Guest Host: Sabri Ben-Achour
Donald Trump hits the magic number – it appears he has enough pledged delegates to take the republican nomination. Bernie Sanders says he’s interested in debating the new presumptive G.O.P. nominee in California. After the State Department releases a report critical of Hillary Clinton’s private server, the Democratic frontrunner says voters have more important things to worry about in this election than her emails. Several states sue the Obama administration over its new transgender bathroom policy. South Carolina becomes the thirteenth state to ban abortions after twenty weeks. And the second Freddie Gray trial ends with a “not guilty” verdict. A panel of journalists joins guest host Sabri Ben-Achour for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Chris Frates Investigative correspondent, CNN
- David Rennie Washington bureau chief and Lexington columnist, The Economist.
- Laura Meckler National political correspondent, The Wall Street Journal
MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOURThanks for joining us. I'm Sabri Ben-Achour with "Marketplace" sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's on a station visit to WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina. Donald Trump clinches enough delegates to claim the Republican nomination. A state department review criticizes Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. And 11 states sue the federal government over a transgender bathroom directive.
MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOURJoining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Chris Frates of CNN, Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal and David Rennie of The Economist. Thanks, all of you, for coming.
MR. CHRIS FRATESIt's wonderful to be here.
MS. LAURA MECKLERNice to be here.
MR. DAVID RENNIEGood morning.
BEN-ACHOURSo the AP said yesterday that Donald Trump has clinched the Republican nomination. How did he respond to that?
FRATESHe said he was honored. He was very honored to receive it. It was not a surprise, obviously. He has no more competition. And the reason -- a lot of people may wonder, how did he clinch on a day were we didn't have any actual elections.
BEN-ACHOURWe didn't have a primary. Right.
FRATESAnd the way that happened, that AP and CNN and these other big news organizations were able to call this race is we had been tracking all the delegates and there were a number of unbound delegates. These were delegates who didn't have to declare and allegiance to one candidate of the other and he -- we're calling them and then we found that there were enough delegates who are now saying that they're going to support Donald Trump, that he, you know, clinched that nomination, got to that magic number of 1237.
FRATESAnd important to remember, though, of course, he's still the presumptive Republican nominee until those delegates actually vote on the floor in July. But certainly, you know, he is, by all intents and purposes, the nominee here.
BEN-ACHOURYeah, but that's why they're called presumptive, right. And he kind of reveled in the fact that Hillary has not yet clinched her nomination.
MECKLERI mean, that's sort of the irony of this whole thing. Who would've thought, just even four months ago, three or four months ago, that essentially the Democrats would still be fighting over this and the Republicans would have it all wrapped up. It was absolutely predicted to be the other way around. Now, Hillary Clinton is not quite the presumptive nominee, but she is the odds on favorite nominee.
MECKLERNow, Bernie Sanders is still campaigning hard and his followers are extremely loyal to him. And he's out there telling people that he can still win this. But truthfully, if you look at the math, it is very, very difficult for him to take this nomination from her, both because she's so far ahead in terms of pledged delegates, those are the ones chosen by voters, and she's way far ahead in terms of super delegates, those are the 700 party leaders and elected officials who get to vote for whoever they like.
FRATESIn fact, by CNN's math, it's impossible for Bernie Sanders to clinch the nomination with the number of pledged delegates that are left. So he needs to convince those super delegate, which Hillary Clinton has about 500 of them. Bernie Sanders has just 40 of them. So he needs to convince a huge number to flip and in order to do that, he'd have to be winning more contests. I mean, if you look at 2008, when Barack Obama was able to flip some of Hillary Clinton's super delegates, that's because he was beating Hillary Clinton by about 100 pledge delegates, which is, you know, less than what Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders by now.
FRATESAnd only about 30 or so flipped so it's a really, really tough road for Bernie Sanders.
BEN-ACHOURYeah. Well, what do you think -- I mean, reporters keep pointing this out to Sanders, as they do to every, you know, primary candidate who's behind, what does he say? I mean, what's his...
RENNIEWhat's his rationale for keeping going or for believing that he has a path? I mean, he himself says he has every right to fight to the last -- to the end of the last primary.
BEN-ACHOURAnd so does Hillary, too, say that.
RENNIEAnd so does Hillary. And his people point out that in 2008 when Hillary Clinton was competing against Barack Obama, she didn't drop out before the primaries were over. What is really interesting is that if you go to Bernie Sanders' rallies, as I have done, I'm sure all of us have done recently, and you talk to the people there, there is a real division in the crowd. There are people who identify themselves as Bernie or Bust.
RENNIEThey talk about writing his name in on the ballot or voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president. And they say they cannot imagine every voting for Hillary Clinton. It's only anecdote. I'm not a pollster, but when I go and talk to as many people as I can, I make a point of asking them, would you like Bernie Sanders to destroy Hillary Clinton, to throw everything that he possibly could at her, you know, to try and get those last super delegates?
RENNIEAnd I would say more than half of the people that I talked to tend to say no. I don't like Hillary Clinton, but then, they bring up Donald Trump. And I just -- I know we're interested in talking about Bernie Sanders. I don't want us to forget how important this moment is that Donald Trump getting this nomination. And it's not just a set of numbers. This is the moment when Republican politicians, many of whom have said to journalists like us in the past, how worried they are about Donald Trump, how they think he is not a conservative, that he is appealing to bigotry, that he has a problem with telling the truth, that he's not fit for high office, that he is a pathological liar, to quote Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
RENNIEFor a long time, they could think, well, maybe something will come up. Maybe he won't be the nominee. Maybe there's some way of stopping him. This week is the week that those hopes disappeared. Something will not come up. He is going to be the nominee and now, they all have to choose what they're gonna do about that.
