Investigations, Indictments, And The Political Future Of Donald Trump
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser talks investigations, indictments and the political future of Donald Trump.
China dismisses allegations that it is behind a major hack of U.S. government computer systems. The breach may have compromised the personal data of at least four million current and former federal employees. The U.S. economy creates 280,000 jobs in May. The family of a suspected terrorist killed by Boston police calls for an investigation into the shooting. A handful of new candidates enters the 2016 presidential race. The Supreme Court hands down rulings on social media and hiring practices. And we remember Beau Biden. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
Our panel reflects on the life of Beau Biden, who died last week after a battle with brain cancer, and his relationship with his father, Vice President Joe Biden.
There’s more than a dozen candidates vying for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination. But only one can win. A caller asks: What happens to the money raised by those that lose?
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. U.S. officials say millions of current and former federal employees might have had their personal information stolen by Chinese hackers. The Supreme Court rules on social media threats and the labor department issues a strong jobs report for May. Joining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, John Prideaux of The Economist, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times and Domenico Montanaro of NPR.
MS. DIANE REHMRemember we are live video streaming this hour of the Friday News Roundup. You can watch us live by going to drshow.org and clicking on "watch live." You can call us at 800-433-8850. Send an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And happy Friday to all of you.
MS. SHERYL GAY STOLBERGGood morning.
MR. DOMENICO MONTANAROThanks, Diane.
MR. JOHN PRIDEAUXGood morning.
REHMGood to see you. Domenico Montanaro, what do we know about this data hacking and the comprising of information about current and former federal employees?
MONTANAROWe know that some 4 million past and current federal employees could be affected by this and that's obviously a lot of people in the Washington, D.C. area and elsewhere in the country. And, you know, you're looking at names, Social Security numbers, birthdates that may have been breached that the United States is saying that China is responsible for and the Chinese say that the U.S. is jumping to conclusions.
REHMWhat do you think, Sheryl?
STOLBERGWell, I think we don't really know. We've seen various reports and in my newspaper, The New York Times reported today that we don't know if it's state-sponsored. I saw The Washington Post reported sources saying that it is state-sponsored. And we don't know the intent. Is the intent to gain access to records of officials who are seeking top secret clearance because the office of personnel management, which is the agency whose records were hacked into, handles such clearances?
STOLBERGWas it in an effort to hack into business information or U.S. commerce or our own government secrets? We just don't know.
REHMThis the second foreign intrusion, John Prideaux, in just a few months. What's the White House going to do about this? What can they do?
PRIDEAUXWell, unfortunately, I don't think they can do all that much. They can try and improve cyber security, but that's something they've been trying to do for awhile. It's very difficult without knowing precisely what the intent is behind these threats to figure out how to counter them. We've seen in the past that there's a unit of the People's Liberation Army in China that's pretty much dedicated to hacking.
PRIDEAUXThe U.S. government's been quite open about pointing fingers at it in the past. But as the others have said already, we don't know, in these cases, whether it's an individual hacker who's trying to prove how smart he is by getting past a touch security system or something more organized than that. Without a huge amount of further knowledge, just speculating, it seems to me like a more organized thing.
PRIDEAUXAnd the office of personnel management, which is the federal agency that was hacked, you know, is the human resources department for the federal government it has...
PRIDEAUX...as Domenico says, all this rather interesting data, even it's quite hard to know what anyone would really want to do with it, other than perhaps identity fraud. And so it does seem like rather a juicy target.
STOLBERGOne thing the White House can do and it seems to me is doing is make, frankly, an aggressive case for the kind of data collection that the NSA is doing which has been the subject of such huge debate here in Washington this week. And in my mind, Diane, it may not be a coincidence that the White House announced this breech, which it has known since April, on the day that The New York Times also reported that the NSA is expanding its reach, expanding its surveillance to borders to try to track cyber signatures in an effort to stop this very kind of foreign hacking.
REHMSo has that been happening without individual warrants?
MONTANAROWell, you know, it's really interesting to see, first of all, the coincidence that this -- of the timing that this comes up and, you know, when you think about also, you know, this is not something that's come up on the campaign trail as much as I think a lot of us maybe, you know, we know that this is something that the next president is going to have to deal with as something on day one.
MONTANAROAnd we've been digging into that a little bit at NPR. And it's really something that a lot of these candidates are probably going to be forced to wind up having to talk about 'cause I really don't think that there is a great solution or answer to this. You've seen the White House reach out to millennials and try to create sort of a project where they can try to, you know, create a system to have a better firewall.
MONTANAROBut, you know, everyone's just sort of experimenting, at this point.
