JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I’m Judy Woodruff.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: Deadly mudslides
slam into Southern California, leaving rescuers
to search for survivors amid the destruction.
Then, I sit down with two U.S. senators from
both sides of the aisle to discuss bipartisan
efforts to protect future elections against
AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), Minnesota: Forty-two states
haven’t upgraded their election equipment
in over a decade.
And Russia knows it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And after being hit with extreme
winter flooding, Boston plans for the promise
of more storms to come.
But will it be enough?
NASSER BRAHIM, Senior Climate Change Planner,
Kleinfelder: In the future, when we have three
feet of sea level rise, this is going to happen
on, let’s say, a monthly basis.
So this is really a snapshot of what the future
looks like if we don’t get our emissions under
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
JUDY WOODRUFF: They’re still digging tonight
in Southern California, where huge mudslides
wiped out at least 100 homes early Tuesday.
Authorities have confirmed 15 deaths.
Another two dozen people are missing in a
disaster zone that covers 30 square miles.
Home after home destroyed, filled to the roofs
with mud or ripped from foundations.
WOMAN: I would say it’s apocalyptic.
I had no idea that the devastation was like
JUDY WOODRUFF: Splintered remains and a river
of mud now cover much of Montecito.
The small, coastal community in Santa Barbara
County suffered the worst of the damage.
People say they woke in the middle of the
night Monday to the roar of a torrential rainstorm.
It pounded some parts of the region with more
than an inch of rain an hour.
WOMAN: It sounded like a hurricane or freight
train coming through.
I can’t — can’t quite believe it.
Is that a house behind us?
Is that a house?
JUDY WOODRUFF: The deluge overwhelmed the
nearby hills that had been burned bare of
vegetation just weeks ago by the largest wildfire
in California’s history.
Soon, fast-moving mudflows carrying large
boulders tore through the wealthy neighborhood
They had been ordered to evacuate, but many
refused or left too late.
MAUREEN CLAFFEY, California: I panicked.
I mean, they were both asleep.
And I was in my boots, and I just said there’s
mud in the driveway, there’s mud in the driveway.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, rescue crews kept digging
through mud and debris in search of survivors.
More than 50 people have been rescued so far.
Many, including this family of five, were
airlifted out, plucked from their rooftops
by the Coast Guard.
And crews from the Santa Barbara County Fire
Department pulled a 14-year-old girl from
her destroyed home in Montecito on Tuesday.
She had been trapped there for hours.
Robert Riskin was still looking for his mother
late yesterday as he searched through her
ROBERT RISKIN, California: It’s my mom.
And I’m fighting with all my heart to find
I have just been clawing through the mud.
And it’s hard to hold hope when the mud is
JUDY WOODRUFF: It is believed hundreds are
still trapped or missing around Montecito.
The storm also triggered mudflows and flash
flooding across parts of nearby Los Angeles
and Ventura counties this week, submerging
highways and cars.
Officials say there’s no telling how long
the region’s recovery will take, as crews
try to clear away mud and debris.
MAN: You’re going to follow my treads, OK?
You got six to eight to 12 inches of mud out
JUDY WOODRUFF: For now, travel in the area
is near impossible.
Parts of the coastal 101 Highway are still
closed, covered in several feet of mud.
For more on rescue and recovery efforts in
the flood and slide areas, and how residents
are coping, we turn to Sharon McNary of Southern
California Public Radio.
She is in Montecito, and she joins us by phone.
So, Sharon, tell us — thank you for joining
Tell us, exactly where are you?
SHARON MCNARY, Southern California Public
Radio: I’m on Highway 192, which is that dividing
line between the voluntary and the mandatory
evacuation, just on the outskirts of the mud
And there’s just a ton of activity going on
here, including some military helicopters
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what is it, Sharon, about
this mud that is making it so difficult to
SHARON MCNARY: When you get a heavy rain on
burned soil, the lower layer bakes hard, and
all the topsoil on top of it gets all this
water in it and that makes it slow down.
It also makes it sit in a very viscous, watery
layer, and it’s like the sort of mud that
will suck the boots right off your feet.
Also, I’m sure that with 24 people still unaccounted
for, they’re being very careful how they dig.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Sharon, were people, were
these towns in that area prepared for this?
SHARON MCNARY: I would say that the government
did as much preparation as they could, but
they had so little time between the end of
the fires and the beginning of the rain, it
was probably difficult to put enough protection
The citizenry, people had the mandatory evacuation
orders above Highway 192, where I am.
Below, it was voluntary, and people had been
out of their homes for nearly a month.
So you had evacuations setting in, and people
might have taken comfort that this is an evacuation
warning, not a mandatory evacuation.
And that might have accounted for some people
being in their house when it was unsafe to
JUDY WOODRUFF: And these people, as you say,
have had so much to deal with.
So perhaps they didn’t take these warnings
SHARON MCNARY: I think it’s more that people
are very unfamiliar with what happens when
you have a mud debris flow.
You can be in a place that looks perfectly
safe, that looks kind of flat.
You cannot imagine what it’s like to be at
the bottom of a funnel of literally acre-feet
of watery mud, and it comes very, very fast.
I was in a mud flow yesterday and it went
from a wash channel being six inches of water
to being 10 feet of water full of boulders.
You just don’t understand how fast it can
come on you.
So, I don’t think people were careless.
I think they lacked understanding of how serious
JUDY WOODRUFF: I think really hard for people
to imagine who are not part of it.
And just very quickly, any estimates on how
long this is going to take, this rescue and
SHARON MCNARY: I have not heard one.
I can’t imagine it would be any less than
just days to dig it out.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Sharon McNary, Southern
California Public Radio, we thank you.
