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
Gender politics was front and center in the presidential politics this week: Ted Cruz named Carly Fiorina as his running mate and Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of playing “the woman’s card” to win votes. Trump lays out his “America First” foreign policy. Former House Speaker John Boehner unleashes harsh criticism of Ted Cruz. Bernie Sanders cut some staffers but vows to stay in the presidential race until all the primary votes are counted. President Obama plans to visit Flint, Michigan. And the Supreme Court seems skeptical of former Virginia Governor Bob McConnell’s corruption conviction. A panel of journalists joins guest host Susan Page for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Karen Tumulty National political reporter, The Washington Post
- Olivier Knox Chief Washington correspondent, Yahoo! News
- Naftali Bendavid Editor and reporter, The Wall Street Journal
MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's recovering from a voice treatment. Ted Cruz tries to reboot his campaign by announcing a running mate. Bernie Sanders begins cutting staff, but vows to stay in the race until the final primary in June. And former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is sentenced to prison after admitting he sexually abused teenage boys.
MS. SUSAN PAGEJoining me for the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup, Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Olivier Knox of Yahoo News. Welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MS. KAREN TUMULTYGood morning.
MR. NAFTALI BENDAVIDThanks.
MR. OLIVIER KNOXMorning.
PAGEWe're gonna invite our listeners to join our conversation later in this hour. You can call our toll free number, 1-800-433-8850. You can always send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter or since it's -- because it's the Friday News Roundup, you can watch the live stream video of this hour on our website, drshow.org.
PAGEWell, we have to start with politics this week. It seemed like a crucial week, Karen. How close are we now to the finish line when it comes to these nominations? Let's start with the Republican party.
TUMULTYWell, we're much closer than we were a week ago and the Republican Party, it is now numerically impossible for either of Donald Trump's two opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, to get the Republican Convention in Cleveland with the 1,237 delegates it would take to win on the first ballot and Donald Trump is significantly closer to that point, thanks to his big sweep on Tuesday. He's, you know, Ted Cruz continues to organize on the possibility that there could be a second ballot, at which point everything changes.
TUMULTYBut it is now looking a lot more like it -- than it did a week ago that, in fact, in Indiana next Tuesday's going to be crucial, but that Donald Trump may have this thing sewn up.
PAGESo Donald Trump may have this thing sewn up. Ted Cruz hasn't thrown in the towel yet. In fact, he did something that we haven't seen a candidate do for four decades. He named a running mate. Traditionally, you wait to be nominated to name a running mate, but why did he do that, Olivier? And tell us about his choice.
KNOXHe picked Carly Fiorina who was running for the Republican nomination earlier in the cycle and ultimately dropped out. He -- it is an unusual move, extremely unusual, but yeah, he needs to get more attention. Donald Trump has been hogging up the media attention. And he needs to send signals to Republican voters. He's clearly angling for that second or third or fourth or whatever it is ballot at the convention. He did get talked about.
KNOXBut actually, one really interesting thing is he talked -- the day of that announcement, he actually spoke for something like 35 minutes before Fiorina even came on stage and it had the vague feel of, like, I need to compete with Donald Trump's rallies and speeches where he gets all this media attention. He spoke at length about his campaign, about his goals and about the rest of it. One wonders whether this is going to last longer and go better than his very deeply bizarre deal with John Kasich to sort of divvy up the next couple of primary states.
KNOXBut it was an intriguing choice. He's got to make the case that he will -- I'm at a loss for words here, but he's making the case that people should really give him a good long look at the convention.
PAGEYou know what I thought when he -- he announced he was going to make this big announcement. We all knew beforehand he was going to name Carly Fiorina as his Veep. He got all the cable networks to cover him and he wouldn't give up the mic. He gave, basically, a stump speech for a half an hour and I thought, well, you know, that's a pretty smart use. I'm not sure Carly Fiorina does him much electoral good, but at least he got attention for a half hour to kind of make his case.
PAGEJohn Kasich, you mentioned him and this kind of bizarre alliance that they announced at the first part of the week. Are they still allies, Naftali?
BENDAVIDThat's actually really hard to tell because they both, in their own way, seem to be distancing themselves from or downplaying it. But I think these moves by John Kasich and Ted Cruz, they really only confirm Donald Trump's dominate frontrunner status 'cause these are emergency moves. You don't do these unless you're pulling out the hammer and breaking the glass. And I think, you know, there's been too much hyperbole, perhaps, already in this campaign season.
BENDAVIDBut I think this is the week that it's clear what the fall campaign's gonna look like, that it's going to be a Trump/Clinton campaign. I mean, Trump had high expectations. He exceeded them. He won every county. He won every congressional district in the five states that held primaries on Tuesday. And I think this idea of giving it to someone else at the convention, while always extremely remote, is, I think, even more of a fantasy at this point and it just looks like that's what we're looking at in the fall, a Trump/Clinton race.
PAGELet's just stop for a moment. Here we are. Who would've said when we watched Donald Trump descend on the escalator, in the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his campaign, that we would be on "The Diane Rehm Show" in April saying he is the likely nominee, there will be a Trump/Clinton race in November? I don't think I saw this coming.
