Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stands at the podium with (L-R) Chief Investigator Andy Arena, Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, Deputy Chief Investigator Ellis Stafford and Geneses County Prosecutor David Leyton as they announce 13 felony charges and 5 misdemeanor charges against two state officials and one city official in the City of Flint's lead water contamination crises April 20 in Flint, Michigan.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stands at the podium with (L-R) Chief Investigator Andy Arena, Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, Deputy Chief Investigator Ellis Stafford and Geneses County Prosecutor David Leyton as they announce 13 felony charges and 5 misdemeanor charges against two state officials and one city official in the City of Flint's lead water contamination crises April 20 in Flint, Michigan.

Presidential front-runners win big in the New York primary. Michigan’s attorney general files criminal charges against officials in Flint. And Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Susan Page Washington bureau chief, USA Today
  • Gardiner Harris White House correspondent, The New York Times
  • Abby Phillip National political reporter, The Washington Post

Live Video


  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton win big in the New York primary. Michigan's attorney general files criminal charges against officials involved in the Flint water crisis. And pop music superstar, Prince, dies at 17. Joining me in the studio for this week's Friday News Roundup, Susan Page of USA today. Gardiner Harris of the New York Times and Abby Phillip of The Washington Post.

  • 10:07:28

    MS. DIANE REHMYou are, as always, welcome to join us, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you all for being here.

  • 10:07:46

    MS. SUSAN PAGEGood morning.

  • 10:07:46

    MS. ABBY PHILLIPThanks for having us.

  • 10:07:46

    MR. GARDINER HARRISGood morning.

  • 10:07:46

    REHMAnd Abby Phillip, it's good to welcome you to the Friday News Roundup.

  • 10:07:52

    PHILLIPIt's very great to be here.

  • 10:07:53

    REHMThank you. And to you, Susan Page, big victories for both Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton, yet both, in the general electorate, have these high negatives.

  • 10:08:09

    PAGEWe've never had a presidential election like this before. Never before have we had a nominee for either party have negative ratings over 50 percent. Both of these candidates do. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. So if they end up as their party's nominee, they seem to be on a path toward that, we'll be in unchartered territory on the kind of campaign we're going to see run this fall.

  • 10:08:31

    REHMCan Donald Trump achieve the number of delegates he needs to to lock it up?

  • 10:08:39

    PAGEThat’s a great question. He seems to be on a path. If he has a good night next Tuesday, when there are votes in five states, five mid-Atlantic states, he'd be further on his way. I think there is no possibility he reaches that 1237 number until the June 7 primaries in California, New Jersey and elsewhere, but there is, I think, a sense at the RNC rules committee meeting now in Hollywood, Florida, that establishment Republicans who have been very distressed by the idea of Donald Trump as their nominee are beginning to adjust to the idea that that is the most likely outcome.

  • 10:09:14

    REHMAnd Gardiner Harris, Trump keeps saying the system is rigged.

  • 10:09:20

    HARRISRight. I think what the Republican party faces are two existential crises here. One is that Donald Trump gets the nomination and the other is that Donald Trump doesn't get the nomination. I mean, either way, the party, as it's been, faces a sort of a disastrous situation because Donald Trump is obviously this incredibly difficult divisive figure for the party.

  • 10:09:48

    HARRISIf he's inside the party, how does that affect the party overall? If he's outside the party, if somehow this delegate selection process, this insider process denies the man who, by then, will obviously have the most votes, obviously have the most delegates, if they do deny him the nomination, then I think that that becomes possibly an existential problem for the party as well. So I don't think that the party has a good choice either way.

  • 10:10:22

    REHMAnd you, Abby, how do you see it?

  • 10:10:25

    PHILLIPI, largely, agree. Part of the problem is that Republicans are facing a kind of doomsday scenario. It's not just about the top of the ticket. It's about everything that comes after it. And what you're seeing is a fear that no matter what happens with Cruz or Trump, the damage has already been done. The brand is already fundamentally broken and that voters are basically looking at the situation and seeing chaos and we don't like it.

  • 10:10:49

    PHILLIPAnd not only that, but Cruz and Trump are both attempting makeovers right now of their personalities and their brands and it might be too little, too late. I mean, you hear Cruz talking about his family all the time, Trump talking about being more of a calm politician. And I think both of those things are attempts in the face of, frankly, desperation.

  • 10:11:09

    REHMOf course, he went back and forth yesterday after saying he would become more presidential, he got back to calling Senator Cruz a liar, Susan.

  • 10:11:20

    PAGESo Tuesday night, Donald Trump gave a pretty traditional victory speech in which he referred to Cruz as Senator Cruz. We hadn't heard that honorific from him for quite a while. That lead to a lot of instant analysis, as this was a new Trump. But Wednesday, at a rally, back to Lyin' Ted and Crooked Hillary and the same kind of rhetoric that has made him both accounts for his appeal with some voters, but also accounts for the discomfort that some voters have with him.

  • 10:11:44

    REHMSo as for Hillary Clinton, Gardiner Harris, how does the New York win shape up for the general election?