SHARON MCNARY: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: President
Trump sharply criticized a federal judge who
blocked his decision to end the DACA program.
It protects young immigrants brought here
illegally from deportation.
In a tweet today, Mr. Trump said, “It just
shows everyone how broken and unfair our court
Federal immigration agents showed up today
at nearly 100 7-Eleven convenience stores
They ran checks on employees’ immigration
status and arrested 21 people.
U.S. officials say that it was the largest
such operation since President Trump took
office, and they say — quote — “the first
There is word that President Trump will not
reimpose broad-based sanctions on Iran, at
least, not yet.
The Associated Press and others are reporting
that he is expected to announce the decision
by a Friday deadline.
That’s despite his criticism of the 2015 nuclear
But the reports say he will restore some targeted
sanctions on specific businesses and individuals.
A new diplomatic effort on North Korea appeared
to gain momentum today.
Both President Trump and South Korea’s President
Moon Jae-in said they are open to direct talks
with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
In Seoul, Moon said that Mr. Trump’s tough
stance led to yesterday’s North-South talks,
and could yet pave the way to a summit with
MOON JAE-IN, South Korean President (through
translator): I think President Trump deserves
big credit for bringing the inter-Korean talks.
I keep myself open to any meeting, including
the summit with North Korea, if it’s helpful
for an improvement of South-North relations
or a settlement of the North Korean nuclear
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Washington, President Trump
welcomed yesterday’s North-South meeting and
said — quote — “Who knows where it leads?”
The White House said that U.S. talks with
the North are possible, at the appropriate
time, under the right circumstances.
Senate Democrats are out with a report that
warns Russia is intensifying efforts to undermine
democracy in the U.S. and Europe.
It argues President Trump has offered no response,
and declares — quote — “Never before has
a U.S. president so clearly ignored such a
grave and growing threat to U.S. national
We will discuss election security with two
leading senators from both parties later in
Another veteran of Congress says that he will
not seek reelection.
California Republican Representative Darrell
Issa announced today that he will retire after
He had once chaired the House Oversight Committee,
and was a dogged critic of the Obama administration.
So far, 35 Republicans and 16 Democrats have
announced that they will leave Congress or
seek other offices.
New York City today sued five oil giants over
The suit named BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips,
ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city wants to
recoup billions of dollars in costs related
to climate change.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial
average lost 16 points to close at 25369.
The Nasdaq rose 10 points, and the S&P 500
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: two leading
conservatives react to the fallout from the
explosive book “Fire and Fury”; bipartisan
efforts to protect the next election after
last year’s Russian interference; a vulnerable
Boston tries to protect itself from additional
extreme flooding; and much more.
We begin tonight with politics.
After holding a Cabinet meeting this morning,
President Trump joined Norway’s prime minister,
Erna Solberg, for a joint press conference
in the East Room.
The president took questions from reporters,
but wouldn’t say if he would sit for an interview
in the Russia investigation without condition
if special counsel Robert Mueller asked.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
It’s a Democrat hoax that was brought up as
an excuse for losing an election that, frankly,
the Democrats should’ve won, because they
have such a tremendous advantage in the Electoral
So it was brought up for that reason.
But it has been determined that there is no
collusion, and by virtually everybody.
So we will see what happens.
QUESTION: Would you be open to…
DONALD TRUMP: We will see what happens.
I mean, certainly, I will see what happens,
but when they have no collusion and nobody’s
found any collusion at any level, it seems
unlikely that you would even have an interview.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This appears to contradict
what Mr. Trump had said earlier this year.
In June, he told reporters that he was — quote
— “100 percent” willing to testify under
oath to special Robert Mueller about conversations
he held with former FBI Director James Comey.
In that same answer today, Mr. Trump also
brought up the FBI’s investigation into Hillary
Clinton’s e-mail server.
DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton had an interview
where she wasn’t sworn in, she wasn’t given
the oath, they didn’t take notes, they didn’t
And it was done on the Fourth of July weekend.
That’s perhaps ridiculous.
A lot of people looked upon that being a very
JUDY WOODRUFF: And while it is true that Mrs.
Clinton wasn’t under oath or recorded, notes
were taken, and they were released by the
To sort through the president’s remarks today,
as well as the continued fallout from a scathing
new book, I’m here with Matt Schlapp, chairman
of the American Conservative Union.
He also served as White House political director
for President George W. Bush.
And Chris Buskirk, radio talk show host and
editor of the online journal American Greatness.
Thank you both for being here.
We wanted to hear from both of you tonight.
We have been hearing a lot of criticism of
the president lately.
We had former Vice President Biden on the
program last week.
We interviewed Michael Wolff about his book
We want to hear your perspective.
But — and I want to start, Matt Schlapp,
by asking what we just heard from the president.
How much is this Russia investigation defining
his first year in office?
MATT SCHLAPP, Former White House Director
of Political Affairs: Well, I think it took
up a lot of the time and a lot of the coverage.
I think, initially, the White House didn’t
exactly do helpful things, but I think, as
the year went along, most Democrats I talk
to, Judy, believe that there really was no
evidence that was ever presented or leaked
— and, by the way, this whole investigation,
there’s always been a lot of leaks.
And there really — there doesn’t seem to
be any hard evidence that there is any collusion.
Most Democrats I know have moved on to trying
to attack clearly his mental fitness.
That’s now the new theme.
They have moved on to these other themes,
and they’re hoping special counsel can snag
the president on anything.
In the end, I think the American people are
If he doesn’t find evidence of the underlying
charge of collusion, then I don’t think the
rest of it is going to matter.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Chris Buskirk, has the president
let this Russia thing get under his skin too
CHRIS BUSKIRK, AmericanGreatness.org: No,
I don’t think so.
