JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: the wrath of winter. Millions remain without power in frigid temperatures,
as the U.S. continues to grapple with the effects of a major storm.
Then: a crisis of care. The governor of New York admits underreporting the often deadly
impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state's nursing homes.
And Searching For Justice. The simple task of obtaining identification becomes a major
roadblock to reentering society for former prisoners.
KENNETH TAYLOR, Former Inmate: You knew who I was when you sentenced me. So, you kept
me there 27.5 years. You kept me there knowing who I was, right? And then you sent me out
there like you don't never knew who I was.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the worst winter weather on record is disrupting much of the nation's
life again tonight. Extreme conditions have claimed at least 15 lives stemming from a
variety of causes, including a tornado.
Stephanie Sy has our report.
STEPHANIE SY: In Southeastern North Carolina today, downed power lines and homes ripped
off their foundations.
EDWARD CONROW, Emergency Services Director, Brunswick County, North Carolina: This is
going to be -- take a lot of hard work, effort, between cleanup, rebuilding.
STEPHANIE SY: Officials say at least three people were killed and 10 others injured by
a tornado that ripped through Brunswick County just after midnight. It struck with little
warning near Ocean Ridge Plantation, a coastal community some 45 miles South of Wilmington.
EDWARD CONROW: We have a lot of hard work to do as a community to get it back to normal,
to make the community safe for the residents to go back in to the areas that were unaffected.
But it's definitely a very hazardous situation with debris, homes damaged, stuff all over
STEPHANIE SY: Elsewhere, more chaos from an unrelenting weather pattern that's gripped
much of the country. Winter storm advisories by the National Weather Service again today
stretched from coast to coast.
Bitter cold engulfed cities across New England and the eastern Great Lakes. Chicago woke
up to more than a foot of snow, with more falling by the hour and dangerous windchills.
MAN: You really have to hold your ground, I mean, seriously. You have to very -- got
to stand sturdy.
STEPHANIE SY: In the Southern Plains, record cold temperatures extended to another day.
The surge in demand for energy has prompted more utilities across Central and Western
states linked to the same power grid to initiate rolling blackouts. Today, in Oklahoma, more
than 130,000 homes and businesses were without power.
In Texas, largely on its own electric grid, four million were in the dark.
WOMAN: It's cold, kids around, trying to stay warm, fireplace. There's no firewood anywhere,
no stores open.
STEPHANIE SY: Many rush to hotels to keep warm.
WOMAN: The temperature being so low, it gets so cold in my house so fast.
STEPHANIE SY: While others turn to shelters.
But, in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner said space is running out.
SYLVESTER TURNER (D), Mayor of Houston, Texas: Because of COVID and the health care protocols,
we simply can't take any more. We have gone significantly over and above what we had scheduled,
what we had planned.
STEPHANIE SY: Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed the National Guard to conduct welfare checks
until power is restored.
The weather brought COVID vaccine distribution to a halt in some places, amid icy road conditions
and widespread airport shutdowns. And it closed the Houston Ship Channel and Gulf Coast refineries,
spiking the price of oil.
Just to underscore the scale of this deep freeze, the National Weather Service put out
a list of 20 cities from the Gulf Coast up through the Great Plains that are seeing record
low temperatures today.
The demand is taxing the capacities of energy grids, most significantly in Texas.
To help us understand what's happening, I'm joined by
Michael Wara, director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
Michael, thank you for joining us.
You know, Texas is the largest energy producer in the entire United States. How is it that
residents there are in a situation of multiple days of power outages?
MICHAEL WARA, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: Well, it's a combination
of two factors.
One is really unprecedented demand for electricity during the wintertime. The demand for power
has exceeded the grid planners' worst-case scenario by a significant degree. Also, power
plants are not performing as expected, especially natural gas-fired power plants, in Texas right
STEPHANIE SY: You know it's interesting, because some have actually used the energy crisis
in the last couple of days in Texas to point out that Texas' turn towards renewable energy,
namely wind power, is more the issue.
Why do you say natural gas is the problem?
MICHAEL WARA: Well, I think let me just say it's a complex set of factors.
But what we know right now is that the wind power plants are mostly meeting their expected
performance levels. But what is not happening in Texas is that many of the thermal power
plants, the plants that boil water to make electricity, like natural gas-fired power
plants, coal-fired power plants, and at least one nuclear unit, are not producing energy.
They're suffering outages. And that dwarfs the amount of wind resource that's not performing
right now. So, it really is a traditional power plant problem, not a clean energy problem.
STEPHANIE SY: OK, but this is Texas. And they are not used to in February having peak demand
for heating, for electricity. Could this have been anticipated in any way? And what does
this say about the need to perhaps update infrastructure?
MICHAEL WARA: Well, I think this raises really important questions about how grid planners
think about extreme events in the context of climate change.
We saw in California this summer unprecedented heat waves that led to outages. And now in
Texas, in the winter, we are seeing an unprecedented cold snap. And this kind of extreme weather
is what scientists believe is most likely to occur during climate change.
