ago. Major provisions include a 3 percent military
pay raise, creation of a Space Force, and paid parental leave for federal workers. The House also opened debate on a Democratic
bill aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs. It calls for the government to directly negotiate
prices of at least 50 medicines a year. Democratic leaders agreed to that number after
party progressives demanded that it be increased from 35. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appealed today
for support across party lines. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The burden touches every
family, hurting not only their health, but their financial health. There is every reason in the world for Republicans
to join us to pass this bill. Even the president has supported this key
— these key provisions. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Senate, Republican Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he will not bring the bill up for a vote. The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a
federal judge’s ruling that bars using Pentagon funds for a southern border wall. The judge in Texas blocked $3.6 billion in
military construction money from being diverted, unless Congress approves it. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed other Pentagon
funds to be spent on the wall, pending a legal challenge. New disclosures tonight about the deadly crashes
of Boeing 737 MAX jets. It turns out the Federal Aviation Administration
had predicted up to 15 more crashes unless flight control software was fixed. That was after the first crash in Indonesia
last year. The FAA didn’t ground the planes until a second
crash last March in Ethiopia. At a House hearing today, the agency’s new
head, Stephen Dickson, declined to place blame. STEPHEN DICKSON, Administrator, Federal Aviation
Administration: There was information out there, but it was difficult to put the whole
picture together to make a sound decision. That’s absolutely something that we need to
address going forward. JUDY WOODRUFF: A retired Boeing production
manager testified today that the company put production speed over safety. In New Zealand, two more people died of injuries
from a volcanic eruption that caught tourists by surprise. The overall death toll is now 16. The volcano, on White Island, has continued
to spurt steam, mud and ash since Monday’s eruption; 28 people remain hospitalized, most
of them badly burned. Thousands of people marched in Algeria’s capital
today, calling for a boycott of tomorrow’s presidential election. The crowds chanted as security forces struggled
to block them. They demanded that the ruling elite quit and
the military get out of politics. Longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was
ousted in April. All five candidates running tomorrow are linked
to him. A United Nations report finds that protesters
in Iraq are facing abduction, arbitrary detention and outright murder. The report comes amid a string of targeted
assassinations and arrests of civil activists and journalists. Just today, 31 more protesters were wounded
by security forces in Central Baghdad. Back in this country, the Federal Reserve
left its benchmark interest rate unchanged today. And it indicated there might be no changes
through next year. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that he sees
little risk that low rates will lead to an overheated economy. JEROME POWELL, Federal Reserve Chairman: We
can sustain much lower levels of unemployment than had been thought. And, as I mentioned, that’s a good thing,
because that means we don’t have to worry so much about inflation. And you see the benefits of that in today’s
labor market. JUDY WOODRUFF: The Fed raised rates four times
last year, before cutting them three times this year. The Fed decision left Wall Street mostly unmoved. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 29
points to close at 27911. The Nasdaq rose 37 points, and the S&P 500
added nine. Meanwhile, stock in the state-owned oil giant
Saudi Aramco went public on the Saudi exchange, and it jumped 10 percent. That made it the world’s most valuable publicly
traded company, passing Apple. And there’s word that Hollywood producer Harvey
Weinstein and his movie studio will settle allegations of sexual misconduct. The New York Times reports that $25 million
would be divided among dozens of accusers. Weinstein still faces criminal charges of
rape and sexual assault. Today, a judge in New York increased his bail
fivefold, to $5 million, for leaving his ankle monitor deactivated. And 25 films, spanning 100 years, are this
year’s additions to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. They go all the way back to a 1903 film, emigrants
landing at Ellis Island. Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War story “Platoon”
is also on the list. So are the Disney classics “Old Yeller” and
“Sleeping Beauty.” Still to come on the “NewsHour”: further analysis
of the Justice Department’s findings on the Russia investigation; the deadly shooting
in Jersey City a day later, what we know about the attack; a Nobel Peace Prize winner, The
Hague, and charges of genocide — Myanmar on trial; plus, much more. Four hundred and thirty-four pages, and more
than five hours of live testimony. The Justice Department’s internal watchdog,
its inspector general, has now weighed in fully with his perspective on how the FBI
conducted itself in the early stages of the investigation into President Trump. The inspector general’s Senate testimony today
comes hours after President Trump reacted to the report at a campaign rally last night
in Pennsylvania. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
The Justice Department’s inspector general released a report detailing the outrageous,
scandalous and unprecedented abuses of power. Folks, they spied on our campaign, OK? The inspector general found that the FBI’s
spying application contained 17 errors and omissions, commonly known as lies and deceit. JUDY WOODRUFF: The president speaking at a
rally last night. And now two more perspectives. How serious are these findings? And what now for the FBI and for the Department
of Justice? Former federal prosecutor James Trusty previously
served as chief of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Section. He is now an attorney in private practice. And Frank Montoya has served in several high-level
