GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Former President Trump is indicted over hush money payments during the 2016 campaign to cover up an alleged affair.
GEOFF BENNETT: An American reporter is detained in Russia on spying charges for the first time since the Cold War.
AMNA NAWAZ: And more uncertainty ahead for homeless people in Washington, D.C., as the city phases out its COVID era housing hotel program.
DR. CATHERINE CROSLAND, Unity Health Care: I have often said that housing is health care.
I now say housing, with the appropriate supports in place, is health care.
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening, and welcome to the "NewsHour."
We come on the air with breaking news tonight.
Former President Trump has been indicted in a hush money case involving an alleged affair.
A lawyer for Mr. Trump says he's been informed that a grand jury in New York returned that indictment.
GEOFF BENNETT: It's the first time any ex-president has been charged in a criminal case.
And it comes as Mr. Trump is running for president again in 2024.
We turn now to two former federal prosecutors, Renato Mariotti and Jessica Roth.
Thank you both for being with us.
And, Jessica Roth, I think it's fair to say that we were not expecting an indictment today.
Of course, the grand jury conducts its work in secret.
But we knew the Manhattan grand jury works on Mondays and Wednesdays, and there was reporting that the jury was planning to take off much of April for a preplanned break.
Walk us through how this jury would have arrived at an indictment today.
JESSICA ROTH, Former Federal Prosecutor: Well, we don't know if they voted on it today or if they voted on it on another day and it just had remained under seal, as it still does as we sit here.
I mean, one of the extraordinary things about a grand jury is that it does its work in secrecy.
And so we don't know precisely when they voted on it.
Presumably, it was after they heard the last witnesses who were presented by the district attorney's office to shore up the testimony of Mr. Cohen and his credibility, presumably after the witness had been called who was requested by former President Trump to impugn his credibility.
And so, some time between when that happened and today, the grand jury indicted.
AMNA NAWAZ: Renato Mariotti, we have to underscore the unprecedented nature of this case, the first ex-president to be charged with a crime.
What does this tell us about the case that was built by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, and the kind of evidence and witnesses that had to be presented to the grand jury?
RENATO MARIOTTI, Former Federal Prosecutor: Well, I will say, Alvin Bragg must know that this is going to be his legacy one way or the other.
I'm sure his office has handled many cases.
And he has obviously had a lengthy career.
But the bottom line is that this is a case for the history books, regardless of what the end result is.
And so he and his team must feel very confident that they have the goods here.
I will say that, to an outside observer who doesn't have access to the secret grand jury material that I think your other guest wisely mentioned a moment ago, we -- it certainly looks like there are serious questions about this case.
But, at this stage, I think we have to presume that prosecutors are confident in their evidence.
Otherwise, they have certainly set themselves up for a difficult challenge ahead.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Jessica Roth, tell us more about Alvin Bragg, this prosecutor who has now apparently brought an indictment against Mr. Trump.
JESSICA ROTH: Well, he's a former federal prosecutor and he's also a former state prosecutor in the attorney general's office.
He has shown himself, I think, since he took office to be very careful with respect to many things, but especially with respect to a potential prosecution of former President Trump.
You will recall that he took a lot of heat for not moving forward with a prior indictment or a suggested -- several prosecutors who had been working under Alvin Bragg's predecessor, Cy Vance, were prepared to submit to the grand jury that related to the Trump Organization and former President Trump's inflation of assets for certain purposes and deflation of their value for other purposes.
And those two prominent prosecutors resigned when Alvin Bragg, shortly after taking office, was not prepared to move forward.
So I think the history since he took office as the district attorney of Manhattan suggests that he's been quite careful and deliberate in this regard.
AMNA NAWAZ: Renato, there is a lot we don't know.
We need to point that out.
As Jessica Roth mentioned, that indictment remains under seal at this moment.
But walk us through what we could expect to happen next, when we would learn more about the details of that indictment.
What happens on Mr. Trump's side?
Would he be expected to surrender at some point?
What should we expect?
RENATO MARIOTTI: Yes.
So what we would expect is that there would be a date that would be set for an initial appearance and an arraignment.
That's essentially a hearing where the charges are traditionally formally read, not so much nowadays, but formally read, and the defendant is advised of his rights and the potential penalties.
And then there would also be a bond that would be set at that initial appearance and at that arraignment.
So I would expect that Trump's attorneys and the prosecutors would be in contact, and there would be -- when that date is set, that there would be an understanding that he would appear at that initial appearance.
I think one thing we don't know is whether that would be virtual or in person.
But, obviously, there have been reports that the former president wants that to be in person.
Regardless, I think, at that point, the indictment would be unsealed.
We would learn what the charges are, but we would not learn all of the government's evidence.
And I think Jessica has made an excellent point.
All of that's been done in secret, and we don't know all of the details about that yet.
GEOFF BENNETT: Jessica Roth, as we wrap up our conversation, you are a student of the law.
You're a student of history.
In the minute or less that we have left, characterize this historic moment for us.
JESSICA ROTH: Well, it is, as we all know, the first time a former president has been indicted.
He's been indicted by a state prosecutor in the county where he used to live, but he has since left.
So, the narrative here is extraordinary.
