Guest Host: Tom Gjelten

 Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (2nd R) leaves U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with family members, including his son Bobby (R), after he found guilty in his corruption trial September 4, 2014, in Richmond, Virginia. The jury found McDonnell guilty of 11 corruption-related counts, and his wife Maureen McDonnell of eight counts. They were on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company.

Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (2nd R) leaves U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with family members, including his son Bobby (R), after he found guilty in his corruption trial September 4, 2014, in Richmond, Virginia. The jury found McDonnell guilty of 11 corruption-related counts, and his wife Maureen McDonnell of eight counts. They were on trial for accepting gifts, vacations and loans from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his company.

The Justice Department opens an investigation into police practices in Ferguson, Missouri. House Republicans outline a legislative agenda for September. And former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is found guilty of corruption. A panel of journalists joins guest host Tom Gjelten for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.

Guests

  • Gerald Seib Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal.
  • Jeanne Cummings Deputy government editor, Bloomberg News.
  • Manu Raju Senior congressional reporter, Politico.

Watch A Featured Clip

The decision to convict former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen on corruption charges will likely have a far-reaching effect on politicians across the country as the verdict renews conversation about laws for political gifts.

The ruling should “send chills down the spines of lots of politicians,” Politico’s Manu Raju said Friday on The Diane Rehm show–including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is facing a corruption scandal of his own.

For Virginia, which had long maintained a reputation as a state with high ethical standards, McDonnell’s conviction could mean the “final fall of the Republican party” in the state, Bloomberg News’ Jeanne Cummings said.

“The idea that Virginia is purple … may not be the case [in 2016],” she said.

For the full discussion, watch the video below.

Watch Full Video

Watch video of our panel discussing the week’s top US news.

Transcript

  • 10:06:54

    MR. TOM GJELTENThanks for joining us. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's getting a voice treatment. She'll be back later this month. The Justice Department opens a broad civil rights investigation into police practices in Ferguson, Missouri. House Republicans outline a legislative agenda for September and the U.S. economy added 142,000 jobs in August. That's well below expectations.

  • 10:07:19

    MR. TOM GJELTENIn fact, it's the lowest of the year. Here with me for the domestic hour of The Friday News Roundup, Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal, Jeanne Cummings of Bloomberg News and Manu Raju of Politico. And since it's Friday, you can watch a live video stream of this program on our website, drshow.org. You can also call us, 1-800-433-8850. You can email us, drshow@wamu.org or you can send in your questions or comments via Facebook or Twitter. Good morning, everyone.

  • 10:07:54

    MR. JERRY SEIBGood morning.

  • 10:07:54

    MS. JEANNE CUMMINGSGood morning.

  • 10:07:54

    MR. MANU RAJUGood morning.

  • 10:07:55

    GJELTENJerry, we have to start with this quite surprising job report. Your newspaper, this morning, reported that the economists you surveyed expected payrolls to rise by 225,000. In fact, it was only 142,000.

  • 10:08:14

    SEIBYeah, much weaker than expected. For further perspective, the average per month for the year had been 215,000. So this is just the latest in a series of up and down movements over the last couple of years that suggests that the recovery is still alive, but it's not a thriving recovery. And to put some more perspective on it, one of the reasons, I think, even when jobs are being created people haven't felt all that good about it, is if you look deeper in this new report, you find that 3 million people have been out of work for more than six months.

  • 10:08:47

    SEIBSo it's not just that there weren't a lot of jobs created, people who have been out of work for a long time are still out of work and that's 31.2 percent of all unemployed Americans. So people have been out of work for a long time and another 7.3 million people are working in part-time jobs because they can't get full time jobs. So it's a picture of continuing weakness, not disastrous, but certainly not great and not the sort of thing that tells you there's some rocket fuel that's finally lit fire on the economy and it's gonna take off.

  • 10:09:16

    GJELTENAnd kind of bad news on the labor force, participation in the labor force.

  • 10:09:19

    SEIBRight, which is why the unemployment rate actually went down by a tenth of a percentage point to 6.1 from 6.2, but that's not because the job creation number was good it's because people lose hope. They drift out of the workforce. They don't count and therefore, the unemployment rate technically goes down, but that's not the number in this environment that matters the most.

  • 10:09:38

    GJELTENJeanne Cummings, do you see this as jeopardizing the recovery and do you think that's the way it's going to be played, for example, on Capitol Hill, or do you agree with Jerry that this just further sort of muddies the picture with these up and down reports?

  • 10:09:53

    CUMMINGSYeah, we're hearing, at Bloomberg, the same that Jerry and the Wall Street Journal folks are hearing from economists and they view this as more of an aberration. August has a history of surprising numbers coming out and so they view it as, you know, a blip on the screen, as Jerry said. But it does remind everyone that, you know, this recovery has been slow. It's been uneven and it's likely to continue to be like that.

  • 10:10:23

    GJELTENAnd the truth is, like you say, August reports are sort of unreliable. We will see some revision of these jobs numbers probably next month, right?

  • 10:10:32

    CUMMINGSRight. And what the -- I guess one of things that this does do is it gives Janet Yellen and the Fed more room to continue on the policy that they've embraced and, you know, to continue with the easing, but also not to lift interest rates.

  • 10:10:49

    GJELTENWhich is probably why we see the stock market not reacting in a panic to this because, in a way, they see sort of the flip side, which is that these asset purchase programs will continue. Let's go to Capitol Hill. Congress is back on Monday. What do we expect to see happening right off the bat?

