Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Jon Meacham on the evolution of Abraham Lincoln's moral principles and political leadership -- and what the era of Lincoln can teach us about the state of our democracy today.
House Republican leaders and President Barack Obama scramble to win over lawmakers ahead of critical trade votes Friday. A Cleveland judge says there is enough evidence to charge police officers in the killing of a 12-year-old boy. Jeb Bush shakes up his political team as he prepares for a likely presidential run. Former President Bill Clinton says he won’t give paid speeches if his wife wins the White House. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleads not guilty to charges of bank fraud and lying to the FBI. And Florida’s new abortion rule requiring a 24-hour wait faces legal challenges. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Olivier Knox Chief Washington correspondent, Yahoo! News.
- Kelly O'Donnell Capitol Hill correspondent, NBC News.
- Chris Frates Investigative correspondent, CNN.
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MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. A cliffhanger for fast track trade legislation, President Obama's revamped ISIS strategy is met with skepticism by GOP lawmakers and candidates and new state law restrict abortions. Here for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Olivier Knox of Yahoo News, Kelly O'Donnell of NBC News and Chris Frates of CNN.
MS. DIANE REHMI do invite you, as always, to be a part of the program. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And by the way, you can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org. It's so good to see all of you.
MR. OLIVIER KNOXGood morning, Diane.
MR. CHRIS FRATESIt's very good to be here.
MS. KELLY O'DONNELLGreat to be here.
REHMGood to see you. Now, President Obama is up on the Hill as we speak, Kelly O'Donnell, trying to twist arms to gently persuade, especially Democrats, to vote for Transpacific Trade Authority. How much is at stake for him on this vote?
O'DONNELLThis is the biggest opportunity for the president to have an economic win in his second term. And typically, it would not be so newsworthy to say the president's on the Hill lobbying for a piece of legislation, but this is a big deal because the president has had frayed relationships not only with Republicans, that's obvious, but with Democrats throughout his presidency. Has rarely gone to the Hill, has rarely worked the phones.
O'DONNELLBut in talking with Democrats this week who have been on point in dealing with different issues related to getting trade across the finish line, they said he has been very engaged, in addition to sending his top advisors and chief of staff and the treasury secretary, trying to really make a connection, even so far as to make an unscheduled visit to the congressional softball game.
REHMSoftball game, yeah.
O'DONNELLThat is Barack Obama in a way we have not seen him, in a social, hands-on way with members of Congress trying to push something across the line.
REHMWhat's at stake in this trade deal, Olivier?
KNOXWell, apart from, obviously, the Obama economic legacy, which Kelly spoke to just a moment ago, that's obviously one of the most important parts of this. The White House cast this really as an argument about who will write the rules of global trade for the decades going forward. We have a series of votes. I think we'll know a lot more in about 90 minutes. But the White House cast it as that kind of contest because what it is, is a trade deal.
KNOXUltimately, at the end of this series of votes, there's a potential vote on the Transpacific Partnership, which is a burgeoning trade deal. The most important players are the United States and Japan, but there are also a raft of other Asian economies, including Vietnam. And what's stake, according to the White House, is, well, look, if we don't lead on global trade rules, then people will start cutting deals China and China cares a lot less than we do about labor standards, about environmental standards and about other things that the same progressives, even American progressives who oppose this trade deal, say that they champion.
REHMNow, Chris Frates, in an interview that Kai Ryssdal did with the president, he asked him about jobs, jobs here in the U.S., to what extent those jobs would be lost if this trade deal goes through. Overall, the president said it would be good for the economy. But the question is, what happens to jobs?
FRATESAnd in that interview with guy (sic) he said, essentially, that he believes that there will be some loser and he acknowledged that and he said, you know, some folks will lose their jobs. And he pointed to trade adjustment assistance and that's another piece of this trade legislation that's supposed to help workers transition. It's supposed to help retrain them. And what's interesting to watch on the Hill this time, Diane, is that the trade adjustment assistance has been set up where that has to pass for the Congress to then consider the trade promotion authority, that fast track, for the president to be able to send a trade agreement to Congress and vote it on an up and down vote, no amendment.
FRATESSo first, you have to get that trade adjustment assistance, then the fast track will happen. And what's been interesting is that Democrats who were generally for that trade adjustment assistance, now are against it because they're trying to kill trade all together and the chamber of commerce, which is for the fast track, is also for trade adjustment assistance. I was talking to a very senior lobbyist working this yesterday and he said it felt like Book of Revelations. It was like four horseman, like the AFL-CIO and labor is against helping workers with trade adjustment assistance.
FRATESAnd the chamber of commerce is for it. And so those are the kinds of dynamics you're seeing up there as we talk about what's at stake, jobs, the economy and these bigger issues about getting the president's legacy through.