And I think that it's going to be probably a prelude to other indictments to come, that this, in a sense, was the first step toward a number of crimes that the former president may have committed in the nature of obstructing justice and impairing our democracy.
So I think it's the first chapter.
GEOFF BENNETT: Jessica Roth and Renato Mariotti, our thanks to you both.
JESSICA ROTH: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other headlines: The U.S. Army was hit by tragedy, nine soldiers killed in the crash of two Black Hawk helicopters late Wednesday.
They belonged to the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and were on a training mission.
The Army says they crashed about 30 miles northwest of Fort Campbell near the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
At a briefing today, the division's deputy commander said it's not clear why went wrong.
GEN. JOHN LUBAS, Deputy Commander, 101st Airborne Division: They do very detailed planning, very detailed rehearsals.
Depending on the risk of the operation they're doing has different levels of approval from the command.
So we will always relook our safety precautions and our measures.
But this was -- like all of these training events, safety is a primary focus for us.
AMNA NAWAZ: The helicopters carry flight quarters that could carry critical information about that crash.
Federal regulators are investigating another fiery train derailment, this time in Minnesota.
It happened overnight near Raymond, some 100 miles west of Minneapolis, and cars carrying ethanol caught fire.
At daybreak, some of the 22 derailed cars were still burning, and nearby residents were evacuated for a time, then allowed back.
The train's operator, BNSF, is a "NewsHour" funder.
The Nashville school shooting sent crowds of protesters into Tennessee's state capitol today demanding tougher gun laws.
Demonstrators filled hallways and shouted "Six are dead.
How many more?"
Republicans control the legislature and have backed greater gun access.
Also today, police released 911 recordings from that school shooting.
Callers appealed for help amid sounds of gunshots.
Doctors say Pope Francis is showing market improvement at a Rome hospital.
He was admitted Wednesday with bronchitis.
The doctors say he rested well last night and is responding to antibiotics.
Well-wishers gathered outside Gemelli Hospital and left flowers today.
Francis voiced his gratitude in a message posted on Twitter.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen spent this day in New York on a highly sensitive stopover.
She arrived in Manhattan on Wednesday and today held a series of closed events before heading on to Central America, hoping to shore up support for Taiwan.
In Washington, the State Department counseled calm, despite heated complaints from mainland China, officially the People's Republic.
VEDANT PATEL, Principal Deputy State Department Spokesperson: Our message to the PRC continues to be that there's no reason to turn this transit, which is consistent with longstanding U.S. policy, into something that it's not or use it as an opportunity to overreact.
AMNA NAWAZ: China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has warned Tsai not to beat with U.S. leaders.
For now, at least, she is expected to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California on her way home next week.
Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro has returned home after a three-month stay in Florida.
The far right populist said he wants a new role in politics, but he faces investigations that could prevent a comeback.
Supporters in yellow and green chased after him and swarmed party headquarters in Brasilia today.
Bolsonaro predicted that the leftist President Lula da Silva, who ousted him, will not last or get much done.
Finland won admission to NATO today when Turkey ratified its application.
All 30 members of the alliance had to agree, and Turkey was the last to do so.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Sweden's application is still pending.
Back in this country, the founder of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, has pleaded not guilty to new federal criminal charges.
He appeared briefly this morning in federal court in New York.
The new indictment alleges he bribed a Chinese official to unfreeze company assets.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed through a broad energy package today to undo most of President Biden's climate priorities.
It would ramp up us production of fossil fuels and expedite approvals for pipelines.
But Democrats controlling the Senate say the bill is dead on arrival there.
And, on Wall Street today, stocks had another positive day, as fears of banking turmoil faded further.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 141 points to close at 32859.
The Nasdaq rose 87 points and the S&P 500 added 23.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the debate over raising the federal debt limit heats up on Capitol Hill; a federal judge's decision puts the future of the Affordable Care Act in doubt; Detroit's Arab American artists reflect on the invasion of Iraq 20 years later; plus much more.
GEOFF BENNETT: For the first time in nearly 40 years, Russian authorities have arrested an American journalist and charged him with espionage.
Evan Gershkovich of The Wall Street Journal was detained by intelligence agents yesterday while reporting in Central Russia.
It's an escalation of a Kremlin campaign that has targeted independent media, opposition politicians and any critics of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Nick Schifrin begins our coverage.
NICK SCHIFRIN: It's a moment not seen since the Cold War, an American journalist accused of espionage detained by Russian police.
Russian intelligence agents arrested Evan Gershkovich as he reported 900 miles east of Moscow.
Police took him into a closed court hearing, and the federal security service, or FSB, accused him of -- quote -- "acting on instructions from the American side to collect information about the activities of one of the end reprises of the Russian military industrial complex that constitutes a state secret."
MARIA ZAKHAROVA, Spokeswoman, Russian Foreign Ministry (through translator): Under the cover of journalist activity, this person has been involved in a completely different kind of activity.
What he has been doing in your Yekaterinburg - - I'm speaking about this case only for now - - is not journalism.
NICK SCHIFRIN: In response, The Wall Street Journal said it "vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter."
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, White House Press Secretary: The charges against him are ridiculous.
NICK SCHIFRIN: In Washington, the U.S. said it was trying to gain consular access and warned Americans living in Russia to leave.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: This is incredibly, sadly, common for Russia to detain Americans.