  • 10:11:09

    RAJUWell, not a whole lot this month. Congress is really gonna be in and out. They're looking at probably getting out of town by September 23. What Congress absolutely has to do is keep the government funded past September 30. That is something that looks like they're gonna get -- it's actually gonna happen. We're not gonna see -- almost certainly not gonna see another replay of last year's government shutdown.

  • 10:11:31

    RAJUThey're talking about a short term continuing resolution up until about mid-December. That is an issue that Boehner wants to get off the table, Mitch McConnell wants to get off the table, Harry Reid wants to get off the table. But there's also another major issue that's hanging over, particularly, House Republicans head, which is dealing with the export/import bank. Its charter set to expire by the end of the month.

  • 10:11:54

    RAJUThis is something that is pushed very heavily by the business community, but is reviled by conservatives how view it as a corporate welfare and this is a dynamic that is playing out within the House Republican Conference. It sounds like that measure will be folded into a government spending bill and try to get that through quickly. But aside from that, Tom, I mean, you're going to see a lot of political show votes in the coming weeks that will really drive home the narratives that both sides want to push heading into the elections.

  • 10:12:24

    RAJUSenate Democrats pushing measures like increasing the minimum wage, which is certainly gonna fail. Things like dealing with the gender pay gap, student loans, a campaign finance, constitutional amendment and then the House Republicans drilling home their arguments on taxes and Obamacare, none of which will fail, but it will drive home that message and hopefully both sides want to avoid a crisis in the meantime.

  • 10:12:46

    GJELTENWell, Jerry Seib, one of those narratives popular among Republicans is that this president is acting way too arbitrarily, talking about executive orders to hasten deportation and now, we have this other issue of whether he needs to go to Congress for approval to undertake military action. Do you see this narrative, this dynamic playing out around either of those two issues, at least in this one month that they're gonna be back?

  • 10:13:15

    SEIBWell, to take the second one first, I do think there's an interesting question for both the executive and the legislative branch about what to do about the Islamic State and that has two sides. One is does the president want -- does he feel like he needs any congressional authorization if he wants to go further than he already has and particularly if he wants to move from striking targets in Iraq across the border into Syria?

  • 10:13:34

    SEIBDoes he feel like he needs to get some congressional authorization? On the congressional side of that equation, there's a question about do they want to take a vote? Do they want to be on the record? Do they want to take a tough vote, you know, a month before a midterm election on a foreign policy issue on which the country is very uncertain and divided or would they rather issue press releases, tell the president what to do, complain about what he hasn't done and then leave town without having to take responsibility for anything? I kind of vote for the latter.

  • 10:14:01

    CUMMINGSOn the domestic side of the question that you asked...

  • 10:14:07

    GJELTENImmigration.

  • 10:14:07

    CUMMINGS...and executive power.

  • 10:14:09

    GJELTENRight, um-hum.

  • 10:14:09

    CUMMINGSI do think we're going to hear more and more about that. We had noticed that the advertising around Obamacare over the summer changed pretty dramatically. Kay Hagan down in North Carolina in April, like, 70 percent of the ads that were running against here were attacking her on the healthcare act and her vote for it and calling for basically repeal of Obamacare.

  • 10:14:36

    CUMMINGSBy July, it was in the 20 percent range, 20 to 25 percent, a major shift in messaging. So when we looked into that, the Republicans are regrouping because the -- as much as she was under fire, it never moved a poll number and people now are benefitting from it and so the Democrats have a different kind of argument, which is, okay, you know, they're gonna take away your benefits. So it's gotten trickier for Republicans.

  • 10:15:03

    CUMMINGSSo their attack on healthcare can be wrapped with possibly immigration if the president does anything, possibly Syria, if the president does, you know, take the lead on that into one of abuse of power, that he's just, you know, you got to reelect us to be a check on this runaway president.

  • 10:15:25

    RAJURight. It's all about Obama, trying to make this about Obama and that's why the president is under such pressure about dealing with immigration right now because the Democrats, the red state Democrats, particularly, are very concerned that if the president moves forward on the executive level on immigration, that this is going to be a rallying cry for conservatives to use this against the president in these very, very close red states.

  • 10:15:52

    RAJUAnd that's what the White House is grappling with right now because the president has threatened all along that he would move administratively to halt deportations if Congress doesn't act.

  • 10:16:00

    GJELTENYou know, Jeanne brought up the issue of healthcare and, as you say, more people are benefitting from this and that may have blunted the Republican attacks on it, although there was one -- I think a story in the New York Times this week that said the second year of implementation of this could even be more problem-plagued than the first year was and then we got this new report of a hacking of a healthcare.gov website, which is something critics of the program have been warning about for a long time.

  • 10:16:29

    GJELTENJerry Seib, what do you see is the fallout from that? Do you think that the Democrats feeling that this issue is sort of going away is justified?

  • 10:16:39

    SEIBWell, I do think it's better for them and what's happened is I think that the anecdotal evidence has evened out a little bit. You have more people saying, well, you know, guess what? Somebody in my family got a health insurance policy on healthcare.gov and I'm glad he got it and it works pretty well. There are at least those stories out there. So I think that's the first thing.

  • 10:16:54

    SEIBThe second thing is, I do think there's some fear, certainly on the part of the insurance companies, that the signup period this fall could be rough because you have people who are trying to re-up and the system still doesn't work very well. You have people who haven't been able to establish that they are legal residents as opposed to illegal aliens in the country who have insurance policies who are being asked to provide documentation or lose those policies.

