How hospice became big business. A new investigation in The New Yorker reveals an industry that at times puts profits before patients.
Guest Host: Susan Page
Lawmakers grill Secretary of State John Kerry over the Iran nuclear deal as a 60-day congressional review begins. A Senate highway bill faces a roadblock in the House as a deadline looms. The Justice Department is asked to open a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email account. Yet another Republican enters the presidential race as candidates scramble for a spot on the debate stage. A report warns that the Social Security disability fund will run short next year. And a firestorm over a Planned Parenthood video unfolds. A panel of journalists joins guest host Susan Page for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Neil King, Jr. Global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal
- Amy Walter National editor, Cook Political Report
- Ed O'Keefe Congressional reporter, The Washington Post
Video: Is The Iran Deal A Good Agreement For The U.S.?
Video: Will Congress Block The Iran Deal?
Video: Will The Planned Parenthood Video Spark New Abortion Law Debate In Congress?
MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's on vacation. Secretary of State Kerry defends the Iran nuclear deal in Congress. Republican presidential candidates scramble for a spot in the campaign's first debate and a dash cam video of Sandra Bland's arrest in Texas fuels the furor over her death. Joining me for the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup, Neil King of The Wall Street Journal, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post. Welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MR. ED O'KEEFEGood morning.
MS. AMY WALTERThanks, Susan.
MR. NEIL KING JR.Good morning.
PAGEYou know, our listeners can not only hear you, they can see you because it's the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. We're live streaming this on our website, email@example.com. Later in the hour, you can call us on our toll-free number, 1-800-433-8850. You can join our conversation by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter. But let's start with these hearings that we had yesterday before the Senate foreign relations committee.
PAGEThree cabinet secretaries up there, Ed, defending the Iran nuclear deal. What kind of reception did they get?
O'KEEFEA pretty frosty one. Republicans don't even need to read it, don't need to sit through the classified briefings before they've decided that we've been, in the words of Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, fleeced, essentially, for coming to terms with Iran over this deal. I think it shows that there's a real challenge ahead for the administration in trying to get even just a small handful of Republicans to go along with Democrats on this.
O'KEEFEAnd, you know, ultimately, I think, the question is will there be a veto-proof majority of lawmakers from both parties who oppose this deal or can the White House hope that if he vetoes some kind of a deal, that Congress won't be able to override it.
PAGEAmy, is it basically a given that Congress will pass a resolution of disapproval, that they can get enough votes to do that?
WALTERIt sure seems that way. I mean, I agree with Ed that there was not one Republican that seemed to be even open to the possibility, plus next week, you know, those same three administration officials go in front of the House committee and I think it will be probably frostier, if that's possible. And so it does seem like the real issue right now is how many Democrats will defect, how many can you keep on board and then what does it actually look like? I mean, there's also some talk that if, indeed, the president does have to veto and then it goes for the override vote, what does that say to the Iranians, right, where they think, well, because not the clock is ticking, we can't lift the sanctions, maybe they beg out of the deal.
PAGEYou know, Neil, all you need to sustain a veto is 34 votes in the Senate. That seems like a pretty low bar for me for a president who's, like, still in office, not under indictment. I mean, shouldn't he be able to command the support of 34 Democrats in the Senate?
KING JR.You would think, but this is a different kind of thing 'cause it's really put a lot of pressure on a lot of different Democrats. The Israeli lobby is going to be extremely vocal and extremely active and that means, actually, a fair bid especially to senators or House members, for that matter, that are up for reelection. And it's unclear. I think it could actually have a veto-proof majority in the Senate. I think what -- and you saw Obama met yesterday with 12, I think, House members at the White House.
KING JR.Not that this is correlated, but he's taking a bunch now on his Africa trip. I think the real -- where they're looking to save this is in the House 'cause as long as they get 150 House Democrats, they're fine on that front and there's going to be big support among the sort of urban constituency that where the, you know, Democratic party is strong. They're going to lose some, but I don't think that's going to be that big a problem.
WALTERYeah, and if you look at the most recent polling that's come out on this, I mean, most Americans aren't particularly engaged in this debate. But the ones that are, they're not particularly happy about it. It has about a 48 percent disapproval rating. But if you break it down by party, very liberal, 74 percent approve, among Democrats, 60 percent approve. So there is a little bit of that cross pressure, but enough of a Democratic base support, I think to help.
O'KEEFEAnd isn't there -- a lot of polling on this in recent weeks, but most of it suggests that in theory, in general, Americans are okay with the idea of us talking to them. They just don't like what they've heard about the details, even though they don’t...
WALTERRight. It depends on how you ask the question, right?
WALTERWhat we're going to get for it versus what -- whether or not you trust Iran.
PAGESo we know there's a partisan divide in Congress with Republicans almost universally against it and Democrats divided, but a fair number of Democrats supportive of it. How about in the community that actually understands what the nuclear accord includes, you know, or are sophisticated about number of centrifuges and the way the -- specifics of the deal? Is there a consensus in the expert community, Neil, about whether this is, in fact, a good deal for the United States?
