Guest Host: Susan Page

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (C) speaks during a press conference at City Hall highlighting a Justice Department investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department August 10 in Baltimore, Maryland. Also pictured are Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis (L) and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta (R), head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (C) speaks during a press conference at City Hall highlighting a Justice Department investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department August 10 in Baltimore, Maryland. Also pictured are Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis (L) and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta (R), head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

Hillary Clinton unveils her economic agenda at a speech in Detroit, Michigan. The Democratic nominee promises to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to stamp out what she calls the “trump tax loophole.” Donald Trump walks back his assertion that President Obama founded the Islamic State, saying he was being “sarcastic.” A batch of new emails raises questions about the relationship between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. A Department of Justice report finds systemic, racial bias at the Baltimore police department. And the courts weigh in on voter ID laws in two states. Guest host Susan Page and a panel of journalists discuss the top domestic stories of the week.

Guests

  • Aaron Blake National political reporter, The Washington Post
  • Amy Walter National editor, Cook Political Report
  • Michael Scherer Washington bureau chief, TIME

Live Video

Transcript

  • 10:06:54

    MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump detail contrasting plans for the economy in speeches from Detroit this week. A new justice department report finds rampant racism and sexism in the Baltimore police department. And President Obama diverts $81 million from other programs to fund the development of a Zika vaccine.

  • 10:07:21

    MS. SUSAN PAGEJoining me for the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup is Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report. Welcome.

  • 10:07:27

    MS. AMY WALTERThank you. Glad to be here.

  • 10:07:29

    PAGEMichael Scherer from TIME magazine, hi.

  • 10:07:31

    MR. MICHAEL SCHERERThanks for having me.

  • 10:07:32

    PAGEAnd in his debut on the news roundup panel, Aaron Blake of The Washington Post. Welcome.

  • 10:07:39

    MR. AARON BLAKEIt's great to be here.

  • 10:07:40

    PAGEWe invite our listeners to join our conversation later in this hour. You can call our toll-free number, it's 1-800-433-8850, or send us an email to drshow@wamu.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter. And since this is the first hour of our news roundup, you can also watch the live video stream on our website. That's drshow.org. So Michael Scherer, your magazine, TIME, has come out with its new edition with a remarkable cover. Describe it for us.

  • 10:08:13

    SCHERERIt's a graphic depiction of Donald Trump with his face dripping as if he's melting and the cover line is "Meltdown."

  • 10:08:23

    PAGEIs he in a meltdown?

  • 10:08:24

    SCHERERI think he is. I don't think meltdown is of the nuclear variety from which you never recover. It's not as if, you know, the power plant cannot be rebuilt, but I think it's clear over the last two and a half weeks in polling, in discussions with Republican officials, in the way he has behaved and the response to that behavior and his inability to stop saying things that distract from the message he wants to be driving every day, that he's definitely on the wrong track.

  • 10:08:58

    SCHERERAnd there's really no Republican I know of, including Donald Trump, who we interviewed for this story, who is really saying everything is going great right now. You know, Trump, when we talked to him, was pretty ambiguous. He said, I'm talking to a lot of people and they're telling me to be nicer and softer and less aggressive and not like I was during the primaries, but I kind of liked it in the primaries better.

  • 10:09:22

    SCHERERAnd he's sort of torn between the persona and campaign approach that he really enjoys, which is the one you see when he's in front of large rallies, and the one that, I think, is pretty clear now is an objective fact works in presidential elections, which is one in which you have a discipline message and you drive it. And if you're in a race with two candidates who are widely disliked by the American public, you try and spend as much time talking about the other candidate, not yourself. And he hasn't been able to do that.

  • 10:09:51

    PAGETwo firestorms over things that Donald Trump said this week, Aaron. The second one, the more current one, is he said President Obama is a founder of ISIS. He said that Wednesday night. He repeated it in a series of interviews, several interviews he did yesterday, but this morning, a change. What did he do?

  • 10:10:11

    BLAKEWell, he does what he usually does, is he went on Twitter and tried to basically change his tact. He said that the media doesn't get it. He was being sarcastic. By the way, I don't think that that explanation really holds water. This is a guy who, for much of the day yesterday, when he was giving gobs of media interviews, would not back down from it. He did an interview with radio show host Hugh Hewitt where Hewitt was basically begging him to soften his stance.

  • 10:10:41

    BLAKEHe said, over and over again, well, you're saying the policies are what created the rise of ISIS, you know, they're not directly responsible. And Trump's response was, basically, no, he's the founder, she's the founder. He was not backing away from this. So this sudden change of course this morning, while not surprising, is certainly strange politics.

  • 10:11:00

    PAGEWhat do you think, Amy, is going on this? Let's just stick with this specific issue now of Obama is the founder of ISIS.

  • 10:11:08

    WALTERRight. I think that it got a great reaction in the crowd in which he speaks, which is his partisan, very strong believers, the folks that show up at these rallies, as Michael was saying. He like getting a reaction there and what he has failed to understand from really the very beginning is that those rallies are not representative of the general electorate. He continues, throughout this campaign, to say, but yeah, I beat 16 people and his supporters say this, too.

  • 10:11:40

    WALTERHe beat all these people. Pundits never thought he could do it by being himself and by getting a rise from the crowd and that controversy got him on television. It drives every media cycle and he has yet to really comprehend that that's not how you win the general electorate. It is a very different group of people that are paying attention in a general election than who vote in a primary.

