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tv   Newsmakers  CSPAN  May 17, 2015 10:00am-10:31am EDT

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act, and the debate on the reauthorization of nsa surveillance. senator lee is in the middle of that with the cosponsor of his own legislation. thank you for being here. let me introduce the two reporters who will be questioning. the national post security reporter and the editor in chief of "the hill." thank you for returning. >> it has been a big couple of weeks in the world of surveillance reform with last week and several appeals court in new york were saying the nsa collection program that collects records of millions of americans , phone records, is a legal and does not authorize by section 215, the patriot act. just a few days ago, the house voted by an overwhelming margin 38-80 two and that nsa collection and replace it with a more modest reform of collection that the sponsors, including
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you, will protect national security at the same time as protect americans privacy. at the same time, in the senate as you well know, the senate is divided over this bill and the majority leader would like to see the nsa collection preserved and extended for another 5.5 years. just in case that approach does not fly, he has got a proposal to reauthorize section 215 42 months -- 215 for two months while congress can debate on what to do. having seen this overwhelming vote in the house, do you think that vote compels geordie leaders to bring your bill to the floor? if he does, do you have the 60 votes needed to advance the bill? mike: i would very much like to see that usa freedom bill, the
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same one passed by the house of representatives by this overwhelming majority of a hundred 38 to 88, i would like to see if brought to the for and debated. if there are senators who have concerns with the, they can introduce amendments to try and make it better. i would like to see that be the point of discussion. if the american people deserve to have this debated in the open and they deserve to have an open , robust debate, one that will hopefully get us to a point where we are not collecting all of the telephone data right now. really the case before the second circuit focused on many of the same issues. the method of collection, how they collect them. instead of going out and say send us all of the telephone data that is relevant to an investigation that we have the horse and nsa, they are saying, send us all of your data. regardless of whether it is relevant. that is the problem with authorization under section 215 which the second circuit found inadequate. it is also the same concern that
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triggers a lot of privacy concerns in people and the same thing that causes a lot of us to feel like it is in conflict with the spirit of the fourth amendment if not the letter of the fourth amendment. host: it was a program launched in secret right after the 9/11 attacks by the bush administration. it really came to public attention only with a leak by edward snowden. i think one of the principles of the supreme court or appeals court decision is that a program of that magnitude really cannot be created without what public debate and a faux congressional knowledge. -- a full congressional knowledge. what you think the affected that appeals court decision is on reauthorization of section 215? mike: i think a straight reauthorization of section 215 and a lot of the second circuit ruling would be risky because the legality of the program has
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not been called into question in a way that is pretty prominent. just one step below the supreme court, there are saying it is unlawful. they do not reach the question of constitutionality because they did not have to, after they concluded it not authorized by the statute. that creates uncertainty. we ought to just past the usa freedom act. it would work and we also know it would be lawful and that it would not run into the legal problems that were identified by the second circuit in that case. an additional point which is it is very difficult to see a scenario in which you could get 218 votes in the house of representatives and passed a clear we authorization of section 215 because of this is with good cause a controversial thing among the american people. i actually talk about this issue quite a lot in my book, "our
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lost constitution." i told the story about the story of john wilkes not abraham lincoln's assassin, but a member of parliament who found himself arrested by king george the third 1763. he fought a big battle against the use of general warrants were the government would go out and say, get us all the information that might be relevant to whatever we are looking into. his battle was victorious and he became a hero on both sides of the atlantic. he is story and struggle, which i to start -- which i described in my book, inspire the fourth amendment. the fourth and him and says that they need to describe with particularity, the persons places, things to be searched. guest: let me ask this for a minute, there are proposing a short-term extension and told the party -- the 31st of july because of this wide range of debate. are you willing to support that short-term extension so that some of these contentious issues can find copyright? mike: i don't really have an interest in extending it and kicking the can for a period of