REHMAnd going back to the Clinton administration, I can remember Bob Reich sitting here talking about training for jobs, new training available to workers. It never really happened. Is something different going to happen here if this trade deal goes through?
O'DONNELLWell, Democrats who are opposed to this, but in principle like the idea of a federal program that would help retrain workers are concerned there's not enough money and there would be follow-through. The ghosts of NAFTA are all over this when it comes to progressives. They have seen the movie before and they do not have confidence that it could play out differently, even though we live in a global world and there are many pro-trade Democrats who believe there are safeguards that are put into this legislation to give early warning if there are signs of shifting sales in different sectors to give people a chance to prepare if the sands are shifting.
O'DONNELLBut that TAA, which is the piece that would help workers, as you point out, it is the lynchpin. It is the gatekeeper moment. If Democrats don't stand up for that, everything else falls and so they need Democrats, which is why the president is there and why he is also relying on Nancy Pelosi who has been a very active broker in this, at the same time, not saying which way she will go personally, except that she will announce it today. And I can't imagine she'll go against the president.
KNOXYeah, the interesting piece of the TAA is how much the White House has hammered this point in the last 48 hours. The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, yesterday said the Democrats who vote against TAA, whatever their motives regarding this trade agreement, if they vote against TAA, they will have put their names, signed their names to the death certificate of a program that's helped about 2.2 million American workers since it began four decades ago.
FRATESAnd right now, we're looking at, seeing some reporting coming in from my colleagues at CNN that there are 124 hard-nosed, of 188, against TAA and they need the majority of Democrats to vote for TAA to move this trade package forward. So Obama, right now, on the Hill, has a very tough sell in front of him and he needs to be working in tandem with Democrats like Ron Kind of Wisconsin, one of the last blue dog Democrats left who's been huge on, as a point man, trying to get his caucus and cobble together enough Democrats to make this deal work.
REHMAs a lame duck president, what can he offer to those Democrats?
O'DONNELLWell, one of the strategies of Democrats opposing this is if they kill it now, they could quickly resurrect it with a new set of facts that would be more advantageous to their point of view. And sometimes, that's what people do. They will try to tank something they, in general principle, would believe in in order to get more at the bargaining table. That may be one strategy. To use the death analogy, there are those who were saying, TAA is like burial insurance so you're getting help after the job is dead and gone, which is one way to look at it in a colorful language.
O'DONNELLSo, I think, for the president, there's not a lot to offer and the lack of relationships that he has had over time show in a circumstance like this because it is harder for him to say, you know, I need you now. At the same time he is trying to make the longer game that this is not only about his presidency, but it's about authority for presidents going forward and that that's important as well, that the country has to be competitive and that this is something that he can't move forward on the global stage without these steps that we've been talking about.
REHMSo economically speaking, what can he say to the American public and to the Congress as to how this bill would benefit the U.S.?
KNOXWell, you're getting at a very interesting problem for the president, which is that they have something of a self-inflicted wound here and that is the secrecy with which these negotiations have unfolded. If you are a sitting American senator, in order to see the status of the negotiations, you have to agree to go to a special room in the Capitol. You cannot bring staff. You cannot bring your Smartphone. You cannot bring a pen and pad. You can only look through the text.
KNOXIf you're not a trained trade lawyer, good luck figuring out what's going on. Actually, there are foreign embassies that have been briefing reporters and lawmakers on the contents of some of these -- of some of the provisions in the trade deal. But the president's really hamstrung because what he's -- his argument's been, essentially, a negative, which is you don't want to let China write the rules of the road for trade.
KNOXIn fact, when you ask the White House, so what exactly would this do? I mean, this is understood to be mostly a U.S./Japan deal in the agricultural sector, including some protections for American automobiles. There are some components that affect textile trade with Vietnam, but it's really shrouded in a lot of secrecy. So he has to sort of make the pitch that trade, by and large, is good. China, by and large, is bad. It's really tough. And since he's not up for reelection and since Hillary Clinton has very carefully stayed out of this debate, it's not clear what political dividends that House Democrats could reap in 2016.
REHMSo is this going to go through, Chris Frates?
FRATESI mean, right now, it does not look very good because he does not have the support of Democrats on the trade adjustment assistance.
REHMHe's got to work some magic today.
FRATESAnd he needs that for -- he's got to work some magic today to get there.
O'DONNELLBefore we sat down, I thought it would go through. Chris is making me nervous. I might have to bolt out of here and go up there and find out what's going on.
REHMAll right. And Olivier.
KNOXI think it does because we had a test vote yesterday where he eked out a narrow victory and I think that it's in everybody's interest to keep their cards close to the vest.