BEN-ACHOURMarco Rubio just released his delegates to Trump. How is the -- I mean, is it fair to say the Republican establishment is sort of coming around to him? With the exception of Paul Ryan, I guess.
FRATESWell, I don't -- I actually don't know that they're coming around to him. I think what they're trying to grapple with is an idea of, you know, how close do we get to him. I mean, certainly, you know, Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell, of course, is Senate Republican Majority Leader. There has been some movement around them. They're kind of forced to get behind him now because it's either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
FRATESBut the question is really how close do they get? With Paul Ryan, you know, not endorsing yet, you know, he is trying to get some kind of policy concessions out of Donald Trump. He wants to come and say, Donald Trump's on our team. He's going to push for things like lower taxes. And, you know, certainly they disagree on things like trade and immigration. So he's trying to find some middle ground to protect his members and say, you know, Donald Trump has, you know, the Republican party's interest at heart.
FRATES'Cause remember, he's not necessarily a Republican. In fact, you know, he gave to Democratic candidates. He gave to Hillary Clinton and he also was somebody who was pro-life, you know, not too long ago. He was essentially a New York Democrat. So...
BEN-ACHOURLaura, what do you think?
MECKLERWell, I think, you know, the establishment definitely is coming around to Donald Trump, but not all of them, but a lot of them, much more than I think a lot of people predicted. But perhaps, more importantly, the voters seem to be coming around to him. I mean, for a long time, during the primaries, people were saying, well, yes, he's got 40 percent of the Republican primary voters, but, you know, that's just 'cause the field is so large and, you know, really more people are against him than for him.
MECKLERBut if you look at what's happened in the polling, he has consolidated Republican support behind him and that's important going into the fall. Now, that doesn't mean he's going to win, but it means that he starts where needs to start.
BEN-ACHOURUm-hum. So moving on to Hillary Clinton and her debate future, she declined to debate Bernie Sanders before the California primary on June 7, but Sanders may have found another debate partner. Tell us about that.
MECKLERWell, it's kind of funny because, you know, so Trump is on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and, evidently, ahead of the show, they asked Bernie Sanders what's the one question you would like to ask him. And, you know, in a moment of pure self interest, he says, the question is, well, will you debate me? And so, you know, Trump says, yeah, sure. It'll be great. It'll be wonderful.
MECKLERIt'll be amazing, more people will watch it. We could raise money for charity. And then, Sanders said, all right, let's do it. Now, so then Trump was asked again and he says, he'll do it if a network can put up $10 million to go to charity, he'll do it.
FRATES10 to $15 million.
MECKLER10 to $15 million. But here's the thing is that if you really look at, like, who would this be good for, who would this be bad for, this would be great for Bernie Sanders. You know, it elevates him.
MECKLERAnd, you know, it helps him show Democrats what he would look like if he were the nominee. But I don't see how this is good for Donald Trump in any way.
FRATESI think it is good for Donald Trump, actually. I think it gives him a test run against Democrats. It gets him to be able to show that he can throw punches.
MECKLERI think you network would love it if he did it on your network, but that would be -- but, no, I just don’t -- I think that the idea -- Bernie Sanders would likely come out with both barrels at Donald Trump and I don't think it would necessarily go very well for him.
RENNIEWe know who it'd be bad for. We know who it'd be bad for is Hillary Clinton.
FRATESYeah, that's right.
MECKLERThat's definitely true.
RENNIEAnd that's why is so many Democrats are really...
FRATESWhich is why it's (word?) probably good for...
RENNIEYeah, and so many Democrats are getting increasingly furious with Bernie Sanders because he appears to be on, essentially, a ego kick, if you're a card-carrying Democrat, who does not seem to mind what he's going to do to the likely nominee of the party.
FRATESBut I also think that's overblown. You know, this whole idea that somehow he's dividing the party. It was much more divisive in 2008 with Clinton versus Obama. There were -- in South Carolina, there was, you know, charges that the Clintons were becoming racist and that was a might tighter race, a much nastier race and they came together and she ended up serving as Secretary...
MECKLERBut there is some important differences now between 2008 and this year and I think that it's very possible, probably likely, that they'll come together again this time. But what -- in 2008, Hillary Clinton had her own political future to think of, which Bernie Sanders, presumably, is not running for president again. Hillary Clinton is also a creature of the Democratic party. Bernie Sanders is not a creature of the Democratic party. Now, they both want to...
FRATESWell, neither was Donald Trump and they're coming around to Donald Trump on the Republican side.
MECKLERNo, but -- right, they're coming around to him, but the question is, does Bernie Sanders have an interest of the party, in terms of unifying around Hillary. And I don't he has those same interests once if he is defeated that Hillary had in 2008. That said, I do think that, ultimately, it's hard to look at the big picture from when you're in the middle of it and I think that ultimately all the signs are that once the primaries are over, even though he says he's taking this fight to the convention, chances are that they will work something out.
FRATESI think that's right.
BEN-ACHOURWell, but back to this debate and how much popcorn I should buy, is it going to happen? I mean, do you really think that it is...
FRATESI think it's unlikely.
BEN-ACHOUROkay. And that's what Hillary has been saying, too. She said...
MECKLERWell, Hillary is hope -- it's wishful thinking.
FRATESWell, if not -- but she's hoping, she's hoping.
MECKLERShe says, it's just a joke, but she's probably right.
FRATESUnless somebody's got $10 million bucks.