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two months, especially given all the legal elements at play. the bill that was just past five house of representatives needs to be brought up on the floor to discuss. if they need a few more days to do that, that is one thing. to extend it for two months, i don't see any reason to do that and i see a lot of reasons not to do that. >> do you think that would have the votes or not? mike: i am not sure. it is difficult to say. i think it is definitely in doubt whether they would have the votes to do that because again, you have 238 members of the house of representatives that voted for this bill. this bill, as its principal object and purpose, and in both data collection. you have 238 who want to end bulk data collection and you have 88 who voted against it. of the 88 who voted against, you have a lot of members, republicans and democrats, who
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voted against it not because they like the status quo or because they want to extend section 215 of the patriot act and continue to authorize both -- bulk data collection, but because they don't think it goes far enough. they don't even like what is put in place by this one. that's what i have some doubts on whether there are both present to extend section 215 as is for two months. >> big news this week, george stephanopoulos of abc news news came out that he had donated $75,000 to the clinton foundation. he has said he won't moderate coming primary debates, do you think you should recuse himself from all 2016 political coverage? mike: it would make sense to me from george's perspective and the perspective of abc to do that. i have tremendous respect for george stephanopoulos. i enjoyed watching his show and have enjoyed be interviewed by him in the past. he is very professional and very interesting to watch.
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he makes for compelling tv. he is, however, someone who is a long-standing clinton ally. he got his start on the national stage with the clinton administration. he has donated $75,000 over the last three years to the clinton foundation. when he was interviewing peter sweitzer, he went after him, the author of "printing cash." -- "clinton cash." almost like a prosecutor trying to build his case. that is his prerogative but it calls into question whether or not he will be objective in approaching the 2016 presidential cycle. abc has got a lot of great reporters and there are a lot of others who could cover this cycle very well without all of -- at least the appearance of an impaired objectivity. jonathan karl, for example could cover it just fine. i think that would make sense for abc but that is abc's choice. >> abc has not gone that far. george 7-up list has apologized.
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if they don't go that far, will you go on abc? will you go on source of annapolis is show again? mike: my staff has advised me not to but i will have to take each request as it comes. this is a choice for abc but i would think abc would want to make sure it does whatever it has to do within reason to make sure it is perceived appropriately and an objective provider of the news. guest: let's get back to the nsa -- >> let's get back to the nsa programs, do you really think you have the votes to get closure on that? mike: if the leader -- >> if the reader brings it to the floor? mike: i can't tell you we have those votes right now. in fact, i can't count to 60 right now. but i think it we had an open amendment process, we could quickly get to the point where we could get the 60 votes on something. i not sure what it would look like at the end of the day, it
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might have modifications. what i think some variation will pass by 60 votes. few things are certain at the outset, which is why we need to bring it to the floor. we do note that this can pass the house. we need to give it a shot in the senate. >> you say some variation. what do you think that might entail in order to get the 60 votes and could that then passed the house? mike: i like the bill as is. i could support it as is, i do support it. i am the senate sponsor and i prefer to pass it just as it is now. there are those who might want to see a different transition period instead of seeing a six-month transition period into the new system that does not reliable collection, perhaps they would want to extend it farther. you would have to ask those who have concerns with the bills concerns i don't share. >> rand paul is one who has concerns and he would like to
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repeal the patriot act altogether. if you get to 59 votes and he is still come at that point, not committed, do you think you can get him to give you his vote? mike: i am sure going to try with rand paul. we agree on a lot of things and we both share the view that the bulk of their collection under 215 is wrong. i will continue to lobby him every time i get the chance. the big reason why he and some of the others are concerned about reauthorizing the patriot act, by far the weakest degrees in half to do with bulk data collection. that's a we are ending here and i think we would be better off if we passed the bill. >> do you think the white house should be doing more to pass the legislation by pushing the senate to act on it quickly? we are coming very close to the deadline. mike: sure, i appreciate the support so far. the director of national intelligence has expressed his support. i am appreciative of the support