posts in the FBI, including in posts overseeing counterintelligence investigations. And we welcome you both to the “NewsHour.” Thank you for being here. So, my first question is to both of you. What do you make of the Horowitz findings,
the inspector general’s findings, that, basically, despite errors and mistakes that shouldn’t
have been made in the FBI, that there was no political bias behind the decision to launch
this investigation? Frank Montoya, to you first. FRANK MONTOYA, Former FBI Official: I thought
it was a thorough investigation. I thought it was complete, comprehensive. I also think that, you know, it points out
that it’s not a crime to have an opinion. I think that this idea about bias is a hollow
claim, in the sense that people are going to have those opinions, even in the FBI, but
it’s not going to stop them from being able to do their jobs objectively. JUDY WOODRUFF: James Trusty, a hollow claim? JAMES TRUSTY, Former Federal Prosecutor: I
think it’s a — I disagree pretty strongly with Frank on that. The reality is, this was an extremely sensitive
public corruption probe. We’re talking about running informants and
wiretaps into or around the peripheries of a presidential campaign. And we should get best of the best. We should have FBI agents who are professional,
who have integrity, FBI lawyers who are not doctoring documents to get what they want. So I think it’s actually a pretty bad day
for the FBI. But I wouldn’t say that is as an institution. I would say it’s specific individuals that
were part of a culture that were a little bit reckless with their political ambitions. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me stay with you,
James Trusty. What is it you’re saying specifically these
agent did that wasn’t just acceptable and shouldn’t have happened? JAMES TRUSTY: Well, there is evidence within
here of a referral, a criminal referral, based on an FBI general counsel lawyer specifically
lying, changing an e-mail — and this isn’t an error or a whoops kind of moment — but
changing an e-mail substance, so this thing would get through the FISA court. That’s a pretty horrific moment, and to have
that happen. But you also have other nuggets of moments,
where they’re talking about insurance policies, which we saw from the OIG probe in the first
instance, and information that suggests that even McCabe knew there was an affair between
the case agent and the lawyer. JUDY WOODRUFF: The former FBI official. JAMES TRUSTY: Sorry, William McCabe — Andy
McCabe — and let these things happen. So it’s not necessarily that everything is
criminal. It’s just that there’s horrible judgment being
brought to bear on a very important investigation. JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to come back to you
on those points, Frank Montoya. FRANK MONTOYA: May I add to that, though? Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: Sure, of course. And I want to ask you to remind us why the
— what is the FISA court and why it matters here. FRANK MONTOYA: Yes, so two separate issues
there. So, yes, there were clearly some issues in
terms of misbehavior, mis — or inappropriate behavior or misconduct even. And those things need to be addressed. But I would also add that that has nothing
to do with the bias. It just has everything to do with how they
did not proceed in what Jim says is a very sensitive investigation as properly as they
should have. No excusing that whatsoever. That needs to be addressed, and it needs to
be addressed appropriately. And I think what Director Wray said a couple
days ago, I think it was, to — in an interview, that he has set forth a bunch of different
activities to reform the process, to improve the process, absolutely important to do. I would note, in that regard, that it’s — this
is not the first time that we have faced a public accounting like this, and it won’t
be the last time. But you think about the Woods Procedures,
for instance, those came about precisely because there was a public accounting like this a
couple of decades ago. So, the — it’s important to note that, yes,
there was some misbehavior, at the very least, and it needs to be addressed. As far as the importance of FISA is concerned,
I mean, it’s a huge investigative tool when it comes to conducting national security investigations. And it — a lot of that depends on public
trust, in terms of how effective we are in using it. So, yes, in terms of maintaining that public
trust, everything that we can do to follow the rules, to do everything by the book, to
make sure that we are doing this in accordance with the law, is absolutely essential. JUDY WOODRUFF: So what you’re hearing, James
Trusty, from Frank Montoya is that, yes, mistakes were made, but there are mistakes that are
being corrected, and they don’t change the fundamental finding here that this was undertaken
intentionally with bias, with political leaning one way or another. JAMES TRUSTY: Right. Well, I think there’s actually kind of a middle
ground between saying this is a horrible report and a terrifically fulsome report, which is
to point out that the inspector general, really, by definition, has kind of a limit to its
reach, and it does not draw inferences. It doesn’t consider circumstantial evidence. So it uses very precise words. The report says, we do not find, based on
testimony and e-mails, bias or action acting on bias. So you have very kind of nuanced limits to
how far they reach. And this is why the Durham probe is going
to be so important. JUDY WOODRUFF: And — excuse me — that’s
a reference to the prosecutor in Connecticut, John Durham, who still has not made his report
public, although he had a statement to make the other day about it. JAMES TRUSTY: Right, which was kind of interesting. I mean, Durham and Barr taking offense, almost,
to the I.G. report does tell me that they’re sitting on some pretty important information. They have more access to information than
the inspector general would ever have. JUDY WOODRUFF: Frank Montoya, what about that? What about the fact we know the attorney general
reacted to what his own inspector general said and basically dismissed it and said it’s
just — in so many words, it’s wrong? He still finds problems with the Russia investigation. And Mr. Durham, we’re waiting to see what
he has to say. FRANK MONTOYA: Well, I thought what the I.G.
