December 29, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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December 29, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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12/29/2021 | 56m 43s | Video has closed captioning.
December 29, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
Judy Woodruff is away.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: COVID surge.
What you need to know about rising infection rates and a spike in hospitalizations among children.
And a jury finds Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of the six counts she faced helping lower teenage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.
Then: remembering Harry Reid.
Looking back at the life and political legacy of the former Senate majority leader from Nevada.
And tightening welfare rules; 25 years after major changes, we examine how eligibility restrictions have failed Americans in need.
ELI HAGER, ProPublica: All of the paperwork that you have to fill out, all of the programs you have to go to, parenting classes, drug testing, all to get $100 or $200, it's not really a safety net for these families.
AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Well, the World Health Organization is warning tonight of a global tsunami of COVID cases, as the Omicron surge builds on the Delta wave.
Here at home, new infections have hit a pandemic high, and, today, the effects were increasingly evident.
Long lines at testing centers nationwide, as COVID continues to swiftly spread across the country, and at least another 850 flights grounded globally today, as airlines still grapple with staffing shortages.
New infections in the U.S. topped 267,000 yesterday, the highest recorded since the pandemic began.
Cases rose 60 percent over last week, with Delta and Omicron driving the surge.
The CDC previously estimated Omicron accounted for 73 percent of new cases in the U.S. since December 18, but yesterday revised that down to 23 percent.
That percentage, officials warn, will rise substantially.
And though hospitalizations and deaths remain low, the risk of illness and system overloads remains.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden: All indications point to a lesser severity of Omicron vs. Delta.
But we should not become complacent, since our hospital systems could still be stressed in certain areas of the country.
AMNA NAWAZ: Today's news of record infections came just as the CDC issued new shorter quarantines and masking rules this week for COVID positives and exposures.
Rules met with mixed reviews from Americans.
ANNE WILDER, Resident of Washington, D.C.: I'm feeling good about the new guidelines.
It makes a lot of sense for the people who have taken those measures to protect themselves with multiple vaccinations and then a booster.
EMONI JONES, Resident of Washington, D.C.: I don't feel comfortable with that at all.
People can say they don't have symptoms, and it's, like, that's very variable.
AMNA NAWAZ: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky today defended the new rules.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC Director: Let me make clear that we are standing on the shoulders of two years of science, two years of understanding transmissibility, and more that we continue to learn every single day about Omicron.
AMNA NAWAZ: At officials' urging, roughly one million Americans are now getting a booster shot every day.
But the World Health Organization's director general said today those boosters in rich countries continue to hurt poorer nations.
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO Director General: This virus will continue to evolve and threaten our health system if we don't improve the collective response.
This is the time to rise above short-term nationalism and protect populations and economies against future variants by ending global vaccine inequity.
AMNA NAWAZ: Failure to do so, he warned, will only prolong the pandemic.
And the CDC is reporting a significant surge in pediatric hospital admissions in the last week, particularly in Illinois, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and New York.
New York City alone reports 68 children hospitalized last week.
Dr. Anthony (sic) Wiener is chief of the Pediatric Emergency Department and director of the Division of Pediatric Medicine at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone Health.
Dr. Wiener, welcome to the "NewsHour."
Thank you for the time.
So you have seen a big jump in New York in those pediatric admissions.
I know you have spent time in that emergency department recently, so just tell us about what you are seeing there, what that surge looks like.
DR. ETHAN WIENER, NYU Langone Health: Sure, well, I mean, we are seeing a tremendous increase in volume in the emergency department, specifically amongst pediatric patients.
As we just heard on the last segment, there were over 250,000 new cases in the United States yesterday.
It is really all about the really tremendous increased community prevalence of disease, increased community burden, leading to a greater number of patients with medical conditions and presenting to the emergency department.
AMNA NAWAZ: And, Dr. Wiener, what -- tell me about the people that you have been admitting.
Are they younger?
Are they older, unvaccinated, vaccinated?
What is the sort of demographic profile?
DR. ETHAN WIENER: Sure.
Well, most of the serious conditions continue to revolve around respiratory conditions and complications.
So that means that people are having difficulty breathing or shortness of breathe and require oxygen and other support.
This is really true across multiple age groups within pediatrics, which is -- which is actually really different than what we had been seeing in prior parts of the pandemic.
And it's really having to do more than anything else with community burden, rather than with some severity of the strain itself.
It's really across age groups.
We're seeing very young children who obviously are too young to be vaccinated, but amongst the age groups that are eligible for vaccines, there's absolutely no question, and everybody is reporting this across every setting, is the patients who are getting seriously ill are unvaccinated.
And it is extraordinarily rare for us to admit a patient at any age or for any reason related to COVID specifically who is vaccinated.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you about something Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a briefing.
He said many children are hospitalized with COVID, as opposed to because of COVID.
And it's an important distinction, but I want to get your take on it.
Does that track with what you're seeing?
And does that also tell you that Omicron is not as severe as Delta was among children?
DR. ETHAN WIENER: Well, for the first part, there is no question that, again, just based on the prevalence of the community or the burden, if you will, in the community of disease, that we are seeing, patients have a variety of conditions that also concurrently happen to be COVID-positive, so are certainly being hospitalized for conditions unrelated to COVID, but happen to have COVID at the same time.
