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: Frank Sesno
As he accepted the Republican party nomination for president last night, Donald Trump painted a picture of a nation in crisis—one filled with lawlessness, violence and cities in turmoil. As president, he promised safety would “be restored,” along with better trade deals and millions in jobs. Hillary Clinton will call Democrats to action at her party’s own convention next week, where she’ll appear for the first time with her new running mate. The latest in a string of controversial shootings of black men by police is investigated in Florida. And Roger Ailes, the CEO of Fox News, leaves the network over allegations of sexual harassment. A panel of journalists joins guest host Frank Sesno for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
MR. FRANK SESNOI'm Frank Sesno of the George Washington University sitting in for Diane Rehm today. The RNC wraps up in Cleveland with a speech from Donald Trump that focuses on law and order and brings the house down. And on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton prepares to announce a running mate ahead of next week's convention in Philadelphia. Also, another video showing a police shooting of a black man, this time in Florida. Quite a news roundup.
MR. FRANK SESNOJoining us in the studio to discuss this week's news, Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the New York Times, Michael Hirsh of Politico, Damian Paletta of The Wall Street Journal and joining us by phone from Cleveland, Susan Page of USA Today. Thanks, all, for being here.
MS. JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVISThanks for having us.
MR. MICHAEL HIRSHSure. Thanks for having us.
SESNOSusan, let's start with you since you're there. You've been in Cleveland all week. This is your tenth presidential campaign. What were your takeaways?
MS. SUSAN PAGEYou know, quite a speech last night in the hall. You know, Donald Trump and the Republicans have had kind of a bumpy ride this week, a series of distractions that have taken them away from the message that they had really intended to send. But Donald Trump's speech was big last night, big in two ways. Big because it was important. His biggest speech, most important speech he's given in his short political career. Big also in that it was long. It went on for 75 minutes.
MS. SUSAN PAGEThis is my 19th political convention in the two parties. This is the longest speech I've ever heard at a political convention. Well received within the hall. One of the questions we had, will it be well received among the broader audience that Republicans need to reach if they're gonna win in November.
SESNOAnd what's your take on that?
PAGEI think he reinforced his strength among his core supporters, but I didn't hear very much from him that reaches out to African Americans, to Hispanics, to millennials. And he was short on specifics about how he would achieve some of the things that he had talked about doing. However, a pretty stark speech, painted a picture of a country under siege. We know that seven of ten Americans say the country is on the wrong track so this might be a message that resonates with a lot of those voters.
HIRSHYeah. I mean, I agree. Very short on specifics, as he has been through the entire primary season and basically, an assertion of faith, you know. I am your voice. Only I can fix it. A classic Trumpian trope, if you will. And, again, up until now, you know, he's been on the scene for a year. To the extent he has presented specifics on his economic plan, it's been widely panned as, you know, putting us another $10 trillion in deficit over the next decade. Other promises are incredibly vague.
HIRSHHow is he precisely going to renegotiate these trade deals, you know, to our advantage? So I don't think that we are going to see very much more, frankly, except this sort of populist appeal. I am Donald Trump and I am, you know, I'm going to make things better.
SESNOBut Julie, as Susan pointed out, the vast majority of the country thinks the country is on the wrong track. And as we have seen in both parties and certainly throughout the Trump trajectory this year, people have rejected the same old players. They want to throw out the rule book and appear to want to throw out, you know, the folks who've been around for awhile. So does what Michael just pointed out matter, that he's not providing specific answers? He's saying it's time to start from scratch in a different place. It seems to be resonating with a lot of people.
DAVISWell, and he's also saying that the system is rigged, which we also know is something that...
SESNOThe system is rigged. The system is broken.
DAVIS...resonates a lot with people. And as Susan pointed out, there is, you know, the vast majority of people who are polled in this country say that it's off on the wrong track. So you can understand why he is painting kind of a grim picture. But he did go pretty far over the top in sort of in dark terms of saying that, you know, this country is in trouble. We have a crime epidemic where -- the economy is in disaster. We're, you know, besieged by terrorists. It's not clear to me whether that is going to be enough to broaden his appeal beyond the coalition that he, obviously, is talking to there.
DAVISNow, we did hear him make a pretty naked appeal to Bernie Sanders voters. He talked about trade and the fact that, you know, it was a pretty stark effort to reach out to some of the Democrats who aren't happy with what they're hearing from Hillary Clinton and do feel that the system is rigged and a lot has to change. But he didn't do a whole lot -- he didn't pivot and that's also very classically Trumpian. He doubled down on what his strategy has been, which is to talk about this, you know, the immigration problems and terrorism and to paint this very dark picture.
DAVISHe talked about poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad and that that's going to be enough to get people animated to really turn out and vote for him.
SESNOAnd Damian Paletta, speaking of abroad, he talked about America essentially being cheated, disrespected, humiliated. In effect, it was a very dark, was the word that people used, take on the world and America's place in it.
MR. DAMIAN PALETTAThat's right. I mean, he really painted this picture of a United States that's just been abused and taken for granted and ripped off and scammed by Europe, by Asia, by Mexico and said that only he's willing to stand up and stop that and that Hillary Clinton is going to be more of the status quo. He said that, you know, the banking industry and others are lining up behind her because they want more of the status quo. Now, I think he clearly, you know, inflated some of the statistics on crime and things like that yesterday, but he did what he's been doing all along.