REHMSo the NSA's collection of data is not addressed in the USA Freedom Act, Sheryl.
STOLBERGWell, not entirely addressed. So, you know, as we know, there was a huge split within the Republican party over the USA Freedom Act which recently passed just within the past week, reining in the government's ability to collect bulk phone data. But there are other means, as we've seen, for the NSA to collect data, to collect emails.
STOLBERGLawmakers on Capitol Hill say this USA Freedom Act is only the beginning. Mike Lee and Pat Leahy, Mike Lee, Republican from Utah, Pat Leahy, Democrat from Vermont, are talking about trying to change an old 1986 law that allows the government to read the contents of email that is over six years old. There's a whole 'nother provision of the FISA Act, the Foreign Intelligence Service Act, that allows the NSA to collect data, Provision 702, that some lawmakers say they want to go after.
STOLBERGSo I think we're gonna see this tension, the tension that we've had since 911 between national security and civil liberties tracking, you know, presumed terrorists and protecting American's privacy as a big and continuing issue.
REHMSheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, Domenico Montanaro of NPR, John Prideaux at The Economist. Don't forget you can watch as well as listen to this hour of the Friday News Roundup. Go to drshow.org and click on "watch live." John Prideaux, a really strong jobs report this morning.
PRIDEAUXYes, it did look strong and that's very good news. The thing that's puzzling -- economists always like to worry, of course, even when the news is good and the thing that people are currently puzzling over is how it can be that the jobs report could be strong and yet the economy...
PRIDEAUX...is -- right, but we've recently had some pretty weak economic news. And so normally you'd expect GDP and jobs to kind of track each other and for some reason, which we can talk about a little, if you like, but they've been coming apart. But yeah, it's more good news.
REHMTell us why you get this uptick in the unemployment rate at the same time that you do get this strong jobs report?
STOLBERGWell, many people think it's because people are encouraged and they're actually entering the job market so there are more people looking for jobs, which translates into it's harder to find a job. One thing I would add, though, there's been some debate among economists about using the GDP as a measure of the economy and some are calling for a different measure. Instead of gross domestic product, they're calling for gross domestic income.
STOLBERGSo instead of measuring spending, we should measure how much people earn. And by that measure, according to an economist whose work I read from the University of Michigan, we would say the economy actually grew last winter by 1 percent instead of contracting as the GDP numbers showed by .7 percent. So I think there may be some debate about how relevant or how precise that GDP data is as a measure of the economy.
MONTANAROYou know, I think it speaks, when you talk about the unemployment rate going up to 5.5 percent...
MONTANARO...when it goes to -- when you have 280,000 jobs gained, you would expect that number to go down. I think a lot of people wind up being confused by that, but a lot of that has to do with this sort of dark group of people that don't get registered in a lot of these numbers because they had stopped looking for work and then now they feel more confident that the labor market's doing better so then they start looking for work again.
MONTANAROAnd that's part of this, what's going on here. And, you know, it's one of the criticisms that Republicans have had of President Obama with the economy and the recovery that they say, there's so many people who have stopped looking for work, you can't really use this number. And even Bernie Sanders has been on the campaign trail, kind of undermining President Obama's argument by saying, look, the unemployment rate is even higher.
MONTANAROIt's double digits, if you really look at it.
STOLBERGAnd it's double digits in certain segments of society that..
REHMYeah, that's true.
STOLBERG...you know, disadvantages societies, black men, traditionally, much higher unemployment rate than the national average.
REHMJohn Prideaux, what about wages? Any progress there?
PRIDEAUXNot yet. And, again, that's part of this sort of strange thing that we're seeing with unemployment, the numbers looking better and -- but as the others have said, that's partly to do with people joining the labor market who weren't in the labor market previously and so weren't counted towards unemployment. The optimistic economists think that some kind of wage growth is around the corner, that unemployment has reached a level now, you know, it's pretty low, historically, that some wage takeoff must happen, but not everyone's confident about that.
REHMSo could these latest numbers effect the Feds desire to raise interest rates?
PRIDEAUXI think not. I think there's still some way to go. There's still a lot of people who have dropped out of the labor market over the past kind of 10 or 15 years who might come back in. I think the number that the Fed will watch more, well, clearly inflation, which is the number they always care a great deal about, but also wages. I think once you start to see some movement on inflation and wages, then we'll see the Fed maybe changing course.
REHMJohn Prideaux, he's Washington correspondent at The Economist. Actually, John, I gather you're headed back to London. This is your last appearance on the Friday News Roundup.
PRIDEAUXYeah, I'm afraid so. I'm heading back in a couple of weeks to be The Economist's U.S. editor, but I'll be back in D.C. a great deal so I hope I'll see you on Friday mornings from time to time, Diane.