REHMAll right. We've got more news and we'll be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. Chris Frates of CNN, Kelly O'Donnell of NBC and Olivier Knox with Yahoo News are all with me today. We've talked about trade legislation. The president is up on the Hill as we speak, trying to get that through. What are Republicans saying about President Obama's comments this week on ISIS strategy, Olivier?
KNOXWell, Republicans are looking at the president's comment that -- at the G7 in Germany -- that we don't yet have a complete strategy for training and assisting the Iraqis to fight the Islamic State. And they're saying, we told you so, essentially. For months, for the last 10 months of this conflict, Republicans have insisted day-in and day-out that the president doesn't have a strategy, that he has tactics. We're seeing local ground forces supported by allied air strikes but we don't have a broader idea about the strategy. I can tell you, as a reporter, I still can't get a clean definition of what victory...
KNOX...of what victory will be.
KNOXLike what's the ideal end stay?
KNOXYou know, what is degrade and defeat and destroy? What does that mean? And so they looked at President Obama's comments and they say, well, we told you so. He doesn't have a clean strategy. At the same time, they all got together -- all the Hawks in the Republican Party got together and cheered the president for sending 450 more Americans to Iraq.
REHMBut at the same time, Senator McCain, who's been talking about this, was critical of the president.
KNOXWell, if your -- if your position is that this is woefully short, has been a baby step towards a slightly more -- a slightly enhanced American presence, obviously is not going to be satisfactory.
REHMThat doesn't satisfy you.
O'DONNELLMcCain sort of takes the position that he thinks the president is sort of trying to ride out the clock. By taking an incremental step, it looks like he is responding to a problem that has heated up but with a step, a tactic that is unlikely to make much difference. But it can be talked about for a period of time.
REHMBut that's the question. Being talked about and being effective are two very different things.
FRATESAbsolutely. And that's been the Republicans' point. And what was interesting to watch this week is, Monday, the president talks about, I don't have -- we don't have a complete strategy. And then on Wednesday, you get the news that they're going to put a new base in Anbar Province with 450 more troops, putting a total of about 3,000 troops in Iraq, which is about the size of an army battalion. And then on Thursday, you get this lily-pad strategy where, well, maybe we'll put -- we'll put American advisors near these army bases and they'll be closer to the front. And while they won't be fighting, we'll then be able to have more affect on how the Iraqis fight.
FRATESBecause, remember, you know, our own government has said and Ash Carter has said that the Iraqis didn't have the will to fight. So now the idea is, well, if we put Americans closer to the action, maybe then we can kind of goad them into fighting. So it's been interesting to see, kind of, even in the week from, we, you know, we don't have a complete strategy to, you know, lily pads. I think Republicans would still argue, well, that's not a complete strategy. Again, that's still tactics. But there is a real question about, where does this go?
REHMBut aren't they hoping that with the addition of these 450 troops, they can somehow get these Iraqi troops to take back Ramadi?
O'DONNELLThe sense is, with American sort of resources and backing, there gives a greater confidence to those who have signed up to fight. And in the absence of Americans being there, there's too many reasons to melt away, walk away, not engage. And so having that structure, however small it is, they think that would be a way to bolster the Iraqis, to do more recruiting, to try to instill some of the discipline and so forth. The hard question is when you have the sectarian fealty greater than that to the federal government in Iraq, that is a problem that Americans can't really overcome. And so this is really a structural band aid...
O'DONNELL...which has a practical impact. If you have Americans there that can help with resources and training, that may help. But it doesn't get to the root problem of, do Iraqis want to fight? Can they deal with the sectarian divisions, if you've got the Shia government of Iran really having too much influence, will Sunnis want to engage? All of that, which goes back hundreds and thousands of years.
REHMOf course. And we'll be talking about that more in our international hour. But just to put a final point on that, what McCain is saying he wants are 10,000 troops to go into Iraq.
KNOXRight. And at this point...
REHMIt's not going to happen.
KNOXWell, I asked the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, yesterday whether the president has a number in mind above which he will not go in terms of U.S. troops in Iraq. And I got no answer. So what they're saying is, we're not going to send 150,000 back, but, you know, enter their little shrug emoticon from the Internet. So it's not really clear what they're willing to do. I do want to enter one corrective to the president's rhetoric, which is, when he says that these new troops will not be in a combat role. Most of the 450 are what are -- what's called force protection. So they're basically protecting their trainers. They'll have a combat role if the Islamic State decides they should have a combat role.
KNOXAnd that's a big concern, I know, inside the administration, that we might be days or weeks away from ISIS turning around and saying, You know, it wouldn't be that hard to get one or two guys into -- near an American unit.
FRATESAnd I think the other thing to remember when we talk about this is that, while the president has come under a lot of criticism for not having strategy, congress still has not voted to authorize the use of military force. We're still working off of the authorization from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2001. And Obama sent up that authorization and Congress has refused to take it.
