A woman surveys the flood damage to her home on August 17 in Sorrento, Louisiana.  Last week Louisiana was overwhelmed with flood water causing at least 13 deaths and damage to thousands of homes.

A woman surveys the flood damage to her home on August 17 in Sorrento, Louisiana. Last week Louisiana was overwhelmed with flood water causing at least 13 deaths and damage to thousands of homes.

Donald Trump tries for a campaign reboot, shaking up his staff and speaking yesterday in a new, regretful tone. The FBI releases documents to congress related to Hillary Clinton’s e-mail inquiry, and defends its decision not to press criminal charges against the candidate. A group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers” claims to have hacked the NSA, alarming U.S. intelligence agencies. And the Red Cross is calling the flooding in Louisiana the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy: 13 people have died and tens of thousands have been displaced. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Sheryl Gay Stolberg National correspondent, The New York Times
  • Olivier Knox Chief Washington correspondent, Yahoo! News
  • Manu Raju Senior political reporter, CNN

Live Video

'Are We Covering The Wrong Things?'


  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The chairman of the conservative Breitbart News website is put in charge of the Trump campaign. Major health insurer, Aetna, is the latest to pull back from Obamacare. And the superintendent of the Chicago police is calling for the firing of seven police officers for their response to the fatal shooting of Lequan McDonald in 2014.

  • 10:07:23

    MS. DIANE REHMHere for the Friday News Roundup, Olivier Knox of Yahoo News, Sheryl Gay Stohlberg of the New York Times and Manu Raju of CNN. And you can certainly watch the news roundup live on our website, www.drshow.org. You can call us at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to drshow@wamu.org. You can follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And good Friday to all of you.

  • 10:08:00

    MR. MANU RAJUHey, Diane.

  • 10:08:00


  • 10:08:01

    MR. OLIVIER KNOXHi, Diane.

  • 10:08:01

    REHMGood to have you all here. Manu Raju, we learn this morning that Paul Manafort, who was the former head of the Trump campaign, has now resigned. What's that all about? Is it because of accusations that he had a relationship with the Russian government or something else?

  • 10:08:31

    RAJUWell, this story, literally, is just breaking, Diane. I mean, just minutes ago, we're learning that Paul Manafort is resigning and it really just shows that Donald Trump has just not been happy with the direction of this campaign. I mean, you look at poll after poll and he is losing in battleground states. He's losing nationally and he is on the verge of losing in a major landslide. So clearly, Donald Trump recognizes that things need to change, which is one reason why we saw that staff shake-up this week, him bringing on a new campaign manager, a new campaign CEO.

  • 10:09:09

    RAJUWhile Manafort, at that time, just a couple days ago, was still the campaign chairman, was still supposedly the one calling the shots. But it was clear that he had been marginalized. And probably in no small part of these damaging stories that have come out in the last several days showing his ties to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. That has not been helpful. There have been more and more stories about his lobbying efforts on that behalf -- on the behalf of these pro-Russian groups.

  • 10:09:42

    RAJUBut I'm not sure if that was it, in and of itself, why. Maybe that was one big -- one reason why he stepped aside. We're still learning all the details. But it really just shows they needed to do something different. The campaign needed to do something different.

  • 10:09:54


  • 10:09:56

    STOLBERGYeah, I think those two things are intertwined, The Russia allegations, but also Paul Manafort was never really a creature of the Donald Trump campaign. Manafort was supposed to be this Washington wise man who was going to be brought in to make Donald Trump "more presidential." Well, two months into that effort, you know, it had plainly failed. You know, Trump was not able to pivot from this sort of brash, you know, Twitter-happy character that he was during the primaries to the "more presidential" candidate.

  • 10:10:29

    STOLBERGHe didn't want to do it. It didn't fit him. It didn't suit him. He didn't want to be scripted so we saw this big campaign shakeup this week in which Manafort was kind of pushed upstairs and replaced by Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager and Steve Bannon, a Breitbart executive. And so just to wrap up, I think Manafort probably -- we don't know this, but he probably also disagreed with the direction in which the campaign was going. A, he had become a distraction over the Russia allegations and, B, he just doesn't fit in this campaign mold.

  • 10:10:59

    REHMAt the same time, Olivier, yesterday, we heard Donald Trump say he regrets some of the things he said. He said that perhaps some of what he has said has caused pain. Isn't that a pivot in and of itself?

  • 10:11:22

    KNOXWell, the danger in describing that as a pivot is that Donald Trump has, on multiple occasions, done what amounts to at 360 degree pivot, where we all report that now he's changing, now he's going to break from his unorthodox strategies and he's going to become a more conventional candidate. He's going to build bridges to the establishment. And every time, we've been wrong. It was a notable moment in the speech because we haven't heard that kind of public contrition from Donald Trump.

  • 10:11:45

    KNOXIn fact, quite the opposite. Most of the time, when he's confronted with his remarks, he usually adds another layer. He doesn't back off. So this was notable, but I don't -- the cast of characters can change, but the leading man, I think, is going to stay the same.

  • 10:11:59

    REHMAll right. And he is down in Louisiana today with his vice presidential running mate, Governor Pence.

