Week In Politics: Trump Signs Temporary Bill To End Shutdown, Roger Stone Indicted
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Eight hundred thousand federal employees are headed back to work and will be paid. We'll ask a federal worker how she feels about the deal that returns her to work and the prospect of another shutdown. But first, NPR's Ron Elving joins us now to talk about the shutdown, the wall and the arrest of a longtime Trump ally. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.
SIMON: The government will reopen with no money guaranteed for a wall. Will we just confront another shutdown in three weeks?
ELVING: That's what the president said on Twitter. He said if there's no wall we'll be, quote, "off to the races" - unquote. But, you know, right now, that does not seem likely. The shutdown weapon is looking like a spiked cannon after this 35-day debacle in its latest use. The White House was simply not prepared for the stunning effects of this - the airport delays, the hardships for federal workers and their families. I think there's going to be very little desire for a replay next month. And the president may well try to wring some concessions by threatening to declare a state of emergency.
SIMON: Did Speaker Pelosi make President Trump raise a white flag of surrender?
ELVING: Ultimately, it was the polls and the bad optics and the pressure from Republican senators that made the difference. So we don't want to reduce all of this to just a personal confrontation, but on the other hand, it surely looks that way. She stood up to the president in the Oval Office in December. She stood up to him when he said he would come to the Capitol to deliver his State of the Union whether welcome or not. And finally, she refused to negotiate for changes in border security until the government was open. So right now, she's looking kind of like she's three for three in showdowns against the White House.
SIMON: Question to the wall over who would pay for it, which, let us not forget, the president always said it would be paid for by Mexico, is apparently going to be hashed out in conference committee. Did this country just go through the losses and misery of the longest government shutdown just to agree to handle the issue in what's usually called the regular order of business?
ELVING: Short word - yes. That is exactly what happened. And that includes in regular order a lot of backroom negotiation. And there is no guarantee of success for all of that, but at least if people know that they are back to what they need to do and know how to do best, sure, we could be right back here in three weeks with the difference being this far smaller chance of a shutdown. Now, they really ought to be able to do what they do best in that period of time, but if not, the president will be back in the same poker game with a far weaker hand than the one he just folded this week.
SIMON: Roger Stone, one of the president's closest friends, a longtime adviser, of course was arrested yesterday, charged with lying to Congress, witness tampering, among other things. What does this tell us about the Mueller investigation?
ELVING: It tells us that investigation is as robust as ever and moving forward. The former CIA chief, John Brennan, said yesterday he expects many more indictments in the weeks ahead, including some people who are household names. Now, the Mueller team is closely following the performance of some other actors like Paul Manafort, an old business partner of Roger Stone's. They say he has not followed through with the factual and truthful testimony he promised when he pled guilty on several counts last year. So that's another space to be watching.
SIMON: Report from NBC this week - Jared Kushner got his security clearance only after administration officials overruled career security specialists. What do you make of this?
ELVING: And there were roughly 30 other cases of administration officials who were turned down by the White House security people who investigated their backgrounds. NBC reported there were concerns about pressure on Kushner from foreign connections. But then those same security people were overruled by one man handpicked by President Trump who took over in May of 2017 after working in the Pentagon and had the power to do that and restore Jared Kushner to his full credentials.
SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much for being with us.
ELVING: Thank you, Scott.
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