REHMGood. That'll be great. All right. Short break here and your calls, your comments when we come back. Don't forget, you can watch this hour of the Friday News Roundup. Stay with us.
REHMWelcome back to the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup, this week with Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, Domenico Montanaro of NPR, John Prideaux of The Economist. You can call us, phone number is 800-433-8850. Jeb Bush has announced he's going to be making an announcement on June 15. I don't understand this, announcing you're going to make an announcement. What's going on here? There's been some criticism of him about money raising, hasn't there?
MONTANAROWell, sure. I mean, like, Jeb Bush has vowed he's going to raise about $100 million for his Super-PAC, and part of what's going on with him is for a while, it seemed like he's kind of a candidate, right, but I say kind of on purpose because we learned back in December that he was, quote, actively exploring a run, and yet all this time's gone by, and he has not declared. He hasn't filed, testing the waters, or, you know...
REHMHas money been coming in all this time?
MONTANAROWell, money, he, you know, it's not going to his candidacy.
MONTANAROBut money is going to the superPAC, so after the 2010 Citizens United ruling, we have this whole new landscape, where he's running in a very different way, within the law, he says, but there's a lot of latitude within the law because he's able to run and raise money for his superPAC. Once he officially declares that he's getting in the race, that wall goes up, and he's no longer allowed to do that. You can't take the private planes that the superPAC could provide to you to fly you around.
MONTANAROYou're much more constrained. So yes, Jeb Bush has announced that he will announce that he's going to tell us something on June 15 in Miami. They wouldn't tell us what, but he tweeted it in both Spanish and in English.
REHMIs there any doubt?
MONTANARONo, there's -- I mean, there's really no doubt.
MONTANAROBut part of this is a campaign strategy to get more attention.
REHMOkay, and what about Donald Trump?
STOLBERGWell, first just back to Jeb Bush. Not only is there no doubt, he himself said last month I'm a candidate for president in 2016, and then he has said, uh, uh, if I run, if I run. So he...
STOLBERGI mean, it was a little slip there, but he himself actually announced.
STOLBERGSo Donald Trump, I guess, will come on the heels of Jeb Bush. On the 16th, he'll be making an announcement. I think we can't count on two hands anymore, the Republican candidates. I think we're up to about 15 or so. And we're seeing, in fact, a real tussle because there are so many candidates, and debates are coming in August.
STOLBERGAnd now the networks are having to decide who makes it into the debate, and...
REHMThe first debate is when?
MONTANAROI think it's August 6 in Cleveland, and the one point I want to make about Donald Trump and him trying to get in July 16, or yeah, June 16, which most of us thought would -- the day would never happen for one big reason, because if you get in, you have to submit a financial disclosure. And for most of us, we thought this isn't something Donald Trump really wants people poring over, you know, how much money did his father leave him versus how much money did he make.
MONTANAROThere was a big Forbes investigation a few years ago that showed maybe he didn't quite make as much money on top of what his father had given them. He says that's complete nonsense, but without filing a financial disclosure, there's nothing for any of us to be able to dig into and look at.
MONTANARONow there's a couple theories on what he'll actually do because he has 30 days from the time that he files to actually file a financial disclosure. One, how deep will that financial disclosure actually be? Two, the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, has no teeth, right. The enforcement of the Federal Election Commission is just, is really poor. I mean, you know, you could look at -- there were organizations in 2004 that were fined in 2007, 2008 for wrong practices that, you know, what's the point then because it didn't matter for what they did for the election.
MONTANAROSo the other theory is that Donald Trump just says forget it and don't even file a financial disclosure, you get fined in four years, and it's the price of doing business.
REHMWow, what do you think, John?
PRIDEAUXI think the difficulty for -- one difficulty for the Republican Party, well, one obvious difficulty is how do you fit all these people on the stage, right.
PRIDEAUXSo we've published an article recently suggesting they look for a double-decker stage. But it's a real problem for the RNC. Another kind of odd thing is that you have two different sorts of candidates in the field. There are the kind of candidates who actually have a shot at something and the candidates who are really auditioning for something else. They are either, like Donald Trump, in the self-publicity business. There are some people who are kind of auditioning for spots as analysts on cable TV. There are some people who are essentially just using it to raise their profile and might quite like some other job. It's going to be really hard for the RNC to sort of weed these people out.
PRIDEAUXI mean, it's kind of exciting. If you're a reporter, as we all are, it's great.
