Behind the lies of Congressman George Santos. Diane talks to the owner of the small weekly paper that first broke the story, and a Washington Post journalist who is following the money to see who financed Santos's political rise.
The Friday News Roundup: On the campaign trail, the spat of the week between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is who came out against the Iraq war when. Meanwhile, the polls show Clinton’s big lead is not quite so big as it was. The Senate fails to pass a bill that would provide 1.1 billion dollars to fight the Zika virus. The national guard arrives at the North Dakota pipeline protest ahead of an important court ruling. And after a violent Labor Day weekend, the number of homicides in Chicago this year surpasses the total number for 2015A panel of journalists joins guest host John Donvan for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- David Rennie Washington bureau chief and Lexington columnist, The Economist.
- Lisa Lerer National politics reporter, The Associated Press
- Domenico Montanaro Lead political editor, NPR
MR. JOHN DONVANThanks for joining us. I'm John Donvan, moderator of The Intelligence Squared US Debate, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offering opposing takes on national security at a forum in New York. Congress failing to pass a Zika response bill for the third time. And in Chicago, homicide rates surpass the total number for all of last year.
MR. JOHN DONVANWell, joining me in the studio to talk about these and other top national stories, David Rennie of The Economist, Lisa Lerer of The Associated Press and Domenico Montanaro of NPR. And we would love to have you join our conversation. Our number is, 800-433-8850. And send us your email at email@example.com. And join us on Facebook or on Twitter.
MR. JOHN DONVANAnd as this is the Friday News Roundup, we are also live streaming. Just go to our website at drshow.org. So the calendar clock is tick-tocking. It's September 9th. That puts us 59 days out from Election Day. And what we're seeing just in terms of poll numbers, although they do seesaw and they squeeze and stretch, we're seeing that Hillary Clinton's lead diminishing somewhat. It was eight points up at one point. Now, it seems to have been whittled down to three, taken as an average.
MR. JOHN DONVANThe question is, how meaningful do we make that. What about that, Lisa Lerer?
MS. LISA LERERWell, look, this is not unexpected. We live in a politically divided country. We're not a country that has landslide elections anymore and there wasn't much of a reason to think that this would be one. It's not unexpected her lead would slip. The question is whether she's up by two points or five points. I think that's what folks in her camp are worried about. There are places that I would watch, I am watching to see, you know, how the race is going.
MS. LISA LERERI think, at this point, the state polls are a lot more significant than the national polls.
LERERWell, just 'cause this is a -- this race is going to be won in battleground states, right? We all know where New York is going to go. We all know where, you know, Alabama is going to go. So, you know, I think for -- you want to watch Wisconsin and Michigan. If Hillary starts to really, really slip in those places, that's a problem for her. Trump's best pathway, I think, goes through that upper Midwest where those states are older, they're more white.
LERERHe could gain more traction there. And for Trump, Georgia and Arizona, those are states that have long been Republican, but now, because of demographic changes, are becoming a bit more Democratic and Hillary Clinton can make major gains there, which she may be, particularly in Georgia. That's a problem for him.
DONVANDomenico, what are the variables that are in play now that could lead to these major gains or losses at this point?
MR. DOMENICO MONTANAROWell, Hillary Clinton, first of all, has had -- what I'd like to say is a broad, but shallow lead in almost everywhere. So that's an important aspect to look at.
DONVANBroad but shallow why?
MONTANAROIn the sense that you see places like Utah and Arizona be more competitive than they have been in past years and she's leading in all of the battleground states. I mean, look at Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina even. You know, she's leading, but they're all like three to four points or less in most of them. So I think Lisa's right that we're at a point where we're in such a polarized society that it makes it hard for anybody to open up a huge lead and keep it there.
MONTANAROWhen the lead was eight to ten points, the Clinton campaign was saying expect tightening, you know, because these are some disaffected Republicans who will likely come home.
DONVANSo what could happen that would change things one way or the other dramatically?
MONTANAROThere's -- it's difficult to say what is going to change anything because we don't know, you know. There's always...
DONVANWell, there's a debate coming up.
MONTANAROThere are the debates, of course, and the debates are going to be important as far as seeing -- measuring the two against each other. And we saw the commander in chief forum this past week, which, you know, it seemed like both sides had their own spin on who did what and how. There's always the talk of a potential October surprise or if there's more emails that wind up coming out from the Clinton campaign or if there's something else that Donald Trump winds up saying or doing can certainly impact the race.
