With Evan Davis. Donald Trump's sacking of FBI director James Comey, and should foreigners be banned from buying houses?
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It's not the way they meant to release it, but a draft
of the Labour manifesto has found its way into the press.
A radical manifesto - but is it 1983 again?
The Mirror journalist, Jack Blanchard, with
Is he trying to run the US like it's a game show?
We'll ask if the President is irreversibly undermining
and politicising justice and security in the US.
And Noam Chomsky hasn't mellowed much, aged 88.
the most dangerous organisation on Earth?
Probably not the news that Labour wanted -
but a draft of their manifesto has been leaked.
The Telegraph and Daily Mirror have it and wrote it up
Labour's NEC is gathering tomorrow in what is called a Clause five
meeting, to agree the final version, so it could in theory
"We do not comment on leaks. We will announce our policies
in our manifesto, which is our plan to transform Britain for the many
Well, many not the few is the kind of theme of the draft -
with, for example, a plan for there to be at least one
publicly owned energy company in every part of the UK.
National Grid, railways and bus companies are to be nationalised.
Well, I'm joined by Jack Blanchard, the Mirror's political editor -
And with our own political editor, Nick Watt.
Just to be clear, Jack, what you have there is a print out. It's not
a typeset, formalised version? I'm afraid not. No cover, no glossy
feel. It is a dodgy, leaked document. But it does have their
draft measures. Give us some of the eye-catching ones. There's a lot in
there. As you mention, there is the plan to bring a big part of the
energy industry back into public ownership. There is a huge
investment plans for the NHS, ?6 billion extra a year, which will be
funded with new taxes on people earning more than ?80,000 a year.
There's council houses to be built every year, tuition fees abolished
entirely... We kind of knew that anyway. And then the creation of new
Whitehall departments, a Ministry of Labour, a Department for housing,
because Labour seat workers' rights and housing as central. Lots and
lots on workers' rights. The Telegraph have written it up
tonight. You take a slightly different spin than the Daily
Mirror. They are saying it is 1983 all over again. The moderates in the
Labour Party are relatively relaxed about this draft manifesto which
they had obviously seen. They are saying this is the closest the
Labour Party has got to the 1980s, the famous 1983 manifesto, the
longest suicide note in history, as the late Sir Gerald Kaufman calls
it. They are saying that they are upholding Labour's commitment to
renewing Trident in this manifesto, that there was a curious paragraph
after that, saying any Prime Minister would want to use the
nuclear deterrent with caution. Which I think they have done up
until now! 82%... Commitment to the 2% spending on defence. They are
saying that Robin Cook could've written that in 1997. Who has
written this? Is it Corbin 's team? Absolutely. Two or three key members
in his team. They obviously have not had very much time to do it. They
started looking at all the things they wanted to do, and they have
reached out from there. Labour are not doing well in the polls, but
when you look at the policies, like nationalising railways, people will
like it. Would you describe this as quite populist in flavour, taxing
the rich more to pay more into the NHS? A nationalised energy company
in all regions? I spoke to a senior member of Corbyn's team tonight
asking if they wanted to say anything. They didn't want to
comment on record, but when I said some of this looks quite left-wing,
they said, no, it is popular. If you look at these individual policies,
like energy and privatised railways, and higher taxes on some people,
people agree with them on that. I was talking to one moderate this
afternoon. The moderates said that the abolition of university fees
would connect people. And they said, oh, dear me, is this going to raise
questions about their strategy? The moderate strategy is to let Jeremy
Corbyn own it. The one red line was a Trident renewal commitment. For
everything else, they are taking the tragedy -- the strategy owned by
John Golding. They say that he must own this so he can own the general
election result. Let's think about the process. This goes to this
Clause 5 meeting tomorrow. Is that just a formality? Will they not it
through, or will the NEC be over each other's shoulders, trying to...
I think it is tweets more than anything more serious. -- it is
tweaks. I don't think they will change much. In the past, you had
battles, although that would take place beforehand. It's not just the
NEC, it is the Shadow Cabinet, and it is the trade union liaison and
contact group. The trade unions have a big say. I was told one thing that
might cause a problem at the meeting tomorrow is what it says about
immigration. The trades union do not think it goes fast -- far enough.