MR. DAMIAN PALETTAHe's tapped into something, like Susan and Michael said, that really struck a chord with Americans, you know. They feel like they're not getting a fair shake. They feel like the status quo isn't working, whether it's their wages or whether it's, you know, this fear about illegal immigrants. And so he's going to ride that all the way into November.
SESNOWe're talking about the week's news here and if you'd like to join our conversation, please call us at 1-800-433-8850 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Susan Page, a lot of what was said going into Cleveland was that Donald Trump had to unify the party. The party had to come out of Cleveland and unify and he had to expand enough so that he could be competitive in key battleground states to win. Did he accomplish those things in Cleveland?
PAGEThis is not a united party.
SESNOIt's not a united...
PAGEAnd that was clear. This is not a united party.
SESNOYou're saying that pretty definitively.
PAGEYeah. Well, you just have to talk to a couple Republicans and you can see that it's not a united party or you can be in the hall and see a chorus of boos for Ted Cruz when he refuses to endorse the party's nominee in a major speech on the -- or Monday afternoon when the convention opened, when they were passing the rules for the convention, which is, you know, not exactly something that grips, I think, American voters' concerns. But what happened was the anti-Trump forces tried to force a roll call vote.
PAGEThe pro-Trump forces decided to fight that and that was an interesting decision because you could've had -- you could've given them the vote, a chance to vent, if you were very confident that you had those votes. It raised some questions about their hold on the hall. But anyway, that became a shout fest. You had Ken Cuccinelli from Virginia ripping off his credentials and throwing them on the floor when they refused a roll call vote on the rules.
PAGESo that was a dramatic moment that doesn't matter to voters, but it says, this is a party that continues to be divided. You talk to Republicans, even Republicans in the hall who voted for Trump, there's a lot of concern. He had strong supporters. No question about that. There is side to the Republican party totally behind Trump, some of them he has attracted to the party. But there are Republicans, especially establishment Republicans, very unhappy about his nomination.
PALETTAI just wonder what the others think about Clinton's playbook from here on out. I mean, Trump, you know, he creamed his opponents that tried to run more traditional campaigns in the GOP primary. I mean, obviously, she can be thinking, well, I'm just going to paint him as this kind of fear-mongering, crazy guy going into the November elections and I should be able to win. But he's disproven all the political, you know, playbooks so far. So I wonder what others think she's going to have to do to assimilate to this.
HIRSHWell, there is a disunity problem here throughout, you know. It appears that Hillary is about to pick Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate and he is seen as a middle of the roader like her. That is going to make Bernie Sanders supporters unhappy.
SESNOHe's been a big free trader, Tim Kaine.
PALETTAYes, he has. And there's some question about where he stands on, you know, the banking issue where, of course, Bernie Sanders was very vociferous and he had some impact on the Democratic party platform. To get back to your point, you know, both candidates are going to have these problems, of insurgencies that will or will not go away. We don't know. Trump was just nominated with, I think, the lowest percentage of delegates since 1976. The Reagan/Ford battle, which, of course, we know did not end well for Gerald Ford. So there's some issues there.
SESNOJulie, you cover the White House and you're going to be going to Philadelphia with the president. What is the role that Barack Obama can play, wants to play, intends to play in this mix? Because this is another place where Hillary Clinton is going to face a big challenge. Is this a third Obama term? Do people want that? Is that how she wants to cast herself when people want change?
DAVISWell, I think that Michael's right, that both parties have a unity issue. It's certainly going to be a lot less visible next week in Philadelphia than it was in Cleveland this week with the Republicans. But as Susan pointed out, it's not like people are -- I mean, voters en mass are tuning into the convention fight or even necessarily pay that much attention to the fact that Ted Cruz wouldn't endorse Donald Trump and there was booing in the hall. There is going to be an issue for her in appealing to these -- to the Bernie Sanders coalition and the more progressive wing of the party.
DAVISI think the president sees his role as kind of -- two major things. One is really laying out the last seven and a half years, what he has done and how things have improved, the economy, what he has done to fight terrorism, what he has done diplomatically to make the country safer. He's going to make a very strong argument that we don't want to throw that all out the window, in the words of some of his advisors at the White House. But also, he is uniquely positioned to talk about fitness to be president and I think he's going to make a very strong case that Donald Trump just isn't.
SESNOSusan Page, one of the key unifying themes in Cleveland has been the vilification of Hillary Clinton.
PAGEYou know, here a favorite chant in the hall, lock her up. Talk about a positive message for America, right? I mean, it is the one thing that unites Republicans and it is a big vulnerability for Democrats because we know a majority of Americans do not see Hillary Clinton as honest and trustworthy. She has a big problem with that and that's something that if she's going to win in November, they really need to address next week in some ways at the Democratic convention. But the vilification of Hillary Clinton was remarkable and it went over -- of course, you're always against the candidate for the other side, but it went over the line that we traditionally have seen.
SESNOAll right. Coming up, more of the Friday News Roundup. And you can call in at 1-800-433-8850. You can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org. We'll be right back.
