Investigations, Indictments, And The Political Future Of Donald Trump
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser talks investigations, indictments and the political future of Donald Trump.
Guest Host: David Gregory
The Democratic Party leadership wants to move on, but Bernie Sanders isn’t quite ready yet. President Barack Obama and other high-profile Democrats endorse Hillary Clinton after she’s poised to become the first woman in U.S. history to top a major party’s presidential ticket. But Senator Sanders vows to continue his campaign at least through the last Democratic primary in Washington, D.C. Also this week, House Speaker Paul Ryan started to roll out the G.O.P’s 2017 agenda. And it appears to be a sign that Republican leaders aren’t fully embracing their presumptive nominee. Finally, thousands are expected to attend the funeral of boxing legend Mohammad Ali. A panel of journalists joins guest host David Gregory for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
MR. DAVID GREGORYAnd thank you for joining us. I'm David Gregory of CNN and the host of the David Gregory podcast sitting in for Diane Rehm this morning. She is on a station visit to WMFE in Orlando, Florida. President Obama endorses Hillary Clinton, but Bernie Sanders vows to campaign through next week's final primary here in Washington D.C. Controversy over Donald Trump overshadows House Speakers Ryan's rollout of an election year policy agenda.
MR. DAVID GREGORYAnd we remember the legacy of Muhammad Ali. Joining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Neil King Jr. of The Wall Street Journal, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Ed Luce of The Financial Times. We are live streaming today and you can see all of our guests on the live video stream at drshow.org. We want to take your comments and questions throughout the hour as well on this Friday News Roundup.
MR. DAVID GREGORYYou can call us at 800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com. Join us on Facebook or Twitter. And I mentioned the live stream as well. Welcome to all of you. We made it. It's Friday and what a week in politics it has been.
MR. NEIL KING JR.It's been a fun one.
MR. AMY WALTERIt's been fun.
GREGORYYeah, it sure has. So the Democrats, in incredible choreography, Neil, have a presumptive nominee in Hillary Clinton. The president quickly endorsing her. Joe Biden, the vice president, falling in. Elizabeth Warren falling in line and Bernie Sanders signaling that the end is near and he's getting close to being on the team as well. What does it all mean?
JR.This has been a pivotal week and just a dramatic shift in so many ways in terms of the momentum from Trump of a week ago or so, maybe a couple of weeks. It seemed like had still a certain amount of momentum. He's now very much on the ropes. And Hillary Clinton is seeing not only the way Tuesday went where she won -- did very well that night in the last big round of primaries, won California handily, which had been some suspense, has now put Sanders aside, even though he's still gonna kind of stick it through Washington primary next Tuesday.
JR.And then, all the various surrogates, the huge high-powered surrogates that the Democratic party had waiting in the wings to back her. President Obama steps forward. Pretty interesting video. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren. At one point, we can imagine Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders being on the same stage and trying to make their peace. She has a lot of work to do to bring the Sanders people around, but the fact that she has the firepower on her side, Elizabeth Warren, the speech she gave yesterday was extraordinary.
GREGORYWell, let's pick up on that because here's Elizabeth Warren being described in the New York Times today, Amy, as the sledgehammer. I mean, she -- it was a searing takedown of Donald Trump that she gave in front of a group of lawyers last night in Washington. She endorses Hillary Clinton before Bernie Sanders has done so, which is interesting.
GREGORYAnd she's meeting with Hillary Clinton today. What does it all mean? What is the future for Elizabeth Warren here?
WALTERWell, I know that a lot of folks want to point to the future being she'll run as her vice president, but I think if we've seen anything this week, to your point about the sledgehammer, she can be just as effective off the ticket as on the ticket. In fact, she may even be better off the ticket because she has sort of free rein, right? She can do whatever she wants to do, say whatever she wants to say without it being specifically attached to Hillary Clinton.
WALTERAnd when it comes to unifying the party, to Neil's point, there is nobody better than Elizabeth Warren to help bring a lot of the reluctant Sanders folks on board. The other thing that I noted when I was sort of digging through who these Sanders voters are, look, a lot of them are definitely disappointed liberals who they're not going to be excited about Hillary Clinton. She's never going to live up to their expectations for what they'd like to see in a nominee.
WALTERBut a lot of these folks who, right now, say they're going to vote not for Trump, not for Clinton, they would only vote for Sanders, a lot of them aren't Democrats, okay? They're independents. They're Republicans who are frustrated. No Elizabeth Warren, no Obama is going to bring them back. They may vote, they may not vote. Hillary Clinton doesn't need to bring all of those people back in order to unify the party.
GREGORYYou know, Ed Luce, what I thought was so interesting about what Elizabeth Warren did, that was very smart politics, first of all, she's mounting an attack on Donald Trump in a sustained way that will be buttressed by superPAC advertising and by the Clinton team. So we haven't seen a sustained attack against Trump in the Republican primary so we don't know how it will work. Secondly, she linked Trump with the rest of the Republican party in a way that would, perhaps, position her to try to be on the tip of the spear of getting the Senate back into Democratic hands.
