PBS NewsHour

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October 19, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode

October 19, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode

AIRED: October 19, 2021 | 0:57:46
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

On the "NewsHour" tonight: Democratic divide.

Key lawmakers express optimism that an agreement may be close over President Biden's domestic

agenda after a meeting with members of his own party.

Then: trial and reckoning. The jury selection process is now under way in Georgia in the

high-profile case of three white men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery.

And Rethinking College. How historically Black colleges and universities are using federal

pandemic relief funds to retain students.

AKUA JOHNSON MATHERSON, Chief Financial Officer, North Carolina Central University: How can

we ensure that our students are getting everything that we can possibly provide, so that they

can stay here?

JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: Key lawmakers are signaling tonight that an agreement among Democrats

could be reached following President Biden's meetings with influential members of his party

over the framework of his Build Back Better agenda.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed optimism that the dust has settled in his ranks, paving

the way to a compromise.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): There was universal, universal agreement in that room that we have

to come to an agreement and we have got to get it done, and want to get it done this

week.

JUDY WOODRUFF: To bring us up to speed on all these developments, I'm joined by Lisa

Desjardins, who is at the Capitol, and Yamiche Alcindor, who is at the White House.

So, hello. Good evening to both of you.

Lisa, let me start with you.

We heard the majority leader, Senator Schumer, use the word agreement. What are you hearing?

LISA DESJARDINS: There's all kinds of work ahead still for Democrats, but, Judy, this

was a significant day for them.

Let me explain what we learned today quickly. We learned from House progressives, including

Pramila Jayapal speaking at the White House, that the president is now pushing for a very

specific number for this bill, about $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion.

Now, this also happened on the same day as Senate Democrats, as you heard from Senate

Leader Chuck Schumer say, they would like a framework this week. They came out of perhaps

their most unifying and most positive meeting on this issue yet, saying that they are going

to try and actually figure out what this bill will look like this week.

Now, this is no accident that this is coming as there is tremendous political pressure

on Democrats, one, President Biden's approval ratings, and Democrats see that as tied to

whether they succeed here on these issues, and, two, the Virginia gubernatorial election,

where the Democrat there, Terry McAuliffe, is not doing as well as Democrats hope.

They see that as perhaps a bellwether for next year. They want to try and get things

moving, if not passed, soon, so that they can start making more electoral games and

helping the president with his approval rating, and, of course, getting their agenda through.

Basically, Judy, where we are right now is, the opening moves are over here. We are now

in the middle game. We know roughly what this bill will be of size. This week, Democrats

are going to try and figure out if they can agree together on what goes in it. That's

the middle game.

And then we will see how long it takes for them to do the endgame, move it through both

chambers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And then, Yamiche, from the president's perspective, he spent much of

this day meeting separately with progressives and moderates in his own party.

What is the White House thinking now?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, the president really is spending much of his time trying to get

Democrats, Democratic lawmakers on the same page.

It's something he's been trying to do for weeks. But today was significant, in the fact

that he met with both Senator Sinema, as well as Senator Manchin, as well as a group of

House progressives, as well as a House -- a group of House moderates.

Now, here, the president is saying essentially to all of the members of his party, we need

to get together, we need to close this out.

Now, the president is talking now about specific numbers. We have been reporting that it was

probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So, here's the president really talking through

both moderates to try to make sure that they can go down on the initial $3.5 trillion,

but also to Senator Manchin, who wanted at times $1.5 trillion, a number that he had

been floating since the summer.

The key thing here is that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House

feels like we are getting closer to the final stages. But she would not say whether or not

President Biden wants to see the infrastructure bills passed by the end of the month, which

is what we have heard from Democratic leaders in Congress.

Another thing to note here is that lawmakers, when they were at the White House and they

were sort of questioned about the role that President Biden is playing, they said that

President Biden is the inspirer, the closer, the sort of mediator in chief in this moment.

So, really, President Biden is being seen as someone who's critical in these debates.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Yamiche, we know that the president is not only working on this.

He's also feeling pressure from members of his own party on a number of issues, including

police reform and voting rights.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: That's right.

President Biden is facing incredible pressure to get this infrastructure bill and this infrastructure

deal through because he has not been able to get a deal through on voting rights or

on policing reform. We have seen those parts of his agenda stalled in Congress.

And Democratic leaders, including candidates, including those candidates who are running

in races like the Virginia governor's race, are saying Democrats in Washington need to

hand Democrats something productive that they have done in order to win in other races.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, finally, back to you.

There had been this sense of a deadline by the end of October. What's it looking like

now?

LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, I don't think they can get a full bill by them. But they are talking

turkey, Judy.

Already, we can report that one major item, that climate pricing item that we talked about

last night, is likely out of negotiations. From here, now Democrats have to choose from

everything else, health care, child care, the rest of the climate package, housing,

all of that, what will remain in this bill. Those talks will start right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, all behind closed doors, but it sounds like some movement today.

Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both.

In the day's other news: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a vaccine mandate for

health care workers in Maine. It is the first statewide requirement to reach the high court.

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, tested positive

for COVID. He's been fully vaccinated and is isolating at home with mild symptoms.

And various reports have said that Brazilian lawmakers want to charge President Jair Bolsonaro

with mass homicide over his pandemic policies. They say hundreds of thousands died in his

bid for herd immunity.