And so it suggests to me that planners need to be updating their forecasts to take account
at the extremes that are likely to come our way.
STEPHANIE SY: And what can be done in the near term that is realistic to update the
nation's power grids to deal with extreme weather events, which you point out climate
change is expected to bring more of, not just in Texas, but in California, on the East Coast
MICHAEL WARA: Stephanie, I think you used exactly the right word there when you said,
what can be done with the power grids?
The most important step that the United States could take would be to invest in building
in a truly national transmission system. That's something that President Biden has suggested
might be a good idea as a stimulus program. There's no question that having a national
architecture for our power system would help us to avoid circumstances like what is happening
in Texas and in the Midwest as well right now.
If we had wires stretching from coast to coast, the places that had problems could lean on
the places where there isn't bad weather, like where you and I are today.
STEPHANIE SY: And are you confident that renewable energy sources, like solar, like wind, that
the technology exists to store those energies the same way that natural gas would be, so
that those transmission lines could actually reliably and flexibly carry that energy to
MICHAEL WARA: Well, there's no question that long-term storage, particularly in the winter,
is a really difficult technological challenge that we really don't have all the answers
But we could certainly produce a lot more of our electric power from clean resources
than we do today, and do it reliably and safely, if we had a more robust transmission system.
I think, in the long run, we're going to have to solve some difficult technological problems.
But that's in the long run.
Today, we could put much more wind and solar on the grid and serve everyone's needs, but
we are going to need to build a more robust mechanism for getting that power to where
STEPHANIE SY: Well, there are a lot of people in freezing cold temperatures right now in
Texas and elsewhere in the country that are hoping for some solutions.
Michael Wara with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, thanks for joining us.
MICHAEL WARA: Thanks for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Officials in some cities scrambled to use up COVID-19
vaccine doses after refrigeration units lost power in the storm.
At the same time, the federal disaster agency, FEMA, opened mass vaccination sites in Los
Angeles and Oakland, California.
Meanwhile, the president's top medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it could be late May
or early June before vaccine is available everywhere, due to limited supplies.
President Biden is on his first official trip outside Washington tonight since taking office,
and he's pushing his pandemic relief bill. He headed out this afternoon for Milwaukee
and a CNN town hall event with an invitation-only audience. He said Republicans will hurt the
nation if they unite against his $1.9 trillion relief plan.
In Iraq, the U.S. began investigating an overnight attack that killed a coalition contractor
and injured a U.S. service member and Iraqi civilians. Rockets struck at a military base
outside Irbil. The U.S. State Department condemned the attack, but did not go further.
NED PRICE, Spokesperson, State Department: It would be premature to speak in specific
terms about retaliation before we know precisely what happened. We reserve the right to respond
at a time and Place of our choosing, consistent with our partnership with the people and government
JUDY WOODRUFF: A little known Shiite militant group claimed responsibility. The government
of Iran denied any role in the attack.
Police in Myanmar filed a new charge against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi today. It
accused her of violating COVID-19 restrictions and it could keep her detained indefinitely
without trial. Meanwhile, protesters again turned out in Yangon, chanting slogans against
the military coup, while lying down to block rail tracks. Others occupied streets near
the central bank.
Back in this country, a top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives sued former
President Trump for allegedly inciting the Capitol insurrection. Mississippi Congressman
Bennie Thompson chairs the Homeland Security Committee. His lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
It could be the first in a wave of new legal action against Mr. Trump.
The former president attacked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today as a -- quote
-- "political hack." In a statement, he blamed McConnell for losing the Senate majority,
and said, if Republicans stay with him, they will not win again. McConnell voted to acquit
Mr. Trump in his Senate impeachment trial, but he condemned his behavior.
A cold and quiet Mardi Gras passed today in New Orleans. The pandemic and the weather
canceled parades and kept Bourbon Street blocked off. Instead, homeowners had elaborately decorated
their houses and front yards as stationary floats for people to visit. They ranged from
life-sized gardens to dinosaur exhibits.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 64 points to close at 31522.
But the Nasdaq fell 48 points and the S&P 500 slipped two.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the governor of New York admits underreporting the often
deadly impact of COVID-19 in nursing homes; Yemen confronts a tenuous future amid war,
the pandemic, and changing U.S. policy; despite impeachment acquittal, former President Trump
still faces legal challenges in multiple areas; plus, much more.
From the earliest days of the pandemic, when New York was an epicenter of COVID, Governor
Andrew Cuomo often has been in the spotlight.
That's partially because of the very public manner in which he first addressed the crisis.
But, increasingly, there are questions about whether his administration was transparent
enough about disclosing how many nursing home residents died.
As Amna Nawaz tells us, the governor is now at the center of significant criticism.
AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, the governor admitted yesterday that he made mistakes when it came to not
disclosing key data.
Nationwide, by some estimates, more than 160,000 residents of long-term care facilities have
died from COVID-related issues. That's about a third of all COVID deaths. About 15,000
of those were in New York state. But just a few weeks ago, Cuomo's administration reported
only about 8,500 of them, meaning thousands of nursing home residents who died in hospitals
were not included in that nursing home tally.