  • 10:17:19

    SEIBThere are gonna be some horror stories in that regard. So I think the balance is still very fine between this being a problem or a plus for Democrats. I think that overall, though, as Jeanne noted, I think the political sense is it's more of a good new story for Democrats than it was six months ago and probably will stay that way through the election.

  • 10:17:37

    GJELTENJeanne.

  • 10:17:37

    CUMMINGSBut the breach does give the Republicans another shot, you know, and they -- Senator Orin Hatch said, of course, somebody hacked the healthcare site. We've been warning for years that it was not being operated properly. So it does give them another area of attack on competence and on whether the system, that insurance system, is something that consumers can feel confident about being in and that, you know, not only will the system work, but that their records will remain private.

  • 10:18:14

    CUMMINGSNow, what the administration said is, yes, there was a breach, but no records were taken and it was on a test program where the breach occurred. And so there were no privacy issues.

  • 10:18:27

    GJELTENJeanne Cummings is deputy government editor at Bloomberg News. My other guests are Manu Raju, senior congressional reporter for Politico and Jerry Seib who's the Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. We're discussing this week's news on the domestic front. We're gonna take a short break. Stay tuned.

  • 10:20:00

    GJELTENWelcome back. I'm Tom Gjelten. I'm sitting in today for Diane Rehm. And this is our very popular News Roundup hour of domestic news. My guests are Jerry Seib, Washington bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, Jeanne Cummings, deputy government editor at Bloomberg News and Manu Raju, senior congressional reporter for Politico. And if you're just joining us, you can also watch live video of our show at drshow.org. If you've ever wondered what these distinguished journalists actually look like, just tune in and you'll see that Manu and Jerry are both wearing ties. I'm not wearing a tie, but...

  • 10:20:39

    SEIBYou're forgiven.

  • 10:20:40

    CUMMINGSI'm not wearing a tie either.

  • 10:20:41

    GJELTENNo, you're not, but you look good.

  • 10:20:43

    CUMMINGSOh, thank you.

  • 10:20:44

    GJELTENSo Jerry, we briefly mentioned before the break the prospect of President Obama going to congress to seek authorization for military action. There's been a very interesting sort of development within the Republican Party in particular, and that is the overnight disappearance, it seems, of the kind of neo isolationist libertarian streak. Senator Rand Paul made some very dramatic statements this week, Rand Paul being a supposedly libertarian new isolationist member of congress, calling for the military defeat of ISIS. What's going on here?

  • 10:21:26

    SEIBWell, I think what's going on is that this -- more from a problem with the Syrian government to a problem with a terrorist group that has shown in video and in graphic video form that it's prepared to kill Americans. That's really what's happened. So now this is not seen as a military issue in Syria but a terrorist threat to the United States. And that changes the equation for everybody.

  • 10:21:46

    SEIBNow there is a debate, and a healthy one, about how much of a threat on the terrorist front to the homeland and the United States ISIS or the Islamic state actually poses. But nonetheless, I think the political picture of that, a group that has shown it's this blood thirsty and that willing to kill Americans when given the opportunity is running on the loose has changed the dynamic.

  • 10:22:07

    GJELTENWell, here's what I'm wondering, Jeanne. Rand Paul was considered a pretty serious presidential contender but there was this kind of idea out there that the establishment Republicans would resist supporting a candidate who was seen as being kind of isolationist. Has that whole scenario changed as a result of these new sort of hawkish statements from people like Rand Paul?

  • 10:22:29

    CUMMINGSNo. I think actually it may be worse because you don't know who he is. You know, he's gone now -- I mean...

  • 10:22:36

    GJELTENRand Paul you're talking about.

  • 10:22:37

    CUMMINGSRand Paul, yeah. I mean, Jerry's right, it's not intervention in a country -- another country. It's not an intervention to try to topple a government. It is a -- you know, this is a band of terrorists and so it's a different kind of enemy that Paul is now aiming at. Yet it is a pretty dramatic change and it raises the question, which Rand Paul would go to the White House? And I think that doesn't help him.

  • 10:23:06

    RAJUThat's been the challenge for Rand Paul all along because he's been trying to be -- you know, tap into his father's libertarian network while also broadening his appeal to the establishment side of the Republican Party. But when you talk to Republicans they say that, look, we like Rand Paul. We like what he's doing in terms of reaching out to younger voters, trying to get minorities into the equation. But what scares a lot of these Republicans are his views on foreign policy, not being aggressive enough. And he realizes that.

  • 10:23:36

    RAJUPaul's is slated to give a major speech on foreign policy in the coming weeks, laying out his vision, expecting to take a more aggressive tone in line of what he's been saying that he's not an isolationist, that he would take a much more aggressive action then the president. Because he knows full well that this is something that could hurt him in a Republican primary because he's almost certainly running for president.

  • 10:23:57

    CUMMINGSAnd he's doing more interesting things than any of them. And so as much as the establishment may be...

  • 10:24:02

    GJELTENWhat do you mean?

  • 10:24:03

    CUMMINGS...yeah, nervous about him, he is making some early moves that -- and setting himself up in ways that are different. For instance, in Iowa he has to, you know, walk a pretty fine line in Iowa because he's not really -- the religious voters, he's not kind of their cup of tea. The establishment is wary, so he needs to build a bigger base. And so he's gone out and tried to meet with young people. He's gone out and met with minorities.

  • 10:24:33

    GJELTENRight.

  • 10:24:33

    CUMMINGSAnd -- both Hispanics and blacks. And he's done more of that than any of them and we're still pretty far out. If he keeps doing that, he'll do himself some good.