  • 10:12:08

    KNOXThat's right. And that's going to add fuel to the fire of whether or not Barack Obama should have publically commented or maybe considered a visit to Louisiana. What you hear from the White House is -- they point out that the president signed a major disaster declaration which frees up federal money for Louisiana and that if he visits now, he would actually be taking resources away from the rescue, recovery and reconstruction effort.

  • 10:12:32


  • 10:12:34

    STOLBERGYeah. So I do think this could be, though, Barack Obama's Katrina moment. You know, Louisiana, the optics of the Louisiana storm, a terrible storm, were very, very difficult for Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. He flew over Louisiana, memorably, and Air Force One was photographed looking down at the devastation from Hurricane Katrina and was roundly criticized for not going. So one thing the public expects of presidents is to feel their pain, as Bill Clinton would've said.

  • 10:13:03

    STOLBERGAnd people want to hear from the president. I think it was a mistake for the president not to personally come out and say, Washington is with you, even if he wasn't going, he might've come out and had his face on camera, announcing federal aid for Louisiana, telling Louisianans you need to clean up now. I will get there when it's more appropriate. I suspect we will see a visit by Barack Obama.

  • 10:13:30

    RAJUYeah, a real risk for the president as he's in Martha's Vineyard. He was playing golf yesterday with Larry David just at the same time as newspaper editorials in the state were calling on him to come to Louisiana. So a risk. I mean, the scope of the devastation there is pretty remarkable. I mean, this is the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy. There have been 6.9 trillion gallons of rain between August 8 and August 14. 13 people have died. There have been 40,000 homes destroyed. A lot of people have -- filing flood insurance claims. So a real, real serious situation down there.

  • 10:14:04

    STOLBERG86,000 filing flood insurance claims.

  • 10:14:07


  • 10:14:07

    KNOXJust two quick points. One is the question of the Katrina issue, we're going to find out very quickly whether the government response was adequate because that was really the underlying problem with Katrina. And the other thing is, I -- we talked about public contrition earlier. I should say the media shouldn't hold its head particularly high, either. There has been a relative lack of coverage of these floods. Now, granted, there's a lot of other stuff going on, but it's been -- it hasn't been as much of a national news story.

  • 10:14:31

    KNOXAnd this actually dove tails with the president not coming out, I think, because if he comes out and says, you know, we're on top of this, we're releasing aid, we feel your pain and the rest of it, I think that galvanizes coverage. It galvanizes donations and it has a real effect on the public response.

  • 10:14:46

    REHMAnd what about the fires going on out in California, just totally devastating.

  • 10:14:53

    STOLBERGYeah, devastating wild fires out there. You know, you do wonder if it's also going to make us have more of a discussion, frankly, about climate change. Whenever we see these kind of natural disasters, this flood in Louisiana, for instance, is supposedly a thousand-year flood. Not talking a hundred-year flood. And the terrible wildfires in California come into context of a time when we have been talking about warming of the earth. I wouldn't be surprised if we see that conversation happening very soon as well.

  • 10:15:21

    REHMSo if Donald Trump and Governor Pence are down there in Louisiana, what have we heard from Hillary Clinton about what's going on down there.

  • 10:15:33

    RAJUWell, not a lot. I mean, she's quiet today. I don't know if there's any public events scheduled, but that's -- it puts pressure on her, too. I mean, Donald Trump doing this, going down there was an interesting move, and unexpected move and it puts the ball back in Hillary Clinton's court to decide on how to handle it. But, you know, they're going to make the argument that the White House has made that going down there doesn't do a whole lot at this point.

  • 10:15:57

    RAJUBut clearly, they're going to have to acknowledge it given how serious of a disaster it is.

  • 10:16:00

    REHMOlivier, Donald Trump got his first national security briefing this week. What is the position on that? What is put out there and what is withheld?

  • 10:16:16

    KNOXThe tradition has its roots in Harry Truman assuming the presidency after Franklin Delano Roosevelt died and basically discovering that we had this atomic bomb program. Well, Harry Truman wasn't a big fan of that shock discovery so he implemented -- it's a tradition. It's not a law. It's a tradition that the nominees of the two major parties, after the nominating conventions, get classified briefings on national security and foreign policy.

  • 10:16:40

    KNOXThey don't get a lot. There's been a lot of overblown rhetoric about this. Paul Ryan said Hillary Clinton shouldn't get these briefings because of her email controversy. Harry Reid said that Donald Trump shouldn't get the briefings because he likes to talk. The fact of the matter is they're not getting a lot more than what you hear in the annual -- what's called the global threat assessment hearing in Congress, which is the director of national intelligence kind of going around the world and explaining to lawmakers where he sees the biggest problems.

  • 10:17:08

    KNOXThere are three phases to these. The first are these briefings which are not that detailed. They're classified mostly to let the nominee ask questions. You see it in Congress sometimes when someone asks a question and the director of national intelligence has to go into closed session.

  • 10:17:22

    REHMI see.

  • 10:17:22

    KNOXSee him in secret. Then, there's the day after election day where you get a lot more detail and finally there's inauguration day or the day after when you're actually getting the goods. They are not getting sources and methods. If the Navy SEALs are on their ways somewhere, they don't hear that today. These briefings are really not that detailed.