KING JR.I think, by and large, if I had to say where it tilts, it tilts more towards the positive than the negative among the people that really follow this. I mean, the argument, the core argument that Kerry and others have been making is we could never have gotten a perfect deal. There was no way that we could get at any kind of deal that would have not given them various things, particularly the removal of sanctions and basically then reentering the international community.
KING JR.And I think the thing that's disturbed a lot of people the most is the fact that there was very much the desire to have some ability to have snap inspections and being able to come in quickly if there was some concern about some violations and there had always been talk of it being kind of anywhere, anytime. And in the end, the anytime came down to 24 days and a lot of people are, like, what? 24 days? That's a lot of notice.
KING JR.And the argument they make in response is, well, you can't just -- these things leave traces behind. They're not easily moved. 24 days isn't that big a thing. But for most people, I think, the desire was couldn't you have made it more like 10 days or something or a week?
PAGE24 hours, maybe, yeah. There's also the criticism that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry wanted the deal so much for legacy reasons that they were willing to make a bad deal. Is that gaining any traction, Ed?
O'KEEFEWell, and I think Kerry sort of, with the way he scoffed at some of the questions yesterday, suggests that, you know, you don't know what you're talking about. I've just spent the last year and a half working on this. How could you dare question it? I think they run the risk of certainly having that get amplified just by their mere behavior over the course of the next few weeks as Congress debates this.
O'KEEFEBut yeah, I mean, there was certainly concern about that as it was being negotiated. The deadline was moved, what, three or four times over the course of the talks in an effort to keep them going. I guess you could make the argument that it's better to keep them at the table and then, you know, try as hard as you can. But certainly, if it prevails, if it happens, and it's still a very big if, you'd be underlining, italicizing and bolding that "if" right now, you know, it will be a significant piece of their legacy.
O'KEEFEEspecially for Kerry, who has been on the job now since the start of this second term, but, you know, has spent a considerable amount of time on this at the same time that he's doing other things like Cuba and dealing with other parts of the world.
PAGEWe woke up this morning to a front page scoop on the New York Times on the recommendation by inspectors general for the State Department and for the intelligence agencies to the Justice Department that they undertake a criminal investigation into the personal email account that was used by Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. Amy, try to put this in some context for us.
WALTERI know. It's really -- the hard part about this right now is that we don't have that many details about how this would actually work. You said this correctly. It's opening a criminal investigation, but what we don't know is where the criminal investigation will be centered. Will it be on Hillary Clinton herself and the fact that did she cover something up, did she use her email knowingly to send out classified information or is this an administrative investigation into the way that the State Department handled this?
WALTERYou know, who is the focus? We don't exactly know. But we do know that the issue over the emails has been dragging out for some time now. Republicans saying that the State Department has been stonewalling. They were supposed to release more of these emails than they have. We, of course, has the Benghazi investigation still going on, frustrations by Republicans on that, committees saying that they've been slow-walking information, emails there as well.
WALTERSo this just opens a new angle, but one that is potentially much more devastating because it has the word criminal in front of it. And if it is actually a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton herself, that sort of changes everything.
PAGEAlso, these aren't Republican partisans in Congress...
WALTERRight. These are in...
PAGE...urging an investigation. These are the independent inspectors general. Neil, do you think this is a big deal?
KING JR.If I had to bet, I would say it probably is the kind of thing that will more likely fizzle than otherwise, but it has a number of risks in it. Basically, this is the attorneys general, two of them, not attorneys general, inspectors general looking at this and saying, you know, this could be kind of dicey. This could get into the area of criminal. That's not what we do. Hey, Justice Department, could you look into this?
KING JR.With classified stuff, it's often very curious and it's not known yet whether what they were worried about was not that they were emailing around previously classified information, which it could be that, but more, hey, they were discussing things here that actually should've been classified. And as it turns out, some of the emails that they've already released, they actually managed to release some things that they've now determined should actually have been classified.
KING JR.I would be willing to bet that this will probably not be some huge burden to Hillary Clinton, but on the other hand, and as Amy was sort of eluding to, this is a candidate who has huge support in some ways, but is not really gaining traction, is trying to move forward. Today, she's trying to put forward some tax things that she's talking about. And meanwhile, basically, every day, when she tries to do one thing, she gets devoured by something from the past.
KING JR.And it's all these things from the past that are going to continue to haunt her.
PAGEEd, what do you make of it?
O'KEEFEAnd Marco Rubio was making that point this morning on a morning show interview saying, you know, why on earth with we want four to eight more years of these kind of, you know, clouds hanging over our president like we've had with Clintons ever since they came onto the national scene? And frankly, that is a compelling argument that may work with a lot of independents and certainly Republicans.
O'KEEFEShe may not have a legal issue, but she will continue to have a big perception issue. This doesn't help in the same week that there was polling again that shows that in certain key swing states, Iowa, Virginia, Colorado among them, she's not considered trustworthy.