FRATESRepublicans have basically...
O'DONNELLAfter begging for it.
FRATESAfter begging for it. And then the Republicans said, Well, it's not a good enough strategy. Send up another one. And Obama says, No, debate it and...
REHMIf it's his, yeah.
FRATES...and do it -- do it yourself. So it's not as if there's a lot of ideas coming from Congress about how to do this. In fact, they -- the president would argue -- have abdicated their responsibility in authorizing that force.
REHMAll right. Lots of ideas coming from a Bush Team -- Jeb Bush, that is, shuffling his team.
FRATESShuffling his team around, that's right, Diane. So we saw this week, he picked a new campaign advisor, Danny Diaz, a guy who goes back with the Bushes. He was one of the very outspoken, I'm sure you guys remember, on the George W. Bush campaign press secretaries. And now he's going to run that. Now, Bush people say that this was just a sense of Jeb getting a feel for his people and knowing that, you know, it's better to put the gentleman who was in the campaign-manager role, David...
FRATES...Kochel, and move him to a senior advisor role. Make Danny...
REHMAnd put Danny Diaz elsewhere.
FRATES...as the campaign advisor. Those are better things. But what we also -- it has been -- it's interesting to watch, you know, he is -- he's abroad, he's in Europe this week trying to kind of do some foreign policy damage control. I mean, we saw, last month, he couldn't answer a question that everybody thought was one of the first ones he'd have to answer, which was, What would you have done with Iraq. He went a week there, where he said, Well I would have gone in. Or, No, I wouldn't have gone in. Then finally landed on, Well, if we knew the facts we know now...
FRATES...I wouldn't have done it...
FRATES...if we're answering hypothetical. So he is -- he is having trouble because the donor class is starting to say, Whoa. We thought with his early entry, the Bush, kind of the Jeb Bush model was a lot like his brother. Come in hard. Come in fast. A shock and awe campaign. We're going to suck up the resources in the invisible primary with all the donor class and make sure we're getting that money. They've done that fairly well. But he hasn't answered questions. He hasn't -- he's shown that rust of not having run in nine or ten years. And that's part of what we're seeing.
REHMBut how -- how much did he accomplish with that overseas trip?
KNOXWe don't really know yet. These are -- these tend to be fairly cosmetic events. And they allow you to drop a line in a speech months later saying, Well, I was just speaking...
KNOX...recently to the Israeli Prime Minister and he agrees with me. It's really typically these are very minor, except when they go horribly, horribly wrong, as Mitt Romney's tour did...
KNOX...in the last cycle. So I think this is a pretty minimal thing. The Bush campaign is saying, Look, it's really early. You know, you can't -- we're not falling apart. At the same time, I don't think -- and Chris referred to the shock and awe campaign -- I don't think that a main component of that was, And then, we'll be in a five-way tie for first place.
KNOXI'm pretty sure that wasn't part of the strategy. And the concerns I hear from Republicans in Washington, D.C., about the Jeb Bush campaign is that they see a really large number of Republican voters, including in the primaries, who will not vote for someone whose last name is Bush.
O'DONNELLThat's what I've seen on the trail, where you -- there was a disconnect between the donor class, the electeds in the party, who have a high regard for Jeb Bush, who think that he brings attributes in terms of his stands on immigration more than education. But some of the ways that he can moderate could be effective. And they know that he has a calming presence. There are many things they like about him. Every voter -- well, that's too strong. So many voters I've encountered say that they simply won't consider him.
O'DONNELLBecause I think they feel -- and the words they give back to us -- they don't want to have the dynasty. That affects Hillary Clinton as well. But there are so many choices in the Republican Party -- whereas Democrats have fielded fewer -- that they're looking, at least at this phase, shopping for a new face and a new message. And I think many Republican voters who believed in George W. Bush felt themselves sort of beaten up by the anti-Bush sentiment in the country.
O'DONNELLAnd they don't want to go through that again. It has almost nothing to do with Jeb.
REHMSo Jeb is supposed to be announcing on Monday. Do you believe he will go for it?
REHMAnd will he be able, through his Super PAC, to collect that $100 million by the June 30 deadline?
FRATESI think he gets there. I think the numbers -- there's been some talk. Is he there? Is he not there? I think, you know, the numbers we were seeing was about $85 million so far. I think he can make the $15 million. And remember, he has four different vehicles for money. He has the Super PAC, which will have the majority of it. But he also has a Leadership PAC. He also has a policy non-profit. And of course, on Monday, there will be the campaign. And they're already asking people who bundle for the campaign -- those are people who get other donors to collect money...
FRATES...from their friends...