SESNOWelcome back. I'm Frank Sesno of the George Washington University, sitting in for Diane Rehm today. Our guests, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, on "The Friday News Roundup," White House reporter for The New York Times, Michael Hirsh, national editor for Politico, also author of "Capital Offense: How Washington's Wise Men Turned America's Future over to Wall Street," Damien Paletta, he's a national security and intelligence reporter for The Wall Street Journal and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today.
SESNOIf you're just joining us, you can also watch live video of our show at drshow.org. And if you want to join the conversation, please do. Call us at 1-800-433-8850 or email us at email@example.com. And we'll be getting to your questions in due course. Michael Hirsh, as you know, good reporters are taught to listen to what they hear, but they're also taught to listen to what they don't hear. And here are some extraordinary things we did not hear from Donald Trump last night.
SESNOWe did not hear about shining city on a hill. There was no great optimistic call about the great capacity of the American people. That's pretty much standard fare. We did not hear a prolife call. We did not hear invocations of God or faith. We did not hear about American values projected around the world and how that's a good thing, American exceptionalism. We didn't hear about entitlement reform or open trade or compassionate conservatism.
HIRSHNo, we did not.
SESNOWhat does that mean?
HIRSHWe didn't hear very much about the man either, frankly, other than, you know, at the last minute when he talks a little bit about his father and his mother. It's almost as if, you know, we're supposed to take him, again, on faith. We all know who Donald Trump is and we all know what he stands for. And the lack of a positive vision, I think, is the one thing Hillary Clinton will try to exploit next week in Philadelphia because there really was this sense of a relentless darkness overtaking the land.
HIRSHEven his appeal to Bernie Sanders' voters, which was very blatant, was about, you know, what they're missing. They're gonna vote for me because of the trade issue, because I'm gonna renegotiate all of our trade deals. Again, no sense of inclusiveness. There was mention of LGBTQ rights, but he mentioned it in a very odd way. So that was, I think, the thing that we most remembered about the speech.
DAVISWell, and he thanked the crowd, a Republican crowd, for applauding when he talked about the need to protect LGBTQ Americans. Of course, the party platform that was approved a couple days before he accepted the nomination is very much against LGBTQ rights and against same-sex marriage. Talks about how the decision to allow transgender to use whatever bathroom they want was wrong. The entire agenda of the LGBT movement is something that's basically turned back in the GOP platform. So he was very much at odds with his own party there. And I think as we…
SESNOAnd then he stopped and thanked the audience for applauding when he raised it.
DAVISFor breaking -- for being with him when he did that. I think what he's trying to do is say I'm gonna be a different kind of president. I'm not gonna be your typical run of the mill what you've heard before. But it's gonna be interesting to see whether you can really rally Republican voters and Independent voters around that vision.
PAGEI thought that was one of the most interesting moments of the entire week. That Donald Trump included a pledge to gay rights in his acceptance speech that the crowd applauded, that he then thanked the crowd for applauding. And then earlier in the evening, for the first time, we had an openly gay speaker at a Republican convention who said I am proud to be gay, I am proud to be a Republican, I am proud to be an American. And he got applause, too.
PAGEThis reflects a fundamental shift in American attitudes toward gay people, including among conservatives that we shouldn't overlook or minimize. I mean, this would not have happened four years ago or eight years ago or twelve years ago at a Republican convention.
SESNODamien Paletta, let me ask you about another issue that came up. Not so explicitly in the speech, although it was hinted. And that was Donald Trump's remarkable comments to The New York Times about NATO, the alliance and whether if he were president he would automatically go to the defense of another NATO country if it were attacked, as Article V of the treaty calls for. How significant is that?
PALETTAIt was incredibly significant. I mean, in a couple of respects. One, the fact that he would make remarks like that and kind of overshadow the convention was kind of alarming. I mean, David Sanger and Maggie Haberman from The Times are great and they might have drawn it out of him, but the fact that he would say something that provocative was amazing. Now, you know, he feels very strongly about this.
PALETTAHe's a guy that's not gonna be kind of bullied into adopting positions that people have held just because they've been that way since 1949. But I think there was an acknowledgement yesterday, I mean, Lindsay Graham's head almost exploded when he saw those comments, that Donald Trump is maybe out over his skis on an issue that he doesn't quite understand. And we even saw NATO, the head of NATO yesterday for the first time responded to a Trump comment, which he's never done before.
SESNOWell, Michael Hirsh, to your news organization representative Adam Kinzinger had some remarkable comments, saying he was -- he's a Republican, but has not yet come out formally in favor of Donald Trump. And he said that that comment was utterly disastrous.
HIRSHLook, this is a consistent line of his. And I think what was amazing to me, 'cause I was reading prepared text as he was speaking, the one part that he added extemporaneously was another condemnation of NATO, which was not originally in the speech. Obviously, he feels very passionately about this. This reflects a completely different foreign policy of viewpoint than either the Democratic or the Republican Party has had for the last half century. And it's resonating. It's about, as he said, repealing globalism, repealing the international system that was set up after World War II or at least second-guessing it in a serious way.