Jesse McKinley is the Albany bureau chief for The New York Times. He has been covering
this story and the fallout. And he joins me now.
Jesse, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thanks for making the time.
Let's just start with why we're learning about this right now. What led to these revelations?
JESSE MCKINLEY, The New York Times: This actually dates back to a report from the state attorney
general, Letitia James, about three weeks ago, which showed the Cuomo administration
had been undercounting nursing home deaths by about 50 percent.
After the state was kind of shamed by this report, they began to release thousands of
more deaths, which raised the death toll here in New York from about 8,500 to over 15,000,
which is where we're sitting right now.
Now, the Cuomo administration has said, of course, that they -- the reason they were
slow to put out this data was that they were worried about an investigation from the Trump
DOJ, which they thought was politically motivated. But lawmakers here in Albany have been a little
bit skeptical of that, in part because the Cuomo administration had responded to that
request back in September, but then didn't actually give up data here until February.
So, there's been a lot of skepticism about that explanation.
AMNA NAWAZ: Of course, Governor Cuomo has been facing a lot of questions since that
revelation. He addressed some of this in a press conference yesterday for the first time.
Here is just part of what he said:
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I am in charge. I take responsibility. We should have provided
more information faster.
We were too focused on doing the job and addressing the crisis of the moment. And we did not do
a good enough job in providing information. I take total responsibility for that.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jesse, the governor there, of course, taking responsibility, notably stopping
short of apologizing, even when he was explicitly asked to.
Just among New Yorkers, how is that response going over?
JESSE MCKINLEY: Well, I think, amongst common New Yorkers, it would be tough to say.
But I will tell you, here in Albany, amongst lawmakers, the response has not been a slam
dunk. I don't think the governor probably went far enough for many lawmakers' taste,
considering that he had basically stonewalled them for months and months and months on this
Similarly, Republicans here in New York, who are a minority, of course, are outraged by
this, have been calling for investigations, have been calling for resignations. And even
on the Democratic side, there are similar calls.
I mean, a lot of people at the kind of elected official level are quite upset about this.
And I don't think the governor went far enough yesterday to kind of quell that sort of anger.
AMNA NAWAZ: What about reaction from people who lost family members in nursing homes or
long-term care facilities? Any reaction from them so far?
JESSE MCKINLEY: Well, I think particularly, that is -- that's really where the rubber
meets the road, because, keep in mind, this wasn't just data for data's sake. People were
making decisions for their loved ones depending on whether or not they felt that nursing homes
were safe, that the death rates, if they were being suppressed artificially, by the data
not being up to date or not being complete, could have affected someone's decision whether
or not to put their mother or father or grandparents into a nursing home.
And so those sorts of reactions from people who either advocate for the elderly or have
elderly parents, there has been a lot of upset about the way the governor has handled this
since the very beginning.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jesse, there was this early policy that Cuomo faced a lot of criticism for, which
was to send nursing home residents who's been -- who'd been hospitalized with COVID-19 back
into nursing homes.
There's now accusations that he was maybe intentionally misrepresenting the data or
suppressing those numbers to deflect attention from that policy. Is there any evidence of
JESSE MCKINLEY: Well, since the very beginning, that policy, which was instituted in a March
25 memo from the state Department of Health, has been controversial.
The governor has pushed back on it and said, look, we were just following federal guidelines.
Other states did this.
Now, the problem is, is that because the data has now been shown to have been withheld,
to have been incomplete, a lot of people took that as an admission of guilt. And the governor
suggested as much yesterday that he had failed, that his major failing was in not batting
back those sorts of reports, in creating a void, is the way he presented it, which then
allowed these other theories to be represented.
Now, keep in mind, more data has come out. Our publication and other publications will
be looking very carefully at whether or not there was a spike as a result of that March
25 memo. And I think those reports will continue as the weeks -- weeks to come.
AMNA NAWAZ: It's worth reminding people, early in the pandemic, New York was the nation's
epicenter when it came to the pandemic. We saw again and again hospitals overwhelmed,
health care workers overwhelmed.
And Governor Cuomo was held up as sort of a pandemic hero. He held those daily briefings
that got a lot of attention. He was hailed for his response back then. He wrote a book
What do these revelations now -- what kind of impact do they have on all that?
JESSE MCKINLEY: Well, I will tell you, as someone who was at most of their briefings
early on, he was getting an enormously great reviews from a lot of people, saying that
he was handling the situation in a way that the federal administration was not, that he
was being forthright, that he was being honest, that he was following the data, that he was
following the science, when the Trump administration sometimes wasn't doing that.
Now, however, with these revelations, that sort of no-nonsense, straight shooter kind
of political brand that he had built up through this -- the early stages of the pandemic,
that's really taken a hit, because, at its core, what we were -- have been looking at
is a government, a state government, that was not willing to be straight with the people
who elected it or the people that cover it, like myself, or the -- or its lawmakers, by
telling them the truth about how many people died in these homes.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jesse McKinley, Albany bureau chief for The New York Times, thank you so
much for joining us.