PAGEWe're going to take a short break and when we come back, we'll continue our conversation about the big news of the week, including what's happening with that highway bill and what's happening with Donald Trump. And we'll take your calls and questions. Our toll-free number, 1-800-433-8850. You can always send us an email at drshow.org. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. And with me in the studio: Ed O'Keefe, he's a congressional reporter for The Washington Post. Amy Walter, national editor with the Cook Political Report. And Neil King, he is global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief at The Wall Street Journal. And we're talking about the domestic news of the week. Later in this hour, we'll take some of your calls, 1-800-433-8850. Our phone lines are now open. You know, right before the break, I mentioned the name Donald Trump. Amy noted that we have waited 18 minutes to say his name. She was praising us for that.
PAGEWe do need to talk about him because he seems to have commanded the attention of the Republican field. And all the focus now is either what Donald Trump is saying...
PAGE...or what other candidates are saying about Donald Trump.
WALTERRight. And Hillary Clinton was very excited about this as well because it was keeping the focus off of Hillary Clinton's problems until, of course, today, where we started with the Hillary Clinton problems. Here's the deal with Donald Trump. He is masterful at getting attention. There's a reason that he was a reality TV show star, which he'll like to tell you how much money he made for that and how much money he made for NBC being a reality TV show star. He knows how to get attention and he knows how to use it. The question in my mind is how long this is going to last. He is clearly tapping into something and he's using his ability to get attention to tap -- to get more attention.
WALTERBut he's tapping into something that has been part of the Republican makeup for some time for the base, which is a frustration with the establishment, a populace sort of anger. This is the same sort of anger that people like Pat Buchanan tapped into in 1992. And the question now, in my mind is, when he fizzles out -- which I think he ultimately will do -- where does that support end up going?
PAGEWell, here's what Donald Trump said this morning on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC. He said, "The best way to win is to win as a Republican," talking about the general election.
PAGE"I do not want to do independent at all. Now, if I'm treated poorly, that's one thing. If I'm treated well and with great respect and don't win, I would not do that. But if I'm treated poorly, I will do it." meaning, I will run as a third-party candidate. Would that elect Hillary Clinton, Neil King?
KING JR.It would certainly cause great problems, as Amy was noting earlier among us. It's a very difficult thing to run as an independent. You can't just go around and make chatter. You have to actually get on ballots. It's extremely onerous, it's very organization driven. That's not exactly Trump's strong suits. I just want to point out it's, you know, having covered, particularly the last campaign, but if you look -- you'd have to look back a long ways, maybe you would not find a precedent of a basically fringe candidate coming out of the gate and totally dominating the way he has totally dominated for the last two weeks.
KING JR.I, when he first announced and made his speech -- somewhat jokingly I went out on a limb and I said -- and I tweeted, "Prediction: He will lead in one national poll by September." And people were ridiculing me, like, "Come on. You've got to be kidding." He's led every national poll for the last two weeks.
O'KEEFEThis is why he's a deputy bureau chief.
KING JR.And he is consuming all the oxygen because he has the ability to do that. We didn't see anything remotely like that in the last election cycle.
O'KEEFEAnd you asked if Clinton would win. If you look at The Washington Post ABC News poll out this week, it would be 1992 all over again. Another Clinton would beat another Bush because of another surly business man.
PAGERunning as a third-party candidate.
O'KEEFERunning as a third-party candidate.
PAGEWell, of course, what he's really running for now, he says, is the Republican nomination. Let's just go around the table. Is it conceivable? Is it plausible that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee?
WALTERZero point zero percent chance.
KING JR.Less than that.
PAGELess than 0.0.
WALTERHe represents a portion -- and it's an important portion -- of the Republican Party base. But getting beyond that very small portion is going to be impossible for him to do.
PAGESo, you know, the first big event is the debate on Fox News on August 6 in Cleveland. Top-10 candidates will participate in it, in terms -- as measured by national polls. Trump is guaranteed to be there.
PAGEWhat -- one of the interesting things you saw this week were other candidates who were at 9, 10, 11, doing the things to get attention so that they can get into the debate. For instance, a wonderful video -- a wonderful video by Lindsey Graham. Tell us about it, Ed.
O'KEEFEWell, and it came actually the morning after I saw him, it was a Tuesday night in Gallery Place at a movie theater. Only in Washington, folks. Sorry.
PAGEYou mean he was going to the movies?
O'KEEFEHe was going to the movies with Kelly Ayotte, the senator for New Hampshire, and her kids.
PAGEWere just going to the movies?
O'KEEFEThey were just going to the movies.
PAGEAnd you were just going to the movies.
O'KEEFEI was just going to the movies with my wife.
PAGEYou were covering him.
PAGEYou weren't stalking him?
O'KEEFEMy wife and I were going up the escalators and I turn around and there was Ayotte and Graham. And Graham has a phone.
PAGESo did you say something, like...
O'KEEFEGraham brought out the phone and showed me that every three seconds it was ringing because Donald Trump had read out his number. And, literally, 301, 850, you know, area codes from all over the country. And he said he'd been handing the phone to Kelly Ayotte's young children to answer it, to say, "Who are you and why are you calling?"
PAGEThat is a wonderful story.