DONVANDavid Rennie, on that commander in chief forum, the first of its kind, take 20 seconds to tell us what it was and then your impression of it.
MR. DAVID RENNIESo this was not the two candidates debating. They were one after the other on the same stage. It was on an aircraft carrier museum in New York City and it's an important issue because you have someone like Hillary Clinton whose claim to have experience rests in large part on things like being in the situation room when the decision was taken to launch the raid against Osama bin Laden. She talks about it in her stump speech a lot, as this sort of, I was there. I can take those tough decisions.
MR. DAVID RENNIEAnd she also talks about how Donald Trump doesn't have the temperament to be commander in chief so that's a huge part of the sort of argument is who has the temperament in the world that feels very unsafe to voters. So that was the backdrop to this forum.
DONVANAnd the setup was that she's sitting on a stool with Matt Lauer on an aircraft carrier surrounded by...
RENNIESurrounded by voters who identify as Republican and Democrat. And you could see that the biggest advantage for Hillary Clinton is her strength is experience. Her disadvantage is experience because people started panning her record. You had a Republican stand up and say, didn't you corrupt national security with your emails. You had a Democrat stand up and say, aren't you too hawkish in your foreign policy? Donald Trump, because he comes at this with this kind of no-detail, skate-over-the-facts kind of total sort of fantasy policy world, he had a very different experience in the same forum.
RENNIEHe was able to say things that, frankly, to most foreign policy experts make no sense at all.
DONVANTotal fantasy policy world. Is that a technical term?
RENNIEThat's a technical term. So for example, you could see the failure, I think, of this forum was he said, for example, we should take the oil. Now, a decent journalist, and Matt Lauer was...
DONVANNow, back up so that people who didn't watch, when he says we should take the oil.
RENNIESo he says one of the mistakes made in handling Iraq, the Iraq War, and generally handling the fight against the Islamic State is a tough, smart thing to do is we don't try and create democracies in the Middle East. We don't try and nation-build, but we should've taken the oil. If we had taken the oil in Iraq, then Islamic State wouldn't have had the money to get big and powerful. A decent journalist would say, how do you take the oil? How many troops would it take to seize those oil fields?
RENNIEHow many troops would it take to protect those troops sitting in the middle of Iraq on a Iraqi oil field surrounded by angry Arabs? Matt Lauer completely failed because I think our entire media system is badly set up to deal with fantasy policy suggestions like that.
DONVANLisa Lerer, let's take a listen to what Donald Trump had to say about Vladimir Putin.
MR. DONALD TRUMPIf he says great things about me, I'm gonna say great things about him. I've already said he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn't that a terrible thing he called them -- the man has very strong control over a country. Now, it's a very different system and I don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he's been a leader far more than our president has been a leader. We have a divided country...
LERERI mean, look, Donald Trump, I'm not sure who the Vladimir Putin-loving segment of the electorate is, but he certainly feels that there is one because he can't quite stop with his love affair with Vladimir Putin. Look, you know, I think the problem with this forum was Matt Lauer became the X factor. He really did his -- he was widely panned afterwards. And what happened was even though Hillary Clinton still doesn't really have a good response to these questions about her emails -- which are real and valid questions.
LERERYou can debate how much emphasis they're being given, but there are questions there that are important to answer. She sort of almost came out the winner of this event because of the treatment the two candidates got. Matt -- as we said, Matt Lauer just allowed Trump to skate by. He actually -- I think he literally said to him in the introduction to one question, well, you shouldn't be expected to know that much about foreign policy, Donald Trump.
LERERWhich is -- I mean, the man's running for president. So it really gave her campaign a very powerful argument going into this debate, which is that Donald Trump is being graded on a curve. And this is something they really want to push because expectations with debates matter almost as much as performance.
DONVANHere's Matt Lauer then talking emails with Hillary Clinton.
MR. MATT LAUERYou've said it's a mistake. You said you made not the best choice. You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn't more than a mistake? Why wasn't it disqualifying if you want to be commander in chief?
MS. HILLARY CLINTONWell, Matt, first of all, as I have said repeatedly, it was a mistake to have a personal account. I would certainly not do it again. I make no excuses for it. It was something that should not have been done. But the real question is the handling of classified material, which is, I think, what the implication of your question was. None of the emails sent or received by me had such a header.