JESSE MCKINLEY: Of course.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Today the Biden administration officially lifted the designation of the Iranian-backed
Houthis in Yemen as a global terrorist organization.
That announcement comes within a larger review of the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia,
which has waged a six-year campaign against the Houthis. It's one of the most significant
foreign policy shifts yet of the Biden administration.
Nick Schifrin reports on the prospects for diplomacy, and speaks to the new U.S. envoy
NICK SCHIFRIN: When Yemen's new government Cabinet arrived to fanfare six weeks ago,
it was supposed to be a step toward ending the war. Instead, a Houthi rocket hit the
tarmac. There was chaos and smoke. Parts of the airport were pulverized.
For six years, a Saudi-led campaign tried to unseat the Iranian-backed Houthis from
the capital, Sanaa. It failed. The Houthis are currently attacking the internationally
recognized government's final northern stronghold. And last month, the Houthis hit another airport
in Saudi Arabia and ripped a hole in a civilian airplane.
But the campaign and Houthi intransigence have succeeded in transforming the Arab world's
poorest country into a humanitarian catastrophe. The U.N. warns Yemen is in imminent danger
of the worst famine in decades, and, this year, two million children under 5 will suffer
from acute malnutrition.
Last month, the Trump administration labeled the Houthis a global terrorist organization
to try and cut off their funding and weapons, in part supplied by Iran, over the objection
of humanitarians, including World Food Program Director David Beasley.
DAVID BEASLEY, Executive Director, World Food Program: It is literally is going to be a
death sentence to hundreds of thousands, if not millions. It needs to be reevaluated,
and, quite frankly, it needs to be reversed.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Today the Biden administration officially made that reversal.
Tim Lenderking is the new envoy to Yemen.
TIMOTHY LENDERKING, U.S. Special Envoy to Yemen: Ending this war through a lasting political
solution is the only way to durably end the humanitarian crisis.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Lenderking is leading a new push for diplomacy.
Last week, he visited Saudi capital Riyadh with U.N. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
And Griffiths visited Tehran.
But diplomacy has been tried before. A 2018 deal largely fell apart. And, today, Yemen
is even more splintered, and both sides have more than enough weapons and incentive to
The Biden administration is trying to put pressure on Saudi Arabia. It froze the sale
of arms the kingdom uses in Yemen, and it ended the targeting assistance that the U.S.
military argued improved Saudi precision.
During the campaign, President Biden warned Saudi Arabia that, as president, he would
hold them accountable.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: We were going to, in fact, make them pay the
price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But, today, the administration pledged to help protect Saudi Arabia from
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: We are not going to allow Saudi Arabia to be target practice. So, Saudi
Arabia needs to have the ability to defend itself.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And for more on this, we are joined by Tim Lenderking, the new U.S. special
envoy for Yemen.
Tim Lenderking, welcome to the "NewsHour."
Secretary Blinken said today that Houthi attacks are not the actions of a group that claims
to want peace. How can you negotiate a settlement if one of the sides does not want peace?
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: I think, certainly, we see the Houthis in a pretty aggressive stance
right now, if you look at just even the last couple of days, their cross-border attacks
on Saudi Arabia.
And the offensive that they are apparently launching on Marib, which is a key Yemeni
government town in Northern Yemen, and also has oil platforms, that's been fairly aggressive,
their movements on both of these fronts.
And I think we're going to have to test the proposition. They have sent messages indicating
that they are prepared to do the heavy lifting for peace. Certainly, what we're seeing in
the last couple of days doesn't augur well.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Have the Houthis sent any messages to the United States privately, and does it
matter, if their public messaging are these ongoing attacks?
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: We have multiple ways of receiving messages from different organizations
and multiple ways of sending messages to organizations.
And in the Yemen context, we do want to keep the various channels open. They're going to
be very important to us going forward.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Have the Houthis sent private messages?
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: As I say, they have ways of getting messages to us.
And so we have taken those. And we will do our best to work constructively with those
messages and with the various groups in Yemen who are supportive of a peace process.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Your critics say that lifting the global terrorist organization label on
the Houthis before they had to make any concessions means you have lost a chance for leverage
to try and get them back to the negotiating table.
Do you believe that you have lost some leverage by lifting that global terrorist organization
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: I don't, in the end, think so.
I think there was a decision, a realization by the new administration that the FTO designation
was really a mixed bag, that, on the one hand, it memorialized certain activities of the
Houthis that were terrorist in nature, their attacks on civilian infrastructure, their
kidnapping of U.S. citizens, their close relationship with the IRGC.
But the new administration asked, well, what does that give us in terms of benefit to the
political process and benefit to other aspects of Yemen? And there was a quick realization
that it's a net negative on the humanitarian space, and that, if we're going to make improvements
in the humanitarian sphere, bearing in mind that Yemen is the world's greatest humanitarian
disaster at this moment, we can't stress that system any further.
