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tv   Discussion on Journalism Documenting Atrocities in Ukraine  CSPAN  June 4, 2022 8:38pm-9:42pm EDT

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online at c-span.org. c-span, your unfiltered you government. >> up next, william taylor talks about russia's invasion, the potential for trying president putin for war crimes in the future security of europe. this is posted by the u.s. institute of peace. nbc news' chuck todd conducts the interview. it's about an hour.
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>> the topic is a difficult and
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sobering one. how to address and expose atrocities committed in the midst of armed conflict, and how to understand the relationship between journalistic reporting and accountability area throughout its history, the u.s. has been deeply engaged in the examination of how to vent and respond to atrocities. it established the broad framework currently used by the u.s. government for atrocity prevention and response policy. today's discussion will focus on how to document and respond to russia's unprovoked invasion of ukraine.
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it will ongoing -- hold perpetrators accountable as well as the challenges facing policymakers in ensuring justice is delivered to victims. today's event marks the launch of an equally timely exhibit, entitled imagine, reflections on peace building. this multimedia exhibit opens tomorrow and is a product of a between the institute.
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and the moderator of meet the press. he leads political coverage across the nbc platforms, offering the american public insider analysis and critical insights into happenings. we also is a primary anchor for the networks primetime election coverage and is known for holding both politicians and networks accountable.
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he has earned the reputation as one of washington's most respected political journalists, responsible for establishing meet the press as the number one sunday public affairs program. ambassador william taylor is the director of the russia and europe center. 2019, he took a leave of absence from the institute to accept an appointment at the u.s. embassy in kyiv, having previously served as the ambassador to your rain. from 1992 until 2002, he was a coordinator. following the discussion we will allow time for questions both
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here and online. for those following online, use the question function. >> let's dive right in. it is my first time in the building. i want to take it piece by piece.
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president biden tried to split hairs. my question is, so what? the russians are offended. there is that aspect of it. >> it is great to have you in this building. thank you for getting us started. i think this is a big deal. the war in ukraine, provoked an
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unjustified by the russians has gone into its fourth month and it is shifting locations such that longer-range weapons are more important now than they were in the beginning. the russians came from the north. the fighting around kyiv, to the north, in the forest, the weapons are suited for that kind of terrain. wide open territory.
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you can't sneak up like you could when you were in the forest. long-range weapons are important. the multiple launch range rocket systems have been on the ukrainian's mines for months now. sure enough, the ukrainians are getting bombarded by the long-range -- they have won the first phase. they pushed the russians back out of the second largest city, kharkiv. they have been stopped short of the major -- different story.
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ukraine is not losing this war. the battle is in the center. they are still trying to take more of donbass because of these long-range fires. it's not just artillery, its ballistic missiles, cruise missiles. it's aircraft, airstrikes. which they weren't using very well in the beginning. they're taking some territory. they are resisting in the south, they have won the battle in the north. it's edging toward an
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uncomfortable stalemate. back and forth. >> do they have enough to win this? or a stalemate? >> they have enough to be in a stalemate. we will know enough when they win. it's grim right now. i have some friends in the ukrainian military. i have heard from him yesterday from the front lines. he describes the bombardment and horrific terms. it's grim. it's coming from the united states, it's coming from nato. long-range artillery pieces,
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they don't go 180 miles, 300 llamas, that goes to your point about russia. >> you think the weapons system can stop it? >> it can start to stop it. the russians have a lot of stuff. they have a lot of artillery. the ukrainians don't have as much artillery and are short of ammunition. it's grim. do they have enough? we won't know. >> i have probably used this quote before, a woman who was the ohio public health records
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during the start of covid have this quote and i feel like it applies. she says in a pandemic, you never look back and regret what you did, you look back and regret what you didn't do. when it comes to what we are watching now, ukraine had russia on its heels. essentially russia was allowed to regroup. we in the west, nato, america, we have a look back and regret we didn't do. >> we may regret what we didn't do at the beginning of the war. our intelligence services, allied services were right, and they were right to say, they got
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all of those forces but they wouldn't be so crazy. wouldn't be a blunder. he invaded. our intelligence services predicted that. our intelligence services did not predict how well the ukrainians would do. >> were european intelligence agencies wrong because of confirmation bias? or this was truly the americans saw one thing and germany and france on another? >> the brits agreed with the americans. the germans and french and
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ukrainians to a large degree, i was at president zelenskyy's office and we have this conversation exactly. >> that was not just rhetoric. >> he knew exactly what we all knew. the sense was it would be such a mistake, since was boudin laporte intimidate. >> it seemed like he was hoping quick strike or quick surrender. >> we were talking about his military.