  • 10:11:57

    HARRISWell, I think for Hillary's supporters, the most important part of the New York win was not only the size of the win, right, that she came out with a 16-point win in an extremely important states. Obviously, it's her adopted state of New York she needed to win and she needed to win it fairly comfortably. But that was very comfortably. But I think for them, the optimists, the most important part of it was the way she campaigned.

  • 10:12:22

    HARRISShe did this retail campaign where you saw the Hillary that her supporters often talk about privately, but we, as press people, sometimes have trouble seeing, which is a woman who is very comfortable with herself, a woman who went around and eat in front of the press corps.

  • 10:12:41

    REHMOf course.

  • 10:12:41

    HARRISShe had ice cream. She bantered. She was the sort of the best of Hillary that you can sometimes get, but not always. She wasn't the sort of defensive, in a crouch Hillary that does herself no good. So I think, for a lot of people, they sort of saw Hillary in New York as perhaps the candidate that they hope emerges from this process.

  • 10:13:10

    REHMAnd what happens now, as far as Bernie Sanders, Abby?

  • 10:13:15

    PHILLIPWell, New York was the moment that Hillary Clinton and her allies have been waiting for. It was the moment that Bernie Sanders had a pretty tough Daily News editorial board interview that seemed to expose gaps in this knowledge or his ability to explain his agenda. It was also the moment, as Gardiner said, where Hillary Clinton really came into her own. She became the candidate that everybody talks -- all of her allies talk about.

  • 10:13:40

    PHILLIPAnd so, at this point, I think the Clinton campaign feels like they need a repeat of New York. Not because they need it to win, but because they need it to sort of finally put Bernie Sanders in a corner that he will have a very hard escaping from. And at that point, I think, they believe that the pressure is going to be on Bernie to decide how does he want to pursue his legacy going forward.

  • 10:14:02

    REHMDo you see Bernie Sanders getting out, Gardiner?

  • 10:14:07

    HARRISI don't. And, you know, Diane, I just wanted to add exactly what Abby was talking about. You know, we saw a better Hillary and we sorry a worse Bernie in the New York campaign. And what that portends for the future is important because Bernie not only had his stumble with the Daily News, but he then dashed off to the Vatican for this crazy meeting with the Pope that was supposedly not planned, but obviously was and...

  • 10:14:32

    REHMA lot of people did not think that was a crazy meeting with the Pope.

  • 10:14:37

    HARRISWell, okay. I think that there was a fair number of people who sort of questioned the idea behind it and that, you know, that it was politics, which Bernie has sort of suggested he's above. So I think for both -- for the Democratic field, it really helped to solidify the field. I mean, Hillary Clinton -- Bernie Sanders could still be the nominee, but I could still be a professional basketball player. I mean, neither is going to happen.

  • 10:15:07


  • 10:15:08

    PAGEYou know, I would say there was some questioning of the trip to the Vatican because why wasn't he spending that 24-hour period campaigning in New York. But you've got to remember what Bernie Sanders' agenda is here. He is a movement candidate. He is trying to lead an effort that will change the Democratic party, American politics, maybe the world. That is a very good fit with Pope Francis. The message on income inequality, on addressing injustices in the world, and so I was not at all surprised that he chose to accept the invitation to address this group that's affiliated with the Vatican.

  • 10:15:40

    PAGEAnd you've got to -- I think Bernie Sanders is, I think, trying to figure out if he wants to play the short term or the long term. And in the short term, it is now increasingly unlikely that he's able to get the nomination, although I talked last night to Tad Devine, his top strategist who said, they're hopeful they can win in Pennsylvania next Tuesday. That would be a big victory. But he seems to be on a path where he's not gonna get the nomination in the short term.

  • 10:16:01

    PAGESo what does he do? He wants to lead a movement that changes politics back -- maybe he goes back to the Senate. He'd have an enhanced role. Maybe we think Democrats are likely to take over control. Maybe he wants a key committee as part of the price for an easy exit for Hillary Clinton. The Bernie Sanders story isn't over yet.

  • 10:16:19

    HARRISOh, no doubt. And he has earned huge power and props going forward. I mean, nobody predicted that he would have...

  • 10:16:27

    REHMNo question.

  • 10:16:28

    HARRIS...this sort of platform that he has had.

  • 10:16:31

    REHMI agree.

  • 10:16:31

    HARRISAnd I think Susan is right. He is not going to surrender this platform easily or quickly.

  • 10:16:36

    REHMSome -- a caller in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is asking about alleged voter problems in New York, specifically in Brooklyn. What have you heard, Susan?

  • 10:16:49

    PAGEThere were some serious voting problems in New York. There were thousands of voters who were expunged from the roles inexplicably. And this is an issue New York is going to have to face and a serious one. You know, people have the right to vote. Whenever we hear these voting cases, they're serious. On the other hand, I don’t think it changed the outcome of the contest and that's something important to remember.

  • 10:17:09

    PHILLIPRight. I mean, the margin that Hillary Clinton won by far exceeded the number of people who might have been affected by these discrepancies. That's not to say that they shouldn't be resolved, but I don't think it necessarily changes the outcome one way or another in New York.