He has had to sort of thrust and parry with
the media throughout 2017, even into 2018.
And there’s been times, of course, when people
have said shouldn’t have reacted this way,
he overreacted that way.
I think that’s not who Donald Trump is.
But this is an attempt to undermine and to
overturn the last election.
And so Donald Trump’s senses that.
He says, I’m going to push back on this.
This is not only on attack on me.
It’s an attack on the office and on the process,
so I’m going to go back at this full force.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, of course, as you know
Republican senators, including James Lankford,
whom I interviewed today at the Capitol, said
that there are real questions about what the
Russians did and that this investigation is
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, even Republicans are saying
that, is my point.
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Yes.
And I think people like Devin Nunes have been
on this Russia thing since before the last
And making sure that Russia is not doing things
that they ought not do in our elections is
something everybody agrees on.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, well, let’s move
to the book “Fire and Fury.”
MATT SCHLAPP: What book are you talking about?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Not that there hasn’t been
a lot of conversation about it.
But, Matt, Michael Wolff has some pretty strong
criticism of the president from people inside
of the White House, calling him everything
from an idiot to a dope.
MATT SCHLAPP: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Much of it is coming from Steve
Bannon, but it’s coming others as well.
Is it your contention that everything in the
book is wrong?
MATT SCHLAPP: No, but the hard part is this.
So, I chair the A.C. which puts on CPAC.
There’s an entire chapter in this book on
He never called me.
He didn’t call anybody on our team.
He didn’t call anybody else who was involved
He has tons of factual errors in that chapter
He says that General Kelly has a job that
he does have.
He says that Secretary Ross has a job that
he doesn’t have.
He just gets error after error.
And, Judy, I think you have to ask yourself,
even all the journalists who are covering
it, which is, if there’s this many errors
on little things, maybe he was also sloppy
on big things.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I did talk to him.
He acknowledges there are some errors.
But his point is that the bulk of the book
reflects genuinely, Chris Buskirk, what people
told him after living — he basically lived
in the White House six or eight months.
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Yes, that’s the odd part about
the whole book, leaving aside the contents
of the book, was why he was there for so long.
I don’t think that what Michael Wolff was
setting out to do was to do a piece of serious
history or even a piece of serious journalism.
This was a way to sell books.
And so you make it as sensational as possible.
And he has said it in his — in the dedication
to the book, that, well, you know, you can’t
expect it all to be accurate, that I’m just
putting it together the way I understood it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one of the outcomes from
this book, certainly, Matt Schlapp, is the
departure from Trump world of Steve Bannon,
who was the president’s chief strategist.
MATT SCHLAPP: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: He was at the president’s side.
He was, in many ways, I think, the tribune
of the meaning of Trumpism.
I think we’re left wondering, what is the
difference now between Trumpism and Bannonism?
And what now is gone from those voices around
MATT SCHLAPP: Steve Bannon is a very talented
guy, but over the course of the last several
months, it has been painful to watch him make
very big mistakes.
One of the mistakes that he made here, obviously
letting Michael Wolff into the White House,
if he did, talking to him too aggressively
or too casually, and in leaving the inference
that he believed things that I know he doesn’t
believe in conversations I have had with Steve.
He doesn’t believe, for instance, the Don
Jr. is a traitor.
These are things that I think that either
he was misquoted on or he got sloppy on.
And so I think that when it comes to what
conservatives and Trump supporters, where
they are, where are their hearts, they’re
very happy with what the president’s done
in his first year.
And there’s no separation.
This will have no impact on the support of
President Trump’s agenda by those who supported
him in the election.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think the absence
of Steve Bannon means for President Trump?
CHRIS BUSKIRK: I’ll tell you, I think that
it strengthens Donald Trump’s hand as president.
This is Donald Trump’s party who won the election.
And the fact that there’s not going to be
what I have called Avignon Papacy, there’s
not another power structure that is outside
of the White House, I think that’s good for
It allows Republicans to have the serious
debates that Republicans need to have about
policy and about ideas.
That’s good, but they always know that the
head of the party is the president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But who now articulates what
the president believes?
Because one of the things that comes through
in this book is that Bannon was — Steve Bannon
was there to basically express a vision for
That’s not there anymore.
MATT SCHLAPP: Well, I never heard Steve Bannon
compared to a pope, so that was interesting.
MATT SCHLAPP: But I also think it’s a mistake
— Donald Trump is his own best spokesperson.
And I think people assume who don’t think
he has the intelligence or the political experience,
they assume someone has to feed him these
And I knew Donald Trump before he was president.
He’s been talking about these issues for a
very long time.
Nobody really feeds him.
So, I don’t think he needs a guy like Steve
there to tell him what to think.
What he actually needs is people around him
to help him organize the process of government
to get it done, and that’s what they now have
JUDY WOODRUFF: Chris Buskirk, do conservatives
believe Donald Trump is conservative?
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Conservatives believe that
— some of them — they do now.
Conservatives believe, though, that Donald
Trump is doing something that’s been necessary
for a long time, which is updating what it
means to be a conservative.
Ronald Reagan did the same thing in the ’80s,
brought in a set of new policies that upgraded
Donald Trump has brought in new set of ideas
and a new set of policies that still go back
to the same principles, those first things,
but is talking about policies that are relevant
in 2016, ’17, ’18.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as head of the American
Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp, what do
conservatives think about the president?
He may not withdraw from the Iran nuclear
deal after all.
He’s going to Davos, Switzerland, to be with
a group of people who believe in a lot of
globalist — a globalist philosophy.
MATT SCHLAPP: We call it globaloney, OK?
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, seriously, who is this
MATT SCHLAPP: It’s the same guy.
And the thing is, is this, which is Donald
Trump can play in a lot of different milieus.