  • 10:12:05

    SCHERERThe other thing that's in that comment is something that Donald Trump's done many times in the past, which is to try and define Barack Obama as an outsider. This is the guy who, you know, for years was saying Obama was born in Kenya or may have been born in Kenya when he clearly was not. And there's still a significant percentage of the Republican electorate that thinks or will say to pollsters that Obama's a Muslim. And so encoded in the remark is that.

  • 10:12:29

    WALTERYep, that's right.

  • 10:12:30

    PAGEAnd, in fact, at one of the rallies -- and I don't know, perhaps he did this more than once, he referred to him as -- the president as Barack Hussein Obama, which is also, I think, often used as a kind of code.

  • 10:12:41

    SCHERERI think his tweet this morning about sarcasm is really fascinating because it is true that he has changed the way politics is done with sarcasm all cycle. He often -- his most controversial statements are not stated. He will joke about saying them. So there's an irony in his approach. And so you both get the message he's delivering and he's establishing a critical distance from the message he's delivering. So he's saying, oh, you can't blame me.

  • 10:13:07

    SCHERERIt's like when he retweets something racist, he'll say, oh, it was just a retweet. It wasn't me. And it's a fascinating tactic and I think it has worked for him in the primary because it was a way of him sending messages with some deniability. And I think the evidence is that the middle of the country that will have the decision about who becomes president is not buying it right now.

  • 10:13:31

    PAGEAnd, in fact, that came up in a comment he made earlier in the week that was the original firestorm, which was referring to second amendment people and what they might do. Aaron, tell us about that.

  • 10:13:43

    BLAKEWell, this was a case in which he could've said he was being sarcastic and it probably would've gone by the wayside. A lot of people thought that it was a joke. He basically said Hillary Clinton is gonna be president. She is going to appoint judges that will be anti-second amendment, may try to abolish the second amendments, in his words. And then, he said, well, there's really nothing you can do about it. Well, maybe the second amendment people can.

  • 10:14:07

    PAGEAnd then, he said if they did, it would be a horrible day.

  • 10:14:09

    BLAKEIt would be a horrible day. So I think, you know, his explanation here was that he was trying to mobilize voters who believe in the second amendment to come out and vote for him, prevent her from getting the presidency, but the context of what he was talking about was she's already president, there's nothing you can do and then he made the little aside about the second amendment voters.

  • 10:14:28

    BLAKESo I think it was a, you know, there was lots of back and forth about whether this was a threat or a call to arms of some sort. And he didn't back down from it at all. He said this was just a call to the voting booths.

  • 10:14:39

    SCHERERThe broader context of him saying anything in those rallies is that he often is joking and he's often making jokes that cross lines. So I think if you watch the tape instead of reading the transcript, he kind of says it as an aside and he kind of backs out as if he's telling you a joke in the moment. So I think that makes his -- I mean, even Paul Ryan, the chairman of his party, when asked about this, said, well, it sounded to me like a joke gone bad.

  • 10:15:06

    SCHERERI mean, it read as a joke, not as a, you know, voter mobilization line.

  • 10:15:12

    BLAKEAnd he even added -- he said the second amendment people can maybe do something and then he added "and I don't know" which kind of was like...

  • 10:15:18

    WALTERIt's always the plausible.

  • 10:15:19

    BLAKE...it made it clear that it was an aside, it was kind of a joke, but he chose not to play it off as such.

  • 10:15:25

    PAGESo Amy, TIME magazine has Donald Trump melting down. You get the feeling, this week, that it is the Republican party that is in a meltdown.

  • 10:15:33

    WALTERYeah, is in crisis. And this is the thing that, I think, increasingly, we're going to be spending more time talking about, which is, is this just unique to Donald Trump? He's gonna meltdown and he loses the presidency, but Republicans are somehow able to hold onto their majorities in the House and the Senate because they are so separate from him. I was sitting in a focus group this week and the question was asked of this group of women, do you think Donald Trump represents the Republican party?

  • 10:16:03

    WALTERAnd one woman said, no, he presents Donald Trump. And that is what Republicans are hoping is that because he is such a unique figure, because he is -- he represents views that are unorthodox to many in the Republican party, that he is in his own separate box and it doesn't bring down the rest of the party. But what we know historically is as we get closer to the election, especially in recent years, voters do not make those distinctions between the top of the ticket and those below and that they punish the entire ticket as a way to say we don't like what your party's standard bearer is all about.

  • 10:16:42

    PAGEWell, he is the nominee of the Republican party.

  • 10:16:44

    WALTERYeah, absolutely.

  • 10:16:44

    PAGEIt makes it hard to distance yourself too far from your presidential nominee. Susan Collins, a senator from Maine this week, said she would not vote for Donald Trump. How many sitting Republican senators and members of Congress does this -- have made similar comments, Michael?

  • 10:17:01

    SCHERERI don't know the exact number, but it -- there's a much larger group than those how have come out who would like to do it, but for political reasons can't. I mean, you look at someone like John McCain who clearly has significant distaste for many of the things that Trump has said and has said this at various points, is in a tough primary race and it would be political malpractice right now for him to come out and say something like that.

  • 10:17:27

    SCHERERSo I think what we've seen more common than what happened from the senator from Maine is politicians running away from reporters down hallways not wanting to answer the question or politicians simply saying, you know, he's our nominee. I don't want Hillary Clinton, but it's not an endorsement.

  • 10:17:48

    PAGEWe're gonna take a short break and when we come back, we'll talk about the controversy that Hillary Clinton faces over a trove of new emails released during her time as secretary of state. And our phones are open. You can give us a call, 1-800-433-8850. Stay with us.