And that's why we have been very clear about Americans not going to Russia.
It is not safe for Americans right now in Russia.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, Russia holds another American, former Marine Paul Whelan, arrested in December 2018.
A Russian court convicted him on espionage charges that Whelan and the U.S. called a sham.
But in today's Russia, it is Russians who are most often targeted.
The Committee to Protect Journalists as at least seven Russian journalists have been arrested and charged since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
This week, single father Alexei Moskalyov face punishment for questioning the war on social media.
Russian authorities investigated him after his daughter made this school drawing: "Glory to Ukraine.
No to war."
Authorities separated them.
She was forced to an orphanage and he faces two years in prison.
He fled and was detained in Belarus.
But the daughter has been trying to comfort the father.
She wrote a letter: "Please don't worry about me.
Please don't give up.
I love you.
You're my hero."
Since the invasion, the human rights organization OVD-Info says police have detained nearly 20,000 for criticizing the war, among them, opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza.
He is a longtime Kremlin critic and target.
Twice, he's been poisoned.
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, Russian Opposition Politician: I couldn't breathe.
And, at this stage, when you're lying there, trying to gas for air, I think I felt just life slowly going out of the whole body.
NICK SCHIFRIN: We interviewed him and his wife, Evgenia, in 2017.
And yet, after that, after the full-scale invasion, he returned to Russia to continue his work.
Last April, authorities arrested him.
He's now on trial for high treason.
Have you ever asked him not to go back?
EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, Wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza: It is terrifying.
I'm not going to lie to you, but I want him to continue to do what he thinks is important, what he thinks is right.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And now Evgenia has continued Vladimir's work.
She is the Free Russia Foundation's director for advocacy.
She vows to keep fighting for her husband and for justice for as long as it takes.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.
GEOFF BENNETT: And with us once again is of Evgenia Kara-Murza.
And Andrew Weiss joins us, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
He served in the George H.W.
Bush and Clinton administrations.
Thank you both for being here.
Evgenia, I will start with you, because Russia earlier this month began the closed-door trial of your husband.
He faces more than two decades in prison on charges, including treason for comments critical of the Kremlin.
How is he doing?
And how is his case unfolding?
EVGENIA KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much for having me here.
Everything in my husband's case, as you said, is happening behind closed doors.
The entire trial is happening behind closed doors, because, of course, the Russian authorities are afraid to give him a platform, even if it is a courtroom, to speak.
And he will continue to speak out.
He will continue to oppose this regime, as he has been doing for all these years.
And, yes, the accusations against him include the dissemination of knowingly false information about the war in Ukraine, or, in other words, denouncing the war crimes committed by the Russian army on the territory of Ukraine and calling for the creation of a tribunal, Nuremberg-style tribunal, to prosecute all those responsible, and high treason, as you mentioned, for public speeches that he made on different international platforms, in which he denounced the regime, talked about political persecution in Russia and the ever-growing number of political prisoners in the Russian Federation.
GEOFF BENNETT: How are detainees like your husband treated?
EVGENIA KARA-MURZA: Oh, well, it really depends.
I can tell you that the Russian authorities are now using a whole spectrum of intimidating techniques and repressive mechanisms that include the use of punitive psychiatry, torture, sexual violence, all -- and prison terms that can go up to 15 years for just saying no to the war, for protesting against it in any way, even by making a post on social media, putting a like under someone else's post, for reposting information.
They called it dissemination of knowingly false information about the war, about the special operation.
And for any kind of protests against the official narrative.
The current Russian regime wants to portray anyone who opposes the official narrative as either criminal, an insane person, or a traitor.
This is what we have in Russia today.
GEOFF BENNETT: Vladimir Putin is focused on suppressing dissent.
But you, as I understand it, say it's a mistake to believe that he has been successful in suffocating the resistance movement.
EVGENIA KARA-MURZA: Absolutely.
I believe that he very much depends on creating this image for the entire world, this image in which the entire Russian population stands behind him and the war.
The number of people detained over the last year -- and that's over 20,000 people -- for protesting against the war and against the official Kremlin policies -- show that there are probably millions of people who are against what is happening, but are afraid to speak up, because they see what happens to those who do, who dare to oppose the regime.
GEOFF BENNETT: Andrew Weiss, the Biden White House today condemned the detention of the American Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for what Moscow described as espionage.
The White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, said the administration had no advance awareness of a new Russian effort to target American journalists.
Does -- does his detention read to you like a stepped-up effort on the part of the Russians to target Americans, with the end goal of a prisoner swap?
ANDREW WEISS, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: It's really hard to speculate at this point, given how few concrete facts have been released.
And we always need to be really careful not to assume that what the Russians are saying is true.
In this instance, a small number of Western journalists have gone back or gone in and out since the war began.
At the beginning of the war, everyone left.
And the message from the U.S. administration has been really clear: No Americans should be in Russia right now, due to the threat of arbitrary detention, or worse.
And now you have something that looks much worse, which is espionage charges that carry with them, as Ms. Kara-Murza was saying, real potential for a very long prison sentence.
GEOFF BENNETT: The official Russian line is that he is a spy.
The White House today said that's completely unsubstantiated.