MONTANAROAnd there is a debate problem that they have actually for this first debate because the Fox criteria that they've laid out is that they're going to limit it to 10 people who are polling in the top five in the aggregated polling average in the last five national polls before that first debate.
REHMOh, I see, I see.
MONTANARONow the problem for that, we dug into this a little bit, if you look at the last, let's say, like, you know, the people who could make the playoffs, you know, the six to 12 or 13, they're all in the single digits to low teens. We all know these polls are not specific, right. They're margins of errors. So you can't even pick based on this group and based on what the polling is right now between 14 to 6 to have a legit top 10.
REHMAnd speaking of polls, Sheryl, what's behind both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton's numbers going down?
STOLBERGWell, perhaps it’s the frontrunner syndrome. Certainly in Hillary Clinton's case, she's really been the target of a lot of -- just a steady drumbeat of bad publicity. It almost could be said that in this election cycle, Hillary Clinton's worst opponents are not the Republicans, it's the media. She's had a tough ride -- or surrounding her emails, the disclosure that she kept a private email server. She herself has, along the way, made some missteps that have contributed to a perception of her as being out of touch, not in tune with ordinary people.
STOLBERGThere have been disclosures about the financial doings of the Clinton Foundation, which is, you know, a vast apparatus built up by Bill Clinton, but it is now the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Is it sort of a shadow operation for her presidential campaign? And it has ties to world leaders. It's getting money from, you know, all kinds of companies.
STOLBERGSo there are all these questions swirling around Hillary Clinton that I think feed into doubts, longstanding doubts that many Americans, even Democrats, have about Hillary.
REHMAnd what about Jeb Bush? Why do we see his numbers going down?
MONTANAROI think it's partly what we've mentioned already, there are so many people in the Republican Party, so many people in the Republican Party field, that that makes, you know, that draws something from him. I think he also suffers, to some degree, from having a record. He's somebody who people can look at his record as governor of Florida, and in a way that's his greatest strength because he's been governor of a big state, and he can point to that. On the other hand, people can look at some of the things he did and not like them very much.
MONTANAROI think, you know, the family name possibly doesn't help at this stage, and I think it's also the frontrunner thing. A lot of Republican primary voters, you know, at this stage in the primary, they're looking for a kind of certain amount of excitement. You know, later on they may settle down and ultimately marry somebody who they think has a good chance of winning, somebody, you know...
MONTANAROI'd point you to one polling question that came out earlier this week from CNN, and they asked inside their numbers which candidate best represents the future. And every time elections come around, Americans say they want change, and they want to see the candidate who most represents that change. Jeb Bush was the candidate that was seen as representing the past the most of any candidate, 62 percent of people said Jeb Bush more represents the past. Hillary Clinton, 51 percent said that she represents the future, 45 percent said she represents the past. And that was kind of similar to an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll about who most represents change.
MONTANAROMarco Rubio was the one candidate who actually spiked in that number of who represents the future, he had 58 percent, but I think one of the big problems for Jeb Bush, you look at the name, and you look at whether or not he represents the future or past, and it's harder for him to make that argument against Hillary Clinton when people see it differently.
STOLBERGOn that score, Diane, that same poll found that 56 percent of respondents said that Jeb Bush's connection to the Bush family, to his father and brother, would make them less likely to vote for him.
REHMInteresting. We got new candidates this week. We've got Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor of Texas, and Lincoln Chafee. So how do we, as voters, sort of understand the difference between these candidates and what they're offering us?
MONTANAROWell, as Sheryl mentioned, you know, you have more than a dozen candidates at this point who've gotten into the race. We are still pretty far out from when people are going to have to make decisions about voting. I think it's incumbent upon us as reporters to try to stay focused on the issues with some of these candidates and see what is -- what they're actually fighting for and what role they fit, right.
MONTANAROIf you're looking for somebody who has a hawkish foreign policy, who wants to continue the John McCain message, Lindsey Graham might be your guy. If you're looking for somebody who can tout social values and jobs record in Texas that, you know, outpaced other governors, maybe Rick Perry is the kind of person that you like. And I guess if you want somebody who, you know, didn't vote against -- didn't vote for the Iraq War...
MONTANAROAnd was the only Republican to do so, you might like Lincoln Chafee, although...
STOLBERGHe's running as a Democrat now.
MONTANAROHe's running as a Democrat, and he, you know, had a very sparsely attended opening at George Mason, which a lot of Rhode Islanders were a little confused by.
MONTANAROIn face the Providence Journal, his hometown paper, says they won't even cover him because they don't take him to be a serious candidate and was unpopular.