  • 10:20:02

    PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. And for the domestic hour of our "Friday News Roundup" I'm joined in the studio by Michael Scherer, the Washington bureau chief of TIME Magazine, Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report, and Aaron Blake, national political reporter for The Washington Post.

  • 10:20:21

    PAGEWe were talking in the first segment of this show about Donald Trump's troubles. Let's talk about some controversies that Hillary Clinton has faced this week, the release of yet more emails, Aaron. Why are they controversial?

  • 10:20:33

    BLAKEWell, these emails deal with interactions between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, which, you know, the Clinton Foundation deals with global things. So when Hillary Clinton was going to become secretary of state, there was an assurance that these two worlds would not come together, there would not be any impropriety between the two.

  • 10:20:53

    PAGEAn issue that Senator Luger of Indiana in particular raised during her confirmation hearing.

  • 10:20:57

    BLAKERight. Right. A very valid issue I would say. There are emails in which a former top aide to Bill Clinton, who now works for the Clinton Foundation, basically sought employment from somebody at the State Department, said we need to give this person a job. It's not clear who that person is. The other email that's at issue here is a -- from a donor to the Clinton Foundation, given millions of dollars to it, who wanted a connection with somebody who was in tune with what was going on in Lebanon. The State Department says that they were basically just looking to share some information about the election. But it does raise issues of whether there was some kind of intermingling of these two worlds that were supposed to be kept entirely separate.

  • 10:21:38

    PAGEIf there was, was it illegal, Michael?

  • 10:21:41

    SCHERERI don't think anyone would prosecute these emails without an official act on the other end. And the State Department has said that even a reference for a job that is eventually given would not be an official act. But I think we're still on the surface of this. I mean Huma Abedin, the person who received these emails, later became a special government employee, continued to work for Hillary Clinton and worked for Doug Band, the guy who's emailing her from the Clinton Foundation at his private consulting firm, Teneo. And she was taking money from the Clinton Foundation.

  • 10:22:11

    SCHERERAnd it came out this week that Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, had volunteered her personal time while she was chief of staff to go to New York to interview candidates to take over the job at the Clinton Foundation. I mean the appearance here is very much that Hillary Clinton, even though she by the letter of the law was directly not intervening in Clinton Foundation/Teneo business. Clearly her universe of top advisers at the State Department was deeply involved in it, which leads to all kinds of possible things that could come out in the future.

  • 10:22:43

    PAGEMichael says we're at the surface of this. Are we going to see more about, Amy, do you think?

  • 10:22:48

    WALTERWell, there was talk earlier in the year that the FBI or the Department of Justice was going to investigate here. They decided not to do this. So this is not going to be similar to what we saw with the email server, where you're going to have an FBI investigation and talk of indictment. But, again, this goes to the heart of the trouble for Donald Trump as well. In a normal campaign, this would be the first topic we would be talking about on the News Roundup. And the fact that that has not broken through is really testament to the ineptitude of the Trump campaign to sort of get out of their own way.

  • 10:23:26

    WALTERThe second thing is this has been hinted at for months. This is -- for many people this is new information, that there has been talk about these, if not illegal, at least ethically tenuous decisions by Hillary Clinton at the State Department and her relationship with the Clinton Foundation, that there will be more -- whether it's through emails or through corporations who did business with the State -- the State Department was helping these businesses. They gave money to the Clinton Foundation. Was there some quid pro quo? There's a lot of stuff that's sitting out there that has yet to be sort of surfaced. But, again, it's because we're spending more time talking about whether or not Barack Obama actually founded ISIS.

  • 10:24:12

    PAGEAnd of course it goes right to what I think is probably Hillary Clinton's biggest political vulnerability, and that's the perception she's not honest...

  • 10:24:18

    WALTERRight. Right.

  • 10:24:19

    PAGE...and trustworthy. And, you know, the stunning thing about this campaign to me is that the most serious vulnerabilities for both these candidates are completely self inflicted.

  • 10:24:27

    WALTERYeah.

  • 10:24:28

    PAGEIt's Donald Trump saying things that are outrageous and provocative. And it's Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server that has dogged her from the start.

  • 10:24:36

    WALTERMm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

  • 10:24:37

    BLAKEAnd also I would add that the release of these emails, which we hadn't previously seen, just kind of furthers the idea that she didn't turn over the emails that she was supposed to to the State Department when it was doing its review. There was basically half of the 60,000 emails that were taken off the table and deemed to be personal. Judicial Watch has FOIA'd and that's where these emails came from that we just saw.

  • 10:24:58

    PAGEFOIA is the Freedom of Information Act.

  • 10:24:59

    BLAKEYeah. Yeah. They got the emails. And so they basically released them at a, what seems an opportune time. But, you know, these are emails that probably should have been part of the initial batch. And I think that's going to raise questions about what other emails we haven't seen in the 60,000.

  • 10:25:16

    SCHERERAnd I wonder if, you know, there probably won't be a prosecution coming of this, at least before the election. But I feel like voters will have a pretty good sense by the election about something key to Hillary Clinton and her husband, which is that, whether they were breaking the law or not, they clearly have operated for a number of years in a way that they take care of their friends and donors around them to the extent they can, without -- it's almost like well-lawyered friendship, you know, without going over the line. Because we haven't really found examples of them going over the line in a clear-cut way that says, this is illegal, they should go to jail.