So, that is, I think, a key factor in why the administration decided to undo this designation.
It doesn't remove every sanction some of the Houthi leaders. Some of those remain from
several years ago. So it's not a free pass at all.
NICK SCHIFRIN: As you know, Sanaa, the capital, the Houthis have their own administration.
They have their own police. They levy taxes. And, of course, they continue to launch attacks
both in Yemen and across the border in Saudi Arabia.
You have put pressure on Saudi Arabia with some recent moves. What pressure on the Houthis
is there to make any concessions?
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: I think that the Houthis need to be tested, in terms of their stated
commitments and the messages that they have sent that they are committed to a peace process
and to the betterment of Yemen.
And I think there are international actors here that we're going to be leaning on and
looking toward who have influence over the Houthis to see what they can do as well.
This is not something that United States can do alone. It's going to require very close
coordination with the U.N. envoys, Martin Griffiths, with the Saudis, and with the neighboring
countries as well.
NICK SCHIFRIN: One of the regional countries, of course, that has the most influence over
the Houthis is Iran.
Last night in Iraq, a Shia militia took credit for an attack that injured five Americans,
including one U.S. service member. And those were rockets that we have seen before from
Iran. So, do you believe that attack was by Iran? And what does it say to you about Iran's
willingness to conduct diplomacy in the region?
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: Certainly, when we look at Iran's behavior in the region, it's highly
problematic and, in many cases, antithetical to the peace efforts that much of the rest
of the world is trying to engender, so, whether you look at Iraq or Syria or other places
where Iran uses proxy forces.
And let it be known to the Iranians that if they want to do something positive for the
region, Yemen is not a bad place for them to start. And that involves their relationship
with the Houthis and the arming, the trading -- the training and the embedding of the Houthis
that they do.
So, it would be an excellent way for Iran to show goodwill by working in this diplomatic
space that I have described to bring about the kind of better result in Yemen that we're
NICK SCHIFRIN: During the campaign, as we saw in the story, President Biden referred
to Saudi Arabia as a pariah and vowed to hold the kingdom accountable for the death of Jamal
Khashoggi, who, of course, died in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.
How will the Biden administration hold Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown
prince, responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's death?
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: Well, my writ at this point really focuses on Yemen.
And in the Yemen conflict, you need Saudi Arabia. And they will have to play a leading
role. After all, this is their backyard. This is the Gulf region's backyard. And just as
we are -- follow things that happen in our backyard very carefully, so must the Saudis
and so will the Saudis.
So, they will be a very strong partner in this effort, I'm convinced, and we will be
able to maintain the president's commitments with regard to Saudi Arabia, while ensuring
that the Yemen conflict is brought to a close. That is very much the goal.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Tim Lenderking, special envoy for Yemen, thank you very much.
TIMOTHY LENDERKING: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The new lawsuit we reported earlier against former President Trump over
the Capitol riot adds to his legal challenges now that he's out of office.
For the most part, they are state criminal and civil investigations, or lawsuits like
the one today filed by private parties. But what conduct is still being looked at? And
what, if any, consequences may result?
Andrea Bernstein of public radio station WNYC has been reporting on Trump finances as part
of their "Trump, Inc." project.
And, Andrea Bernstein, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
My first question, now that Donald Trump is out of office, is he in more legal trouble
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, WNYC: Well, he's certainly in a lot of legal trouble.
I mean, we do know in the impeachment trial that the argument was he couldn't be convicted
because he was out of office. But that's the only case that I know of where it's better
for him to have not been president.
He has been arguing to great effect in the last several years that for various reasons,
under Article 2, in his argument, he couldn't be in some cases even investigated because
of the presidency. He also used the power of his own Justice Department in many cases
to file briefs, along with his private business interests.
And in one case, he argued that the Justice Department was able to defend him in a private
defamation suit brought by a former gossip columnist.
So, now Trump as a private citizen has to defend himself, as private citizens do. Now,
while that may sound like justice may be more quickly delivered, when he was a private businessman,
he was so notoriously litigious, that cases went on, some cases, for over a decade.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And there are now -- I mean, we looked today with you, and there are now
so many legal actions surrounding the former president, that it's hard to keep track of
all of them.
But you were telling us that it's the criminal investigations that may be most serious. Explain
what those are about.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Well, President Trump and, before that, businessman Donald Trump has
been involved in thousands, literally thousands of lawsuits. But he has never been criminally
What he now faces in at least two jurisdictions that we know of are criminal charges. The
most far along is the Manhattan district attorney's investigation, which has not resulted in an
indictment, because Donald Trump has effectively gone to the Supreme Court twice to prevent
the Manhattan DA from getting his tax returns.
But if that case is resolved, as it's expected to be, the Manhattan district attorney is
looking at possibly indicting Donald Trump for bank fraud, insurance fraud, and tax fraud.