  • 10:17:41

    REHMOlivier Knox, he's chief Washington correspondent for Yahoo News. We'll take a short break here. When we come back, we've got callers, emails, we'll try to get to as many as we can. Stay with us.

  • 10:20:02

    REHMWelcome back to our Friday News Roundup of national stories, today with Manu Raju, he's with CNN, Olivier Knox of Yahoo! News, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times. We talked earlier about the resignation after 144 days of being with the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort has resigned. Here is Donald Trump's statement. Quote, "This morning, Paul Manafort offered, I accepted his resignation from the campaign." He goes on to say he's very appreciative of his work. And, finally, Paul is a true professional. I wish him the greatest success.

  • 10:20:55

    REHMI know that you've mentioned Kellyanne Conway, who is now campaign manager. Tell us about her.

  • 10:21:04

    RAJUShe's a pollster, a Republican pollster, a long-time pollster here in Washington. And she became a senior adviser to the campaign earlier this year. She's, you know, it was an interesting choice to name her and Steve Bannon, who's the head of Breitbart, the conservative, right-wing news website at the same time, because they both sort of represent different poles of the Republican universe, if you will. (word?) as Bannon may be considered more of someone on the right, the far right of the party, Kellyanne Conway can be considered more in the mainstream, establishment side of the party, someone who's trying to showcase a different side of Donald Trump.

  • 10:21:46

    RAJUYou heard her yesterday speak publicly about what her new role would be as the campaign manager. She's going to try to, as she said, sharpen the part -- sharpen Donald Trump's message heading into the general election. And perhaps you may have seen that effect last night in his speech in North Carolina, where he had some contrition and talked about he had some regrets for things that he has said in the past. And maybe you'll see a different message heading into the general election.

  • 10:22:14


  • 10:22:14

    STOLBERGYeah, I'd like to actually draw a little distinction there with what Manu said, which is that both Bannon and Kellyanne Conway are definitely on the right of the party ideologically. But Bannon is more of a scorched-earth, I think, practitioner of Republican politics. Whereas, here in Washington, Kellyanne Conway is known as someone who is the ultimate professional. She is -- she's direct. She's forceful. And I thought she said a very interesting thing on CNN yesterday. She said, I want to win on the argument. And what that means is that this has been a campaign about personality.

  • 10:22:46

    STOLBERGYou can expect, under Kellyanne Conway, Trump to start talking about the issues. She is going to push him as hard as she can to get him to take the issues directly to Hillary Clinton and to make this a fight about ideology and about beliefs and less so about personality, which is where the Clinton campaign wants to have this fight.

  • 10:23:06

    REHMAnd yet, yesterday, we heard a great deal of noise about whether Hillary Clinton was mentally, physically fit to take office.

  • 10:23:19

    KNOXAgain, we have yet to be right in this campaign when we predict a Donald Trump pivot or that Donald Trump will moderate his approach. I'd -- past may not be prologue, it may not be a perfect predictor, but I don't think we're going to see that different a Donald Trump, to be totally honest. He had that moment of -- that notable moment of public contrition yesterday. He has ad up today that goes aggressively after undocumented immigrants. I don't think the leading man of that campaign is ready for a script rewrite.

  • 10:23:46

    RAJUYeah, and...

  • 10:23:46

    REHMSo he's not going to change positions on something as basic as that.

  • 10:23:52

    KNOXI think -- if I could rephrase Sheryl's point, I think what Kellyanne Conway brings back to the campaign with Manafort's departure is actually organization. She's an extremely -- she's a methodical operative. She was a Cruz adviser. She's a smart, methodical operative who, I think, because she speaks the language of polls and ratings, can maybe, maybe reach Donald Trump in ways that Paul Manafort couldn't.

  • 10:24:16

    STOLBERGAnd she also in some ways -- I won't say she's like Donald Trump, but she is very direct, she's forceful, and she's someone who is not going to try to remold Trump the way Manafort wanted to remold him into someone who is more presidential. She wants to let him be authentic. She would probably be of the let Trump be Trump school, but let's just direct him (laugh) a little bit and rein him in and have him talk about issues and not go so much on the attack.

  • 10:24:43

    REHMAll right. And finally, Manu, there's an interesting story this week about Trump's overdue taxes in New Jersey and Chris Christie. What was that all about?

  • 10:24:56

    RAJUYeah. It has turned out to be he had a multi-million dollar tax bill in New Jersey -- I believe it was $30 million -- relating to his casinos that had -- were due, overdue taxes in New Jersey. And at the time when Chris Christie became governor, shortly after that they apparently had cut some sort of deal and the tax bill went away with only a $5 million payment from Donald Trump. You know, we don't know all the details of...

  • 10:25:27

    REHMYeah, is that something a governor could accomplish?

  • 10:25:30

    RAJUYou know, it's been -- it's common, from what I -- from reading about this. I'm not an expert on this type of issue. But it's common to cut a deal where something -- a payment would be much less than originally what someone owed, perhaps maybe not that much less. But it raised a lot of questions about the Christie-Trump relationship. And it, once again, put a spotlight on the fact that Donald Trump has yet to release his own tax returns, which is highly unusual for a presidential candidate.