  • 10:25:53

    SCHERERBut the American people will know that. They will go to the voting booth in November -- there's been enough of these stories -- knowing that this is a -- that they operate in this way. That they were taking care of their aides by giving them extra paychecks that, you know, with friends, while they working at the State Department. That if donors called, there, you know, there's another email where her son-in-law calls -- sends an email because he wants a friend to have some in at the State Department and she forwards the email along. That she is the kind of politician who, within the bounds of the law as she understands it, will do favors for people.

  • 10:26:24

    PAGEBut is this like gambling in the casino? I mean...

  • 10:26:27

    SCHERERIt may be...

  • 10:26:27

    PAGE...is this just the way things work? And perhaps the reason Americans -- many Americans hate politics.

  • 10:26:32

    WALTERYes.

  • 10:26:33

    SCHERERRight.

  • 10:26:33

    WALTERAgain, not to spend too much time on one focus group, but this one woman said, the thing is all politicians lie. The Clintons just seem to get caught. And that is a big part of it. Like, I get that they do this but they do it over and over and over again. And they're sloppy about it, which makes it even more problematic.

  • 10:26:55

    SCHERERI think there's -- I think it's true that everybody does it. And I bet, you know, an old childhood friend of Obama's calls him and says I'm having trouble with something. Can you put me in touch with the right person? Maybe he passes it on. What's different about the Clintons is they create these massive organizations, these massive money-making organizations. Teneo is the consulting group that was created by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff and employed a bunch of Hillary's circle, the Clinton Foundation.

  • 10:27:20

    SCHERERAnd they invite people from around the world who are not, you know, who end up getting thrown in jail later -- you know, these are not like top-of-the-line people -- to give them enormous checks, which is something that most politicians don't do. And so they, you know, their boldness in this area I think is different.

  • 10:27:37

    PAGESo the Clinton Foundation, there were suggestions, proposals, hey, you need to shut it down when you become secretary of state.

  • 10:27:42

    WALTERMm-hmm.

  • 10:27:43

    PAGESay Hillary Clinton's elected in November. What happens to the Clinton Foundation, do you figure, Aaron?

  • 10:27:47

    BLAKEWell, I think the emails that we've seen this week would raise even bigger questions about that. You know, it's all kind of interesting how much she did that seemed to work counter to an eventual presidential campaign. The Clinton Foundation, giving these speeches for hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, it's kind of like, if you wanted to be president again, didn't you know that this stuff might be problematic if you did want to run? What did you really gain by doing this?

  • 10:28:18

    BLAKEAnd they would argue that the Clinton Foundation does many good things, of course. But you're getting yourself into a situation with, as Michael said, all of these people who maybe wind up in jail or who have been in jail before. And you -- just inviting all this scrutiny. And they just seem to not really care too much about that for some reason.

  • 10:28:36

    PAGEWe're getting a lot of pushback from our listeners on the idea that Trump was joking or can claim he was joking on his Second Amendment comments. Here are a couple of them. Michael on Twitter says, your panelists are fooling themselves if they think Trump's comments about Clinton and the Second Amendment were a joke. Get serious, please. And another tweet from Jay, who writes, Donald Trump doesn't joke. He has no evident sense of humor. Don't let him off the hook. And an email from Susan, who says, Mr. Trump should not be allowed to suddenly proclaim that he was using sarcasm whenever he realizes he has gone too far. He does his damage, then he wants to pretend it was all in fun.

  • 10:29:13

    PAGENow let's go to the topic that we might have started with in a different campaign and that is the fact that both candidates gave major economic addresses this week, both of them before the Detroit Economic Club. Kudos to the Detroit Economic Club for landing both of them in one week.

  • 10:29:26

    WALTERYeah.

  • 10:29:28

    PAGEWhat did we learn, Michael, about their contrasting visions of how the economy ought to work, how the -- what the government ought to do, the role of the government when it comes to the economy?

  • 10:29:38

    SCHERERI think Donald Trump has adopted, when it comes to policy, a rather traditional Republican approach, with a couple glaring exceptions, the biggest one being around the issue of trade. He basically wants to renegotiate or sink pending trade deals, whereas the Republican Party won't. But he proposed a number of lower tax brackets, dramatic cuts in taxes, but also in line with what Republican candidates tend to do. He talked about reducing regulation.

  • 10:30:06

    SCHERERAnd Hillary Clinton has a plan for every issue and it's a detailed plan. And, you know, she wants to, you know, continue a lot of the things President Obama has talked about. You know, more help for student loan recipients, an infrastructure bank, more help for U.S. manufacturing. I mean, there's a number of government solutions. I think the policy is one thing.

  • 10:30:27

    SCHERERThe other takeaway from these two speeches coming so close to each other is one of style. Clinton's was very specific. And she reveled in the degree to which she could say, go read my white paper. Trump's is incredibly unspecific. Even the things he said -- and there were four or five things, including the tax brackets and he wants a deduction for child care for people who spend money on child care -- he basically said, well, I'll tell you more about it later. Like it -- we don't really know what this means. We don't really have scores for what it's going to do. He -- it hasn't really been played out.

  • 10:31:00

    SCHERERAnd I think, regardless of the Democratic-Republican takeaways of different policy directions, you also have two candidates who have very different approaches to the idea of policy and the role policy plays in their own minds and would likely play in their White Houses.

  • 10:31:16

    WALTERAnd I do think that it goes to the heart, too, of the Trump concept that everything's negotiable. So this is just a starting point. Why should I take specifics?