GREGORYBut it was way to say, look, all this hand-wringing by Republican leaders, guess what, it's of a piece. He belongs to you. You enabled him. You created space for him. Very powerful and smart politics.
MR. EDWARD LUCEYeah, very powerful. I thought she was particularly, in her speech last night, good at linking the Trump candidacy to the broader Mitch McConnell as the Senate majority leader and other drive to get conservatives on the Supreme Court and to serve the rich, is the way she put it, that this is -- Trump is not some stand alone random candidate. He's the logical consequence of a GOP strategy to revolutionize America through plutocratic Supreme Court. And I thought that was particularly effective.
MR. EDWARD LUCEI would agree with Amy that she's far better positioned, from Hillary's point of view and maybe from her own point of view, as the person who will flip the Senate, as the person who will link Trump to all the Senate races and all the embattled Republican candidates and that she's pretty unlikely, I think, to be selected as Hillary's running mate. I don't think there's that much love lost between those two.
GREGORYWell, that's actually my feeling as well, but that's more of a gut feeling and clearly, the Clinton team will do some testing on the two of them together. Does anybody think that the rapid fire endorsement of Clinton yesterday did anything to diminish the courting of Bernie Sanders yesterday?
JR.I don't think so, really. I think he's been going through a fairly long process in his own right of kind of reconciling that he ran this extraordinary race, he's done the party, in many ways, a favor. He certainly did her a favor in many ways by just strengthening her as a candidate. He will have his influence going forward. He's obviously doing to have -- make his stamp on the platform and, you know, putting various people forward. I'm sure he'll actually also move to amend or change the way that the nominations are done because he, obviously, wasn't pleased by that.
GREGORYSuper delegates, in particular. I mean, it strikes me that that's one thing that Hillary Clinton could do is say, yeah, let's take a hard look at the role of super delegates and maybe get rid of them in the future.
JR.Yeah. I think the binding force that we're gonna see here in extraordinary ways, and we've seen it just in the last couple days, is that Donald Trump is going to give such an extraordinary focus to not only Hillary Clinton, but, you know, can you imagine how Barack Obama is just reveling the chance to get out on the road and talk about a person who vilified or at least held up this whole sort of birther conspiracy or theory more than anyone else in 2011.
JR.And there's not a lot of love between the two of them. And for Obama to go out on the stump, he's going to do to a bunch of the swing states and make the case for somebody to succeed him in the White House of his own party, Hillary Clinton, and also be able to attack Trump, Trump is doing them a favor in so many ways.
GREGORYAmy, we should also point out, I mean, one of the striking things about this week for me, here is President Obama endorsing Hillary Clinton on a video that goes viral, including subtitles, which is meant, I gather, for people online who aren't listening to the sound. That's the level of sophistication. But it didn't go, you know, to the cameras in the rose garden. That's the way he chose to do it. And the whole idea of what Obama could mean as a 50 percent public approval president in delivering that Obama coalition of 2012 is potentially really powerful.
WALTERWell, you know, again, going to both the point of what Obama does and needing Bernie Sanders, look, it's clear that Bernie Sanders knew this was coming as well, right? They gave him both the heads up and the room to give, you know, his -- so that his pride was not stomped on by these very quick endorsements. And I think Elizabeth Warren, quite frankly, had been signaling for weeks that she was going to do this. Right? She started this Twitter war with Donald Trump a couple, three weeks ago, starting to make pretty clear that she was saying to her team -- by her team, meaning Democrats, you guys, look, this race is basically over.
WALTERWe need to focus on Trump -- without saying it. She comes out officially and says it now. So she's been warming up for this some time, as has the president in making this a case about Donald Trump. I also think what's remarkable about Obama's approval rating, we'll see as we move forward, but I think his approval rating is, in large part, a reaction to just what a clown car of an election we've seen thus far, right?
WALTERThat he looks -- compared to what's been happening in the primaries, especially what's been happening with Donald Trump as, wow, maybe I should take a second look at this guy.
GREGORYShould we not over-read then or read too much into him being at 50 percent?
WALTERI think we are over -- I do. I do want to wait a little while as we move further into this campaign because at the bottom line, you still have a president -- he may have 51 percent approval rating, but you also have a country that says, we need to go in a different direction. We don’t like the current trajectory that we're on. We're frustrated about the state of the economy. We want to see change. So I think there's competing dialogues going on here for a lot of Americans.
LUCEYeah. I mean, I think the objective measures of whether Hillary would win against a different kind of Republican candidate in this election show, at best, a 50/50, if not an edge for the Republican. Third term is, you know, something that's only happened once. 50, 51 percent approval ratings is just that, 50/50. And the economy is okay, but pretty indifferent. The last month, job report 38,000 jobs shows we might, you know, be -- we've being going through another false dawn of a recovery, a repeated false dawn.
LUCESo you can't bank on that sort of carrying Hillary, a sort of Obama continuity message through November. But, you know, Obama is, I think, by far and away, the best campaigner in the country to get to African American and other nonwhite turnout up for Hillary in November, better than Bill Clinton. He's lost his mojo to some degree.