  • 10:24:45

    GJELTENWell, it's not just the presidential politics that are at stake here, Jerry. Jeanne mentioned Iowa. If you look at the midterm elections, which come up of course two years before the presidential elections, you've got Republican candidates in Iowa, Arkansas and Alaska who are military veterans and certainly not coming from the libertarian wing.

  • 10:25:05

    SEIBNo, exactly. And I do think the main stream of the Republican Party remains certainly clearly more on the interventionist side than the isolationist side. And, you know, this evolution by Rand Paul has been underway for a while. He set out fully a year ago to say to the party, in a lot of ways indirectly and directly, I'm my father's son in many ways but not on national security issues. Now, as Jeanne suggests, the question is whether he's going to be believed in that regard or not.

  • 10:25:32

    SEIBIt will be interesting though to see in the final, you know, two months of the fall campaign whether this question of isolationism versus interventionism or Iraq, Syria and the Islamic state enters the campaign dialogue more directly has not been there. There have been remarkably few midterm Senate adds, for example, run by candidates who want to weigh in on foreign policy. It's just been absent. Maybe that'll change now. I'm not sure it will but so far it's to a big midterm election issue.

  • 10:26:00

    GJELTENManu, bring us up to date on where, you know, the midterm election horserace stands this week. It's a question we have to ask every week. Where do things stand this week?

  • 10:26:10

    RAJUTotally up for grabs. I mean, it could go either way in the Senate. You expect, of course, the house is going to stay Republican and Republicans probably aren't going to gain a handful of seats. But in the Senate, you know, we're -- the Republicans need to gain a net of six seats. They already have three. Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota are theirs. There are four other red states that Mitt Romney won that could go either way right now. And then you add a handful of swing states like Iowa, Colorado, Michigan and New Hampshire. Those are all contested the Republicans could pick up.

  • 10:26:44

    RAJUNow Republicans need to not make mistakes, which we've seen them do time and again. Kentucky and Georgia are the two seats that are still very close that are Republican-held seats that they need to keep. And then what we saw this week was a big development in Kansas where it was a solidly Republican state. Pat Roberts, the incumbent senator, looked like he was going to easily win this general election after a tough primary. But there is a third party candidate, an independent candidate who the polls say in a head-to-head matchup could actually beat Pat Roberts.

  • 10:27:17

    RAJUNow there was a question about whether or not the Democrat would divide the votes and take the votes away from that independent candidate, Greg Orman...

  • 10:27:24

    GJELTEN'Cause they were thinking of dropping out.

  • 10:27:26

    RAJUYeah, well, that's what the Democratic candidate did. He said that I'm going to withdraw from this race. So then, the question became whether or not he can withdraw from the race. And yesterday the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican and a Roberts supporter, said that he cannot remove -- the Democrat Chad Taylor cannot remove his name from the ballot.

  • 10:27:46

    RAJUSo that legal question's going to play out in the coming weeks and it could have major implications. Because if Republicans leave that seat on the table and Greg Orman, the independent, decides to caucus with Democrats in a 50-49 Senate, they could keep the majority by Kansas, when we all thought the majority would go through all these red states that Romney won.

  • 10:28:09

    GJELTENWell, Jeanne Cummings, tell us a little bit about Greg Orman, because as Manu says, he's sort of -- this is a development that kind of came out of thin air, blue air, whatever you call it.

  • 10:28:16

    CUMMINGSYeah, he's a wealthy businessman who really has more of a bipartisan past. And that's what makes a Republican so nervous is that, you know, his campaign says, look, he's tried both parties, never comfortable in either one. And so that's why he's running as an independent. And by virtue of his wealth he's been able to run a pretty good campaign. And Taylor, the Democrat, on the other hand, really struggled to raise money and to be competitive.

  • 10:28:45

    CUMMINGSAnd so the Republicans have basically accused Orman of cutting a deal with the Democrats in that, you know, Washington or Democrats, the leadership talked Taylor into quitting, said that Orman could have the free shot.

  • 10:29:01

    SEIBBut, you know, what's really happening in Kansas beneath the surface is that there is a moderate Republican Party that's been buried under a much more conservative version of that party that's now run by Governor Sam Brownback. They're not happy. They've been pushing to get out from under the Republican Party as it exists now in the state. Orman is their kind of guy. He's going to carry the message for -- not just for Democrats but for a lot of moderate Republicans who are in open rebellion against the more conservative version of their own party. And that's the interesting thing about Kansas right now. Can those two things come together and create a change in a red state where nobody saw it coming?

  • 10:29:36

    RAJUYeah, and they -- I was just going to add, in the governor's race there too, has gotten very interesting. Sam Brownback, because of the dynamic that Jerry is talking about, is in trouble against the Democratic candidate Paul Davis who could actually win that race.

  • 10:29:50

    GJELTENBut, Jerry, Pat Roberts is not -- I mean, he's one of the Republicans who's actually had a habit of working with Democrats and faced a pretty tough primary challenge from his right.

  • 10:29:59

    SEIBRight. But to some extent over the last couple of years, he's tried to adjust by moving to the right himself. And -- but you're right, and he started out in kind of the Bob Dole-Nancy Kassebaum mold, which was to say a conservative Republican with a small C who's willing to work with Democrats, particularly on things like farm issues and agricultural subsidy questions and things like that. But he's tried to adjust to the Tea Party revolution in his own state by moving away from that. And he may suffer some with some voters as a result.

  • 10:30:27

    GJELTENJeanne, Manu mentioned the governor's race in Kansas. What other governor's races are you following?