If you look at his recent reporting, though, he was writing about Russia's economic struggles, its troubles on the battlefield, the Wagner Group, a paramilitary force with ties to Putin.
Does any of that suggest to you why he might have been targeted?
ANDREW WEISS: The Western reporters who have gone back to Russia for these short-term reporting trips have really punctured the veil of lies.
And they have been able to report and tell the world the truth about how Russian society is reacting to the war, the problems in the economy, and the problems within the Russian security establishment.
The Russian government doesn't like criticism, doesn't like scrutiny.
And in a situation like this, I think they are trying to push Western journalists back out of the country and make it clear that, if Mr. Gershkovich can be targeted, so can you.
GEOFF BENNETT: We saw what it took to secure the release of Brittney Griner.
Paul Whelan has been in Russia, held captive, for more than four years.
What are the prospects facing Evan Gershkovich?
ANDREW WEISS: It's a grim picture at the moment.
No one who has been formally accused of espionage or treason has been acquitted in Russia since the late 1990s.
There was one case in the Cold War era, in 1986, of a Western journalist, Nicholas Daniloff, who was arrested on espionage charges.
He was released in a complex maneuver involving the U.S. and Soviet governments at that time.
He wasn't convicted of espionage.
So I think the focus right now has to be on not treating the Russian assertions as accurate - - i think it's, on its face, a laughable accusation -- but also being really careful to do whatever we can to make sure that we don't endanger Mr. Gershkovich more than he already is.
GEOFF BENNETT: Evgenia, as we wrap up our conversation, what do you make of that?
And what are we to make of this current moment?
EVGENIA KARA-MURZA: Well, this is a regime that does not value human life, has never valued human life.
This is a regime that has been committing those kinds of crimes, including war crimes, for years.
This regime has already committed war crimes in Chechnya and in Syria.
It has already carried out acts of aggression against our neighbors in Georgia and in Ukraine in 2014 by annexing Crimea.
This is a regime that holds -- the longest-serving Russian political prisoner is Alexey Pichugin.
He's been behind bars for 20 years, in violation of two decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and several demands by the Committee of Ministers for his immediate release.
This is a regime that held over 300 political prisoners even before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Now the numbers are growing by the day.
It will take hostages.
It will try to erase Ukraine from the face of the earth.
It will accompany this war of aggression by genocide.
It will do all the possible -- carry out all the possible crimes against its own population.
This is why this regime has to come down.
It has to be brought down.
The only way for Russia to stop being a threat to itself and to its neighbors is for it to become a democracy.
This regime cannot be transformed into a democracy.
It has to stand trial for all the crimes committed against the Russian people and against everyone else around.
This is the only way.
GEOFF BENNETT: Andrew Weiss, our thanks to you.
And, Evgenia Kara-Murza, our thoughts are with you, your family and your husband, Vladimir.
AMNA NAWAZ: A looming global financial crisis of Congress' own making is still months away.
But time is already running short on Capitol Hill.
Political correspondent Lisa Desjardins caught up with lawmakers before they left town for the long Easter break and joins me here.
Lisa, it's good to see you.
LISA DESJARDINS: Good to see you.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, bring us up to speed.
What happened this week?
And what does it mean for that debt ceiling debate?
LISA DESJARDINS: We're talking about that debt ceiling debate.
Now, the two principles here that we need to watch are House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
He governs House Republicans there, what they will do.
And, of course, President Biden.
He has to sign any legislation dealing with the debt ceiling.
Those two men, Amna, have not spoken in two months.
They had a lot of time.
Now they have a lot less time.
We did see some action from them today -- this week, though, engagement.
They sent each other letters.
Look at this, first a letter from Speaker McCarthy to President Biden outlining potential ideas, essentially saying he would like spending cuts and maybe some tax cuts as well.
Then, President Biden same day wrote a letter back to Speaker McCarthy.
Now, the content of these letters was also spelled out today by both of these men in separate news conferences.
First, I want to play what Speaker McCarthy told us in his news conference today.
He said he wants to sit down with President Biden as soon as possible.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): So what we need to do is sit down, like any household would happen, and find places that we can eliminate waste, the fraud, but, more importantly, create a system that makes the energy in America stronger, lower price, but make our economy even better.
The conference is very close.
And if the president doesn't act, we will.
LISA DESJARDINS: All right.
That was an important moment.
The conference, he means the Republican Conference.
He's saying essentially that the House Republican Congress plans to pass something.
We will see what.
What did the White House say today?
Here's White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, White House Press Secretary: What we really need from Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans is to see their budget.
Where's the budget?
LISA DESJARDINS: They have not passed a budget in the House.
This is essentially saying, we won't meet with you until you have a plan.
Speaker McCarthy saying, no, we want to meet with you first.
It's a classic.
They're starting to engage, though.
That's why we're talking about this now.
There's not progress yet, but this seems to be a realization that they have got to figure something out in coming weeks.
AMNA NAWAZ: Dueling letters and dueling press conferences right now.
But you do have some new reporting on what could be a short term off-ramp.
What do we know?
LISA DESJARDINS: Talking to sources on Capitol Hill, especially those conservative Republicans who are driving the train in the House, like Freedom Caucus members, it seems to me clear that they are now getting ready to accept a short-term deal to extend the debt ceiling maybe for a couple of months, they are hoping in exchange for some easy-, they think,-to-get compromises.