  • 10:17:24

    HARRISBut we have a chance coming up of some serious voter irregularities across the country in the wake of all of these state passed measures that, frankly, limit the rights of voters to register just prior to voting, to -- what happened in Arizona when they cut back on all the voting places in Phoenix and there were hours and hours of long -- this is serious stuff.

  • 10:17:48

    REHMGardiner Harris, White House correspondent for the New York Times, Abby Phillip, national political reporter for The Washington Post, and Susan Page, frequently guest hosts on this program, Washington bureau chief for USA Today. Stay with us.

  • 10:20:02

    REHMAnd welcome back to the national hour of our Friday News Roundup, this week, with Gardiner Harris of The New York Times, Abby Phillip of The Washington Post, Susan Page for USA Today. Susan, you had a conversation with Haley Barbour. Tell us about that.

  • 10:20:24

    PAGESo Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi, former Republican chairman, former White House political director -- if you look up Republican establishment in the dictionary, there's a little picture of Haley Barbour there. And we talked about what he thinks is likely to happen. He thinks the most likely outcome is that Donald Trump is the nominee. But he says it's not done yet. And that if he doesn't quite manage to get there on the first ballot at the convention in Cleveland, that he won't make it on the second ballot. That traditionally, if a front-runner doesn't quite make it, then you turn to the number two candidate -- that would be Ted Cruz -- or even to someone else. So he talked about that as a real possibility.

  • 10:20:57

    PAGEBut I'll tell you one other interesting thing he said. Parties count on a bounce from their convention. You know, they get four days of making their case relatively in an unfiltered way. But he said this convention was so contentious, he predicts that whoever is nominated, Republicans will see a dip in their support after the convention. That will make it just a little bit harder for them as they head into the general election.

  • 10:21:17

    HARRISAnd candidates across the country are beginning to come up with strategies to run away from the party and its nominee. And we just had a story in today's paper about the Republican Party having real trouble coming up with donations from the big-money donations. I mean, these rich guys do not want to give to a party that Donald Trump heads. First of all, Donald Trump keeps saying that he doesn't need them, he doesn't need their money, he doesn't want them. Well, the party is going to have to raise $400 million in the next few months to mount a national campaign to support both senators and congressmen across the country. And with him...

  • 10:21:54

    REHMHaven't the Koch brothers just announced that they are not going to put any money into the Republican campaign?

  • 10:22:05

    PHILLIPIt's damage control. And I also hear a lot from Democratic donors. But not only are Republican donors moving away from the Republicans, but they're moving toward the Democrats -- some of them more moderate, more business minded, are looking at donating to Hillary Clinton. I hear it from her donors and bundlers all the time. It's already starting to happen. And, you know, I think Republicans are going to have to think very strategically about what can they hold. And they're going to start focusing their attention on holding the House, if they feel like the Senate is out of reach, and certainly, if they feel like the White House is out of reach.

  • 10:22:38

    PAGEThink about the changed landscape there, if Republicans are concerned about holding the House. You know, just six months ago I think that would have been seen like kind of a pipe dream for Democrats.

  • 10:22:47

    REHMAll right. We've got a caller in Charlotte, N.C., who'd like to add to this conversation. Frank, you're on the air.

  • 10:22:57

    FRANKOh, hi. You know, like people are talking about how -- well, you people are talking about how Hillary Clinton won big in New York City. But the thing about it is that the independents do not support her. Okay? So a large -- if they had an open election, she would have lost big. You know, and I think that that's her big problem. People do not support her the way that people believe that -- the way that you people are talking about.

  • 10:23:21


  • 10:23:21

    PAGEYou know, Frank, you're exactly right. Independents cannot vote in the Republican or Democratic primaries in New York. That's one reason Trump's own children weren't able to vote for him. And, you know, the deadline was last October to change your party registration. So there were a lot of independents who I think would have wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders. He's done very well with independents. Hillary Clinton has done much better among registered Democrats. But I still wonder if that would have changed the outcome of this contest. Because her lead was pretty substantial. This is a state that likes Hillary Clinton a lot, elected her twice to the U.S. Senate.

  • 10:23:52

    PAGEBut you're right that independents are a source of strength, as are young people. You know, that continues to -- if you want to look at the number one problem Hillary Clinton has, I think it is among -- her -- the difficulty she's had in attracting voters under 30. That's been a great weakness and something they need to address in the general election.

  • 10:24:08

    REHMYou know, but here's another posting on Twitter saying the same thing. The number of independents would have given Bernie Sanders the win in New York.

  • 10:24:21

    HARRISBut these are the rules, right? And Pennsylvania has the same rules, by the way. So Hillary Clinton is probably going to roll up similar wins in these next five states, as Susan was talking -- Pennsylvania, she's going to win going away, in Maryland and Connecticut. And so she -- this is a nice argument for people to sort of make in la la land, who are supporting Bernie. But we're not living in la la land.

  • 10:24:44


  • 10:24:45

    PHILLIPAnd I do think, in the general election though, Democrats and Hillary Clinton, in particular, need to think very seriously about how to deal with the independent issue. Because what we're seeing in states all across the country is that there are dramatically more independents. People are moving away from the parties in terms of party registration and toward the independent ballot. That's reflective of a dissatisfaction with the party in general.