BEN-ACHOURYeah. Well, who knows? So there is a state department inspector general report that was critical of Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server while she was Secretary of State. What did that report say?
FRATESIt was very bad news for Hillary Clinton. I mean, she has been saying for over a year now that she followed all the rules, that she did nothing wrong and that state department inspector general report, which is essentially the independent watchdog for the state department, said actually there were rules and she broke those rules. In fact, she didn't even ask for anybody to advise her on the rules. Now, the Clinton folks have said, you know, this is very much, you know, something that other secretaries of state of done, but this is a big problem for Hillary Clinton.
BEN-ACHOURAnd coming up, more of the Friday News Roundup. You can see all of our guests on a live video stream at drshow.org. We'll be right back.
BEN-ACHOURWelcome back. I'm Sabri Ben-Achour with "Marketplace" sitting in for Diane Rehm. With me is Chris Frates, he's an investigative correspondent with CNN, David Rennie is Washington bureau chief and columnist at The Economist, and Laura Meckler, she's national political correspondent at The Wall Street Journal. And if you're just joining us, you can also watch live video of our show at drshow.org.
BEN-ACHOURSo when we left, we were talking about Clinton emails. Laura, you had something to say about them.
MECKLERWho doesn't have something to say about the Clinton emails? I mean, it's a subject I think that will go down in history as one of our great moments. No. The -- I don't know. I think that the inspector general report was definitely bad for Hillary Clinton in that it brought more attention to the issue and it made it clear that she was not in compliance with the guidelines. That said, I think we've kind of known all along that she wasn't in compliance with the rules and the guidelines that were in place at the time.
MECKLERAnd the information the inspector general's report brought was a little more nuanced. For instance, it uncovered an email that we didn't know existed that -- where she was talking about her own concerns about her personal stuff being come -- becoming public, which I think sheds light on what her motives probably really were in setting this up in the first place.
BEN-ACHOURThat she didn't want her personal, private business out...
MECKLERYeah. She didn't want her personal, private business -- didn't want any chance that it would become public. I think that was part of -- probably part of her motivation, that email that for some reason had never showed up made that clear. And also the inspector general report made it clear that she was supposed to ask for permission to do -- set it up this way and she had not done that.
BEN-ACHOURIt sounds very much like an ask for forgiveness rather than permission sufficient...
RENNIEWell they pointed out….
MECKLERYeah. Definitely. Absolutely. But I don't think -- but I do think that the basic facts of the email situation have been known for a long time and I don't think that this report changed our basic understanding of what happened.
BEN-ACHOURNow just really quick for all the listeners out there, we're going to do an entire show on this next week. So tune in for that.
FRATESYou could definitely do a whole show on this.
BEN-ACHOURYeah, yeah. Yeah. David, go ahead.
RENNIELet me just make a kind of electoral point here, which is I think -- look, I entirely agree with both the other guests in terms of, you know, it's bad but put it in context. It doesn't tell us anything we didn't already kind of know. In the political terms, I think you have 40 percent, roughly, of the electorate on each side where it's all baked in. You know, you go to a Trump rally, people say, she should be in jail. And, you know, that's -- they're not going to change their mind. This isn't going to make them feel she should go to jail more.
RENNIEThen you have a whole bunch of people on the Democratic side who are so appalled by Donald Trump that, unless Hillary Clinton is kind of indicted and led off in handcuffs, this isn't going to affect their view. But I do still think it matters because, you know, who may decide this election? You know, if you have to guess now, sitting in May, late May, it's people like suburban mothers in the color counties of Philadelphia, the color counties of Denver, people who voted for Obama in '08, voted for Romney in 2012, the very few swing voters there are in this electorate who live in battleground states. And we know, you know, who these people are. We know that -- where they live in the country. There's not many of them. But if they look at this and they go, uh huh, you know, that sounds a bit official. That just, you know, this reconfirms everything I don't like about her.
RENNIEThat has consequences I think. So, you know, there are so few people available to be persuaded. This stuff does matter if it sways some of them.
BEN-ACHOURShe, I mean, they -- she does point out that this is not that different from what previous secretaries of state have done, right?
FRATESYeah, she continues to try to conflate those things.
MECKLERIt's really one previous secretary of state, first of all.
FRATESYeah, it's one -- it is one secretary of state. And, you know, he -- Colin Powell had used personal email. He didn't have a personal, private server that he routed everything through.
FRATESAnd I think it's important -- there's a couple things that this report told us that we didn't know before. That she failed to seek legal approval and, had she, it wouldn't have been allowed...
FRATES...because of security risks. We also found out that when people inside the State Department tried to raise this with top aides, they said, quote, "never speak of the secretaries personal email again." So there was a feeling there that we're not going to even talk about this because it might be wrong. And I think the other thing to point out is, she -- all the other past secretaries of state cooperated with this inspector general report. She refused to be interviewed. All her top aides refused to be interviewed.
FRATESAnd to David's point about trustworthiness -- I don't think most of the electorate cares, is going to get into the weeds about the nitty-gritty of her email use. But it goes to that bigger idea of trustworthiness. And she's underwater in those ratings. People find her more, you know, they don't trust her more than they trust her. And this only goes to that narrative. And she continues to say that it was allowed, when the fact of the matter is if she had asked it wouldn't have been allowed.
BEN-ACHOURRight. It wasn't expressly disallowed because it wasn't asked about. David.
RENNIEJust very briefly, I think the other thing that, you now, that is a sort of an end-of-yarn that people will be tugging at now in this kind of tangled ball is the revelation I think we didn't know before that her home server had been attacked. We have quotes in the inspector general's report...