Kidnappers in Haiti who abducted 17 members of a U.S. missionary group are demanding $1

million for each captive. The country's justice minister confirmed it today. Meanwhile, in

Port-au-Prince, the spike in overall crime has spurred protest strikes. Streets are quiet,

and businesses, schools, and mass transit are closed.

North Korea stoked new tensions today after firing a short-range ballistic missile into

the Sea of Japan. The North said it launched from a submarine. If true, that would mark

a significant advance. Japan's new prime minister vowed a tough response.

FUMIO KISHIDA, Japanese Prime Minister (through translator): I have instructed this government

to consider all options. I will drastically strengthen our defense capabilities. My administration

is determined to protect our land, territorial sea and airspace, as well as the people's

lives and assets, no matter what.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This was North Korea's fifth weapons test since September. It followed

a U.S. call for new talks on the North's nuclear weapons program.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban announced rewards for families of suicide bombers who attacked

U.S. soldiers. They will receive cash and land.

Separately, the World Health Organization said the Taliban has approved Afghanistan's

first polio vaccination campaign in three years.

Back in this country, the FBI raided homes in Washington and New York linked to Russian

billionaire Oleg Deripaska. He is allied with President Vladimir Putin, and is under U.S.

sanctions over Moscow's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Agents spent hours

at the two homes today. The FBI said only that it was acting on court warrants involving

the U.S. sanctions.

President Biden's pick to head Customs and Border Protection called today for more humane

policy toward migrants. Chris Magnus is now police chief in Tucson, Arizona. He told his

Senate confirmation hearing that he wants to secure the border and treat asylum seekers

decently.

CHRIS MAGNUS, Tucson, Arizona, Police Chief: I don't believe that we have to sacrifice

efficiency for humanity. And so I think humanity has to be part of the discussion, again, early

and often throughout the careers of CBP members.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Magnus said that the Trump era policy that has allowed mass expulsions

of asylum seekers during the pandemic.

A federal grand jury today indicted a sitting congressman, Jeff Fortenberry, in a campaign

finance case. The Nebraska Republican is accused of lying to the FBI and concealing information

about contributions from a Nigerian billionaire in 2016. Fortenberry denies the charges.

A new FDA proposal could make hearing aids more affordable for millions of Americans.

The agency said today that it wants to allow people to buy the devices over the counter

without prescriptions. The goal is to cut red tape and to bring down costs.

And on Wall Street, stocks advanced on upbeat earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial

average gained 198 points to close at 35457. The Nasdaq rose 107 points. And the S&P 500

added 33.

Still to come on the "NewsHour": the Biden administration's new measures aimed at helping

students struggling with mental health during the pandemic; how lawyers are selecting unbiased

jurors in the high-profile Ahmaud Arbery murder trial; a look at one man's impressive collection

of historic and presidential artifacts; and much more.

The special congressional committee investigating the January assault on the U.S. Capitol meets

tonight in the battle over how much cooperation they will get from allies of former President

Donald Trump.

This evening, they are expected to recommend charging Steve Bannon with contempt of Congress

for refusing to comply with a subpoena demanding that he turn over documents to the committee

and sit for a deposition.

Ambassador Norm Eisen previously worked on the investigations that preceded Mr. Trump's

first impeachment as a counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. He is now with the Brookings

Institution.

Norm Eisen, thank you very much, and welcome back to the "NewsHour."

First of all, what is your understanding of why this special congressional committee wants

to hear from Steve Bannon?

NORMAN EISEN, Former Special Counsel to President Obama: Judy, thanks for having me back.

We know that Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's longtime adviser for a time in the White House,

estranged, then consulting again, was intimately involved with Donald Trump's decision to,

in my view, incite an insurrection on January 6, 2021.

Bannon is the one who called him and told him Trump had to get back to Washington for

this. There's been reporting that Bannon has partially corroborated that he spoke about

killing the Biden presidency in the crib, Judy. And we know that he used very strong

language on his podcast about what was going to happen on January 6.

So, for all those reasons, Bannon's fingerprints are on the events of January 6, and he is

a critically important witness in his own right, but also to understand the insurrectionist

in chief, Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, at this point, it's our understanding that Steve Bannon is not cooperating.

The committee has asked him for information. They have asked him to come testify. They

want to depose him.

What recourse does the committee have?

NORMAN EISEN: In a situation like this one, the committee can utilize two principal avenues.

They can do civil contempt, vote civil contempt, which, on approval of the House, allows them

to go to court to compel Bannon's testimony and documents, or -- and this is the court

- - the course that they seem to be electing, Judy -- they can do criminal contempt, which,

under federal law, the committee and then the full House will make a referral to the

U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and, in consultation with the Justice Department,

the U.S. attorney will decide whether to prosecute Bannon criminally for refusing a lawful subpoena.

And based on the facts and the laws, as we know them here, Bannon richly deserves to

be prosecuted for criminal contempt.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Based on what we know and based on precedent, what do you believe the likelihood

is that the court would give the go-ahead?

NORMAN EISEN: Well, in the first instance, of course, it will be for the U.S. attorney

and DOJ to decide.

I think it is likely that they will seek to prosecute Bannon. The bases that he gives

for refusing to comply with a lawful subpoena of the United States Congress are makeweights.

He says that the information that is sought is executive-privileged, in other words, it's

protected by law because it has to do with the inner workings of the government.