  • 10:25:07

    PHILLIPBut it -- we also need to recognize that Hillary Clinton really doesn't do that well with independents. And that means that this segment of voters are going to be a continual source of problems for her. They tend to be more moderate. They tend to be more sick of political parties. And that needs to be addressed on its face.

  • 10:25:23

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:25:23

    HARRISAnd, Diane, that's the reason for the high negatives for all the candidates, right? We have an increasingly polarized electorate who doesn't like anybody. So you're -- whoever is going to be polled, I'm sorry, Diane, your negatives are probably higher now than they were 10 years ago, right? I mean, everybody's negatives are high at this point.

  • 10:25:41

    PAGEI would just like to disagree with that.

  • 10:25:45

    REHMThank you, Susan. And one more caller on this issue, Jason, in Goldsboro, N.C. You're on the air.

  • 10:25:56

    JASONHi, Diane. I'm a huge fan. Thank you so much for taking my call.

  • 10:25:59

    REHMSo my negatives have not gone up with you?

  • 10:26:03

    JASONNo. Not a bit, actually.

  • 10:26:07

    REHMGood. Good.

  • 10:26:07

    JASONAnd not to mention, I am one of those under 30 voters that just can't stand the idea of either of the two candidates that are probably going to come away with these nominations, being just the lesser of two evils. And on that note, I am wondering about the odds of potentially either Bernie Sanders or another independent actually having a successful campaign. And I will take my answer off the air. Thank you.

  • 10:26:34

    REHMAll right. Abby.

  • 10:26:35

    PHILLIPWell, I would wager to say that the odds of Bernie Sanders launching an independent campaign are fairly slim. I think Bernie Sanders recognizes that's not the strategy for winning. I think that Democrats would work very hard to prevent that from happening. On the other hand, on the Republican side, anything can happen. We're in a scenario in which Republicans are looking at whatever they can possibly do to make this election cycle less disastrous. And I think an independent bid is not off the table.

  • 10:27:10

    PAGEYou know, I think it's possible with the Republicans you could have an -- a third candidate representing mainstream Republicans who are unhappy with Trump. You could have Trump running as an independent candidate if he doesn't get the nomination.

  • 10:27:19

    HARRISRight. He's taking it away his vow not to do that.

  • 10:27:22

    PAGEYou know, it's very difficult for -- to create a third party and get on all the ballots at this point. May 9 is the first deadline that comes up in Texas. It requires a lot of signatures. That's hard. But there are other ways that Donald Trump or somebody else could wage a third-party kind of campaign, seek the nomination of some existing third party that's already on ballots. You can run as a write-in in more states. Or you can also try to cobble together the endorsements of state -- parties that are in some states and not others and put together a campaign that gets you with the, at least, logistical possibility of getting to the required (word?) electoral votes.

  • 10:27:58

    REHMAll right. Let's make clear that in the general election, whether you're an independent, a Democrat or a Republican, you do get to vote.

  • 10:28:11

    PAGEThat's right.

  • 10:28:12


  • 10:28:12


  • 10:28:12

    REHMAnd it's only in the primaries. And the question becomes whether this cycle is going to change states' attitudes about who can vote when. Let's move on. The Michigan Attorney General announced charges against three officials and it's all in connection with this Flint, Mich., water crisis.

  • 10:28:43

    HARRISDiane, I think what we forget here is that there has been research over the last several decades that have shown just how bad lead can be for children's brains. You know, there used to be a fairly high acceptable level. When we were growing up, there was leaded gasoline. We all had fairly high levels of lead in our blood. Those levels have been declining gradually. And there are many people in public health who believe that one reason for the decline in murder rates and in violence generally is that it mirrors exactly the decline in children's blood levels by like 16 to 17 years.

  • 10:29:20

    HARRISSo the exposure -- exposing children to lead early on in their life can have profound significance to their intelligence, to whether they commit violence, to anti-social activity, to even their balance. So this is an absolutely serious situation. And this city is going to be confronting the outcome of this problem for decades.

  • 10:29:45

    REHMYou have to wonder. You've got Steven Bush, Mike Prisby and Mike Glasgow, the three officials, and there are a lot of people who are wondering about the pressure on the governor.

  • 10:30:02

    PAGEYou know this -- let's not forget, this was a stunning announcement this week. You know, how often have things gone awry with the government and no one is ever held responsible, no one is ever held accountable? And I think a lot of people in Flint, Mich., assumed there would never be action against the people responsible for failing to protect their health. This is highly unusual to see officials indicted -- two state officials and one city official -- for not doing their jobs and for covering up evidence of lead contamination. So that's pretty stunning. And the Attorney General of Michigan who announced these indictments guaranteed that there are more indictments to come.

  • 10:30:36

    PAGEAnd that has centered some attention on the Governor, Rick Snyder, and whether he is the one ultimately responsible. He says he hasn't been interviewed by the investigators. He says he doesn't think he did anything wrong. But this is something that we're going to see more indictments to come, according to the attorney general.

  • 10:30:52

    REHMSo, in the meantime, what's the state of things with the water in Michigan, Abby?