RENNIE...from the technical advisor who she hired, the private technician, saying I had to shut the server down today because we were attacked again. So it'll be down for a bit.
RENNIEI mean, I think if, down the road, we discover that the Chinese or someone got into this server -- you know, there's no evidence of that at the moment -- but that's a real potential area of vulnerability I think.
BEN-ACHOURNow, all of this overshadowed what Hillary would have preferred to talk about, which was her pledge to boost spending on infrastructure in her first hundred days. What was -- what did she want to talk about?
MECKLERWell, you know what? I mean, I was with her this week in California where she tried, you know, made that announcement. It, frankly, wasn't much of an announcement. She said she would introduce a plan within the first hundred days. She said it would be bigger, huge. It would be bigger than anything since the interstate highway system was created in the '50s. But she didn't explain how much money she wanted to spend or what it would be. She said those details are coming. So it was kind of a little bit of a shell of an announcement if you ask me.
MECKLERDefinitely overshadowed. Frankly, her main message in California was really not about infrastructure spending, it was really about Donald Trump. And she just went after him hard on a string of issues. Her stump speech has been turned over almost completely to a takedown of Donald Trump on just a wide range of issues, everything from his stuff he's said about foreign policy to immigration to his tax returns. And it's -- to the big story they pushed this week, which was the head of the housing crisis -- Donald Trump appeared to be rooting for the bubble to burst so that he could kind of swoop in and make some money off of it. That was the real main message of the week.
MECKLERThey did have the infrastructure thing, but I think that that was -- the anti-Trump message is what they were really pushing.
FRATESAnd the infrastructure went back to November. I mean, she rolled that out. It was a $250 billion plan that she says she wants to fix roads...
BEN-ACHOURYeah, she's mentioned it before.
MECKLERBut now she's promising to do it within the first hundred days.
FRATESWithin the first hundred days. And that was the difference. But I think it also highlights what Hillary Clinton wants to do in this campaign. She wants to talk about policy. She's a policy wonk. And that's where she's most comfortable. And Donald Trump wants to not talk about policy at all and wants to continue to hit her to keep her off balance. And as Laura points out, you're starting to see how she's reacting to that. You know, she wants to, you know, as her camp always says, run an issue-based campaign. However, she's spending a lot of her stump speech attacking Donald Trump.
MECKLERAnd in fairness, some of those attacks...
FRATESAnd that's an advantage to Trump.
MECKLERSome of the -- but some of those attacks are issue based. Some of them are less so. But some of it is actually about the issues. When you listen to her talk about immigration policy, for instance, is he going to round up people and deport them? When talked about foreign policy, are we going to allow the spread of nuclear weapons? Are we going to get out of NATO? I mean these are things that are truly policy based.
MECKLERAnd some less so.
BEN-ACHOURYeah, go ahead.
RENNIEInfrastructure is not an accident that she chose it. Now it can be dull to think about, but why infrastructure is an interesting policy is it's one of the very few policies where Sanders supporters love to hear about all those hard-hat jobs being created by the federal government, building new roads and bridges and stuff. That appeals to Sanders supporters.
RENNIEIt's also -- if you're Hillary Clinton and you're trying to peel away moderate, pro-business Republicans who are appalled by Donald Trump -- you know, I work for The Economist, we talk to a lot of business leaders, one of the things that they say all the time is this country's infrastructure is in a terrible state, it's appalling that Congress hasn't gotten on with infrastructure -- so if you're trying to peel away sort of moderate business Republicans, infrastructure is a really good subject to talk about.
BEN-ACHOURIt looks like she has -- Clinton has sort of started to farm out some of the nasty campaigning to surrogates like Elizabeth Warren. That...
BEN-ACHOUR...you know, words -- well, here, I'll just read you what Elizabeth Warren says...
MECKLERWell, yeah, no...
BEN-ACHOURShe said, where is it, she called him a money-robbing...
FRATESShe's -- a small, money-grubbing man, who only has, you know, who's greedy and only has that in mind.
FRATESAnd basically, she's trying to audition for the V.P. role here. I mean that's what it feels like to me.
BEN-ACHOURYou think? You think? Laura.
MECKLERI don't -- I have no idea if she wants to be vice president or not and neither does probably anybody else in this room. But she -- and I don't think that she -- those attacks were farmed out to Elizabeth Warren. I think Elizabeth Warren exists very much apart from the Clinton campaign.
MECKLERShe is, I think, genuinely horrified by Donald Trump. If she was auditioning for vice president, she probably would have snuck in something positive to say about Hillary Clinton, which she didn't even mention Hillary Clinton.
MECKLERShe hasn't endorsed Hillary Clinton. She is -- didn't say anything about Sanders either. She -- but she, I think, is genuinely horrified by the idea of Donald Trump being president and she has decided she's going to go after him with everything she's got.
RENNIECan I just point out, sort of, on the Elizabeth Warren thing briefly. We need to keep reminding ourselves, we're getting normalized to Donald Trump and how offensive he is. But Donald Trump, this week, has been talking about Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas...
RENNIE...in reference to her, you know, whether she does or doesn't have Native American ancestry. He says she has a big mouth. Imagine if Ted Cruz was the nominee and suddenly out of the blue he had said, Elizabeth Warren, oh, Pocahontas, she has a big mouth. We'd be having a big discussion about whether that's offensive...
BEN-ACHOUROr imagine if he'd used a different, you know, racial or ethnic group.
BEN-ACHOURI mean, you know...
RENNIEAnd this is not -- this is not right. It's not normal. This shouldn't be the discourse in politics. And I don't want this country to become normalized to it.