O'KEEFEAnd her son said, you know, "Yes, the mailbox is definitely full because they've been calling repeatedly."
PAGESo what movie were you and Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte...
O'KEEFENo, we were going to see "Trainwreck." They were going to see "Minions," which is a kids' movie, which makes sense.
PAGESo Lindsey Graham, who's running for president, was going to see "Minions" with Kelly Ayotte and his kids?
O'KEEFEThat's my understanding. Yes.
O'KEEFEUncle Lindsey was taking Kelly and the kids to a...
PAGEThat's really one of the most interesting things on today's News Hour.
O'KEEFERight. So the next morning, he tapes this video where he destroys his cell phone in several different ways.
PAGEIn many different ways.
O'KEEFEIt has captured him a little more attention than sympathy. And we'll see, maybe he ends up being the 10th Republican on stage.
PAGESo he did that. Tell us what Rand Paul then...
WALTERRand Paul then took -- what was it -- a chainsaw, an axe, other devices, to destroy the tax code. It looks like that Sprint commercial where people take a chainsaw to their bill. We've also been getting a number of memos in recent days from the candidates on the bubble from their pollsters saying how we should be really looking at the polls, right? "Well, it says that we're here, but if you really look into the internals, it kind of says that we're in much better position and maybe this is the basis by which you should do this."
WALTEROne thing I would note, thought, about this debate -- I mean, we're going to talk about it incessantly until it happens and then, after it happens, we'll talk about it incessantly as well -- but, remember, we have two hours, which also will include commercial breaks, introductions, 10 candidates, there are video questions coming in. At most -- at most, each of these candidates gets like eight minutes, right? And so how they choose to use that time is going to be fascinating. And none of us know how that's going to work. We assume the attention's going to be on Trump. But everybody there has a different agenda. I don't think we know anything about how this is going to turn out.
KING JR.This shows you how much the campaigns prepare. I had a Republican who's working on debate prep tell me this week that on an eight-candidate stage back in the day, Mitt Romney averaged about nine minutes of airtime during his exchanges. So if you've got 10, you assume your boss has no better than maybe seven minutes of airtime, if they're one of the top contenders who's been getting a lot of the questions or is the focus of the attacks. So how do you make the most of those seven minutes, with nine other guys on stage, looking at each other face-to-face?
O'KEEFEI mean, the idea -- and, remember, the tradition is that the guy who's leading is in the middle of the stage -- so you conceivably have Donald Trump standing next to Jeb Bush on one side and Scott Walker on the other. How especially do Trump and Bush, who've been going at it for a little bit now, confront each other at all during this exchange? And who, on the fringes -- someone like Chris Christie or, you know, Rick Perry, if he makes it -- how do they try to grab some attention away from them?
KING JR.And the odd thing is it's very likely that those guys won't be there. You're talking about the longest-serving governor of Texas...
KING JR....who might not be on the stage, the current governor and one-time luminary of the Republican Party, Chris Christie not being on the stage, John Kasich, who just stepped into the race this week, very well respected governor of Ohio, almost certain not to be on the debate stage in his own state. It's going to be a very odd -- I mean, if we were to -- we don't do that, but do a round, you know, go around among the three of us, which of those guys on the stage are likely to be president or even the nominee, it's pretty clear that not many of them in that top 10 will. And -- but what's odd is the people that just won't make it there because they just don't have the wings at the moment, the lift.
PAGEWell, is this the right thing to do. I mean it's -- you can understand the problem that Fox had because, do you put 16 people on stage? And what kind of debate do you have then? But you're right. Here's John Kasich, who announced this week -- two-term governor of Ohio, what, nine terms in the House, former chairman of the House Budget Committee, clearly, a serious candidate -- probably not on stage.
WALTERHe probably will not make it on stage. And I don't know -- I mean, part of the problem for John Kasich -- let's get beyond the debate for a minute, I think this speaks to the problem for him -- is breaking in, first of all, this late in the game. Second, with such low name-ID. And, third, the field's already crowded with a lot of people that kind of have the John Kasich profile: governor, successful at winning a second term, swing state. A lot of people fill that gap. Plus, he's also in the, sort of, establishment category that a lot of Republicans don't particularly like. His decision to expand Medicaid in the state, not very popular. His support for Common Core, not going to be very popular.
WALTERAnd he has a personality that is also going to be problematic for him. I think prickly is a nice way of putting it.
PAGEWell, we also had kind of a stream-of-consciousness announcement...
PAGE...with him. It lasted 43 minutes, kind of went here and there, talked about his family, some guys he had met the day before. And it sort of reinforced questions about his discipline in approaching a campaign like this. Well, let's talk about the highway bill, something that will actually -- has the potential to affect Americans now. Ed, it's advancing in the -- in Congress. It expires on July 31. What -- will it be -- will there be something enacted into the law to continue it by the time it expires?
O'KEEFEI love that congressional reporters always get asked to look into the bottle and determine, as a genie, whether or not something will happen. Look, eight days left. They're trying to get something done. The more ambitious comes out of the Senate. It would be a three-year plan. The problem, of course, is that it has to go through the Senate first. This morning, already, Senator Ted Cruz, who has several amendments that he'd like to propose, is accusing Mitch McConnell of reneging on an agreement to get some votes on amendments. You've got plans to either allow for the continuation of or the repeal of the Export-Import Bank.