MONTANAROShe's just had a very difficult time trying to figure out a message on this that can work and resonate well. I mean, she's been trying for 15 months on it. There have been leak-outs of different emails. You know, the substance of what the emails showed isn't something a lot of people wind up talking about. And there hasn't, so far, been something to suggest that there was some massive breach of classified information. You know, she's at -- however, been sort of swatted down by the FBI director who said that her team was extremely careless with classified information.
MONTANAROWe also saw an email earlier this week that the Democrats put out from Colin Powell, that he had sent to Hillary Clinton, where he very clearly was trying to get around transparency and disclosure methods. So you have politicians in that role who do try to get around disclosure. She said she wasn't trying to get around disclosure, but trying to do this for convenience.
LERERThe problem here is that she's, you know, a long-time lawyer and she's prosecuting this like she's in front of a jury. She's running for president. She needs a clear concise, political answer that people can understand and this is not going away. Republicans have said that they're going to keep pushing this issue, even if she becomes president so she needs to figure out a way to deal with it politically.
DONVANBut David, let me ask this and I'm not asking it out of any particular sympathy or antipathy towards Hillary Clinton. But the question to her has been put many, many, many times by now. What's to be gained by continuing to put it to her and should it be?
RENNIEI think it had to be. I mean, it -- clearly, if you're talking about national security, she, you know, I mean, at a minimum, if she were running to be Ambassador Oslo, then her behavior with these emails could easily, you know, disqualify her during a Senate confirmation hearing. It's a weird situation. You have someone who has broken America's arguably overly strict rules about classification of secret information.
RENNIEAnd if she was running for an NSC staffer job, it would probably be a real problem for her. She's running for president. I think -- I come back to this idea that one of the problems the media faces this time is there's an asymmetrical kind of issue here with fact-checking these two candidates. You have -- when you criticize Hillary Clinton over emails or you pound her with questions about her emails, you're really talking about Hillary Clinton. You're saying, you know, is she the right person for this job.
RENNIEDonald Trump is describing policies that make no sense in the world as it exists and that's a lot harder and much less comfortable for journalists to attack.
DONVANOkay. More on that and other stories on the Friday News Roundup as we continue. And you can see all of our guests. You can see them now on our live video stream at drshow.org. And we will be right back.
DONVANWelcome back. I'm John Donvan, moderator of the Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates, sitting in for Diane Rehm. And if you're just joining us, we are live-streaming today. You can watch all of us have this conversation in our Friday News Roundup at drshow.org. And we are doing the week in review. And we've been talking a little bit about -- a lot about the 2016 campaign as of this week.
DONVANAnd the news that came out in which Donald Trump, we know back in August, got a security briefing that leading presidential candidates traditionally get when it's clear that -- when they are the nominees. And Trump had his back in August. In this program on NBC, he said some things in which he was indicating that he was sharing some of what had been shared with him. And this seems to have crossed a line, Lisa Lerer.
LERERI mean this is very untraditional to share what's been said in an intelligence briefing. The -- what I enjoyed most about this story was the reporting that came the next day, which was I think the briefers, I presume, felt much more free to talk about what happened in that briefing. And there was a great report in NBC News by a former colleague of mine about how Chris Christie repeatedly told Mike Flynn, who's one of Trump's foreign policy guys, to calm down and shut up in the middle of the briefing, because he was talking so much.
LERERSo you got the sense that it was a pretty chaotic event. And Donald Trump, what he said of course in the forum was that he had been reading the body language of the briefers.
MONTANAROAnd he could tell they agreed with him. Yeah.
LERERHe could tell that they agreed with him and were against President Obama. But hearing the report about what was going on in that briefing, you wonder really what that body language was signifying, because it sounded pretty untraditional. But yeah, it's pretty unusual to talk about the briefing. And the other point I want to make on this is the reason that this issue -- this story got some traction, it really wasn't covered very much in the coverage at -- immediately after the forum. But Hillary Clinton did something very unusual for her and went out and gave a tarmac press conference on the tarmac...
LERER...in front of her campaign plan, where she talked about this.
DONVANSo no longer can it be said that she hasn't given a news conference in more than 200 days.