said earlier today was really important, one, that he was surprised that Durham even issued
a statement, and then, two, that it seems like the issue surrounds whether or not this
should have been — or the cases that were opened, four or five cases that were opened,
were either — should have been preliminary investigations vs. full investigations. If that is the issue, that’s not very substantive,
because, in a counterintelligence investigation, there’s not much difference between what is
a preliminary and what is the full, other than in terms of what kind of investigative
techniques you can use. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, I mean, what about Mr.
Trusty’s point that there were there were limits to what the inspector general could
do? FRANK MONTOYA: Well, in that — in what he’s,
I think, referring to there is in terms of what kind of information the inspector general
could look at. I mean, he even made that point today, that
he couldn’t investigate attorneys, for instance. At the same time, in the criminal inquiry,
they have the ability to go outside of the Department of Justice and the FBI. So, in terms of what information they might
be collecting from other U.S. government agencies, what they may have collected from foreign
partners, yes, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of information that is and how it
might substantiate or not the dispute between whether or not this was a valid investigation. JUDY WOODRUFF: James Trusty, I hear you saying
you want to see more. You want to see what the Durham report says. He’s a criminal prosecutor. He will be able to get information, you believe,
that the inspector general could not. JAMES TRUSTY: Right. I mean, a couple of quick examples. I mean, Lisa Page Peter Strzok had text messages
on their FBI devices that were horrifying, right? They never got the personal text messages
from them. So, if they said these things on FBI phones,
the inspector general was powerless to obtain more. Durham would not be. Or, similarly, Glenn Simpson from Fusion GPS,
which kind of funded the initiation of the Steele dossier, he said, I’m not talking to
you. And the inspector general has to walk away
from that. So, Durham has many more powers, many more
ability — much more ability to actually drill down and get that information. Whether we see an actual report is going to
be interesting. He’s not Bob Mueller. There’s no mandate that he write a report. So how much daylight his findings receive
is really the big mystery that will resolve sometime next year. JUDY WOODRUFF: And finally, Frank Montoya,
how much confidence should the American people have right now in the FBI and the Department
of Justice? FRANK MONTOYA: Yes, in moments like this,
that’s always a difficult question to answer. I would say that the vast majority of folks
are doing exactly what the American public expects of them. They’re following the rules. They are doing exactly what they need to do
in order to protect this country. This is a unique and an extraordinary time
in our country’s history in terms of this particular investigation. Yes, they’re — to have questions about it
is appropriate. But I would also say that the things that
the director has said, Director Wray, has said about fixing the problems, people should
also take faith in the fact that we are the ones that do these kinds of investigations,
that they should rely upon us to do them properly and correctly, and to trust in us that we
will fix the problems that have been uncovered by the inspector general’s report. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in just a word, Mr. Trusty,
should the American people have trust in the FBI? JAMES TRUSTY: I think so. But they should recognize when there’s an
elite culture that creates some problems in leadership. And I think that’s what we had in the FBI. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you both, James Trusty,
Frank Montoya. JAMES TRUSTY: Sure. Thanks. FRANK MONTOYA: You bet. JUDY WOODRUFF: A day after a shoot-out with
police left six people dead in Northern New Jersey, law enforcement officials say they
are still trying to work out just what happened and why. As John Yang reports, among the considerations
is whether anti-Semitism motivated the shooters. JOHN YANG: Today, New Jersey Governor Phil
Murphy sought to assure Jersey City residents that the danger is over. GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Based on everything we
know, there is no ongoing security concern related to the events of yesterday. JOHN YANG: But officials said they are still
asking why a kosher market was targeted. Leading the investigation is state attorney
general and Jersey City native Gurbir Grewal. GURBIR GREWAL, New Jersey Attorney General:
As we speak, right now, we are working to learn more about the shooters’ motivations,
and whether anyone besides the two gunmen may have been involved. JOHN YANG: Officials say yesterday’s violence
began at a cemetery, where Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals was killed in a confrontation
with two people. The killers drove a stolen U-Haul van believed
linked to a weekend homicide about a mile to the kosher market, where they immediately
opened fire with two long rifles. For nearly three hours, they engaged police
in a fierce gun battle, making the neighborhood look like a war zone. SWAT officers in tactical gear swarmed the
area. Schools were put on lockdown. It ended when an armored police vehicle rammed
the store entrance. Inside, authorities found the bodies of the
killers and three people who happened to be in the store at the time. Officials said a fourth bystander was wounded
and escaped. The victims in the store have been identified