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all the intelligence services missed how strong the ukrainian military have become and how fiercely they would be willing to fight, how supportive ukrainian people would be. >> i think president putin underestimated the strength of the ukrainian military. one answer is, the last time in 2014, when the russians first invaded, the ukrainian military was in terrible shape. he allowed the ukrainian military to get hollowed out. the military in 2014 when the russians first invaded, not so good.
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the west missed the kind of strength and morale that ukrainian showed. since we did not think the ukrainians would be able to resist, that was -- we did not think they would resist. it took us a while, these guys actually might win. then the stingers and javelins. the other ammunition came. it had a real effect. >> that is the question with this weapon system. is it going to help the continuous stalemate or give ukraine an opportunity to make some progress? >> part of the answer of that is going to be the state of the
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russian military on the ground. the russian soldiers have been in the field since last december, through the winter. we saw pictures of them on the border, just waiting. finally on february 24, with you in battle since then. they have gotten whipped in the north and northeast. around mariupol, ukrainians held out and took casualties and inflicted casualties. can they win? a lot depends on weapons and long-range rockets, and the state, the morale, the capabilities, number of soldiers the russians can it on the field. >> let me borrow a phrase from the taliban.
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who has the time and who has the watches? >> that is a great line. wish i could have come up with it. >> the taliban probably never did say it. >> it doesn't matter. they were right. right now, ukrainians need the time from weapons and others to get there. it is a race. the russians need some time to regroup and reform these units that are being beaten up. the interesting thing is, the russians seem to be pushing real hard.
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it's probably because president putin wants to take over quickly before the ukrainians can build up the strength they need to push them back out. ukrainians need time, the russians are eager to move forward right now and they're watching the clock. >> nato, and i want to get to the other part of the op-ed this morning. which got specific at walking back two of the most iconic lines from an american official. from secretary austin, he said, he does not strike me as someone who goes off-the-cuff. he said definitively russia needs to pay a price for this. he was another level of accountability, president biden with that speech he gave in poland.
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we went ahead and set it, we have not use -- i get the trickery there. the president want -- walked those comments back. >> maybe was the headline, president biden outlines the goals. his administration, the united states more broadly had not clear about the goals. secretary alston said our goal is to weaken the russians. president biden was clear that the goal is -- >> nice outcome. >> it would be a nice outcome, but that's not why we are there. it's not the goals, not the objective.
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a free, independent and prosperous ukraine. if it weakens russia, that is just fine. it's a good side benefit. the real goal is an independent, sovereign, prosperous democratic ukraine. president biden was clear about that. he needed to state that. it's ok, it's all right. this brings me to the accountability aspect of the war. passé loser in a war -- has a loser in a war ever held the winner accountable? >> exactly right. if we will hold food into account and his minister of defense, his general officers,
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commanders, all the way down to the soldiers, they committed these war crimes, these atrocities. if we will hold that whole chain of command they have to lose. the answer to your question is, no. i certainly cannot think. maybe here will be able to answer this, but i cannot think of a winning side that has held itself -- or >> the beauty of our justice system is we will hold a prosecutor to account if they basically go about prosecution illegally. whatever it is. they trump up evidence. they leave something out. this is what makes our system, we hope, such a successful system and our belief in the rule of law. that is not the way war crimes
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trials work. >> correct. there are different mechanisms in place, international mechanisms. the treaty of rome sets up the international criminal court. it turns out, the u.s. and russia are not members of that. ukrainians signed onto it without actually signing the treaty. so there's that. there is that mechanism. there are special tribunals that can be set up to do this. what we are seeing now is within ukraine, there justice system. there it has some trouble. as all justice systems do. but they have been working on the justice system. they are holding russian soldiers to account. >> if they are all guilty, is that a problem when it comes to fairness? or, does somebody need to be acquitted in one of their trials? work so far, -- >> so far, a
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soldier and a pair of soldiers, they have all three pled guilty to committing those crimes. the invasion was a crime. >> this is where i struggle with, how do we hold russia accountable. if the entire operation is a crime, where do you go? >> that is a war crime. it is a crime of aggression. the international community has to enforce that. but it goes back to your question. ukrainians have to win this war in order to hold the russians to account for their crimes of aggression as well as individual atrocities.