Now, we don't know if he is -- has enough evidence, if he wants to indict the president
or his business or his associates, but the DA has said on the record that he is very
seriously considering bringing charges. And the fact that this case has been going on
for so long is further indication of the seriousness with which the district attorney is taking
The second criminal investigation is much more recent. And this is in Fulton County,
Georgia, where the district attorney there is looking at whether President Trump, then
President Trump, violated racketeering and other statutes, when he tried to overturn
the election in Georgia.
And that case, while much more recent, is in theory, less complex than the white-collar
crimes that the Manhattan district attorney's looking at. So, either of those cases could
result in charges sometime in the not-too-distant future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then you mentioned, Andrea Bernstein, the number of civil lawsuits. And
then there are -- the personal filing today, the NAACP, on behalf of several members of
Congress, including Bennie Thompson.
Tell us about the course that something like that could take.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Well, this is a very interesting case, because it's using a statute that dates
back to the 19th century, which was basically to use as a private weapon against the Ku
Klux Klan, by lawmakers who weren't allowed to carry out their official duties.
And while a case like this can't result in jail time, what can happen is that, through
the discovery process and through depositions and possibly even a trial, we learn a whole
lot of information that we don't know.
And in these civil litigation cases, the parties, the private parties can use the power of the
court system to bring forth information which can otherwise remain hidden. And we saw many,
many questions left after the impeachment trial.
So, this would be an example of the kind of private litigation that could ferret out information
that would not only potentially give the plaintiffs the relief they seek, but also give a lot
more information for us as journalists and also for the history books about what actually
happened leading up to the insurrection on January 6.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it possible to say what the odds are that former President Trump could
end up through one of these verdicts, one of these decisions in prison?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: It's so hard to say because there haven't even been any charges brought.
But we do know, for example, in Manhattan that the district attorney is looking at some
conspiracy fraud charges, which are B felonies, carry up to 25 years in prison time in New
York. So, it's very, very serious.
And because this investigation has been going on for two years, the suggestion is, the district
attorney really believes that he has evidence that crimes were committed. And when he gets
all the documents he is seeking, that is when we might know what kind of charges the president
or his business or his associates are facing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, so many to keep track of, the defamation lawsuit...
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: So many.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... we know, from E. Jean Carroll, who had accused the president of rape, and
then he -- she says he defamed her.
Then you have the hush money cases. But we don't have time to get to all of them.
But we thank you, Andrea Bernstein, for keeping track of all of this. Thank you very much.
Good to see you again.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Thank you. It's always great to talk to you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For men and women coming out of prison every year, one of the first steps
to reentering society can be one of the most difficult, simply getting a valid I.D.
William Brangham examines the many hurdles returning citizens face trying to rebuild
This story is part of our ongoing series Searching For Justice.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After 27 years behind bars for armed robbery, in September, Kenneth Taylor
became a free man, free from jail, yes, but stuck in limbo.
KENNETH TAYLOR, Former Inmate: I feel invisible. I do.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why? Because Taylor left a Louisiana prison without any form of valid
identification, no Social Security card, no birth certificate, no way to prove who he
KENNETH TAYLOR: It is crazy -- it's nobody know I exist right now.
KEN MACKIE, Son of Kenneth Taylor: I remember this picture vividly.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He's been out more than four months like this. His son, Ken Mackie,
and lawyers at a local New Orleans nonprofit are still helping him piece his life back
together one document at a time.
KEN MACKIE: It's been just obstacle after obstacle, trying to get his I.D., his Social
Security, and birth certificate.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: They have been in frequent contact with Louisiana's Department of Corrections
trying to get this fixed.
KENNETH TAYLOR: They attempted to send me a birth certificate and a Social Security
card, which was totally not me.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: They sent you identifications that they thought were supposed to be yours,
and they were not yours?
KENNETH TAYLOR: They were not mine.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Taylor later received his actual birth certificate. That will help,
but he still doesn't have a Social Security card. That means he can't apply for many jobs
or social services like food assistance. And, in Louisiana, you can actually be arrested
for not being able to provide proof of identity.
KENNETH TAYLOR: My biggest fear is being stopped by the police department and brung to jail
because I don't have an I.D.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Not having an I.D. is a problem that thousands of people face every
year reentering society. And during the pandemic, it's only gotten worse, according to Martin
Horn. He used to be the head of corrections for both New York City and the state of Pennsylvania.
MARTIN HORN, Former Corrections Official: The offices are closed. Even the people who
might be able to assist them in prison are often either absent because they're ill or
working remotely, not to mention the fact that prisoners, by and large, do not have
easy access to the kinds of Internet connections that would be necessary.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And without identification, Horn says it's impossible to reintegrate into
MARTIN HORN: Getting out of prison or jail, the most crucial element to success is being
able to support yourself. And without the documents, you can't support yourself. You
can't get a job.
WOMAN: Do you have your passport, birth certificate, social, and two proofs of address?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just navigating the bureaucracy can be overwhelming.
MARLON JACKSON, Former Inmate: Two proofs of address? Well, I have one proof of address
and my birth certificate, and my Social Security card.
WOMAN: We're still missing one more proof because we don't have anything on file for
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Marlon Jackson just got out of prison a few weeks ago. He served 24
years for robbery and sexual battery.