as 32-year-old Mindy Ferencz, who owned the store with her husband, Moshe Deutsh, 24,
a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping at the time, and Miguel Douglas,
49, said to be a worker in the store. The slain police officer, Joseph Seals, was
40 years old and the father of five children, the youngest just 2 years old. Steven Fulop is mayor of Jersey City. And he joins us from the scene of yesterday’s
shoot-out. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining
us. First of all, our condolences for what the
city went through and is still going through. Officials earlier in their news conference
were careful to say they don’t know the motivation for this. But are you now calling this a hate crime? STEVEN FULOP, Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey:
So, I just want to speak for a second from the information that we have seen in Jersey
City. And, as the grandson of Holocaust survivors
that emigrated to this country because it was a place of tolerance and acceptance, I
think it’s important that you call out anti-Semitism for what it is, and you do that quickly and
aggressively. When you look at the facts of what transpired
yesterday, we know the people posted on social media a favorable sentiment towards groups
that showed anti-Semitic sentiment. We know that they drove deliberately to the
kosher supermarket. We know that they bypassed a lot of targets
on the way. We know that they bypassed targets right next
to the kosher supermarket. We know they took out long rifles across the
street and commenced to fire while advancing into the supermarket. And when you think about all of those facts,
on top of the fact that they had a pipe bomb in the truck, showing that they had sentiment
to do more damage, it’s difficult to argue anything other than anti-Semitic sentiment
there. And from my standpoint, it’s just really important
to be aggressive and deliberate in — when you call that out. JOHN YANG: But do you have any sense yet why
they targeted this particular neighborhood, this particular market? STEVEN FULOP: Well, this is the area that
has an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. It’s a growing community in Jersey City that
started to relocate here from Brooklyn about three years ago. It’s grown aggressively. And that supermarket was directly next door
to the yeshiva, which had 50 to 70 children in it. Now, I will point out that, had the Jersey
City Police Department not responded as quickly as they did — there was a walking post a
block away, and they responded and they engaged the perpetrators and kept them inside of that
store — I think it’s fair to say that the tragedy could have been far worse. So, from my standpoint, you know, the facts
speak to what it is regarding a hate crime. And it’s always important to call out hate
aggressively and firmly. JOHN YANG: You talk about this neighborhood,
the growing population of Orthodox Jews. It was described earlier by the attorney general,
this market across from a Catholic school, down the block from a Dominican bodega… STEVEN FULOP: Yes. JOHN YANG: … on a street named after Martin
Luther King Jr., very diverse. Have there been tensions among the communities
in this neighborhood? STEVEN FULOP: No, I mean, look, the community
was predominantly African-American going back some time. And it’s gradually been changing. There’s a growing Jewish community here. There’s a growing Latino community in this
part of the city. And this city predominantly — well, the city
has had — this part of the city has had a gun violence issue dating back several years. But we have made huge progress in the last
two years. I mean, coming into this year, homicides in
Jersey City were down dramatically, shootings were down dramatically. There’s probably not a city in this country
that could point to crime reductions like we were. It’s not perfect, but we were making progress. And it’s just really disheartening and sad
on so many fronts to see the city going through this in such a public way at this point. JOHN YANG: I imagine, with the holidays coming
up, this has raised a lot of concerns, maybe anxieties and fears. As you walk the streets of your city, what
are you hearing and what are you telling people, Mr. Mayor? STEVEN FULOP: Well, I mean, look, the community
is a loving community. It’s an inclusive community. And I think most people understand that. And I don’t think that the actions of yesterday
represent the sentiment in the city. And everybody understands that. So we’re going to pull together. We’re going to be supportive of the Jewish
community here. We’re going to be supportive of all communities
here. And we’re going to get through it. This city has gone through hardships before. And, unfortunately, we’re going to have to
do it again. But we will get through it. JOHN YANG: Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City,
once again, our condolences, and our thanks for joining us. STEVEN FULOP: Thanks. JUDY WOODRUFF: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: divided times
in the United Kingdom — Britain votes as Brexit looms; and what’s driving the spate
of vaping-related lung injuries? A woman known as a champion of human rights
spent the day in the dock, defending her nation from the most heinous and inhumane of charges. As Nick Schifrin reports, it is a moment of
reckoning for Aung San Suu Kyi and her Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar. NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, a beacon of human rights
defended those accused of genocide. AUNG SAN SUU KYI, Myanmar Leader: Surely,
under the circumstances, genocidal intent cannot be the only hypothesis. NICK SCHIFRIN: Nobel Peace Prize laureate
and Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejected charges brought by the Republic of
Gambia that the Myanmar military committed genocide against Rohingya Muslims in northern
Myanmar. In August 2017, the Myanmar military unleashed
a reign of terror. The U.N. says soldiers torch Rohingya villages
and, in the aftermath, tortured men, killed indiscriminately, and carried out systemic
sexual violence, creating an untold number of victims of gang rape The Rohingya have faced decades of persecution
at the hands of the Myanmar military, but never on this scale. Hundreds of thousands refugees have fled to
neighboring Bangladesh. Refugee camps house almost a million people
in flimsy tents. Yesterday, the Gambia’s lawyer, Philippe Sands,
called the case stark. PHILIPPE SANDS, Human Rights Attorney, Gambian
Delegation: The evidence before you, frankly speaking, is overwhelming. The risk of destruction of the Rohingya group,
in part or in whole, is very real. In light of that evidence, it cannot reasonably
be argued that there is no further risk of genocidal acts. NICK SCHIFRIN: The Myanmar military’s operation
began in response to an armed Rohingya group’s attack. Today, Aung San Suu Kyi blamed militants for
starting the conflict, but did admit the military could have overstepped. AUNG SAN SUU KYI: It cannot be ruled out that
disproportionate force was used by members of the defense services in some cases, in
disregard of international humanitarian law. There may also have been failures to prevent
civilians from looting or destroying property after fighting or in abandoned villages. NICK SCHIFRIN: But she said the International
Court of Justice should defer to Myanmar’s sovereign courts. AUNG SAN SUU KYI: Under its 2008 constitution,
Myanmar has a military justice system. Criminal cases against soldiers or officers
for possible war crimes committed in Rakhine must be investigated and prosecuted by that
system WAI WAI NU, Rohingya Activist: The suffering
of the Rohingya has been unspeakable. NICK SCHIFRIN: Wai Wai Nu is a Rohingya activist
who was thrown in jail by Myanmar’s military. Today, she joined other protesters at The
Hague, and called the proceedings restorative. WAI WAI NU: There is a moment of acknowledgement,
and, like, presenting it to the court, and it has — it does actually mean a lot to the
victims and survivors. NICK SCHIFRIN: But as she watched Aung San
Suu Kyi leave the court, she says the woman whom she once supported had let her and so
many others down. WAI WAI NU: Well, it’s very painful to watch
the leader that we respect, the leader who used to be our role model, the democracy icon,
a Nobel peace laureate, defending the perpetrators of genocide. NICK SCHIFRIN: This week, the International
Court of Justice will decide whether the crimes are plausible and if it has jurisdiction,
and only then will the court launch a full trial, which could take years. So why is Aung San Suu Kyi at The Hague? To answer that question, I’m joined by John
Dale, professor at George Mason University, fellow at the Wilson Center, and an expert
on the politics and human rights in Myanmar. Thank you very much. Welcome to the “NewsHour.” JOHN DALE, George Mason University: Thank
you, Nick. NICK SCHIFRIN: To most of us, Aung San Suu
Kyi is an icon for democracy and human rights. And I have even talked to people who have
expressed a real horror about what she’s doing. But she’s also a politician. So, what domestic considerations does she
have motivating her to do what she’s doing? JOHN DALE: Well, she is walking through a
political mine field right now, tiptoeing, I’d say. There are three concerns, the world court,
of course, the ICJ. Then you have got Myanmar’s military and the
Myanmar electorate. So, you have the general elections in 2020
coming up. NICK SCHIFRIN: In Myanmar. JOHN DALE: In Myanmar. And she has to figure out how to differentiate
herself and the National League for Democracy, her party, from the military’s political party,
the Union Solidarity and Development Party. This decision to go to the ICJ is something
that the military didn’t want to see. They prefer to take an isolationist position
and ignore the ICJ. The fact that she’s decided to engage the
ICJ creates a little bit of political space for her to distinguish herself from the military. NICK SCHIFRIN: And does that mean that she
wants to gain a level of popularity, gain in the electorate, so that, next year, after
the election, she can try and enact some fundamental reforms by winning that election with a greater
majority? JOHN DALE: She has already gotten a little
bit of support. We have seen people show up at the airport
as she was leaving for The Hague. She has been suggesting constitutional reform
is necessary to further democracy in Myanmar. I don’t think much of the electorate is buying
that at this point. They have a long way to go. NICK SCHIFRIN: We heard her admitting some
soldiers could have used disproportionate force, is what she said. Is she trying to walk a fine line between
criticizing and exonerating the military? JOHN DALE: She is trying to buy some room
for some time, really, for the military to go through the process of trying these cases. She is trying to defend the idea that they
deserve time to try these cases in their own court first. NICK SCHIFRIN: The person who testified after
her, William Schabas of Middlesex University, one of the world’s leading experts on genocide,
argued that this wasn’t genocide, because even if there were 10,000 deaths, he says,
that is not a high enough percentage of one million Rohingya Muslims to prove the military
was trying to destroy Rohingyas. What’s your response to that? JOHN DALE: I’m not a legal expert on genocide,