And that was always well understood.
The question is, can he be successful in politics?
And I think where the conservatives are, Judy,
mostly is, they felt like there had to be
a lot of abrupt change to the order of things
in Washington in order to have a chance to
And he’s doing that and doing that effectively.
They are happy with what he’s done on Iran.
They are happy with what he’s done on climate
They know he is going to hobnob with some
global elite at Davos.
It probably makes them a little nervous.
That press conference the other day in the
Cabinet Room probably made them a little bit
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to ask you about
that, because, Chris Buskirk, the president
is there talking about DACA, the dreamers,
and he’s saying, sure, we can do a dreamers
deal and worry about the rest of immigration
You saw the conservatives in the room say,
wait a minute, what about the wall, border
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Well, and good for them.
That’s what they should have been doing there.
I think Donald Trump has been very clear.
And he’s clarified some of those statements.
He wants a wall.
There’s nothing that is more associated with
Trump’s candidacy than build the wall.
That was the phrase.
I don’t think that has changed.
I think that what he was doing there was a
bit of political theater, but a little — a
bit of negotiating, too.
We have got to see what the final legislation
And, of course, that is going to come from
those very senators and representatives who
were in the room.
The conservatives in that room, it’s up to
them to write a bill that is consistent with
what the president has outlined.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Prediction quickly from both
Matt Schlapp, what is — how is this second
year of the Trump presidency going to differ
from year one?
MATT SCHLAPP: It’s going to be much more orderly.
He starts out the year with a team that feels
like it’s starting to hit its stride.
They’re working more as a team in the White
They’re working better with Republicans on
So, I think what you will see is less unforced
And it started off with some bipartisanship.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But we’re reading, Chris Buskirk,
a lot of people in the White House and the
administration are leaving.
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Yes.
No, that’s true.
But that’s OK.
The key players are there.
And the key player always, of course, is the
one who is sitting behind the Resolution Desk.
There are people who are now coming into the
There is a structure there.
There is order there that wasn’t there a year
And what’s going to happen in 2018 is, we’re
going to see people come together both in
the White House and in Congress and focus
on the election in November.
I think that’s going to be something that
brings them together and unifies them in a
way we didn’t see a year ago.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It will focus a lot of minds.
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Chris Buskirk, Matt Schlapp,
thank you both.
MATT SCHLAPP: Thanks.
CHRIS BUSKIRK: Thanks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.
With primary voting set to begin in just two
months, a bipartisan effort to secure the
nation’s voting system is under way on Capitol
Hill, led by Senators Amy Klobuchar and James
Lankford, Democrat and Republican.
I spoke with them on Capitol Hill today about
their effort, about President Trump’s call
for Republicans to take control of the Russia
investigation, and about immigration negotiations.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator James Lankford,
thank you very much for joining us.
I first just want to make sure my eyes don’t
deceive me, that there is actually a Republican
and a Democrat sitting next to each other
for an interview.
JAMES LANKFORD (R), Oklahoma: That actually
does happen more often than is captured by
AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), Minnesota: It does, and
even from Oklahoma and Minnesota, so there
JUDY WOODRUFF: We appreciate your talking
Let’s begin by talking about the legislation
that the two of you are backing having to
do with election security.
Normally, Senator Lankford, people think about
ballots and how they’re counted.
Why is that a priority right now?
JAMES LANKFORD: It’s a priority because, in
2016, the Russians tried to interfere in our
We watched them try to be able to probe through
different election systems, to be able to
try to reach out to different secretaries
of state offices in different states, and
to be able to determine how they’re doing
voter registration, what voting machines are
We should take that as a good fair warning
that we should be aware that there are outside
entities that do mean to do us harm and try
to interfere in our democracy, and we should
be better prepared for that in the future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Senator Klobuchar, what
are you trying to do with this bill?
AMY KLOBUCHAR: We’re trying to help the states
shore up their election equipment.
This was basically a cyber-attack from Russia,
and we know that.
Our intelligence agencies have very strongly,
under both President Obama and President Trump,
made that clear that they tried to get into
Twenty-one states, including the two of our
states, there were attempts made to hack the
So, what we do with the bill is this, first
of all, better sharing of information.
It’s unbelievable to me that it took months
for state election officials to find out that
a foreign government had tried to hack in.
So, this bill says, you have got to share
that information, have someone designated
in the states that can get this classified
information, and, secondly, giving them some
resources to scan for vulnerabilities, to
get the right election equipment, and also
backup paper ballots, which I think would
be very helpful for a lot of these states.
Forty-two states haven’t upgraded their election
equipment in over a decade, and Russia knows
JUDY WOODRUFF: I think, Senator Lankford,
a lot of people hear paper ballots, and they
are saying, wait a minute, that’s the way
it used to be.
JAMES LANKFORD: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you talking about going
back the way it used to be?
People are thinking hanging chads in Florida
JAMES LANKFORD: There’s a lot of varieties
Really, what we’re trying to do is say, we
should be able to audit an election, that
after the election is over, we should be able
If we find out that some outside entity was
trying to interfere in the election, everyone
will immediately back up and say, did they
So there has to be able to have a way to verify
So, it could be a paper ballot, an optical
It could be a digital machine, as some of
them have now, that you punch in your ballot
and it prints a piece of paper to confirm,
is this what you really voted?
You push yes, and then it locks off a paper
ballot, as well as your electronic.
There are lots of ways to do it.
We just — we’re not telling the states how
to do it.
The states run their own elections.
We’re just saying there should be a way to
audit an election after it’s over to make
sure that we can verify, if they were attacked
in a cyber-means, there is a way to be able
to verify we actually have an accurate result.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re, what, just a couple
of months away from the first primary election
voting in this country, just 10 months away
from the general election, the midterms.