SESNOBut isn't also, Michael, maybe what's resonating, repealing this notion that the United States is just sort of automatically gonna shell out and be on the front lines of all of this. What he's saying and what his advisors are saying, to be fair, is he's not walking away from these things, he's saying pay your fair share if you want America to continue. It's not a blank check, open-ended commitment. And that's what's resonating.
HIRSHIt is resonating. And, you know, he has some ground to stand on here. I mean, NATO reported -- NATO itself reported that only 5 out of the 28 NATO allies are now paying the target -- paying up the target of 2 percent of GDP, in terms of defense expenditures. The United States spends more than 3 percent. This is something that clearly appeals to a large portion of the public, that feels that the globalization system, since World War II, particularly if you're middle class, has not benefitted you. And the Bernie Sanders movement is part of that, as well.
SESNOFolks, let me bring in our first caller. I think if you pronounce your name Hind or Hend, from Dallas, Texas. Hi. Thanks for joining us. Now, tell me how I should pronounce your name to begin with.
HENDMy name is Hend.
SESNOOkay, Hend. Thank you very much calling. I want to be sure I've got that right. Go ahead with your question.
HENDThank you. I have a comment. Actually, I have two comments. One thing is please talk about the track record of Trump. The way things are presented, nobody is talking about what his track record is. And that's very important if he is gonna take over the reins of this country. The other question, the degree of hate and incitement that was in the RNC, that is very dangerous. That is very divisive in this country.
SESNOOkay. Let me -- let's pursue both of those. Hend, thank you very much for raising that. Susan Page, you've covered a lot of these events and speeches and that kind of thing. And I'm wondering, so the two parts of Hend's question is first, why isn't there more focus on Donald Trump's track record and secondly what she characterizes as hate at the convention.
PAGEYou know, Donald Trump's track record is being explored, but you wouldn't expect it to be explored on the floor of the convention hall, frankly, or from the podium. I mean, to some degree, of course, they talked -- they would talk about his record as a businessman, as -- what he's done as a father. You did hear some of that. There is some serious exploration going on of Donald Trump's record when you look at the news media.
PAGEAnd I think you've seen that -- at the beginning of his campaign perhaps not as much as we should have done before we took him as seriously as we should have as a candidate. But now I think major news organizations are looking at serious parts of his record. USA Today, for instance, we've had -- created a database of his lawsuits, more than 4,000 lawsuits where he's been either the plaintiff or the defendant, looking at how those came about, how they turned out, what they say about him.
PAGEAnd other news organizations have done other -- are doing other stories that try to look at his track record and how it applies to him as a prospective president. Because that's really the question. Do the leadership skills that you gain as a -- in the business world or on television, where he's -- he made a big public name and made a splash, how do those translate to performance in the oval office.
SESNOJulie, let's come back to the other side of the political equation here, which is Hillary Clinton and word that her selection for vice president may come down today. And the leading candidate, as we hear, is Tim Kaine. Talk about Tim Kaine. What would he bring to that ticket? Why would she be finding him attractive?
DAVISWell, I mean, Tim Kaine is a senator from Virginia. He's a former governor. He's a Spanish speaker. He can speak Spanish fluently on the campaign trail. He's also, as Michael said earlier, kind of viewed as a moderate. He has a lot of national security experience. Sits on the Armed Services Committee. These are all thing that could help her. And she has said, actually, in interviews in the last several days that, you know, what she's really looking for is someone who has the readiness and the experience and the preparedness.
DAVISShe says she has the responsibility gene, and she's just a person who's predisposed to want someone like that on the ticket with her. So -- and the other thing is that he can potentially -- and I think the campaign would hope that he could appeal to white men, who she might otherwise have a harder time appealing to, and to fill in some blanks. And then, of course, because he's from what has been a swing state in the last several cycles, but is increasingly trending Democratic, that he could help her win Virginia. But he does have some liabilities, which Michael and Damien both mentioned.
SESNOWell, Damien, let me ask you about those liabilities. First, we're focused on the trade thing. So he was an advocate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a fast track authority for the Trans-Pacific partnership. He has been a big supporter of most global trade deals. The whole notion that free trade benefits America. Now -- and one of the greatest ironies is the Republican candidate, who one would typically expect to…
SESNO…be taking those positions is taking vehemently the opposite tact. How would that likely play out?
PALETTAYou know, I'm still not convinced that the free trade issue is gonna be a big November issue. It's clearly a big primary issue for both parties. And Trump kind of upended the table on the Republican side with that. And I saw how, you know, Bernie Sanders really exploited it. And Hillary Clinton had to kind of just reverse herself on TPP and some other trade issues. But I'm not convinced that it's gonna be a big liability for her vice president.
PALETTAI think one of the most interesting things about Tim Kaine -- obviously he was a governor of Virginia, he was well liked so he has some kind of executive experience. But he's kind of the anti-Trump. You know, he doesn't look comfortable being mean and doesn't look comfortable calling names. I mean, maybe, you know, Trump's gonna chew him up and spit him out for all we know. But he seems like the kind of guy that's gonna convey a much different kind of persona, a much different public image, a much different ethos than what Donald Trump is doing.
SESNOAnd Susan Payne (sic), if it's Tim Kaine he would end up debating Mike Pence. What would that be like?