  • 10:31:26

    WALTERWhat I found fascinating about both of them was the degree to which they acceded to their base. So Donald Trump, who's been running as a populist Republican, most of his messages have been all about, we're going to get rid of these terrible trade deals, terrible Wall Street, terrible Washington insiders who've sort of sold us down the river. A good chunk of his economic speech was basically boilerplate Republican proposals that have been part of the Republican mantra for years and years and years. There wasn't a whole lot new there. So he was trying to sort of marry his -- the traditional Republican onto his new populism.

  • 10:32:05

    WALTERHillary Clinton, meanwhile, was -- while she is spending a great deal of time this week reaching out to Republicans, saying look at all of these Republicans who are supporting me. Donald Trump is dangerous. Foreign policy experts telling you that they don't trust him. She basically, in her economic plan, said, but I'm not going to give you any Republican light. This is as liberal and as progressive you're going to get. This is basically Bernie Sanders but not all the way Bernie Sanders. Maybe it's 60 percent Bernie Sanders.

  • 10:32:36

    PAGEAlthough on the Pacific Trade pact...

  • 10:32:39

    WALTERThat's right.

  • 10:32:40

    PAGE...there have been a lot of speculation that she was -- that she came out against it...

  • 10:32:43

    WALTERYeah.

  • 10:32:44

    PAGE...during the primaries because of Bernie Sanders. But her heart is really for it. She made it difficult for her to flip on that issue...

  • 10:32:51

    WALTERMm-hmm.

  • 10:32:52

    PAGE...by what she was saying at the Economic Club.

  • 10:32:53

    BLAKEYeah. And I think this was probably a response in a lot of ways to what Terry McAuliffe said -- the former DNC chairman, very close to the Clintons -- said during the Democratic National Convention, which was basically, you know, she'll adjust on that. She'll eventually let it through. This is obviously a big Obama initiative, part of his legacy. So it's kind of an uneasy thing between Obama and Clinton. But Clinton said, I'll oppose it now. I'll oppose it after the election. And I'll oppose it as president. So that's about as clear as you can be and very tough to go back on.

  • 10:33:23

    WALTERI mean, and this is pretty remarkable when you think about it. I mean...

  • 10:33:26

    PAGESo she's going against (word?) probably supports it.

  • 10:33:28

    WALTERWell, yeah, and that this is a president right now with a 51, 52 percent approval rating, very strong ratings with his base. She is specifically going after one of his big issues.

  • 10:33:40

    PAGEI'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Our phone lines are open, 1-800-433-8850. And you can watch a video of this hour streaming live on our website, drshow.org. Any chance do you think, Michael, that the Pacific Trade deal gets approved during a lame duck session?

  • 10:34:01

    SCHERERI think there's a solid chance. I think it's diminished somewhat over the last three months because of Clinton's moves. But I think President Obama still wants to get it done. Mitch McConnell still wants to get it done. I think Mitch McConnell doesn't need a lot of Democrats to get it done. And I think Paul Ryan is maybe a trickier -- we'd have to see how the election goes and where his membership is. But it's very possible that he would want to get it done. I think the -- right now, at least this trade deal, the most likely route for it passing would be in those months right after the election.

  • 10:34:35

    WALTERWell, this could also be like one of those issues like TARP though, where you could see Republicans who decide to support it, it comes back to haunt them in primaries...

  • 10:34:44

    SCHERERYeah. That's right.

  • 10:34:45

    WALTER...in the next election. And that's what they have to be wary about. You know, when you look at the most recent polling on this issue, you see over 50 percent of Republicans opposing trade deals. This is much more dangerous territory for Republicans than they've ever seen.

  • 10:35:01

    PAGEDonald Trump is making two appearances today in Pennsylvania. Let's go to Max, who's calling us from Lancaster, Pa. Max, thanks for joining us.

  • 10:35:08

    MAXHow are you doing? I want to say that the, you know, the Republican Party has been convincing their base that the talk radio-Fox News conspiracy stories are the real thing. And they've been doing it for decades. And I think that the base is tired of being left high and dry once the party's anointed candidates get elected. They were absolutely not going to accept Jeb. The energy and rage that people are always talking about the Trump supporters having is first and foremost directed at the party, which is why it was so successful knocking out these other candidates in the primaries, who were, by the way, far too cowardly to stand up and be the first person to take a swing at Trump.

  • 10:35:53

    MAXAnd I think that, you know, all of that energy directed inside the party is why they were so successful early on. They loved it every time Trump got knocked down and came back stronger. And they loved the way that he just sort of barreled into this whole process, like Hulk Hogan, and just smashes everybody to pieces.

  • 10:36:13

    PAGEOkay, Max. Thanks very much for your call. What do you think?

  • 10:36:16

    SCHERERI think it's a fair analysis. I think you could say something similar to what was fueling Bernie Sanderson the left. I mean he was doing a lot of smashing of his own and exciting a lot of people. And the only thing I would add there is that this tends to happen in parties who are out of power. They become more passionate and less conventional in their views. I mean, if you remember back in 2006 and 2007, Democrats were furious at Bush. And you had -- I don't think it was in any way the degree to which you have it now on the right, in terms of especially things that are just not true that are bandied about. But you have real rage that gets expressed in these ways.

  • 10:36:59

    PAGEMax, thanks very much for your call. We're going to take another short break. And when we come back, we'll talk about that Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department. It was pretty scathing. And we'll take your calls and questions. You can call our toll-free number, 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email at drshow.org. Or -- and you can also watch video of this hour streaming live on our website, drshow.org. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:00

    PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. It's our weekly news roundup with Amy Walter, Michael Scherer and Aaron Blake. We've taking your calls and questions. Let's go back to the phones. Let's go to Louisville, Kentucky, and talk to Bernie. Bernie, hi, you're on the air.