  • 10:30:59

    PHILLIPWell, it seems that despite everything that the state and the city has tried to do to assure people that, at this point, the situation has been largely rectified. They have filters. People don't want to bathe in this water, they don't want to drink the water. And who can really blame them? But I think a lot of people are using filters. They're bathing their children with bottled water still. And I think that this is going to continue on for quite some time because the risks of lead poisoning -- bathing in it, it's seeping into your pores, putting it in your baby food -- are so great. People recognize that and I think they don't want to take any chances.

  • 10:31:36

    REHMAnd, in the meantime, the Governor, Rick Snyder has said he's going to drink tap water for the next 30 days just to prove how safe it is. How old is the governor? We're talking about the effects on children and on adults, but it's probably a little late.

  • 10:31:56

    HARRISThe salutary effect -- outcome of this, Diane, of course, is that there has now been efforts across the country and in city after city after city to ensure that water is safe. Newark Public Schools have admitted that they have lead problems in their drinking water. Washington, D.C., recently has been having its own set of problems. So, you know, I -- as you know, I was the India correspondent for a long time. And there is not a place in India where you can drink the water. And it is very difficult to live in situations where the water is unpalatable, undrinkable. This is the basic requirement of the government. And it's good that city governments and state governments around the country are getting back to that basic requirement.

  • 10:32:44

    REHMAll right. Let's take a caller in Flint, Mich., who wants to speak on this issue. Lawrence, you're on the air.

  • 10:32:55

    LAWRENCEHello. Can you hear me well enough?

  • 10:32:56


  • 10:32:57

    LAWRENCEGood. Two things, basically. Bill Schuette, the attorney general, has been eyeing the governor's seat for quite a while and has really done nothing over the last year, until recently, about this crisis. It's been in the news, I mean, obviously. So this is simply his way to look like he's the knight on the white horse riding in to save everyone, when in fact he sat on his hands for 12 months and did absolutely nothing.

  • 10:33:23

    LAWRENCEAnd given Michigan's just reprehensible record of toxic dumpsite cleanup, I don't think -- and I get a feeling that the people of Flint don't think either -- that, one, Snyder will suffer any punishment for his acts, or that the matter will be cleaned up. If you look at the Berlin Farro toxic dumpsite, it's still killing people. It's been there 40 years and everyone's walking around saying that it's clean. This is how things are done in Michigan. It's not going to get done. And I -- no one holds out much hope for any real solution...

  • 10:33:54


  • 10:33:54

    LAWRENCE...unless they're, you know, overly optimistic, in my opinion.

  • 10:33:58

    REHMI'm sorry to hear that. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." What about our caller's comments that the attorney general has, for the most part, sort of sat back and waited. And now, according to one of our tweeters, is making -- indicting low-level scapegoats, but not of the high-level decision makers? Abby.

  • 10:34:30

    PHILLIPI think he's absolutely right about the attorney general's ambitions -- political ambitions and how -- that there is some caution that needs to be used when you're looking at what he's actually doing. Because he's a Republican. You want to -- I think you want to pay attention to what Rick Snyder is doing. You don't want to alienate the governor in his own party. And so I think that, you know, we also shouldn't just limit this to the state and the city. There was also federal oversight. And there are questions that need to be raised about how far up the chain it goes.

  • 10:35:08

    PHILLIPAnd I don't know -- I don't see how it gets done, because these are all political positions. I think it would take some sort of independent voice. Those are very hard to come by at the state and local levels. And I think, you know, the caller is probably right to be skeptical.

  • 10:35:22

    HARRISWell, I'm deeply skeptical that these prosecutions are going to be successful. I think it's extremely difficult...

  • 10:35:26

    REHMReally? Really?

  • 10:35:28

    HARRISOh. Yeah. Criminal charges against government officials for failing in their duties, it's an extremely high bar. It's very difficult to reach. One of these fellows actually had emails showing that they were concerned about this water and were warning early on. They didn't do enough, clearly. But holding them criminally accountable will be very difficult.

  • 10:35:50

    PAGEWell, I would say it's clear that Lawrence -- that there's been a crisis of faith in the government doing what it's supposed to do...

  • 10:35:55


  • 10:35:56

    PAGE...in Flint. And we heard that in Lawrence's comments. But let's just let this unfold. You know, these three guys have been indicted. The attorney general, whether or not he has ambitions -- and we think he does want to run for governor -- let's see if he performs his duty. And one of the -- the city official who was indicted -- in the emails -- you know, all these emails have been released that give us an idea about what's going -- he complained in emails that people above him were pushing him to move too quickly. You know, maybe they hope to turn him, in an effort to get higher level officials on.

  • 10:36:25

    PAGESo they haven't done it yet. But I guess I would be -- I would suspend judgment until we see if they deliver on what they're promising.

  • 10:36:32

    REHMDo you see the attorney general going for the governor?

  • 10:36:41

    HARRISI have no idea. I mean, I -- I mean, I don't think that Rick Snyder has a huge -- I think he's lost a ton of his political capital. So I'm not sure that he will not go after Rick Snyder simply because of a political situation. I mean, I'm with Susan. I think you have to sort of take these people at their word. They're doing a genuine job. But the reason why indictments of government officials for failing to do their duty is so rare is because it's extremely hard to hold them accountable in a criminal way.