PAGEWell, that, you know, that'd be not probably the showdown we expect to see from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That's going to be the debate that's gonna break all the records. Just one point on what Damien just said about trade deals. I think trade is gonna be a big issue in some states where it really matters, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. Because concern about the impact of trade -- the trade deals that we've made in the past is a proxy for the decline of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
PAGEAnd the problems that a lot of working class people, including a lot of white men, have had in having middle class lifestyle when they don't have a college education. So it, you know, there are places where trade, free trade is seen as a really good thing. You go to the two coasts, it resonates one way. Boy, you go to the rust belt, it resonates in another.
SESNOIt does. And Paul (sic) Hirsh, interestingly enough, despite all the (unintelligible) on warfare in Ohio between the governor, John Kasich, and his party chair and the Trump campaign. The last poll I saw showed, in Ohio, a virtual dead heat between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
HIRSHYes, it did. And I think that the Trump people and the candidate himself see this as their road to the White House, through the rust belt.
SESNOAnd the trade issue?
HIRSHAnd the trade issue. And so I would agree with what Susan just said on that, at least rhetorically, even if in terms of substance. I do think that it will be a key line for him. The fact that he keeps appealing to Bernie Sanders' supporters and which he has done literally since, you know, the moment Bernie Sanders decided he wasn't gonna get the nomination is no accident. I think they realize that probably is their only way to get to 270 in the electoral votes.
SESNOI'm Frank Sesno. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us in the conversation, call 1-800-433-8850 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, find us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Don't forget, you can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org. And let me go to the phones now. And Tom joins us from Harrisburg, Pa. Hi, Tom. Thanks for calling and thanks for waiting so patiently.
TOMSure. Thank you, Frank. First of all, the fact that Hillary Clinton might announce her VP today just proves that Donald Trump's speech was a homerun, 'cause if it was a bad speech she wouldn't be doing it today. But the line that Mr. Trump gave, "Americanism, not globalism, will be my credo." As someone who helped chair Jesse Jackson's campaign in 1988, that line, I loved it. And if Hillary Clinton, if her speechwriter gave her that line to give in her speech, they'd fire him. They'd fire him. And that's why I'm voting for Trump.
SESNOSo you'll be voting -- so you chaired Jesse -- a portion of Jesse Jackson's campaign when he ran. And you'll be voting for Trump this time. Have I got that right?
SESNOBuilt around the Americanism, not globalism. Let me ask the panel to comment on that because it very much echoes what Susan was just saying about resonates in parts of America.
DAVISWell, absolutely. I think the caller is right. That that is a line that really resonated with a lot of people. And also that if Hillary Clinton had seen that line in any speech of hers the person who had put it there would be fired. I mean, this is clearly not the tack that the Democratic Party wants to take. Frankly, it hasn't been the tack that the Republican Party has wanted to take.
DAVISAs Michael pointed -- and you, Frank, pointed out in the past, it's a very different way of approaching these issues. It's completely sort of a departure from what President Obama has done. And I think that's one of the major reasons that Donald Trump and his campaign believe that it will be so successful.
DAVISBecause we did hear a few hours before Trump spoke, the president had this Eid reception at the White House. And he painted this completely different picture of inclusion and generosity and welcoming people. And we, you know, we include everyone and that makes us stronger. And the argument from Donald Trump is the exact opposite. That makes us weaker.
SESNOWe have very starkly different visions and snapshots of America in the two parties and the two candidates. Now, back to the phones. James, from Huntsville, Ala. Hi, James.
JAMESHello. How are you?
SESNOI'm very well, thanks. Go ahead with your question.
JAMESYes. You know, the line that Donald Trump said that he wanted to make America great again like it was after World War II, that -- I think that played well in the primary, but in the general election you're talking about taking people back to times where the Japanese-Americans were actually put in camps, where African-Americans were experiencing Jim Crow, where Hispanics were often ostracized in America.
JAMESHow is that gonna play in a general election when you're talking about a minority majority in America? And how he is gonna go ahead and convince people enough to win this general election? Again, the Republican base loves that, they enjoy that, but when it comes down to a general election, and you're talking about taking people back to where we used to be, that is something -- I don't understand how that could ever, ever play and he wins with that line.
SESNOJames, thank very much. Paul (sic) Hirsh.
SESNOMichael Hirsh, sorry.
HIRSHLook, it's smith-making. There's no basis, you know, economists will tell you there's no basis in reality for the idea that we're gonna bring back manufacturing jobs. But what's going on here, both with the Trump insurgency and the Bernie Sanders insurgency, is I think a response by displaced middle class that really feels that neither party is representing them anymore.
HIRSHBoth parties over the last few decades have embraced free trade deals, have embraced globalization, have sort have shrugged off the adverse impact on the middle class because of the loss of manufacturing jobs. And Trump, just as Sanders did, is really playing on that quite successfully.
SESNOWhat he did say, though, in the hall is I want to bring back jobs for everybody. So he's trying to broaden the appeal in that way.
HIRSHRight. Whether he can is another thing.
SESNOComing up, more of your calls and questions for our panel in our week in review. Please stay tuned.