FRATESAnd to David's point, I mean, we're also seeing him dredge up all of the Bill Clinton sexual misconduct and trying to tie that to Hillary Clinton by saying, you know, she helped tear down these women who were bringing these allegations. He brought up White Water. He brought up the right-wing conspiracy theories about (unintelligible)
BEN-ACHOURAbout fostership and debunked by about 10 different studies.
FRATES...was ruled a suicide by a bunch of different investigations.
FRATESAnd, you know, it feels like an episode of I love the '90s. And that's kind of what you're seeing here. And that's why, to see somebody like Elizabeth Warren come in who, as Laura points out, has not endorsed Hillary Clinton. In fact, is the heir-apparent to Bernie Sanders' movement among the progressive groups and is really kind of, you know, I think, carving out a role. But I think she's also showing that she is an effective attack, though. She's gotten under Donald Trump's skin in a way that few other politicians have been able to. And that's why you see him kind of sounding off and saying things like, well, she's got a big mount. Which again, of course, hurts him with women.
BEN-ACHOURBecause Trump doesn't, right?
FRATESRight. No, he's very demure, obviously. But I think it's interesting to watch her. And I'm watching her closely as, you know, somebody who might make it on to that V.P. list because she is so effectively...
FRATES...you know, hitting Donald Trump in a way that Hillary Clinton isn't as comfortable and it doesn't come as naturally to her.
BEN-ACHOURNow, there have been -- there's been a little bit of trouble for other Democrats. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, he's a close ally of the Clinton's, he has actually just pulled out of a fundraiser for former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland because he's being investigated by the FBI. What is that about?
FRATESSo that was a story that my colleague, Evan Perez, broke on CNN. And essentially they're looking at the campaign contributions of a Chinese businessman who gave about $120,000 to the McAuliffe for governor campaign. Now that businessman is also -- he has permanent-resident status, so they argue that he's able to give those kinds of campaigns. That businessman also gave money to the Clinton Foundation. And of course, Terry McAuliffe, very close to the Clintons. He's often described Bill Clinton as his best friend. And they were very supportive of his run for governor.
FRATESSo that's why this has national implications outside of Virginia, because of that close nexus to the Clintons and their foundation. And the feds are investigating where that money came from and whether it was legally given.
RENNIEIt's also this technicality that this -- the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is about American citizens lobbying for foreign entities and whether he's run afoul of that technicality. But to Chris' point, this matters not just because Terry McAuliffe is very close to the Clintons, but let's not forget, you know, in previous elections we've all been in Ohio for months and months of our lives. Virginia has become, because of demographic shifts and particularly the changing nature of northern Virginia and lots and lots of non-whites moving in, Virginia has become perhaps on a par with Ohio as a battleground state. Big state, lots of people, right on the knife-edge between the two parties.
RENNIESo the Clintons were looking to Terry McAuliffe to be the kind of the general in charge of their fortress in Virginia.
BEN-ACHOURMm-hmm. We'll have to see how serious this gets. We have an email from Brigitte in Oregon. She says Hillary's use of private server was not illegal. It was discouraged, not prohibited. The press, even NPR, needs to get it right. What do you guys say to that?
FRATESIt was prohibited. I mean, the rules when she came in were not to do this. In fact, it was such a unique arrangement that they didn't -- that it didn't even cover private servers because that's not something anybody had done before. But it, well, because it was personal email, it was in fact prohibited.
RENNIEAnd also, politically, not illegal is a bad bumper sticker.
BEN-ACHOURTrue. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I'm Sabri Ben-Achour with "Marketplace" filling in. And if you'd like to join us, call 1-800-433-8850 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And don't forget you can see all of us on our live video stream at drshow.org. I don't know if you want to see me in the morning ever. So let's go to -- we have a lot of Hillary calls. Let's go to Scott in Houston, Texas.
SCOTTHey, I do have a comment to make. And whether you go through the -- if it's okay to have a personal server or not, about the email, that's a choice she made to do her communications. What is more substantive now is we have to see what does the director of the FBI and his investigation determine about her knowingly having classified, top-secret information on an unsecure network. That is where we need to really -- I mean, did she have a server? Yes. Was she allowed to? That's really not that big of a deal because whether she was or not, she did it. And here's the point.
BEN-ACHOURScott, thank you. Thank you for that.
SCOTTIf she didn't know about classified information, we have a much larger problem here. And I think that's where we need to be looking at, as opposed to, you know, that's where legal ramifications could come in.
BEN-ACHOURSure. Scott, thank you. This is something that I have actually -- that has puzzled me a little bit too. Everything that was classified, hasn't it been retroactively classified? It wasn't classified at the time, right?
MECKLERWell, that's exactly it. That's what Hillary Clinton said and her campaign says. It wasn't classified at the time. And then afterwards there's this sort of rampant over-classification that goes through government. And a lot of experts agree with that, that there's stuff that is classified -- deemed classified and then therefore not released to the public and, you know, which is a whole separate issue that it relates to this that -- and it happens too much. That -- but I do think the caller is right that the big question that's out there right now is what's the FBI going to do?
MECKLERAre they going to issue, you know, obviously an indictment would be the worst possible scenario for her, so is that going to happen? And in order to do that, as I understand it, they have to show that she had some knowing -- knowingly put national security at risk, knowingly put -- compromised classified material. And that is a very high bar to meet. So I'm not really sure whether it's going to really end there. But I think that that is still obviously the shoe out there that has yet to fall.