STOLBERGI'm actually an alum of the Providence Journal, started my career there when John Chafee, Linc's father, was the senator. He's long been viewed as very quirky there. I heard from a friend there yesterday that he apparently drove himself to DC. The chair of the Democratic Party in Rhode Island said, well, it's very nice that Lincoln Chafee is running, but we'll be supporting Hillary Clinton. So I think he -- you know, he was viewed as quirky on Capitol Hill. He was kind of -- he's an interesting guy. He was trained as a blacksmith, comes from a wealthy family, became senator after his father died, was always considered kind of the accidental senator, arrived as a Republican, served as Rhode Island's governor as an independent, now running as a Democrat, which I think is maybe closer to his heart. So we'll see.
MONTANAROHe certainly goes his own way.
REHMThat's for sure.
MONTANAROI mean talk about quirky, you know, his father was a senator, and he becomes a horse farrier or something...
REHMAnd another one going his own way is Bernie Sanders, who is calling for lots of Democratic debates, John.
PRIDEAUXHe is calling for lots of debates. As with the RNC, the Democratic National Committee gets to decide who -- how many debates there are. Essentially it does that by saying if you participate in any debates that we haven't sanctioned, you can't participate in our debate. So it tries to keep control over that. Bernie Sanders is saying we need more debates. You know, there's a big - there's a lot of issues to talk about and so forth. And clearly any candidate in the Democratic field who's not called Hillary Clinton, lots of debates is quite an appealing idea.
PRIDEAUXYou know, the Democratic debates will probably be a lot of people just taking shots at her. If you are in her shoes, it doesn't seem like such a good idea.
MONTANAROWell, usually when a candidate is seen as somebody who's, you know, not getting all the frontrunner attention, so to speak, they call for a lot of debates because they want to have their voice heard, and they feel like they can show once they're onstage, in front of a national audience, you can see how that person would be different than these other candidates. And if you're seen as this person who's far behind in the polls, then you don't get your chance to really size up on an equal playing field unless you're in a lot of these debates.
STOLBERGAnd Diane, let's make no mistake, debates are free. You don't have to pay to buy advertising as a candidate.
REHMBut it's also such gamesmanship. You've got now Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders. O'Malley, everybody jockeying for the Hispanic vote, clearly we'll see what happens. And you're listening to ""The Diane Rehm Show."
REHMTwo important rulings from the Supreme Court this week. Social media and free speech.
STOLBERGYes, very important ruling. This case concerned a Pennsylvania man, who had posted very seemingly threatening messages about his wife on Facebook.
STOLBERGHe said he wanted to see her -- a Halloween costume that put her head on a stick. He talked about making a name for himself in a school shooting, et cetera, and was convicted for making these threatening statements. The Supreme Court, in a seven-to-two ruling, overturned that conviction, said that the prosecutors had to show more than the idea that a reasonable person would feel threatened. They had to show the person's intent.
STOLBERGAnd the decision was actually criticized by some commentators. My colleague Adam Liptak described it in the New York Times as cryptic. Some said that it didn't really draw a line explaining, like, when someone could be prosecuted for this kind of speech and when not. And...
REHMI thought that vote was eight to one.
STOLBERGYou know what? I think it was eight to one.
STOLBERGIt was eight to one.
STOLBERGBut thank you for correcting. There was a majority opinion, and I think there may have been a concurrence. So it was seven, but you're absolutely right, it was eight to one. Justice Thomas dissented.
STOLBERGHe said our job is to decide questions, not create them.
PRIDEAUXYes, the man, whose name is Anthony Douglas Elonis, his defense essentially was what he was doing was art, that he was sort of parodying or imitating rap lyrics, and actually if you look at what he wrote, there is a kind of very poor attempt to make these kind of vile threats scan. So you can see how that may have held up.
PRIDEAUXBut as Sheryl says, a lot of people were looking to the court to lay down some kind of guidance as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to say on social media. A lot of people thought this, you know, crossed the line by some distance, but the court really declined to lay down any kind of test. So it's kind of left people on both sides of the argument disappointed. You know, those people who thought that, you know, threatening to slit the throat of an FBI agent online is, you know, should be illegal are disappointed by the ruling, and those people who look to the court to, you know, draw some parameters are disappointed, as well.
REHMAnd then the other ruling on religious beliefs, again eight to one in favor, a Muslim woman who applied to Abercrombie and Fitch, wanting to wear her scarf.
MONTANAROWell, and if you've ever walked into Abercrombie and Fitch, you know, there's a certain look that they go for. And they, you know, for whatever group that appeals to, that's what they had said their dress code was. Unfortunately for them, the Supreme Court ruled that you can't deny somebody who has a religious headdress, a head scarf, who wanted to get the job, had done well on the initial application and then was suddenly turned away from no good reason.