LERERShe has given a news conference where she talked about this. And it became part of the news cycle and there was more reporting. And it just showed how she can drive the coverage in a way that her surrogates and her supporters cannot. And it really made you wonder whether -- had she been more available, more out there in the earlier months of this campaign, whether she could have dealt with some of these issues that she now faces in a faster way.
DONVANDavid Rennie, Bill Clinton again causing something of a problem for his wife's campaign with the revelation that he was paid $18 million by a for-profit university system. For-profit universities have something of a bad odor over them, particularly within the Democratic Party, which has taken positions against them because they are seen -- in some cases, not all cases -- as exploitative of students and puts them in situations where they graduate with maybe sometimes questionable degrees, but huge amounts of debt. So has Bill Clinton walked into it for his, you know, walked into mud on this one?
RENNIESo, I think there are money stories out there that can cause some headaches. I have to say I don't really see that this one is a disaster. Where -- how this one came out, because when Hillary Clinton released her tax returns, which obviously we should note Donald Trump has refused to do, when people burrowed through the tax returns, one of the things they uncovered was this large amount of money -- I think it's $17 million overall he was paid by this for-profit, global network of universities -- people are trying to link it into the whole pay-to-play foundation thing because, at some points, the founder -- the businessman who founded this chain of universities was invited to a private dinner at the State Department to discuss higher education policy.
RENNIEThis was something that Donald Trump tried to sort of shop around, because it was one of these books, "Clinton Cash," by an author who's sort of anti-Clinton person describe this. I think fundamentally the problem here is that Hillary Clinton is married to an ex-president. And we know the way that it works with ex-presidents. You leave the White House and you go through what has always been a one-way money door into the world of private sort of speeches and earning as much money as you can on that kind of circuit. And what's hard is that Hillary Clinton is trying to come back beyond -- the wrong way through that one-way money door. And no one's ever tried that before.
RENNIESo I think that this is always going to be really tough for her.
DONVANThat's a really interesting insight, you know? Lisa.
LERERYou know, the other thing about this story that I thought was notable is, people think of pay for play as okay, the -- you know, somebody gives a donation and they get X. And in this, the end goal was really the meeting. There were people from the college who said in that story, we just wanted a sit-down. That's a victory for us. Whether they actually get what they're pushing, the policy they're pushing for, didn't matter as much as the meeting. And that's the problem for Hillary Clinton is that her worlds are so overlapping. The world of her foundation, the world of her campaign donors, the worlds of the State Department, that there's a lot of meetings and there's a lot of money.
LERERAnd even if there's no fire necessarily, there's no outcome, there's an awful lot of smoke and that's going to trail her right into the White House should she win.
DONVANLet's bring some callers into the conversation, some of our listeners. And I'm going to welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show," Pat in Lancaster, Pa. Hi, Pat. How are you?
PATHello. First of all, I just love your show. Thank you all so much for doing what you do. I wanted to make a comment about the criticism of Matt Lauer. They say he was panned. And what did he do, hit himself over the head with a pan? I mean the word -- why don't they say he was criticized or he was called out or that he displayed shocking incompetence at the moment when he should have smacked Mr. Trump down by saying he was against the war. That's just so...
DONVANYeah, I'm going to break in, Pat, so that we can actually get to your point. Panned is a just an expression. But I'm a little uncomfortable myself with jumping on Lauer on this one. Because I ask myself, if I were in a situation up against Donald Trump simply trying to have a real interview, how well would I do? I don't think it's -- it's like holding onto a bar of soap in the rain.
RENNIEIt is hard. I've interviewed Donald Trump twice for The Economist. And I actually wrote a piece the other day saying it's like standing in a river trying to catch sort of fish with your hands. Because you could spend the entire interview fact-checking him. So take that point that I mentioned, where he said he would grab the oil, he would put the troops in. So he mentioned that in an interview with me in, I think, September, October, 2015. And I spent like five minutes of the interview saying, does that mean you'd put troops on the ground? Are you saying you'd put American troops on the ground? Finally, he did say, yes, I would put American ground troops on the ground, because it struck me as important to pin him down on that.
RENNIEIt doesn't actually pin him down at all because he carries on saying it. But you can waste your entire time with Donald Trump fact checking him.