SESNOWelcome back. I'm Frank Sesno of the George Washington University, sitting in for Diane Rehm today. Our guests on the Friday news roundup, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, she's White House reporter for The New York Times, Michael Hirsh, national editor for Politico, Damian Paletta, national security and intelligence reporter at The Wall Street Journal and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today.
SESNOYou know, Damian, I always wanted to have the title intelligence reporter. You know, that says you're smart.
PALETTAIt doesn't mean I have intelligence, it means I cover it.
SESNOWe are hearing from a number of people via Twitter and elsewhere, and by the way, you can watch the live video stream of our conversation at drshow.org, but we're hearing from a number of people who are asking about what Donald Trump actually said about LGBTQ rights and their safety from whom. And it was a very interesting distinction. I pulled up his words as I was writing them down last night because, of course, he did acknowledge the killings in Orlando, and he said, as your president, I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ from hateful foreign ideology.
SESNOThat's an interesting formulation, Michael.
HIRSHWell, it is. I'm not sure exactly what he's referring to, unless he's sort of harking back to the Sochi Olympics, you know, when there were questions about whether Vladimir Putin would arrest or round up or bar LGBT athletes. In general in his speech, Trump's speech, there seemed to be this conflation of foreign and domestic threats, you know, police shootings were lumped together with the threat from foreign terrorists, and it was all summed up with his line, I'm the law and order candidate, and that's really all we found out.
PAGEYou know, Frank, I think I was the one who said that he talked about gay rights, and I've been correct on Twitter, thank you everyone, because he didn't exactly endorse gay rights, and that is correct. What I should have said was exactly what he said was to protect LGBTQ people from foreign attack. But I thought the tone represented a kind of shift in the fact that he made the statement. But I stand corrected by our very smart listeners on Twitter.
SESNOJulie, let me ask you something else, another thing, another development over the week that's going to have political implications, is the FBI has said that it's going to start releasing Hillary Clinton's -- or some of other Hillary Clinton's emails. What's this all about?
DAVISSo, I mean, this is just the next phase of the investigation that they've been doing. So they will be transferring these emails over to the State Department, and then they will become FOIA-able, able to be obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request. Who knows how long that will take, who know how many will come out at a time or when. The point of this is really I think for Hillary Clinton that it will continue the story about her use of a private email server and all of the controversy around that and all the criticism that she's gotten, much of it earned, and what the FBI director Jim Comey said about her, which is that she was reckless and that, you know, she, you know, she crossed several lines although no legal ones.
SESNOAnd Damian, it will drive the narrative that we've heard from the Republicans that in matters large and small, foreign and domestic, she's not to be trusted.
PALETTAThat's right, I mean, her trustworthiness issue is her biggest -- her biggest problem. And the fact that she can't turn the page on this, that it's going to continue to drip, drip, drip into November is going to make it harder for her to reverse that narrative and also kind of play into the hands of Republicans, who keep saying that she just can't be trusted.
SESNOBack to the phones and Nicole from Houston, Texas. Hi, Nicole.
NICOLEHi, I'm really glad to be on. I listen to you guys every morning. I just wanted to talk a little bit about how -- I mean, I feel like Trump is completely playing up on the middle-class fears and insecurities, and he's kind of turning it into hate speech in my opinion, and that's a really scary proposition for me to see so many people get behind someone who's kind of openly against, you know, so many American people. And I just wanted to know, I mean, why isn't that kind of being focused on more.
SESNOAll right, let me go to Susan Page quickly on this. Susan, very interesting dynamic here, right, because you've got the middle class that very much feels, as you said, in the Rust Belt and elsewhere, that the ground's been pulled out for them. We know that wages have stagnated. We know that costs of health insurance and all the rest have gone way up. So people are feeling squeezed. They look around the world, see their jobs going away. But as we hear from the caller here, the tone is something that's trickier to hit on.
DAVISAnd if Nicole is referring to, you know, some racial issues, for instance, there wasn't really open racism, I don't think. I didn't hear any openly racist rhetoric at the convention. You did hear the issue of Black Lives Matter come up with several speakers, and mostly there was a sense, I think, that that was inappropriate. You heard -- what got tears was when they talked about blue lives mattering, about support for police officers, including those who were ambushed so tragically in Baton Rouge and in Dallas.
SESNOPaul Hirsh -- there, I did it again. Sorry, it's my friend Paul. Paul, I'm never going to talk to you again. Michael, how did he handle race, Trump?
HIRSHNot sufficiently considering that polls are showing maybe a historically low percentage of black votes in particular. There's some question about Hispanic voting in favor of Trump, but that also seems to be very low, probably well below what Romney got in 2012, which was a huge controversy at the time with the Republican Party. It was blue lives matter, it was also all lives matter. We heard that several times, which, you know, does -- is not exactly designed to win over the black vote.
DAVISAnd the other thing that he said in his speech and others said at the convention is that the president, President Obama, has tried to divide this country on racial lines, and that was a clear reference without saying anything about Black Lives Matter to this idea of acknowledging that there is a disparity here that people are protesting in the streets in the wake of these police shootings of African-American men.
DAVISOf course we also heard a lot about build the wall. There was a big chant of that. And, you know, he seemed very angry at points in this speech and particularly when he talked about immigration and crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants. He really focused on that, notwithstanding that there aren't -- the statistics aren't very high on those things. But I think, you know, he really is playing, as the caller said, on fears. And unfortunately in this kind of an environment, political environment, that can be successful if you have people disaffected enough.