So there is no question that that is the case.
Again, I also don't believe that, nor does the evidence demonstrate that Omicron is more dangerous or what we would call more virulent than other strains.
This really just has to do with pure numbers.
And with the vast -- vastly greater numbers of pediatric patients that are contracting disease, we are seeing more patients who are then becoming ill from that disease.
I will say also that the -- all the measures that we discuss now for many months to prevent exposures and to prevent serious illness remain the same, so not only vaccination, but masks work.
We know that.
And whether it is in a school setting or otherwise, if you are indoors around other people -- and, of course, kids aren't in school this week, but we're seeing the effects of prior weeks and all of the together with people over the holidays.
The mask is really what makes the difference in terms of reducing community spread.
AMNA NAWAZ: Doctor, I have got about 30 seconds left, but I have to put to you something we hear often, which is, we know vaccination rates for younger kids in particular, 5 to 11, are very low.
A lot of parents will hear, well, it doesn't seem like Omicron is that severe.
If my kid gets it, they won't get that sick.
Why should I get them vaccinated?
What would you say to them?
DR. ETHAN WIENER: Well again, we're seeing a tremendous increase in the number of kids who are getting sick, who are requiring hospitalizations.
With more patients who come down with COVID, there are going to be more patient was get sick.
We have had to talk about other conditions like myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.
Fortunately, that's a small minority of the patient who develop that complication, but it does speak to the notion that COVID is not benign in kids and it's not inconsequential.
And we really need to be focused on preventative measures.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Dr. Ethan Wiener, chief of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone Health.
Dr. Wiener, thank you so much for your time.
DR. ETHAN WIENER: Thank you for having me.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other news: British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of luring teenage girls into sexual abuse by the late Jeffrey Epstein.
A federal jury in New York found her guilty on five of six counts after deliberating for five full days.
Maxwell showed little reaction as the verdict was read.
We will have much more on this later in the program.
The U.S. and Russia announced that presidents Biden and Putin plan to speak by phone again tomorrow.
That comes amid high tensions over the Russian troop buildup on Ukraine's border.
Moscow is also demanding security guarantees in Eastern Europe.
In a call earlier this month, Mr. Biden warned of strong economic penalties if Russia invades Ukraine.
Russian authorities have shut down a second major human rights group in as many days.
A Moscow city court today ordered the Memorial Human Rights center to close.
But group leaders rejected the charge that they acted as foreign agents.
ALEXANDER CHERKASOV, Chairman, Memorial Human Rights Center (through translator): We have been saying from the start that the foreign agent law -- and I'm doing the air quotes - - is not lawful, because it was designed with the aim of strangling civil society.
Today, we received more proof of that.
The court essentially validated our efforts.
AMNA NAWAZ: Just yesterday, the Russian Supreme Court cited the same law in closing a sister organization, Memorial International.
In the Middle East, meanwhile, shooting broke out today between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants along the Gaza border for the first time in months.
It followed an overnight meeting between Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who governs the West Bank.
Hamas, which runs Gaza, condemned the meeting.
It marked the first time Abbas has met with an Israeli official inside Israel since 2010.
Afterward, Gantz approved several measures aimed at easing tensions.
Back in this country, the Pacific Northwest faced another arctic blast ahead of a coming warmup by the weekend.
Forecasters warned Northwestern Oregon and Western Washington could get three more inches of snow.
Meanwhile, Nevada's governor moved to declare an emergency, as heavy snow and storm conditions snarled travel around the Lake Tahoe area.
A federal bankruptcy court has blocked opioid lawsuits from proceeding against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, at least until February 1.
That's to give the various parties time to negotiate a new settlement.
Earlier this month, a separate federal judge rejected the initial settlement of thousands of lawsuits.
She found that it improperly shielded the Sacklers from legal action.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 90 points to close at 36488.
The Nasdaq fell 15 points.
The S&P 500 added six, reaching a record close.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": China's continuing crackdown on press freedom in Hong Kong; why the Republican Party is paying former President Trump's legal bills; looking back at the life and legacy of Hall of Fame coach John Madden; and much more.
As we reported, there was a partial reckoning in federal court this evening in the sexual abuse case of the late Jeffrey Epstein.
His former girlfriend and companion Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted on five of six counts, including sex trafficking of teenage girls.
Maxwell was accused of luring girls for Epstein and participating in some of the abuse between 1994 and 2004.
Epstein died by suicide in 2019, before he could be tried.
Moira Penza is a former assistant U.S. attorney who led the prosecution that resulted in the 2019 sex trafficking conviction of the NXIVM cult leader Keith Ranier.
She's now a partner at the firm Wilkinson Stekloff.
She joins us now.
Moira Penza, welcome to the "NewsHour."
Thanks for being here.
So, Maxwell found guilty on five of those six counts that jurors were considering.
What does this tell us about how those jurors saw her role in the abuse that Jeffrey Epstein perpetrated?
MOIRA PENZA, Partner, Wilkinson Stekloff: Good evening, Amna.
