Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily to talk about Hurricane Irma’s threat to Florida, Ivanka Trump’s extraordinary access to White House meetings, President Trump’s debt ceiling deal with Democrat leaders, and DACA repeal.
Schweizer began by praising Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon’s interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes, to be broadcast this Sunday. It was Bannon’s first major media interview since leaving his position as chief White House strategist.
“I think Charlie Rose, who is a great conversationalist, asked good questions. He was very respectful, very professional, asked information questions, also probed him, and Steve responded fantastically,” Schweizer assessed.
“People are going to be very energized by this conversation. There was a lot of energy, a lot of insight. I think it’s just very, very exciting what we’re going to see,” he said.
“It’s going to be available on 60 Minutes, and, of course, Charlie Rose has his own show on PBS. That show is an hour-long show, so there are actually long blocks airing entirely on that show, rather than what you get in a lot of news magazines, which is the shorter edited pieces,” Schweizer noted.
Marlow asked Schweizer, a Florida resident, for an update on conditions in the Sunshine State as powerful Hurricane Irma bears down on it.
“There’s a lot of anxiety,” Schweizer said. “I’ve been in Florida for decades. You get a little bit used to talk of hurricanes and hurricanes churning out in the water, the Gulf, the Atlantic pretty regularly. It almost becomes background noise. But every once in a while you have a storm that really catches everybody’s attention not just because of its trajectory, but because of its size and scope.”
“That is certainly the case with Irma because it is so powerful,” he said. “They give you these arcs where they think the storm’s going to go, but I can tell you from personal experience that’s not completely accurate. It’s not a predictive science in the way we’d like to think. There’s a lot of variation. You may be in a part of the state where you say, ‘Look, it looks like we’re going to be safe,’ but that storm can change trajectories pretty quickly, and then you’ve got a whole host of trouble.”
“I think the final thing compounding all of this is when a big storm is coming, people are making decisions: should I stay or should I go? Because Florida is a peninsula, if you make the decision to go and you’re making that decision with tens of millions of other people, you geographically have a problem because you really, in a lot of parts of the state, can only go north. You can’t go east or west to escape the arc of the storm,” he cautioned.
“It’s one of those things you get used to and live. I’ve got friends that have moved to Florida recently, and their anxiety is significantly higher because, of course, you don’t experience this anywhere else in the country,” Schweizer said.
“I personally think that if you are in the path, you should go,” he advised. “As I said, Florida is unique in this respect. If you’re in Texas, you do have the option of going east or west, if you’re in Houston. In Florida, particularly if you’re in South Florida, you really can’t go east or west very far to escape a large storm like this, so I do believe that you should go.”
“I’m not saying that you head out four days before because the cone can shift,” he added. “I’m one that believes that the things you own are not as valuable as life itself. It’s not worth sticking around for hoping to preserve some of your material possessions.”
“The good news is, if you live in modern-built homes in the last 15 to 20 years, your chances of the structure surviving are astronomically higher than older buildings, just because the building codes in Florida now really require you, insurance companies require you, to build buildings that can sustain winds up to 200 miles an hour, so the odds of it working out are good,” Schweizer noted.
“Again, at the end of the day, I just don’t think that there’s value or worth in saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to stick this out,’” he repeated.
“When I first came to Florida in the 1990s, I had a friend who had sat through a hurricane,” Schweizer recalled. “He described in horrific detail what it was like. He was near the water, believe it or not, and he had all kinds of imagery that he presented that were quite frightening, Alex. The one that really stuck with me was, he described how the storm would at first suck all the water out from the low-lying areas before the storm surge, and the winds were so high there were actually flying crabs – the wind was picking up crabs and flinging them at more than 100 miles an hour and spinning them around. I think when you get to the stage of flying crabs, I think I’ll go.”
Marlow turned the conversation to reports that President Trump’s daughter Ivanka is a frequent presence at high-level White House meetings, sometimes with the president’s granddaughter in tow. He noted this has fueled criticism that Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, have too much influence in the Trump White House.
“I think it’s a huge problem,” Schweizer agreed. “Think about it this way: aside from being Donald Trump’s daughter, you can’t have, if the president is sitting down with his national security team, you couldn’t have an aide that was responsible for health care policy say, ‘Oh, I’m just going to drop by and say hello.’ No, there’s a meeting taking place, and it’s on a very specific detailed subject.”
“This is the problem when you have family members that are serving in administrative positions,” he observed. “No one wants to tell their daughter, ‘No, stay away.’ You want to be accessible. But the fact of the matter is that Ivanka Trump does not have responsibilities in these areas, nor should she.”