TUMULTYOh, you didn't predict it? I think we -- no. It was so extraordinary and the, you know, there was, first of all, a lot of skepticism even that he would run because he had played with it so many times before. And there was also this sense that the Republicans had put up what, on paper, was their strongest field in probably a generation, a bunch of senators and governors and ex-governors and, you know, young, appealing diverse candidates.
TUMULTYSo there was the sense, and it's always been, you know, the way the Republican primaries worked before, is that ultimately, you know, they sort of have their dalliances with these outsiders, but they always come back to the establishment choice. Well, this year, that didn't work.
PAGEYou know, we didn't do a good job in seeing this coming months ago, but neither did the Republican establishment and I wonder, Naftali, whether they are now alarmed by where things are, are accepting that Trump is going to be the face of their party.
BENDAVIDWell, I think both, but I think this isn't a question of a few months ago. I think it's a question of three weeks ago. After Wisconsin, which Ted Cruz won decisively, there was any number of columns that talked about, you know, Trump's Waterloo, was one or they're talking about the turning point in the campaign. Finally, the chickens are gonna come home to roost, things are going to go back to normal. And Trump proceeded to then demolish everybody in New York and the northeast.
BENDAVIDSo I think what you're seeing is a little bit of -- there's, on the one hand, some acceptance. I think one of the things we're seeing is some looking toward a post-Trump era for the GOP. In other words, I think people are already starting to accept in the Republican party he's going to be their nominee. It probably won't go well. So how can we pick up the pieces afterwards? And I think Paul Ryan and others are trying to talk in ways that actually envisions what happens to the party holding it together as a brand and as a viable entity after the consequences of a Trump run.
PAGEBut, you know, some Republicans are trying to -- he's now picking up some endorsements. Two chairmen of House committees endorsed him yesterday, Donald Trump, and yet we see a very tough column in this morning's New York Times from David Brooks, a conservative columnist, calling this a Joe McCarthy moment for the GOP. What do you think, Olivier?
KNOXI think David Brooks speaks for a very, very, very small sliver of the Republican party. I think it's been interesting to watch people like John Boehner in that remarkable interview he gave a couple days ago, John Boehner saying he'll vote for Trump if he's the nominee. Paul Ryan staying out of it, but saying he'll back the nominee. You're seeing a lot more acceptance, I think. The Paul Ryan thing is real interesting. He's been running not so much a presidential campaign of his own, but a shadow campaign in which he is offering Republican voters and Republican candidates a different vision.
KNOXSo he has come out on the economy, on foreign policy, on reaching out to young voters and it is hard not to see in his efforts a plan to help down ballot Republicans. There's a lot of concern among the Republican party establishment about what Donald Trump will do to the Republican party's candidates for the House, for the Senate and for government.
PAGESo Karen, what will Donald Trump do for candidates down the ballot, especially in these Senate races. Republicans already had kind of a tough row to hoe in Senate races. They have more Senate Republican incumbents up in November. What are they thinking?
TUMULTYWell, you know, Donald Trump's claim is that he is going to mobilize people who don't normally show up and who don't normally vote Republican. But it's pretty clear, too, that he's gonna stir up the Democratic base as well. And Republicans have a lot of senators running in states that Barack Obama carried in 2012. In fact, they've got five Senate candidates -- five Senate incumbents trying to hold seats in states that Barack Obama carried by more than five points.
TUMULTYAnd that is exactly the number of Senate seats that if they lose them, they lose control of the Senate.
PAGEYou know, we've had two fascinating races this season for the nominations. The Democratic race has been much more contested than I think we had foreseen. Is it -- are we near the finish line when it comes to the Democrats, Naftali?
BENDAVIDI do think we are and it's interesting in some way that in the Democratic side, you're seeing Bernie Sanders being kind of accepting almost that the race is more or less over. And on the Republican side, there continues to be this sort of defiance and reluctance to accept the reality. But, you know, the Sanders campaign, to my mind, it has the feeling of a campaign in twilight. I mean, he talked right -- he sent a message right after the primary on Tuesday about fighting to the end, but in order to affect the platform.
BENDAVIDHe didn't continue to say I'm gonna be the nominee. Of course, he's laid off a lot of his field workers this week. And I think, you know, let's remember where this began. I don't think anybody thought that Bernie Sanders, you know, this guy from Brooklyn and Vermont, was going to be mounting a serious challenge, but he did. There was a heady moment there where it seemed like he was really going to be an alternative to Hillary Clinton.
BENDAVIDI think now, in a way, he's going back to what people thought he'd be at the beginning, a guy with a message, a guy whose main accomplishment is going to be pushing the party and the candidate further to the left.
PAGEBriefly, Olivier, what do you think Bernie Sanders wants at this point?
KNOXThat's a really good question. I think he wants to shift a party he only recently officially joined to the left. And he's done a remarkable job. I definitely got Trump wrong, but I was early in the chorus of people saying you have to take Bernie Sanders seriously for a couple of reasons. He's an extremely organized politician and he has -- his fundraising machine has been an absolutely fascinating story throughout this cycle.
KNOXWhen you get people who give you $30, they can give forever, basically, 'cause they're never going to max out. They're never gonna hit the federal limit. What he wants now is interesting now.