Can this happen in time for it to make a difference?
JAMES LANKFORD: No, not for 2018.
That’s the unfortunate part.
There’s a lot of work that has gone into it
already to be able to evaluate what DHS is
currently doing to be able to work with states
to be able to help them.
We are encouraging them to have engagement
now, which they have engaged.
DHS has been good about engaging with our
states and providing whatever resources and
help that they can in communication.
We just think there’s more to be done.
But the states already have their election
equipment right now for the 2018 election.
And they’re not going to change it right before
But we can be prepared for the next presidential
election and have it in place and we can start
AMY KLOBUCHAR: One point, yes, that the two
things that could change immediately if we
can get this bill done, either in the omnibus
or very quickly, would be, one, they could
get some money for screening for vulnerabilities
of their existing equipment, and, two, as
James just pointed out, the sharing of information
and just putting the stamp of Congress on
this and saying, you must do this, you have
got to share this information, and it has
to happen now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it sounds like bottom line
is that the state election systems are vulnerable
this year to Russian hacking or hacking from
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Twenty-one states.
I mean, that’s a lot.
JAMES LANKFORD: Yes, we don’t necessarily
know the level of engagement.
Obviously, 21 states were probed.
Most of those states, the Russians were not
successful in getting through to the system.
They were trying to get into the system.
Oklahoma is one of those they were trying
to get into.
They weren’t able to actually penetrate the
The important thing is, we’re better prepared
and that aware that we’re not just trying
to be able to guard and protect security information
after it’s over.
We have to be prepared beforehand.
Our states will be better prepared the next
We want to make sure, though, that they are
actually better prepared.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But not completely safe from
interference this year.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, and we know, in Illinois,
they did get into the voter data.
But what — the information we have so far
is that this didn’t change votes, but they
simply attempted to get into the data.
And we don’t want it to go the next step in
the next election.
And that’s why, remember, while we’re doing
this, the states are doing a lot of things
on their own, but this has to be a national
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re saying, this year,
states are vulnerable?
JAMES LANKFORD: States are vulnerable if they
don’t do the work that they need to do ahead
There are 12 states that cannot audit their
And that’s one of our challenges.
We don’t know vulnerabilities.
They may not be vulnerable at all, but if
there is a question after the fact, they can’t
audit their elections afterwards to verify
And we think that’s very important.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia, of course, a big part
of this conversation.
They were the ones behind what happened in
They are still active.
The president today is tweeting that the Russia
investigation, which is connected to this
in a way because the Russians ended up trying
to help his campaign, that that investigation,
he’s calling it the single greatest witch-hunt
in American history.
He’s calling on Republicans to finally take
control, in other words, get this over and
AMY KLOBUCHAR: First of all, I look at it
as a truth hunt.
And I — every time we get a question that
starts with “the president tweeted today,”
there’s a pause.
But, in this case, he has said this before
over and over, so this isn’t new news.
He said it’s a witch-hunt.
And I think it’s a truth hunt.
Mueller is someone that has been first been
appointed by a Republican president, has broad
support, and is simply trying to do his job.
And I think it’s important for this country
that we get to the bottom of what happened,
regardless of what the president tweets.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But when the president says
Republicans finally take control, how do you
JAMES LANKFORD: You know, I don’t know how
to be able to read that, what he means by
I would tell you I serve on the Intelligence
And my responsibility is to not try to be
a partisan in that, is to go after the facts
The facts need to go where the facts go.
We need to follow the facts wherever they
may go to be able to get out as many of those
out as we possibly can, to be able to run
down every lead, again, to be able to establish
by the end of this some sense of bipartisan
support, we have looked at everything, and
this is where we are now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One other issue I want to ask
you both about quickly, and that is immigration.
Senator Klobuchar, the president had kind
of a remarkable session at the White House
Senator Lankford was there.
But what I want to ask you is, the president
said at one point in that meeting that he
thought there should be movement direct to
This is the measures to protect young people
who came to the United States without documentation.
That should be dealt with, and then comprehensive
How did you interpret what he said?
AMY KLOBUCHAR: To me, the immediate emergency
is DACA because of these 800,000 kids that
97 percent of whom work and are in school
in this country.
And then you can go to comprehensive immigration
So I viewed it as positive.
JAMES LANKFORD: It has to be done with border
Now, even the president yesterday said he’s
not talking about a 2,000-mile wall.
But there are sections of it that we should
have authorization for.
Quite frankly, most are already authorized
There are 650 miles of wall that currently
exist that was authorized in 2006.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Klobuchar, is that
going to fly?
AMY KLOBUCHAR: I think there will be some
negotiation on border security.
It wouldn’t surprise me if there would be
something in there with border security.
But this wall along with the whole border,
there’s a number of Republicans who are opposed
There’s issues with that.
But what I found remarkable about yesterday
was just the openness to a discussion, but
this focus also on comprehensive reform.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are we going to see more Republicans
and Democrats working together on other issues?
JAMES LANKFORD: I think we should.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: We have a lot of fun doing
JAMES LANKFORD: Yes.
There’s a lot of areas of common ground.
And my great frustration right now in the
Senate is, we’re not voting on a lot of legislation.
We’re doing so many things on nominations
that are taking so long.
We’re not getting to anything on real voting
on other legislative issues.
There are so many issues of common ground
that we have that, if we had the opportunity
to be able to cover the floor, debate it out,
have a vote, they’d pass with 70, 80 votes.
But it’s just getting to the point that we
can start getting us back to voting again.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Pharmaceutical issues, the
price of prescription drugs, issues with apprenticeship,
there’s just so much we could doing.