Will the party be really annoyed? Is it a shambles or a clever media
strategy? Lets leak it out, let's get people talking... It's not that.
It looks slightly shambolic. My understanding is this has happened
before. Because Labour has this process, this big meeting full of
senior people who all discuss it, leaks can happen because of this
process. But it is in their constitution and it's how they work.
It's not what they planned, but it was all due to come next week
anyway. Whose interest is it to leak this, and for what motive? You could
say that the Corbyn Knights have a good reason for leaking it, to get
away with any problem. And to stop anybody watering it down? And you
could play that game, so I don't exactly know. Thank you for coming
in with it. Thanks very much. So - a President fires the head
of the internal security service, on perplexing grounds that
are months' old. Just as the security
service is investigating It doesn't sound like
the US, but it is. Today, the New York Times
reported that the terminated director of the FBI
James Comey had just been asking for more resources
for the investigation into Russian Was he sacked to thwart
an inconvenient investigation? Or, do we believe the Trump line -
that Mr Comey had lost the trust of Democrats and Republicans alike
and the FBI needed a fresh start? Well, for many, the President has
crossed a dangerous threshold - the constitution has checks
and balances on his power, but it has to allow him some
discretion, and to them, he's broken the spirit of US
convention, by exploiting his powers Our diplomatic editor
Mark Urban is with me. In FBI terms, the history of the
FBI, how big a deal is it for the FBI director to be sacked? I think
you know the answer to this question. One has been sacked
before, by Bill Clinton back in 1993. William Sessions. People say
this was a move like Nixon. Nixon fired the special prosecutor who had
been appointed to investigate the Watergate burglary, so that's where
there are parallels. Consternation in Washington today, and all sorts
of versions coming out of a beleaguered president becoming
obsessed with this Russia issue, finally boiling over and doing this.
That is from anti-Trump media, but it is true that he hadn't been doing
public engagements in recent days, and it's also true that even his
press people seemed unaware until moments before this happened that it
was going to happen. They have been putting some other lines out today,
like saying, we thought the Democrats would really like this and
be supportive. Everybody has jumped to their own conclusion about why it
happened, and that is largely to do with the Russian thing. But that
Russian investigation will go on. It all comes back to the investigation
of the connection between the trump campaign and the Russians.
No-one has produced evidence of it yet, but there's a lurking suspicion
that team Trump might have encouraged, co-ordinated,
or been in some way complicit with Russian hacking
If that was true, well, let's just say it's not a good thing to do.
Paul Wood is in Washington, and looks at what's left
of the investigations into the Russian connection
The political melodrama "House of Trump" is a ratings smash.
But at times it's a little dark, and the plot does stretch credulity.
In part one, the FBI investigates whether the Trump campaign conspired
with a foreign power, Russia, to steal the US
In part two, Trump fires the FBI director, James Comey.
It was not to derail the FBI investigation,
Yes, that is Henry Kissinger next to him.
The question is, naturally, were about Comey's sacking.
He wasn't doing a good job, very simply.
The president wrote a terse letter to Comey,
saying it was "Vital to restore public trust and
Significantly, he recalled Comey "Informing me on three
separate occasions that I am not under investigation".
At the White House briefing, an avalanche of scepticism...
Look, I think it was something that...
Above my pay grade was decided to be included, and I'm not going to get
Trump's critics paint a different picture.
They don't believe that Comey was sacked,
as the White House says, because he was too tough
The White House should perhaps recall what another president, LBJ,
said about another FBI director, J Edgar Hoover.
Better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.
It is a delicious irony that Russia's Foreign Minister should be
visiting Washington today to see Mr Trump.
Never forget that the US intelligence agencies all say that
Russia interfered in the election, and they did it to put
That assessment was made by James Clapper, when he was director
He told Congress this week that Russia had hacked leading Democrats
and then leaked out damaging information a sophisticated
They must be congratulating themselves for having
exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal
And I believe they are now emboldened to continue such
activities in the future both here and around the world,
No evidence has been made public proving
There's no evidence either for the claim that the Kremlin
is blackmailing the president, using a tape of him
Nor has it yet been shown that Trump's business dealings put him
But the FBI investigation will continue after Comey's departure.