FRATES...to get about $30,000 by the end of the month. So in two weeks, those big bundlers are going to get $30,000 checks for the presidential campaign. So they are very much still dominating a lot of that money machine. And it's important to note, while he has had his hiccups, I mean, part of what Jeb Bush has done is he's neutralized in a lot of ways Chris Christie. Remember, Christie is feeling the effects of Jeb Bush in a way that maybe Scott Walker and Marco Rubio are not.
REHMRight. And how about Hillary Clinton? She launches tomorrow.
O'DONNELLFinally. Many people are excited to see a big-stage Hillary Clinton. Because for a number of weeks now, it has been that private, personal, listening tour. And I think there are many Democrats who have now grown a little frustrated with that and want to see her in a more traditional sort of fiery candidate, where her voice is raised and her fists are in the air and she's actually hitting the road. And so we'll see that now. And she's had her own set of challenges -- for all of the problems that Jeb Bush has had, he has taken more questions on the road, he has engaged with reporters and members of the public -- she's had a more controlled early phase rollout. Which they told us is exactly what they were going to do.
O'DONNELLAnd now she will take the stage on a Saturday, so she'll get maximum coverage.
REHMFour Freedoms Park in New York.
O'DONNELLYes. Where she will be able to make the Roosevelt connection and she will be able to try to articulate why she's running. And while she has, in her video and her early rollout, talked about everyday Americans, she has a chance to really try to shape the field at a time when, in that intervening period, you've had voices like Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley coming along and trying to bring up more of the progressive concern about Hillary Clinton being a part of the establishment and not enough responding to those concerns.
REHMAnd there's also some concern about Bill Clinton's speech making. He has said, if she is elected, he will not give any more money-making speeches. Is there any concern there, that he might try to go around his pledge?
FRATESWell, I think, when you look at the Clinton Foundation in general, there would be concern. Because they structured a lot of rules and regulations when she became Secretary of State to try to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. We saw that at least one country gave to the Clinton Foundation that shouldn't have been able to give under those rules. That was Algeria. And when you look at the amount of money Clinton has on speeches. Just 2014, 104 speeches, $25 million. So it's not insignificant.
REHMChris Frates of CNN. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." So next week could really define President Obama's legacy. Not only with the TPP, the trade vote, but the Supreme Court ruling on health care, new EPA regulations, and the Iran nuclear deal. Boy, what a week.
KNOXIt's one heck of a fourth quarter, as the president's described this stretch of his presidency as the fourth quarter. And he's right, I guess, in the sense that a lot of this is the game's going to be defined by what -- at the end of this, you know. The Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare is particularly fascinating, I think. Obviously, I tend to personally gravitate toward the Iran nuclear talks. But the Obamacare ruling, the Supreme Court could really gut the core of the Affordable Care Act and could potentially send millions of Americans out of health insurance. So the ramifications, not just for him, for his legacy, but for millions of Americans.
REHMMillions of Americans, absolutely.
KNOXYou know, I think that's just absolutely huge. He's been stepping up his very campaign-style rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act, saying, in effect, if anything goes wrong, you know, blame the Republicans. This is a good law. We've -- we'd extended all these benefits to you. It's what the White House had always hoped to do when they rolled out Obamacare. Build it up so that more and more Americans see it as an entitlement, which makes it very, very hard -- much more difficult to unwind politically. That probably won't work in the same way with the Supreme Court, which is -- they're not immune to political considerations...
KNOXBut they certainly are more protected from them.
REHMAll right. Let's talk about police brutality in Texas. Another incident where police have been caught on video. Talk about what happened there.
FRATESSo this week we saw a police officer in McKinney, Texas, called to a disturbance at a pool party. And we saw some very disturbing video of this police officer running around, swearing at the teenagers. They were mostly African-American teenagers. And we see him take down a 14-year-old teenage girl, essentially pushes her face into the ground and then gets on her back with his knees to hold her down. He also pulled his weapon on several kids and they ran away.
FRATESAnd, you know, I think the visceral reaction to that was, Oh, my goodness. Can you believe that this is happening to a group of rowdy teenagers? I mean, they were in bikinis. They were in swim trunks. There was no way they were carrying weapons. They were not a threat to this officer.
REHMThey had been called to the area by neighbors.
O'DONNELLThis is sort of a gated community or a planned community where there is a pool and some of the kids were residents, but then invited friends.
O'DONNELLAnd so this is maybe the most relatable of these on-camera police incidents. Because haven't we all been teenagers at a pool party? And teenagers don't always behave well and they can annoy neighbors.
O'DONNELLBut that doesn't rise to a criminal offense in most cases, noise rules notwithstanding.
REHMBut the question becomes, do you believe that this was a racially motivated incident. And that's what is spurring social media again.