DAVISWhat he did not try to do was to offer a really positive vision for what he was going to do to fix all this, although he keep saying I'll fix it, and I'll fix it fast.
PALETTAYou know, it's interesting, the stock market is at an all-time high. It's almost tripled since 2009. The unemployment is at a historically low figure compared to, you know, where we've been in the last 50 years. A traditional -- and President Obama's approval numbers are strong for the end of someone's administration. A traditional Republican campaign would probably not be sufficient to win, given those sorts of factors.
PALETTAI understand, you know, the concerns about wages and stuff like that, but Trump maybe figures the only shot he's got is to really tap into the insecurities and the anxieties of Americans, of the white middle class who feel like, you know, they're being left behind. And that's what his speech was about.
SESNOWhile this convention has been making as much noise as it has, and we've been paying as much attention as we have to it, other things have been going on in the world and some of them very significant, for example major movement in voter ID laws this past week, in particular in Texas. Michael, do you want to start us off on that? What's taken place, and what's the significance here?
HIRSHWell, the Texas -- the Texas decision, actually by a New Orleans-based appeals court, the Fifth Circuit, was very, very significant in basically putting on hold a Texas law, enormous symbolic importance even if, you know, it won't necessarily have that much practical impact in Texas, which is a red state. But that and another decision this week in Wisconsin were significant setback for the Republican Party, which, you know, people allege on the other side has been trying to constrain the minority vote by requiring photo IDs.
SESNOAnd remind us of what's behind this law and what's at stake here.
DAVISWell, I mean, typically around election time you hear a lot about, from the Republican side, about we need to prevent voter fraud, and we don't want people showing up at the polls who aren't supposed to be able to vote, and then as Michael said on the Democratic side, people talk about, well, you're disenfranchising minorities, and if you ask everyone to show up with a driver's license or some sort of government-issued ID, you're going to automatically disenfranchise a whole group of people, disproportionately African-American and Latino and people of color.
DAVISIn the Texas case I think that number was over 600,000. The Texas case, though, has been going on for a long time, and it's I think one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country. The issue is how far states are going to be able to go in setting these very strict requirements for people showing up to vote, and of course Democrats and this administration have been pushing very hard to make it easier for people to go out and vote, and that's something that President Obama has put a big priority on.
DAVISI think we're just going to see this go back and forth and a lot of arguing about it around the election and certainly as November approaches a lot more accusations by Republicans of voter fraud, accusations by Democrats that people are being shut out.
SESNOBack to the phones, and Hasan joins us from Alexandria, Virginia. Hi, Hasan.
HASANGood morning, thank you for taking my call.
SESNOSure, go ahead with your question.
HASANI'm a Muslim-American, and I will vote for Trump, and for -- the reason is he said that publicly he will stop the Muslims coming to the United States. Well, thank you, Mr. Trump, because that will save me the money and the headache. It's much better than Cruz, who said he will have the Muslim communities patrolled by the police, for one. And I would not trust Hillary at all because she has a vicious (unintelligible) she toppled Kaddafi for the sake of the Saudis. They paid her to topple him. And look what is going on in Libya and in Syria and in the U.S., too.
HASANAnd she said one time, meeting a Jewish group, paying her money, she said (unintelligible) she will help residents to kill 200,000 Palestinians because in 2014, as you remember, the Israelis killed 2,400 Palestinians in Gaza.
SESNOOkay, Hasan, thank you very much. Let me see if there's some comment. Damian.
PALETTAThere's been such a focus on Hillary's trustworthiness that I think a lot of times we forget her, you know, her tender as secretary of state and how the Middle East right now is just a complete bonfire. And I think there's going to be a lot of scrutiny of that in the months leading up to the election. Obviously Libya, you know, she played a role in the U.S.' policy on Libya. Libya is a total mess. Syria is a disaster both on a humanitarian scale and also with Assad still there, despite the U.S. trying to push him out.
PALETTAIraq is in big trouble. Afghanistan is in big trouble. The next president is going to inherit a real, you know, bunch of thorny problems. I went to a speech by the CIA director this week, and he said that they're trying to get ready to brief the next president or the candidates on all these things that are going on because they want them to understand, you know, exactly what they're facing.
PALETTAAnd I think it's interesting to see how the Muslim-American community is going to react to this. Obviously you would think a lot of them would not be predisposed to support Trump because of some of his comments, but maybe they like this kind of strong-man figure.
PAGEYou know, the sense of a world in turmoil, which is what I think Hasan was talking about, is a big factor in this election, I think. I think people look around the world, and they worry that people are falling apart and sometimes in ways that actually threaten them at home. But I don't think it's 100 percent clear who that helps. I mean, it could help Donald Trump, who can argue that Hillary Clinton has some responsibility for that both as secretary of state and as a member of the establishment that has gotten us here.
PAGEBut you know that the Clinton people will argue back that at this point you need a steady hand, somebody who knows what's going on, somebody who is able to handle diplomacy and has the right demeanor to work in the world, and in that way it might help her. I think that's one of the big things to watch for over the next three months.