  • 10:25:57

    REHMAll right. Let's turn to Hillary Clinton. This week, the FBI gave Congress some documents related to her emails. What's in those documents?

  • 10:26:10

    KNOXWell, (laugh) we're going to start finding out any minute now. This is basically the summaries, the accounts of her interviews with the FBI as part of the FBI's investigation into her exclusive use of a private email server to do business -- government business when she was secretary of state. You know, they -- it's highly unusual for the FBI to provide these kids of documents. The Hillary campaign, very interestingly, is calling on the full release with -- of course, with classified edits, the full release of these documents. I think that what they expect is that any minute now we're going to start seeing a steady flow of leaks from Congress partially describing what she told the FBI in the investigation.

  • 10:26:49

    STOLBERGWell, one thing that's already trickling out is that she apparently told the FBI that Colin Powell, her predecessor, Republican -- one of her Republican predecessors at State suggested that she use her own private email account. And there's been a lot of hay made over this. It supposedly happened at a dinner party that was hosted by Madeleine Albright. She said -- asked any of the former secretaries of state, do you have any advice? And it sounds like, perhaps, on the way out the door Colin Powell said to Hillary Clinton, well, use your own private email account. That, I must say, is a far cry from saying, use your own private email server.

  • 10:27:26

    STOLBERGIf that conversation did happen, that's kind of intriguing. But I don't think it gets Hillary Clinton off the hook for the -- for what transpired at the State Department under her direction.

  • 10:27:37

    RAJUAnd it comes just as Republicans in the House are trying to push the idea that Hillary Clinton committed perjury in her 2015 testimony before the House Benghazi Committee when she said that she did not send or received any emails marked classified. They're trying to make that case to the FBI, to the Justice Department, to move forward with some sort of perjury investigation. Right now the Justice Department is saying they'll only look at it as necessary and so it's unclear what kind of action. But it also shows that there's still a lot of time left in this election, that there's something that could be revealed that could change the complexion, the dynamic of the race. So we never should assume that the outcome is already pretty -- good as predicted.

  • 10:28:18

    REHMAll right. And some interesting announcements from the Clinton Foundation about the activities of Bill Clinton, what he will, will not do. No more speeches.

  • 10:28:30

    RAJUYeah. No more speeches. No more corporate donations or foreign donations...

  • 10:28:35


  • 10:28:35

    RAJU...to the Clinton Foundation. And this comes at the same time as there have been increasing number of criticism and scrutiny over the relationship of big, Clinton Foundation donors and to the Hillary Clinton State Department, including emails that have been revealed showing an effort to set up meetings between some of those big donors and senior level State Department officials. The Clinton campaign says there were no meetings set up. There was not a quid pro quo. But it has only fed that argument from Donald Trump that this is about pay-to-play politics. And clearly the Clinton campaign and Bill Clinton recognize that at least there's an optics problem and that's why they're doing this.

  • 10:29:14

    STOLBERGYou know, just on a lighter note, it does raise the intriguing notion of how would Bill Clinton inhabit the role of first gentleman, should Hillary Clinton get elected. And that -- we have so many weighty things to discuss here today and so much going on in the world. But in the back of people's minds, here in Washington at least, that is a kind of a one, you know, a matter of intrigue. You know, what will he do? How would he -- would he go to an office in the East Wing? Who's going to host -- be her -- at her side for state dinners, et cetera?

  • 10:29:45

    REHMInteresting that the cookie competition, the Clinton's renamed their cookie as the Clinton family cookie recipe, whereas the Trump campaign came forward with his wife's shaped in the shape of a star...

  • 10:30:06

    STOLBERGYeah. (laugh)

  • 10:30:07

    REHM...with apparently yogurt in the -- yogurt or sour cream, one or the other.

  • 10:30:13

    KNOXWell, you know, too many cooks, right?

  • 10:30:15


  • 10:30:16

    KNOXI know Diane asked the question on the show, but I'm perplexed by how long it took the Clinton's to come around to this idea that the Clinton Foundation -- that they needed to announce steps. If elected, the following things will and will not happen at the Clinton Foundation. I'm very surprised by the timing. They've been under fire for more than a year over this foundation. And I don't cover the Clinton campaign, I don't talk to her people that much so I don't know what precipitated this. But I'm fascinated to know why, in late -- in mid- to late-August they finally come around to the idea that this a liability.

  • 10:30:45

    STOLBERGI wondered if they felt they just had to do it before September 1. You know, Labor Day is the time when the campaigns really kick off. They maybe just want to just get that...

  • 10:30:54

    REHMOn the table now.

  • 10:30:54

    STOLBERG...get their -- get that point out there now.

  • 10:30:57


  • 10:30:57

    STOLBERGAnd have it set so it doesn't blow up for them after Labor Day. Manu?

  • 10:31:00

    RAJUYeah. And also more -- possibly more emails coming out that would actually showcase -- raise some more of these questions. So why not try to deal with it now? Maybe -- even if it may be too late.