RENNIEWell, I think, it's -- you've got two things going on. You've got the law. And the FBI is going to follow the law and take that decision. You have got this character issue. Now, I agree with everything we sort of said before, that this isn't going to, you know, stop her becoming president when nothing else can, you know. But it does play into this problem of judgment. And I was talking to someone who works at the State Department at a pretty senior level. And I was talking with him privately and saying, if you did this, if you had done this, would you be in trouble? And they were like, yeah. This is why we're all paranoid about our emails and two different Blackberries and stuff. We would have been killed if we'd done this.
BEN-ACHOURChris, very quickly.
FRATESIn fact, the Kenyan ambassador did do this and they started discipline proceedings against him while Hillary Clinton was doing the same exact thing.
BEN-ACHOURComing up, your calls and questions for our panel. Please stay tuned.
BEN-ACHOURWelcome back, everybody. I'm Sabri Ben-Achour with "Marketplace" sitting in for Diane Rehm. With me is Chris Frates. He's an investigative correspondent with CNN. David Rennie, he's Washington bureau chief and columnist at The Economist. And Laura Meckler, national political correspondent at the Wall Street Journal. Let's go to Derek in Talent, Oregon. Derek, you're on the air.
DEREKHey, thanks for taking my call. I'm a Bernie or bust Sandernista. And you know, Bernie said long ago that we were sick and tired of hearing about her damn emails, but that may be the case, but it does -- the big reason, it seems to me, that she was trying to avoid a public server was because she could roll public records request information. In particular, FOIA requests. Freedom of Information Act. And we have to demand more of our elected officials and cabinet members, that they play by the rules and make that stuff available so that when it is declassified or available to the public, that we can understand what they're doing.
BEN-ACHOURSure. Thanks, Derek. What do you guys -- what do you guys make of that? Laura, go ahead.
MECKLERWell, I think that that, from my point of view, that's one of the most disturbing, if not the most disturbing parts of this whole email setup. Is that it did, in fact, make it difficult for her -- for the public, to find out what she was talking about over email. She has said, long said, well, she expected that her emails would be available because so many of them went to other people on their state.gov accounts. But, the reality is that the way the State Department responds to FOIA, is the way that information's made available, it's very, very hard to find them when they're all scattered throughout the government.
MECKLERAnd it should be easy. And one of the points that was made, that was already known but that was made by the Inspector General Report was that she did not archive them as she went along. She did not turn them in. In fact, when she left office at the end of her tenure, she did not turn them all over then. She did not do it until months later when she was asked. So, I think that from a public records point of view, this is not perhaps criminal, but it is disturbing, I think, that, you know, that you do -- when you work for the government, you know, your government business is public. And that's the way it is.
BEN-ACHOURAnd we are...
MECKLERAnd it should be.
BEN-ACHOUR...and we are again, just so everyone knows, we're gonna have a whole show on this next week. So, so hang on.
FRATESHold on to your hats.
BEN-ACHOURYeah, Chris, did you want to add to that?
FRATESNo, I think Laura covered that, and I think the piece that, you know, I think needs to be emphasized, is that she did not turn these emails over until the lawyers started asking for them. And the Benghazi committee, which has been much maligned by Democrats, will point out that they're the ones who found out that she had this private email account, and that's how they were able to start making these requests. And that's when the State Department could be responsive, is they had to go to Hillary Clinton herself.
FRATESThat's how this all started. And without the Benghazi Committee, Trey Gowdy, the Chairman of that Committee would tell you, we wouldn't even know she had this private server because those emails existed nowhere in government records.
BEN-ACHOURNow, Bernie Sanders has made clear -- well, there's a lot of -- all the conflict that you hear in the primary campaign is replicated behind the scenes. And Bernie Sanders has made clear that he wants to replace Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Is that going to happen, and what's happening in that conflict?
MECKLERWell, it might happen. You know, she is a very divisive figure. She is...
BEN-ACHOURWhy is that?
MECKLER...well, because she just sort of never seems to use a scalpel when a mallet will do. She has been perceived by the Bernie people to be pro-Hillary in a variety of decisions. I'm not so sure whether she's made any actual decisions that have been biased, but she has come out on several occasions and essentially just taken -- tried to take down Bernie Sanders when she thought he was in the wrong on TV, in a very sort of divisive way. Rather than trying to calm the waters, she tends to roil the waters.
MECKLERAnd the Sanders people absolutely think she's got her whole hand on the scale in favor of Clinton. So, I think that when the two parties inevitably start to try to talk after these -- after the voting is done and they talk about ways that they can come together, it's very possible that she may be on the table. There's a lot of people on the Hill who think that she would be a very good sacrificial lamb to try to bring the parties together.
BEN-ACHOURDavid. Go ahead.
RENNIEIf there are listeners wondering why they should care who the current chairman of the DNC is and whether she goes before the convention or she was expected to go anyway by the end of the year because she's been DNC Chairman for quite a while, here's why it really matters in the real world. Outside, kind of, D.C., inside the beltway is she is weak and needs to make concessions to keep Bernie Sanders on board and to avoid having a kind of gigantically, kind of, argumentative convention, we can already see her doing things like giving him five members of the platform committee that will design the party platform.
RENNIENow, you know, people very close, and you know, I have to be careful, and understand this is off the record, but people very close to Debbie Wasserman Schultz have in the recent past been fairly dismissive behind closed doors about how much party platforms matter and how much of a real concession this is to Bernie Sanders.
BEN-ACHOURRight, and just to be clear, Bernie Sanders was given, he was able to appoint five people.
RENNIEFive out of the 16.
BEN-ACHOURTo the Democratic Party's platform.
FRATESWhich is unprecedented.