There are also four separate congressional enquiries.
All these investigations now have many more questions
following the events of the last 24 hours.
What does he know that's yet to be made public?
And, was Trump reassured that he himself was not the subject
Washington echoes to talk that a special
Inevitably, the President's critics compare this to Watergate.
There is a clear and present danger of a cover-up,
history doesn't repeat but it rhymes.
And this firing very much has the look and feel of an effort
to stop an investigation and politically interfere with it.
Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading
But, President Trump may be right, that only his aides and associates
Then the question will be that which came to define Watergate -
what did the president know, and when did he know it?
How much of a danger do you think this Russian investigation is to
President Trump? Well, we know that the idea mesmerises the intelligence
community. Ex-director Comey and others, as well as the President's
political opponents. It is that there is some kind of connectivity
that is provable between the Trump campaign, and the hacking and
leaking of e-mails during last year's presidential election. That
is clearly the main thing they are going for. There are peripheral
issues with money, meetings coordinating policy, other things.
But that is the central thing they want to prove. Clearly, if they get
there, if it is possible to prove that connection of people meeting,
and money going... You know, actual connectivity, let's leaked this
one... In the coming days, then it is an absolute major bombshell. But
they are a long way off. The President's defences are holding up
in certain respects. For example, today more than 75 Democrats and
independents joined the call for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
No Republicans, just three in Congress and the Senate, led by John
McCain, backing the idea of a special committee of enquiry. On the
whole come his defences are holding up. Self-evidently they've not got
the point where they could launch a charge against individuals on these
very serious potential allegations, and of course even if they do, they
may well be arms lengths associates people who were dismissed from the
campaign at some point during the campaign. It may be, if there is in
the end a parallel to Watergate, the attempts to cover up or disrupts
investigations that could finally do for him. Mark, thank you.
One concern is whether the President is somehow undermining
the institutions of the US, politicising justice
and damaging morale at the FBI and Department of Justice.
The kind of thing that you might expect of lesser countries.
Let's talk to Sidney Blumenthal, a senior aide to Bill Clinton
who worked at the Clinton Foundation.
First - Charlotte Laws, an author and political commentator
who was one of President Trump's earliest supporters.
Charlotte, why do you think the President acted now on this? This
question of why now seems to be one that has least satisfactory answers?
Well, I think it was a cumulative effect. I think it had been building
like a storm for President Trump. This goes all the way back to
January. Comey was increasingly viewed as a political figure which
is inappropriate for someone who is the director of the FBI. There were
calls from the Republicans to sack him. Here in Los Angeles, I'm
independent but I know a lot of Republicans and they were all saying
to me back in January, why doesn't Trump fire Comey? There was a big
push for this. I think that Trump had it in his ear like I had it in
my ear. The Democrats were calling for Comey to be fired during the
campaign and there were reports that within the FBI there is
disgruntlement and they were unhappy with the leadership. That was
happening at the same time. You have controversy from a few days ago
where Comey went out and misstated information regarding e-mails which
created huge controversy and he had to come out and change what he had
said, clarifying it. Then you have the deputy who made a recommendation
that he was fired. All of these things had come together and I think
that Trump had an erosion of confidence. You've given me a big
list there. And people will judge whether they think those things on
that list are convincing or not. Do you not think that the president
should have thought about how it looks? He is being investigated, or
his campaigners, by the FBI. He sacks the director. Maybe he should
have said, I do not like this guy that I will wait until the
investigation is over before I sack him? Well, I think you don't do
something like this unless you have a pure heart. It is like if you or
did tractors say that you stole a red Corvette, you don't go out and
borrow one and put it in your driveway if you don't have a pure
heart. I think his detractors would have criticised him no matter when
he fired Comey. The investigation may not be over the years, and
secondly, if he did it back in January when he first came into
office, he still would have been criticised for the same basic
reasons. I think so many people are anti-Trump in the media and the
Democrats and political figures that it is hard for him to do anything
that is seen as right or proper. I want to ask you one question. This
perplexes me. In the letter that Trump sent to Comey, he used the
line "While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate
occasions that I am not under investigation, blah blah blah... ",