  • 10:37:16

    REHMGardiner Harris of The New York Times, Susan Page of USA Today, Abby Phillip of The Washington Post. Short break here. More of your calls, your email, when we come back. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:02

    REHMAnd welcome back. We've been talking so much about politics in Flint, Mich. There is, actually, other news this week. The Supreme Court heard arguments this weekend, a challenge to President Obama's immigration plan. Remind us what this case is about, who brought, it. Gardiner.

  • 10:40:27

    HARRISSo the state of Texas brought a case representing 26 other states challenging the Obama administration plan to essentially provide sort of a middle pathway for illegal immigrants in this country to make them lawful in the country as opposed to legal, and essentially protect them from deportation.

  • 10:40:46

    REHMWhat's the difference between lawful and legal?

  • 10:40:50

    HARRISWell, that's what the chief justice asked, of course. And it, you know, the case is also, of course, about the extent of the power of the presidency. The president can actually -- the argument from the presidency is, of course, that they have prosecutorial discretion, that they can sort of decide who to go after as illegal immigrants, who to deport, who not to deport. But as the states pointed out, the president has gone beyond that. It’s not simply that he has decided against deporting the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, but he's actually done something that looks a lot like legislation, which is to create kind of a program that shields them from other -- from deportation and gives them certain legal rights. And that is the core of this case. Can he do that without Congress?

  • 10:41:45


  • 10:41:46

    PHILLIPBut what's also fascinating about how this is unfolding in the court, as we can tell via oral arguments, is that there is some issue about the way that Texas has brought this case and whether they've done it in a way that is prudent or perhaps...

  • 10:41:59

    REHMWhether they even had standing.

  • 10:42:01

    PHILLIP...whether they have standing. And I think that if they were to lose this case on a technicality, I think that would be pretty extraordinary and it would be perhaps a saving grace for the Obama administration. Because this -- these programs, DAPA and DACA, are -- they cover so many people -- over a million undocumented immigrants -- and they are, I think -- Democrats believe them to be the building blocks for further immigration action going forward. So if they were to be undermined as a result of these cases, I think it would really throw the administration for a loop.

  • 10:42:35

    PHILLIPBut Texas could very well lose the case because of the way that they decided to bring it, not because of the merits of the merits of their argument.

  • 10:42:45

    REHMOn the other hand, you've got eight justices on that court, Susan.

  • 10:42:51

    PAGEEight justices, and all the signs in the oral arguments -- although that's not necessarily always accurate -- but the signs in the oral arguments was that they were heading toward a 4-4 split. And that means the appeals court ruling in this case would stand. That appeals court ruled against the administration. So at issue are about four million parents of people who are here legally. So it's like the parents who came here illegally, had children who are U.S. citizens or who had children who are illegal -- and this was an executive order, essentially gave them protection from, if they didn't violate the law, from being deported. So it was an effort to kind of protect some of these families that we have in this country.

  • 10:43:27

    REHMSo help me to understand. So if the court is divided, 4-4, and the Texas ruling stands, tell me how the United States government is going to round up four million?

  • 10:43:43

    PAGEI -- so I don't think that's what would happen. What would happen is they wouldn't have the reassurance that they could seek legal status here. So they would remain in the shadows. This situation basically wouldn't change. Now, the proponents of the president's action were hoping that it gets dismissed because Texas wouldn't have a standing. Because you know why Texas has had -- has had standing? If it give legal status to these parents of U.S. citizens...

  • 10:44:03

    REHMDriver's licenses.

  • 10:44:03

    PAGE...they'll have to issue them driver's licenses.

  • 10:44:05


  • 10:44:06

    PAGEAnd that would be a very costly matter for the state. But in the oral arguments, the hope was that Chief Justice Roberts would adopt that, because it would be, you know, kind of the moderate sort of thing that he did in the health care law case. He did not seem to be doing that. He asked questions that were very skeptical of the government's position.

  • 10:44:24

    REHMAll right. Let's take a caller in Lansing, Mich. Diego, you're on the air.

  • 10:44:31

    DIEGOHi, Diane.

  • 10:44:32


  • 10:44:32

    DIEGOAnd you -- and, again, you've got no negatives with me.

  • 10:44:35


  • 10:44:37

    DIEGOI really like your show.

  • 10:44:38


  • 10:44:39

    DIEGOI just wanted to say, I feel that this is really an extension of the battle -- the political battle between the Republicans -- the Republican Congress spreading to the red states versus the Democratic White House. Almost all of the states that have filed suit are headed by either a Republican governor or a Republican attorney general. And the kind of program, given that it's not permanent, right -- people don't get a permanent status, they get a two-year reprieve -- it's not an amnesty. Because, you know, the minute the president leaves, the next president decides.

  • 10:45:20

    DIEGOSo other presidents have done the same thing -- Reagan, Bush, Kennedy and Johnson have done it with the Cubans, with the Nicaraguans, with the Salvadorans and with the Family Fairness Program.

  • 10:45:32

    REHMSo what's at stake for this president on this case?