  • 10:30:33

    CUMMINGSWell, the Kansas one is truly one of the more interesting out there. We have other races that we will keep an eye on in Florida. That's going to be a really hot contest to watch because they're -- you know, we have Charlie Crist coming back from the grave as a Democrat. And, you know, Governor Scott who won by virtue of his fortune and the wave of the election. That's how he was swept into office but he's not popular at all. And so we could see a flip in Florida which would be, you know, terribly important for 2016.

  • 10:31:16

    GJELTENWhat about Wisconsin where Scott Walker was a real rising star...

  • 10:31:19

    CUMMINGSAbsolutely. And he has a very tough race on his hands up there that has 2016 implications as well because if he can survive this, he's viewed as one of the potential candidates for the Republican nomination. And he would've overcome quite a bit. Like, he would go into that primary with probably more battle scars from taking on liberals and Democrats and unions than anybody else and come out the winner. And that would, you know, really give him the sort of hardened fighter resume that appeals to the Tea Party.

  • 10:31:57

    CUMMINGSAnd on the other hand, he can appeal to the establishment. He could blend and then create a coalition that would be pretty broad if he can get through his own re-election.

  • 10:32:07

    GJELTENManu, another governor -- former governor Bob McDonnell got some very bad news yesterday, convicted of corruption.

  • 10:32:16

    RAJUYeah, it was really stunning. I mean, remember this is a guy who was viewed as a possible vice-presidential candidate by Mitt Romney just two years ago. And he was convicted on 11 counts of corruption, his wife Maureen McDonnell, nine counts, including obstruction of justice. This all stems from a gift-giving scandal where he received about $177,000 worth of gifts from a dietary supplements' executive.

  • 10:32:42

    RAJUAnd what was interesting was that they found that he accepted these gifts with the intent to corrupt his office. Virginia has very, very lax ethics laws. And for the fact that they found him guilty of this, which was a pretty high bar to clear, just shows -- sends chills down the spines of lots of politicians.

  • 10:33:03

    GJELTENManu Raju is senior congressional reporter for Politico. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Jerry, Virginia, as Manu said, has a tradition of -- or a reputation for clean politics, also a very important swing state. McDonnell is now totally out of the picture. He's been convicted of a felony. Any other fallout from this?

  • 10:33:27

    SEIBWell, I don't think so in terms of national policy. I think the McDonnells stand out as kind of a singular case in the national political context. Although I will say that, you know, there's an aspect of this story you can't really look past, which is that it's tragic on many levels. I mean, this was like watching a family being destroyed in public. I mean, regardless of what you thought of the McDonnells for this behavior, it was just -- it was sad to watch. And I think that's the memory, I think, a lot of people will carry away from this whole episode.

  • 10:33:58

    CUMMINGSThe one way I think that this conviction and the collapse of McDonnell as a leading high-profile Republican in the State of Virginia matters is that it's like the final fall of the Republican Party in Virginia right now. You have to go back 40 years to find that state without at least one statewide elected Republican. They have zero. Democrats hold all five statewide seats -- statewide elected seats. In the race -- the biggest race...

  • 10:34:30

    GJELTENAnd yet the Republican s totally control the state legislature.

  • 10:34:32

    CUMMINGSWhere they can draw the boundaries around their own districts, the state legislature in the House, sure, they still hold seats. But when they've got to run with statewide they don't. They keep losing. And if you look at the Senate race that's going on there, Mark Warner versus Ed Gillespie, Gillespie's well known, he's got a lot of money. His best hope is that he doesn't get demolished, that he comes out of it so at least clean enough to run again another day. So in terms of the broader picture, I think 16 and Virginia -- and the idea that Virginia is purple may not be the case.

  • 10:35:08

    SEIBAnd I think though at the moment the two most interesting states are somewhere in this -- moving along the spectrum from red to purple to blue or vice versa are Virginia and Colorado. They're the ones that I think are the -- they're the canaries in the coalmine nationally, I think, in terms of the way they move and the fact that they're really not in either camp. And are not going to be firmly for the next couple years until 2016 will show.

  • 10:35:31

    CUMMINGSJust one last though on McDonnell. I think that Governor Rick Perry ought to take a pause, and all of those who just dismissed the charges both against McDonnell and against Perry. We have seen all elected officials and institutions getting such high disapproval rates. The public is fed up with them. Now, they're not throwing them out of office because partisan voters go home when they go into the ballot box. But when you're sitting in a jury box, if a politician's going to come up and say, trust me, I didn't really do it, they're not buying it.

  • 10:36:09

    RAJUYeah, that's been -- I think that was the big problem for him because even though he was on the stand and he answered all the questions and his performance was viewed as pretty genuine, I'm not sure that jurors probably saw a politician who is acting and someone that they didn't trust. And that could hurt Rick Perry. I completely agree, even though that case has been readily dismissed as a partisan attack against him.

  • 10:36:34

    CUMMINGSIt was brought by Republicans.

  • 10:36:37

    GJELTENAnd Bob McDonnell and his wife in Virginia are facing pretty long sentences here which...

  • 10:36:41

    RAJUYeah, it could be up to 30 years. But, look, they're going to appeal the case. They say that there's talk about appealing the jury instructions, which they -- the defense argued were too broad and allowed the jury to consider evidence that they should not have had to be required to look at. And so this is probably going to be taken up on appeal but who knows if he can actually withstand that challenge.