  • 10:40:17

    BERNIEHi Susan, hi everybody.

  • 10:40:20

    WALTERHi.

  • 10:40:22

    PAGEHi.

  • 10:40:22

    BERNIEWell, I was calling -- do you all sometimes feel that Trump just really isn't running for president? I mean, the campaign seems like such a mess, and we watch all the shows and listen to all the radio shows, particularly you all, and it just -- well you all know how -- what's actually going on, and from what we hear, it just sounds like the campaign is such a mess. Do you feel like he's actually running for president?

  • 10:40:47

    PAGEHey Bernie, that's such a great question. We got a similar email from John, who writes, I don't believe Trump wants to be president, he is trying to drop out without making it obvious. What do you think, Aaron?

  • 10:40:57

    BLAKEWell he's certainly not doing much to disavow us of these suspicions. This is something that dates back from the very beginning of his campaign. Is he serious about it? There was some thought that he was doing this just to help Hillary Clinton, who he's been friendly with in the past, very friendly with. I'm not sure I buy that, but it's certainly one of two things here. Either he's just going to run this campaign, he doesn't really care what the result is, he likes the attention, or he thinks it's working.

  • 10:41:25

    BLAKEI think it was a really interesting interview yesterday he did with CNBC. He basically said three times, I'm going to run this thing my way, if it doesn't work out, I'm going to go on a long vacation. Now if you're the Republican Party, and you hear that, I don't think you like hearing that. That sounds like he doesn't feel like he has much skin in the game. But it's clear that his attitude towards this is I'm going to do things my way, you guys can try to tell me things, but I'm not going to listen.

  • 10:41:51

    SCHERERI don't think he doesn't want to win. I think he's someone who's always wanted to win this thing, but, and there's a big but, he doesn't want to win as Mitt Romney. He wants to win as Donald Trump. So he doesn't want to do what everyone's telling him is the rational thing to do at this point, and if the choice comes down to, you know, make yourself something boring, and he uses that word all the time, I'm not boring, make yourself something boring and win versus lose as Donald Trump, I think he doesn't mind losing as Donald Trump.

  • 10:42:17

    PAGEHere's an email from Colin, who writes, I am a frequent listener and a Trump supporter who takes issue with media coverage of Trump. Trump's campaign has hit a couple road bumps for sure, but the media seems determined to exaggerate his follies into a meltdown while ignoring or downplaying valid controversies surrounding Clinton's campaign, including her seating of Omar Mateen's dad behind her at a rally, which was covered four times less than Trump's Second Amendment remarks. Now Amy, these are complaints that we do hear from Trump supporters.

  • 10:42:47

    WALTERYeah, absolutely, and there are two ways to look at it. One is, you know, the best way as a campaign, again as a traditional campaign, to make sure that the media and others are covering your opponent and her many weaknesses, which she obviously has, is to let them do that without getting in the way, without giving fresh fodder for the media to come to make the case about you.

  • 10:43:11

    WALTERHe seems, as we've discussed, incapable of being able to do that. The other is, you know, if -- in sports if you are a team that is known for kind of skirting around, and maybe you're known as a team that, like a soccer team, that you do a lot of flopping, right, you know, trying to get the call, then the -- then the refs are going to spend a lot more time making sure that you are not flopping.

  • 10:43:42

    WALTERAnd so you have two challenges with the media. On the one hand they were criticized during the primaries for not digging enough into Donald Trump and letting him get away with saying things that were blatantly untrue, right now the political fact checkers say he has more pants on fire, meaning 100 percent untrue statements, than any candidate they've ever covered. So he makes statements that are blatantly false while at the same time trying to cover him as a traditional candidate is very difficult to do.

  • 10:44:14

    PAGEWe had a listener send a note complaining we had not used the full quote from -- about -- of Donald Trump's comment about the Second Amendment people. Let me just read the full quote, which we've pulled from Politifact. He said, Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, although the Second Amendment, maybe there is, I don't know, but I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day if, if Hillary gets to put her judges in.

  • 10:44:49

    PAGEHere's a tweet we've gotten from Webster, who says Congress must come back into session to vote money for Zika or be exposed as risking U.S. lives. You know, in fact, Aaron, we saw this week the president took steps basically giving up, for now at least, on the idea that Congress is going to approve money for Zika funding. What did he do?

  • 10:45:07

    BLAKEIt's basically a stopgap at this point, $81 billion, I believe, is being transferred from other programs at NIH over to the Zika effort in response to Congress', you know, basic inability to pass something, which both sides agree should be passed in some form. Republicans put forward a $1.1 billion bill that had certain elements that Democrats didn't like, so they voted against it. There's been a call for $1.9 billion from the Democrats on this that Republicans are wary of, they don't want to add to the debt.

  • 10:45:41

    BLAKESo we've just kind of reached an impasse, and I think this is a really good example of the gridlock in Washington. You just -- this is something both sides agree has to be done, and they're getting caught up in the details yet again. They just can't -- they can't get past kind of the partisanship of the issue and do something that everybody thinks they need to.

  • 10:46:00

    PAGEAnd yet your own -- the Washington Post did a poll I guess it was this week asking Americans whether they see Zika as a significant threat, and very few do. So it's one of these instances where Congress is able to get away with this in part because, at least at this point, a majority of Americans do not see this as an immediate, visceral threat.