Like, for instance, there's some unspent COVID relief money that they think perhaps President Biden would allow to go back into the federal Treasury.
Now, there is a problem, though, for Kevin McCarthy and those Republicans.
They don't really necessarily have 218 votes, a majority, for any idea yet.
There is also, I have to say, a problem for President Biden.
Some of his Democrats also have issues with him.
We saw this op-ed from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia come out today, in which he said the Biden administration is determined to pursue an ideological agenda, rather than confront debts and deficits.
Senator Manchin wants a part in negotiations going ahead.
So you see pressure on both sides.
Let's talk about the timing.
We think the debt ceiling, right now, we will hit it, run out of money to spend, essentially, for the government, some time between June and September, a very wide set of months.
Why don't we know?
Because this is tax month.
We should know April 18 how much revenue the government has brought in.
That will tell us more about our timeline.
AMNA NAWAZ: A lot of important information coming very soon.
Lisa, while I have you here, I do want to ask you about another issue lawmakers are being asked a lot about in the wake of another mass shooting in America.
That is, of course, gun violence and where it stands.
You recorded what I think it's fair to call a very unusual confrontation yesterday.
Tell us about that.
LISA DESJARDINS: That's right.
Standing outside of the House chamber is a place where there are very hard rules and decorum is firm and important.
But, yesterday, I witnessed coming out of the gun debate a Democratic member starting to shout his frustration about what he sees as a lack of action this issue.
I want to play what happened next.
Jamaal Bowman is a representative from New York.
He's the African American you're going to see in this clip, and he was -- he was raising this issue.
And then Republican Tom Massie came over to also engage with him.
Here's what happened.
REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): I'm talking about gun violence.
I'm talking about gun violence.
REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): You know there's never been a school shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry?
REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN: Carry guns?
You think -- more guns leads to more death!
More guns lead to more death!
LISA DESJARDINS: This is very personal for both these men.
Representative Bowman is a former crisis intervention teacher and school principal in New York.
He was talking about kids that he sees dying, and he sees a lack of intervention on guns from lawmakers.
Representative Massie was saying, no, I don't think it is -- that is not the problem.
We need to arm teachers.
More guns is the answer.
The other one saying, no, fewer guns is the answer.
While it was shouting, it was clear that there was actually substance to what they were saying.
Now, this comes not in isolation, Amna.
Today, we saw in Nashville in the state capitol in Tennessee protests.
Look at this, hundreds of people coming out sparked by the death of those six people, including those three 9-year-olds.
This was the first time that state legislature had met since the shooting.
So you see there is something happening right now in this moment, a real outcry for legislation.
I asked Speaker McCarthy today, what specifically do you think should be done on this?
He said there should be a national conversation.
He didn't give me specifics.
Let's talk about that conversation right now.
What we know is that, according to The Washington Post, there have been 17 school shootings this year.
And we also know that gun violence is the leading cause of death among American children.
AMNA NAWAZ: Hard-and-true facts from Lisa Desjardins.
Lisa, thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: A federal judge in Texas has ruled that employers cannot be required to cover key preventative health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act.
It jeopardizes free coverage of a wide range of services for some 160 million Americans.
The Biden administration is expected to request a stay on the ruling.
Larry Levitt is the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, and joins us now.
Mr. Levitt, welcome.
And thanks for joining us.
Just to set the table here, this ruling stems from a case brought by Christian-owned and businesses and some others who argued they shouldn't have to cover HIV PrEP, which is a pre-exposure prophylaxis.
But what does this mean more broadly in terms of the implications?
LARRY LEVITT, Senior Vice President, Kaiser Family Foundation: Yes, I mean, on the one hand, this decision is not as broad as some of the other legal challenges we have seen to the Affordable Care Act.
I mean, this decision does not threaten the very existence of Obamacare, the subsidies that make coverage more affordable, preexisting condition protections.
On the other hand, this is a very significant decision; 100 million people in a typical year use the preventive services that the Affordable Care Act requires and requires insurers to provide with no deductibles and no co-pays.
The judge's decision does not throw out all of those preventive services.
But it's very significant and will affect millions of people over time.
AMNA NAWAZ: When you're talking about those preventative services and screenings, give us some examples.
What kinds of things are we talking about here?
LARRY LEVITT: Yes, so the kinds of preventive services that the ACA requires are very broad.
I mean, it's cancer screenings.
It screenings for depression and anxiety.
Many of those will actually stay, because what this ruling does is says that any preventive services that were added after 2010, when the Affordable Care Act passed, are the ones that are thrown out.
So those will -- the ones that will no longer or could no longer be covered by insurers include PrEP, as you mentioned, medication that prevents HIV, statins that lower cholesterol, and help prevent heart disease, medications that help reduce the risk of breast cancer, lung cancer screening, so a narrower set of services than many people are getting, but still quite significant, and for many people's lives.
AMNA NAWAZ: So insurers can either just drop coverage for those kinds of services and screenings altogether or start charging enrollees for those.
What do you expect to happen?
LARRY LEVITT: I -- first of all, I don't think anything will happen immediately, because we're in the middle of middle of the calendar year.
And many insurance contracts are still in place.
