"Shields and Brooks on GOP’s response to Cohen allegations, Trump’s shutdown scuffle" PBS NewsHour 12/14/2018
SUMMARY: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join William Brangham to discuss the week’s news, including Mick Mulvaney stepping into the role of White House chief of staff, how the GOP is keeping quiet on Michael Cohen saying that President Trump knew that it was wrong to pay off women during his campaign, and the skirmish between Trump and top Democrats.
William Brangham (NewsHour): From the political fallout of Robert Mueller's investigation, to the Senate sending a strong message to Saudi Arabia, it has been a very busy week here in Washington.
To help us understand it all, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Gentlemen, nice to see you both.
So, we have, according to the President's tweet, a new acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney.
David, that means, certainly, the storm is over on Pennsylvania Avenue, right?
David Brooks, New York Times: Yes, I don't know why he is only acting. I mean, he was the OMB director, the budget director. He was a member of Congress before that from South Carolina.
He was on the super fiscal hawk side of the ideological spectrum, and is generally well-regarded, as far as I know, in the House, or was in the House, and in and around Washington. He knows the players in Washington.
William Brangham: So, you would like to see him be the guy?
David Brooks: Well, he seems like a solid pick.
The question for the chief of staff is not the normal question for a normal chief of staff, is, can this person protect Donald Trump from himself? And I would say that's an open question. We will see.
You have got a — John Kelly was a big tough guy who had the general gravitas. And Trump would sometimes defer, but even at great personal cost to General Kelly. And so we will see if Mulvaney has that.
William Brangham: Mark, what do you think? Is it…
Mark Shields, syndicated columnist: He wore two hats. He was budget and management — OMB director. And he also took over the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.
And two things. We have seen the largest growth in the national debt in a time of prosperity in the world's history. Usually, when the debt goes down, it's a time of economic retraction and things aren't going well, and the government spends or war.
We have had peace and we have had prosperity, and we have had the debt reach historic highs, on its way to even more historic guys. That's the first plus.
The second is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Mr. Mulvaney was wearing his second hat, had the largest drop in morale of any government institution in Washington.
William Brangham: This is the bureau that is supposed to protect consumers from predatory lenders.
Mark Shields: Protect people — that's right — from predatory lenders and student loan exploiters and all sorts of other people.
And his job there was basically to dismantle it. So, based upon those — that performance so far, it's perfect for the Trump administration.
William Brangham: So maybe you would like to keep him in the White House, it sounds like.
Mark Shields: I think he — I think he just — it's a good fit.
Mark Shields: I mean, I would say, you're expecting a life expectancy slightly shorter than that of a 2nd lieutenant in combat.
Mark Shields: I mean, it's not — it's not a job [Chief of Staff] of longevity.