PAGEWe're going to talk more about the presidential race, including playing the woman card. We'll also talk about the situation in Flint, Michigan, and whether federal help is about to be on the way. And we'll take your calls and questions. We're going to take a short break. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. It's our Friday News Roundup and with me in the studio, Olivier Knox, chief Washington correspondent for Yahoo! News, Karen Tumulty, she's national political reporter with The Washington Post, and Naftali Bendavid, an editor and reporter at The Wall Street Journal. We're taking your calls and questions. Our toll free number, 1-800-433-8850. Our phone lines are now open. Also you can watch video of this hour of the Friday News Roundup. It's streaming live on the website, drshow.org. Tune in, take a look.
PAGEYou know, we've talked about Donald Trump. Now, he calls himself the presumptive nominee -- presumptive Republican presidential nominee. He may be just a bit premature but it looks like he's going in that direction. So this week we saw him give a major policy address, his first attempt, I think, at really coherent discussion of his foreign policy. Why did he do this, Olivier? What was the thinking behind giving this speech?
KNOXWell, considering that it was mostly recycled points from his stump speeches, it felt like an obligatory, sort of a rite of passage. You know, everyone who runs for president at one point or another needs to give this foreign policy speech.
PAGEPeople who run for president presumably have a foreign policy that they can talk about one would hope.
KNOXYeah. In this case, though, it fit very, very neatly with his sort of, the subtext of his campaign. There's been this message that he's given Americans that, you have been betrayed. You've been betrayed by the financial elites, the political elites, and in this case it was sort of the foreign policy elites.
PAGEYou know, Naftali, you've been based abroad in Europe for The Wall Street Journal. What did you make of the foreign policy that he outlined? Does it fit in the kind of Republican and the American foreign policy tradition?
BENDAVIDWell, I think, you know, he had a lot of pressure to do this. He's the only candidate I can think of, if he is in fact the nominee, who has no military or government experience. And obviously the incendiary comments he's made on the campaign trail raise a lot of questions about how he'd be as commander in chief and leader of the nation. I think to the extent that he'd located himself somewhere, it was not as a neocon. In other words, there was a lot of broad sweeping statements that were sometimes hard to put together and it was hard -- didn't tell you how he'd handle, let's say, a situation like Syria.
BENDAVIDBut he did make it very clear that he didn't like the war in Iraq, he wanted to pull back from engaging. He kept on saying things like, we can't make every country a Western democracy. And given that the Republican foreign policy establishment has been dominated by people like George W. Bush, John McCain, it really was a signal that there would be some change in that regard.
TUMULTYYou know, I think if you could put a label on it, it would be a sort of almost Jacksonian kind of nationalism. Not to sort of extend this country too much abroad but, where we do, to come down with a lot of force. That is why, you know, his -- the slogan he kept coming back to was American first.
PAGENow that's a slogan that has some historical weight, Olivier.
KNOXYeah. A little bit of baggage.
PAGEA better word.
KNOXYeah, World War II era, you know, don't get involved, right-wing politics basically of foreign policy. It's a -- I don't get a sense that it matters much what the baggage is because I don't think he's -- his vote -- he and his voters aren't deliberately linking back to that because it doesn't have any resonance for any voter alive today really.
PAGEWe're going to be talking more about Trump's foreign policy message and about the reaction it got in capital's abroad in the second hour of our news roundup with our international panel. Well, here's something -- another -- Trump just -- there's never a shortage of headlines when it comes to covering Donald Trump, the woman card. He said that Hillary Clinton was playing the woman card. Karen, what is the woman card and how can I get one?
TUMULTYYeah, Susan, you just played the woman card by coming to me. Basically, he argued in his victory night speech that, were Hillary Clinton not a woman, she would not be getting more than 5 percent of the vote, which is, you know, great news to a lot of women that it is such a great asset to be running as a woman. She, you know, there was an immediate reaction. She -- it really teed her up for one of her favorite applause lines, one she's been using for a long time, which is, you know, if we're playing the woman card, deal me in. And then she went on to talk a lot about a lot of her woman-friendly policies. It is basically an effort to sort of denigrate her qualifications for office.
TUMULTYAnd, you know, I think this is something that, among women, is not going to go over well. And he already has a big, big problem with women voters who are a majority of voters.
PAGESeventy percent of women voters now have a negative impression of Donald Trump. And I have to say that Mary Pat Christie, the wife of the governor of New Jersey, was standing just behind him when he made this statement. And you could see her roll her eyes when he said this. And I thought, you know, I bet there are a lot of Republican women at home who may be rolling their eyes at this comment too. But let's go to the substance of it. Is it true, Naftali, that being female has been a big electoral advantage for Hillary Clinton this year?
BENDAVIDWell, I really don't think it's that simple. I mean, I think clearly there are people who live the idea of being -- of there being a woman president. But I think there's still a lot of sexism in the country and there are probably many ways in which it's been a disadvantage. And I think a comment like that is incredibly -- whatever else it may be -- I think it's a big risk. Because I think most women don't feel like it's been some huge advantage for them in their professional careers. If anything, the opposite.
BENDAVIDSo for him to come out and make that comment -- it may play well with certain parts of the Republican base, but now, as he turns toward a general election, an election in which he's going to have to win swing voters and swing states -- he's defied a lot of laws of politics, but he can't defy all of them -- a comment like that on top of other things he's said about women, including other women -- I mean he has this way of denigrating whoever's running against him, Little Marco, Lyin' Ted, Low-Energy Bush -- and maybe he saw this as one more in that line. But I think this was a different kind of thing and something he may come to regret.