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i have fired in a morally ambiguous warp. >> to me, it looks like we are still waiting and sitting on the sidelines. >> we are sitting on the sidelines in that we have no
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soldiers on the ground. we talked earlier about the bombardment. the airstrikes. >> russia does not with -- want to fight with nato. >> it does not. >> there is a reason they take the countries they picked to invade. they have not picked one under the nato it unparallel -- the nato umbrella.
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i think it is clear cause and effect. five months after that, they went to crimea. >> i want to ask about the germans and the french. that was something else that happened this weekend that got underreported. they had another call with putin. they did it together. emmanuel macron has been very vocal about essentially pushing president zelenskyy to get to peace. this is clearly financially driven by both france and germany, is it not? >> may be. no, undoubtedly.
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there are humanitarian concerns. people are dying. civilians and soldiers are dying. that is a perfectly legitimate concern. however, it is not just of the leaders of france and germany. you have distinguished u.s. diplomats. henry kissinger has been saying the same thing, that ukrainians, zelenskyy should give up part of his land. in order to stop them. >> one of my other favorite washingtonism was a wired or -- writer back in the 90's. a washington gas is accidentally speaking the truth. did henry kissinger commit a washington gaff? >> no. he believed that. he has been there a long time. >> a lot of diplomats. >> well, some. there have been others that have made the same point.
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you treat them like pawns. you respect the russians and you have to deal with vladimir putin's ego and face. all that stuff. were come does whereas, what president biden said yesterday is, he will never lean on, will never pressure president zelenskyy to negotiate or give up land, give up territory, give up sovereign ukraine to the russians. president biden will support president zelenskyy as he decides to negotiate. but he will not lean on one line. what henry kissinger said and what emmanuel macron and olaf scholz said. >> whose definition of sovereign ukraine is that? russia has obviously already annexed some pieces. i hear that phrase thrown out.
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it is almost purposely not -- purposefully not defined. >> president zelenskyy has been clear that the first principle is he will not give up claim to any sovereign ukrainian territory. however, he has also said that he will not use military force to enforce the claim on crimea. he has not said the same thing about the donbass. he has said he is willing to sit down and negotiate after the russians pull back from the territory they have gained since february 24, 2022. send this current version of the war began. the russians have claimed territory, have occupied territory. they do not control it, but they occupy it.
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once the russians are pushed back or withdraw back to donbass and crimea. that gives you a sense of what he thinks of the immediate sovereign nation, the sovereign territory even though he will not give up ultimate acclaim claim for the whole. >> do you expect accountability for war crimes to be negotiated? >> no. >> you don't think that ends up on the table between ukraine and russia? >> i don't think it can be. >> the russians may call for it. >> i am sure they will. i assume they will. who knows what they will do. i do not think the ukrainians will negotiate on that. i don't think the international community will negotiate on that. >> unanswerable question i am about to ask you. the united nations. it does feel as if because russia is a permanent member at the end of the day, they are out of reach from the icc, kind of
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untouchable. and that this is a flaw in the u.n. charter. >> it is no doubt it is a flaw in the u.n. charter. we have an expert here. >> i know a lot of people believe that the you in has -- the united nations has basically been unworthy for decades. i have to tell you, watching the fecklessness of the united nations, it has come through in spades during this war. >> that certainly applies to the un security council. >> they do a few things well. >> humanitarian, may be. >> war and peace, not so much. >> security council, not so much.