  • 10:37:07

    GJELTENManu Raju is senior congressional reporter for Politico. My other two guests are Jerry Seib from the Wall Street Journal and Jeanne Cummings from Bloomberg News. We're going to go to a break in a second. I want to remind you that, first of all, our phone number, if you want to call us, is 1-800-433-8850. Our email is drshow@wmau.org. And you can see all of our guests on our live video feed at drshow.org. This is the one hour of the week that we're on TV, so tune in now if you want to or log in now if you want to see us. We'll be right back.

  • 10:40:00

    GJELTENWelcome back. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR, sitting in today for Diane Rehm for the weekly discussion of domestic news with Jerry Seib from the Wall Street Journal, Jeanne Cummings from Bloomberg News, and Manu Raju from Politico. And just before the break we were talking about former Virginia Governor Bob McDonell's bad news yesterday, being convicted along with his wife of corruption.

  • 10:40:24

    GJELTENWe have an email here from Jeff who notes that Senator Mitch McConnell's campaign manager -- of course, Mitch McConnell is one of the senators who's up for reelection this fall -- and his campaign manager has left the team after admitting to bribe charges in Iowa. And he wants to know if there's any comment from the panel on whether this will help or hurt Mitch McConnell.

  • 10:40:47

    GJELTENNow, Jeanne Cummings, we were discussing just before the break what the -- sort of the mood -- the collective mood of the country is. This -- Jeff wants to know whether Senator McConnell's campaign has been tainted by this news. And I'm going to put you on the spot and you tell us what you think is going to happen to Governor Perry -- Rick Perry in Texas, who was also indicted.

  • 10:41:07

    CUMMINGSOkay, I'll take Perry and I'll defer to Manu on McConnell. No, I think that the McDonnell conviction should put the Perry indictment in a new light. Perry was indicted by a grand jury, granted in Austin, but there had to be Republicans in that room as well. And so, you know, you had a slice of the electorate that took a look at the charges against Perry. The prosecutor is at best bipartisan.

  • 10:41:38

    CUMMINGSHe's certainly was not a hardcore Democrat as he had been described. He's quite confident that he can make his case. Now, the level of proof for grand jury is very different than a trial. But if you look at what -- I mean, everyone dismiss this as an attack on his right to veto. It -- that's not what it was. I mean, to me, it's like -- if you were charged with shooting someone and you turned it into a debate over your Second Amendment rights, that's not -- the veto isn't the case.

  • 10:42:10

    CUMMINGSShe was an elected official. The voters can throw her out. It might have been great advice to her that you've really embarrassed yourself and you ought to step down. But he didn't control her job like he does so many other jobs. And to just take out an elected official like that, I think a jury could find that that was an abuse.

  • 10:42:27

    GJELTENWell, guess what, Jeanne, we have a caller who's on the line from Austin, TX. Erika, what do you think about this case?

  • 10:42:35

    ERIKANo, I agree with the commentator say that it has not been widely dismissed as a political attack on Rick Perry. And, you know, being from Austin doesn't necessarily mean that everybody in Austin is a Democrat. There are Republicans in Austin as there are Democrats around the state of Texas who don't agree with Rick Perry. But it is about the abuse of his power, not the veto. It was the leave office or I will veto funding. The threat that he made that he has no control over her as an elected official that got him in trouble. So just -- just kind of add on to that.

  • 10:43:17

    GJELTENOkay.

  • 10:43:17

    ERIKAIt's not all about the politics. It really is about the people of the state of Texas.

  • 10:43:23

    GJELTENAll right. Well, thank you very much, Erika, For your comment on that. Maybe if we get some more callers from Texas, perhaps they'd have a slightly different point of view on it. Manu, you wanted to say something.

  • 10:43:32

    RAJUWell, I want to actually correct something that the person who emailed about the McConnell thing. You know, McConnell's campaign, Jesse Benton, left the campaign not because he admitted to bribery charges but because there was a bribery investigation happening in Iowa dealing with whether or not Ron Paul's campaign in 2012, which Jesse Benton ran at the time paid off someone who was giving an endorsement to Michele Bachman and to flip their endorsement to Ron Paul instead.

  • 10:44:00

    RAJUJesse Benton stepped down because he's not been charged been anything or admitted to doing anything wrong, but they thought it would be a distraction for the campaign. And Alison Grimes, the Democratic candidate, has tried to keep that issue alive in the news and wants to use it against him. So, we'll see if McConnell can avoid any scrutiny on that.

  • 10:44:20

    GJELTENLet's go now to Aaron who's on the line from Tampa, FL. Hello, Aaron, thanks for calling "The Diane Rehm Show." You're on the air.

  • 10:44:25

    AARONWell, hello. Thank you very much for having me.

  • 10:44:28

    GJELTENAnd, let's see, what -- who did you vote for? What are you -- what's your comment?

  • 10:44:34

    AARONSure, sure.

  • 10:44:35

    GJELTENSomething to contribute?

  • 10:44:36

    AARONYes, by all means. I'm currently in Florida visiting. But I am from Virginia. I was a delegate for Ron Paul in 2012 at the state convention. And as such, been very much, you know, following Rand Paul's rise at his growth in popularity. And just wanted to make a clarification.

  • 10:44:53

    GJELTENDid you say gross unpopularity? What did you say?

  • 10:44:56

    AARONNo, no, no. His -- sorry, sir -- his growth in popularity over the last...

  • 10:44:59

    GJELTENOh, growth in popularity. Okay.