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we have gone from the white house as well. the more we can do, the better. the more they can do in particular to help us make the case of the american people that we will be safe under this system. that we will not be leaving nsa without the tools it needs to keep america safe. >> you are up for reelection. you beat a sitting incumbent what is your relationship with senator hatch? you did not endorse him in his last election and he has not yet endorsed you. you are from the same state. how do you guys work together? mike: we get along well. i have known him most of my life. we are good friends and i enjoy working with. it is generally my practice, i don't endorse incumbents. i have not in the past endorse incumbents in senate races, so that was nothing particular to him. >> you expect a primary challenge. mike: there has been talk of it and i'm preparing for the worst
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and hoping for the best. >> you have legislations on sentencing reform and it would change how the u.s. deals with -- this is bipartisan and when will it move? have you talked to the chairman about moving this legislation and could it pass in this congress? mike: i think it could pass if they came up for a vote. i am quite certain that we have a majority of the senate judiciary committee who are supportive of it. chairman grassley has expressed concerns with it and we are working with him and his staff to try and bring him along to try and resolve concerns he's got. it's important to emphasize the fact that this bill, which i have introduced in the senate with dick durbin as my cosponsor, eight does not and the use of minimum mandatory sentences in our federal system. it reforms them, it brings about some common sense step-by-step
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reforms that would make our federal justice system more effective and efficient. >> how has the issue in baltimore affected the debate on this? mike: of late, they don't direct or let me to the smarter sentencing act. -- they don't relate directly to the smarter sentencing act but i think in time, it can contribute to a better environment where we can ask more questions about our criminal justice system and whether or not it is doing what we want it to do. one of the things i have emphasized over and over again in pitching the smarter sentencing act is that this is not just about the fact that our federal prison population has exploded, that it has increased 800% or 900% since 1980. it's not just about the financial cost of maintaining a federal prison system with that many prisoners. it's also about the human cost. about the neighborhoods, the
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communities, the families. they are left without brothers fathers, uncles. it is about the human cost echoes in to a system -- that goes into a system that relies too much on federal law in some cases. within the arena of federal criminal law, it sometimes relies on minimum mandatory penalties. we still want judges to be able to throw people away for a long time if that is what is warranted in the particular case . that is why we don't adjust any of the statutory maximum sentences. we think in some cases involving nonviolent, drug offenders that the minimum mandatory sentence might be placed too high. >> we have 10 minutes left. >> i wanted to ask you a little bit about the majority leader mcconnell and your thoughts on if you cannot get votes for reauthorization whether in two months, four months, or five years, do you really think he would let section 215 and other
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important intelligence authorities expiring on june 1, when he let them expire? mike: i don't think so. i don't think he wants that to happen. i think he wants the nsa to continue to have the tools necessary to protect the american people. the tools to monitor things that might be happening or might signal a threat to the american people. i think he is working in good faith toward finding a solution that can get past in the house and the senate. while addressing many concerns americans have. >> do you think yes control over the caucus? mike: they are not united on the question, if that is what you mean. there are five or six of us who are where i am, there are a handful of others who seem to be leaning that way, but have yet to sign onto a bill as sponsors. it will probably -- we will probably be putting for it at the end of the day. if that is what you mean on control of the caucus, not
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necessarily, but i think -- if there are more -- there are more republicans in the senate right now that are more comfortable with his point of view than with mine. >> i want you -- a two-part question -- assess the new senate majority and assess the party in total? what is the party doing right and what do they need to do a lot better? mike: personal, i think the senate is operating as the senate is supposed to be operating. much more so than it has over the last quarter years or -- rfour years. we are voting for a lot more. in the first few weeks, we took more votes on the floor of the senate that we had taken in their entirety in 2014. it's also important to note that we passed the budget for the first time in six years. the last time we had a budget, there was no such thing as the ipad.