GREGORYIt's an interesting question, too, as we get ready for a break, to reflect on the historic nature of Hillary Clinton's candidacy. She hadn't talked a lot about that before really being poised to become the presumptive nominee this week. We'll talk about that when we come back. Also, the Republicans as well. More of the Friday News Roundup. And you can see on video stream as well. We'll be right back.
GREGORYWelcome back. I'm David Gregory sitting in this morning for Diane Rehm. It is the Friday News Roundup, a week of a lot of politics to talk about. And here with me, Neil King of The Wall Street Journal, Amy Walter, national editor for the Cook Political Report, and Ed Luce, chief U.S. columnist and commentator at the Financial Times. We are live streaming as well, which you can catch at drshow.org. We're taking your calls, 800-433-8850. You can send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find us on Facebook or send us a tweet. I mean, between any of those things, I think that's enough.
GREGORYSo, Amy Walter, it was quite a moment when Hillary Clinton effectively assumed the mantle of presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, the first woman to be the nominee of a major party in U.S. history. And it was an emphasis on the historic nature of her candidacy that we have not heard her discuss a lot. And what I thought was most compelling was how she would like to share that with her mother.
MS. AMY WALTERWith her mother, yeah. Absolutely. I think the challenge for Hillary Clinton from the very beginning of this campaign, and it's going to continue through November, is that for many Americans they see Hillary Clinton first as Hillary Clinton and second as a woman. And I mean that not in a pejorative way but just to say she is so defined as being Hillary Clinton the politician, that Hillary Clinton the woman gets second -- sort of second string. And I think that this has been her challenge, especially with younger women voters, who see her, yes, as breaking some long-standing glass ceiling but, because of who she is and the fact that she's been so part of the establishment, they don't see this as particularly groundbreaking.
WALTERI can't tell you the number of young women I talked to, and young men, who say, yeah, it's great and everything. But, you know, I'm already expecting we're going to have a woman elected president in my lifetime. So this is something that, for them, is not considered as big of a shattering as I think especially women who are older. Which is one reason I think you're seeing such a gender -- I mean, I'm sorry -- generational divide in the Democratic vote on this issue.
GREGORYI wonder, Neil, whether writ large in this country we're more interested in breaking the racial barrier that President Obama represented than we are in breaking a gender barrier at this level.
JR.I think that should be thinned out. I think there -- I mean, the fascination and the -- for the goodwill that was felt really widely across the country when Obama was -- won, even among a lot of Republicans, is evidence of that. I think one of the real challenges goes to your point, Amy, but a little bit differently, is that because Hillary Clinton has risen up as a partner to somebody else who was so prominent in American politics and became known first to the country as a wife and then went on to her other various iterations in Washington, her own biography has really been kind of muffled as a result.
JR.And, you know, Obama, in his video yesterday, made the statement that she was probably the -- or not probably, was the most qualified candidate ever for president. And in some ways, he's actually right. I mean, this is a person with an extraordinary story. It's just hard for her to break out and actually tell it, because people just know her so well...
JR....and they know her within a certain confine. So woman or not woman, it's this -- she lacks a freshness, like, look at this person who just burst on the scene. And if it had been a woman that had just burst on the scene that wasn't so familiar, I think that feeling would be a sharper one.
WALTERI absolutely agree.
WALTERAnd that's what the -- with Obama it was that, not simply that he was African American and this was a first, but that you, as a voter, were able to put onto him anything you wanted him to be...
WALTER...because we didn't know anything about him.
LUCESo I liked, in her speech on Tuesday night, particularly the reference to the fact that her mother Dorothy Rodham was born June 4, 97 years ago, when the 19th Amendment was being pushed -- put on the floor of Capitol Hill, the Amendment that of course gave women the vote. I do think it's worth mentioning though that, technically speaking, African-American men got the vote, you know, what, 50, 60 years before women of any color.
LUCEAnd that I suspect, Trump being Trump, those women -- Democratic women of whatever generation who might be wavering about Hillary now, with Bernie Sanders' campaign still fresh in their mind, will feel very differently a few weeks from now and after Labor Day. The female thing is going to get more defined in Hillary's favor as this goes on.
GREGORYI want to return to the idea of what, now, Hillary Clinton does to court Bernie Sanders...
GREGORY...what role he plays and how that lays out. We're getting some feedback on this, a couple of emails I want to read. One from Lisa, those calling for Bernie Sanders' supporters to, quote, "get in line with Democrats and support Hillary" are missing the point of the, quote, "revolution." Another from Peggy, why wouldn't Sanders' supporters support Gary Johnson, who's running as a Libertarian, same with a lot of disappointed Republicans? Neil, first to this revolution point. I do think Hillary Clinton's got to be very careful how she tends to the progressive wing of the party.
GREGORYAs we said here yesterday, the Republicans really mishandled the populism that became the Tea Party. They ignored it, they didn't tend to it. There could yet be a Tea Party on the left.
JR.I agree. And I don't know how long this might play out. I mean, if you talk about the Tea Party, it was something that came first along in 2009 and then it's taken some time to kind of reach its weird iteration now. And I'm not sure what it is that Hillary Clinton can do precisely to try to accommodate people. I think, in large part, she's using the menace of Donald Trump as a binding agent. She doubts very much her attempt.