MONTANAROThat's true. And bears stand in the river and are able to catch salmon pretty easily. But, you know, we don't -- we're not -- we don't like having to have the claws out in the same way that bears have to, to be able to catch those fish. Now at the same time, I think that things have moved dramatically when it comes to this campaign. Because most campaigns, politicians have a position that they stick to, that they have thought about, that they have published White Papers on, that they post on their website. And people can go look them up. You can go in a linear way and say, okay, well you say X. This foundation says that it will cost Y. Why would you do that? Why would your priorities be set this way?
MONTANAROWhen it comes to Donald Trump, you're not quite sure, and I don't think he's quite sure what his position will be on certain things. I mean, look at immigration.
DONVANGo ahead, Lisa.
LERERI'm sorry. I'm not going to let Matt Lauer off the hook here. Look, the problem here wasn't -- yes, it is a hard thing to interview Donald Trump. But the problem here wasn't so much that he, you know, didn't interview Donald Trump, didn't fact check him on every statement, it was that he had Hillary Clinton up first. Asked her 10 minutes of hard questions about her emails, about her support for the war in Iraq. And then Donald Trump came up and it said -- he said, well, you haven't done your homework. And when Hillary Clinton didn't support the war in Iraq, he asked her a question about it. When Donald Trump said, oh, I never supported the war in Iraq, which a obvious thing that was not true...
DONVANWell, show of hands here. Who thinks that he or she would have done better than Matt Lauer in the end, trying all of your various approaches, you would have gotten a Donald Trump to fess up and say, yeah, no, you're right. You really got me.
LERERBut there's something between...
MONTANAROYou know, I don't think that that's, yeah...
LERER...getting him to fess up and say, you really got me...
MONTANAROTo give the context.
LERER...and being responsible and saying, you know what? You didn't support the war in Iraq.
RENNIEHere's something I think is really paralyzing us in the media. And I speak as somebody who goes to, you know, a fair number of Trump rallies, interviewed a fair number of Trump supporters. I think that we are paralyzed by the fact that criticizing Donald Trump feels, often, like you're criticizing his supporters.
RENNIEIt's a very odd experience. I've been covering American elections since 2004. Normally when you criticize a policy, you're criticizing that policy. You're saying it's a bit too left wing, a bit too right wing, it doesn't, you know, add up. The numbers look a bit big. Donald Trump's policies -- because so often they don't actually make any sense, they're describing a world, there's a flat-Earth kind of claim that you can do this with the Chinese and force the Chinese to rein in the North Koreans on nukes. And, you know, you then have to say, well, how would you do that? Why would they do that? You know, they make no sense.
RENNIEThe problem with that is that when you talk to his supporters and you say, well he's talking about this with immigration. How would you go about rounding up 11 million people? The response from them very often is some form of, are you calling me stupid? Because if you're saying his policies just make no sense, what are you saying about the people who believe them?
RENNIEAnd that paralyzes us.
DONVANAll right. Well, for the record, for people who can't see us, nobody raised his or her hand at the show of hands. But Lisa's, yours kind of came up halfway.
LERERI would raise my hand.
DONVANOkay. Let's move on to the Zika response bill. Once again, the Senate has failed to act on this. There was a funding bill, $1.1 billion with a plan to fight the Zika virus. It's not getting through. Why is that, Domenico?
MONTANAROWell, because there is a sticking point in this bill on Planned Parenthood funding. And Planned Parenthood funding, what does that have to do with Zika? Well, what it has to do with is a long-running, you know, Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood in various ways. There's a section in there that's about getting -- funding contraceptives for stopping spread of Zika. Well, one aspect that Republicans have carved out is to say that they won't fund Planned Parenthood to, you know, give out contraceptives. So Democrats have held up the bill. Republicans have blamed Democrats for holding up Zika funding that they've asked for.
MONTANAROAnd Democrats are saying this is about Planned Parenthood when it shouldn't be about Planned Parenthood, it should be about funding Zika. And there's even a piece of the Confederate flag that has to do with some of this, which is about Confederate flags being allowed at gravesites.
DONVANWell, that's -- I'm finding that particularly astounding that that's become part of the controversy to get this bill passed.
DONVANSo what is the Confederate flag comment?
MONTANAROYeah, the Confederate flag has to do more -- and part of the House bill less than the Senate bill -- but it's about wanting Confederate flags to be allowed still at gravesites at military sites. And Democrats don't want that.
DONVANThis is part of the Zika funding bill?
DONVANI mean, David, would not...
LERERWelcome to Congress.