O'DONNELLWell, that is a difficult question to answer because it was a case where this is a community that has both African-American and white residents. There were some suggestions that there were racial terms thrown about. That always inflames a situation.
REHMKelly O'Donnell of NBC News. Short break here. Your calls, your comments when we come back.
REHMAnd welcome back. Time to open the phones. 800-433-8850. First to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Tyler, you're on the air.
TYLERHi Diane. It's good to be on the show.
TYLERThree times in two weeks. It's crazy.
REHMWell, now, let me tell you something, Tyler. We do have a one month rule. So, I would appreciate your holding back for a month before you call again next time, okay?
TYLEROh, that's no problem. I just appreciate getting to ask a question.
TYLERThe funny thing is I just feel we should show the tax. If you're not going to let people read the trade deal, you're trying to half ass truck authority to push on, it just doesn't seem very logical for people to wanna be for it. I mean, if you're not letting people see the deal you're trying to make, why should we agree that you should have the (unintelligible) deal in the first place when we don't know the rules.
FRATESYeah, this is one of the biggest problems that the White House has with this whole process. Recently, I think yesterday, Paul Ryan, the Senior Republican who's been trying to shepherd this to passage, recycled an old line, a line we all remember from the Affordable Care Act. Basically said, you know, you have to pass this to see what's in it. It's -- I hear this from more members of Congress than any other complaint. They just think it's outrageous that there are so many hurdles, so many obstacles between them and seeing the text.
FRATESAnd then another layer of obstacles to understanding the text, because they can't bring their trade advisor in, they can't take notes. They can't record anything on their smart phones. It's a source of deep resentment, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the trade votes fail today. Wouldn't be surprised if we had a lot of gnashing of teeth over the secrecy.
KNOXAnd Obama has, as we now know, left the Hill, and has said, I don't think you ever nail anything down around here. It's always moving. So even the President, leaving the meeting with House Democrats, not projecting a lot of confidence that this is going to pass at this point.
REHMSo, he went in there at 9:30 or so, he has now left the Hill. Let's go to Ernie in Jacksonville, Florida. You're on the air.
ERNIEGood morning, Diane.
ERNIEThank you for your great program.
ERNIEI also, like your previous caller there, are concerned about the fact that nobody knows a lot about what's going on with the TPP. And one of the things that I understand is that in order to pay for the assistance adjustment, where people were put out of work, that they're going to take 700 million dollars out of Medicare to help pay for that.
REHMIs that true, Kelly?
O'DONNELLThat is one of the pay fors, the term of art in Washington. And Nancy Pelosi really pushed Speaker Boehner on that issue. And one of the things that exists in this, again, it's the sort of puzzle latch work of legislation. They're saying that while that is in the legislation, they would, in a subsequent bill, not actually carry that out. So, that doesn't give people a lot of confidence.
O'DONNELLIt would adjust the amount of money that would go to doctors who provide those services, and the hard thing for Democrats is they have said, if you vote for this, expect to hear that you voted to cut Medicare in an ad by the Republican campaign committee when you are up for re-election. And that certainly gets attention.
REHMAll right. Let's go to Curtis in New York City, New York. You're on the air.
CURTISHi Diane. I was just curious, how seriously is Hillary Clinton taking, or the Clinton campaign, taking Scott Walker? I saw an interview with him with Mark Halperin and he's likeable. And I'm a New Yorker. I've voted Democrat and I've voted Republican. And I -- but he's likeable, he's talking about policy, he's great. And I mean, you know, if she gets hit with the Scott Walker/Marco Rubio one two punch, she's gonna -- it's gonna be a hard day.
FRATESWell, I think the Clinton people would tell you that they are focused exclusively on the Democratic field at this point and that they are not taking anything for granted. And that they need to go forward. And I don't think there's a lot of gnashing of teeth at this point because the field is so fluid, it is so huge. But I think they're certainly watching and they're certainly seeing who might be the biggest challenge. And as they start to figure that out, expect that they will probably try to knock those folks down a peg. And build up people who they think are a better match for them in the general election.
REHMAll right. To Matt in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You're on the air.
MATTHello, Diane Rehm. It's really nice talking to you.
MATTThank you for taking my call.
MATTI have a question relative to the incident regarding the pool party in Texas there and the police officers and others. There was a gentleman that we keep seeing in the video tapes, who kept hanging around. He, a large man, he had, I think he was wearing some kind of Bermuda shorts or something, but he kept lingering around, looking, watching. Standing there, not appearing to do anything but observe. And I wondered if any law enforcement personnel has ever questioned him and asked...