O'KEEFEYou've got things to possibly defund Planned Parenthood or to go after other aspects of Washington that Republicans don't like -- the Affordable Care Act, for example. Bottom line, the Senate hopes to get something by mid-week next, and then very quickly leave, stuffing the House with this ambitious plan and forcing them to pass it or to allow highway funding to expire. The highway bill in the House was a much more short-term spending deal, would be, what, the fifth passed in the last year. This is the ultimate example of kicking the can literally down the road. It just doesn't get done. It's too ambitious. It requires too many complicated things that current lawmakers haven't been able to agree on.
O'KEEFEAnd McConnell here -- working with Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a Democrat -- put together a pretty impressive and ultimately bipartisan deal. The question is, will they be able to do it in the next week or so?
PAGENeil, what lesson do you draw from this?
KING JR.The amazing inability to do things that would seem to be fairly routine and then that everybody would agree are really important, like keeping the highway system going. I mean, you know, I know that the Ex-Im Bank is obviously controversial for reasons that are easy to explain. But it also has run aground. It's now not authorized. It'll probably be reauthorized sometime in the fall, if it doesn't get it on this one. The Small Business Administration, it's main loan program last night ran out of anymore funding ability. It's not clear when that's going to be re-upped. It's a whole litany of these things that are just stacking up that used to be routine business.
KING JR.And it's -- a lot of it points to just divisions within the Republican caucus, both in the Senate and the House, because they do, of course, control both bodies and they have a lot of difficulties moving these things forward. And there's a lot of divisions on the highway bill between how the Senate would like to proceed and how the House would like to proceed. Some of it goes to the fact that a lot of funding is going to have to come from things beyond the gas tax, because we haven't raised the gas tax for two decades. So it's going to be difficult. And this was seen as the ultimate must-pass bill of the summer.
PAGEYou know, you wonder why -- it's not that Donald Trump would come out with a specific, elaborate policy position paper on the highway bill -- but the failure to be able to enact legislation everybody agrees you need is, I think, one of the sources of his appeal to a lot of Americans. I'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're going to go to the phones now. You can call us at 1-800-433-8850. We're going to go first to Syracuse, N.Y., and talk to Eli. Hi, you're on the air.
ELIHi, there. I've got a comment and then a question, if I may. Comment is that it's interesting to me that the entire world is for this bill on Iran, the treaty, except for three forces: There's the Republican Party, in our country, there's the leadership in Israel, and the third, who are vehemently against this is the Iraqi guard of the Ahmadinejad group that foments terrorism throughout the world. They are really steadfast against this bill. And the moderates in Iran, who are holding onto power by their fingernails, are really hoping that this bill will be passed, because these people want to open up Iran to the world of nations. They don't want to continue with the revolutionary warring that is being set upon us by the Revolutionary Guard.
ELII think that's a fascinating concept. But here's my question. The question is, if the bill is voted down, doesn't that mean that there would simply become an end to the sanctions? In other words, the entire world has said, "We want this bill." They made the deal with Iran. Iran's major trading nations are Japan, South Korea and India. They have agreed to this bill. They said it's a great deal. If we put the kibosh to it, aren't they simply going to say, "Hey, we did our best. We made a deal with Iran. We were satisfied with it. If the United States doesn't want it, we're going to go back to trading with these people." The American sanctions are minimal.
PAGEOkay. Eli, thanks very much for your call.
O'KEEFEIts' a good point. And my understanding is, yeah. They could conceivably do that. Especially if the United Nations is seen as liking this deal and approving it. You're right. The, you know, Republican Congress might decide not to. But the rest of the world certainly sees this as progress.
PAGEWe've been following this --- the arrest of Sandra Bland in Texas and her life then ended in a Texas jail. Disputed -- the medical examiner, Amy, now says that the signs are that it was a suicide. Tell us what else we know this week that we didn't know a week ago.
WALTERWell, what we know was, you know, the family saying today -- well, I guess it was earlier, the other day -- this is all, this week is just mushing together here -- but questions about how she died in the jail cell, with the coroner coming out and saying that actually was a suicide. What we're also learning, though, is the person who took her into the jail, you know, you have an intake form, and on that form, that they made clear that there were attempts at suicide before, that she'd taken. That she had had a miscarriage and was depressed about this, so that there were actually signs of distress that they should have taken into consideration that they did not do -- the people in the jail there did not do their required checking in every hour.
WALTERSo there are two issues, then. Whether -- was this foul play or suicide? It seems to come down to suicide. Then the next question is, was there neglect -- negligence on the part of the folks in that Texas jail to take her concerns seriously and her condition seriously?
PAGEAnd we saw, for the first time, the dash cam video, which is really shocking when you think that she was pulled over...
WALTERFor not signaling.
PAGE...for not signaling when she changes lanes. How many times have we all done that?