DONVANWould you not think, at this -- yeah, welcome to Congress -- but I want to express the non-insider view to David on this. Would you not think that this is one of those situations where we know that there are infected individuals in this country...
DONVAN...we know that children have already been born, infants...
DONVAN...with microencephaly, would this not be one of those cases where it is so obvious...
DONVAN...that you want to put aside the nonsense?
RENNIEYou would think. And the hope just about, if you have any optimism at all, is that -- not that Congress will have a crisis of conscience and realize that this is not a time to load the tray up with the usual baggage as it leaves the station, which is the way that legislation gets done in this country, but actually this is an emergency. You need to get this money through.
RENNIEIf the money does turn up, it's probably going to be because Zika is, among other things, very frightening in Florida, where you have the Republicans defending Marco Rubio's Senate seat. That matters to them a lot. You have a number of quite competitive House races in Florida, where this has come up as a big issue. It's also an issue that there are now a million new Puerto Rican voters in the center of Florida. Puerto Rico, we should talk about the fact that it's been hit much harder than any other part of the U.S. territory. A really terrifying situation in Puerto Rico. So don't hope that conscience moves Congress. But political advantage in Florida may.
DONVANI'm John Donvan and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Lisa, what are we learning just in terms of the spread of this virus?
LERERWell, that's part of the -- one of the most scary elements of this story, is there's just so much we don't know. And one thing that we learned this week was that Zika has been linked to a lot of eye disease and particularly vision loss in babies that are born with Zika. And there's a possibility that it could be acquired through contact with tears, through tears of infected people. And what, you know, scares public health officials is this is a virus that's moving much, much faster than if it was just spread simply by mosquitoes. So there are other ways of transmission. We know it's sexually transmitted. Now it may be transmitted through tears. And that's concerning. And it raises the need for new funding to be put in for research.
DONVANLet's bring in -- thanks -- let's bring in Tanya from Putnam, Mich. Tanya, welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
TANYAHi. Thanks for taking my call.
TANYASo I've been talking with some environmental groups in Florida, because when I see the news, I'm terrified. I have respiratory issues, as does my small child. And I was told that the governor's wife has a financial interest in mosquito eradication. And I know that there are other ways that they can use -- other things they can use besides spraying. They're just spraying all over the place. And what are they spraying? They said it was something that is actually outlawed in Europe. In Michigan, we've been using these mosquito blocks that you can put in the water, which is actually more effective. It's not affecting the air. And also, from the people I know that live and travel in Central and South America, Zika is not as big a deal as they keep saying on the news.
DONVANAll right, Tanya. Let me, you know, I want to put in a qualifier. None of our panels are experts on the science of the eradication effort. But, David Rennie, have you been looking at this at all?
RENNIESo for one thing, I can tell her I was just in Nicaragua. They're taking it very seriously down there. They're spraying with a lot of the stuff. I think what we're seeing -- it somewhat goes back to this question of Congress wanting to have arguments about, you know, everything it already wants to have an argument about. And is this an excuse to kind of take and -- take, you know, set a precedent on Planned Parenthood funding. We're seeing an emergency which I think is going to overwhelm people's normal kind of political kind of pet hobby horses.
RENNIESo down in Florida you're seeing fascinating things -- arguments about spraying, but also genetically modified mosquitoes. There's a large group of people who think that you can have genetically modified mosquitoes which effectively will render the most dangerous variety of mosquito sterile, as a population, if you release very large numbers of these specially modified mosquitoes. Huge backlash, actually more on the left than on the right this time, down in the Florida Keys against the idea of releasing these genetically modified mosquitoes. It may be that we get to a point where Zika becomes so frightening that people are going to have to come over and actually give up on some of these hobby horses about their fears about some of these things.
DONVANDomenico, in the absence of this bill being passed, where is the money coming from and how much has been thrown at Zika so far?
MONTANAROI'm not sure how much has been thrown in total. But I think that most of what's been happening is local municipalities having to take on most of the cost themselves. I -- the president could do something like a disaster declaration for some of those affected areas and have some funds that are released in that way. You've seen Miami spray now aerially to try to stop Zika. I think the real issue is that, in comparison to a place like Nicaragua or Puerto Rico or any of the other Caribbean islands or Mexico that have had to deal with some of this, is it's not a full-blown crisis in the United States at this point, you know? It's scary and it's at the tip of a potential crisis.