JR.You know, we had an interview with her on Wednesday where we talked about her economic plan. And it was interesting -- it was not a long one, it was like less than 20 minutes -- but she didn't make any nods in that interview towards the kinds of things -- she's not talking about free college in the way that Bernie Sanders is. She's not, so far -- she's already made some movements to the left because of him on trade and other things. But we're not seeing, on the policy front yet, anything that's like, okay Bernie people, let's -- let me do something to help bring you around.
WALTERAnd that's why you need Elizabeth Warren to be...
WALTER...that bridge for her. I mean this is the great irony of an election. What we've seen on both sides, but certainly much more on the Republican than the Democratic side, are voters looking for revolutionary candidates and revolutionary change. And their choice in November is between, yes, a disruptive revolutionary candidate in Donald Trump and the most establishment status-quo candidate you could possibly put on the ballot in Hillary Clinton. So you do have your disrupter. But that disrupter comes in the form of Donald Trump. For Democrats, they made the choice that they're going to go much more with the status quo.
WALTERAnd where does Gary Johnson fit into all of this? I mean, I think what we're seeing in early polling -- and I'll be very curious to see what happens once this starts to sink in with Obama's endorsement, Elizabeth Warren, if Bernie Sanders comes out soon -- is you are seeing in three- and four-way matchups, if you include a Green Party candidate, that a lot of those voters are going to those third-party candidates.
WALTERAnd it hurts Hillary Clinton right now...
WALTER...that the Republicans staying united behind Trump and that it was a lot of those disaffected folks going over to the third-party candidates. Does that continue as we get closer? And I would argue, as Neil did, that the prospect of Trump becoming president is the only thing that keeps many of those voters who might be thinking about Gary Johnson, especially in a swing state, from going with Hillary Clinton instead.
GREGORYRight. I agree with that. But it is a question, Ed Luce...
WALTERIt's a certain...
GREGORY...about whether a Johnson Libertarian candidate necessarily hurts Trump more than it hurts Clinton.
LUCENo, I don't think that's an automatic assumption at all. I would doubt very much somebody as marginal to the national sort of political conversation as Gary Johnson is going to make the 15 percent threshold to appear in the debates. The last person who did that was Ross Perot. And Ross Perot had a populist, mainstream-ish message about, funnily enough, about Mexico (word?) sucking sound of jobs.
LUCEThe -- did appeal to sort of potential swing voters, blue-collar communities. Gary Johnson's very matches sort of fringe ideology. And, you know, there's a sort of Ron Paul element to him that makes it pretty unlikely he's going to reach that threshold.
GREGORYLet me go to the phones here. Auggie is calling in from Sarasota, Fla. Good morning, Auggie. You're on the air.
AUGGIEYeah. As to Gary Johnson, he's already at 12 percent and nobody knows who he is. He's not just fringe. That's nonsense. Anyway, the Elizabeth Warren issue is huge. If she doesn't take him, she risks a great deal. I think the white male vote, which has been underestimated, is fixed in the uneducated, the unlettered, but determined not to put a woman in office, and Hillary in particular. So Warren deflects that and I think that's the solution for Hillary more than any other thing. And...
GREGORYWait, I'm sorry. How does Warren -- what is your point about, how does Warren deflect that?
AUGGIEShe will bring the Bernie vote with her.
GREGORYOh, I see.
AUGGIEThat's what I'm saying.
GREGORYYeah. Thank you very much. Neil, thought on that?
JR.That's an interesting thought, that that would happen. I don't quite know if I understand the calculus of how that would be. But I could see, she is definitely playing a very important flanking role right now for Hillary Clinton. Just to go back briefly on the Gary Johnson question. It is interesting, like Amy was saying, using these polls when you put even just somebody else, that the somebody else, like, do you want Trump, Clinton or somebody else? The somebody else is now getting 20 percent or so in some of these polls. And if you then say Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, two of the other kind of candidates that will be on all of these ballots, they're also getting pretty high numbers and they are eating primarily into Hillary Clinton.
JR.In terms of just the 15 percent to get into the debates for Gary Johnson, the key thing -- and he's been hitting on this a lot -- is for pollsters, like we do a poll that's well-known with NBC, that we put him on the -- in the poll itself, which we will be doing in our next poll. And that, in itself, in order for him to hit that measure, he has to -- that question has to be going out in enough of these polls. And I assume that will be happening.
WALTERAnd the other question, too, about what does she need to do for a vice presidential pick? And you remember, right after the 2008 election, it was Obama has to put Hillary Clinton there. You're not going to get those women unless Hillary Clinton's on the ballot. So I think we put a little too much emphasis on who the vice president is, thinking that they can bring people along with them.
WALTERBut I would argue, too, by putting Elizabeth Warren on, what Hillary Clinton is also signaling, especially to the kinds of voters that she needs to get, I would argue where she needs to do better than Obama, is among college-educated white voters -- specifically college-educated white men who may not love the idea of a very, very liberal Democrat as her running mate.