what a strange thing to write. It is like it is on Trump's mind, as he
terminates this guy, is the investigation into his team. Why
would you write that in there? It is very strange to me. Because being
president is very much public relations. He wants to make it clear
to America that he is not personally under investigation. As I understand
he isn't. Personally. He wants to make it clear. I also think that the
reason why he did not call Comey himself was because Trump has a
reputation of not liking to confront people and make them feel bad. It's
very hard for him to fire people. I've heard many people say it with
regards to the Trump Organization, he would leave people in the company
even though he wanted them gone because he couldn't bring himself to
fire them face-to-face or he would get someone else to do it. That's
probably the reason why he did not call him and that is the reason for
that comment in the letter. His catchphrase was "You're fired". But
you are ironically saying he was incapable of firing people. Let me
go to Sidney Blumenthal now. I may come back to you afterwards. Do you
think that this is a constitutional crisis? Or at least a constitutional
moment? It is a crisis in democracy and it has been ever since the
moment that Donald Trump was inaugurated. He declared war on the
free press and called them enemies of the people. There hasn't been
that kind of language since Middle Europe in the 1930s. Against the
free press. And, he has attacked judges. He has called them so-called
judges, and attacked the judicial system on cases that he is involved
in, attempting to ban people based on their religion from the
country... We know all of that, but I'm just wondering whether that
really undermines the institutions of democracy in the USA... It puts
enormous stress on those institutions. There has not been a
president like Donald Trump in the entire history of the US. Not even
Nixon. While Nixon was guilty of crimes which were the articles of a
peach mint, there hasn't been such a systematic assault on the
institutions of democracy in the US. Then under Donald Trump --
impeachment. We heard this from Charlotte earlier, he basically
blamed Comey for losing Hillary Clinton the election. It's
interesting the Democrats are the great defenders of Comey, because
Comey is now Trump's enemy and they had to rally round. What is going on
there? I would say that the approximate cause given for the
firing of Comey by the assistant Attorney General was ridiculous on
its face. It is entirely true that Comey is guilty of everything listed
there and how he behaves, that happened back in July 20 16. After
that event, Donald Trump conducted a very public campaign claiming that
even though Hillary Clinton had been exonerated, that she should have
been locked up and that she was a criminal. He even used the
Republican convention to express that theme. Mike Glennon let chance
of "Lock her up" from the platform of the Republican convention. It's
ridiculous. Everybody knows it is a ridiculous reason. The reason is
that he is attempting to obstruct the investigation into Russia's
intervention in the US election. That is your charge, the
congressional investigations will continue. But tell me, what are you
meant to do if you are the President of the United States, and you do not
like your FBI director? And you don't think he is doing a good job?
And there is chatter all over the place saying that the guy is not up
to it? You are going to sack him, right? It's an interesting question.
Had he wanted to change his FBI director, who has a term of nine
years, he could have done that during his transition or when he
first came into office. Instead, he praised him and he had a public
meeting with him that was filmed in which he embraced him. So something
else has happened. What we've learned in the last 24 hours is that
there is a grand jury that has been convened by James Comey and it is
hearing testimony from associates of Michael Flynn, who says he has a
story to tell. We learned James Comey asked for a vast increase in
funding for his investigation. There are other elements involved here.
Sidney Blumenthal, fax Charlotte, you are not go to blame anyone for
putting two and two together, saying he has obviously done this as he is
leading an investigation which is effective into his campaign? I do
not think you can read into President Trump's mind. I think he
wants this investigation concluded. I do not think he has tried to
thwart it but get it behind him. It's a handicap to his presidency. I
do not think it is logical to think that that was the goal behind his
actions. Charlotte, don't you agree it should be pretty difficult for a
president? The president has the power to sack the director of the
FBI, wouldn't it be better if presidents used it with restraint
and it was fairly difficult to do? Thinking about it for awhile, have
consultations and enquiry? I cannot quite hear you, the sound has got
rough? It should be difficult to sack the director of the FBI and not
too easy for a president to do that? Well, presidents can have anybody
that they want is the director of the FBI. It is his decision and I do
not think he was praising Komi initially, but I think he wanted him
to have a chance. -- Comey. Face-to-face, he has a reputation
for getting along with everybody, and being friends with people. And
getting them to do what he wants them to do, building relationships.