MONTANAROBut it's not something that has spread quickly throughout the entire country. And I think, for some lawmakers, they can -- they feel like they don't have to go as quickly because it's not overtaken everything.
DONVANBut the alarm calls being put out by the people who are experts, like...
MONTANAROYeah, the CDC. Mm-hmm.
DONVAN...CDC is saying this is really, really scary.
LERERAnd it is a really, really scary thing in a place that picks presidents. And we're in a political season. So you do wonder how much the fact that this is such an issue in Florida and Marco Rubio is, you know, facing ads from various groups on this issue. You know, Democrats certainly think it could be a winning issue for them down there -- how much that political pressure influences action in the next three or four weeks.
DONVANAll right. We still have a Supreme Court nominee waiting for his case to be made or not. And we have the situation of extreme levels of violence in Chicago. We're going to be talking about that when we return. I'm John Donvan. You are listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And if you would like to join us, call 1-800-433-8850. Or send an email to the firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And don't forget, you can see all of our guests right now on our live videostream at drshow.org. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."
DONVANWelcome back. I'm John Donvan and this is the Diane Rehm Show, the Friday News Roundup. We are discussing a range of issues and we're going to hopscotch across a number of them. But first, I want to reintroduce our guests, David Rennie, Washington Bureau Chief and Lexington columnist at The Economist. Lisa Lerer, National Politics Reporter at the Associated Press. And Domenico Montanaro, lead political editor for NPR. The police scanner radio, Labor Day, Chicago, sounded like this.
DONVANOkay, we heard the word shot, shot, shot, shot. That was something of a compression. I think that was spaced at least over an hour, but Domenico, what's the news out of Chicago?
MONTANAROWell, I mean, murders have gotten the headlines that homicides are up over 500 now this year in Chicago. And shootings are on pace. There were almost 3,000 shootings last year in Chicago. 2988, and as of yesterday, there were 2949, so, you know, very close. And you've had just a lot of routine violence, as you've seen throughout this -- throughout this past year. You've -- it's also become part of the campaign. I mean, Donald Trump has decided to use Chicago as a reason for why Democratic policies don't work.
MONTANAROAnd has tried to use that as a way to reach out to African-American voters. Not clear how successful that is going to be, but it is something that has become part of this political discussion.
DONVANThe Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says, it -- I'm quoting him, he says, it's not a police issue. It's a society issue. And he's blaming impoverished neighborhoods where people, quote, people without hope do these kinds of things. It sounds like an explanation which is not an explanation, and an explanation which is a total explanation, David Rennie.
RENNIEYeah, well, the problem is there are other cities that have worse poverty that don't have the same gun violence. So, it's, it's too easy, I think, to just kind of let them off the hook. This is also clearly a city where the Superintendent is the new Superintendent because this is one of the cities where they've had very serious tension between African Americans and the police because they had their own shooting, which was captured on video in Chicago of a young guy who was shot, essentially, on the ground.
RENNIEAnd then there was a row about how long it took for the video to be released. But essentially, a situation of kind of really painful mistrust and so you're seeing debate about whether the police may be less willing to get involved, whether they're being less interventionist. Is that why these shootings are out of control? But it's certainly -- it's playing, as Domenico says, into the election season. Because although crime overall is still lower than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago, there are these -- a number of big cities where it's really, really spiking and Chicago is definitely one of them.
DONVANWell, we're just touching on it, but I want to let our listeners know that the Diane Rehm Show will be going into depth on this subject. And trends towards violence up and down in a wide variety of American cities next week. Lisa Lerer, we have this situation out in North Dakota where thousands of protesters have been gathering in advance of a court decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline. What is that and what's going on there?
LERERSo the Dakota Access Pipeline is a 3.8 billion, 1172 mile project that carries crude oil from North Dakota down all the way to the Gulf Coast. And what you've had is the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filing a lawsuit, challenging the permits for the project. Saying that the pipeline would basically poison their drinking water. And you've had this protest where thousands of people have come out in a combination of Native American protesters, environmentalists and protest this pipeline.
LERERThere is an interesting historical background here that's made this even more heated, which is that, you know, in 1958, the Army Corp of Engineers did a project in the area that flooded homes and sacred sites and so there's a deep feeling in the community that that was very destructive. And they don't want this happening again. The judge is supposed to rule on this lawsuit, possibly as soon as today, so this is all really coming to a head.