O'DONNELLI know who you are referring to in the video, but I don't know his identity. Based on his attire he was in like khaki shorts and a shirt, he almost gave a look of a neighborhood dad who came over to try to be a calming force. I don't know the exact answer. We haven't said that the officer has resigned. They offered a mitigating circumstance that he had attended to two suicide calls in the same day and let his emotions get the better of him. He's a 10-year veteran of that police department, had been in the armed services prior to that.
O'DONNELLOn another day, in another time, he might have been the kind of law enforcement officer people would hold up, but his conduct there, his superiors said was indefensible, that his emotions were clearly running over and he was not behaving in a way that was in line with policy or common sense. And he has removed himself from the situation and the question will be, will that end it, or will there be attempts to try to seek some charges against him in some way? That remains to be seen.
REHMAll right. Let's turn to Dennis Hastert. You've been in, I gather, the courtroom all week. He pled not guilty to charges of bank fraud and lying to the FBI. Why are those the charges?
KNOXSo, those are the charges because that is what the FBI found. So essentially, they saw that Denny Hastert had taken out about 15 50,000 dollar withdrawals. Now, any time you take over 10,000 dollars, that triggers a bank reporting act and the banks have to report to the IRS that these were made. And so that got the FBI's attention because remember, this law was set up to make sure that, you know, drug smugglers aren't moving money, that they're not laundering money. And so they thought, well here's a former, powerful official.
KNOXIs he being extorted? What's happening? So that got the FBI involved and Hastert was notified of, you know, that 50,000 dollar disclosure. So, then he started taking out 9,900 dollars, right underneath the limit. He took out about 100 of those withdrawals. And so the FBI went to him and said, well, why are you taking this money out? And he said, well, I'm taking it out to keep it. I don't trust the banks, essentially. And they said, okay. And then they found out that he was giving this money to somebody they identify only as individual A.
KNOXAnd they say he was giving this money to cover up past misconduct. So, then they found, essentially, that Denny Hastert had lied to the FBI about why he was taking out the money. And he did what is called structuring. By taking out those 9,900 dollar withdrawals and trying to not trigger that disclosure, he had broken the law. So, those were the two counts. Now, law enforcement officials tell CNN separately that the individual A in question was a former student, a former male student who alleged that Denny Hastert sexually abused him.
KNOXNow, he's not being charged with sexual abuse. In fact, there is the statute of limitations on sexual abuse is passed. And so, what they're charging him with is what has happened recently and now and those are the charges he pled not guilty to.
REHMI wonder if, and I'm just thinking off the top of my head, but I wonder if those statutes of limitation should not be applied to sexual abuse in a case like this, going back when someone is a coach or a teacher. And in fact, abuses.
KNOXAnd that's certainly what advocates of sexual abuse victims are saying, and they're using this incident to bring this issue up back in Congress and in Springfield, Illinois to say, we need to re-examine this and we may need to give, essentially, an opening to if you report sexual abuse as an adult, that happened to you as a child, maybe there should be a window there where that could be prosecuted.
O'DONNELLSame happened with the Catholic Church.
O'DONNELLWhere we had events that were alleged in the '60s, but they didn't come to light for decades later. However, the law is what the law is now and Denny Hastert's team will certainly argue that it was his money, that he had a right to do with it what he wanted and they will try to vigorously fight that. Or, perhaps we will see a plea deal, because he will not want to have individual A be a witness in a case.
KNOXAnd that is the most likely. When I talk to experts, they say, you know, part of the reason why individual A was put out there is it is a bit of leverage. If Denny Hastert doesn't want to go to trial, or even go to a sentencing hearing, then this is an incentive to come to a plea deal that keeps all of this under wraps.
KNOXAnd that he pleads guilty, he accepts whatever punishment, how much jail time. These counts carry five years each.
REHMAnd how much money he must pay the person A.
KNOXWell, I don't, that's an interesting question, Diane if that comes into play here, because he's already paid that person 1.7 million dollars of an agreed upon three and a half million.
KNOXIs there reparations or not? And the other interesting part is they're not charging individual A with any extortion here. So, they haven't said that...
O'DONNELLBecause you would need Hastert to say he was extorted and thus far, he has not.
KNOXHe has not.
REHMExactly. And that would be a problem for him. There's another problem with the judge on this case.
KNOXWell, that's right. The judge on this case had given some money when he was a private lawyer in private practice through some colleagues, about 1500 dollars to Denny Hastert's re-election. He disclosed all that. In fact, the longest part of the arraignment on Tuesday was the judge disclosing, here's how, you know, here's the business I have done with Denny Hastert. I don't know this man. I gave 1500 dollars as part of a law firm. I did business at the same law firm as his son.
KNOXI went on some business trips with his son. I am not a personal friend of his son. And he disclosed all his connections because he comes from a very political family in Chicago, as well. And he essentially allowed the lawyers to make a decision about whether he should be on the case or not.