Thank you so much for having me.
I think this is really a complete reckoning.
And what we really saw is that jurors understood the government's argument that, really, Maxwell was the enabler in chief for Epstein, that these crimes were facilitated by him, and the jury was persuaded by these victims who came forward and testified.
AMNA NAWAZ: What about this one count, people will ask, on which she was acquitted, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts?
What should we understand about that?
MOIRA PENZA: So, what you should understand is really the two most serious charges in this case were the sex trafficking counts, so counts five and six.
Those carry the most significant penalties.
Those were the ones where we really heard about the direct involvement of Maxwell in actual sexualized massages with the victim.
For all those other counts, those are also very serious, but what we saw is that the jury was just taking its job very seriously.
And the government had to prove a number of elements for each of those crimes, which incorporate state law.
And they are very technical.
And we saw that, over the course of many days, the jury was really grappling with that one count.
But, at the end of the day, it likely won't have a -- make a significant difference in terms of how Ghislaine Maxwell is sentenced, ultimately.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, the trial went on for about a month.
We know it featured the testimony of four women who described their abuse as teenagers in the 1990s and the early 2000s.
Tell us a little bit more about what we heard from those women and what role you think their testimony played in the trial and the verdict.
MOIRA PENZA: Their role was really the most significant in the trial by far.
That was really the crux of the government's case here, was the testimony of those four victims, while being corroborated by other witness testimony and other evidence.
And what we saw is witness after witness, victim after victim explaining how Maxwell recruited them when they were underage and how she participated in the normalizing of this sexual misconduct, of this abuse, and ultimately participated in the commercial sex aspect of this, so actually facilitating the payment for -- in exchange for the sexual abuse.
And so we saw that throughout.
And we really saw a focus on what Maxwell's specific role was in the recruitment and then even in the actual sex acts, massaging one of the underage minors, massaging her breasts, actually participating in the sex acts.
AMNA NAWAZ: What about Maxwell's attorneys?
I mean, for anyone not following along with the trial, what was at the heart of their defense?
MOIRA PENZA: She had very -- Maxwell had a very sophisticated defense team.
And what we saw is that they took a multi - - multifactored approach to defending this case.
They were really trying to attack the credibility of the witnesses.
They brought an expert on false memories.
They tried to show that these victims were biased because Epstein had died and because they were looking at Maxwell really as the scapegoat, now that they could not get justice against Epstein.
But, ultimately, I think we have seen in case after case this strategy of really attacking the victims backfiring.
And so while there were some victims where the defense tried to soften that a bit, tried to make it more about memory lapses, when you have those attacks on sexual abuse victims, especially ones who are minors, I think we have seen that really is not persuasive to a jury.
AMNA NAWAZ: And, finally, what's ahead for Ghislaine Maxwell?
What kind of penalty could she face, being found guilty on five of those six counts?
MOIRA PENZA: She's facing decades in prison.
I think that the most, that will be up to Judge Nathan.
I think there's a strong likelihood that she would get a sentence in the range of 20 or so years in prison at least.
And so, given her age, there really is a possibility she could spend the rest of her life in prison.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Moira Penza, former assistant U.S. attorney, now with the firm Wilkinson Stekloff.
Moira, thank you so much for your time.
MOIRA PENZA: Thank you for having me.
AMNA NAWAZ: Today, one the largest remaining independent media outlets in Hong Kong shut itself down after police raided its offices and accused its editors and board members of sedition.
It's the latest muzzling of Hong Kong media since Beijing passed the national security law in 2020.
And, as Nick Schifrin reports, the death of Stand News is another significant step in China's Hong Kong crackdown.
NICK SCHIFRIN: In downtown Hong Kong, Stand News' senior editors were arrested, boxes of computers, materials confiscated, and the journalists who jostled with police one step closer to being silenced.
Two hundred officers rated Stand News' offices, seen here back in June, one of Hong Kong's few surviving independent media outlets.
Their crime -- quote -- "inciting dissatisfaction and contempt" for Hong Kong's government, said the head of the police's national security department, Steve Li.
STEVE LI, Senior Superintendent, Hong Kong Police Department: don't be biased.
Don't be biased.
You know well how to report, how to be a responsible reporter, how to make a nonbiased report to your readers.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Deputy editor Ronson Chan visited his offices after the raid and stood by Stand's journalism.
RONSON CHAN, Deputy Editor, Stand News (through translator): Stand News has been doing professional reporting.
There's no doubt about it.
The whole world sees it.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But the world has also seen Hong Kong target that professional reporting.
The largest independent media outlet, Apple Daily, shut itself down this August after a plainclothes police raid last August, and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was frog-marched out of his own newsroom.
This week, authorities added a -- quote -- "seditious publications" accusation to Lai's already lengthy charge sheet.
Also arrested today, Stand News board members former Democratic legislator Margaret Ng and Denise Ho, who became a pro-democracy activist as part of the 2014 and 2019 protest movements, even though she was one of Hong Kong's biggest pop stars.
We interviewed her in 2019.
How does the singer become an activist?