But, Judy, that decision is made by the current president. It's Joe Biden, not Donald Trump.

And, moreover, when Bannon had these conversations with Trump, it had been years since Bannon

was a part of the government, and inciting an insurrection is not a government function

that gets executive privilege basis.

The Biden administration has made clear that it's not countenancing these kind of executive

privilege claims. So those arguments just don't hold water. He must comply, or he should

be prosecuted.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear what you're saying, and yet we both know that Steve Bannon is

likely to fight this to the fullest extent of the law in every way that he can.

We know that President Trump, former President Trump is already doing everything he can legally

to try to stop any cooperation by people who advised him. So, if we try to understand where

this is headed, and we know it could be in any one of a number of places, what do you

think?

I mean, what do you think we are looking at here?

NORMAN EISEN: Well, we're looking at a continuation of Donald Trump's campaign of obstruction,

one that is enabled by his cronies like Steve Bannon.

It's something that worked when he was in the White House. It effectuated delay. What

does Donald Trump have to hide? What are he and Bannon and the others in Trump's coterie

so afraid of coming out if they honor these subpoenas?

There's still much more to learn about January 6. And that's important for the truth of the

historical record. It's important for Congress legislating to make sure that we don't have

another January 6.

But, unfortunately, the Donald Trump big lie campaign continues, so it's also important

to counteract the ongoing lies that stimulate these terrible actions, like the January 6

insurrection.

We're looking at a clash now between the Trump style of governance and getting to the truth.

I think truth will win.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will watch and see. No guarantee at this point, but tonight...

NORMAN EISEN: No, no guarantees.

JUDY WOODRUFF: ... tonight, an important vote by this committee.

Norm Eisen, thank you very much.

NORMAN EISEN: Thank you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On college campuses across the country, the pandemic has posed unprecedented

financial challenges. The federal government has provided $76 billion in relief, over $3

billion specifically for historically Black colleges and universities, and more than $1

billion to minority-serving institutions, where many students face financial hardship.

Yamiche Alcindor reports on how the money is being used to reduce the economic strain

on students.

It's part of our series Rethinking College.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Ever since 19-year-old Manuhe Abebe came to North Carolina Central University,

he's had a plan.

MANUHE ABEBE, College Student: I'm actually going to venture capital after I graduate.

I know there's only like 4 percent of African Americans in V.C. So, if I become that one

minority that could advocate for other minorities, I believe I can definitely make a difference.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: He moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia when he was 4. He is the first in

his family to go to college.

MANUHE ABEBE: They came here to give me a better education, a better life. I definitely

don't want to waste an opportunity. I want to set an example for my siblings and any

other first generation that is going into college.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But during the pandemic, the balance he owed his school ballooned to

some $7,000. The honor student did not know how he would pay it off. Then he got a surprise.

MANUHE ABEBE: One day, I just woke up and I ended up seeing my balance being cleared.

That definitely lessened the stress of having to worry about, how am I supposed to pay for

my college?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: North Carolina Central University is one of many historically Black colleges

and universities that used federal pandemic relief funds to clear the outstanding balances

owed directly to them in tuitions and fees.

AKUA JOHNSON MATHERSON, Chief Financial Officer, North Carolina Central University: We're doing

whatever we can.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The school's chief financial officer, Akua Johnson Matherson, says the

goal is retention.

AKUA JOHNSON MATHERSON: How can we ensure that our students are getting everything that

we can possibly provide, so that they can stay here?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It's a welcome relief to students at HBCUs, who are disproportionately

low-income.

More than 75 percent get Pell Grants, and many come from Black communities, which were

hit hard by wage and job losses during the pandemic.

Fenaba Addo studies student debt.

FENABA ADDO, University of North Carolina: Schools are realizing that the fees that are

associated with attending their universities and their colleges are prohibiting them from

completing their degree, or maybe delaying their opportunity with completing their degree.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Trinity Washington University's student population is predominantly Black

and Hispanic. Most students are women.

And provost Carlota Ocampo says, on average, they have few resources.

CARLOTA OCAMPO, Provost, Trinity Washington University: The median family income is $25,000

a year. That's family income. A $200 bill can make a difference for them staying in

school.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: So, Trinity spent more than $2 million in American Rescue Plan funds to

pay off balances for 535 students.

CARLOTA OCAMPO: Many of our students have economic great economic need even at the best

of times. So, you can well imagine, in an economic downturn, who are the first to be

impacted? They don't have family they can run to and say, lend me 1,000 bucks to get

through.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Annissa Young, who emigrated from Jamaica as a teen, is double majoring

in business administration and psychology. Until the pandemic hit, her dad helped pay

her tuition.

ANNISSA YOUNG, College Student: He drives trucks. He works seven days a week or five.

He was cut back to two or three.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: When that happened, they could no longer make tuition payments. Young

accrued an $11,000 balance.

How concerned were you about paying this tuition before your debt was wiped away?

ANNISSA YOUNG: It was kind of stressful. My dad told me not to worry about it, but, knowing

me, I am going to worry about it. After finishing the homework and everything, I will just stay

up wondering, is this what I'm going to do? Should we do this? It was it was kind of a

struggle, to be honest.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Young works part-time at a Jamaican restaurant. But her earnings were

dwarfed by the size of her debt. When she got an e-mail that her balance was paid off,

she couldn't believe it.