“It’s a huge distraction, and I think it speaks to kind of a cultural issue. Donald Trump built a successful real-estate empire that was essentially a family business. You can do those sorts of things in the context of a family business. Somebody can drop by, bring the grandkids, interrupt a meeting because, hey, it’s your money. It’s your company. It’s your hotels. It’s your decision-making process,” he said.
“When you’re President of the United States, you’ve got a lot of complex things to deal with, including national security, budget issues, congressional relationships, dealing with health care, a whole host of issues. You simply can’t have people sort of feeling like they have access any time that they want,” Schweizer contended.
“Look, it’s not as if the president’s schedule is inaccessible. Ivanka Trump’s got to know what’s going on in the Oval Office. She can just talk to the secretary. To just sort of walk in, in the middle of these meetings, indicates to me that’s more than just a casual encounter. She knows what’s going on, and she’s choosing to make an appearance,” he said.
“I just don’t think it’s helpful, whatever the motive. Whether she’s curious, or whether she’s trying to, in effect, find out what’s going on in those meetings and report to other people, or whether she’s trying to influence the decision-making process, none of those are good things. I think the practice needs to stop,” he urged.
Schweizer said it is “unclear” what President Trump’s deal with Democratic leadership for a short-term debt ceiling increase tells us about the future of the administration, but he added, “I do view it as a capitulation.”
“I think you gave the Democrats what they wanted, and you really got nothing in return,” he explained. “What they want is, they want the debt ceiling, they want these issues to continue to churn between now and the midterm elections of next year. So aside from the politics of whether the Democratic leadership or the Republican leadership won, the bottom line is the Democrats won a lot in this arrangement.”
“I don’t think it’s good for our fiscal policy to have to revisit these issues,” Schweizer said. “If the Democratic leadership was in a sense saying, ‘We are going to oppose this deal. We are going to prevent funding in these areas,’ I would force them to make that public. I don’t think you let them get out of it by giving them what they want and really not getting anything in return.”
“I think it was a poor decision. I don’t think it advances the president’s agenda. I also don’t think it’s good for governance in general for them to be just kicking a can down the road for three months, having to revisit it again, particularly, Alex, when you’ve now got several major issues that Congress has to act on,” he told Marlow.
Marlow asked what incentive Trump has to work with Republican leaders after they have “accomplished virtually nothing for the man.”
“I think that’s absolutely true,” Schweizer replied. “I think, look, at the end of the day, what you have to look at, as any political figure, is what were you elected to do, and how do you best accomplish it? Oftentimes that means working mostly with your party, but it doesn’t always mean that.”
“I think in this particular case, it comes down to this: what was the president trying to accomplish with this decision, with siding with the Democrats? I think what he has accomplished, essentially, is not really related to his agenda. He has clogged up now the legislative process for Capitol Hill. Three months from now, they’re going to have to revisit this issue again, where I would rather they were working on tax cuts, working on the repeal or reform of Obamacare, and that’s simply not going to take place,” Schweizer predicted.
“I think sometimes you have to, whether it’s political allies or political opponents, if you’re President Trump, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, sometimes you have to force them to make bad, ugly public votes to make a point. I think that in this particular case, Democrats were not forced to do that. If they’re going to oppose an 18-month extension, make them do so publicly, and then explain to their voters why they’re opposed to it. In this particular scenario, none of that has happened, and all you’ve done now is created a scenario that’s going to replace itself three months from now,” he said.
In a similar vein, Marlow said President Trump has either kept his promise on repealing President Obama’s DACA amnesty for illegal aliens or set up a disturbing congressional showdown in which DACA is effectively legalized and institutionalized, while Trump’s promised border wall goes unfunded.
“It all comes down to why you think he made the decision on DACA that he did,” Schweizer responded. “Did he make it for reasons that the decision Obama made was unconstitutional, the courts have revealed that, and he’s simply saying that, ‘Look, Congress has to deal with this issue,’ or did he make this decision because he didn’t want the responsibility right now of having to make the decision on the merits of DACA itself?”
“That’s what it really comes down to. What I would say is that, look, by punting it to Congress, I think he did do the right thing in the sense that Obama’s decision was clearly unconstitutional. You can’t by executive order write immigration policy,” he said.
“But it’s not inconceivable for me that he’s going to become kind of a cheerleader for Congress to pass some type of DACA-type legislation,” Schweizer added. “I don’t see in the posture that he has adopted a willingness or a desire to stand firm on this issue and to see DACA go away. I see the scenario as much more likely that he is going to have people whispering in his ear and encouraging him to help the amnesty go forward.”
“That’s my view right now. It’s always hard to discern what motives are, but in this case, that seems the most likely scenario to me,” he said.
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