KNOXIt does remind you that one of the big unifiers for the Democratic Party, when the primaries are finally over, is going to be probably Donald Trump, right? Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the two big forces uniting the Democrats.
PAGELet's go to Cincinnati, Ohio, and talk to Keith. He's on the air. Keith, you're on the air.
KEITHHello. Thank you. I love it when you host.
KEITHMy question is, for someone who morally couldn't vote for either Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton -- and obviously I probably, you know, it's probably obvious, I've been a Bernie Sanders supporter but realize he will probably not get the Democratic nomination. I know there's a lot of people who say they just couldn't vote for Hillary. Obviously, for me, it has nothing to do with the woman card. But basically what her positives are and, you know, people consider her strengths, I consider actually her negatives. So I was wondering if, you know, pipe dream, what third-party options there would be for people like me.
PAGEIs -- well, Keith, let me ask you, is there a third-party option you'd like to see? I mean, you say you're a Bernie Sanders supporter. Would you like him to run as an independent candidate?
KEITHYou know, I can just see, you know, all the headlines now of him, you know, costing somebody the election because he split the support. I don't think he personally would do that, just to avoid a messy situation like that. But, if he did run as a third-party candidate, I would definitely vote for him.
PAGEAll right, Keith. Thanks so much for your call. You know, Keith's comment reminds us of the fact that we'll have this -- if it is indeed a Trump-Clinton race, we'll have this unprecedented situation where both nominees have negative ratings above 50 percent. This has never happened before in U.S. history.
KNOXTo Keith's point, I mean, Sanders has already said that he's not going to be a Nader figure, right, now I mean a Ralph Nader figure. But also just the mechanics of running as an independent are extremely daunting. It's hard to get on the ballot. It's hard to mobilize people. So I don't think it's going to happen. But, yeah, there's no doubt. There's going to be -- I'd -- I still want to see some kind of -- some real data on what percentage of Sanders supporters will not vote for Hillary Clinton.
PAGEYou know, I actually think it -- I think it is possible to run as a third-party candidate, either creating your own third party, getting the nomination of third-parties that exist now, even running as a write-in candidate. I actually did a story about this a couple of weeks ago. The trouble is you -- it's almost impossible to win. So you're in a kind of spoiler role. And I wonder, if Trump is the nominee, Karen, do you think there might be an establishment Republican who makes a run just because they can't accept the idea of Trump as their candidate?
TUMULTYNot a serious run. And, you know, Michael Bloomberg looked at this idea of an independent candidacy. He is one of the few people in the country who would actually have the financial resources to do it. And he came to the conclusion that, if you didn't do it by the first or second week of March, it was just basically too late to sort of get on all the ballots you needed to be on and essentially get a national operation going.
PAGEKeith, thanks so much for your call.
BENDAVIDI mean, this also highlights one of the main characteristics of our political system. In other words, in Europe and in parliamentary systems, if you have a good solid 20 percent of the vote, you can run. You can get a position in parliament. Maybe you can enter a coalition government. You can have influence. And arguably, one of the reason that a lot of voters feel frustrated is that, where they come out in the political spectrum, they'd feel like there's nobody who ever represents them who gets into government. So whether you like it or dislike it, this is a really sort of unique feature of our particular binary political system.
PAGELet's go to Carlisle, Penn. -- Pennsylvania is the state that had a big primary this week -- and we'll talk to Tim. Tim, thanks for joining us on "The Diane Rehm Show."
TIMThank you so much for having me on the air. I just have a quick comment and a quick question. Comment being, I think, the punditry keeps underestimating Donald Trump. It seems like the, quote, unquote, "political roles" have been shifting and changing, either in, like, more towards candidates like Donald Trump, outsiders and things like that. And I'm a Democrat. I unfortunately see Donald Trump as a very powerful candidate and a kind of unifying force unfortunately. I think he needs to start being taken more seriously.
TIMQuick question, on the flipside, for Bernie Sanders. He seems to still be in the race. He seems to still be wanting to gain delegates, even though he's probably not going to get the Democratic nomination. Do -- does him having more delegates going into the Democratic convention, does that help him in any way, even though he's probably not going to get the nomination?
PAGEOkay, Tim. Thanks very much for your call. What's the good of more delegates if you're going to lose, Olivier? Is there a point?
KNOXStill more -- well, still more influence. Because if you're Hillary Clinton and you think you're going to sew this up, you obviously want the maximum number of delegates. So, of course, it has some influence. It's a little intriguing to me that Bernie Sanders is talking about shaping the party platform. I can't really think of a presidential candidate who was compelled to do anything by their party's platform at the convention.
TUMULTYOne thing it could do is get him a pretty good, highly visible speaking spot at the convention. And he could essentially help determine the tone of the convention.
PAGEYeah, Tim's first point was that Trump could be a more powerful general election candidate than some people are assuming. You know, we've gotten a similar email from Dan, who writes us from Sacramento, Calif. He says, now that it's a foregone conclusion that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee. Some pundits are warning that Democrats may regret being happy with this outcome. Why exactly should Democrats be worried? Could he be a more successful general election candidate than the conventional wisdom says, Naftali?