O'KEEFEWhat day that ends in "Y" probably, for me at least. Not that you should do that, listeners. But still. You know, I think, you know, ultimately, given the coroner's report, the suggestion that it looks like suicide, that there was no sign of struggle that would suggest that she was killed, it probably means attention will shift to how the police comported themselves in this situation. And that is the fascinating thing about dash cams and all this other information. The accountability now that local police forces will continue to face in all sorts of cases just like this one.
PAGEIt's a different world. We're going to take another short break. When we come back, we'll go back to the phones and take your calls and questions. 1-800-433-8850. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm, and with me, in the studio, for our Friday News Roundup, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, Neil King of the Wall Street Journal and Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post. And here's -- you can watch us, not just listen to us, but watch us, if you're joining us, you can watch the live video stream of our show at drshow.org. You know, I love The Diane Rehm Show, and one reason is here's an email we've gotten from Hank.
PAGEHe writes, it should be clarified that in the Iran nuclear deal, the 24 day provision applies only to undisclosed sites. For disclosed sites, it is 24/7. I suspect that Hank, who's writing us from Rehobeth Beach was actually one of the negotiators on the Iran nuclear deal, now taking a few days at the beach. Hank, thanks very much for that clarification. On a more serious point, we should talk about this furor over a video, a Planned Parenthood video that has gotten a lot of attention, has prompted calls, renewed calls by Republicans to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Neil King, tell us what the controversy is.
KING JR.So, this week, a group, The Center for Medical Progress, which is a group that a lot of us may not have heard of, but have been very active in opposing abortion and attempting to close or restrict abortion clinics around the country released two videos, back to back, with some delay, which really magnified their importance. Both of them of very high level Planned Parenthood officials dining, essentially, with what they thought to be fetal tissue purchasers. And they were, what made them all the more kind of ghastly and arresting was the fact that they were over lunch.
KING JR.They were these sort of surreptitious videos that you see the wine glasses and the forks and you hear all the ambient noise of people dining, and then having this extraordinary, kind of grizzly conversation about the mechanics of removing unborn children and how to do it in ways that makes it easier for use further down the road. And, you know, there's been a lot of dispute about well, was it all in proper context because the videos that they released were fairly heavily edited.
KING JR.And they, in the end, did put out the full ones, and you see that, yes, the officials from Planned Parenthood did make clear that they don't actually pay for these. The money that they pay actually is to sort of cover a certain cost. But there is no trafficking in this tissue. But all the same, the things that they were saying, and the context in which they were saying them were one of the two of them would say some extraordinary thing while sipping a glass of wine. Or, at one point, one of them said, we're not in this for the money.
KING JR.But, it was basically, we're not in this for the money, but what kind of money are you talking about? And then she said, basically, at the end, was sort of jokingly saying, well, name your price. I would really like to have a Lamborghini. So, the -- no matter how one explains it, and there's been very muscular attempts this week to explain this and of course, a very strong left/right debate over the whole thing. It has done Planned Parenthood no good and was pretty tough stuff.
PAGEAmy, why is fetal tissue used? Why does this take place?
WALTERRight. Well, so, when you hear the back and forth about this, a lot of what they're talking about is preserving this tissue to be able to use in research and, for the most part, and the discussion about how you use this really focuses on being able to solve big medical problems down the road, right? This is -- it's much better to use fetal tissue, in terms of its ability to -- I'm losing my train of thought.
KING JR.Adaptive response.
WALTERThank you. Adaptive response there. To, for these issues. So, that's why you would use it. You would use this to make sure that you have an ability to find cures for other illnesses. I'm just going to just go up onto the point here made by Neil, which I think is really important. You know, for a lot of the times we spend a lot of the time talking about the issue, the abortion issue, on these sort of, this very high plain, right? We talk about it very intellectually. I think what these videos did was bring it down to a much more visceral level and a very uncomfortable level.
WALTERAnd I think that's really the issue here. The Republicans are trying to make the issue about legal things. Right? That Planned Parenthood, against the law, was selling human specimens. There's no evidence that they were doing that. They were using money that they were getting to defray the cost of shipping that. What I do think the bigger problem for Planned Parenthood, as Neil pointed out, is the -- is that we're getting, as I said, we're getting away from the intellectualization of this and really getting into the reality of it.
WALTERAnd that's where it becomes very difficult to listen to, to sort of stomach, and to talk about. These are human tissue.
PAGESo, and Republicans on Capitol Hill have long wanted to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Is that, but they've been able to do so. Is that likely to change because of this?
O'KEEFEWell, it certainly revived the debate about it. Not only are Congressional committees looking into it, but now at least eight states are investigating it. It just so happens that a few of them have governors that are running for President and the Republican nomination. And you've had virtually every, I think, just about all of the 16 candidates say yes, this should be investigated. I mean, they get hundreds of millions of dollars every year for, in government funding. As I understand it, just reading up on it again, some of it comes from Title 10, Family Planning Funds, or other federal grants.