GREGORYI would add something else to that. I mean, let's not forget, we can get into the political calculations about a running mate. The fundamental issue and criterion is, can you imagine this person as President of the United States? Do you think Elizabeth Warren passes that test?
LUCEWell, she was of course put that option on MSNBC.
GREGORYShe said yes.
WALTERReally? I'm surprised.
LUCEShe, shockingly, very shockingly agreed that she would be conceivable as commander in chief. I think it was Ed Rendell, a former governor of Pennsylvania, who suggested she might not be plausible as commander in chief. Sherrod Brown, would he be plausible as a commander in chief? I mean, he's one name that's been floated, the Senator for Ohio. Ohio's obviously going to be perhaps even more important a swing state than normal, Florida less so given Trump's relative appeal.
LUCEBut he's very anti-trade. He's very much an economic populist. He's very much on the left. But he appeals to the biggest deficit Hillary has, which is blue-collar males. I mean, her deficit with high-school-leaving males is on some measures bigger than Trump's is with women.
GREGORYI'm David Gregory. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Interesting, Neil, that when Hillary Clinton goes out for the first time with President Obama, where are they going? To the Midwest. The presidency is often won through the Rust Belt of the country in the Midwest. That's where she senses vulnerability from Trump. And she's going to begin hitting the economic message hard, another potential vulnerability. She's not wasting any time here.
JR.No. One of her plans, she gave I think certainly the high point of her campaign so far outside of the night when she essentially clinched the nomination, was a week before when she gave her foreign policy speech, which was not really so much a foreign policy speech, per se, as a airing of all of her attack lines against Donald Trump. And people realized, wow, these are -- could be pretty effective and she could be a pretty effective messenger. So when she -- we talked to her this week, she laid out that she's soon -- maybe next week, might be the week after -- going to give an equivalent speech to that on economic issues...
JR....to lay out more of her own economic thinking. But my hunch is to devote, you know, two-thirds of this speech to really going in earnest after Donald Trump's own messages, which she has had very strong language for. You know, the Obama strategy is going to be interesting because he'll go to the Midwest with her. He'll do this event. He's not going to -- I don't think until later in the summer, outside of the convention -- spend much time on the stage with her. But he -- they're going to be very targeted in the use of him, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire. Basically, let's seal down the Obama vote in those states. If we can do it, she'll win those states and very...
WALTERThere were three counties that gave Obama the White House -- Cuyahoga County, which is Cleveland, Philadelphia County, which of course is the city of Philadelphia, and Miami-Dade.
WALTERAnd if I were help, you know, if you're going to look at where you would put Barack Obama, I would put him in those three cities and ensure that African-American turnout in those three areas is able to at least hit 2012 levels.
GREGORYHave you seen some of the reporting about the share of the white vote going up this cycle?
GREGORYDo we know, is that accurate?
WALTERWell, here's what we don't know, because there's been -- there'll be a constant debate between what the exit polls show and what other information out there shows about who actually turns out and votes. What the consensus seems to be -- well, let's back up for a second. After the 2012 election, both sides agreed, the challenge for Republicans going forward -- Republicans heartily agreed with this in their 2013 autopsy, was to broaden their base of voters, right? We've got to get women. We've got to get minorities. We've got to get young people.
WALTERNow, basically they've thrown that out and said, okay, well, here's what -- here's how Donald Trump's going to win. He's going to maximize not only the percent of white voters that he gets, going from 60 to 64 percent, but we're going to turn out more white voters than we've ever seen before. It is true, if you turn out those non-college, white voters to the degree that college voters turn out, yes, he could win, if he is able to turn those out.
WALTERBut we've got a couple issues here. One, he has no campaign to do that. And, two, it requires him to win over the college-educated voters who, right now, are moving away from him.
GREGORYNeil, as we think about the demographics, we're also still talking about the issue of the Sanders supporter. We're getting a lot of emails like this one from William in Missouri. Democrats need to remind Sanders supporters that loyalty to Ralph Nader cost the Democrats the 2000 election and gave us eight years of George W. Bush, the Iraq War, al-Qaida, and ISIS. Obviously a point of view in that email about the meaning of the Bush years and so forth. But that kind of thinking may be important, but also can seem really dismissive of what Sanders folks stand for.
WALTERMm-hmm. I agree.
JR.Yeah. I agree, in that case they're talking about the margins in one particular state.
JR.One thing I haven't done is really look at what Sanders -- which is -- what was the strength of Sanders' support in the states that really matter, like Florida, and to what extent can Hillary afford to lose a certain margin of those supporters. You know, it's going to just be interesting. It's been a while since a Democratic candidate has had some opponent that has represented a very distinct, different brand of thinking pose such a challenge to the nominee and where that support will end up going. It was certainly not the case at all during the Hillary Clinton-Obama campaign in 2008.
GREGORYA few seconds here before a break. Go ahead.
LUCEWell, so Sanders' sort of great statement yesterday was that he wants to work with Hillary to stop America drifting towards becoming an oligarchy. And as we mentioned earlier, Trump is going to give a speech attacking the Clintons, trying to bring them down, reminding them of the '90s scandals and so forth. I think he's also going to refer back to how much he paid the Clintons to attend his third wedding in Mar-a-Lago in 2005, which is, what, somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000. And, you know, the Sanders critique and the Trump critique converge on this.