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president zelenskyy, we remember, when he addressed the security council he was harsh. he said that this organization was designed, was founded to stop or prevent wars. >> was -- what president zelenskyy said, there was so much clarity he brought in his criticism of the united nations. i am sure there is a mechanism to get rid of a permanent member. >> i don't think there is. >> it is amazing that certain continents do not even have a permanent member, right? the whole thing seems, george has been urging us to do this and we will do this. >> i will get ready for questions. i have one more question before we open up.
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how does ukraine not become syria? >> ukraine is a stronger nation. ukraine has been strengthened over the last eight years. certainly, over the last three months. it is so unified at this point. ukraine is so unified. it's military is fighting so fiercely with the support of the ukrainian people. again, with president zelenskyy being a true representative off the ukrainian people and in the ukrainian people strongly supporting him, you do not see that in syria. the united nations, you have a united ukraine determined to be independent, sovereign, prosperous, democratic. they have been trying to be
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democratic for the last 30 years. they do not want to go back under the thumb, the control, of an oppressive russia. so they are fighting for freedom in ways that very few other nations do. >> the follow up on that is, the west got trying to -- tired of trying to get rid of assad and gave up. it was the europeans in some ways pushing to de-escalate. how do we not have the same thing happen here in six months? >> that is the right question. there will be tensions. we see it with emmanuel macron, within the economic strains. the food crisis is real. inflation is real. gas prices are up high. oil prices as well. all of that will be a strain. all of that will put pressure on the international community to, you know, ease up a little bit.
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>> there will be double the amount of euchre -- republicans against it as last time. >> we need to prepare for that. i will say, so far, the department has been strong. even in the republican party in the senate, in the senate, the leader of the republican party in the senate has been unabashed. good for him. i think it will be tough. there is no doubt, it will be tough. this is important to us as a nation. it is important to us as a leader of the international community and to the ukrainians as well. >> i like to remind people. in 1942, the midterm elections went against the party of power because people were more worried about what was going on. i will open up questions in the room and online. go ahead.
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do we have a mic? >> here he comes. >> now that the ellen show is canceled we have some helpers. >> first, i want to thank both of you for your service. mr. taylor, -- mr. todd, i have always liked your trading analysis through the years. two quick clarifications. what was the quote attributed to the taliban? >> we set the time but you have the watches, i think. >> mr. taylor, what was president zelenskyy's position on crimea? >> right. so, earlier on, like two months ago, there were negotiations. at least, the ukrainians were
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serious about these negotiations. first on the border of belarus then in & and turkey. in those negotiations, there were some serious proposals put down by the ukrainians. one of those was a commitment to agree to disagree about crimea for 15 years and a commitment to not try to reclaim crimea by force. so, that is what the ukrainians were willing to commit to it that time. those negotiations were before her pain -- irpin, before mariupol. with those war crimes the enthusiasm, the willingness to
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negotiation has gone way down. but president zelenskyy said he would forswear trying to take back crimea. >> great, thank you. >> i too would like to thank both of you for a great discussion. i would like to complement whoever titled the event as exposing atrocities. because, i am not sure we will be able to do more than expose atrocities. my question to the ambassadors. if we do not go into russia, how do we hold putin and his chain of command as you described it earlier accountable for what they have done? it seems to me they will set in a certain security and all they have to do is not travel abroad and they are off the hook. the analogy is eichmann.
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the israelis had to go get them before they could hold them accountable. >> that is a very fair question. we do new -- know who titled this and she is sitting right here. lauren, good work. you are right. president biden yesterday made it clear that is not our goal. our goal is not regime change. it is not to go into russia. it is not to enable the ukrainians. we are not going to go arrest president putin or the chain of command you talked about, that we talked about. you also said the right thing. you made the right point. that is, there is no invasion, so as long as the international community is able to label him as -- and try have as a war
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criminal, he cannot travel. the law will remind me there have been some leaders who were condemned, who did travel, and who may not have been arrested by the state. they should have been arrested. but, being a pariah, a convicted war criminal, not being able to travel, that is a penalty. >> do you expect a trial in absence yet? >> why not? absent gr, have we done this? >> you can do it but then it becomes more of a political consideration. >> thank you. >> let's go on. >> we have good online questions. i will give you two both related to the icc.