MONTANAROAnd the court, eight to one in this case as well, also found in favor of the woman in this case.
STOLBERGAbercrombie says it's changed its policy since then.
REHMYes, and the Supreme Court made a ruling in a Facebook case without expressing connection to freedom of speech. John? Anybody? Nobody. Okay, Supreme Court made a ruling, not a First Amendment freedom of speech, but rather proof of intent, and that goes back to...
STOLBERGThe Pennsylvania case.
REHMThe earlier ruling we were talking about. We'll take just a short break here. Your calls, your comments when we come back. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're in the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. One of our producers, Lisa Dunn, pointed out that wages are actually growing somewhat. Average hourly earnings increased by three cents to 24 dollars and 87 cents represents a 0.3 percent rise, month over month, slightly higher than the 0.2 percent estimate. So there you have it. Let's open the phones. 800-433-8850 to JoAnne in Port Orange, Florida. You're on the air.
JOANNEYes, thank you for taking my call.
JOANNEYeah, it was reported yesterday on the Joe Scarborough Show that Bill Clinton was joined by billionaires and other corporate heads at a Forbes business meeting to discuss creating jobs and stimulate the economy. I'm just wondering where Bill Clinton and his corporate buddies were six years ago when Americans desperately needed jobs. The timing of this meeting seems suspiciously beneficial now that Hillary is running for President.
REHMAll right. Thanks for your call.
MONTANAROWell, look, I think income inequality and CEO pay verses regular wages, as you talked about when we came into the segment, this is one of the defining issues of the 2016 campaign. Unquestionably. When you see CEO pay increasing exponentially, as compared to regular or unskilled workers, there was a survey that people looked at to see what Americans thought CEO's should make in relation to CEO pay. And, you know, Americans thought it should be something like six and a half times and it wound up, in reality, being 29 and a half times.
MONTANAROSo, that is an issue that is definitely going to keep coming up.
REHMAll right, let's go to Ryan in Houston, Texas. You're on the air.
RYANHi, can you hear me okay?
RYANHi, I was just wanting to get Sheryl's opinion on Bernie Sanders. Over the last three months, he's gone from less than one percent in the other section of the polls, when compared to Hillary, to 15 points and having his own category. And most of the polls still include Elizabeth Warren, even though she's openly declared, numerous times, that she's not running. What do you guys think of Bernie Sanders' chances as they've been improving?
REHMWell, you know, one NPR correspondent on this program said the other day he has no chance. I don't believe we ought to be predicting and in addition, stranger things have happened.
STOLBERGYeah, I think Bernie Sanders articulates a point of view in the Democratic Party that many democrats would like to see expressed.
STOLBERGIn a way, it's the Elizabeth Warren point of view, the Populist argument that the system is rigged against ordinary people, that the big banks are making all kinds of money while the middle class is suffering. This is a point of view that many, many Democrats embrace and want to see aired on the campaign trail. That said, Bernie Sanders does have some difficulties, or challenges, really, I should say, in running. He's 73. You know, should he be elected, and he would be, I suppose, 74, 78 by the end of his first term. That is a bit on the older side.
STOLBERGHe says knock wood, thank God my health is good. He looks around at these...
REHMHe's very strong.
STOLBERGHe's vital, and he's attracting a lot of audiences of senior citizens and he'll say, I look out at the audience and I think, my God, we've got to help the seniors. And then I realize, oh, I am a senior.
PRIDEAUXHe's also got some quite interesting policies. He's in favor of universal, sort of, single payer free health care and free college tuition and so on.
REHMWhich a lot of Americans favor.
PRIDEAUXWhich a lot of American favor, but I think not enough Americans. I mean, it is a very interesting policy platform. It would go down well in France. I can't see it going down very well in America.
STOLBERGHe'd be tough in a general election, too.
MONTANAROWell, Bernie Sanders is having his moment right now.
MONTANAROYou know, he is drawing record crowds in New Hampshire and Iowa for what are at least beating expectations for what his campaign thought they would show up with. You know, you go to Iowa and you know, more than what they thought would be there. There's a lot of energy. Anytime I'm on any show, our callers will talk about Bernie Sanders and the depth of that passion is very real. And I think it goes back to what Sheryl was talking about in the issues that matter to a section of the Democratic Party.
MONTANAROAnd to a Populist base in this country that does overlap with Tea Party and the left and, you know, whether or not other candidates can channel that message, you know, or if they misstep, you know, is there an opening for somebody else? You know, we'll see what happens. Bernie Sanders, he certainly has some challenges as well, though.