DENISE HO, Former Board Member, Stand News: When there are these youngsters going onto the streets safeguarding the city and giving up their futures for it.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Back then, Ho was in Washington, D.C., with Nathan Law, the youngest ever Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator, disqualified by Beijing.
He was forced into exile to the U.K., where we spoke by Skype today.
NATHAN LAW, Former Legislative Council Member, Hong Kong: And for those people who are not listening to state media, government propaganda, Stand News is their most credible source of information.
But, for now, it's all gone.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Is it the last credible source of information that existed in Hong Kong?
NATHAN LAW: Our freedom movement, our democratic movement, a large part of it relies on, for us, we have access to truth, we have access to a different narrative compared to the one the government is providing to us.
And it's really difficult for us to find a really credible and well-read news media outlet for now.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Every part of their movement is being dismantled.
This month, Hong Kong held elections with new rules to ensure only pro-Beijing patriots could compete.
And over the last 18 months, thousands of pro-democracy activists and officials have been arrested, many without any notice, including today.
NATHAN LAW: I think many of us are unable to imagine the life of worrying that, on every single morning, 6:00 a.m., there would be a group of police knocking on your door, and you will be taken away.
Possibly, you stay in prison for years before you can come back to your home.
The legal system of Hong Kong is just being manipulated, being weaponized.
And it's just serving for the government, not for the people.
NICK SCHIFRIN: What Beijing would say, what Hong Kong authorities would say is that the steps they have taken under the national security law has brought peace to Hong Kong, has reduced the amount of violence, especially associated with the protests from 2019 and 2020.
What's your response to that?
NATHAN LAW: Most of the violence were coming from the police itself, and none of these police are being held accountable.
The fact that Hong Kong people are not as vocal as before, not because they are satisfied, but because their rights are being deprived.
NICK SCHIFRIN: If I asked you this next question, and you were in Hong Kong and you answered, you would be breaking the law, but because you're in the U.K., you can answer it.
What do you think the West should be doing right now?
NATHAN LAW: The West has to step up.
I think 2019 protest movement really awakened the whole world.
With growing awareness of the genocide behavior in Xinjiang, the human rights violation in Hong Kong, and the military intimidation to Taiwan, we are moving towards a much more assertive policy towards the growing aggression.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But, at least publicly, that assertive policy has not produced any results, has not actually changed Chinese behavior.
NATHAN LAW: What we're lacking is a much more coordinated pushback and also democratic countries using multilateral and different mechanisms to work together.
And I think this is how we can genuinely hold China accountable for human rights violation.
And I hope that we are stepping towards that direction.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Nathan Law, thank you very much.
NATHAN LAW: Thank you so much, Nick.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, former Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada died yesterday at the age of 82 after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Reid went from humble small-town beginnings to become one of the longest-serving Senate majority leaders in American history.
Lisa Desjardins has more on his story.
LISA DESJARDINS: From poverty to a titan of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid's story is marked by the extraordinary odds he surpassed to lead the highest chamber in American politics.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): I didn't make it because of my good looks.
I didn't make it because I'm a genius.
I made it because I worked hard.
LISA DESJARDINS: Harry Mason Reid was born in 1939 in the battered mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, where prostitution was a major industry.
His home had no indoor plumbing, and the town no stoplight or high school.
Reid traveled more than 40 miles to Henderson to graduate.
There, he channeled his competitive, at times combative, energy into boxing, a passion and approach he carried through life.
SEN. HARRY REID: Everyone knows how much I admire people who get into the ring, whether it's a boxing ring or a political ring.
LISA DESJARDINS: His resume was unusual.
Reid's first Hill job was as a U.S. Capitol Police officer, work that put him through law school.
He rose to become a city attorney, a lieutenant governor, and then Nevada's gaming commissioner.
In the Reagan era, Reid won as a Democrat running for Congress and then the Senate.
Known as a no-nonsense negotiator with rough edges and a soft touch, Reid became the top Senate Democrat in 2005 and railed against then-President George W. Bush.
SEN. HARRY REID: We are the difference between the president getting everything he wants and getting what we think is important to the American people.
LISA DESJARDINS: Bush felt the blows, and, in 2006, Reid oversaw a seismic shift.
Hard-fought wins in places like Montana and Virginia gave Democrats the majority.
His impact was just starting.
BARACK OBAMA, Former President of the United States: Change has come to America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) LISA DESJARDINS: Reid personally urged then-junior Senator Barack Obama to run for president and was among the first to endorse him.
But even with the White House and Congress in hand, Democrats still could not overcome a filibuster in the U.S. Senate, until Reid helped convince Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter to switch parties and give Democrats 60 Senate votes.
MAN: The yeas are 60, the nays are 39.
LISA DESJARDINS: Exactly what they needed for the sweeping Affordable Care Act a few months later.
SEN. HARRY REID: We look forward to finally bring quality health care to the American people that they deserved since the first days of Harry Truman.
LISA DESJARDINS: All this as a new Republican leader had risen, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
Reid spoke to "NewsHour" about their battles in 2013.
SEN. HARRY REID: We have never been enemies, hated each other.
It's just been a little difficult to work together, and I think things will get better.
LISA DESJARDINS: The two leaders wielded Senate rules like sabers.