GREGORYMore on the Republicans coming up. Your calls and questions and more on the Republicans. It's "The Diane Rehm Show."
GREGORYWelcome back. I'm David Gregory, sitting in for Diane Rehm this morning on the Friday News Roundup. I am joined by Neil King of the Wall Street Journal, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report. And Ed Luce of The Financial Times. You can watch our video stream at drshow.org this morning if you are so inclined. We're taking calls and questions, tweets and emails. Actually, one email that I want to read that I just want to kind of hang over our discussion as we turn to the Republicans is from Donna here in Washington.
GREGORYWhat can we expect from Congress if either candidate is elected? More gridlock for four more years. I mean, one of the things that's so daunting and disappointing about this campaign is that I just can't see anybody coming out of this race in a particularly strong position to govern, which is just, is disappointing. When you see this, Ed, when you see the Republicans, here's Paul Ryan out on the road moving forward with his own agenda. Trying to muscle a GOP agenda down the throat of his nominee, Donald Trump. That is not a picture of party unity among Republicans.
LUCEYou have to sympathize with the, sort of, rock and hard place that Paul Ryan is caught between because, you know, he doesn't want to be seen to be, to blame for a landslide defeat of Trump and he doesn't want to be seen to undermine his chances of retaining majority control of the house. I think the glass half full scenario for a reasonable governing agenda is Hillary wins, she re-takes the Senate. The House majority that Ryan has is cut down. Ryan sees a strong repudiation of Trump's version of Republicanism. And gets more leverage, even with the Freedom Caucus to be his true, transactional Jack Kemp self.
LUCEAnd Hillary has her own transactional self. We get tax reform, we get infrastructure funding via tax reform. And we have a presidency beginning on low expectations, for which there is a lot to be said. That's the sort of rosy scenario. I don't think it's very likely, but it's plausible.
GREGORYYou talk about sympathy for Speaker Ryan. Here's an email from Jeff. So, Speaker Ryan grudgingly endorsed Donald Trump a week or so ago, and then about three days ago, Ryan essentially called him a racist. Well, that's not quite true. What he said is that his comments were clearly racist. Will this sort of having it both ways affect re-election hopes of Speaker Ryan's or others in the fall? I mean, this becomes a credibility question, does it not, for Ryan and for Republicans?
JR.I mean, he, what's been extraordinary to watch is just the way to which Trump and his actions is sort of sullying the reputation and making life very, very uncomfortable and difficult for so many people in his party. For Paul Ryan, for Mitch McConnell. You have Mark Kirk, who's one of the most embattled Senators -- he, from Illinois, fighting for re-election. He went out and just outright disowned him. You're seeing this, sort of, all over, where even the people that are -- have come out, maybe in some cases, prematurely, now when they look back at it, in his favor wondering whether -- to what extent they are going to back him and how.
JR.And meanwhile, you have Paul Ryan trying to push forward on this Make America Better thing and he did this poverty event in Anacostia, one of the less well-off areas of Washington across the river. And, you know, it was the same day, and that was where he actually had to make the comments about that these comments were -- that Trump's comments were a textbook example of racism. And he was surrounded by a bunch of African-American members of that community. And talk about undermining your message. It's -- you know, he's swimming upstream against a torrent coming from a very disorganized campaign at the moment, of Donald Trump.
JR.And I do -- at the moment, I'm wondering if we could ask Republicans, are you most afraid of the unpredictable comments that your nominee is making, or are you most afraid of the fact that he has -- you referred to this earlier, Amy, no money in the bank, to speak of, no campaign staff, no actual real organization in any of the states. He has about 70 people to his name, on his campaign. Hillary Clinton has 730 people working for her.
LUCEYeah, he's the most -- when people say, delete that account. What, Hillary replied -- response to Trump's tweet and Elizabeth Warren's picked up on that. Delete that account, seriously. That's almost the equivalent with Trump of saying, close your campaign, because there isn't an infrastructure beyond, beyond his media strategy.
GREGORYIt's interesting, I mean, I think my question is, first of all, I think all of us should carry around a little caveat card that says, we have been dreadfully wrong when it comes to predicting the impact of Donald Trump. So once that's out of the way, are we going to look back at this period of political malpractice by the Trump campaign as a defining moment, maybe the moment when he lost the Presidency? Or, is he poised to learn something from the past two dreadful weeks and reposition, starting with a speech going after Hillary Clinton on Monday? Amy.
WALTERI, I think he has shown zero capacity for any self-reflection, and I have no doubt that this is going to be a consistent theme, David. We're going to come back every three or four weeks and say, wow, he did it again. He sees his brand as being unpredictable. He wants his foreign policy to be unpredictable. This is who he is and what he stands for. So, for him to go and stand behind a lectern and give a teleprompter speech goes against everything that he stands for.