O'KEEFEBut most of it's reimbursement for Medicaid benefits. So that is what Congress is going to try to reconsider, is should it be eligible for that kind of a thing? I think Amy's point is a good one. You drive around Washington, you see those large billboards of abortion opponents with images of fetuses. And it tries to shock and awe. I think what this video helped abortion opponents do is take that to a much wider scale and try to shock and awe the rest of the country and remind them that this can be a very disturbing thing. And to hear people talk so crassly about it was, to them, disturbing.
PAGEThe White House defended Planned Parenthood. Hillary Clinton defended Planned Parenthood. And Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, called for a federal investigation into the group that made the sting video.
KING JR.I mean, I guess they're looking at did they have the right? I mean, and I don't recall where these happened, but various places have certain consent laws, so that could be a legitimate thing. It's very hard to handicap, I think, where this is likely to go in terms of, you know, it seems that Mitch McConnell has been both, one, certainly has been wanting to defund Planned Parenthood for some time. Whether this will be yet another thing that something or other goes onto this highway bill that seems to want to carry everything and then what the fate of that will be is hard to predict.
WALTERRight. Rand Paul is already trying to offer an amendment to do just that and to the highway bill.
O'KEEFEAnd McConnell already, this year, has guaranteed that there will be a vote on what they call the pain capable abortion ban, which House Republicans have pushed for for several years. Remember, it was a controversy last year when House Republican women stepped in and we don't want to do this. Well, they did pass it again earlier this year in the House. McConnell has said it will get a vote in the Republican controlled Senate. That might be the extent to which abortion politics advances on the floors of these chambers, but certainly, it will get talked about on the Hill.
PAGELet's go to Martinsville, Indiana and talk to Shana, who's just given us a call. Hi Shana.
PAGEThanks for joining us. You're on the air.
SHANAHi, I'm a nurse, and I just wanted to make the comment that as, you know, as medical professionals, we talk about gruesome things that may seem, you know, odd to people, but when you're in that environment and you work with that every day, you talk about those things with your colleagues that you're dealing with every day. It's not that you're, you know, it's commonplace for us to talk about those things with each other. Because we're in the environment every day.
PAGEWell, that's a good point, Shana. Thanks so much for your call.
WALTERYeah, I think that's a very fair point, and that's the issue that a lot of Democrats are taking issue with. Which is that this was an edited video and it made the Planned Parenthood executives look even more uncaring and unfeeling. That was the goal of the video. That if you watched it in its entirety, it's pretty clear that they are not quite as callow as it would seem in the edited version. But again, we still are coming back to the issue which is that this is human tissue that is being extracted from a living being. And I think that's where the debate gets much more precarious.
PAGEYou know, Ed, you made the point when we were talking about Sandra Bland that a lot of these things have changed because of the ubiquity of video, you know? Everybody's got a cell phone. Even Lindsay Graham is getting a new one. And everybody...
WALTERHe has a flip phone now. I don't think it takes pictures.
KING JR.His new one might.
PAGEPretty easy to take video now of a traffic stop of something that's happening on a street corner of lunch with somebody when you're making a sting video. And it makes it, it changes the debate, because there's no dispute about who said what or how they said it.
O'KEEFEI mean, the mere fact that this radio show is being filmed, I think, is a great example of that too. Yeah, absolutely.
PAGEYeah, yeah, it's a different world. Let's go to Lansing, Michigan and talk to Diego. Diego, hi, you're on The Diane Rehm Show.
DIEGOGood morning, Susan.
DIEGOThanks for taking my call. I'm, so, my thing is about Hillary Clinton. I think that the media has a sort of a fascination with the Clintons. Where they seem like because the Clintons tend to lawyer themselves up and aren't, don't disclose things readily, that just, it's like catnip for journalists. And I'm wondering if that's the play here, or if it's -- they're just following the lead that's been generated by the right. I feel that there isn't the kind of attention to, for example, Jeb Bush receiving donations on behalf of his brother, from companies that wanted to be able to invest in Florida's pension fund.
DIEGOBarely heard anything about that, and yet, it's emails, which honestly, I don't care about.
DIEGOIt just takes up a lot of time.
PAGEDiego, thanks so much for your call. What do you think, Neil?
KING JR.I think there's a natural tendency to ride on the narratives that have already been established. And the ones that the public more or less already knows the background to. It's much more difficult, and we will see much more of this, I think and hope, as we go further into this year and then into next year. Where people are attempting to unearth and bring to light things that we need to know about these candidates, sort of fresh. But that's a difficult thing to do. It's like, hey, public, here's this thing you might not have heard about before. We're now going to tell it about you, and then it becomes something that people follow.
KING JR.Where it doesn't in the way that it did a number of things. For instance, with Mitt Romney, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, she has these ongoing narratives, that for better or worse, and I think we need to kind of continue to update the newest twist and turn and the emails happens to be one of those. As does the relationship between the President and Hillary Clinton. I mean, it goes back so long and it's going to be one of her challenges. Cause she's trying to make herself fresh, but is not necessarily fresh to the scene. And that's always difficult.
WALTERAlthough, when you look at the people covering the Hillary Clinton campaign right now, just on the trail, I don't think most of them were born when Hillary Clinton was actually first in the White House, so that's number one.