REHMTo Katrina in Little Rock, Arkansas. You're on the air.
KATRINAYes, thank you for taking my call. I have two comments/questions if I can.
KATRINAThe first is on the (word?) scandal. Now, I work in a customer service company. I actually worked in two within the last seven years. One was a mortgage company, one an insurance company. And when people, we have to email something to them, they typically -- and they work for the government, they give us their dot gov or dot (word?) email. And when you give your email out, even as a private individual, you're exposing yourself to a lot of danger. You know, you get all the spam and the junk.
KATRINASo, they have to -- the first thing I would do, if I was the government, was say, you cannot use your government email for private means.
REHMOkay. And your second point.
KATRINAAnd the second thing is, with the multiple candidates, nobody's really focusing on a lot of these candidates are not wanting to be president. They are basically trying to line their pockets with money, because...
REHMWell, that is something you pointed out, John.
PRIDEAUXYes. That's right. I mean, part of politics nowadays, perhaps it's always been the case, is entertainment. And there are some people who are definitely in the entertainment business within the Republican field. And there are some people who are in the kind of more and more serious end of the field. And trying to sort between those two is quite a big problem, as Domenico has already said, because of the way the polls work.
REHMAll right. To San Antonio, Texas. Franklin, you're on the air.
FRANKLINHi Diane. I'm a first time caller, long time listener.
REHMGood to have you with us, sir.
FRANKLINI was just wondering, for your guests, I've heard a lot about people making fun of I guess the large number of candidates in the Republican pool, but what are some of the advantages, I guess, of having so many candidates running for Presidential office under...
STOLBERGYou know, I think that's a great point. It's great for democracy. Isn't it wonderful that we have such a healthy debate? And even if it is true, as John suggests, that some are perhaps in it for the entertainment or to advance their, because they want to land a spot as a talking head on TV, still, we're having a very, very robust debate in this country with a lot of different viewpoints about where we should be headed. We'll see foreign policy hawks like Lindsay Graham.
STOLBERGAnd you know, Libertarians like Rand Paul. All, you know, a Hispanic candidate, Marco Rubio, all manner of candidates vying for this, and I think that's a good thing.
REHMWe have a tweet asking us, what happens to the donations raised by candidates when they fail to win? Domenico?
MONTANAROWell, you know, sometimes they move that money to another committee, sometimes they move it to a leadership PACT. Sometimes they'll help dole out some of that money to other candidates. Sometimes, there have been some scandals where they've -- people who have lost, where they have maybe set up a foundation in their own name and wind up taking that money back.
REHMSo, what are the rules or are there no rules in place?
MONTANAROThere are rules, of course.
MONTANAROBut, you know, there are a lot of creative calculations that a lot of people have made.
MONTANAROBut you do get in trouble when you get close to those rules, but like I said earlier, the FEC has had a very difficult time of enforcing this by design.
REHMAll right, let's go to Anita in Chesapeake, Virginia. You're on the air.
ANITAYes, Diane, thanks for taking my call.
ANITAWith so many Republicans running, and I am a Republican, it just boggles me as to can they decide what they stand for? And if I had one question to ask anyone, it would to Hillary Clinton, how does it feel to be the most powerful woman in the world?
REHMSome people would argue that that's exactly what she is right now.
STOLBERGSome people would argue that that is what she is right now, and that that is clearly what she wants to become, if she should be elected President. As leader of the free world, I guess, really, only she can answer that question.
PRIDEAUXAs for the Republican field being boggling, I have some sympathy with that, given that part of my day job is trying to cover it, but I really think it's a good thing for the party. Whoever comes out as the party's nominee, after this kind of Titanic struggle, I think will be a lot stronger. I also think that you will hear quite a lot of kind of different viewpoints aired. I mean, clearly, there's a lot that all the candidates essentially agree on. But take somebody like Lindsay Graham, who's just got into the race.
PRIDEAUXThere are actually quite a lot of foreign policy hawks in the race, so he's not so distinctive on that. Where he is really distinctive is on immigration, where he's said time and time again that, you know, America needs to get regular status for the 11 million odd people living here without legal immigration status. And he's also said that some kind of guest worker scheme isn't enough. You know, he described that as consigning people to being the hired help forever after. And so, that's not an American, sort of, way to do things.
PRIDEAUXSo, there's actually some real -- there's going to be some really interesting policy fights in the debate.
REHMTo Miami, Florida. Doran, you're on the air.
DORANYes, good morning. I just have an observation. I think that you should be allowed to work based on your merit, but I don't think that you should have to wear all kinds of things on your head. I think that Abercrombie and Fitch, or whatever the name of the store is, have a certain kind of a look. Healthy, clean, neck kind of thing. But I don't think that you should necessarily bring your religious things into your appearance.