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>> what steps should congress take to support accountability for war crimes in ukraine? should it include amending the international criminal court? what sense does this complicate u.s. efforts to assist in the prosecution of war crimes and will the u.s. put aside differences and work with the icc? >> the second question seems more relevant. we are not a part of the icc. >> we are not. but, i think it is true that while there are constraints on us by law, there is some u.s. law that says you cannot do some things with the icc. we know why they were put in place. there are some things we can do to support the icc. i think this is true. smarter people that i, one of whom is sitting right here, have suggested that.
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the united states either with the government or more likely through legal capabilities we have can support icc investigations. is that right? so, there are things we can do. but we cannot actually participate. and we don't expect -- except jurisdiction over them. but the question also asks, are there changes to the law? some people are suggesting changes to the law. there is an amendment that says, if there is a war criminal who comes to the united states, who is convicted of a war crime in another country we can arrested them. >> so we do not make a distinction on being named a war criminal by the icc versus the ukrainian judiciary, versus
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another country? >> it is being worked on now. but there seems to be bipartisan support for saying if they are a war criminal we ought to be able to arrest them. >> we had a question out here. >> hello. good morning. thank you both so much for your marts -- remarks and the lovely kickoff to the event, george. in this conversation and in high-level conversation to a degree are gender dynamics being considered in the analysis of the war and exposing atrocities, especially considering the high level of civilian casualties and the history of prominent human trafficking and sex trafficking region? >> great question.
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your reporters, all the reporters have record highs the -- recognized the incredible burden on women and children particularly in ukraine. we have seen them leaving. we see them packing up their homes and traveling to another country. they hope they can come back. they are not all coming back to the u.s. because they want to stay in the area. it is really a burden on women, children. you mentioned sex trafficking. they are worried about that. that has got a lot of attention in eastern europe. there have been a couple indications. again, i go back to the importance of what we are talking about today. of service, of reporters who are documenting this as well. some more than others. but nonetheless, i have always
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stuck with tim snyder and his dedication to what he says, for journalist, the heroes of our time actually doing the most to identify the truth in some real sense. >> ukraine has a robust industry of adoption. you know, we have done some stories about what has happened at some of these places. to me, that is a concern. you have to be worried about child trafficking. >> absolutely. you are right. in ukraine, the orphanages, some of moved totally. some have moved into eastern europe. so, child trafficking has to be a big concern. before adoptions, there were a
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lot of americans and others who adopted ukrainian kids. this war has actually stop that. it has really put a halt to that. it is one of the biggest problems for ukrainians at americans. but that is something we ought to be focused on. great question. >> i have another online question. credible reports of torture are emerging out of kherson. are these known to be committed elsewhere by russian forces? >> chechnya, georgia, and syria. in all three countries russian soldiers have gone above and beyond. terrace on --kherson is the latest one but we saw vividly in bucha, the torture that was
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evident. now inkherson, which the russians occupy but do not control, there are stories coming out of this again. ukrainian internationals are showing torture going on there. as you just said, this is what the russians seem to do. >> is this the penalty for not holding them accountable in chechnya, holding them more accountable in georgia? is this a fall out of not pursuing justice? >> this is a further demand requirement, imperative that we hold them accountable. otherwise, it keeps happening. >> a final question directed to
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you, bill. in your opinion what does winning look like for ukraine? >> great question. winning, i go back to president biden. winning is the emergence, the defense of, and the continued existence of a democratic independent sovereign prosperous ukraine. those are all important pieces of it. the prosperous part. this suggests that the free ukraine would have access to the boxee. it needs to have odessa. when he said prosperous, that is what i read. he did not say that it has to be immediately the fulham territory of ukraine as it was -- the
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whole territory of ukraine as it was before 2014 when the ukrainians first invaded. nowhere has president zelenskyy said that. but the answer to the question of what the goal is, there needs to be a sovereign, independent ukraine that can continue to develop, continue to develop economically. so a free ukraine, even if there is some portion that is still occupied, a free ukraine can join the european union. a free ukraine could apply to nato again. a free ukraine could develop north korea and south korea. south korea developed its economy pretty well even though it was divided. western germany helped found the european union. west germany was in nato.