And, in 2013, Reid pulled the trigger on the so-called nuclear option, removing the filibuster for most nominees, a move that cut sharp divides, but which Reid defended as important for governance.
SEN. HARRY REID: It's time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete.
LISA DESJARDINS: In 2015, Reid suffered severe injuries while exercising.
He retired in 2017, closing the book on one of the longest leadership tenures in Senate history.
SEN. HARRY REID: The joy I have gotten with the work that I have done for the people of the state of Nevada has been just as fulfilling as if I had played center field at Yankee Stadium.
LISA DESJARDINS: The Democratic firebrand settled in Henderson for his final years with his high school sweetheart and wife of 62 years, Landra.
Reid battled pancreatic cancer for years.
He was 82 years old.
For more on the life and legacy of Harry Reid, we're joined by his friend Guy Cecil, a Democratic strategist and chairman of the political action committee Priorities USA.
He worked with Reid during his time as executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Guy, one thing I guy, one thing I know about Harry Reid is, he was a viewer of this program.
So I want to send my condolences to his family, but also to you for the loss of your friend.
I want to ask right off the top about his legacy.
Former President Obama revealed what he wrote Harry Reid in his last letter to him today.
And he wrote -- quote -- "I wouldn't have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support."
What is Reid's political legacy?
GUY CECIL, Chairman, Priorities USA: Well, I think Senator Reid had a chance to work with two history-making leaders, the first Black president of the United States and the first woman speaker of the House.
And a lot of times, his legacy gets overshadowed.
The reality is that Senator Reid, as President Obama correctly stated, helped pass Wall Street reform and the stimulus bill and the Affordable Care Act.
He was the reason why the repeal of don't ask/don't tell wasn't delayed and was, in fact, overturned.
And a lot of it is, of course, wrapped up in legislation.
But for those of us that knew Senator Reid, a lot of his legacy is in the people that he worked with and that worked for him and that feel spelled every day to live up to a standard that he set for us, which was to take the work seriously, but not always to take ourselves so seriously.
And, so for a lot of us, it's not just a loss for the country, but the loss of a really good friend and mentor.
LISA DESJARDINS: Part of that when a leader might not take themselves so seriously, and I know this is true of Reid, is, he didn't mince words.
He didn't always have a filter.
I know he referred to president-elect Trump, for example, as a sexual predator who lost the popular vote.
A lot of Democrats liked him saying that.
But, sometimes, his words worked against him, for example, when he was praising politically former -- the candidate Barack Obama as someone with light skin who didn't have a Negro accent.
What do you see as sort of the strengths and weaknesses that Reid had in his style as a leader?
GUY CECIL: Well, I think it is the same thing that then-candidate Obama recognized, which was that, despite misspeaking, he knew the heart of Harry Reid.
The best thing about Harry Reid was sometimes the thing that drove the people that worked for him a little bit crazy.
He was the same behind the podium of a debate as he was in the Oval Office of the White House, as he was in private meetings or with friends and family.
He was authentically himself.
And he wore his shortcomings on his sleeve, in the same way that many politicians only want to present sort of one dimension of themselves.
And I think that is why, despite a misspeak or two, or simply just saying what exactly was on his mind, people loved Harry Reid when they knew him and when they worked for him and when he represented him, as the people of Nevada reelected him several times.
And so I think, for -- like most of us, the thing that sometimes president challenges are the things that make us uniquely us.
And it's why so many of us loved working for him.
LISA DESJARDINS: He's such a fascinating character, I think, in our political history, Mormon, pro-gun rights, sometimes pro-life in some ways, also could be on the liberal side of some issues.
But I like how you describe him as authentically himself.
Who was that?
What was he like personally?
GUY CECIL: Well, I -- Senator Reid and I, despite one of us coming from a small mining town in Nevada and the other of us coming from Miami Florida, had a lot in common.
Our faith was both very important us to.
Senator Reid was someone who took his faith seriously, but didn't wear it on his sleeve for lots of people to see.
We both dealt with suicides in our family.
And despite the fact that he is correctly and occasionally identified as being tough and a fighter and brusque, he also was someone that cared about people.
I had the fortune of having him give a toast at my wedding.
And for those that know Senator Reid, they know he didn't attend a lot of events, political or social.
He did his work in D.C., and then he went home to his wife.
He was just an innately decent person that cared about the people that he worked with and that wanted the very best for him, and is someone that I'm going to miss a lot.
LISA DESJARDINS: Guy Cecil with Priorities USA, thank you so much for remembering Harry Reid with us.
GUY CECIL: Thanks for giving me the chance.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, this year marks the 25th anniversary of a federal program that provides direct cash assistance to the poor known as TANF.
As Stephanie Sy reports, an investigation by ProPublica looks at just how much the program has actually helped families in need.
STEPHANIE SY: In 1996, President Bill Clinton created TANF as part of welfare reform.
The federal government provides grants to states that have discretion for how to use and distribute the funds.
For the past six months, ProPublica has been speaking with dozens of women, mostly single mothers in the Southwest, who turned to their state governments for financial assistance and found the process extremely onerous.