  • 10:31:11

    REHMAll right. Here are two emails. One from Holly. She said, your panel speaking about Obama not going to Louisiana needs to check latest information. The governor of Louisiana was on Lawrence O'Donnell's program last night and reported that he asked Obama not to come now, as it depletes so much of the police and first-responders when he visits anyplace. He is not comparable to Bush flying over New Orleans in any way. The governor also stated that Obama had called him immediately, declared a disaster and sent help.

  • 10:32:02

    KNOXWe've made...

  • 10:32:02

    STOLBERGWe did say that.

  • 10:32:02

    KNOX...basically everyone of these points.

  • 10:32:04


  • 10:32:04

    KNOXWe talked about the major disaster declaration. We talked about how it would take away resources from rescue recovery and reconstruction. I can only suppose that the listener tuned in late.

  • 10:32:14


  • 10:32:14

    REHMOn the other hand, for the president to appear on television and say, I am doing this, might also have contributed to the weight of his doing that.

  • 10:32:32

    STOLBERGThat's true. But we did note earlier -- I believe I noted earlier on the show that the governor of Louisiana had asked -- had said that he would prefer the president come a week to 10 days down the road, when it wouldn't be so burdensome for the state.

  • 10:32:47

    RAJUAnd there's, yeah, there's nothing precluding the president form making a statement from Martha's Vineyard. He's done that...

  • 10:32:51

    REHMYeah. Sure.

  • 10:32:51

    RAJU...repeatedly through his presidency.

  • 10:32:53

    REHMSure. All right. We're going to take a short break here. Our lines are filled. We've got other emails. We'll certainly let you know that you are listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And let's go right to the phones to Mick in Delray Beach, Fla. Hi, you're on the air.

  • 10:33:20

    MICKGood morning.

  • 10:33:21


  • 10:33:21

    MICKI'm really shocked at America. I'm a 100 percent disabled veteran, 71 years old. I've never seen an election cycle like this. And I do not understand how so many American can support somebody like Trump, who wants to vet immigrants, but didn't vet his own staff. Paul Manafort, bad guy. So many things that are just negative. And I wish America would wake up and realize that our values should be much stronger than that.

  • 10:33:48

    REHMAll right. Thanks for calling.

  • 10:33:50

    STOLBERGYou know, I think the caller raises an interesting point, although I'd frame it a little bit differently. And that is that when someone runs for president, we can see what kind of manager he or she would be by the way he runs or she runs the campaign. And so we're in essence getting a preview of how both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would behave in the Oval Office, or at least a preview of their management styles. And so to the extent that Mr. Trump is viewed as having inadequately vetted his staff, that is a reflection on how he might run his government, should he take the White House.

  • 10:34:26

    RAJUAnd one thing we have not talked about, what the caller sort of alluded to, was Donald Trump's speech from earlier this week about foreign policy, when he talked about extreme vetting of people coming into this country.

  • 10:34:36

    REHMWell, I don't understand what that means. Do you?

  • 10:34:41

    RAJUWell, he said that he's -- all the details are not clearly out there yet. But what he's trying to talk about is an ideological test for people coming into this country, whether it's background checks to determine whether or not someone would do harm to the United States or someone was -- would be sympathetic to terrorist causes. You know, there are a lot of questions about how this would be implemented.

  • 10:35:04

    REHMYeah. I certainly think so.

  • 10:35:04

    RAJUBut the fact that he's talking about that showcases, it's all part of Donald Trump's very hard-line rhetoric against immigration, particularly illegal immigration.

  • 10:35:15

    REHMAll right. To Cleveland, Ohio. Hi, Dave. You're on the air.

  • 10:35:22

    DAVEHello. Good morning. Hope you guys are doing well. Thank you so much. I'm concerned about this one phrase that's been used a lot. You need to look presidential. He has proven through the past year that the comments he makes offend many people. So when a Republican comes out and says, we need to make him look presidential. He makes changes for the next three months. He suddenly looks presidential. He can probably convince the public. He can look presidential, start this (word?) into the votes, as fast as he went down just recently.

  • 10:36:14


  • 10:36:16

    KNOXWell, this gets us to another topic, something that people don't initially think about, which is early voting, which is enormously important. You know, we're going to -- 35 states and Washington, D.C., will vote -- we'll have -- you'll have the opportunity to vote before election day. This is one of the problems for the Trump campaign. You know, the national polls don't tell you much. We do -- we don't do national elections in this country, we do state-by-state elections.

  • 10:36:35

    KNOXBut if you look at places like Arizona and Ohio, that are going to start voting on October 12, North Carolina, Florida, I think October 31, the window that Donald Trump has to attract voters, to achieve this sort of crossover appeal that he has not shown an inclination or ability to develop, at least to date, the window is closing fast. And this is one of those things about an unorthodox campaign running into very orthodox reality of the way we do elections in this country.

  • 10:37:02

    REHMHe could change minds on the other hand, if he changes his delivery, if he changes his attitude. The question is, will he change his ideas. Short break here. And we'll take more of your calls, comments, when we come back. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:01

    REHMAnd welcome back. This week, health insurer Aetna announced it is pulling out of the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 11 states. Why do you think this happened, Manu?