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this is significant because the past budget starts at the regular order preparations process and the hope is at we will pass one dozen or so appropriation bills by government function that creates better government across the board and a loss for more itemized spending decisions and a loss for more government oversight along the way. i think this is important and i think the state of the party is good and they can always get better. i would like to see the republican party in general moving in the direction of identifying the benefits of conservative policies on poor and middle-class americans. on identifying the fact that we have something of an economic mobility crisis in america. it shows up at every level of the economy, it shows up in the form of a mobility among the poor, insecurity in the middle class, and privilege at the top of the economy. we have conservative economy proposals that would help address every level that would help promote economic ability in america. >> what's going to be the key to
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defeating the democratic nominee for president, which is likely going to be hillary clinton? mike: i think it is far more about the policies and agenda than it is the personalities. i think whoever is in our party can channel this feeling, which is that we can do better. we can help the poor get out of poverty, we can help the middle class to get ahead. we start looking at things differently. if we stop looking at every problem from an angle that suggests that washington d.c. has all the problems and that more government will be the solution. whoever can channel that message and deliver a message of optimism and hope will, i think, get the nomination and have the best chance of being victorious in november 2016. >> what do you think is really clinton's biggest weakness that the republicans need to expose? mike: she is part of an established system of government. part of a political legacy, you might say.
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it is not necessarily going to play as well for her as it might have it everything else were the same and we were a couple decades earlier. in other words, being in washington, d.c. for a long time and having served in the united state senate and served as secretary of state is thought by many to be her greatest strength. if you look at this race on a resume basis, on who has a cumulative the most impressive resume, in so many ways, hillary clinton's resume stands out. and yet, washington, d.c. has become less popular. congress has become less popular. in that respect, her resume may not be quite the strength that many are assuming it to be. as we approach the election because a lot of people are seeing that washington had failed to deliver on a lot of promises. >> what about the kennedys that are in the republican party? do you think they -- who has the
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best chance of defeating hillary clinton? mike: it is hard for me to be objective on this is because probably monday closest allies and best friend in the senate are all running for president. rand paul, ted cruz, and marco rubio are very, very difference of mine. they are close legislative allies. i think the world of all three of them. i want to be as helpful to all three as a possibly can be. i think any one of those three could end up doing well. could end up being our nominee and could end up standing very well against whoever the democratic candidate is. among the others, i certainly think scott walker seems to be doing well and is getting a very good response where he is speaking. jeb bush has had a rough few days, we will see where that one goes. >> we are talking about collective politics, you made some news with msnbc suggesting that under a republican administration, you might welcome a supreme court appointment. i'm wondering, we should tell
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your -- our viewers, you have a back judiciary. you are u.s. attorney and you also clerked for justice sam alito. i'm wondering though, would that take you out the future but for the presidency if you want to the court, what are you thinking you could, should the course that you cannot in a senate career? mike: i think -- first of all, i want to make their what i make clear in that interview, i got the job i want. i like the senate, i running for reelection, this is what i want to be. i think the context in that quote coming up, after i made that statement, they say, ok, come on, what would happen if one of your friends any for president becomes president and asked you to consider be nominated to deposition -- to that position and i said, in that circumstance, yes. >> lots of hypotheticals there. mike: yes, i'm focus on my work in the senate and not other jobs. >> you mentioned jeb bush had rough few days and fumbled on
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the iraq war question. what do you think of jeb bush? do you hear in republican circles that there is bush fatigue after? mike: certainly. it is a well-known fact that his last name might not be his greatest strength. is also something a lot of people were saying that it his last name or anything other than bush, he might have an easier time. they don't mean to denigrate either his brother george w. bush or his father george herbert walker bush or anything they did in office. i think it's just a simple recognition of the fact that a lot of people get squeamish when they think about nominating a third bush within just a few decades to be the republican candidate for president. >> is i might, what this debate has also shown is an interesting