Advocates have been arguing that today's version of TANF hasn't kept up with demand.
ProPublica's Eli Hager has been investigating the state of TANF and joins us now.
Eli, thank you so much for being on the "NewsHour."
Why did you focus on the Southwest?
And what were sort of the major takeaways in your reporting?
ELI HAGER, ProPublica: We focused on the Southwest for a few reasons.
One is that it's the most rapidly changing part of the country right now.
The cost of living has just been skyrocketing across the region.
And so a lot of single mothers with children have been struggling to make ends meet in terms of paying increasing rent and affording the things they need to raise a child.
And so, therefore, the state of the cash assistance program here was something that we really wanted to focus on.
STEPHANIE SY: So, basically, you have 50 different processes for people applying for public assistance.
ELI HAGER: Right.
When welfare reform was passed, a number of folks in Congress pointed out that it was essentially a massive experiment on poor people in this country, because it was allowing each state to operate its anti-poverty program however it wanted.
In Arizona, nearly two thirds of the money goes not to directly helping single mothers with children, but rather toward Child Protective Services, which often investigates those very same mothers for conditions arising from poverty.
The money can be used really however states want, as long as it's broadly defined helping people in poverty.
And that's why we looked state by state, from New Mexico to Utah to Arizona.
STEPHANIE SY: Well, let's talk about New Mexico, because one of your reports focused on single mothers in New Mexico, and one of TANF's requirements, which is a federal requirement, that these mothers give information about their children's father when they're applying for funds.
You report how this is especially a problem for women who are in sort of fragile, even abusive relationships with their children's dads.
When it comes to this question about asking about the biological father of one's children, why is that a problem?
ELI HAGER: Basically an interrogation into their sexual history.
It's often embarrassing and humiliating to answer these questions.
In some cases, they might not be in touch with the father or they have a fragile co-parenting relationship with the father that they don't want to ruin, and they think that would be not in the child's best interests.
STEPHANIE SY: There is also a financial rationale, which is that states want to recoup anything they can from a biological father.
Is it effective at going after fathers who are not paying child support?
ELI HAGER: No, it does not.
A lot of the -- one important point is that a lot of these fathers are very poor themselves.
They don't have a lot of money to provide in child support.
They pay back very little to the government.
STEPHANIE SY: Another of your reports, Eli, looked at an interesting dynamic in the state of Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints plays an outsized role in filling that gap left between government assistance and people in need.
What does a religious organization, the LDS Church, have to do with TANF, which is a federal public assistance program?
ELI HAGER: The way that it works is, the state of Utah actually takes credit for the charitable work of the LDS Church, and the LDS Church does a lot of charitable work.
It counts it as the state's welfare spending.
And that has allowed the state of Utah to get out of spending the $75 million that it would have otherwise been required to under federal law.
STEPHANIE SY: But does that mean that people that apply for TANF state assistance funds are actually going through the church's own requirements, and are those religious requirements that can discriminate based on religion?
ELI HAGER: Right.
So, yes, it does sometimes mean that, but it can be explicit or implicit.
I talked to a lot of people who said that they were explicitly suggested or instructed by the state of Utah.
They were denied welfare, and then they were told, why don't you try going to the LDS Church instead?
They have a better welfare program than we do.
Or it can happen implicitly, which is just that welfare has become so hard to get.
But then, when they do, there's a term in Utah called bishop roulette, which means, depending on the bishop you ask for welfare, the outcome could be very different.
So, if you're a single mother who's had sex out of wedlock, you might be judged by a bishop for that.
Or, if you're in the LGBTQ community, you might not receive welfare for that reason.
STEPHANIE SY: Have there been any legal challenges?
And has the LDS Church responded in any way to your reporting?
ELI HAGER: To my knowledge, there have been no legal challenges.
And to your other question, yes, the church has responded.
They point out that millions of people across the state, the country and the world have benefited from the LDS Church's charitable efforts, first of all, and that, secondly, the church shouldn't be confused with a government agency.
STEPHANIE SY: After all of your reporting on these experiences, what's big takeaway and the lessons from TANF, its legacy and its future?
ELI HAGER: Well, I think the big question now is, has TANF failed?
A lot of single mothers just choose not to apply anymore because all of the paperwork that you have to fill out, all of the programs you have to go to, parenting classes, drug testing, all to get $100 or $200.
It's not really a safety net for these families.
And so the question now before Congress is whether there needs to be a new kind of safety net for this century.
STEPHANIE SY: The series of reports is available on ProPublica's Web site.
Eli Hager with ProPublica's new Southwest bureau, welcome to Phoenix, and thank you so much for joining us.
ELI HAGER: Thank you for having me.
AMNA NAWAZ: A year out of office, former President Trump faces a series of investigations looking into his role in the January 6 riots, potential fraud in his family businesses, and sexual assault allegations.
Those probes could come to a head in the new year and could impact his political future.
Despite that and no longer holding office, Trump remains a key figure in the Republican Party.
Joining us to discuss Trump's legal battles and his influence on the GOP is David Fahrenthold, who covers the Trump family and their businesses for The Washington Post.
David, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
Always good to have you here.