BENDAVIDI mean, at this point, I think you'd have to be utterly lacking in humility to make predictions that Donald Trump isn't going to somehow surpass expectations. He surpassed all of them. I mean, that said, you know, when you look at the electoral map, he's alienated large numbers of Hispanics. He's alienated large numbers of women, Muslims, any number of groups, all kinds of centrist and swing voters. Just the way the electoral map shapes up, it's challenging to see -- even if he does, as he says, bring in new voters to the Republican Party -- it's just hard to see how -- he does have a very tough path to victory. So with all the due caution and, you know, confession of past error, it's hard to see how he'd pull it off.
TUMULTYI think the question is less how well he does than how much he roughs up Hillary Clinton. And that's one thing that her campaign -- they aren't -- they have no idea what direction the attacks are going to be coming from on any given day if Donald Trump is the nominee.
PAGEI'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're taking your calls and questions. And you can watch the live stream of the Friday News Roundup by going to our website, drshow.org. Well, enough about politics. Let's talk about the situation in Flint. A new water infrastructure bill cleared a key Senate committee. Is help on the way for Flint, Mich., Olivier?
KNOXI'll believe it when the president signs it. There have been so many hurdles to so many basic pieces of legislation that it's just not a given at all. Even though there's widespread outrage about the poisoning of people -- the good people of Flint, I don't -- again, I just, I've grown to be skeptical that anything happens easily in this Congress.
PAGEWhy -- what do you think, Karen?
TUMULTYWell, it did pass the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a 19 to 1 bipartisan vote. The big sticking point in the Senate has been Senator Mike Lee, who says basically that Flint has the resources it needs, so it doesn't need the federal government. Again, a 19 to 1 vote suggests a lot of momentum behind an issue.
PAGEMeanwhile, the White House announced that President Obama -- excuse me -- will head to Flint next week. What does he -- what is his message going to be and why is he making this trip, Naftali?
BENDAVIDWell, it's an interesting question. The ostensible reason for it is that a young girl from Flint sent him an email asking to meet him. And he is going to a respond to that request as a president who cares about the citizens. And, you know, I think that that's -- I don't want to in any way denigrate that, but it's true that increasingly I think Democrats are starting to see Flint as an issue that encapsulates a lot of the points that they want to make. It affects racial equality, it affects income inequality, it touches on the environment, it touches on infrastructure spending and on the overall role of government.
BENDAVIDSo I think you've seen -- first of all, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton visited, then they held a debate there. Now the president's visiting. And I think Flint is something that they feel they can hold up as an example of what they think needs to change about the country.
PAGEAnd, of course, we saw indictments, criminal indictments of three officials -- two state, I think, and one local -- on the issue in Flint that led to this crisis that has affected so many people there. Here's an email from Jeff, who writes us from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He says, I'm curious if you think the Republicans are second guessing their decision to not hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland now that Donald Trump will likely be running against Hillary Clinton. What do you think? Second thoughts by Republicans?
BENDAVIDI mean, I think there have to be some. I mean, on the one hand, the thing seemed very shrewd, a good move by McConnell at the time, just from a pure political perspective. But now they're in the position of saying that they're delaying a confirmation until, they hope, Donald Trump becomes president. And I think that puts them -- it's just one more way that Trump has kind of mixed up the political landscape. And I think it puts them in a much tougher position. So I don't know if I'd say they're second guessing it. But clearly this is an aspect of the whole thing they hadn't foreseen.
TUMULTYI think that, despite their public comments to the contrary, that should Hillary Clinton win this election, you are going to see Merrick Garland confirmed in a lame-duck session. Because they know that whoever she would nominate would be pretty far to the left of this nominee.
PAGEAnd would Democrats go along with that?
TUMULTYYeah. I mean, I would assume, if President Obama were out there saying this is part of my legacy, I think they would.
PAGEYou know, we saw a story in Politico this morning about the 9-9-9 campaign, nine states, nine days, to push for a court with nine justices. Tell us about this, Olivier.
KNOXApart from the homage to Herman Cain's short-lived presidential campaign, yeah. I mean, the White House and Democrats see this as a very easy political winner. Whether they get -- the big prize, of course, is getting him on to the court. That's a huge -- that would be a big step. But falling short of that, they're still delighted to have this issue. They've got a candidate who hasn't really been bruised by any of the opposition research from Republicans. There's a, you know, widespread belief that he's qualified to sit on the court. They love this. They're going to have the president running around the country and telling people, like, look, I've got this qualified nominee. The Republicans are just playing pure politics obstruction.
PAGEThey're focusing on nine Republican senators, five of them are among the most vulnerable incumbents up. What is Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and he's of course a fixture in Iowa, could he actually be threatened, do you think, Naftali?
BENDAVIDI do think so. I mean, it's, you know, it -- I'm not predicting that he's going to lose but that he would be under threat, sure. I mean he chairs the committee. He's been around a long time. And so he's a natural target for this and for the Democratic argument that this is Republican obstructionism and shows their malice.
PAGEWe're going to take a short break. When we come back, we're going to talk about another Supreme Court issue and that was the discussion about whether Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's -- former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's corruption conviction should be overturned. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. It's our Friday News Roundup. In the studio with me, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Naftali Bendavid of the Wall Street Journal, Olivier Knox of Yahoo News. And you can send us an email, you can give us a call, you can watch the live stream of this hour of the Friday News Roundup, by going to our website, drshow.org. You can see the fabulous vintage tie that Olivier Knox is wearing today.