ANNISSA YOUNG: Honestly, at first, I thought it was a scam, someone hacked Trinity's e-mail.

But then I read it, and I'm like, is this it? Like, is this what I have been actually

praying for? Like, all of it, just thousands gone.

KIARA TATE, College Student: Welcome to this evening's NCAA women's volleyball contest.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Nineteen-year-old Kiara Tate has worked a number of jobs to help cover

her college costs, including a work-study position in the athletics department.

KIARA TATE: I need to work so I can pay my tuition.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Tate is studying nursing, and has wanted to go to Trinity since she

was child.

KIARA TATE: My mom went to Trinity. And she was coming here when I was in the womb. Everybody's

so nice. I fell in love with the college.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But Tate's account balance of over $6,000. That made her question whether

she could stay in school.

KIARA TATE: I was just, I don't know how to pay it. I don't work enough hours to pay it.

I was pretty worried I was going to get kicked out of college.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Then she got the news that her account was cleared.

KIARA TATE: I called my mom and I said: "Mom, my debt is paid off."

And she was like: "What?"

And I said: "My debt is paid off from Trinity. I -- they're starting me over, like a financial

new start."

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: There's a weight that has been lifted.

KIARA TATE: Yes, a very big weight.

(LAUGHTER)

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Provost Ocampo says it's money well spent.

CARLOTA OCAMPO: This is not giving away free money to students who just are going to run

off to Vegas. I mean, these kids work hard in order to put themselves through school

so they can better themselves and their families.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Wiping away the fees students owe their schools does not impact the $1.7

trillion held nationwide in federal and private student loans. And, on average, Black students

have more student loan debt than their white counterparts, says Fenaba Addo.

FENABA ADDO: But the fees are important as well, because the fees are associated with

students' ability to stay enrolled and to complete their degrees. You will have one

less financial burden to worry about.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Schools have used federal dollars to provide other kinds of help.

Denise Perez, a senior studying psychology at Virginia Union University, grew up with

10 brothers in a low-income section of Norfolk, Virginia.

DENISE PEREZ, College Student: There's not a lot of opportunities there. So, when you're

given that chance to leave Norfolk, Virginia, and make a change, you definitely have to

take that chance and you just have to run with it.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: She's learned to care for herself. But that got tough when COVID hit.

How did the pandemic impact your situation, both financially, but also emotionally?

DENISE PEREZ: I was a student who where the professors were like, are you OK? What's going

on? Like, this is not you.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Perez had lost a job and her focus. She struggled to make ends meet.

DENISE PEREZ: I was thinking about how I'm going to pay my rent, how am I going to make

sure that I have food in my mouth.

And my mom said -- it's like she still has kids at home. She has her own bills, her own

commitments, her own business. And money doesn't grow off the trees.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Perez got a boost when her school sent her around $2,000 in emergency

aid funded by the CARES Act. With that, plus scholarships, loans, and earnings from her

job, she's hung on.

MANUHE ABEBE: I'm still here. I didn't give up. I didn't drop out. Virginia Union is like

my world. This is like my comfort zone. This is where I feel like I am me.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Virginia Union chief operating officer Allia Carter is exploring more ways

to provide more support to students, even without federal relief money.

ALLIA CARTER, Chief Operating Officer, Virginia Union University: What we used these funds

for was to offset the cost of what we call gaps in the idea of affordability.

How do we sustain this? How do you make this doable for those to come into our higher education

environment and providing them relief or support that they may need so that they can gain access?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: At North Carolina Central, Manuhe Abebe is looking forward, now that

his financial burden has been eased.

MANUHE ABEBE: I was actually thinking of running for student body president. And I just want

to give back to the students and make sure that I'm making an impact.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: For the sophomore and so many other students, the focus is now on the

future.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The question of how much more money should be provided for higher education,

including two years of free community college, is one of many points up for debate among

Democrats and the president right now.

The spending bills also include significant new money for K-12 schools. That's in addition

to money already being given out in pandemic relief legislation.

Those bills have also directed funding to support the mental health needs of students.

Amna Nawaz has a conversation about all of this with the secretary of education.

AMNA NAWAZ: Leading child health care groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics,

said today the pandemic has triggered a -- quote - - "national state of emergency" in mental

health among America's youth and that policy-makers need to act.

The Education Department has issued new guidance for how to address the crisis in K-12 schools,

as well as how to spend billions in relief funding to bolster student mental health.

Secretary Miguel Cardona joins me now to discuss.

Mr. Secretary, welcome back to the "NewsHour." Thanks for making the time.

Let's talk about the guidelines issued today. How do they address this crisis right now?

MIGUEL CARDONA, U.S. Education Secretary: Well, I appreciate the Academy of Pediatrics

making those statements, because it's critically important we continue to work together to

give our students what they need.

And, right now, our students across the country need more support, mental health support,

more social-emotional well-being checks. And we are pleased at the Department of Education

to be able to respond in a way that addresses what we have been hearing from students, from

educators across the country as we have visited schools.

They need more social-emotional support and more access to mental health support. So,

the manual, the guide that we put out today provides not only links to good research around

mental health supports, but also wonderful examples from across the country of what educators

are doing to provide access to students in ways that maybe weren't available just two

years ago.

AMNA NAWAZ: Well, tell us about some of those examples.