Let's start in New York with those two parallel probes, a civil one and a criminal one, looking into the Trump businesses.
The civil probe is by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, the criminal one by James and the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance.
Your reporting has found that Mr. Trump's legal bills, up to the tune of $1.6 million, are being paid for by the Republican Party.
Is there precedent for that?
And what did they tell you about why they are doing that?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, The Washington Post: There is no precedent for this.
This -- just sort of step back and explain why there is no precedent.
President -- former President Trump is not a Republican candidate.
He's not a Republican officeholder.
And the investigations he is facing have nothing to do with his time in office.
They all predate - - they focus on his business in the years before he ran for president.
So there is no connection to the Republican Party or Republican officeholders involved here.
But the Republican Party still is paying this money.
And, obviously, Trump has a pot of money in his packet.
He has money in his business.
He could afford this, but they are paying his bills anyway.
And what they say, what the Republican Party says, is, well, we see this as a political attack on Trump, a famous Republican.
This is Democrats out to get him in New York.
And so we're happy to pay his bills.
What I think is really going on here is that Trump, although he is out of office and is not running, is a linchpin in Republican fund-raising efforts.
He is the key to the RNC's fund-raising future.
And if he were to turn on them, if he were to leave, if he were to talk bad about them, that could be devastating.
So they may be paying to sort of keep him in their -- to keep themselves in his good graces.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let's talk about a couple of these investigations.
For anyone who hasn't been following along, that civil probe is a fraud investigation, basically, right, that looking into whether or not he overvalued his company's assets to get loans and then undervalued them to pay fewer taxes.
And he has been called to testify in that in early January.
Is there any chance that happens, David?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: There is a chance it happens.
I don't think it will happen in a few days, on January 6, because Trump is fighting it on the grounds that -- as you said, there's two investigations here.
He has been called to testify in the civil one, where what is at stake is a potential lawsuit.
But he is also being investigated on basically the same issues for a criminal investigation that could end in criminal charges.
And what he is saying is that, well, look, I have been called to testify about the civil probe, but if I say anything that helps prosecutors, it will be used against me in the criminal probe.
So I should -- my right against self-incrimination should protect me from this.
I don't know how a judge is going to view that.
But I do think it's not -- it's going to take a little while.
It's not going to happen January 6.
AMNA NAWAZ: And what about that criminal probe?
What do we know about where that stands?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Well, people that have been following this might remember, last year, the Manhattan DA indicted Trump's longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, and two Trump corporate entities, basically for charges of payroll tax fraud, charges they were hiding some of the Trump Organization's payments to its executives from the IRS.
Trump wasn't charged in that personally.
That period of investigation seems to be over.
Instead, they have impaneled a new grand jury a few weeks ago, which has maybe five more months to go, if they want it, that's focused on the property valuations you were talking about a moment ago.
Did he break New York state law by giving wildly different valuations of the same property at the same time to tax officials and to lenders?
Is -- there's some give some leeway to everybody owns real estate does, but were Trump's examples so outrageous, where the difference is so big, that that amounts to fraud under New York law?
AMNA NAWAZ: So, David, you mentioned he obviously doesn't hold office now.
He has hinted at a 2024 run.
Could any of these investigations or probes impact his political future?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Certainly.
I mean, I don't think anybody believes that, even if he were convicted of a low-level felony in New York, that that would mean he would never run or people would never vote for him.
Obviously, he's overcome things that would have ended the careers of other politicians, and he has a strong base of support.
But there may be things that would come out of these investigations or in a potential lawsuit or trial that would change the way people view him.
He's also got other investigations focused on his conduct as president, both related to January 6 and the efforts to overturn the election.
Those could also damage his political reputation.
But I think we have watched Trump's career long enough to know that it's really hard to predict how damaging information about Trump, even true revelations about what he did, will affect how people vote -- consider him and vote for him.
AMNA NAWAZ: David Fahrenthold, always has the must-reads in The Washington Post.
We're going to continue to follow your work and these stories.
Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: NFL legend John Madden died yesterday at the age of 85.
Jeffrey Brown looks now at what he meant to the game, particularly after he stopped coaching.
ANNOUNCER: This is it, Curtis.
AMNA NAWAZ: January 9, 1977, Pasadena, California.
ANNOUNCER: The 11th Super Bowl is under way.
AMNA NAWAZ: The Oakland Raiders hoist head coach John Madden onto their shoulders, celebrating the team's first Super Bowl championship.
Ten years later, Madden told the "NewsHour" of his straightforward philosophy of dealing with players.
JOHN MADDEN, Pro Football Hall of Famer: They show up when I told them to.
And if when we talked and taught, if they paid attention, and then if they went out and played like heck, when you -- what else is there?
What other rules do you need?
I mean, I didn't care if they had beards or sideburns or bell bottom pants or tied their shoes or not.
JEFFREY BROWN: But a decade of coaching at a Hall of Fame level was just the start for John Madden.
In a three-decade career as an exuberant everyman broadcaster, he would go on to change the way the game was watched and understood, becoming a preeminent face and voice of football.
He started at CBS alongside the late Pat Summerall.
They quickly became the network's top announcing duo.