PAGEYou know, we're seeing reports, since we came on the air, that Indiana Governor Mike Pence, at noon, will endorse Ted Cruz for President. We don't know for sure that's true, because we haven't been able to confirm that, because we've been on the air. If true, how important, Karen?
TUMULTYI would think not terribly, at this late date. It's, you know, it's, first of all, Donald Trump has Bobby Knight, so if you were to choose between an incumbent Governor, even one who's very beloved by the Republican base and a figure as revered as a basketball coach, I think that Trump wins the endorsement game.
PAGEWe have a caller from Indiana. Let's go to him in Evansville, Indiana. Jim is giving us a call. Hi Jim.
PAGENow, are you going to vote in the...
PAGE...I'm sorry. Go ahead.
JIM...I was going to vote for Bernie, but my question is is if Hillary has got all this email controversy investigations over her head, why shouldn't Bernie just stay in the race until that's settled? And another question, nobody's mentioning Jill Stein of the Green Party. If Bernie don't get the nomination, will a lot of people go toward her?
PAGEWell, Jim, let me ask you. You're a Bernie Sanders supporter, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, will you vote for her or will you look at Jill Stein or someone else?
JIMI probably won't vote for her. I just -- she's got too much, too much things going on that I just don't agree with.
PAGEAll right Jim, thanks very much for your call. You know, one interesting thing, the Trump campaign talks about trying to target disenchanted Sanders voters to come over to his side. Is there an overlap there? Do you think that might work for them, Olivier?
KNOXThere is some overlap there. There's the -- I think the way it was put to me by a Democratic Senator was the retired white union members who actually, a fairly sizeable portion of them went from being Hillary voters in 2008 to becoming Tea Partiers in certain parts of the country, according to this Democratic Senator. So there is some overlap there. They could do that. Some of the same themes have emerged. You know, Bernie says the system is rigged. Donald Trump says the system is rigged, but I can bend it to your will.
KNOXThere is some overlap there. In terms of Jill Stein, I don't, again, I really wonder what proportion of Bernie voters will absolutely not vote for Hillary Clinton.
PAGEYeah. The number now is pretty high in polls. But that's usually the case at this point, because tempers are still pretty high.
KNOXIt doesn't mean anything.
KNOXIt's like looking at general election polls, you know, Sanders beats Trump x to x. You can't assume away the general election campaign.
PAGENaftali, what about Jim's other point, which is what about the email investigation still going on? Could that have a really catastrophic effect on Hillary Clinton's campaign?
BENDAVIDI mean, I think it's certainly something that Democrats are worried about. Because it is still unresolved. I mean, my sense is it's the kind of thing that's gonna go one -- I mean, in fact, to answer the question of why Bernie Sanders doesn't stay in, because it shows no sign of ending anytime soon. So, the, you know, it's not like if he just waits a couple more weeks, you know, then it would be clear what the outcome is. So it strikes me as one of these things that will be a low grade scandal like many of the Clinton scandals of the past. And it will just drag on and on and on, perhaps without any definite resolution.
KNOXNaftali actually used the image that Democrats talk about, which is the -- earlier, which is the in case of emergency, break glass image. There's actually a fair amount of conversation about that. If you read that John, that fantastic John Boehner interview, you saw that he is a -- he believes that -- or he says he believes that Hillary will be crippled by the email scandal and Joe Biden will come in with Obama's support. Now that's far-fetched, obviously, but...
PAGEYou know who would love that? Joe Biden would love that.
KNOXWell, he's been expressing regret about not running, right? So, but, you do have to think that Democrats -- I mean, I actually, we know that Democrats are talking about this what if, what if?
PAGESo, both sides are talking about what if. Republicans are talking about what if, what if Paul Ryan could come through -- in as the white knight at the convention. And some Democrats say maybe Joe Biden will parachute in, but Karen, what do you think the odds are?
TUMULTYI think that most people who have looked at this think the odds of her getting indicted are pretty low. Because the legal responsibility on these emails falls primarily on the person who sent them and not the person who received them on handling classified information. You know, it could be an ugly outcome. But again, I think, and the fact that Bernie Sanders essentially began the debate season by pronouncing that people were sick and tired of hearing about her damn emails, I think it -- you know, I just don't think it's going to be quite the crippler that a lot of people on the right would like to see.
PAGEWe saw a really interesting Supreme Court oral arguments this week in the case of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonald. He had been convicted of corruption. Man Naftali, the Justices seemed very skeptical that justice had happened here.
BENDAVIDYeah, this was a case where McDonald was convicted in 2014. He had accepted -- this part is not in dispute -- he'd accepted about 170,000 dollars in gifts from a CEO named Johnny Williams. And in return, he'd arranged a lot of meetings for him, he'd enabled him to hold lunches at the Governor's mansion, that sort of thing. He was trying to get the state to have clinical trials of a dietary supplement he was -- he wanted to produce. So, the question for the Justices was is what McConnell did, were they official acts?