MARLON JACKSON: The only thing they gave me upon my release was this right here. That's
it. They gave me no other form of I.D., nothing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He's at a mobile DMV office in Richmond, Virginia, trying to prove he's
who he says he is, and to get a legitimate, legal I.D.
WOMAN: We won't be able to accept this, because this is an original document.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The problem is, the only document he received upon leaving prison had
the wrong Social Security number on it.
MARLON JACKSON: This is not sufficient, because I need a primary proof of address.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sarah Scarbrough is the founder of a nonprofit called REAL Life. They
organized this makeshift DMV because of the massive backlog created by the pandemic.
SARAH SCARBOROUGH, Founder, REAL Life: So, if our folks got out of jail, they would have
to wait for about five months to be able to get an appointment at DMV to get an I.D.,
which means five months until they can get a job, five months until they can find a place
to live and sign a rental agreement or anything.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After more than an hour of waiting and pleading, it looked like Jackson
would be turned away. It seems he needed more evidence of his housing.
WOMAN: But you probably won't be able to get that today, because we're only here until
MARLON JACKSON: This moment right now is big. It's important. It's imperative. So, if I
don't receive an I.D. today, which, I don't know, maybe I got 15 or 20 more minutes to
get it, but -- and, hopefully, I will.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But, otherwise, you might have to be waiting three or four months to...
MARLON JACKSON: Otherwise, I'd be waiting 90 to 120 days.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But at the last minute, with Scarbrough and her colleagues' help,
Jackson got his I.D.
WOMAN: Go to the left a bit. There you go.
MARLON JACKSON: This is the start of something beautiful. It is a start, just a picture saying,
hey, this is Marlon. This is where I live at.
But it will unlock one door.
ANTHONY GOMEZ, Former Inmate: This piece of paper is going to be crucial.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The last hurdle though for many formerly incarcerated people is what's
considered the gold standard I.D., a driver's license.
ANTHONY GOMEZ: Wow. I can't believe it. I can drive.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Anthony Gomez was released from prison in September, after doing 23 years
for a murder he committed when he was 17.
He's just passed the Virginia driver's test, after waiting weeks to get a DMV appointment.
ANTHONY GOMEZ: You couldn't get a DMV appointment to save your life.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Since his release, he's found a job as a paralegal, working with a
lawyer he met while he was behind bars. He's now living with his mom outside of Richmond.
He's hoping to also get some construction work, but he can't take a job that he can't
ANTHONY GOMEZ: With those type of jobs, you have to move around. You have to get from
point A to point B. And then, when that job is done, you have to get over here. And you
can't be dependent on the people that's hiring you to come pick you up and then take you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right. And I can tell from where you live it's not like there's a bus
or a subway up the corner.
ANTHONY GOMEZ: Yes.
For that reason alone, like, I really want my license, because I feel like, OK, it doesn't
mean that I'm going to be getting in a car and disappearing every day.
ANTHONY GOMEZ: But I think just the thought that, if I want to go somewhere, I don't have
to be dependent on someone, you know, that's part of the freedom.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Kenneth Taylor is still searching for that freedom. He found work
as a personal trainer at a New Orleans boxing gym, but he remains frustrated that the Department
of Corrections released him with no real way to start over.
KENNETH TAYLOR: You knew who I was when you sentenced me. So, you kept me there 27.5 years.
You kept me there knowing who I was, right? And then you sent me out there like you don't
never knew who I was.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We reached out to Louisiana's Department of Corrections for comment on Taylor's
A spokesman responded, saying -- quote -- "Despite the pandemic, last year, 96.7 percent of inmates
who were released from Louisiana's state institutions walked out of prison with at least two forms
of identification. Cases like Mr. Taylor's are the exception, and not the rule."
Generally speaking, do prisons and prison officials help people returning to society
get those documents ahead of time?
MARTIN HORN: Some more than others. I think there are very few that actually invest time,
effort and money in providing assistance in doing that, because there is a cost to providing
But the cost of them being unemployed, the cost of them being homeless and in need of
shelter, the cost of their admission to the emergency room, or the cost of a new crime
and their imprisonment is going to be far greater than whatever we spend to facilitate
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Kenneth Taylor says he can't fully start a new life until he can prove
his old one existed.
KENNETH TAYLOR: It's like a ball and chain, like, type deal. Like, I'm still connected
to the prison, and I don't want to be connected to prison system ever.
I'm trying to chop the chain off, where I can move where I want to move, and freely,
and don't -- living and be scared of anything.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the aftermath of police killings of Black men and women, and amidst
renewed calls in Congress to consider a reparations commission, American institutions of all kinds
have looked to their pasts and presents to understand their own relationships to racism.
That reckoning continues at colleges and universities, many of which have direct connections to the
history of slavery.
Jeffrey Brown has our report.
It's part of our Race Matters series and our arts and culture coverage, Canvas.