But come next year, I think insurers will look at this ruling, if it stands, if the Biden administration does not successfully get a stay, insurers will look at it and make some decisions, I suspect they will still cover these services.
But many of them will be subject to deductibles or co-pays, which could be quite expensive for patients.
AMNA NAWAZ: We should point out the judge in this case basically ruled the government can't force employers to provide some of the services, because the task force that determined which should be covered wasn't -- was comprised of medical advisers, not government employees.
We mentioned that we expect the Biden administration to appeal.
So what happens next?
Walk us through the timeline.
LARRY LEVITT: Yes, so the first step will be an appeal to try to get a stay, because this judge in Texas not only said that the preventive services requirement doesn't apply to these employers, these religious employers in Texas, or even just in Texas, but applies nationwide.
So the Biden administration will certainly push for a stay.
And then this would go to the court of appeals in that region, which is a pretty conservative court, and, most likely, ultimately to the Supreme Court.
AMNA NAWAZ: We have got about a minute-and-a-half or so left.
I have to ask you more broadly, it was just a week ago the White House was celebrating 13 years of the Affordable Care Act and record high open enrollment numbers.
This was, as you mentioned, a narrow, but it was a key provision of the ACA.
What does all of this tell you about the future of the Affordable Care Act?
LARRY LEVITT: Yes, I mean, this is an enormously popular provision of the ACA.
I mean, this is not something that's controversial, like the individual mandate that required people to get insured or pay a penalty, or the employer mandate.
This was extremely popular.
And you're right.
I mean, the politics around the Affordable Care Act have really changed.
I mean, we're 13 years in.
The Biden administration has really reinvigorated the Affordable Care Act after the Trump administration tried to weaken it.
There's record enrollment.
There's record low uninsured rate now in the United States.
And Republicans really are not publicly talking about repealing the ACA anymore.
But this ruling potentially puts them on the hot seat.
AMNA NAWAZ: We will be watching all of this unfold in the weeks and months ahead.
Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, thank you for joining us.
LARRY LEVITT: Thanks for having me.
AMNA NAWAZ: At the start of the pandemic, we were all urged to stay at home and avoid crowds.
But, for homeless people, packed shelters made COVID transmission nearly unavoidable.
And so many cities, using federal COVID money,housed people in vacant hotels to better protect them.
This year, Washington, D.C., announced it would phase out its program, following others like it across the nation, leaving some unhoused people unsure where they will go next.
William Brangham has that story.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At McPherson Square, once the largest homeless encampment in Washington, D.C., the 70 or so people living here are losing the closest thing they have to home.
MAN: Please collect your belongings and exit the park now.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Daniel Kingery (ph) lived here for three years.
He says life outside was much better than inside city shelters.
DANIEL KINGERY, Washington, D.C.: I have heard people who go to the homeless shelters, and they're more violent than the streets are.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: These sweeps,which are occurring constantly in cities across the country, come at a particularly bad time, because a successful homelessness program is now ending in D.C., following other programs like it around the country.
During the pandemic, the city brought homeless people at particular risk from COVID because of preexisting medical conditions to hotels like this one in Southwest D.C., people like Dean Eliot Clark, who is diabetic.
D.C. housed more than 2,000 people like him in these hotels.
Here, Clark gets health care, meals and privacy.
DEAN ELIOT CLARK, Washington, D.C.: You can't ask for no more.
A person that don't appreciate this, they don't appreciate nothing.
And that's sad.
When it's cold outside, it's warm here.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tiayana Williams, who has an autoimmune disease, had been living on the streets and in the woods for over eight years when caseworkers offered her a spot in the hotel.
TIAYANA WILLIAMS, Washington, D.C.: I say you know what, what's it going to hurt me?
Let me go in this year.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Give it a try.
TIAYANA WILLIAMS: Yes, give it a try, and where I get to take a shower, get something to eat.
I don't have to run out my tent every morning.
So, when I got here, I did take a little break for myself.
I started resting.
DR. CATHERINE CROSLAND, Unity Health Care: I have often said that housing is health care.
I now say housing, with the appropriate supports in place, is health care.
How are you doing?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Doctor Catherine Crosland has treated residents in D.C.'s hotels since the program began.
She says one of her patients saw a huge improvement in his health after just a week inside.
DR. CATHERINE CROSLAND: He was not short of breath.
The swelling in his legs were gone.
The ulcers were healed.
He had all his medications lined up on his dresser.
And my medical intervention had not changed at all.
What had changed was that he had this stable place to care for himself.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Another hotel resident who asked we just call him Joe found the same effect.
With stable housing, he takes his psychiatric medicine regularly.
JOE, Washington, D.C.: Yes, it helps me keep on medication and any jobs that I hold down.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Having a steady place to stay?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: How were you able to do that when you were living in a tent?
JOE: It was really hard.
Actually, I wasn't able to.
I wasn't able to hold down very much.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This hotel is one of three remaining that's still housing people in Washington, D.C.
But as federal funds disappear, and the city phases out the program, the 400 or so people that still remain face an uncertain future.
But city officials say the program, known as PEP-V, was never intended to be a permanent solution.
DENA HASAN, D.C. Department of Human Services: Continuing PEP-V as designed is ill-timed.
It was launched during a global pandemic.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Dena Hasan is the director of policy and program support for D.C.'s Department of Human Services.