  • 10:45:01

    AARONYes, sir. It seems that he is very much trying to broaden his face in preparation for this run in 2016. But I just wanted to make a point of clarification regarding the differences in non-intervention -- intervention and in the isolation which so often he, as well as his father, were accused of being. Isolationism is absolutely wrong in my opinion in that you do not involve yourself in any other countries, either with free trade, with diplomacy or with military.

  • 10:45:33

    AARONOr you have the other end of the equation, which is intervention, which you go in very voluntarily, regime change. But there is a certain way. And that is we do not involve yourselves with the internal affairs of other countries militarily, but instead you try to changed their and influence them with diplomacy and with free trade.

  • 10:45:54

    GJELTENOkay. All right. Well, that's a useful distinction to make and to keep in mind. And I'm sure that you'll have a lot of opportunity over the next year to refine your views on that, particular as Rand Paul decides whether to run for president and go ahead -- goes ahead and launches his campaign. Thanks very much for that. I do want to change the subject here to Justice Department's announcement of a broad investigation into the conduct of the Ferguson, MO Police Department.

  • 10:46:26

    GJELTENThat announcement came yesterday. Jerry Seib, what are they trying to determine? We already had a civil rights investigation led by the FBI. Now we have this separate Justice Department investigation. What's it about?

  • 10:46:37

    SEIBWell, Attorney General Holder said that -- that he found -- heard fairly compelling, using his words, stories about unfair police behavior in Ferguson, MO and the St. Louis County more broadly that he thought the Justice Department ought to look into. He talked about things like African Americans being stopped for traffic violations in disproportionate numbers, searches, arrests, as well as the treatment of prisoners.

  • 10:47:04

    SEIBAnd this is going to be controversial for a lot of reasons. But one reason in particular is that some people looked at this and thought, this is going to prejudice the environment for a decision about whether or not to prosecute the police officer who -- who's not being investigated for the killing that started the whole -- set off the whole series of riots in Ferguson. Is the Justice Department tipping the scales against that police officer by saying at this point it's going to open an investigation? So -- but that's -- that's -- it's got nothing to do with the killing in Ferguson itself. It's the broader behavior of the police department.

  • 10:47:39

    GJELTENBut conversely, if there is a decision not to charge the officer involved, will that make the Justice Department investigation look any more suspect?

  • 10:47:47

    SEIBYou know, probably to some extent. Although, honestly, the Holder argument for an investigation pursued a different line than the one that has to do with the narrow act of the shooting. So, I suppose if you argue that the shooting, whatever the justification for it was or wasn't, that it laid bare sort of a broader problem in the community and a broader set of complaints about police behavior in that community that's still legitimate.

  • 10:48:11

    GJELTENJeanne, we have a couple of emails on this issue. And I'm going to read them both, and then give me your thoughts. One listeners asks, "How common are civil rights investigations into police forces like this? And do they ever drive real change?" And Dan writes, "What will be Department of Justice's standard by which they measure they find out after the Ferguson Police during this investigation?"

  • 10:48:35

    CUMMINGSI don't know how common these investigations are, but I know this isn't exactly a rarity either. The Justice Department has gone in and it's got a whole new program that they're trying to bring into not just Ferguson but in other communities as well, which is about connecting the police with the community. And civil rights has been a primary issue for Holder for his entire term.

  • 10:49:05

    CUMMINGSAnd I think the long-term investigation that Jerry was speaking of, as opposed to the shooting of Michael Brown and what happens with that, that long-term investigation is about restoring confidence between in the community. And then the Justice Department can bring in these programs that then connect the police and try to knit some kind of relationship between the police and the people. And hopefully then you leave with a place that is better than it was when you came.

  • 10:49:36

    GJELTENWe have a number of callers who want to talk a little bit more about the jobs report that we discussed at the top of the hour. First, Eric is on the line from College Park, MD. Hello, Eric.

  • 10:49:45

    ERICHello. Thank you for taking my call. I just needed -- I need a little clarity. Since the recovery began, there has been, you know, these reports coming out and there's always the news -- the news line that the Congress are disappointed with the jobs numbers. They're lower than they expected. And this has been happening so frequently. It seems, on this end, and I know nothing of the economy, but it seems on this end that the problem is not may so much the state of the recovery when you're this slow, but rather with the economists' reports. And I was one -- in the way they judge it, I was wondering how that worked.

  • 10:50:26

    GJELTENYou know, before I put that question over to the panel, Eric, I want to ask that Bill weigh-in in this as well. He's a caller from Virginia. And I think he has a similar question. Bill, you are on the air.

  • 10:50:39

    BILLHey, thanks for taking this call. I pretty much agree with Eric on that. My comment really was, 142,000 jobs, that's not an inconsequential number of people. You've got 142,000 active people out there. There's 139 million employment in the U.S. as of August 1st of this year. So, it's not a huge percentage, but it's better than a minus percentage. So...

  • 10:51:09

    GJELTENOkay, Bill...

  • 10:51:09

    BILLThat's what I want to comment. Thank you.

  • 10:51:10

    GJELTENOkay. Manu, two listeners who are concerned here that sort of we spin these numbers with some kind of agenda in mind. What's your reaction?

  • 10:51:18

    RAJUWell, I'm not sure if that's the case. I mean, there needs to be some sort of barometer to gauge exactly how strong and how well the economy is doing. That's -- as Jerry and Jeanne could tell you, their news organizations poll economists who give them an impression about how strong the economy should be doing based on various indicators. And as we have seen in the last two months, not just this month but last month too, it did come below those expectations. So while they are adding jobs, hey, if it's not meeting expectations, that is pretty significant.