I do not think it is unusual at all. It is obviously President Trump's
choice, and I think he likely has a pure heart in this. I cannot read
into his mind like Sidney Blumenthal cannot, that is what I think. Thank
you both very much. One potential threat hanging over
the Conservative campaign was that of possible prosecutions
for breeches of election This is all to do with the party
spending national money on local campaigns, and counting it
in the wrong box, in order to override rules about
how much can be spent. Well, today that threat
almost went away. 15 police forces looking at multiple
constituencies reported to the Crown Prosecution Service,
and in 14 of those, However, it's not a get out of gaol
free card for the Tory campaign. In one prominent case -
a decision is still to come. The Conservative Party has already
been in trouble over its election Tory HQ has paid a ?70,000 fine
for misreported spending the result of an exhaustive
Channel 4 News investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service said
today that it was now only considering criminal charges
relating to overspending There was an error made
in our national returns And the Electoral Commission
fined us for that, The cases dropped today relate
to a battle bus campaign which took Tory activists and shipped them
into target seats. Now, what these cases actually
demonstrate is a real oddity Specifically, there would have been
no investigation at all, and no problems at all,
had those Tory activists simply handed out leaflets that only
mentioned David Cameron The problem was that, and I quote
the Electoral Commission, "they found social media posts
where activists from the coaches "were holding campaign material
promoting individual candidates." The reason they drew that
distinction is that our law distinguishes between national
spending - promoting parties - and local election spending -
promoting candidates. Take two activists for a party
who both want their man, Joe Bloggs, Let's say both get on a bus paid
for by the party on the same And both are going leafleting
to help Mr Bloggs. Let's say, by the luck of the draw,
one of them gets a bundle of leaflets that praise local man
Joe Bloggs, and the other gets leaflets that only
mention the party leader The activists delivering
the local Joe Bloggs leaflet will count as local spending,
but the activists delivering the national leaflets will count
as national all-party spending. Never mind the fact that a vote
for the national party in this seat In Victorian times, an MP was simply
returned for his constituencies without any regard for his party
label whatsoever, and the parties were not creatures really
recognised by the law. They were certainly not
controlled by the law. More recently, that is to say
within the last 20 years, we've had a system which has
recognised political parties and sought to control party
expenditure, hence we've got one system left over from Victorian
times for individual MPs, and one system recently introduced
for national expenses, for national campaigns, for now
recognised political parties. The case whose fate is yet
to be decided, though, South Thanet in Kent,
is the most serious, and it's not about activists handing
out the wrong leaflets. It's about one party
using its spending superiority It's precisely the sort
of activity that these rules This case is so high profile
because Nick Timothy, now the Prime Minister's co-chief
of staff, ran that campaign. The CPS might not prosecute, though,
for the same reason they declined They have to prove the local MP
or agent broke their spending limits deliberately,
not by accident, because Tory Central Office gave candidates duff
advice about receipts. The law draws quite odd lines,
and prosecution is difficult. Our political editor
Nick Watt is here... Viewsnight now, and in the run up
to the election we've been devoting this spot to provocative ideas
for the party manifestos. Should they be minded
to look for some. Tonight Faiza Shaheen,
director of the Thinktank Class Noam Chomsky is not
just one of the world's most famous academics -
his work on linguistics has shaped the field in the modern era -
he is also one of the world's most famous supporters of
the political left. Well, Professor Chomsky has been
at the University of Reading this evening; giving a lecture
on the state of western democracy. He is 88. He has campaigned for
socialism for decades, and just as rage on social injustice erupts and
there's an overthrow of established thinking, he finds that President
Trump is in office for him. I went over to Reading this afternoon to
talk to him about everything that's going on. I asked what it was about
Donald Trump that appealed to American voters. What is the
alternative? The Democrats gave up on the working class 40 years ago.