  • 10:45:37

    PAGEThis, you know, remember that this was something President Obama did because he was unable to get a law through Congress. The hopes for comprehensive immigration reform died. And he did this, I think, basically out of frustration, in the hopes to do something to carve out legal status for -- lawful status for at least some of the people who are here illegally. If it's a 4-4 tie, the appeals court decision stands and he is -- will be unable to implement this executive order and we'll wait for the next president. Because the Republicans running for president say they would get rid of this executive order. The Democrats who are running for president say they would continue it, they would move on it, they would allow this to go forward.

  • 10:46:14

    PAGESo this is one -- you talk about stakes in this election, this would be one of the things that's going to be likely at stake...

  • 10:46:18


  • 10:46:19

    PAGE...in November.

  • 10:46:20

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:46:20

    HARRISBecause what was extraordinary in the appeals court was that they not only suggested that they would rule against this, but they issued a stay -- an emergency stay that stopped the program entirely in its tracks. And that is actually unusual for an appeals court to do and reflected sort of the strength of the opinion on the appeals court that this program was, on its face, illegal. And so what's happened, Diane, is that what you're starting to see is Congress' paralysis begin to seep out...

  • 10:46:50

    REHMOh, sure.

  • 10:46:51

    HARRIS...and paralyze other functions of government.

  • 10:46:53


  • 10:46:54

    HARRISIt's now, of course, beginning to paralyze the Supreme Court because they refuse to even consider Obama's nominee of Merrick Garland. So we're going to have a 4-4 split. This paralysis which results, of course, of the polarization that we talked about that may be leading to your high negatives is beginning to infect all functions of government.

  • 10:47:18

    REHMAll right. And let's talk about a federal court ruling in favor of a transgender teen. What was that case about, Abby?

  • 10:47:30

    PHILLIPThat case was about the ability of the state to basically say, you -- if you are -- you have to use the bathroom that is associated with your gender. I think this is a victory that is, for LGBT activists, that is about a dramatic cultural shift that's been happening in this country. It has really unearthed the sort of widening gap between the Republican Party and the states that are run by the Republican Party, where they have the Republican governors and legislatures and so on. And their one-time constituents, which would have been at a time business interests who look at these laws and they say, hey, wait a second. We're not comfortable with this because this is not where our customers are, where we believe that the people in this country are.

  • 10:48:19

    PHILLIPAnd I think that's where we're seeing kind of fault lines emerging here, as states try to move away from the cultural tide because they are largely run by their -- by a Republican -- their Republican Party, Republican governors or Republican legislatures.

  • 10:48:35

    REHMSo Donald Trump weighed in here and said, you know, he has no problem with it.

  • 10:48:40

    PAGEThis was interesting. Donald Trump said that we should just leave the thing the way things are. It hasn't been a big problem, so...

  • 10:48:45


  • 10:48:45

    PAGE...why create problems by passing laws like the law that has been passed in North Carolina? In this Virginia case, the court sided Title IX, which prevents discrimination in schools if you're receiving federal funds. So 48 hours after the Virginia court ruling, in the North Carolina case where they're challenging the state law, they added a transgender team in an effort to kind of get Title IX in that debate as -- to bolster the case they're making against North Carolina's law.

  • 10:49:15

    REHMAll right. And to Lee in Forth Worth, Texas. You're on the air.

  • 10:49:21

    LEEHi. Thank you for taking my call. And like the previous gentleman, I love your show (word?) .

  • 10:49:26

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:49:28

    LEEListen, two things -- one is a statement. We never seem to address the legal aspect of people being here without status. With that being said, if every 8 to 10 years or every other presidency we're going to turn around and legalize people who come here and skirt the law by coming here illegally and then having children, and because they have children that we're identifying as American citizens, why have a law at all for immigration? That's my question.

  • 10:50:02

    REHMThat's an interesting question. Abby.

  • 10:50:04

    PHILLIPIt is a very interesting question. I think this is underlying everything that we are -- we're dealing with as a country, that right now we have immigration laws that are decades old that fundamentally don't address the flood, the volume of people who are seeking legal status. It's not a logical path. It's something that is essentially at a standstill. You get in the line and you might be in the line for many, many years. So there is really no path at the moment. And I think that eventually we're going to have to address the caller's question, which is how do you both discourage illegal immigration but also have a path that works that allows people to move through the process at a reasonable pace?

  • 10:50:47

    PHILLIPAnd the paralysis in Congress has made that virtually impossible. And I think that until that's resolved and Congress actually deals with the need for the law to be updated and actually logical, then we're going to continue to have just an enormous pool of people who have no path, no status, and nowhere to go.

  • 10:51:09

    REHMAnd we do have a new $20 bill that will probably come out in 10 years. You have on the face of the bill Harriet Tubman. You have Alexander Hamilton on the back of -- or...

  • 10:51:31


  • 10:51:31

    REHM...Jackson, forgive me.

  • 10:51:32

    PAGERight. Yeah.

  • 10:51:33

    REHMHamilton's off altogether.

  • 10:51:35

    HARRISNo, no, no.

  • 10:51:35

    PHILLIPNo, he's still on number 10.

  • 10:51:36

    REHMWhere is he?

  • 10:51:37

    PHILLIPHe's still on the $10.