WALTERAgain, this is -- we got a lot wrong about the Republican primary, in part because we were making assumptions about a Republican primary, in the way we're making -- in the same way we make assumptions about the general election. The Republican primary electorate is not the general election electorate. And the way that the media covers a candidate who is the presumptive nominee of the party is very different from how they cover a candidate who's one of 17.
JR.You know, he in very profound ways, is the campaign. His instincts are his campaign, his gut, that's the way he sees it. He is the magic. And one of the most interesting events of this week was on Monday where he went on to surrogates call and called all the various people across the country that are allegedly working for his campaign and repudiated his own staff and a memo they had put out as some ridiculous document and made it clear that from now on, he's going to be the one directly making the call on these kinds of things. And you should look to me if you want to know where this campaign is going.
JR.And organized campaigns for President of the United States just can't work that way. It's too unpredictable, it's too combustible. They have too much area for -- or, margin for error. And he's shown a lot of those weaknesses in the last few days.
GREGORYWell, the mechanics of campaigning, Ed, first of all, there's real question about how much money he's going to have, how reliant he'll be on the party, meaning the Republican National Committee, when, from a policy point of view, they don't seem to be in sync. And I keep coming back to a very fundamental point. After a primary, you become the nominee. You have to get into the game of addition. You cannot just rely on the base. You have to, you have to broaden out from that. I don't see any signs of addition here unless there are all these more white men who come on to the scene in the fall.
LUCEIt's going -- it's subtraction right now. It's not even not addition. He's subtracting the last couple of weeks. I mean...
GREGORYWell, we don't really -- I mean, we'll be -- I'll be interested to see polls in the next few days.
LUCE…the polls. Yeah.
LUCESettle that, but I suspect I'm right. It's subtraction. Look, we've got a couple of big names like Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets. We've got a hedge fund guy, Anthony Scaramucci and two or three others who have said they're with him, but there's a lot of money out there that's on -- if not on strike, it's giving the minimum. And he shows no signs, I mean, his campaign talked about oh look, we get all this earned media. We've got two billion dollars, according to the New York Times, so far, in free media because of Trump's, you know, ratings factor.
LUCEThis is a very, very rash calculation to make that it's going to work in the general, what's worked for him in the primary. And I see very, very few signs that he's getting the organizational capacity and the managerial chain of command you need to run what is essentially a small corporation. To get out the vote and to have people on the ground. There is still time for him to do that, but I think, you know, one of the basic, essential things he has to do is to coordinate with the RNC, is to make life easy for Paul Ryan, not difficult for Paul Ryan.
LUCEAnd so on, and unless he somehow gets the better of his own instincts, which as Amy said, is very unlikely, you know, people are speculating about whether he has narcissistic personality disorder. Psychologists are not allowed to diagnose people they don't treat. And if they do treat them, they're bound by confidentiality. So journalists, of course, have been stepping into the breach.
GREGORYWe're so good that way.
LUCEDavid Brooks, to name one. But he does show signs of, and I say this as a complete amateur, of, of psychological waywardness. Inability to take objective advice. A complete lack of empathy for others, some of the sort of classic traits of narcissistic personality disorder.
JR.He said it again.
GREGORYAll the while...
LUCEYeah, I said it again.
GREGORY...all the while, Speaker Ryan, while debating the psychology of the nominee, is out there pressing forward with an agenda. Neil, he talked a lot about poverty this week. He tried to talk specifically about things like poverty and education. What is he saying on behalf of House Republicans? Is there something different here, substantive here, that could be effective?
JR.For several years now, there's been this sort of, you know, people call it the Reformicon contingent within the Republican Party that's been trying to break out. And in many ways, Paul Ryan is their standard bearer. Some on the left would contest that, but all the same, he's wanting to be the constructive -- looking after the issues of regular people. Getting away from some of the kind of core, maybe somewhat habitual conservative principals of let's only be about tax cuts and cutting regulations.
JR.And let's actually have a poverty program and so on. So, the event he did this week was rolling out their thinking on poverty, addressing poverty. He's planning, I think, six of these moments this year altogether. Also on healthcare and taxes and constitutional government. And it's, you know, he's trying to lay out what he would hope to be the -- an agenda that the next President, assuming he'd be a Republican one, would pick up. But in a lot of ways, he's also trying to fill a policy void that Trump is largely leaving there.
JR.Because Trump has not been very interested, all in all, in fleshing out his own thinking on this.
WALTERWell, and what's missing are two really important issues, immigration and trade. So, it just goes to the heart of the challenge for -- of the many challenges for Speaker Ryan, which is two of the issues that have driven this campaign are issues that he knows he can't get the party to agree on. His own party, nonetheless, this idea that you're going to work with whoever the -- if there's a Democrat in the White House or the Senate, that they're going to get something done.
GREGORYI want to go to a tweet we got, which is you keep talking about Trump's campaign mistakes, yet he dominates the polls. Bernie has the power to unify with Clinton and beat him. One of the things, Ed, is that I do think you're right on the polls. We'll see consolidation in the Democratic Party and probably will put her ahead at this point in the campaign. But again, Donald Trump is going to attempt to reset to try to define Hillary Clinton with a speech that he'll give in the early part of next week. And she's got a lot of liabilities left here as a candidate.