And I would like to go there as well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we appreciate both you
sitting down to talk to us today.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: But we won’t talk about college
football vs. the Vikings right now.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: But the Vikings are doing really
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
Senator Klobuchar, Senator Lankford, thank
you both very much.
JAMES LANKFORD: Thank you.
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stay with us.
Coming up on the “NewsHour”: voter rights
come into question amid Ohio’s voter purge;
and using cameras to see how animals like
raccoons are impacted by urbanization.
But first, science correspondent Miles O’Brien
looks at how conditions during the recent
cold snap in the Eastern U.S. sometimes came
together in unfamiliar ways, and what one
city is doing to try to cope.
It’s the latest installment of Leading Edge,
our weekly science series.
MILES O’BRIEN: Surprising as it seemed, the
experts saw it coming, an epic nor’easter,
a full moon high tide and a rising sea, all
conspiring to swallow up swathes of Boston
with an icy cold winter flood.
It got wall-to-wall live attention on the
MAN: This was the one rescue that they had
to actually go through several hours ago here
at Atlantic and State.
MILES O’BRIEN: I met Nasser Brahim in the
same place on the Boston Waterfront near the
New England Aquarium.
NASSER BRAHIM, Senior Climate Change Planner,
Kleinfelder: Water was probably right around
up to here.
There was a little bit less than a foot of
flooding at the station entrances.
MILES O’BRIEN: Brahim is a senior climate
change planner for the engineering firm Kleinfelder
advising the city on ways to defend against
the impact of climate change.
He says the storm was a classic hundred-year
flooding event today, but a much more common
occurrence a century from now.
NASSER BRAHIM: In the future, when we have
three feet of sea level rise, this is going
to happen on, let’s say, a monthly basis.
So this is really a snapshot of what the future
looks like if we don’t get our emissions under
MILES O’BRIEN: For New Englanders, the term
nor’easter is familiar, but this time a new
moniker entered the popular lexicon.
LESLIE HUDSON, MyRadar: It’s called this bombogenesis,
and it’s basically a bomb cyclone or a snow
hurricane, snow cyclone.
There’s all kind of names for this thing.
MILES O’BRIEN: That’s Leslie Hudson, the digital
meteorologist for the weather app MyRadar.
Researchers coined the term bomb cyclone in
It refers to a non-tropical winter storm that
rapidly intensifies, specifically, air pressure
that drops at least 24 millibars in as many
LESLIE HUDSON: Most common from October to
So this bombogenesis making all kinds of headlines
across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, as
it’s expected to dump a lot of snow.
MILES O’BRIEN: It’s the result of a collision
between warm air over the ocean and cold air
from the Arctic.
These types of storms are not uncommon, but
there is reason to believe climate change
may make them more likely to occur in the
Northeastern United States.
Radley Horton is a climate scientist at Columbia
University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
RADLEY HORTON, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory:
It’s very early days in this research, but
there is some evidence suggesting that loss
of sea ice in the Arctic and extreme melting
of snow in May and June in the High Arctic
may be shifting the climate in a way that’s
weakening the jet stream and making it more
prone to these kind of meanders.
MILES O’BRIEN: The jet stream is a river of
air that flows west to east across North America.
It is created by the temperature difference
between warm air at the equator and cold air
in the Arctic.
Some scientists suspect that, as climate change
has warmed the Arctic, the temperature difference
has reduced, causing the jet stream to weaken
This would allow Arctic air to move farther
south and linger there, creating the record
cold temperatures recently in the U.S.
The arrival of the warm, moist air from the
south provided the missing ingredient to create
a bomb cyclone.
The other factor at work here in Boston is
sea level rise.
RADLEY HORTON: We have had about eight or
nine inches of sea level rise since, say,
That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s already
leading to much more frequent coastal flooding
than what you had in the past.
MILES O’BRIEN: And the sea level will continue
The mid-range estimate is more than three
feet by the end of this century, depending
on how much humans do to curb the production
of greenhouse gases.
RADLEY HORTON: Even if storms remain the same,
we’re going to have much more frequent coastal
and much more damaging coastal flooding because
of that higher baseline.
MILES O’BRIEN: Human beings have built civilizations
during a 7,000-year period of unprecedented
climate stability, but since the Industrial
Revolution, the rate of climate change has
far outstripped the pace of adaptation.
Kerry Emanuel is a professor of atmospheric
science at MIT.
KERRY EMANUEL, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology: If the sea level rose over the
next thousand years by five or six meters,
it wouldn’t be a problem.
We wouldn’t even notice.
The problem, I think, for civilization is
the high rate of change of the climate.
And the question is, can we adapt without
MILES O’BRIEN: In Boston, they say they are
serious about doing something to build in
resilience against the effects of climate
AUSTIN BLACKMON, Boston Chief of Environment,
Energy, and Open Space: The concern is that
we want to make sure that we can get Boston
back to normal as quickly as possible.
MILES O’BRIEN: Austin Blackmon is chief of
environment, energy and open space for the
city of Boston, 30 percent of which is landfill
built to stay just dry above high tides of
the 18th and 19th century.
So, what does that mean for the 21st century?
AUSTIN BLACKMON: By the end of the century,
we’re expecting about $80 billion of assets
to be in the FEMA floodplain.
If you annualize what that risk would be,
it would be about $1.4 billion worth of annual
damage if we do nothing.
MILES O’BRIEN: They have drafted a plan to
try and protect this low-lying city.
Climate-ready Boston envisions strategically
placed flood walls, berms, waterfront green
space and elevated streets.
But cities can only do so much to fight something
that is, after all, global in scale.
STEPHEN FLYNN, Northeastern University: I
worry sometimes that we are creating islands
of resilience in seas of frigidity.