I mean, I don't need to tell you the crisis is already here. So, I think a lot of people

will wonder, what good do guidelines and additional funding do?

Just to underscore some of this -- you know these numbers -- but suspected suicide attempts

for teen girls are up 50 percent over last year, emergency visits for mental health emergencies

up 30 percent for teens, up 24 percent for kids aged 5 to 12.

What is the Department of Education doing that addresses this now?

MIGUEL CARDONA: Yes. Well, that's what we're doing.

We have examples of what's happening now, what you can replicate in your schools today.

The American Rescue Plan funds are there already. So we know the resources are there, the urgency

is there. Now we have in this manual that you can find online on our Web site, accessible

to all, but, in particular, it gives practical tips on what you can do today, in the classroom,

in a school, in a district, in a state.

And these are proven strategies that have worked in other places. We're lifting up those

practices, and we're making it accessible to all. We don't want to be in the business

of providing long documents that are not practical for educators. Educators needs support now.

In this document, they're going to get that. They have the resources. They have the strategies

that will come up -- that have come up from educators. So now it's time to make sure that

our schools reflect the needs of our students, and that we provide the support that our students

need.

AMNA NAWAZ: I'd love to ask you about masking in school and some of the mandates. You have

said that you are reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce mask

mandates in school.

If that masking -- as you have said, it protects kids, it protects teachers, it protects families,

so why not do everything you can to require that masking in schools?

MIGUEL CARDONA: I believe we are.

And I believe withholding funds for students, while I do reserve the right to do that, will

only take that student who is now in an environment that is not as safe as possible and prevent

that student from getting reading support or getting a social worker because they have

experienced a lot.

What we are doing is working closely with those district leaders who are doing the right

thing, at their own risk, to make sure that they're protecting students. So, we're working

with them. We're providing funds if their funds are being cut.

But we're also, through the Office For Civil Rights, investigating cases where we believe

students' rights to education are being violated. So we are doing that. And what we're finding

throughout the country is that those places that follow the mitigation strategies, promote

vaccinations, and are working to protect students and staff have less disruptive learning, and

students are able to stay in classrooms.

And the impact, the mental health impact, is less too, because they're seeing less hospitalizations

and less death around them.

AMNA NAWAZ: But what about mandatory vaccinations? You have said that you back mandatory vaccinations

for older students. We could soon see FDA approval for younger kids aged 5 to 11.

Do you support mandatory vaccinations for elementary students as well?

MIGUEL CARDONA: I'm pleased that we're making progress with vaccinations and that our youngest

learners are going to have access to it.

As a father, the first thing I did when my children were eligible was get in line and

give them that opportunity to be safe and to protect those around them as well. So,

I encourage all families to have their children be vaccinated. We know that, if it's getting

approvals, it's safe for students.

And it should be something that parents get their -- for their children. And it should

be something that, as a community, we do to protect one another.

AMNA NAWAZ: I want to ask you also about student debt, which is on a lot of people's minds.

There has been a freeze on student loan payments during the pandemic. It's impacted, what,

some 40 million or so borrowers. The Biden ministration extended that to January of 2022.

So, does that mean that those people should expect to restart payments in February?

MIGUEL CARDONA: It does.

But what we have done is make sure that we're providing a long enough on-ramp to support

our borrowers. What you're going to see President Biden and this whole team is really focused

on making sure that our students are at the center of the conversations.

And that doesn't just mean our K-12 students. It means our higher ed students. Together,

we have forgiven over $11.6 billion in student debt. We're making sure that we're protecting

our borrowers, and we're making sure that they have information, and that the processes

to get public service loan forgiveness, which we're going to fix, is simple.

Students shouldn't have to have more hoops to jump through in order to get what what's

rightfully theirs. So, we're going to continue to protect our students. We're going to continue

to prioritize our borrowers and make -- fix some of the systems that were broken.

AMNA NAWAZ: Mr. Secretary, if I can just follow up, though, a lot of people will say that

you have forgiven billions in debt so far. It's been for a small slice of borrowers so

far.

For these tens of millions others, the pandemic is not yet behind us. The recession is still

with us. And people are still very much struggling.

So the question is, if there's a surge in delinquencies, for example, what are you doing

to -- or what are you -- how are you preparing to handle that?

MIGUEL CARDONA: Right.

We're revamping our processes to make it more user-friendly to support our borrowers, but

also to communicate more effectively what options they have and what type of support

they can receive.

The goal is to help our borrowers, not add more stress. But we know that that process

is going to require that we fix systems that were broken here, and really make it more

student-centered. And we're going to continue to do that. We're going to listen to our students,

listen to our borrowers. We're going to do the very best to protect our borrowers, but

also provide pathways for them to be successful in repayment, but also in whatever life circumstances

they have.

AMNA NAWAZ: Briefly, before I let you go, I know that you have been leading the charge

to figure out if there's a way for the Biden administration to cancel student debt.

A lot of pressure from within the Democratic Party to do just that. Have you delivered

your recommendation to the president yet?

MIGUEL CARDONA: We're working with the White House and with the Department of Justice on

that.

And what I will tell you is that we're not waiting for that to do what's right for our

students and for our borrowers. As you saw a couple of weeks ago, we announced the public

service loan forgiveness. We're going to fix that. And we're going to make sure that our

- - those who were offered public service loan forgiveness 10 years ago, that we follow through

on those promises and with the intention of Congress.