GREGORYLiabilities, by the way, weaknesses, that were exposed by Bernie Sanders. So, talk about the potential upside for Donald Trump.
LUCESo, he's going to brand her as Sanders, to a more subtle degree has been doing, as involved, her and her husband, as being involved in the politics of personal enrichment. And there is, unfortunately for Hillary, quite a lot of material that Trump could make use of. And apparently, quite a lot of material out there that hasn't yet been made use of. So, you know, we mentioned earlier, the -- him paying her to come to the wedding. I mean, this really resignated with, in the primary electorate, that I pay people.
LUCEYou know, I get -- resonated, rather. I used a Bush-ism. Resignated. I do apologize. That, you know, the Clinton Global Initiative, the conflict, the potential massive conflict of interest there between being a President and having a foundation in your name to which foreign governments contribute. I mean, so, if Trump wants to make hay with that, which he does, there is an endless source of material. And we haven't even mentioned the emails.
GREGORYI'm David Gregory. You're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. To the phones again, to Michigan and Hollin calling in this morning. Hollin, good morning. You're on the air.
HOLLINHi. Thanks for taking my call.
GREGORYWhat's your comment or question this morning?
HOLLINSo, I was an early and ardent supporter of Bernie and now that he is out of it, I'll gladly support Hillary. But in the campaign season where there are all kinds of things to be troubled and terrified by, what I find most problematic is that my fellow Bernie supporters seem to exhibit this like shocking lack of ignorance -- or, excuse me, shocking ignorance about, like, the systems of governance. And the institutions that support them. Like, Bernie lost a game that he didn't seem to understand the rules of.
HOLLINAnd even if he had won, it's not like he'd be able to go in and wave a magic wand and get single payer healthcare, free college. Governance requires coalition building and incremental change and people just don't seem to get that, and I'm sort of...
GREGORYIt's interesting. I appreciate that point, because I think, Neil, what Hollin is getting to is there is an idealism about Bernie and his supporters that is more important than pragmatism and politics. The fact that he's been willing to say certain things, to advocate for free college tuition is more important than whether he can achieve it.
JR.In a lot of ways, if you look at just the last three people standing, he has run, he also had a certain degree of pessimism about his campaign. But for the most part, his was just like this totally unrealistic and sort of surreal -- what we could all do if we only really tried. Free college for all, free universal healthcare, so he was on the way optimistic fringe of things that were very impractical. And then, Hillary Clinton was the most, sort of, drab, just reality based, let me show you my 10 point program.
JR.And then you have, in Donald Trump, a very negative, kind of fear based campaign with under the slogan of Making America Great Again. But very much based on the idea that America is truly bad off at the moment. You know, the interesting counter scenario is if, and I think Bernie Sanders has talked to this, that he had at one point thought about running as an independent, because as we all know, he is not actually a Democrat. If he had, what a disruptive force it would be right now.
JR.Because it would be just three people probably all fighting for who was going to be a third of the vote, basically. Right? It looks as if it would be like that, and it would be -- it would have been one of the wildest elections we would have seen.
GREGORYAs we have just a couple of minutes left, I also want to mention another huge event this week for the country and the world, not just the sports world. And that, of course, was the death of Muhammad Ali, who is being remembered today in grand fashion in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. A procession that is already underway down there. Former President Clinton will give a eulogy. President Obama, who was such an admirer of Muhammad Ali, will not be there, but for pretty good reason. His daughter's graduating from high school. You know, the influence and the meaning of Muhammad Ali.
JR.You know, Muhammad Ali was just unlike any other figure in so many ways. I mean, he was an extraordinary athlete. Many would argue the best boxer ever, but he just broke so many barriers on what it meant to be black in American society at that time. The fact that he converted to Islam in the way he did. The way that he actually suffered from some of the choices that he made as a conscientious objector. Obama put out an amazing statement. I'm sure everyone read it that I thought was one of his heartfelt statements he's ever put out after the death of someone.
JR.And he quoted Ali, this great quote. I am America, I am the part you won't recognize, but get used to me. Black, confident, cocky, my name, not yours. My religion, not yours. Get used to me. You know, and we got used to him. But he made quite an impact during his time.
GREGORYAnd, and Ed Luce, the impact of a Muslim, and particularly today, to educate more Americans about Islam, he remains a powerful figure.
LUCEVery, very powerful. And it's interesting to see that King Abdullah of Jordan and President Erdogan of Turkey both flew over to attend this funeral. I mean, which is, how often does that happen with a sports figure?
LUCEAnd clearly, that was the Islamic part of Muhammad Ali's identity. I believe though that President Erdogan actually turned back because the family of Muhammad Ali wouldn't permit him to put some Muslim symbol on the coffin. So, there are questions about Erdogan's political judgment, but none of Muhammad Ali's global significance is an extraordinary figure. And the fact there are heads of state flying in. How often does that happen?
GREGORYRight. Sportsman of the century will be remembered today. Thank you all for being here. Interesting discussion. And so much more politics to discuss as we move forward. I'm David Gregory, sitting in for Diane Rehm today. Thank you so much for listening.
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