MILES O’BRIEN: Stephen Flynn is director of
the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern
STEPHEN FLYNN: Where the real challenge lies
is that cities don’t control entirely their
They rely on transportation, energy networks,
communication networks that sprawl across
the country, across borders.
And so it’s so important to have national
leadership, in some cases to take this on
globally, is because these systems we rely
on have to essentially be able to built resilient
across multiple jurisdictions.
MILES O’BRIEN: In Washington, there is much
talk of a huge investment in infrastructure
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Dramatically reform the nation’s badly broken
MILES O’BRIEN: But in August of 2017, President
Trump undid an Obama era order that the federal
government account for climate change as it
designs public works projects.
STEPHEN FLYNN: It’s an act of recklessness,
We are investing as taxpayers in these assets.
We want them to be around their lifetime,
their entire life span.
DONALD TRUMP: And, by the way, if it doesn’t
meet environmental safeguards, we are not
going to approve it, very simple.
MILES O’BRIEN: It may be reckless, and it
may be human nature.
This is where scientists look to the humanities
KERRY EMANUEL: I ask historians this question.
Can we find examples in human history of a
whole generation consciously doing something
for the benefit of more than one generation
downstream that doesn’t benefit that generation
It’s very, very hard to find examples of that.
Not sure we ever have.
MILES O’BRIEN: The experts who saw this storm
coming say much more of this lies ahead, a
time bomb for our children and grandchildren
In Boston, I’m Miles O’Brien for the “PBS
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Supreme Court heard arguments
today in a case challenging the removal of
hundreds of thousands of people from voter
rolls in Ohio.
In a moment, Jeffrey Brown will talk to Marcia
Coyle of “The National Law Journal” about
the questions the justices asked inside the
But we begin with a report from Karen Kasler
of PBS’ Ohio station ideastream about what’s
at stake in the Buckeye State.
KAREN KASLER: U.S. Army Sergeant Joseph Helle
was in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, and in Afghanistan
But when he came home to Ohio in 2011, he
found a battle he didn’t expect.
Helle showed up to vote that fall, and found
his name had been removed from the voter rolls.
JOSEPH HELLE, Mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio: I
It was heartbreaking to be told that one of
those fundamental rights that I put my put
my life on the line for, raised my right hand
for, that I wasn’t allowed to exercise it.
And I was protecting it for others, but others
weren’t able to protect it for me.
KAREN KASLER: Helle, who is now the mayor
of Oak Harbor, a small village near Toledo,
has joined the coalition of mostly progressive-leaning
groups opposing the two-pronged approach Ohio
has to maintaining its voter rolls.
If a voter doesn’t cast a ballot for two years,
a postcard or mailer is sent to the address
listed on the voter’s registration.
If the voter doesn’t respond, and then doesn’t
vote for another four years, the voter is
removed from the voting rolls without further
notice, whether the voter has moved or not.
More than 4.6 million of those mailers have
been sent to voters since 2011, the year Helle
found out he was removed.
At least hundreds of thousands of voters have
been removed, but it’s unclear exactly how
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says
the two-year window and the mailers are part
of the state’s legal obligation to remove
the names of dead, imprisoned or otherwise
JON HUSTED (R), Ohio Secretary of State: It’s
trying to say to the voter, gee, have you
Do you want to update your information?
It’s done to try to be helpful to the voter,
and helping them update their information,
and also to make sure that we maintain the
voter rolls, which is another piece of the
So, you have, in the end, a six-year period
to interact, to vote, to let us know that
you still want to be on the voter rolls.
KAREN KASLER: But those challenging the process
say voting is not a use-it-or-lose-it right,
and that voters choose not to cast ballots
because of illness, apathy, or other reasons,
and not just because they have moved.
FREDA LEVENSON, Legal Director, ACLU of Ohio:
Failing to vote is a very poor proxy for someone
Close to 50 percent of Ohioans don’t vote
in every given election.
But not close to 50 percent of Ohioans have
The number is much closer to 2 percent.
So the secretary is purging vast numbers of
completely eligible voters just to try to
target a small, tiny handful of people who
may have moved.
KAREN KASLER: But Husted says this method
of voter roll maintenance has been in place
Ohio since 1994, with virtually no problems,
until the lawsuit was filed in 2016.
JON HUSTED: This process has worked very well
in Ohio under Democratic and Republican administrations.
Nobody in Ohio has expressed problems with
It’s only out-of-state folks who seem to have
trouble with how to we are implementing the
laws in Ohio.
KAREN KASLER: But the plaintiffs challenging
the state, led by the AFL-CIO-affiliated A.
Philip Randolph Institute, say they’re doing
so on behalf of Ohioans like Larry Harmon.
The Northeast Ohio man is featured in a video
produced by the ACLU, another plaintiff in
Harmon says that after several years of not
voting, he discovered he’d been removed in
That was the same year that many Ohioans who
registered in 2008, when Barack Obama won
the state, also found they had been erased
from the rolls.
The plaintiffs won an appeals court ruling
that resulted in more than 7,500 ballots cast
by voters who’d been removed must be counted
in the 2016 presidential election.
Last August, the Justice Department under
President Trump reversed the position it had
taken under President Obama, and filed a brief
to support the state of Ohio’s case.
Seven states use a process similar to Ohio’s,
so potentially millions of voters around the
country will be affected by the court’s decision.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Karen Kasler in
JEFFREY BROWN: Marcia Coyle covers the high
court for “The National Law Journal,” and
she was in the courtroom, as always, as the
justices grappled with this potentially far-reaching
Marcia, so, start with the argument against
How was it made in court today?
What were they looking — what laws were they
MARCIA COYLE, “The National Law Journal”:
OK, really, there are two laws that are at
the heart of the dispute here, the National
Voter Registration Act and the Help America
Vote Act, which followed the national act.