BENDAVIDAnd was this, therefore, bribery? So they were focused on whether just like, setting up meetings, for example, whether that counts as enough of a act in your public capacity to really amount to a bribe. And as you say, you know, the Justices were to a surprising degree, seemingly unified that this was a little bit too vague and fuzzy of a proposition, but this argument, I think, is sending tremors through the prosecutorial community. Because there are a lot of cases like this out there and if doing things like setting up meetings, holding lunches, and providing access, you know, are not considered official acts, from a bribery perspective, it would throw a lot of cases into question.
PAGEThey were arguing, some of the Justices in their questions, that this is just what politicians do. And you can't criminalize the political process. I wonder if some Americans might look at it and say, yeah, that's exactly the problem.
KNOXYeah, absolutely. When Justice Breyer says that the conviction puts at risk behavior that is common, that is a recipe for giving the Justice Department and prosecutors enormous power over elected officials. I think the average American might say, well, huzzah.
PAGELet's go back to the phones. We'll go to Bernie, calling us from Louisville, Kentucky. I'm assuming you're not the Bernie, Bernie.
BERNIENo, this is the other Bernie.
BERNIEThis is the one that lives in the Derby town.
PAGEAll right, well, thanks for giving us a call.
BERNIEWell, yeah, quickly, I was just going to say thank you all for all your work you do. One thing you can't say, it hasn't been fun. This has been more fun listening to you all and this whole election process. I've been a John Kasich supporter ever since David Brooks said on PBS News Hour one night that he just liked what he had to say. So I started paying attention. And I've been supporting him for a long time. But Bernie Sanders seems to have started a conversation that will be ongoing after the election. And I think that's very important.
BERNIEPlus, this morning on "Morning Joe," Tim Kaine was on the panel, and they kept making the mention the possibility he'd be Hillary Clinton's running mate. Any thoughts on that?
PAGEYeah. Okay, thanks very much for your call, Bernie.
TUMULTYYeah. I mean, in some -- you can argue that, in some ways, Virginia, Tim Kaine's home state, is the new Ohio. In the last few cycles, it is very much a swing state. It comes very close to the exact, you know, national race outcome. And so, with Tim Kaine, what you would have is a, you know, he speaks Spanish. He was a popular Governor of a very important state. He would, in some ways, be a very sort of check the box, traditional kind of running mate, should that be what Hillary Clinton decides to go with.
TUMULTYShe could also decide she is going to double down on history and pick another woman. She could do something that was very much an appeal to the Party left. There's just -- it's going to be, I think in many ways, a calculation -- people always say primarily of who could take over if something were to happen to the President, but it's also who's going to help me win?
PAGEYou know, Hillary, we had a caller who had a question earlier about whether Hillary might pick Bernie Sanders as her running mate. That caller has hung up, but let me ask the question. It's possible that we'd end up with both of them on a unity ticket.
BENDAVIDI think that's less likely, but I think one interesting figure in all this is Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who's -- he has a lot of Bernie like qualities. He's a real populist figure, and he's able to get out there and give these very sort of rebel rousing, and I mean that in a good way, you know, speeches that get to the passions of a lot of Democrats. So, depending on which way she wants to go, if she wants to go more to the center, Tim Kaine would make sense. But if she wants to really respond to those voices that have supported Bernie Sanders, maybe somebody like Sherrod Brown.
PAGEAll right, let's go back to the phones. We'll talk to Josh, calling us from Harrison County, Indiana. Josh, thanks for holding on.
JOSHOh, it's no problem.
PAGESo, do you have a question or a comment?
JOSHYes. Well, no. My question is I'm an Environmental Health Specialist for the county, Harrison County, Indiana. Basically, I was wondering, you know, who, as far as your speakers think, who would be the best for building up -- because I kind of cross over on both sides. I mean, I am concerned about the infrastructure and water quality. You know, anybody out there listening, call your Health Department if you have issues. Call them right up, because, you know, me, I want to know.
JOSHAnd, you know, I have the ability to go out and test and see if the water quality is, you know, questionable. But as far as on political lines, you know, I would like to see a better infrastructure. You know, budgets going towards that. I get my hands tied a lot. And I just wanted to know what they thought as far as, you know, presidentially, and then, you know, the trickle-down effect from that. You know, what would be the best?
PAGEAll right Josh, thanks very much for your call. How much do you hear about Flint on the campaign trail? Is this something that candidates are talking about?
TUMULTYCertainly the Democrats. And Hillary Clinton, you know, very, you know, relatively early made a point of sending staff there. Bill Clinton talks about it quite a bit.
PAGEHere's an email from Stuart. Stuart writes, the Flint investigation and prosecution is a perfect example of why people believe government is corrupt. Are we really expected to swallow the explanation that it was a low level bureaucratic decision and the ensuing governmental response to the crisis is not part of the problem and should not be investigated? I wonder, Olivier, how much we're going to be hearing about the Flint situation, whether or not the candidates engage on it, because the state investigation, anyway, is continuing.
KNOXRight, with those criminal charges against those three, the three officials. I think we're going to hear a lot more about it. I think it's -- for one thing, you're going to see the President shine a big old spotlight on it when he visits Flint. You're going to hear about it through the campaign. In answer to Josh, you know, one of the problems is, this is a all of the ballot answer. Because you need people in Congress and in the state House and in the Governor's office who support what Josh is talking about. So, it's not -- there's not one magic solution to the problem he's describing.