  • 10:46:20

    SCHERERAlthough that could change over the coming months.

  • 10:46:21

    WALTERExactly.

  • 10:46:22

    SCHERERThere's 7,350 cases in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, 15 infants have already been born. There's -- blood tests in Puerto Rico suggest two percent of people coming in have it in Puerto Rico. What's interesting about this money is it's a very temporary measure. It's just going to carry them another month or so, and this time it's not taking money away from Ebola, there was another shift away from Ebola funding, but it's taking money from research into cancer and diabetes, money for opioid treatment and money for heating oil for the poor.

  • 10:46:52

    SCHERERSo at some point, if this continues, it starts eating into things that are also priorities, I think, for a lot of voters.

  • 10:46:59

    PAGEWe have an email from Jeff, who asks, does anyone on your panel have any insight on the meeting this morning in Florida between the RNC and the Trump campaign? Apparently Trump himself won't be there, but there appears to be some discord between the two groups. I read about this in Politico this morning, a meeting that one called -- one anonymous source called a come to Jesus meeting.

  • 10:47:18

    WALTERHaven't they had a lot of come to Jesus meetings? I mean, this is the -- this is a reality. This comes on the heels of a report that the Trump organization, the Trump campaign, has asked the RNC to put office in all 50 states, which of course we know that there are not 50 battleground states, a lot of pushback there from some Republicans saying that's a waste of money. But to Michael's point, this is the campaign that Donald Trump wants to run, and this is what he's going to do.

  • 10:47:43

    WALTERI don't think at this point there is anything that the RNC can do to change the trajectory of this candidate.

  • 10:47:52

    PAGEHere's one thing the RNC could do. The RNC could start redirecting money away from the presidential campaign to Senate and House races and other races down the ballot, basically giving up on the top of the ticket. Do you think that might happen?

  • 10:48:03

    SCHERERAnd that's exactly what 70 big-name Republicans signed a letter urging the RNC to do just Thursday, in fact. You know, I don't think that's a likely outcome, especially right now where the polls are at least within single digits. I don't think the polls are going to get outside of single digits very much. We're in -- it's such a polarized country that you're the Republican nominee, and you're going to be close enough to argue that you have a chance.

  • 10:48:29

    SCHERERAnd also there's just the fact that it's going to be so hard for the John McCains of the world and the Rob Portmans of the world, the Kelly Ayottes of the world, to win re-election in a case where Donald Trump just gets dropped at the top of the ticket. They need him to at least not get destroyed.

  • 10:48:43

    PAGELet's go to Houston, Texas, and call -- talk to a listen, Adebola (sp?) calling us from Houston, hi.

  • 10:48:51

    ADEBOLAHello. Good morning. I enjoy listening to Diane Rehm's show. One of the things that I find problematic is the fact that Trump gets away with saying a lot of (unintelligible) things. I was reading a quote by John Pastore from 1964 in regards to Goldwater, whereby he said that we cannot wait for two days to decipher what the presidential candidate is saying because when he becomes a president, whatever words he's saying has to be perfect the first time around because the whole world shakes or breaks based on what the president says.

  • 10:49:30

    ADEBOLAAnd also I find it problematic that every single time, he keeps -- he's no longer using a dog whistle now, now it's even what we call using a big trumpet to speak and try and link Obama to Islam or Muslim by saying that Obama found -- Obama founded ISIS.

  • 10:49:48

    PAGEAll right, thanks so much for your call, Michael.

  • 10:49:50

    SCHERERI think that's one of the most effective arguments that Hillary Clinton has right now, especially for non-ideological voters, that whatever you think about Trump and his policies, do you trust that he won't just blunder into big problems from the Oval Office by speaking in this sort of sarcastic double-speak that he speaks in, where it's both a joke, and it's not a joke, and you're not really sure what's a joke and what -- what is, and he changes his mind day to day whether it's a joy.

  • 10:50:16

    WALTERI mean, what's interesting is this election, when this year started, was going to be a referendum on change, moving the country away from -- we've had a Democratic president for eight years, and we have a Democrats nominee who's been in politics for 25 years. This was going to be a change election. She has been able to, thanks pretty much all because of Donald Trump, to make it a case for the status quo only because it feels safer, that the change is now considered dangerous, and that caller tapped right into that.

  • 10:50:47

    BLAKEAnd there was, I think speaking to the points that both Michael and Amy just made, there was a CNN poll last week that asked people who do you trust to have control of the nuclear codes. Clinton won that issue by 22 points. So I think that pretty much says it all, what people are thinking about Donald Trump's temperament and his preparedness for the job, and all of this stuff speaks to that.

  • 10:51:07

    PAGEThe Department of Justice came out with a really scathing report this week on the Baltimore Police department. Amy, quickly summarize for us what the Justice Department found.

  • 10:51:16

    WALTERWell, just they said that the Baltimore Police Department engaged in unconstitutional practices that led to disproportionate rates of stop searches, arrests of African-Americans, use of excessive force with juveniles. They found in some cases that 44 percent of stops occurred in two small, predominately African-American neighborhoods, that African-Americans accounted for 95 percent of the 400 individuals who were stopped at least 10 times between 2010 and 2016.

  • 10:51:46

    WALTERI mean, it is a pretty remarkable report. What was also interesting, when you listened to the press conference, was an acknowledgement, as well, that this goes beyond just the police but that you have a community in which, you know, poverty and a sense of hopelessness and a lack of jobs and infrastructure are all part of -- are all part of this, that this isn't just about the police and a community, this is about a community that's in crisis, and the police -- their actions, obviously, being quite terrible.