The working class is not their constituency. No one in the
political system is. The Republicans claim to be, but they are basically
their class enemy, however they can appeal to people on the basis of
claims about religion, white supremacy... So you think there was
quite a racist motivation? No doubt about that. Are we talking 3%, 30%
of the voters? Roughly? There's a substantial streak of fundamentalist
religion. Trump took an enormous quantity of the Christian
fundamentalists, who are a big segment of the US population.
Remember, in the United States, about 40% of the population think
the second coming is going to be in their lifetimes. The United States
is off the spectrum in this respect. Do you think Trump will do much
damage while he is there, and will it be permanent damage to the
institutions of the US? I think the main damage he will do is to the
world, and it is already happening. The most significant aspect of the
Trump election, and not just Trump, the whole Republican Party, is their
departing from the rest of the world on climate change. You have called
the Republican party the most dangerous organisation on earth. In
human history. It is an outrageous statement. When I said it, I said it
was very outrageous. But is it true? You are rating them as worse than
Kim Jong-un of North Korea, or as Isis? Is Isis dedicated to
destroying the prospects for organised human existence? It's that
bad? What does it mean to say we are not doing anything about climate
change, and we are trying to accelerate the race to the
precipice? And you don't entertain the possibility that they might be
genuine in their belief... Doesn't matter. If the consequence of that
is, let's use more fossil fuels, let's refuse to subsidise developing
countries, if that is the consequence, that is extremely
dangerous. Macron won the French election, Emmanuel Macron, and
internationalist, liberal, loves the EU. All the things, in a way, that
the Trump voters have tried to reject. Can he succeed? Is this the
end of populism in Europe? By no means. Macron is a good example
about how the core of the institutions have collapsed. He came
from the outside. A vote for him was substantially a vote against Le Pen,
who is recognised to be a serious danger. What about the British
election? Jeremy Corbyn has been leading the Labour Party. They have
an uphill task, according to the opinion polls. Have you any advice
or thoughts about how Labour refines its pitch and makes it to government
in the UK? If you asked me to vote, I would vote for them. They have a
problem. I think he is a very decent and good person, and I've followed
his career for some years. He is evidently not inspiring the
population. Labour has not come out with its programme, so we don't
really know what it will be. There is a sense of a lack of clarity
about what he stands for, which is odd because he was someone who was
most clear about it. What has happened to the Labour Party through
the neoliberal years is, it became is, as many call it, Thatcherite,
especially under Blair. It did not represent the working class. I want
to talk to you about Julian Assange. You have been a big supporter of him
and WikiLeaks. Many progressive people have looked at WikiLeaks and
said, this organisation is on the wrong side of history. Do you still
believe in Julian Assange, despite the fact that they published e-mails
of Hillary Clinton's... I believe that the persecution of him is
completely wrong. The threats against him are completely wrong.
They should be withdrawn. He should be freed. He shouldn't be
imprisoned. Judicial process. He needs to be questioned about the
accusations. It is pretty much a front. There is no reason why
Swedish prosecutors can't interrogate him on the charge that
they think they have. In fact, they've already begun to do so.
What's keeping him in prison... In an embassy, is his desire to go in
there. Is the threat that the US will go after him. Is he right to
worry about it? Of course. It is the threat that is wrong. As to what
WikiLeaks has decided to release, you can have various opinions. What
is your opinion of stolen e-mails, perfectly legitimate e-mails, stolen
and put in the public domain? I would not have been in favour of
doing that, but the general idea of informing the public, informing
citizens, of what you are doing and keeping from them, that's a good
idea. Gnome Chomsky, thank you very much indeed.
Noam Chomsky there, in all fairness speaking before The Mirror
And you can see a longer version of that on the Newsnight YouTube page.
And if the election has been spoiling the vibe
of your springtime, we leave you with a celebration
of seasonal fertility courtesy of film-maker Jamie Scott.
Mr Scott has a genius for filming flowers blooming in time lapse,
and his latest work took three years to make.
# A friend with breasts and all the rest
# A friend who's dressed in leather
In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis.
Donald Trump's sacking of FBI director James Comey, and should foreigners be banned from buying houses?