JEFFREY BROWN: On the campus of the University of Virginia, a new memorial to the thousands
of enslaved people who helped build the school and then worked there, craftsmen, construction
workers, cooks, domestic servants.
Some of their names are known. Most, more than 3,000, remain anonymous, honored by so-called
memory marks in the stone.
KIRT VON DAACKE, University of Virginia: And this site was picked intentionally because
it was visible to and gestures to the community.
JEFFREY BROWN: Historian Kirt von Daacke helped lead the effort to uncover his school's past.
KIRT VON DAACKE: This story has to be visible on our landscape in a way that the casual
visitor will understand when they visit here. And we have to acknowledge, right, the humanity,
the skill, the life, the labor of the enslaved, and do it in a way that responds to current
And I think our memorial really does a fantastic job of that. But it's not an end. It's a beginning.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's a story often hidden in plain sight, as in this 19th century engraving,
intended to capture the campus in all its glory, there on a balcony, an enslaved woman
holding the child of a professor.
The campus was designed and founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration
of Independence and slave owner, the embodiment of the contradictions of U.S. history.
KIRT VON DAACKE: The American academy writ large, not just UVA, has been built on, right,
money from the slave trade, built by enslaved people. It has a very long financial and human
history tied up in this story that universities in some way are now coming to terms with.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's not just in the South. Higher education's look within began early
in the 2000s, several schools, including Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
RUTH SIMMONS, President, Prairie View A&M University: What can we do to suggest ways
of being in the world that improve upon everybody's life?
JEFFREY BROWN: Then-President Ruth Simmons, the first African-American to serve as president
of an Ivy League school and herself the great-granddaughter of slaves, says, when she looked for the history,
she found little.
RUTH SIMMONS: And so what's the reason for that? I think slavery was an uncomfortable
topic for people for so long in this country. And rather than deal with the issues involving
slavery, people simply deleted the reference.
And if you delete it long enough, of course, what happens is that there is this systematic
forgetting of the history.
JEFFREY BROWN: As documented in a landmark 2006 report, the history was all around, including
lists of slaves trafficked in ship's owned by John Brown, one of the school's founders,
his former home across the street from the president's residence.
RUTH SIMMONS: That's the thing, is that we were surrounded by evidence of Brown's relationship
to slavery at one time, and yet we chose to ignore it. And we basically built a new narrative
JEFFREY BROWN: With a more painful past revealed, Brown took a number of steps, including creating
a new Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, to further explore the history through
scholarship and exhibitions. And it commissioned a public artwork titled "Slave Memorial" by
prominent Black artist Martin Puryear.
RUTH SIMMONS: To me, it always seemed the most important element of it was the truth-telling.
So, if you -- if one wants to atone for lying for so many decades, centuries even, the clear
indication is that you should atone for that by telling the truth. And so the report, to
me, was the most important.
And it has lived long, actually, and I think has been borne out by what followed, because
that report has become the document that so many other institutions have used to follow
that same course.
JEFFREY BROWN: A consortium founded at the University of Virginia, Universities Studying
Slavery, has grown to more than 70 members from five countries, in some cases moving
beyond slavery times to study Jim Crow era racism and injustices against Native Americans,
their lands taken for use by Western colleges.
Importantly, historically Black colleges and universities are also looking at their histories,
and, in some cases, partnering with majority-white schools on research and other projects.
Ruth Simmons is now president of one prominent HBCU, Prairie View A&M University in Texas.
RUTH SIMMONS: One of the things that we are committed to doing is making sure that these
matters enter curricula, and that people stop being afraid, afraid of the truth, afraid
to teach what really transpired.
JEFFREY BROWN: But after a year of protests in the wake of the police killings of George
Floyd and other Black men and women, universities, like other institutions, face renewed calls
to go beyond research and teaching.
LESLIE M. HARRIS, Northwestern University: This is the recurring question: What now?
I think the what now is, there's no simple solution, but it's an awareness and a consciousness
and a working through of the Problem.
JEFFREY BROWN: Leslie Harris, an historian now at Northwestern University, has studied
both the past and contemporary efforts. The movement for direct monetary reparations has
grown, but remains controversial.
Harris and others propose another way in.
LESLIE M. HARRIS: I want to remind people that the root of that word is repair. How
do we repair, how do we make whole relationships and communities that have been driven apart?
And that can come in many different ways.
JEFFREY BROWN: Colleges are often the largest landowners and employers in their cities,
with direct influence on housing costs and jobs. They employ their own police and security
forces, in some cases exacerbating tensions with the surrounding community.
LESLIE M. HARRIS: We could -- I could do the history all day of how we got here in terms
of policing, how we got here in terms of real estate.
The question, though, then becomes -- and this is definitely a question for higher education
institutions -- it is not simply about studying and understanding and then putting the book
on the shelf and say, phew, now I understand. It is about, how do we move forward differently?
JEFFREY BROWN: Study and remember what happened, and seek repair.
At a pivot point for American institutions of all kinds, scholars and activists are saying,
universities have a unique role to play.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Continue to ask the questions, continue to seek the answers.
And that's 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.