KNOXAnd yesterday, the lawyers waived their rights and said, we're fine having you.
O'DONNELLBoth the government and the defense.
KNOXBoth the government and the defense.
O'DONNELLSo Thomas Durkin will be the judge.
KNOXHe will be the judge.
REHMHe will stay on it. This is an interesting development. Iowa's GOP chair Jeff Kauffman says, state party officials voted Friday morning, during a conference call, to end Iowa's straw poll, which began in 1979, has been held every summer before a contested Presidential caucus. Interesting.
O'DONNELLNot entirely a surprise. Many in this field did not want to participate. I was there last go around with Michelle Bachman who won. And I think there has been a disconnect in recent years, or a concern about the disconnect between the winner of that event, which allowed sort of -- it was part carnival, part political event. You could invite people in and provide food and entertainment. And it was really a great event for voters in Iowa to attend. But you could, in a cynical way, try to buy the support.
O'DONNELLAnd Michelle Bachman worked that very hard. She wanted to have a good launch pad in Iowa. But then, of course, her campaign completely disintegrated and she was not considered a viable candidate for the nomination. And I think there was concern that maybe it needs a rest.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go now to Edmund, Oklahoma. Bryce, you're on the air.
REHMI'm sorry. I can't hear you. All right, to Joe in Arlington, Virginia. You're on the air.
JOEOh, hi there. How are you?
REHMFine, thanks. Go right ahead, sir.
JOEThank you, Diane. Yeah, I just wanted to comment and/or get into it in reference to the pool party incident. What I wanted to say was like, the adults that were involved, in actually arranging this pool party, you know, what were they doing at that point in time? When they potentially saw these children arbitrarily showing up, didn't they maybe give thought that maybe some of the kids that were supposed to be at the party invited other kids, and then those kids invited other kids. And it snowballed.
JOEWhy didn't they take control in organizing, say, okay, where do you kids come from, you know, who invited you?
FRATESAnd so the caller has a good question. And I don't know that we can speak to the motivations...
FRATES...of the parents, but one of the adults who was there, and allegedly started one of these disturbances that got the police called, had an altercation with one of the teenagers, and allegedly used racist terms. There was an altercation where they looked to be grabbing or punching each other. And that's part of the reason why the police were called. So, there was an adult here who, it is alleged, got into it with one of these teenagers, and that's what precipitated it to begin with.
FRATESThat, that woman was, seeing that she worked at the Bank of America, there was a Twitter campaign to ask Bank of America, do you support this kind of thing? And this woman was put on administrative leave while this was all sorted out. So, to the caller's point, it may have been started by an adult.
REHMAll right. One last call from Jule in Johnson City, Tennessee. You're on the air. Jule.
JULEDiane, I hear an awful lot of criticism about Bill Clinton and his speaking for pay. I just wonder about either of the previous President Bushes and any speeches they may be making for pay.
REHMWhat do we know about that, Olivier?
KNOXWe know that George W. Bush has been making quite a bit of cash on the speaking circuit, as well. However, his wife is not seeking the Republican presidential nomination and he wasn't giving those speeches while his wife...
REHMBut his brother may be.
KNOX...that's correct. And he's going to have to make a decision. If Jeb wins the nomination, if Jeb wins the presidency, he's going to have to make the same kind of decision that Bill Clinton is making about whether or not to speak for money. One quick point about the Bill Clinton pledge. I didn't hear him give a pledge that he wouldn't give paid speeches. I think he was asked whether he would continue, and he said, I don't think so.
O'DONNELLI think you're right. He was not definitive.
KNOXI mean, I don't, you know, I don't mean to split hairs here.
O'DONNELLOr if Hillary were to ask him to.
FRATESBut he did make the point that he would continue to give speeches, but he wouldn't be paid for them if he were to be the First Man.
KNOXAnd see, I didn't hear that either. I heard him say, I don't think so on the paid speeches. And then said that he would continue giving speeches on things he cares about. I don't really mean to split hairs, I just, I, you know...
REHMBut that's what reporters do.
KNOXI became a reporter in Bill Clinton's second term, so I tend to look at the public pronouncements from team Clinton with maybe a layer of scrutiny.
O'DONNELLI think it is expected that Presidents who leave office have an opportunity to make a great deal of money and no one denies them that, if the market bears it. The challenge for Bill Clinton is that Hillary Clinton also wants to be president, and that changes everything.
REHMKelly O'Donnell, Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News, Chris Frates, investigative correspondent at CNN, Olivier Knox, chief Washington correspondent with Yahoo News. Thank you all. Have a great weekend.
O'DONNELLThank you so much.
REHMAnd thanks to all of you for listening. Have a great weekend. I'm Diane Rehm.
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