  • 10:51:37

    HARRISYeah. He's going to be on the $10 bill. They've kept him.

  • 10:51:38

    REHMHe's going to be on the $10 bill. Okay. I have to get...

  • 10:51:41

    PAGELots of change.

  • 10:51:42

    REHM...this straight.

  • 10:51:43

    PHILLIPThey've made it intentionally incredibly complicated.

  • 10:51:45

    PAGEAnd they've --- and they're adding a bunch of people to the paper currency.

  • 10:51:49


  • 10:51:50

    PAGEAnd, you know, I think that Harriet Tubman, she was born into slavery, she escaped. She then helped other slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. Then she worked on women's...

  • 10:51:58

    HARRISRight here in Maryland.

  • 10:51:59

    PAGEThen she worked on women's suffrage. So really a remarkable historical figure. And I think it's great that she's going to be on this bill.

  • 10:52:06

    HARRISI do too.

  • 10:52:06

    REHMAnd did you happen to hear Isabel Wilkerson on this program yesterday? She told the story of Harriet Tubman being hit in the head by a two-pound weight that was apparently intended for someone else. But, nevertheless, she was hit and suffered seizures for the rest of her life.

  • 10:52:33

    PHILLIPShe had been -- yeah, she was injured and, in some ways, disabled for the rest of her life. And yet she led raids to free slaves in the South. She was a spy. She was armed. She put her physical body on the line for this effort. And that's one of the things that so remarkable about her being on the $20 bill is because she actually has a fairly complicated history and one that I think some people might be uncomfortable with. But it shows the gravity of what she was fighting against. She was willing to go to great lengths to free her people.

  • 10:53:10

    PAGEAnd pushing Jackson to the other side of the bill (unintelligible)

  • 10:53:12


  • 10:53:13

    PAGEYou know, Sudeep Reddy, our friend from The Wall Street Journal who has sometimes been on this show, had a wonderful tweet yesterday. He said, the arch of the moral universe is long, but it ends with Harriet Tubman pushing Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill.

  • 10:53:25

    HARRISWho caused the trail of tears. And I think we also need to point out that "Hamilton," this amazing musical, saved Hamilton on the $10 bill. Like that's very clear.

  • 10:53:35

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Well, we had sad news out of Minnesota yesterday. Tell me about Prince and his legacy. Gardiner.

  • 10:53:51

    HARRISWell, he was certainly one of the great albums that I bought as a kid. And, you know, Prince is, if -- we men like to make sports metaphors -- and if you make a sports metaphor about Prince, he's like a five tool player in baseball. I mean, he did it all. He -- I mean, how many other artists can you say were a genius vocalist? He -- his voice was incredible. A genius composer. He -- his songs that he wrote were remarkable. He played every instrument on those albums himself. And he was an extraordinary dancer and performer. I mean, he did it all. And he was one of the most important artists of the past century.

  • 10:54:30

    PAGEOne of -- my favorite story is, I think we all remember the 2007 performance at halftime of the Super Bowl in Miami, where he was going to go out and he was going to sing "Purple Rain," one of his most iconic songs. And it was pouring down rain. And one of the people who had been working with him told this story that, he said, well, you know, it's raining. Are you going to be all right? He said, can you make it rain harder?

  • 10:54:50

    REHMAh. And do you all know -- perhaps you've seen The New Yorker cover for next Monday is going to be "Purple Rain." Abby, do you want to talk about this?

  • 10:55:03

    PHILLIPIt's just incredible. I was in the last day reading a 1981 New York Times report about Prince, who at the time was about 19 years old and was already breaking down barriers in pop and in rock. He was forging a new genre that was basically biracial like he was, of Italian and African-American descent. And he was at a -- he performed at a rock concert. And the audience pelted him with fruit and bottles, because he did not fit the conventions. And I think that Prince has always been that, even at an incredibly young age producing music at a prolific clip and also just changing what it means to be a man, changing what it means to be a black man in this country and never being apologetic about any of that.

  • 10:55:54

    PHILLIPI think he was someone who was always true to himself and always fought for himself. And he also changed the music industry by fighting for his ability to not only vocalize but to play the -- play instruments on his albums, to produce his own songs, to mix his own songs.

  • 10:56:11

    HARRISAnd we're going to hear so many Prince recordings sort of from the attic. I mean, that is the promise of these next few years is that there are supposed to be all these Prince recordings that we've never heard but will hopefully hear in the next few years.

  • 10:56:27

    REHMAnd there is a beautiful tweet on my screen from Larry. He says, Prince was pure conduit, an exposed wire channeling his musical muse, unfiltered, leaving us with the continuous hum of the universe. Isn't that lovely?

  • 10:56:53


  • 10:56:53

    PHILLIPThat's incredible.

  • 10:56:54

    REHMAll right. And I want to thank you all, as we listen to Prince. Susan Page, Gardiner Harris, Abby Phillip, thank you.

  • 10:57:06

    HARRISThank you, Diane.

  • 10:57:06

    PAGEThank you.

  • 10:57:07

    PHILLIPThank you.

  • 10:57:07

    REHMAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

Topics + Tags


comments powered by Disqus
Most Recent Shows