but the evidence that points to systematic efforts on the part of the military and the
intentions that have been a part of that, communications that are coming from above,
would still be enough to push forward with a case like that. NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. sanctioned the Burmese
commander in chief and the deputy commander in chief. Can U.S. punishment like that change Myanmar’s
military behavior? JOHN DALE: In order to address the genocide
that’s taken place in Myanmar, we need a variety of tools. The case that’s before the International Criminal
Court, this new case in the International Court of Justice, sanctions, not only by the
United States, but internationally, I think all of those tools are important, and really
takes all of them working together to have a shot at trying to change behavior in Myanmar. So I would welcome those sanctions. Those sanction by themselves, not so much,
but I would say that’s true of any one of these tools. NICK SCHIFRIN: John Dale of George Mason University
and the Wilson Center, thank you very much. JOHN DALE: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Britain goes to the polls tomorrow
in what’s billed as the most important general election since the end of World War II, and
Brexit is at the heart of the election. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson
needs a clear majority in Parliament to force through a deal, which will enable Britain
to leave the European Union at the end of next month. But, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant
reports, doubts about Johnson’s character and that of his main opponent, Jeremy Corbyn,
are troubling British voters. MALCOLM BRABANT: Never one to shy away from
an eye-catching stunt, Boris Johnson rammed home his core pledge. He’s appealing for a parliamentary majority
to honor the 2016 referendum on European membership, which narrowly favored leaving the E.U. Against expectations, in the fall, Johnson
reached a deal with the European Union. It’s designed to avoid a chaotic Brexit, but
he fears the election tomorrow may not yield the numbers needed to push the agreement through. BORIS JOHNSON, British Prime Minister: We
have just got to get Brexit done. And, you know, you’re asking me to contemplate
something pretty appalling, in my view. I don’t see any alternative but a working
majority to deliver it. MALCOLM BRABANT: Johnson’s chief opponent,
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, is promising the most radical socialist program for generations. Corbyn insists Johnson can’t get Brexit done. JEREMY CORBYN, Leader, Labor Party: That claim
is a fraud on the British people. His sellout deal will be just the beginning
of years of drawn-out, bogged-down negotiations and broken promises. MALCOLM BRABANT: If Johnson is to succeed,
his party must win districts like Canterbury, southeast of London. For nearly 200 years, this was a Conservative
stronghold. But in the referendum, the district voted
to remain in the E.U. and, at the last election two years ago, the fortress fell to the Labor
Party. Attorney Anna Firth is fighting to wrestle
back control of Canterbury. ANNA FIRTH, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate:
What most people, the vast majority, are saying to me on the doorstep is, whether they voted
leave or remain, they just want us to move on. They want the gridlock to be finished, they
want the agony to be finished, they want some resolution. MALCOLM BRABANT: The incumbent is Labor’s
Rosie Duffield, who believes Brexit would be disastrous. ROSIE DUFFIELD, British Parliament Member:
We’re right next to Europe. We’re closer to Europe than we are some English
cities. And we’re dependent on our relationship with
Europe, for our tourist trade, for the university, for our research programs, all kinds of things. And it’s really important for me to keep fighting
for that. MALCOLM BRABANT: Duffield is benefiting from
the breakdown of traditional tribal allegiances. Lifelong Conservative Joe Egerton has switched
sides. He complains the party no longer represents
a more benevolent, tolerant conservatism. JOE EGERTON, Former Conservative Campaigner:
The Conservative Party today has become the Brexit party. It is not the party I joined. It is a strongly anti-European party. MALCOLM BRABANT: Opinion polls have consistently
given Boris Johnson’s Conservatives a significant lead. But Johnson is not being complacent. In the last few days, Johnson has been fishing
for votes in traditional Labor Party constituencies that are now in play because they favor Brexit. He’s promising to upgrade public services
to win over people who would never normally vote Conservative. BORIS JOHNSON: We have a vision of a United
Kingdom. Jeremy Corbyn would divide our kingdom. And I can tell you this: We can do all of
this as one-nation Conservatives, whilst not putting up your taxes. MALCOLM BRABANT: Jeremy Corbyn’s key emotional
weapon is Britain’s free National Health Service. Its stresses were emphasized this week with
a story about a 4-year-old boy being treated on a hospital floor. Despite repeated denials, Corbyn has accused
the Conservatives of plotting to sell off the Health Service to American big pharma
companies. JEREMY CORBYN: Boris Johnson really wants
a no-deal Brexit straight into the arms of Donald Trump and a trade deal with them. And it’s very clear to me that trade deal
with the United States, that trade deal would put all of our public services at risk. MALCOLM BRABANT: Political analysts like Jo
Phillips believe this is the most crucial election since World War II. JO PHILLIPS, Political Analyst: I think trust
is the biggest single issue in this election, above and beyond Brexit. It’s one of the most divisive and better elections,