Both were designed and intended by Congress
to make voting easy and accessible.
The challengers to Ohio’s system represented
by Paul Smith today argued basically the same
argument that they had won in the lower court.
JEFFREY BROWN: They were the winning argument,
MARCIA COYLE: Absolutely.
Ohio is going wrong with its system for removing
voters from its registration rolls.
JEFFREY BROWN: So what kind of reception did
they get from the justices?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, I would say the justices
seem divided, but you never can really tell
what’s going on until the decision comes out.
JEFFREY BROWN: To say that they’re divided
is not a surprise, right?
But go ahead.
MARCIA COYLE: That’s right.
It’s also the safe prediction, too.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MARCIA COYLE: Justices Kennedy and Breyer,
for example, they spoke to the concern that
states have about maintaining the integrity
of voter registration rolls.
That is something that states have to do.
Justice Breyer, for example, said, well, if
you can’t use the fact that a voter hasn’t
voted in two years to send out these notices,
what can you do?
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
So, they’re in essence supporting the Ohio…
MARCIA COYLE: Well, it sound that way.
They’re raising one of the major concerns
here of Ohio.
And Mr. Smith said, well, Ohio is really only
one of eight states that uses the process
It’s the most aggressive.
There are other ways.
I learned through this case that there is
a national change of address database that
keeps track of changes of address that are
sent to postal offices.
And he said states can compare their registration
addresses with that database.
So, there was this concern about, how can
states maintain integrity?
JEFFREY BROWN: And where did the challengers
get their support from?
MARCIA COYLE: Justices Sotomayor and Kagan,
Justice Sotomayor is concerned about what
she said appears to be the disproportionate
impact of Ohio’s process on cities and neighborhoods
that have a high percentage of low-income
workers, who work odd shifts, have difficulty
getting to the polls, and also on minorities.
She pointed out there have been a number of
new voter restrictions put in place by states
that create even more obstacles.
Justice Kagan looked at Ohio’s argument that,
no, it’s not the trigger, the two-year trigger,
that removes voters.
It’s the failure to respond to our confirmation
notice that removes voters.
She looked at it and said, what it looks like
to me like is, failure to vote, failure to
respond, failure to vote.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MARCIA COYLE: And she didn’t quite agree that
it was the cause of the removal, was the confirmation
JEFFREY BROWN: So, briefly, there’s a lot
on the docket for the court this year, this
term, over voting rights and redistricting.
MARCIA COYLE: Yes, there is.
JEFFREY BROWN: But the implication — political
implications perhaps of this particular case?
MARCIA COYLE: Well, as you probably know,
Ohio is often a battleground state…
JEFFREY BROWN: I do, yes.
MARCIA COYLE: … in national elections.
So, the number of voters who are purged from
the rolls could make a difference in a close
So it’s being closely watched.
And you’re right.
The court has two partisan gerrymandering
It may well see another partisan gerrymandering
case out of North Carolina.
It continues to get racial gerrymandering
cases, voter I.D.
The whole election landscape is alive right
now with these types of cases.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, this is all to be
Marcia Coyle, thank you, as always.
MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Jeff.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a “NewsHour” Shares,
something that caught our eye that we thought
might be of interest to you.
In Seattle, trail cameras in urban parks are
giving researchers new insights into how coyotes,
raccoons, and other carnivores are thriving
in the harsh environment of big cities.
From PBS station KCTS in Seattle, Eric Keto
sent in this nocturnal story.
MARK JORDAN, Associate Professor of Biology,
Seattle University: We get some photographs
that are just amazing, like the raccoons posing
in front of the camera or the coyote at the
water hole, all sorts of cool things.
I’m Mark Jordan, associate professor of biology
at Seattle University, and I am a conservation
The big-picture question I’m interested in
is, how does urbanization affect wild mammals,
in particular predatory mammals that are higher
up on the food chain?
Is it that way?
We will try that way first.
We’re using camera traps to identify raccoons
and opossums and coyotes in the parks in Seattle.
WOMAN: Yes, here it is.
MARK JORDAN: Understanding the wildness that
surrounds us, I think, is very valuable for
us, deepening our understanding of the natural
world; 2,321 pictures.
MARK JORDAN: From last summer, we have 50,000
photos to go through, and we put out a baited
station, so we get about 100 to 150 hair samples.
My students right now are working on a project
where they’re coming up with a genetic way
to identify the species that left a hair sample,
to try to figure out, how does urbanization
affect their ability to move around the city?
I would argue that the city is as much a natural
area as what we call more wilderness areas.
Now, the physical environment itself has been
changed, but the general rules of ecology
The species out there are still interacting
with each other.
Now, they’re coming into interactions with
us more frequently.
And one of the really interesting insights
has been, as you increase urbanization, you
actually get an increase in the detections
So, within a square kilometer of Seattle,
you might actually find more mammalian carnivores
than you would in the same square kilometer
out in the forest.
We have gotten at least one photograph of
a raccoon in every single park that we have
Oh, that one’s missing a tail.
There are a couple hypothesis.
One is that in urban areas, things like mountain
lions in particular, are not competing with
or eating raccoons.
Also, of course, we have a lot of trash.
We leave out food for our pets, all sorts
of resources that these animals like.
Any pocket park in a neighborhood, look for
a big tree.
Raccoons do kind of a daily commute, especially
in the summer, when the moms have their kits,
because you can hang out at the base of the
tree and see them coming up and down.
We create conditions for raccoons that tend
to make them quite happy.
Nature doesn’t stop at the edge of the city.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The things that go on at night.
And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight.
Tomorrow, the latest on the deadly mudslides
I’m Judy Woodruff.
Join us online and again right here tomorrow
For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.