RENNIEWhereas normally, a DNC Chairman, if they want to play hardball, can just appoint everyone they want. Now, you can argue about how much a party platform ultimately matters, because a presidential candidate isn't completely bound by what's in the party platform. And also, frankly, most members of the public cannot quote the party platform to you, but we have seen, at previous conventions, party platforms become news because there's a gigantic divisive row about something like, in this case, people are now panicking about Israel/Palestine becoming an issue.
RENNIEBecause at least a couple of the people that Bernie Sanders has named as his representatives on the platform committee, James Zogby, the pollster and Arab American.
BEN-ACHOURHe's the brother of the pollster.
RENNIEOh, he's the brother of the pollster. I'm sorry. The Arab American activist, and Cornell West, the African-American History Professor, they have both got a record of fairly stern comments about this Israeli government and the Middle East policies of the Democratic Party. So, if that becomes a gigantic issue, then Debbie Wasserman Schultz's weakness, if it means that this gets more traction and TV viewers watch a gigantic row, which sounds anti-Israeli, then you're into the world of real news as opposed to inside baseball.
MECKLERWell, I think that, I think that the reason why this also matters is because as Sanders -- it's become apparent that he's probably not going to be the nominee, it's been -- the conversation has been well, so where does he go from here? He obviously has a lot of energy that he cares very much about the issues. And one of the things that identified of where they're going to go from here is they're going to try to get their issues into the platform. They're going to try to get some changes into the rules that the Democratic Party uses to choose future nominees.
MECKLERAnd that's why it matters, sort of, who's on these committees? But really, at the end of the day, I think the most likely scenario is that the Clinton people are not going to care that much about the details of what's in the platform. They don't have, maybe the Israel thing will blow up. That is one that has the potential for that. But most of this stuff, whether it's a 12 dollar minimum wage or a 15 dollar minimum wage, I would not expect to see a big fight about that.
BEN-ACHOURAnd Jim Zogby is not some sort of, you know, flag burning radical. I mean, he's a very, sort of, center of the road person who doesn't say...
BEN-ACHOUR...much that's different from what the State Department says. Chris, go ahead.
FRATESAnd just to piggyback a little bit on David's point, which is -- well, why do people care, you know, outside of the beltway, and I think because Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, she is part of that establishment that Bernie Sanders and his supporters really feel, like, are rigged. And if you go through their complaints, and, you know, I've talked to Jeff Weaver about this, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, at length, if you go through those complaints, there weren't enough debates.
FRATESYou know, again, we're not debating in California. She had promised that there would be a California debate in May if this was still going. That didn't happen. You also look at, you know, of course we're talking about the party platform, but when, you know, Jeff Weaver gets on CNN and says, well, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been throwing shade at the Bernie Sanders campaign since we started, and then she responds with hashtag SMH. You know, shaking my head, and goes on to attack, you know, Bernie Sanders and his campaign.
FRATESYou can start to see why people think, as Laura pointed out, that that might be a good sacrificial lamb to say, okay, you know what, Sanders supporters, we want to bring you in here. We're getting rid of that top of the ticket, that party figure and we're going to bring in somebody who's acceptable to both of you, which is really unprecedented. And I think it is the establishment recognizing how much anti-establishment energy is in the party right now. And that they need to bring those folks into the fold and they need to make sure that they come out and vote for Hillary Clinton and don't sit on the sidelines.
BEN-ACHOURWhat do you all make of all the violence we are seeing, particularly at Trump rallies, this season, from multiple sides?
FRATESSo, I've been at a lot of Trump rallies. I've been to more than two dozen Trump rallies, and the thing that has struck me is that, you know, there is a kind of underlying tension inside of those rallies. And it's two-fold. One, you know, Donald Trump, you know, loves to rile up the rallies. He's a showman. He loves when those protestors come out and, you know, get him out of here. Go get a job. Send him back to mommy. You know, are we having fun here, guys? We're having fun, aren't we?
FRATESAnd people get all riled up, and they love that. But it's also important to remember that those folks are coming in and they are agitating and they are upsetting what is a private event. Now, when they are outside, you know, that is certainly a space where they're legally protesting and when they start to riot, as we saw, you know, this week.
BEN-ACHOURThrowing burning tee shirts.
FRATESExactly. That is against the law and that is, you know, that is essentially -- that gives Donald Trump the ability to say that these are criminals and they're coming to disrupt, when by and large, you're seeing big contingents because people feel very strongly against Donald Trump. But that kind of inside, it plays to Trump both ways. He gets to, you know, kind of incite the...
FRATES...inside, and then say, they're breaking the law outside.
BEN-ACHOURWell, it's still very dismaying, wherever it's happening, the whole dynamic. David, go ahead.
RENNIEI'll tell you what was also, if you're the Hillary Clinton campaign, I assume they were incredibly dismayed to see when there was some trouble in the streets of Albuquerque this week, protestors not only sort of smashing up a couple of police cars, but also waving Mexican flags. Because if you are Donald Trump's people, that is proof positive that his opponents are not proper Americans, they're not patriotic Americans. They're these foreigners. And there is a kind of unhealthy symbiosis between the most radical elements on the left, who know that it's provocative to wave a Mexican flag.
RENNIEBut they don't care, because they hate Trump so much. And if you're Trump, you know, you're delighted to see that. He tweeted it out. Look at the Mexican flags.
BEN-ACHOURYep. Mexican criminals.
RENNIESo, these two groups, these two groups are feeding on each other, and if you're the Clinton campaign, that's a nightmare.
BEN-ACHOURYeah. Laura, did you have anything to add to that?