PAGEI'm Susan Page and you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. We're video streaming this first hour of the Friday News Roundup on our website, drshow.org. Well, the former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, was sentenced in a sex abuse case this week. What was his sentence, Naftali, and it was kind of a surprise.
BENDAVIDIt was a surprise. He got 15 months in prison, in addition to two years of supervised release. And he was required to get treatment for sexual dysfunction, for lack of a better term.
PAGEFor abuse of teenage boys when he was their coach.
BENDAVIDRight. But that's not what he was sentenced for, which is what's so interesting about this. And you could argue about the rights or wrongs about this. You know, without, of course, disputing that it was a horrible offense. But he was actually being charged for withdrawing certain amounts from his bank account in an attempt to hide the fact that he was paying hush money to cover up some of these -- some of this sexual abuse. So, he got a tougher sentence than really the prosecutors had even been asking for. And that's one of the notable things about the case.
BENDAVIDBut of course, the other notable thing is this guy was Speaker of the House. He was second in line to the Presidency for years. He was very, you know, popular and powerful. And in fact, he -- one of the great ironies, he was elevated to that position as sort of a beacon of morality in what then seemed to be a morass of immorality. This was during the time of the Clinton impeachment over Monica Lewinsky. You know, Newt Gingrich had just been deposed. Bob Livingston, who was supposed to become Speaker, couldn't because of his extra marital affair.
BENDAVIDSo you turn to the salt of the Earth, middle-America, small town wrestling coach, as sort of the one guy who seems to be the rock of moral solidity in the whole thing. And then we find out that all of this is in his past.
PAGEWe had one of the victims of the abuse, Scott Cross, stood up, spoke out at the trial. It was really gripping, Karen. It was really disturbing to hear him talk about what it has meant to his life.
TUMULTYWell, it's, you know, again, it's what we've seen so often in these situations where, you know, the Catholic Church, these victims of this behavior don't just sort of get to go on and carry on with their lives the way the perpetrators do. And with Denny Hastert, I believe, and I did some Googling, and I bet there's a listener out there who can contradict me, but I believe that he may be the highest ranking person in government, in history, ever to have gone to jail.
PAGEYou know, that's an interesting point, because the only people higher ranking in government than the Speaker of the House are the President and the Vice President. Right, because the Speaker is third in line for the Presidency.
PAGEThat's an interesting question. What was Hastert's reaction in the hearing, Olivier?
KNOXOh, brother. Well, Denny Hastert, they made a big show of him being ailing. And he professed some regrets and some remorse. I think this story, every time I tune it in, I'm more horrified. The detail of him setting up an easy chair to -- with a view of the boy's showers to watch them. I -- as the father of a young boy, it's the kind of story that just keeps you up at night.
PAGEHere's an email from John. He writes, more important than Mr. Hastert's sentencing is where does a one time, high school wrestling coach find three million dollars to pay off his victims? Do we know where he got the money for the hush money?
KNOXI mean, I personally don't know the details of his finances, but it's never hard for a former high ranking official to go ahead and make money once they leave office. So to me, that, I guess, didn't strike me as the most salient question arising here.
PAGEYeah. Let's go to a different topic as we go to the end of this hour. You know, we had another House Speaker, John Boehner say that Ted Cruz was, what, Lucifer in the flesh? And we now have a story posted on the Hill that says, Satanists are protesting the comparison with Cruz. A leading Satanist group is trying to distance itself from Ted Cruz after he was compared to Lucifer. Karen, put this in some political context for us.
TUMULTYSo, they're arguing that he was bad mouthing the devil. Is that the argument there?
PAGEOr they don't want to be associated with Ted Cruz.
TUMULTYRight. It's really interesting. First of all, it does appear that the former Speaker did not know that this would become public, these statements. But the fact that Ted Cruz was such a thorn in his side, because he was constantly acting almost as the Chief Deputy Whip of the Tea Party members of the House and constantly sort of stirring them up. And especially at these moments where, you know, government shut downs were looming that John Boehner was doing his very best to prevent.
TUMULTYIt reminds us of how deeply, deeply disliked Ted Cruz is among the, you know, power brokers and pretty much everybody else on Capitol Hill.
BENDAVIDYeah, I mean, if it's a view that a comparison of you and the devil is potentially insulting to the devil, then that tells you everything you need to know about Ted Cruz's popularity, and really the dilemma facing the Republicans. If he's the guy who's the alternative to Trump, I think that's why they're in such bad shape.
PAGEIt's been one of the strengths of Donald Trump, right? That the alternative was Ted Cruz, who a lot of Republicans don't like.
KNOXRight. And you've gotta say this for Ted Cruz, he's drawn some of the best insults of this campaign season. You remember when Lindsay Graham, the Republican Senator from South Carolina, said that if somebody murdered Ted Cruz on the Senate floor and the trial were held in the Senate, they would be acquitted. He's drawn some of the best stuff. We talk about low energy Bush and the rest of it. But really, Ted Cruz has drawn the best insults of the cycle.
PAGEAnd with that, we're gonna close this hour of the Friday News Roundup. I want to thank Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post, Olivier Knox of Yahoo News, Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal for joining us. Thanks for being with us.
PAGEI'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.
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