MONTANAROWell, the court disagrees.
MONTANAROI mean, the court has said, by an eight to one majority that if it's deemed as a religious item, that you're allowed to wear it.
STOLBERGAnd not only disagree, but Justice Scalia said, this is an easy one. There didn't seem to be much debate over it, at least among the eight.
REHMSheryl, tell us about this shooting of a Boston terror suspect. What happened? What do we know about this person?
STOLBERGSo, what we know is this is a young man named Usaama Rahim. He's a 26-year-old security guard in Boston, who brandished a knife and was shot by police. Come to find out that authorities believed that he was a radical extremist who wanted to behead a conservative blogger who was sponsoring a cartoon contest lampooning the prophet Mohammad. Then he apparently decided, according to authorities, that this was not a good plan and that he was going to go after police. Police overheard him on his cell phone making a threat.
STOLBERGTalking about beheading Massachusetts police officers and in a quiet neighborhood, Roslindale, he, they say brandished a knife and police shot him.
REHMBut there is a video.
MONTANAROYeah, and then, you know, that video is obviously something that police have been able to use to be able to make their case, as well. But the fact is though, this is the kind of thing, when we were talking about the USA Freedom Act, earlier, when you look at the idea of lone wolves or whether or not they're allowed to track people or have to -- you know, when they dump cell phones, have to get a new warrant, which the old bill would have done in the Senate. And the House bill restored.
MONTANAROYou know, this is part of the case that the administration makes as to why you need those kinds of protections.
STOLBERGAnd this is also raising deep concerns about the influence of ISIS and using the internet and recruiting inside the US. This kind of lone wolf scenario that Domenico talked about is really what keeps intelligence officials up at night. They worry that young people are being recruited over the internet and that these kinds of things are going to keep happening.
REHMAnd you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Domenico, talk about the legacy of Beau Biden. What a sadness that this 46-year-old man, a father, a husband and the son of the Vice President, died of brain cancer.
MONTANAROThis is a very difficult story to -- as a journalist, you know, we're trained to sort of step out from stories and not feel too much of a connection, because you have to cover something in a neutral way, but I think this is the kind of story that most people across any part of the spectrum, just, you feel for him. I mean, because you connect to this. I mean, I have a couple of connections. One that I'm a University of Delaware graduate. And the Bidens are one of the, you know, kind of, royalty families in the state.
MONTANAROAnd, you know, I think when you see what Beau Biden could have been, and as a father of two small kids, and you think about what Joe Biden has been through, given that Beau had survived the car accident that killed Vice President Biden's wife and younger daughter. And how he made that decision to stay at his son's bedside and was sworn at his son's bedside. And raises him and something like this were to happen. I mean, your heart just goes out to the Biden family and you look at Joe Biden, and you think, this is a guy, who, for whatever you make of his politics, his family centered idea of a life balance.
MONTANAROAnd the reason that he took Amtrak home every day. I think it's something a lot of us, especially in Washington, really need to look at as a model.
STOLBERGYou know, there was something that Joe Biden said that was very beautiful in a graduation, a commencement speech at Yale recently, where he talked about the death of his wife and his baby daughter so many years ago when he was about to take over -- or become a Senator. And how he went home every day and he said, the truth is, I needed my kids more than they needed me.
REHMI thought that was beautiful.
STOLBERGAnd I think, not only could every parent relate to that, but here in Washington, frankly, as Domenico said, whatever you think of Joe Biden's policies, Joe Biden is someone who is very well liked here in Washington. He's personable. People on both sides of the aisle like him and that is one reason, apart from this tragedy, the earlier tragedy of the loss of his wife and baby, now the loss of his son, that people really are grieving for him and it's a non-partisan grief. Or bi-partisan.
PRIDEAUXYeah, I think to be predeceased by one child is grief enough for a lifetime and for it to happen to the Vice President twice is just miserable. And of course, everyone feels so sorry for him. I think, also, in a way, we live in a culture where sort of public outpourings of grief and sort of public mourning are the norm. I think the way Joe Biden has sort of dealt with this, thus far, in a rather kind of private way, has been extremely dignified. And he's, you know, he's a rather kind of stoical figure and all the more admirable for that.
REHMI think we should point out that Beau Biden himself was certainly a rising political star. He had served as Delaware's Attorney General for eight years with the expectations that he might run for Governor. Our sympathies, our condolences to the Biden family. John Prideaux, good luck to you.
REHMSheryl Gay Stolberg, Domenico Montanaro, thank you all. And thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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