So we haven't slowed down. We're going to continue to do that. And while those conversations

continue, it doesn't mean we're taking our eyes off making sure that everything we do

at this department is student-centered.

AMNA NAWAZ: The secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, joining us tonight.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time.

MIGUEL CARDONA: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jury selection is under way in the high-profile case of white men accused

of murdering an unarmed Black man in Georgia, one of the cases that set in motion a wave

of racial justice protests nationwide in the summer of 2020.

William Brangham has the story, as part of our ongoing coverage of Race Matters.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Judy, jury selection is under way for the three white men on trial

for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

Arbery was jogging near his home in Southeastern Georgia in February of 2020, when two of the

men stopped him, claiming that they thought he was involved in a string of burglaries.

A fight took place. One of the men had a shotgun, and Arbery was shot and killed.

The two men were not initially arrested, until 10 weeks later, when video of the incident

was revealed. The third man on trial is the one who took that video.

To talk about this highly anticipated trial, I'm joined by Gerald Griggs. He's vice president

of the NAACP Atlanta chapter.

Mr. Griggs, thank you very much for being here.

Could you just give us a sense? I know this is a very fraught time as this trial starts.

What is the mood like in the community there?

GERALD GRIGGS, Vice President, NAACP Atlanta: Yes, the mood down in Glynn County is cautiously

optimistic.

As you said before, it took 74 days from the incident occurring until the videotape was

released for them to make an arrest in this case. So they're cautiously optimistic, and

they're hopeful that justice will be achieved in this case. And they have been watching

this and participating, and many members are outside the courtroom right now waiting on

jury selection.

And some people are outside having a teach-in. But the community is galvanized around this

case, and they will continue to push towards justice.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I can't help but notice that, again, this is one of those instances

where videotape, I mean, albeit video shot by one of the men who is being prosecuted,

was the turning point, was what got state prosecutors involved, and what helped turn

the tide and really change the facts on the ground of what actually happened.

GERALD GRIGGS: Yes, that's correct.

Because of the release of the tape, law enforcement got serious about this case. You know, for

the longest time, Wanda Cooper-Jones and other members of Ahmaud's Arbery family had been

pushing for justice ever since they learned what happened to their loved one on February

23, 2020.

And they were always resolute in believing that he was murdered. And so once the videotape

was released and it showed the world, that's when law enforcement started to actively truly

investigate and bring individuals in for questioning, as well as arrested the three suspects that

were involved.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As I mentioned, the defense argues that these men were within their rights

to stop Mr. Arbery, they thought he was involved in some crimes, they were legally carrying

their guns, and when they confronted him, he fought back.

What do you make of that argument? Do you think that's going to have any sway over the

jury?

GERALD GRIGGS: I think that that's a curious factual argument. It goes against the facts

and the law.

They're arguing that they had a right to arrest the individual because they believed that

he was involved in some sort of criminal behavior. It turned out that the owner of the property

believed there was no criminal behavior and had not empowered these individuals to make

any arrest on his behalf.

And, ultimately, even if they were empowered to use that type of power to arrest someone,

they could not use deadly force.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Where do you see this tragedy fitting in this long line of cases that we

have seen that have triggered this racial justice movement across the country, from

George Floyd to Breonna Taylor? Where does this fit in that?

GERALD GRIGGS: Well, this is actually the case that began Freedom Summer 2020. It was

a case that happened before George Floyd, and it brought the awareness, as we were all

dealing with COVID-19 and we all saw the video.

It launched the new social justice movement that has gripped America. So, I think that

this is the very first case. And I believe that, hopefully, we can achieve justice like

we achieved it in the George Floyd case. But, ultimately, it's a little different, because

we're not dealing with directly law enforcement. We're dealing with vigilante justice.

So it falls in line with the Emmett Till case. It falls in line with the Jordan Davis case

and so many other cases throughout history. And, hopefully, we will see the appropriate

response by the criminal justice system in this case.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I know you have been in touch with many members of the Arbery family.

What is your sense from talking with them about what justice would look like to them?

GERALD GRIGGS: They have been very clear since the very beginning. They want all individuals

who were a part of this or who helped cover it up, held accountable.

Specifically, for the three individuals on trial, they want a conviction, and they want

the maximum punishment under law. Like I said before, like many members of the community,

they're cautiously optimistic. But they are so far happy that we have gotten to this point

because of the pressure of activists, the pressure of the family, the pressure of the

community and, of course, the pressure of the nation seeing what happened in that Southeast

Georgia town.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you think that all that pressure and all of that attention and all

of the fraught history of what we're been dealing with in this country is going to make

it hard for the jury to keep their eyes focused on the facts of this particular case?

GERALD GRIGGS: No, I don't think so.

I think that, once you look at the facts and evidence in this case, and you look at all

the bodycam footage, you look at the cell phone footage, you can come to a pretty easy

decision about what happened, and what was legal and was illegal.

So, I don't think it's going to weigh that heavily once you look at the case. And that

case will be tried in a courtroom. The judge will give curative instructions about anything

that people may have seen outside of the courtroom, and tell the jurors to determine the facts

and the evidence based on what they see on the witness stand and what they hear from

the witnesses and the documentary evidence.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Gerald Griggs the NAACP in Atlanta, thank you very much

for being here.