  • 10:52:25

    BLAKEThe most glaring one for me was that there was an explicit order to arrest all the black hoodies in a neighborhood one night that they found, which is just an astonishing thing, to just arrest people for the way they were dressed and their race. This'll be the legacy of Freddie Grey, who died. You know, the prosecution has basically been given up. This is the young man who died in the back of a police van.

  • 10:52:48

    PAGEThe prosecution failed. The police officers were not convicted.

  • 10:52:50

    BLAKEThey were not convicted, and -- and yet because of that incident, this happened, and I think there is a commitment, at least a stated commitment by the political leadership and the police chief in Baltimore, to really dramatically change the way they do things.

  • 10:53:08

    PAGEYou know, the -- there was a story in the front page of the New York Times this morning that said not only was there rampant racism in the Baltimore Police Department but also sexism in that sexual abuse cases weren't taken seriously, that prostitutes weren't treated in a respectful way when they were trying to report crimes. There's been some talk that this is a rebuke of that police policy called the broken windows strategy.

  • 10:53:36

    PAGESome of our listeners may not be familiar with that, Aaron. Tell us about that.

  • 10:53:39

    BLAKEWell, this is basically using whatever excuse you have to stop somebody. I mean this is -- the policies as they were described in the report is basically kind of equivalent to stop and frisk, which New York City had for a time, doesn't anymore, where you use basically any excuse or not even really have an excuse to stop people. So I think this is really the latest I a long line of rebukes of both broken windows and zero-tolerance policing.

  • 10:54:02

    PAGEI'm Susan Page, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go to Huntington, Indiana, and talk to Andrew. Andrew, thanks for holding on.

  • 10:54:11

    ANDREWYeah, you're welcome, thanks for having me on.

  • 10:54:14

    PAGEYes, go ahead, do you have a question or a comment?

  • 10:54:15

    ANDREWYeah, I do. You know, as a -- as a 30-something with five kids and a fulltime job, I look at my information stream, which is of course NPR and then really just social media, and there's a real divide going with, like, in social media right now I'm hearing so much chatter about Gary Johnson, about the possibility of there being the hope of a third candidate. And then my -- my technical go-to, you know, my NPR, I don't hear anything. And, you know, I would just love to hear from the experts that I lean on, what do they think about that.

  • 10:54:52

    PAGESo Andrew, are you a supporter of Gary Johnson yourself?

  • 10:54:56

    ANDREWAs far as I know. You know? I mean, everything's been changing so quickly, but it seems like it. You know, I really like the smell of what's cooking there, and I just wish I knew -- I want to lean on my knowledge base. I need -- I need to know more.

  • 10:55:11

    PAGEAndrew, I love that phrase, I like the smell of what's cooking there. So let's talk about Gary Johnson. Should we take him pretty seriously or not?

  • 10:55:15

    SCHERERWell, we should because the window for him is wider than it's been for most other third party candidate that we've seen in a presidential election in recent history. At the same time, we are a two-party system for a reason. It's not required that we are, but there are so many incentives that move us in that direction, and, you know, Gary Johnson is polling around 10 percent in most polls. He needs to get to 15 percent if he wants to get in the debates. That would be a very big thing for him.

  • 10:55:44

    SCHERERBut third-party candidates tend to poll a lot better further away from the election. As you get closer, people want to vote for or against a candidate who can actually win, and so I think the odds are still stacked against him, but the opportunity is still there.

  • 10:55:57

    BLAKEAnd at least right now it looks like if this race tightens up between Trump and Clinton, the third party candidates could be a factor. In the four-way races right now, Clinton has a national lead of about three and a half percent. That's if you include Jill Stein, who polls at one or two percent, and Gary Johnson. In the two-way races, if you just ask -- if pollsters just ask Clinton or Trump, she polls at about twice that, at almost six and a half percent ahead of Trump.

  • 10:56:23

    BLAKESo if Johnson continues to be strong and becomes stronger, and Jill Stein finds some traction for the Green Party, and Donald Trump is able to close this up, they could be significant factors.

  • 10:56:33

    PAGEAnd, you know, there's a second way that Gary Johnson can get into the debates, and that is if Donald Trump makes it a condition of his participation in the debates. That's also -- he wouldn't necessarily have to get to 15 percent. And lots of questions about Donald Trump's willingness to participate, at least in all three debates, Amy.

  • 10:56:50

    WALTERYeah, that's right. I mean, there's always pushback when these debates start. Usually it's over the moderators. But in this case it seems that we're going to debate about the moderators, the dates, as well as the kind of venue this is going to be in. It sure seems to me that his campaign has been setting up a clear out clause for Donald Trump right now.

  • 10:57:09

    PAGESo just a small correction on something I said. I said that both Trump and Clinton had spoken at the Detroit Economic Club. It turns out Trump spoke at the Detroit Economic Club, but Clinton spoke at the Futuramic Tool and Engineering in suburban Detroit. My apologies to the Futuramic Tool and Engineering for misstating that, and congratulations on getting that major address by Hillary Clinton there this week.

  • 10:57:31

    PAGEAnd my thanks to my panel, Aaron Blake of The Washington Post, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, Michael Scherer of TIME magazine. Thanks for being with us.

  • 10:57:39

    SCHERERThank you.

  • 10:57:40

    BLAKEThank you.

  • 10:57:40

    WALTERThank you.

  • 10:57:41

    PAGEI'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.

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