DENA HASAN: As we are phasing out the PEP-V program, aligned with the phase-out of pandemic efforts throughout the nation, we will make sure that every PEP-V resident is linked to the services that they are eligible for.
Some of that will include permanent housing.
Some of that will not.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: According to D.C.'s Department of Human Services, as of the end of February 60 percent of all PEP-V residents had been matched to a housing subsidy that would cover the cost of their rent.
DHS estimated around 50 people will have to return to shelters after PEP-V closes.
AMBER HARDING, Executive Director, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless: I'm worried that they're going to phase it out without a plan B. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Amber Harding is the executive director at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
AMBER HARDING: Now that the federal money for these hotel programs is lapsing in May, it's going to be a real test for local governments as to how high of a political priority it is to actually provide a program they know is saving people's lives and is improving their health in many ways.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For Dr. Crosland, the idea of sending her patients back to shelters is the worst outcome.
DR. CATHERINE CROSLAND: Seeing people together under one roof with end stage renal disease, metastatic cancer undergoing chemotherapy, congestive heart failure, severe COPD requiring oxygen, these are folks who should never be in a shelter, let alone an outside encampment.
And so it has really highlighted the need of a place for this vulnerable population to be while they're experiencing homelessness.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Researchers say this model offers a blueprint for temporary housing across the country, but a long-term solution should be the end goal.
Some point to California's Project Homekey, where local entities are provided grants to purchase vacant hotels and convert them into permanent housing for the homeless.
SAM BATKO, Urban Institute: No shelter solution, be it either congregate or noncongregate shelter, will be successful without having a housing exit strategy for the people that are staying there temporarily.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sam Batko is a principal research associate at the Urban Institute.
SAM BATKO: The most important thing that a community can do is rehouse people as quickly as possible.
And so what that means is making sure that every single shelter that you have is oriented towards helping to minimize the amount of time that people spend in it and getting them into what we call permanent housing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: While D.C.'s program is ending, Hasan says the city will continue to improve housing options for its unhoused residents.
Do you worry that there might be some people, given that the federal money is now disappearing, that might fall through the cracks?
DENA HASAN: What we are committed to is making sure that the lessons we have learned from this crisis is implemented, is integrated into our longstanding services and supports for our residents.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After just over a year in the hotel, Tiayana Williams secured a subsidized apartment with the help of her caseworker.
TIAYANA WILLIAMS: Yesterday, I was with my worker.
And she took me to this apartment complex.
I love it, because it's up there by the zoo.
I want to take my grandkids to the zoo.
I signed my papers yesterday, so I'm waiting on my inspection, and then I will be on to my life.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It's a happy ending for her, but one that not everyone will experience.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham in Washington, D.C. GEOFF BENNETT: Twenty years ago, after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Iraqi American playwright and actor Heather Raffo created and starred in an acclaimed play titled "Nine Parts of Desire" about the lives of Iraqi women.
Now she's returned to the subject, but on film and through a distinctly American lens, setting a new version of the work in Michigan.
Jeffrey Brown went there to see how this work lands for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
JEFFREY BROWN: The setting, a church on the Flint River in Michigan.
HEATHER RAFFO, Writer and Actress: The year ISIS took Mosul, dementia took my dad.
He spent 80 years carrying and six years forgetting money.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the midst of the pandemic, an Iraqi American woman mourning the loss of her father is visited by a series of women.
HEATHER RAFFO: We didn't know if our neighbor was Sunni or Shia.
It was offensive to ask.
But here now people demand to know what I am.
JEFFREY BROWN: Many lives.
HEATHER RAFFO: I have not been to school since America came.
JEFFREY BROWN: Many stories.
HEATHER RAFFO: We have you chained to the desert.
JEFFREY BROWN: All played and told by writer and actor Heather Raffo.
HEATHER RAFFO: Even my son, he said yesterday, he's like: "So, were they really there?"
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
HEATHER RAFFO: "Or were they all in her head?"
And he's like... JEFFREY BROWN: Right.
I mean, I was thinking the same thing, right?
HEATHER RAFFO: Right?
And he's like: "Well, did it happen or didn't it?"
And I'm like: "Well, I think that's just up to you, how you feel about that," because that's how I felt oftentimes during the pandemic.
Am I connected to my ancestors?
Am I connected in my grief to all these things that have happened across the world throughout time, or am I just isolated and alone?
And I think it's both, right?
There's a whole generation today, they want to think for themselves without Iran, without America.
JEFFREY BROWN: At Detroit Public Theatre recently, Raffo screened her new film, "Nine Parts," for family, friends and community members.
HEATHER RAFFO: This is absolutely meant to be in Michigan.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was a homecoming on several counts.
HEATHER RAFFO: Adapting it was wanting to be in conversation with my dad, was what the film was, and wanting to be in conversation with my country.
JEFFREY BROWN: She lives in New York now, but was raised in this area amid the largest Arab American population in the country.
And this was also a chance to mourn our own Iraqi-born father, a member of its minority question, or Chaldean, community, who died during the pandemic, when his family couldn't hold a public funeral.
HEATHER RAFFO: Who is going to be left to inspire the people?