GERALD GRIGGS: Thank you for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the 1930s, when the Nazis began their occupation of Europe, they set

up ghettos for more than one million Jews, forcing them to live and work in fenced-off

communities. Once the Nazis arrived at the Final Solution, the mass murder of Jews, most

ghetto residents were killed.

Some 25,000 of them, though, escaped the ghettos to hide in the woods, but few survived. The

members of one family who spent years in the forest are now telling their story.

Author Rebecca Frankel writes about them in her new book, "Into the Forest."

She recently sat down with "NewsHour" producer Ali Rogin.

ALI ROGIN: Rebecca Frankel, thank you so much for being here.

Your new book, "Into the Forest," is first and foremost a story of survival, and at the

heart of it is the Rabinowitz family.

So, can you tell me a little bit about them and what they endured?

REBECCA FRANKEL, Author, "Into the Forest: A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and

Love": Sure.

So, the Rabinowitz family was a normal family in 1930s Poland. They lived in a very small

town called Zhetel. It was Morris and Miriam were married, and they had two young, very

sweet, adorable daughters, Rochel and Tania. And they were basically just going about their

lives.

Morris was a lumber dealer. Miriam owned a small shop. And they were, of course, a Jewish

family, which, ultimately, as the 1930s would continue and as Germany's influence in Poland

and the politics started having a meddling influence, certainly, that changed for the

worse.

ALI ROGIN: Their fortunes change. They are sent into the ghetto. And tell us about what

their experience was like in the ghetto.

REBECCA FRANKEL: So, when the Germans invaded and they broke their pact with Russia in 1941,

that's when things for Zhetel started to get really bad.

All of the Jews of the small town in Zhetel, they were interned in a ghetto. And then the

selection started. And what this meant, of course, was that the Germans were separating

out the Jews that could provide some sort of service, were of some value in terms of

labor, or they were doctors or craftsmen or architects or engineers.

And the people who suffered most then, of course, were small children without parents,

the elderly, the infirm, and even just women who didn't have working certificates.

But one thing for these small communities in these more forest-adjacent towns in Poland

and Belarussia and other countries closer to Russia, one thing started to give them

hope. And that was this idea that they could run away to the forest.

And what was happening then was that the Soviet fighters who had been sort of behind enemy

lines at this point were regrouping into guerrilla fighting units, and they were slowly mounting

this outside fight against Germany.

And so these Jews in the ghetto, not many of them were able to do it, but some of them

did escape their ghettos, and they did run to the forest. And, of course, this is what

happened with the Rabinowitz family. They were able to escape in August of 1942, right

during the most terrible thing that happened to the Jews of Zhetel, which, of course, was

the liquidation of the ghetto, when the Nazis basically killed all of the remaining Jews,

except for a very small number.

ALI ROGIN: They end up in the forest. And then tell us about what life was like there.

It was incredibly difficult for a number of years.

REBECCA FRANKEL: So, they went into the forest in the summer of 1942, and that -- the summertime

was actually probably the most benevolent season of this area, because the winters are

absolutely brutal. The temperatures drop to about negative-20 degrees.

And I think, during these winters that they were there -- and the family was there for

two years -- it was even colder. And, of course, they weren't safe in the woods, as I think

that they imagined they would be, because there were still people, local groups, Poles,

and Lithuanians and others, who had aligned with the Germans and the Nazis, and were looking

for partisan fighters, but also Jewish family camps, which is what the Rabinowitz family

did.

They formed a family camp. And so they were constantly on the move. They built these small,

little communities in the woods, these underground bunkers, that are called zemlyanka. And they

basically made as much of a life in the woods as they could. But, really, it was just a

day-to-day struggle to survive.

ALI ROGIN: And the fact that they did so, and they made it through, they spent several

years, as you recount in the book, traveling through Europe as refugees.

But then, of course, when they get to America, in the midst of all of this, there's a love

story.

REBECCA FRANKEL: There is, and it's a really wonderful part of this family story.

Of course, there's the love story between Morris and Miriam and how they kept their

family going. But the other love story that you're talking about is the one between Morris

and Miriam's daughter Ruth, and this young boy, Philip Lazowski, who is from another

small Polish town called Belitza.

And this boy met the Rabinowitz family earlier, before they escaped the ghetto, in 1942 in

April, when there was a selection, as I mentioned before. And during the selection, he was separated

from his family. So, 11-year-old Philip is in the midst of this brutality, and people

are being killed all around him.

And he sees this woman with her two young daughters, and she has a kind-looking face,

and so he thinks, I can approach her. He walks up to her and he says: "Will you please pretend

that I'm your son?"

And she takes one look at him and she says: "If the Nazis will let me live with two children,

they will let me live with three." And so they make it through the selection, and he's

safe, and they're safe, and he runs off and they don't see him again until after the war.

Philip Lazowski also emigrated to the United States, just like the Rabinowitz family did.

And in 1953, he's at a wedding in Brooklyn, and he sits next to this young woman. And

it turns out that she knows this family that once saved a boy from Belitza.

And he's sitting there. And he thinks, OK, well, what's the story? You know, tell me.

How did it happen? And she tells him. and he says, that was me. I'm the boy.