  • 10:51:46

    GJELTENAnd, Jerry, people are coming into the job, the labor force all the time. You need to create a lot of jobs just to satisfy that trend.

  • 10:51:51

    SEIBRight. Yeah, I think that's -- the barometer here is not expectations of economists or politicians or anybody else. The barometer is how many jobs do you need to create to begin bringing down the unemployment number, to begin bringing people into the workforce who aren't there now? And most people think that level needs to be 200,000 jobs a month. If you're below that, you're really not creating enough jobs to bring down the unemployment rate.

  • 10:52:13

    SEIBCertainly -- maybe you're actually edging it up and you're forcing some people out of the workplace for long -- for long term. So I think the benchmark most people look at it as not a subjective one, it's an objective one. And you have to be at least at 200,000 jobs a month, which is why a number, $142,000 -- 142,000 jobs is, by definition, disappointing.

  • 10:52:30

    GJELTENAll right. Jerry Seib is Washington bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal. You are listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." In fact, you are maybe even watching "The Diane Rehm Show," because this is the one hour that we are on television, that our discussion is video-streamed at drshow.org. A couple more stories to cover, a couple more listeners to bring into this conversation. Jeanne, we've been following the court battles around the country over whether same-sex marriage should be allowed or not.

  • 10:52:59

    GJELTENMost of those battles have gone in favor of those advocating same-sex marriage. But there was a setback for those proponents this week in Louisiana, where a federal judge ruled in favor, upholding the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

  • 10:53:14

    CUMMINGSThat's correct. And all of this -- what all of this amounts to is these lower court rulings are headed for the Supreme Court.

  • 10:53:21

    GJELTENMm-hmm.

  • 10:53:21

    CUMMINGSAnd so, in a way, having a Louisiana or any other court rule in the opposite direction just hurries the process along, because...

  • 10:53:30

    GJELTENBecause the more conflicting opinions there are, the more likely some...

  • 10:53:33

    CUMMINGSThe better -- right. That it'll find -- that's -- those are the triggers in which the Supreme Court will accept a case is if there is disagreement among the lower courts. And so, in a way, for advocates on both sides that want to see this issue settled -- and it's never going to be settled until it goes to the Supreme Court. That's not really a setback.

  • 10:53:53

    RAJUYeah. I mean, don't forget, I mean, the Supreme Court sidestepped the issue when it came before -- gay marriage came before the court last year. Instead of ruling on a -- you know, while it did strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and that said that, you know, man -- marriage is to be between one man and one woman and it allowed federal benefits to go to same-sex couples and same-sex married couples, what it did not do is rule on the issue brought by people who are trying to uphold the California ban on same-sex marriage.

  • 10:54:25

    RAJUIt kicked that issue back down to the lower courts, which upheld the rights for same-sex couples to get married in California. So as a result, this has been done on a state by state level. There have been cases going through the courts in a lot of states, just one clear national ruling to avoid this flurry of court cases.

  • 10:54:44

    GJELTENJerry Seib, one more story that I want to get to before we wind up here and that is the news of yet another credit card breach. This one against Home Depot. They're investigating what happened. What do you know about it?

  • 10:54:57

    SEIBWell, it's -- it's -- there have been a series retail establishments that have had this problem. Somebody has hacked into the system. Often it happens at the point of sale because that's where consumer -- that's the danger point, that's where consumer information is entered. Target was the big one, obviously. That was a giant national story. But the truth is, there have been several other retail chains that have had this problem.

  • 10:55:19

    SEIBThe difficulty is that when you have -- conduct a transaction with a retail establishment, you're giving valuable information to that retail establishment in the form of a credit card number. This is different from, we were talking earlier about the healthcare.gov tag.

  • 10:55:32

    GJELTENYeah.

  • 10:55:33

    SEIBThis is different. This is people undoubtedly seeking out that kind of credit card information so they can go do something about it as opposed to just trying to plant malware into the system. So it's a potentially big problem for Home Depot. It is a continuing problem for all retail establishments.

  • 10:55:46

    GJELTENJeanne, any idea who would be behind this?

  • 10:55:50

    CUMMINGSYou know, they -- no, I don't know who is behind it, as simple as that.

  • 10:55:56

    GJELTENWell, we have been warned. We, as consumers, have been warned over and over again to be aware of the danger of breaches of all kind, whether it's from organized crime, whether it's from cyber terrorists. You know, cyber security is a huge issue. And every time something like this happens, it seems like it's one more reminder to us that we need to be really careful about logging on and protecting our information. Any final thought, Manu?

  • 10:56:21

    RAJUYeah. I mean, I think this is -- this is happening with greater frequency right now. I mean, this Home Depot breach could be the largest ever in history. I mean, Target, it cost Target when this happened last year, about $750 million and affected 110 million people.

  • 10:56:40

    SEIBProbably cost the CEO his job.

  • 10:56:41

    RAJUYeah, that's right. And it could be even worse for Home Depot.

  • 10:56:44

    GJELTENVery good. All right, that was Manu Raju. He's senior congressional reporter for Politico. My other two guests this hour were Jerry Seib, the Washington bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, Jeanne Cummings, deputy government editor at Bloomberg News. We've been discussing the domestic news this week. I'm your guest host Tom Gjelten, sitting in for Diane Rehm. I want to thank my guests, thanks for coming in.

  • 10:57:07

    SEIBThank you.

  • 10:57:07

    CUMMINGSYou're welcome.

  • 10:57:07

    RAJUThank you.

  • 10:57:08

    GJELTENAnd thanks to all our callers and our listeners. This is "The Diane Rehm Show."

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