I think, that we have ever seen in this country. MALCOLM BRABANT: In a series of campaign videos,
Labor is tugging at the heartstrings. WOMAN: There’s so much poverty and suffering. And our society’s crumbling. MALCOLM BRABANT: Labor is planning to re-nationalize
Britain’s railways, along with utilities like water and power. It’s promising to bridge the gap between prosperous
and poor by extracting more tax from society’s upper echelons. But the Institute for Fiscal Studies has dismissed
the Christmas gifts of both Labor and Conservative as not credible. JO PHILLIPS: Jeremy Corbyn comes across as
a rather avuncular, pleasant, elderly gentleman you could trust with your life. JEREMY CORBYN: “Jeremy Corbyn isn’t some kind
of kindly magic grandpa. Quite the opposite in fact.” Wow. JO PHILLIPS: Unfortunately, I think we know
that the people who are pulling his puppet strings are extremely hard-left militants. Boris Johnson is a showman. That’s why he’s attractive to very many people. He’s got a good turn of phrase. He’s very jolly. He’s very rambunctious. He doesn’t want to be held to account. MALCOLM BRABANT: Unlike every other political
leader, Johnson refused to submit to a grilling from one of British television’s toughest
interviewers. Johnson’s bid for a majority is threatened
by Britain’s former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. He was among 21 Conservative lawmakers purged
from the party for rebelling over Brexit. At his riverside constituency, Grieve is relying
on voters like this academic, who was unwilling to give his surname. ANGUS, Voter: You only have to go back through
Mr. Johnson’s, how shall I put it, very colorful career, and you will find that I’d sooner
trust Al Capone. DOMINIC GRIEVE, British Parliamentary Candidate:
I’m afraid I find him completely untrustworthy. He has a long and very detailed record of
telling outright lies whenever it suits him. MALCOLM BRABANT: Jeremy Corbyn is also distrusted. He’s been accused of sympathizing with terrorist
groups such as the IRA and Hamas. Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has
condemned Corbyn as unfit for high office. The Labor Party is being investigated by Britain’s
Equality and Human Rights Commission over allegations of institutional anti-Semitism. One complainant from the Jewish Labor movement
reportedly listed 22 examples of abuse at a party meeting, where he was called a child
killer, Zio scum and a Tory Jew. In Johnson’s district West of London, one
voice encapsulated the national air of fatigue. LYNNE O’LEARY, Voter: I just feel that it’s
probably one of the worst times ever in British politics. And we’re at a situation where everybody just
seems to be fighting for themselves, instead of sort of working collectively to do the
best thing for the country. MALCOLM BRABANT: Britain’s voters are undoubtedly
punch-drunk from politics and three-and-a-half years of waiting for Brexit. The big question is whether, despite his flaws,
they will back Johnson sufficiently to deliver a knockout blow. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant
in Southern England. JUDY WOODRUFF: States around the country continue
to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes and other vaping products. Much of that is in response to the deaths
and illnesses that began coming to light this summer. But even as lawmakers are trying to determine
what to do, researchers are still trying to better understand the cause of these illnesses. Miles O’Brien has been looking into that very
question for our regular series on the Leading Edge of science. MILES O’BRIEN: Like at least five million
young Americans, 18-year-old Adam Hergenreder started vaping electronic cigarettes two years
ago, because everyone else was doing it. He loved all the flavors. ADAM HERGENREDER, Former E-Cigarette User:
Mint tasted just like a mint. Mango tasted just like a mango. Cucumber tasted just like a cucumber. So I didn’t really know that it had nicotine
in it. MILES O’BRIEN: It is an extremely potent punch
of nicotine. He preferred the strong pods made by Juul. Each carries as much of the highly addictive
drug as a pack of cigarettes. E-cigarettes, or vape pens, use a battery
to heat a coil, which turns a nicotine infused liquid into an aerosol. Before too long, Adam was inhaling a pod-and-a-half
a day. ADAM HERGENREDER: I was hooked. I mean, I knew I was addicted, but I just
couldn’t quit. MILES O’BRIEN: Eventually, the nicotine rush
from Juul wasn’t enough for him. So he bought some black market vape pens containing
cannabis oil. And, soon, he was enjoying head rushes from
both nicotine and THC,the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. ADAM HERGENREDER: The Juul lasted about 10
seconds. The THC product lasted about an hour. That’s why I switched over to that. MILES O’BRIEN: But at the end of August, he
got sick, very sick. ADAM HERGENREDER: I started to experience
some tremors. And then that was for about a day. And then the next three days, I started throwing
up violently, again, throughout the whole day. MILES O’BRIEN: He ended up here at the Advocate
Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois. Pulmonologist Stephen Amesbury showed me Adam’s
initial chest X-ray. All that haziness is inflammation. When you see a 17- or an 18-year-old with
a chest X-ray like that, what is the next step? What do you do as a doctor? DR. STEPHEN AMESBURY, Advocate Condell Medical
Center: Many months ago, the consideration would primarily be pneumonia or some possible
toxins or if they have taken some drugs. Nowadays, in light of all the vaping illnesses,