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for a while the soviet union controlled east germany. a free ukraine, sovereign, not under the control of russians, democratic, it can continue to develop from not giving up an eventual claim on this full territory. >> kospi pivot. we have a -- let me pivot. we have a few minutes. let me pivot to the future of russia. is it worth planning on in the near term or not? >> sure. let's be clear. that is for the russians to decide when putin leaves. >> how is it for russians to decide? >> the russian people or people around them. i was on a panel a couple of weeks ago with a very senior ask intelligence service head.
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and he said his scenario is that bad decisions by president putin is hurting the country, hurting the economy, hurting the military, the services. bad decisions there, bad help. unpopular -- popular unrest. some people around him, russians, come in and say, you know, boss, your family is fine. you are fine. there is no brutus. have a nice life. this has happened before. this could happen. this is not for us to do. this is not for us to say.
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russians will make that decision. >> but your question is a good one. should we be planning? sure. we should be planning for a lot of contingencies. >> we talk about what winning looks like for ukraine. how does europe get its economy functioning again? because, it is so reliant on russian energy. the rest of this decade will be essentially getting europe to wean itself off of russian energy. >> amazingly, they seem to be going in that direction. they talked about cutting off all of the oil and that sounds high. but they have the hungarians applied. they have also committed to
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reduce by two thirds the natural gas. >> when europe's economy has flatlined for decades, won't we see major -- >> it will be a major transformation, no doubt about it. it will be a major transformation of their economy. which they are ready to do. it will affect us as well. prices will go up for oil and gas when they cut off that supply. it will affect us. there is no doubt about it. >> is there any fear here we are treating russia like germany in world war i? >> i since that from emmanuel macron and olaf scholz. olaf scholz he is -- has said he sees that. do you have that concern? >> i don't have that concern. my first concern is to succeed on having a successful ukraine.
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this will take both military support that needs to come very fast and very heavy right now. it will also take pressure on the russian economy. if the russian economy is able to sustain the war effort, primarily through what you ask about, through oil and gas. $1 billion a day is going into russia. still going. if they succeed by cutting by two thirds and 9%, that will go down. >> europe is both fighting and funding at the same time. >> hopefully, they will continue to fight and stop funding, or, phase out the funding. that seems to be the direction. >> how does the end of the war not put the ukraine in the eu
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let alone nato? >> i think that is right. there have been commitments from a lot of the eu including eu leadership, not the french, but, that ukraine's application for eu membership will be fast-track. they have already begun that process. nato, that's an interesting question. how does europe avoid going into a war again. after the war settles down, the ukrainians win or they have the free ukraine we talk about here that develops and then anything they do not control, how do we make sure that ukraine is not invaded again or georgia is not invaded again, or moldova is not invaded again?
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what is the security structure in europe? there may have to be guarantees. the best guarantee is of course what you asked about, chuck, nato membership. >> it's pretty obvious. >> that is why sweden and finland joining is such a big deal. this wayne you and estonia are kind of stuck out there. it is possible to defend the baltics if sweden and finland are members. >> i always learn to talk -- a lot anytime i talk with you, bill. i hope everyone else did as well. >> thank you for being here. come back. >> i would love to. we can arrange that. >> thank you very much. >>[applause]
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>> sunday on q&a, iraq war veteran and author of uncertain ground it discusses the impact of the wars in afghanistan and
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iraq on american society. and the gap between those who served and the rest of the country. >> one of the things marines used to say was we are at war and america is at the mall. that is kind of a way of putting down civilians. i was thinking about that years later. i thought, ok, america is at war. i am at the mall. maybe this is where i am supposed to be. i am getting baby close for my son. the contempt i felt for a certain degree of civilian life in a way is crazy because the point of joining the military is you think normal, quotidian civilian life is worth defending. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. you can listen to q&a and all of our podcasts on our new free c-span now app.
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