SESNOMichael, interesting comment from Twitter here that I'd like to bounce off you. Ask a conservative how the U.S. is doing, they say disaster. Ask a liberal, they say it's doing great. How does this happen? Is that -- is that the way it breaks down?
HIRSHWell yeah, if you're going to vote, you know, purely along party lines. But, I mean, as Damian was suggesting, the actuality of the economic figures and even America's stature in the world does not really comport with the picture that Trump is painting. I mean, the fact is the U.S. remains the lone superpower. This so-called depleted military is still utterly dominant around the world. A lot of what described as Hillary's responsibility happened willy-nilly, in fact some of it probably even came out of the Iraq War, the Iraq invasion of George W. Bush, namely the Arab Spring, which obviously devolved into chaos in a number of countries.
HIRSHSo while Hillary was partly responsible for Libya intervention, you really can't lay it all on her shoulders.
SESNOI'm Frank Sesno, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Continuing with our conversation here. You know, Damian, you said something a moment ago, and it's interesting because it will be fascinating to see how this plays at the Democratic convention. If you go down some of the stats, 4.7, what is it, percent unemployment, virtually no inflation, gasoline prices at a near low, home mortgages around three percent, there is another and a counter narrative that on both sides of the aisle, on -- in both parties seems to have been all but lost. Or am I dreaming?
PALETTAYou're not dreaming, and -- but I think a big risk for Democrats, and I think we've seen the president try to stress how people should, you know, recognize how far we've come, but a big risk for Democrats is if they look like they're trying to spike the football, and you have Americans who are really struggling, and they, you know, they're barely getting by, and, you know, they can't afford summer camp, and they can't even think about buying a new car or going on vacation, they're going to look and say, you know, the Democrats just don't understand.
SESNOWell that's always the danger, and in fact there's a huge portion -- actually the Trump story and the Bernie Sanders story really is this tale of two Americas this last -- through this cycle, where you have a very large group of people who have been very badly hurt. And so you have these very strange and very contradictory narratives going on in this country. And I'm just curious as to how that gets addressed by the Democrats.
PALETTANo, that's right, and Susan raised an excellent point earlier that a lot of those people tend to be in Ohio and Pennsylvania and states that are really going to have an outsized impact on this election. And, you know, the country has changed a lot, and I think what both candidates are trying to do is explain their vision for what the next, you know, 10 years are going to look like. Is it going to look like, you know, it was after World War II, or is it going to look like a country where manufacturing is just not what it was and where tech jobs are different and where some, you know, CEO salaries are just going to be, you know, magnified, and that's just how things are.
SESNOVery quickly back to the phones and Pat from Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland, I think we've heard about that city.
PATYeah, I think it's been on TV a bit lately.
SESNOGo ahead, thanks for calling.
PATAnyway, thanks for taking my call. An earlier caller talked about Donald Trump being divisive and writing off certain groups of Americans. Hillary Clinton has a history of doing that, too. I happen to be pro-life. I'm somebody who goes to church on Sunday. I'm for traditional marriage. She would say that I'm hateful just because of my religious beliefs. So she takes whole categories of tens of millions of Americans and says they're hateful because they have traditional religious beliefs.
PATShe does that, she's been doing it consistently for years, and I haven't heard the media saying oh, she's divisive, and she's trying to pit Americans against each other. Donald Trump does do that, and so does Hillary Clinton.
SESNOWell, that's a great, very interesting point, and let me throw it over to Susan because surely as the Democrats get ready to convene, they can't take off their radar that Hillary Clinton has huge opposition, that she's a very polarizing figure in her own right.
PAGEAnd she's got -- she's got big problems. We know that Donald Trump had some things he needed to do at this convention. That is also true for Hillary Clinton, including appealing, for instance, to millennial voters. She doesn't -- millennial voters are not attracted to Trump. They went with Bernie Sanders. She needs to do better among them. A poll out of Ohio just yesterday by Suffolk University, 44-44, you can't get closer than that in a swing state.
PAGEOne last comment to Pat, I've never been at a convention where the people were as nice on the street and in every possible way as in Cleveland over the past week. So many thanks to Cleveland for the hospitality they've shown for all these invaders in their city over the past week.
SESNONo actually, Cleveland came out of this really, really well, thinking about all the concern going into it. Let me ask each of you very, very quickly, before we're done, in less than a minute, what was your one snapshot moment from this last week. Michael?
HIRSHYou know, oddly enough it was Paul Ryan early in the week giving his personal liturgy, you know, stating his beliefs, which had nothing to do with what Trump had been saying and yet coming out at the end endorsing Trump. Total disconnect.
SESNOJulie Hirschfeld Davis?
DAVISI'm going to say that it was having the music playing in the hall, the "You Can't Always Get What You Want" after Donald Trump finished speaking, and the balloons started raining down. You really got the sense that that captured the thoughts of some of the Republicans in that room.
SESNOSusan Page, one line.
PAGEOkay, interviewing "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson yesterday.
SESNODamian Paletta, you get the last word.
PALETTATed Cruz planning for 2020.
SESNOThere were plenty. Thanks to our panel for this very engaging conversation on our Friday news roundup. You've been listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I'm Frank Sesno.
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