that’s one of the first questions we ask young people when they come in with breathing problems. MILES O’BRIEN: Adam had EVALI, or E-cigarette
or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury. The condition emerged in Illinois and Wisconsin
in April. As of December 3, it had sickened nearly 2,300
mostly young people nationwide. Half of them, like Adam, end up in intensive
care, many attached to ventilators. One young person required a lung transplant. And 48 have died. Adam came close. It’s killed some people. Could it have killed him? DR. STEPHEN AMESBURY: If he hadn’t come in, and
just tried to stick it out at home a few more days, absolutely. MILES O’BRIEN: All those young people with
very sick lungs triggered a series of investigations by state health authorities and the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. REAR ADM. DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention: What we know now is that the vast majority of individuals have a history
of using vaping products that contain THC. MILES O’BRIEN: Anne Schuchat is the principal
deputy director. REAR ADM. DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT: So, our laboratory tested 29
samples from 29 patients from 10 different states around the country and looked at 12
different chemical tests. And we found 29 of 29 patient specimens had
vitamin E acetate. MILES O’BRIEN: Vitamin E acetate, the nutritional
supplement is inexpensive, unregulated and widely available. It’s fine to ingest or use topically, but
when inhaled, the sticky substance interferes with normal lung functions. It nevertheless became a favored choice in
the black market as a way to dilute pure cannabis oil, which has a similar color and viscosity. Testing labs in states where cannabis use
is legal analyze marijuana for its potency and screen for contaminants, heavy metals,
pesticides and mold. But, before this crisis, they weren’t looking
for vitamin E acetate. MICHAEL KAHN, President, MCR Labs: We don’t
have screen for everything. We’re not “Star Trek.” We can screen for specific compounds. MILES O’BRIEN: Michael Kahn is president and
founder of MCR Labs in Framingham, Massachusetts. As EVALI emerged, he and his team quickly
developed a way to screen for vitamin E acetate. MICHAEL KAHN: It was an immediate public health
concern to us, so we offered it for free, and we still do, to anybody who needs to bring
in samples just to make sure they’re safe. We have received 56 samples from regular walk-in
citizens. MILES O’BRIEN: They found nine of those cannabis
oil samples were tainted with vitamin E acetate. MICHAEL KAHN: Every instance of vitamin E
acetate was from somebody who walked in, not through the marijuana establishment regulated
market. MILES O’BRIEN: But the EVALI case is still
not closed. Twenty percent of patients afflicted do not
admit vaping THC. There is evidence other substances could pose
a danger as well. And so some urgent research continues. Pulmonologist Jeff Gotts is an assistant professor
at the University of California, San Francisco. He has built a device that systematically
exposes the aerosols from e-cigarettes to cells cultured from donor human lungs rejected
for transplantation. The work is ongoing, but, so far, cells exposed
for an hour a day, three days in a row, to the chemicals used to dissolve nicotine in
Juul e-cigarettes show preliminary signs of damage. DR. JEFF GOTTS, University of California, San
Francisco: It may be the case that this had been going on for a while in different forms
in a low level, and we’re going to be able to see a lot better what the real incidence
of disease from all of these exposures is now that we have everybody’s attention. MILES O’BRIEN: First touted as a smoking cessation
tool, e-cigarettes got very popular very quickly, with virtually no regulatory oversight, and
no research on its implications to human health. DR. JEFF GOTTS: In many senses, it is a horrifying
experiment that people are performing on themselves with these different inhalational exposures,
that we have absolutely no sense of their long-term safety. MILES O’BRIEN: With THC vaping oil, not only
is there the same lack of safety data, but there are extra daunting hurdles to filling
the research gap. The federal government still considers marijuana
a controlled substance, in the same legal category as heroin and LSD. It means scientists can only procure marijuana
for research from one federally sanctioned site in Mississippi. And it doesn’t produce the sort of cannabis
oil products people are inhaling. To what extent is this a result of the confusion
and the discontinuity in all the laws and regulations across this country? KATE PHILLIPS, Cannabis Community Care and
Research Network: Oh, I think it’s a direct result. MILES O’BRIEN: Kate Phillips is director of
education for the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network in Massachusetts. KATE PHILLIPS: We have an industry that’s
supported by the state, and then everything after that’s hands up. So, when a problem like this happens, everyone’s
scattered, and nobody really knows who’s the point person to go to, who needs to collaborate,
who needs to lead on this. And, again, it’s up to the companies. It’s up to the public health officials in
each state. And that’s where we got to where we are today. MILES O’BRIEN: Meanwhile, the vaping trend
keeps growing, especially among teens. Public health experts worry, if no action
is taken, this health crisis will only get worse in the short and long term. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Miles O’Brien
in Gurney, Illinois. JUDY WOODRUFF: Such important reporting. And that is 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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