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alliance between the civil libertarians and the libertarians and democrats and republicans -- conservative republicans like yourself, can come together and compromise on a bill or package of surveillance reforms. still, there are some who say it does not go far enough like your friend rand paul. do you think if you actually manage to get the usa freedom past and is that the and for you or do you think you can keep this coalition together and growing to address other surveillance programs which, as you know, are still causing some concerns such as the section 702 amendment and close the back door search loophole or the broader collection under executive orders? are those things you would like to also address? mike: yes, and i want to be
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clear, this coalition is not going anywhere. you are absolutely right to point out that this is an issue that is neither distinctively republican or democrat. it is not conservative nor liberal, it's an american ideal, constitutional ideal that there is such thing as privacy. our privacy is protected by a constitution. the american people don't like a government that is to imply they have a brooding on their presence. they want the government to stay out of their private business. they don't like the idea of a government that minders who they are calling and who is calling them. even if it is just data. from that data, they can extrapolate whole lot of information. i am willing to assume for purposes of this discussion surrounding section 215 of the patriot act, the people working at nsa right now love this country and love the american people. don't want to abuse them, but who is to say that that will
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always be the case? who says that will be the case in one year from now, five years from that, tenures from now? we got to make sure that our intelligence gathering systems are not abusing the market people. a few decades ago, i referred to this in my book, "our lost constitution pickup they concluded that every presidential administration, from fdr to exit used our intelligence gathering systems to engage in political espionage. in essence, we have seen this movie before. we know how it ends and we need to make sure protections are in place so that our systems are not abused. >> senator, we thank you for being our guest on "newsmakers" this week. mike: you are. >> we are back on "newsmakers," with reporters and after our conversation with utah senator mike lee.
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the debate over nsa surveillance is -- has a deadline of expiration on june 1, which is right around the corner. it has got unusual coalitions across party lines and ideologies and it has got a lot of passion. we heard all kinds of different legislative tactics and policy options here. how is this going to end up? guest: i think senator leahy made clear that the majority leader mcconnell is in a bit of a box. -- senator lee made clear that the majority leader mcconnell is in a bit of a box. he really does not look to have all the support he needs certainly not in the house. he is a master tactician and has gone out of tight spots before so we will have to see what he might pull out of his hat. if i had to guess, i would that in the end, they might just get the votes they need to pass usa freedom. guest: it's interesting that the
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senator said he does not have 60 votes right at this moment on the usa read him act which is a bill he mentioned overwhelmingly passed the house and is supported by the white house. including the chairman of the senate intelligence committee so it is a very top spot for mcconnell but he knows how to strike deals. i think that some version of this legislation is probably going to make its way to the white house, but i could see it being tweaked in some regards to get the support it needs and also to get mcconnell to bring it to the poor. host: the white house has often been criticized for not being as involved in lobbying for their own positions, but senator lee was a complement to a about the amount of involvement by the white house and the national security director. what is happening on this? guest: this week, part of the
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fbi and national security agency were up on the hill talking to senators about the issues and about the nsa program. as you know, the director of national intelligence and the assistant attorney general have issued letters of support for usa freedom and the white house has come out with a letter endorsing usa freedom. the briefing on the hill with the heads of fbi and nsa actually had an effective getting some of the hawks more ammunition in that they came out saying afterwards, well, one of them -- bob corker said he was shocked to learn that the nsa was actually collecting only -- he did not say how much, but a smaller percentage of records -- phone records that the companies are actually creating an gathering. we have reported last year that it was really about 20% to 30%
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of phone records. some are making the case that this program needs to be extended so that the collection can be enlarged and expanded to protect national security. how much sway that argument will host: it was also interesting that senator lee said they need to bring the american public along. the polls have shown that the public supports this in general for safety reasons. guest: it is interesting. the polls have changed a lot over the last several years, especially with the rice of isis, and especially since we got to know who edward snowden is. americans are feeling a little more safe. i think that plays into this. the interesting thing too is, what is congress best actor go hunting. as senator

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