WALTERBut, I'm sure you were, Ed. But the other issue with the Hillary Clinton and the trustworthy. I just want to bring this up for a second, because there's been a lot of focus on voters saying they don't trust her, she's not trustworthy. Republicans making the case over and over again that these emails, another example how we can't really trust her. We can't trust the Clintons. It's definitely an issue for her. It's definitely going to be an issue in this campaign.
WALTERHowever, this is happening right now in a vacuum. So, if you say, do you trust Hillary Clinton? No, I really don't. Okay, but the question in November of 2016 will be compared to whom. Right? And so, by the time we get to November of 2016, the Republican nominee will undergo what the caller just pointed out of the incredible focus on their business interests.
O'KEEFEI'll tell you, Diego, I cover Jeb Bush day in and day out. The Washington Post has done extending reporting on his business and gubernatorial record. You should go check it out, and if you aren't, then you're missing it. It's all there. I mean, and others are doing it too and we will continue to do so, especially if he's the nominee.
PAGEDiego, thanks for your call. I'm Susan Page and you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Here we've got a tweet from Chris James, who writes us, with all the turmoil surrounding Hillary, can you people in the press start talking seriously about Bernie Sanders now? So, does this, will this controversy, Neil, do you think, prompt us to more seriously consider Bernie Sanders as a potential nominee?
KING JR.Well, I mean, Bernie Sanders had his moment, I'm not saying he's not going to have another one, but a couple of weeks ago, in that long ago pre-Trumpian era, where we were spending time looking at Bernie Sanders.
PAGEP.T. we should call it.
KING JR.P.T. Yeah. And Amy's already predicted another P.T. Post Trump era. I think he will get more attention, yeah. I do think there's a longing out there on the left for a person that has, not just this sort of a sense of authenticity or whatever Bernie Sanders brings, but the things that he talks about with the kind of passion that he talks about it. Which is something that's -- I think they're finding lacking with Hillary Clinton. It's interesting. She's going out now, talking about these really, somewhat obscure ways that she wants to change capital gains tax rules.
KING JR.Or ways that corporations invest their money and how they deal with stockholders and things. Which are interesting, and certainly substance, you know, substantial.
PAGEAnd great for The Wall Street Journal.
KING JR.Exactly. Do more of it. But are they the kinds of things that are going to move crowds and draw large, you know, audiences. I don't know.
PAGEWe had a report this week on social security and Medicare in their financial help. Ed, good news, or bad news?
O'KEEFEI'll admit that Susan, this is the one I didn't read up on.
WALTERVery rare instance here for Ed. A little bit of both. So, the good news is the Social Security/Medicare aren't going to go broke as quickly as we thought they were. The bad news is the one that is in the most danger is Social Security Disability Insurance. And the really bad news is that not only could it go broke by next year, but that it is impossible to just transfer funds from one part of Social Security to the next.
PAGENow, it wouldn't actually go broke.
O'KEEFEI could have guessed that's what it was.
PAGEBut it would...
WALTERBut it would run out of money. Sorry. It would run out of money. So, you could still get benefits.
PAGE…so benefits would be lower.
WALTERBut it would be lower. Yes.
KING JR.Yeah, this is a program that goes to disabled people, even though there have been documented abuses and we wrote about a number of them. It swelled quite substantially after the recession, so that in 2000, there were about three percent of working age population that received Social Security Disability. It's now about four and a half percent. And that is a little, somewhere around nine million people. So, the big debate now is going to be the fight -- Obama wants to shift some of the payroll taxes over to replenish this fund. Republicans are sort of holding out for there to be a bunch of modifications about how this disability fund has worked.
KING JR.Strengthening the eligibility criteria, making it more difficult to actually be eligible for the funds and then diminishing them in their own right. And, of course, now they have a fair bit of leverage to possibly do those changes.
PAGEAs we -- this last minute or two that we have, I want to note a sad anniversary that we saw on Wednesday. It was one year ago this week that a Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian, was imprisoned in Iran. He remains there, guilty, I think, of doing his job. Ed, a new effort this week, by the Washington Post, on his behalf. What has the Post done?
O'KEEFEThat's right. We've essentially petitioned the UN Human Rights Council in New York, which is a way to sort of take this to the world stage and suggest that Iran has violated his human rights in all sorts of ways. I encourage people to go read it for the detail and sort of look at what my other editors have said. But the campaign continues. He's one of four Americans who are believed to be missing or are being held captive in Iran. And, you know, slowly but surely, attention is being put on this, and certainly at the Post are pushing for him and hoping that it will be resolved at some point soon.
PAGEWe hope so too, and our thoughts are with him and his family. I want to thank all three of our guests for being with us this hour on The Diane Rehm Show. Ed O'Keefe, Congressional reporter for The Washington Post. Amy Walter, National Editor with the Cook Political Report. Neil King, Global Economics Editor and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief at the Wall Street Journal. Thank you all for being with us.
KING JR.Thank you very much, Susan.
PAGEI'm Susan Page of the USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's on vacation. Thanks for listening.
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