And so, minutes later, he runs to a pay phone. He makes the phone call. And then so begins

this reunion between the two families, Miriam Rabinowitz, who saved Philip Lazowski. And

on a visit to Hartford, where they were living, he meets Miriam's oldest daughter, Ruth, who's

no longer a little girl. She is a teenager.

ALI ROGIN: And she had changed her name from what it was back in Poland.

REBECCA FRANKEL: Yes, thank you. Yes.

So, Rochel was now Ruth. And he started writing her letters, and it took two years, but, eventually,

they fell madly in love, and that started a whole 'nother family and romance and marriage.

ALI ROGIN: And, of course, you got to know them because you have a very personal connection

to this family.

REBECCA FRANKEL: I did.

ALI ROGIN: Tell us about that.

REBECCA FRANKEL: In addition to meeting Miriam's daughter Ruth and falling in love with her,

Philip Lazowski became a rabbi. And my family, from the time I was 5 years old, attended

the synagogue where Philip Lazowski was the rabbi.

And so I have known -- I can barely call him Philip, but Rabbi and Ruth, as I call them,

I have known them since I was about 5 years old. So this story of how they met and their

love story has always been sort of in the background of this community that I grew up

with in West Hartford, Connecticut, and was just something I have known about for a very

long time.

ALI ROGIN: The book is "Into the Forest."

Rebecca Frankel, thank you so much for joining us.

REBECCA FRANKEL: Thank you. Thank you so much.

JUDY WOODRUFF: For many Americans during the pandemic, the home office has seen a lot of

activity.

But as Maya Trabulsi of station KPBS reports, one San Diego man dedicated his home's workspace

to his passion, American history.

It's part of our arts and culture series, Canvas.

MAYA TRABULSI: When Roger Dangel walks inside his house, he takes a step into another place

and time.

ROGER DANGEL, Collector: Welcome to the Oval Office.

MAYA TRABULSI: He's been collecting historical artifacts for more than 20 years. The room

is now flanked by history-making documents signed by the most famous men in American

history, the men that made a country.

ROGER DANGEL: I guess, if you're going to have a theme room, you might as well have

the biggest theme room you can have.

MAYA TRABULSI: When Roger and his wife rebuilt what was once his parents' home, they designed

this room to bear the famous oval shape, just like the real thing.

ROGER DANGEL: It's a functional desk. It's a functional office. I use it all the time.

MAYA TRABULSI: And the size of the desk was also taken into consideration, a replica of

the Resolute Desk, originally a gift from Queen Victoria to then-president Rutherford

B. Hayes, and used by many American presidents.

ROGER DANGEL: The most famous one, of course, is John F. Kennedy, with John-John coming

out of the little door in the front. And this one has that same door in the front that you

can open up as well.

MAYA TRABULSI: But beyond the wainscotting, scalloped doorway molds, and other small thoughtful

details, this room holds treasures that transcend time, like this lieutenant colonel's Union

uniform worn during the Civil War with a small handwritten clue as to the person who wore

it.

ROGER DANGEL: This was found, actually, in the pocket. And it does say that it did belong

to Elijah Hunt Rhodes of Rhode Island. And that's kind of cool.

I'm kind of an equal-opportunity presidential collector, as I have every president to date,

except for Joe Biden, which is so new right now that I don't have a presidential document

from him, because he's still in office.

MAYA TRABULSI: Some smaller pieces give us a glimpse of the personalities behind the

decision-makers of yesteryear.

ROGER DANGEL: Doodles. These are original sketches by Ronald Reagan when he was doodling

as governor.

MAYA TRABULSI: And while this original doodle sits casually on this desk in La Jolla, the

Reagan Library sells copies for museum visitors.

ROGER DANGEL: Do you see which way the head is pointed? The head is always pointed to

the olive branches, with the exception of one president.

The eagle turned its head to the arrows during World War II, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt

after they attacked Pearl Harbor. And when Harry Truman became president, the eagle's

head turned the head back over to the olive branches, and it's remained that way ever

since.

MAYA TRABULSI: As guardian of this treasure, Roger wants these things to be accessible

and, more importantly, interactive.

ROGER DANGEL: This would contain your laudanum, which is opium.

MAYA TRABULSI: He says history should be touched.

ROGER DANGEL: And this is something they won't let you do at the Smithsonian, but we do here.

And that is an actual document signed twice by Abraham Lincoln.

MAYA TRABULSI: Abraham Lincoln signed it right here and right here, August 17, 1863.

And less than two years:

ROGER DANGEL: These glasses were reportedly found at Ford's Theatre the night that Abraham

Lincoln was shot, and was dropped by a patron there, a captain. If these glasses could only

talk, they could tell a story.

MAYA TRABULSI: And it is the story behind the land deed, the pardon, the court-martial,

or even the Civil War bullet lodged in a piece of wood that draws Roger to these items.

ROGER DANGEL: I'm just holding these pieces of history in my hand for a short period of

time, until it can be passed on to someone else.

MAYA TRABULSI: And for lovers of history, these are reminders, of how far we have come,

and how far we have yet to go.

MAYA TRABULSI: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Maya Trabulsi in San Diego.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What a remarkable collection. That's a treat.

And online now: Zalmay Khalilzad, who held the role as the U.S.' top diplomat to Afghanistan

and who negotiated an agreement with the Taliban, has stepped down. You can find more on what

this means for U.S.-Afghan relations on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff.

Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.

For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.

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