JEFFREY BROWN: And the film itself is a kind of return to her critically acclaimed 2003 play, "Nine Parts of Desire," that explored the lives of Iraqi women through a decade of war and upheaval.
HEATHER RAFFO: The original impetus for "Nine Parts of Desire" the play was to reach Americans with the humanity of Iraqis.
JEFFREY BROWN: Which meant what?
HEATHER RAFFO: Which meant, they are real people.
JEFFREY BROWN: Right.
HEATHER RAFFO: They have deep and complicated feelings, both politically and personally, and that we can't pigeonhole them to one side of an issue.
And, of course, once the kind of civil strife started happening, it was just showing the huge diversity and depth of their thinking.
JEFFREY BROWN: Twenty years later, the impact of the American invasion continues to be felt in Iraq, a country still torn by sectarian divisions, beset by economic woes and political corruption.
An estimated nine million Iraqis are internally displaced or live abroad, including most of Raffo's extended family, many of whom left when ISIS took over Mosul in 2014 and targeted Iraqi Christians.
HEATHER RAFFO: I had about 100 family members living in Iraq in 2003.
I now have one cousin left in the country.
So that's a thousands-of-years-old family and community that has been displaced in less than 10.
MAN: There's a lot of talk about homeland.
And I have been struggling with that the older I get.
JEFFREY BROWN: The reverberations also continued to be filled in the Iraqi American community.
Among those attending the Detroit screening was 24-year-old Fatima Al-Rasool.
FATIMA AL-RASOOL, Public Programming Coordinator, Arab American National Museum: Watching the film just brought up so much emotion.
The struggles and the hardships that Iraqis go through and that Iraqi Americans feel and also go through are something that isn't talked about quite often.
I think that... JEFFREY BROWN: It isn't talked about even in your community, you and your friends and family?
FATIMA AL-RASOOL: It's talked about, but I think, with big traumas like that, things tend to be very deep.
JEFFREY BROWN: Al-Rasool, from a Muslim American family, came to the U.S. as an infant in the period just before the war.
Many relatives remain in Iraq.
She now straddles these worlds, in part through her work as public programming coordinator at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, which features exhibitions of both past and present, including showcasing the work of contemporary artists.
What's your sense of your friends, other people in your generation?
How important are the traditions and the history?
FATIMA AL-RASOOL: Because, for the most part, we were raised in America, we really try our hardest to keep in touch with our heritage, even further than just hearing the stories of our parents or visiting.
We really want to define being Arab American and what that means to us.
And I think the museum is a place that allows us to do that by uplifting Arab American stories, encouraging conversations through art.
HEATHER RAFFO: You a politician?
You know I hate politicians.
JEFFREY BROWN: Heather Raffo is now artist in residence at the museum, a chance to develop a new play that expands her canvas, looking at migration around the world, and featuring musicians and actors from a variety of countries.
HEATHER RAFFO: I very much feel this void.
I have no peace.
JEFFREY BROWN: But it is this country that seems most on her mind, especially by setting the new film version of "Nine Parts" here in Michigan in 2020, sectarian division and anger all around reminding her of Iraq's plight.
Now the Flint River and the city's ongoing water crisis stood in for the Tigris.
The pandemic brought epic loss of life on a scale of war.
HEATHER RAFFO: From a Michigan point of view, there were armed militias in our government buildings.
And the way the country was increasingly tense was something that almost every Arab American, but particularly Iraqi American, goes, OK, warning signs are really clear.
JEFFREY BROWN: You see that happening in the U.S., those kinds of divisions?
Are you red?
Are you blue?
HEATHER RAFFO: Are you red?
Are you blue?
How you going to talk to your family member over Thanksgiving, right?
How are you going to -- what are you going to say?
As an artist, we go toward the heat.
Can you ski without risk?
ACTRESS: I always land on my feet.
JEFFREY BROWN: Iraq, she says, could be a bellwether for the U.S. HEATHER RAFFO: Everything bounces back, the market, the weather.
It will all bounce back.
JEFFREY BROWN: Unless we address where we are 20 years later.
HEATHER RAFFO: Money doesn't move.
ACTRESS: Will a rock bounce back?
JEFFREY BROWN: For the "PBS NewsHour," Jeffrey Brown in Detroit.
GEOFF BENNETT: Heather Raffo's new play, "Tomorrow Will Be Sunday," opens at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center on April 13.
AMNA NAWAZ: And there's a sad passing of note tonight.
A member of the larger PBS family, satirist Mark Russell, who poked fun at America's political elite for more than half-a-century, died today.
With his fingers at the piano keys, he blended biting parity with song.
GEOFF BENNETT: He was best known for his PBS comedy specials that aired from 1975 to 2004.
He went on to serve as host of the popular NBC reality program "Real People" in the late '70s and early '80s.
Russell died at his home in Washington, D.C., of complications from prostate cancer.
That's what his wife told The Washington Post.
Here is Mark Russell at his finest.
(SINGING) (APPLAUSE) AMNA NAWAZ: Mark Russell was 90 years old.
And our thoughts are with his friends and family.
Remember, there is much more online, including a look at into how a possible ban on the social media app TikTok may fail to address some data privacy concerns.
GEOFF BENNETT: And join us again here tomorrow night, where we will have a look at the music and activism of Annie Lennox.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.