  • 10:40:19

    RAJUWell, they say they were incurring some heavy losses, and you know, they're not required to be part of these Obamacare exchanges. But it's a very significant move. I mean, this is the third largest health insurance company, and it's one of the biggest that's involved in these state wide exchanges. And the real concern now is that premiums are going to increase across the country. Fewer people will have potentially fewer choices. People have fewer choices. They may have -- they may have to get new coverage plans.

  • 10:40:54

    RAJUThey may lose -- not be able to go the doctor of their choice if that doctor is not covered by their new insurance. So, this is a very, very significant move and it shows that there's still a lot of work to do to fix the Affordable Care Act.

  • 10:41:09

    STOLBERGYeah, so Republicans, of course, will pounce on this and say that Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, isn't working. The economics of the Affordable Care Act were always very delicate, right? It was predicated on the idea that everybody would sign up and so that healthy people, young people would get into these insurance pools and would keep insurers costs down. But what has happened is that many young people, healthy people are opting for the tax penalty instead. They're staying out of these insurance pools, and who's diving in? Older people, sicker people.

  • 10:41:40

    STOLBERGThat's why costs are going up and that's why you're seeing Aetna and other companies pull out. So, how do you fix this? Congress really would have to step in and fix this.

  • 10:41:50

    REHMYeah, right.

  • 10:41:50

    STOLBERGThere are some ways to do it. Maybe make higher subsidies. That's not going to fly in a Republican Congress. What about a single payer healthcare system? The so-called public option. Well, when they considered Obamacare, you know, Congress rejected that. So, this is a very, very difficult problem and in this environment, I don't, I don't know how it's going to get fixed.

  • 10:42:10

    REHMWhat about the Aetna Humana deal?

  • 10:42:14

    KNOXRight. So, the Huffington Post wrote up -- they got a letter in which basically the Aetna said, if you don't approve our merger, we're going to pull out of the exchange. Now, the economics of this are a little complicated, because you can see how a merger might bring their overall costs down. But it certainly gave the appearance, liberals pounced on this and said, ah ha, they're not pulling out of the exchanges because of the economics. They're pulling out because of some underlying vindictiveness.

  • 10:42:37

    KNOXAs I said, the economics don't necessarily back that up, but that certainly led to a lot of raised eyebrows in D.C. and beyond.

  • 10:42:43

    REHMSo, could it lead to other insurers backing out?

  • 10:42:48

    KNOXIt could lead to other insurers backing out and other insurers coming in. There are a lot of other mid-sized insurers and a couple of large ones, Cigna, I think, that are actually doing pretty well on selling individual insurance on these exchanges. So, it's -- the overall effect, I think Manu is right though, that we could see some premium increases and we could see some individual Americans being pushed away from their doctors to find new doctors or new plans.

  • 10:43:10

    RAJUAnd I want -- Sheryl's point is important. Both sides are going to use this to further their arguments. Not just Republicans who say we need to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something. Of course, Republicans are divided about what they would replace it with, and they're not really clear on what they would do. But on the left, folks are going to say it is time for a public option and Hillary Clinton has supported that in this campaign.

  • 10:43:32

    REHMAll right. Let's take a caller on the ACA from Stan in Houston, Texas. You're on the air.

  • 10:43:40

    STANThank you, Diane. Thanks for the opportunity to speak to you, your panel and all the listeners around the world.

  • 10:43:45


  • 10:43:46

    STANI was raised in a medical family. My mother was an RN, the hospital administrator. I worked in hospitals. Many of us in my family and people that I knew there had very unfavorable opinions of the healthcare industry's insurance programs. This is a business where it's not like car sales or a grocery store. When you go in to the hospital, you don't look at the menu and see what the prices are and decide yes or no, if you want to have the steak or you want to have the fish.

  • 10:44:20

    STANYou go in, you need healthcare, you don't want to die. And so, you take whatever it is, and the price, you don't know about it. It comes to you later in the bill. If companies like Aetna and United Healthcare and other health insurance companies can't make a profit in a restaurant where you order first and then find out how much it costs later, I think that's just another argument for this not for profit, single payer program.

  • 10:44:46

    REHMWhat do you think, Olivier?

  • 10:44:48

    KNOXI confess, I had a little bit of trouble following the argument, not because of your -- not because of Stan in Houston, Texas, but because of my own inability to grasp the complexities of healthcare.

  • 10:44:59

    STOLBERGSo, I -- former health writer and someone who covered the passage of the ACA, the caller is really making the classic argument against our current insurance system in which we have what is known as the third party payer system. Where you don't go to the doctor and say, oh, I want my flu shot. It's 20 dollars. And you know, you pay your 20 dollars or the doctor says your flu shot is 50 dollars and you say forget it, that's too expensive.

  • 10:45:21

    REHMI'll go elsewhere.

  • 10:45:22

    STOLBERGYou just go in and get it and somebody else pays for it, so nobody knows how much anything costs. And the costs have gone way up. So this caller is making the argument for the single payer system. That is an argument that has been rejected by the political leaders in this country when they considered reforming healthcare.