From 1979 to 2009, Madden won 16 Emmy Awards and covered 11 Super Bowls for four networks.
JOHN MADDEN: Here's, a corner, safety, corner.
JEFFREY BROWN: He broke down complicated plays using his Telestrator video chalkboard an entertained millions with his signature sound effects.
JOHN MADDEN: And, boom, the ball is there.
He gets walloped.
Stay on your feet.
He gets knocked right out of the screen.
JEFFREY BROWN: He told the "NewsHour" how he saw his job in the booth.
JOHN MADDEN: What I try and do is not show the obvious, that I know, if Joe Morris runs the ball around the right end and has a big play, everyone's going to see that anyway.
What I try and do is look ahead to find how it happened or why it happened.
JEFFREY BROWN: And there was more that continues to this day, with "Madden NFL Football," one of the most successful video game empires of all time.
Today, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a somebody that: "Nobody loved football more than coach.
He was football."
One of his great partnerships at both ABC and NBC was with Al Michaels, who told me earlier today why he thinks Madden was -- quote - - "as important as anybody in the history of football."
AL MICHAELS, NBC Sports: Well, there have been a number of really great coaches, so John gets into that category because he had the highest win percentage of any coach in history who won 100 or more games.
So, on one level, you have him on the pantheon of coaches.
On the next level, he created a new template in broadcasting and became maybe the most iconic broadcaster of his time.
So, you have got that.
And then he went out and created a video game.
And he was immersed in the production and the development of that game.
He didn't just lend his name to it.
And that made millions and millions and millions of young fans for the National Football League.
So, when you combine all of those three, that's why I say, when you look at the whole body of work, there was no more important man in the history of the National Football League.
JEFFREY BROWN: He is often credited so much with changing sports broadcasting for bringing in that everyman aspect, the preparation for each game.
You were there with him.
What did -- what was the most important lesson or thing you saw in him?
AL MICHAELS: I think what made John, John, among other things, was his genuineness.
And he worked very hard in preparation.
He already knew a ton going in.
And then he would immerse himself to the nth degree and get into the forensics of everything.
And I think one of the things with John is, he would take things that were seemingly complicated and make them simple and relevant and accessible to the audience.
So when you hear a broadcaster talk about a three technique, only a football coach or a football player or somebody totally immersed in the game would know what that is.
John would never use phrases like that.
He'd explain what that was.
And then he had a lot of fun doing it, and with the Telestrator, and the buckets of Gatorade dumped on coaches and Telestrating what took place right there.
John was the whole package.
JEFFREY BROWN: He's one of those people, so many millions in the culture feel like we know him personally, but you really did.
What was he like personally?
Was the person we saw on TV, was that really him?
AL MICHAELS: Exactly.
Jeffrey, that was him.
And, to me, one of the most wonderful things about having been his partner for seven years is the meals that we would have away from the work environment.
Obviously, we were in the game, we were in the booth and preparing for it.
That's one thing, but just to go to dinner or to lunch or to breakfast with John and talk about anything and everything.
John was a very well-read man.
John was a man who understood everything that was going on in the world.
John was a very curious man.
And he traveled across the country in that bus, and he got to see what we call, those of us who live on either coast, flyover country.
We fly over it.
John drove through it back and forth and back and forth hundreds of times and got to know the people and what made people tick.
JEFFREY BROWN: You spent so much time with them.
You're talking about in the booth.
You're talking about on the bus, I guess, and restaurants, hotels.
Give me an anecdote.
AL MICHAELS: We're having dinner one night in Green Bay, and French onion soup.
I don't -- I don't want the onions.
I hate the onions.
But I love the broth, the crouton, the cheese.
So, we're at dinner, and I ordered French onion soup without the onions in Green Bay.
And he said: "What?
What are you doing?"
I said, John, I just love the other parts of it.
So, he had the chef come out.
And John was laughing hysterically.
And he had the chef command and explain how you make French onion soup without the onions.
So, that was John.
He was just -- he was a riot in so many ways.
JEFFREY BROWN: That's a great story, X's and O's of French onion soup too, huh?
(LAUGHTER) AL MICHAELS: Right.
You name it, he had it, I know.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's interesting to think that, for younger generations, of course, he's better known for the video games than for the broadcasting that he did with you and so many others.
AL MICHAELS: With John, even though you might not remember him as a coach, and maybe you caught him toward the end of his broadcasting career, but he's made millions of fans with that game.
People -- everybody I know, every kid I knew through the years, and even to this day, they play "Madden."
They have learned football through the Madden game.
And that's made the NFL millions and millions more fans.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Al Michaels on the life and legacy of the great John Madden, thank you very much.
AL MICHAELS: Thank you, Jeffrey.
AMNA NAWAZ: A man who clearly loved the game and made us love it too.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family.
Meanwhile, on the "NewsHour" online: The tight-knit Hmong American community's annual new year celebrations were put on hold last year due to the pandemic, but they are back on this year, even as COVID cases are spiking nationwide.
Read more on why this gathering is so significant to the Hmong community.
That's on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
Join us again here tomorrow evening.
For all of us here at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you for joining us, please stay safe, and we will see you soon.