MECKLERNo. Not particularly. You know, I just think, I think that, you know, the protest is a great American tradition in this country, and the strong passions at the Trump rally are reflective of the very, very strong passions people have against Donald Trump.
BEN-ACHOURI'm Sabri Ben-Achour with "Marketplace" and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." So, another round in the battle over transgender bathroom access this week. Who are the states suing the federal government over this and why?
MECKLERWell, I believe Texas is one of the lead states that is, that has filed the suit. Other ones include Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, there are 11 total that are involved. Why, is that the federal government just issued guidance saying that in schools, public schools, you need to allow people to use the bathroom of their choice if somebody identifies with a different gender from that which they were born with. They still should be able to use the bathroom that they choose.
MECKLERThis is a very interesting issue, both legally and culturally. It's been, just as we saw a rapid acceleration of the conversation about gay rights, you know, several years ago, you know, I think we're now seeing that same conversation about transgender rights. And something that people were very uncomfortable with not that long ago has, coming out into the mainstream and people are grappling with it on both sides. The Obama administration has come down clearly on the side of civil rights for people who identify as transgender.
MECKLERAnd they point to the law, which says sex -- which bars discrimination on the basis of sex.
BEN-ACHOURWhich is not totally defined yet.
MECKLERWell, right. But that's -- so, that's the question. Keep in mind that this is different than discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which, you know, which has to do with whether you're gay or lesbian. This is about, on the basis of sex, are you a man or a woman? Now, obviously, it's against the law to say, you know, we're going to provide bathrooms for men and not women here. But is it against the law to say that you have to use this bathroom? So, or you're not allowed to use that bathroom. So, that -- this is a part of the law that is being developed right now, but, and that this case will test.
BEN-ACHOURDo you think this will go to the Supreme Court? David.
RENNIEYou have to assume that that's where this is headed. I think what we also need to understand is that this is a proxy fight. This is the latest round in a very long fight and the reason that this is proving so contentious and you could argue such a useful wedge issue for conservatives who are unhappy about gay marriages. You know, why did gay marriage move so fast in terms of public opinion in such a short space of years? One of the reasons, I think, is that people -- a majority of Americans came to realize that it didn't actually harm them if gay people wanted to join this institution.
RENNIEIt didn't really radically change the institution. Clearly, some people think it does harm the institution. But enough people said, this isn't zero sum. It's just more people joining the institution of marriage. It doesn't take anything away from me. What this bathroom issue has done is it's given people who are generally unhappy about the pace of change in society who think that the country's losing its kind of traditional, religious Christian, Judea/Christian values.
RENNIEIt's given them a zero sum issue, that suddenly these people who are making claims about their own rights as transgender people, that they're actually making your children less safe.
RENNIEThey're making your children in danger. And so that's a really useful wedge issue, to make it into an attack on decent, ordinary people who are now being threatened by these sick people. And I think one of the most dismaying things for me, this week, was seeing the Texas Attorney General, who's the lead plaintiff in this, essentially explain that he doesn't really take transgender claims seriously. He says, you know, these men could change their mind in a day. They could change their mind back and forth, and so they're a woman today and a man tomorrow.
RENNIEAnd I think that was a really revealing moment, because it showed that, essentially what he's saying is he doesn't think that people who claim to be transgender should be believed.
BEN-ACHOURWell, it shows that he doesn't know anyone who's transgender is what that...
MECKLERWell, see -- yes. And I think that that's a really interesting point. I think what changed attitudes about -- about sexual orientation in this country was that a lot of people got to know people who are gay. As more people, sort of, came out of the closet, got to know them, then it wasn't so scary. And I think there are not that many people who know transgendered people, and if that starts to change, then I think the attitudes will follow.
BEN-ACHOURWell, speaking of LGBT issues, that came up in Congress yesterday over a routine spending bill. It was quite ruckus. What happened, Chris?
FRATESSo, this was a continuation of a fight that we saw last week on these must pass spending bills. They often put on riders, and the Democrats wanted to put on a rider that said that federal contractors will discriminate against LGBT individuals. And that amendment was killed last week at the last minute. It had passed, the Republican leadership saw that it was going to pass, they kept the vote open, they twisted arms, so that amendment failed without -- and then the bill could pass without that amendment.
FRATESWhat happened this week is enough Republicans stayed on that amendment to pass that amendment, that then the entire bill failed. Which was a big embarrassment to House Speaker Paul Ryan as he tries to, you know, make the case that we're following regular order. And are, you know, are passing our nation's spending bill. So, this fight is a multi-faceted fight, and to Laura's point earlier, when, you know, she's making this point about, you know, many people do not know transgender individuals, I think what we're seeing, also, from the opponents of that harkens back to what we saw the opponents of gay marriage and gay rights.
FRATESThey often made the pedophile argument, that if, you know, that gay men, in particular, are pedophiles and they prey on children. And there's an echo of that in the transgender bathroom fight where they're saying, well, men are going to, you know, dress up as women to go into women's bathrooms and then to hurt your little girl. So, we're seeing, again, an echo...
BEN-ACHOURSpecter of fear.
FRATES...the specter of fear on this pedophile issue, which, you know, experts and folks who are gay, lesbian and transgender will tell you, you know, certainly, pedophilia is a crime. It's disgusting and you should never prey on children. However, those echoes are back and I think that is concerning to many people, as well.
BEN-ACHOURRight. Well, and also, you know, a majority of Americans believe that you can't discriminate against gay and lesbian people, but you, in fact, can nationwide. And here we have this bill to prohibit that that failed. At least among federal contractors. I'm Sabri Ben-Achour with "Marketplace" sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks everybody for listening.