  • 10:45:40

    REHMAll right. To Joe in South Bend, Indiana. You're on the air.

  • 10:45:47

    JOEYeah, with regard to the Clinton Foundation, it would be very interesting to have them post a list of who donated and when and look at the relationship between when Hillary was Secretary of State and what kind of moneys were coming in. And a correlation with regard to emails and the correspondence and the pressure being placed on -- with, especially with regard to China. I think the figure was thrown around of six million dollars of Chinese corporate contributions to the Foundation.

  • 10:46:26

    REHMAll right. Manu.

  • 10:46:28

    RAJUWell, I think a lot of that has already been looked at pretty closely and there's more that is coming out. One detail that has come out in this past week was an email about -- from one of Bill Clinton's top aides, Doug Band, trying to arrange a meeting with a billionaire donor of the Clinton Foundation, a man named Gilbert Chagoury, to discuss Lebanese issues with senior State Department official. That, that meeting did not go forward. But it did feed that perception that there is, as critics would say, pay to play politics.

  • 10:47:03

    RAJUThe Clinton campaign denies that but there has been a fair amount of scrutiny on this, and there's going to be more probably.

  • 10:47:07

    REHMOkay, I want to ask you all about these hackers who call themselves the shadow brokers, who said they were responsible for leaking secret tools run NSA. What happened, Olivier?

  • 10:47:27

    KNOXWell, we're still figuring out what happened, but it appears that this group, whoever they are, whether they -- there's been speculation -- I think Edward Snowden pointed the finger generally at the Russians, but it could also be a disgruntled insider. Releasing the kinds of cyber weapons that the National Security Agency uses to disrupt, well, we think, foreign computers. This is important, because now, you can -- other countries can go back and look at attacks and figure out, based on the code that was used in these attacks, figure out whether the attack originated in, at the NSA.

  • 10:48:00

    KNOXThat's very important. It highlights, again, if you, if you build in vulnerabilities to systems, it's only a matter of time before other actors, that you may not like, can exploit those vulnerabilities.

  • 10:48:13

    STOLBERGSo, not my area of expertise, but my wonderful colleague, David Sanger, who is a frequent guest on your show, wrote this week that the coding resembled, he says, a series of products developed inside the NSA's highly classified Tailored Access Operations Unit. Some of which were described in general terms in documents that were stolen three years ago by Edward Snowden. The scary thing here is that these -- these were described in general terms under -- by those Snowden documents.

  • 10:48:43

    STOLBERGWhat's been released here is far more specific.

  • 10:48:46


  • 10:48:46

    STOLBERGAnd that is very, very scary. And it frankly goes to this whole debate that we've been having, domestically, about the role of the NSA. Since Snowden, the Snowden revelations, we've had this big debate here about is the NSA spying too much? Does it have too big a power? But I wonder if once our government secrets are out there, and maybe Americans...

  • 10:49:09

    REHMYeah, what does it mean for national...

  • 10:49:11

    STOLBERG...for our safety.

  • 10:49:12

    REHM...yeah. Exactly.

  • 10:49:12

    STOLBERGAnd our national security. I do wonder if it will reframe that debate over the NSA's role in our society.

  • 10:49:18

    RAJUAnd not just the NSA's role, but also the fact that Democratic campaign offices have also been hacked by what appears to be foreign interests, what appears to be Russian interests, showcasing the vulnerabilities of Democrat -- of our nation's leaders from one political party getting, getting hacked and their internal system. So, a lot of concerns about cyber security in this election year, and who knows what it's going to lead to next? But potentially, the revelation of more internal deliberations, conversations, proceedings, between the Clinton campaign and Democratic leaders.

  • 10:49:54

    STOLBERGIt feels like a movie. You couldn't make this up.

  • 10:49:55


  • 10:49:56

    KNOXIt's also a good time to ask both candidates where they stand on encryption. Should American citizens be able to conceal their communications from even their own government?

  • 10:50:04

    REHMAll right, let's go to Laurel, Delaware. Jane, you're on the air.

  • 10:50:10

    JANEThank you, Diane. This year, we have two of the most unpopular candidates, and some people are actually trying to decide between the lesser of two evils. There's been several independent candidates that have thrown their hat in the ring. Evan McMullin, most recently, I think. And I'm wondering, if because of the atmosphere of this campaign, is it possible that this might be the year that a third party candidate gives the Republicans and the Democrats a run for their money?

  • 10:50:42

    REHMGood question.

  • 10:50:42

    STOLBERGRoss Perot. Look at the polls. The Pugh poll that has just come out finds Hillary Clinton at 41 percent, Trump 37, so neither above 50. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, 10 percent support. And Jill Stein, four percent. So, 14 percent of the American electorate does not want to vote for one of the major two party candidates.

  • 10:51:05

    REHMBut to get on that debate stage, the candidate must reach that 15 percent level.

  • 10:51:10

    STOLBERGRight. But what I'm -- I guess what I'm suggesting is that it is possible that whoever is elected President will be elected, not with a majority of the -- of support, of the public, but with a plurality, much the same way Bill Clinton was elected when Ross Perot ran as a third party candidate.

  • 10:51:25

    RAJUAnd it's true, both of these candidates are incredibly unpopular. I was up in New Hampshire this past week. I interviewed the Democratic Governor, Maggie Hassan, who's running for Senate there. I asked her three times, she's a Clinton supporter, I asked her three times, do you think Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy? She would not say yes in three times that I asked her. It shows that there are a lot of concerns from Democrats about their own candidate.

  • 10:51:48

    STOLBERGYeah. And I was in Ohio this week, and where Rob Portman is running, is running a race, and he's, you know, very mainstream, sort of, moderate sounding -- not, maybe moderate ideologically, but even keel, sort of gentle Republican. And he is running about as far as you can get from Donald Trump.

  • 10:52:07

    KNOXBut the answer to...

  • 10:52:07

    STOLBERGDoesn't want to be seen with him.

  • 10:52:08

    KNOXThe answer to Jane, who's rocking it in the 302, is no. The third party candidates will not give the main candidates a run for their money. They're not on enough ballots nationwide. But the interesting, the two figures to look at are 15 percent and five percent. 15 percent gets you on the debate stage, five percent will qualify you for federal matching funds. So we may be seeing the beginnings of what we've seen for now, for at least a decade, incredibly growing anger at the two party system.

  • 10:52:35


  • 10:52:35

    KNOXAnd using the internet, could someone, imagine Ross Perot with the internet. Imagine an organized candidate getting on the ballot in 50 states, using the internet to raise money and to organize voters. That could be -- that could change the way -- the American electoral landscape.

  • 10:52:49

    STOLBERGYeah, and you know, Manu, I was struck that CNN, last night, did a, or the other night, did a town hall with Jill Stein. The Green -- when was the last time CNN did a town hall with the Green Party candidate? It shows the level of dissatisfaction that many Americans have with the major party choices.

  • 10:53:06

    REHMAll right. To Gina in Fort Lee, Virginia. You're on the air.

  • 10:53:13

    GINAHello, Diane. Thank you for taking my call.

  • 10:53:16


  • 10:53:17

    GINAI love your show. My husband and I -- my husband spent 30 years in the Army. I spent 12. We're originally from West Virginia and I just came from St. Louis where I have a home. We talk -- I heard you mention the floods in Louisiana and my heart goes out to those people.

  • 10:53:37


  • 10:53:37

    GINABecause my home state just had a thousand year flood in June. And I feel like, really, it's been vastly overlooked by pretty much everyone. You know, it was on page 13 of the New York Times when the flood happened. Brexit knocked it off the news. And I know we're under the stereotype of poor Appalachian people. We're always poor, but I can tell you the devastation in my state, 80 percent of the state was affected. My county of Nicholas County where Summersville Lake, all the rivers, creeks flooded.

  • 10:54:18

    GINAAnd I can just give you kind of points here. We live on Summersville Lake, near it, and it didn't just raise seven feet or 20 feet. It rose 75 feet.

  • 10:54:31


  • 10:54:32

    GINAThat is the magnitude of this flood.

  • 10:54:36

    REHMIndeed. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I think Gina points out the human devastation that these natural disasters create. The homelessness, the loss of everything. And she's absolutely right that other stories seem to take precedence over what is happening.

  • 10:55:08

    STOLBERGYeah, I want to actually directly address that, because I think she, unknowingly, is also pointing up something else, which is that we, as journalists are simply overwhelmed. She said the story ran on the inside page of the New York Times on the day when Brexit happened. I myself, actually wrote, just this week, about Appalachia and the coal economy there. Interestingly, that story was the fifth most emailed story on our list, so you can tell, I can tell, I spent time in eastern Kentucky, that the people of Appalachia are crying out to have their voices heard.

  • 10:55:39

    STOLBERGAnd so, many Americans are crying out to have their voices heard and yet, the news is so overwhelming in this cycle that I think all of us almost feel like it's simply impossible to pay attention to the human suffering, to all the things that are going on.

  • 10:55:53

    REHMBut I find myself wondering whether we're covering the wrong things.

  • 10:55:56

    STOLBERGMaybe. Maybe we are.

  • 10:55:59

    REHMYou know...

  • 10:55:59

    STOLBERGAnd maybe the caller is telling us that.

  • 10:56:00

    REHM...maybe instead of talking about the Clinton Foundation, exactly who donated to it, or Donald Trump's regretful vocabulary, we really ought to be talking more about what's happening. Those fires in California, the devastation that they are reeking. I mean, it's really incredible.

  • 10:56:29

    STOLBERGBut we're also picking a president, and that's a very important decision for the country.

  • 10:56:33

    REHMNo question. However, I think unless we turn to the British model and sort of limit election coverage and election processes to, what, two months before an election, it's not going to change. And that's what's tough. Thank you all for being here today. Sheryl Gay Stolberg at the New York Times, Olivier Knox at Yahoo News, Manu Raju, who used to be with the Washington Post. And is now with CNN. Congratulations, Manu.

  • 10:57:11

    RAJUThank you.

  • 10:57:13

    REHMThank you to all of you. And thanks, all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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