DONVANDavid, your take on this?
RENNIEI think, among other things, we are seeing, and we saw this with the Keystone XL Pipeline, one of the tactics, and it's a legitimate tactic in terms of getting your politics done. The environmental movement has set out and will say so publicly to raise the political costs and the financial costs, the legal costs of building pipelines. They don't like a lot of this oil. Some of this oil is coming from tar sands in Canada and they want to raise the cost of moving this stuff around. The problem is that this stuff still does move around.
RENNIEAnd if you don't build pipelines, the counter argument is it moves on trains, which have been causing some very nasty accidents and so this oil is going to move somewhere. But I think we're seeing, as Lisa says, it's tying into also some very specific local history about Native Americans. But there is a general anti-pipeline push.
LERERAnd trains, of course, have their own emissions, so there is a debate over which pollutes more.
MONTANAROAnd one of the funny things that came of this was the Bismarck Tribune's headline was, "Charges to Be Filed against Presidential Candidate." A little bit of a click bait, you wonder which Presidential candidate could that be? Jill Stein, actually, was there, and wound up -- is accused of spray painting equipment this past Tuesday. And the sheriff there has a warrant out for her arrest. It won't go anywhere, necessarily, because of the area where this was taking place is not, you know, something, you know, it's a separate, you know, 'cause it's a Native American...
DONVANAnd what is the upside potential for the oil field that this pipeline comes from to providing lots and lots of energy?
LERERThe -- well, they get the -- they can bring it down to the Gulf Coast in sort of a faster, easier way where it can be shipped out.
RENNIEBecause America has this odd system, geographically, that the refineries that turn this stuff into things like gasoline and stuff you can put in your Petrol tank, they're all over the Gulf Coast. But a lot of these new sources of oil, shale oil and (word?) oil, are on the other side of the country. That's why we're seeing all these pipelines trying to get built.
DONVANWe haven't talked about, in a while, Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. And to remind everybody, he was nominated by President Obama earlier this year and the Republican leadership in the Senate said that they would, in no way, consider his nomination. That in the last year of a President's term, the Republican argument was that it's too late to nominate and the pushback on that is the Constitution doesn't say that it's ever too late. But a little bit of news in that this week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg weighed in and what did she say, Lisa Lerer?
LERERShe said, basically, that the President is elected -- this is her quote, the President is elected for four years, not three years, so the power he has in year three continues into year four. Maybe members of the Senate will wake up and appreciate that's how it should be. That's not likely to happen before the election, so she's saying that the President is well within his rights to nominate a Justice. I do wonder what happens in the lame duck session, because regardless of who wins, Merrick Garland may end up being a better choice for Republicans than whoever Hillary Clinton may pick.
LEREROr, even Donald Trump. He's joked about picking his sister, who supports abortion rights. So, it's not clear what kind of Justice he would nominate and it may not be the kind of Justice that Republicans would prefer.
MONTANAROAlthough he did put out his list of...
LERERHe did put out his list.
MONTANARO...of folks who are conservative to reassure conservatives that he would -- you know, I doubt that they're even going to bring him up in the lame duck. I mean, it could very well be the case. It's also interesting to see what Hillary Clinton will pledge to do, because she's flirted with the idea of bringing him back up for nomination.
DONVANWell, for people who haven't paid close attention, the 20 second of sketch of who is Merrick Garland, David?
RENNIESo, he was chosen because he's as -- I mean, he is a Democrat appointed judge. He's on the District Court in the District of Columbia, which is one of the most senior federal courts. He has a record of being a moderate, of being a centrist. Republicans have jumped on the fact that the National Rifle Association took issue with some of his rulings. There were some very important gun rights cases that went through the District of Columbia federal circuit.
RENNIEAnd they say that he is bad for gun rights and you've had the Republicans' majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, openly saying that if the guy doesn't have the support of the National Rifle Association, it's game over. He's not going to get appointed. I think the other thing that, if readers want to be depressed about what happens after the election, I was talking to a senior Senator the other day who was saying, let's talk about what happens when the next anyone tries to get Senate confirmation.
RENNIEWho can get 60 in the Senate confirmed on anything? There are not 60 votes in the Senate now for anything. So, his prediction is that whoever has control of the Senate next year is going to actually change the rules and, and, and break the filibuster rule on the Supreme Court.
LERERAnd that's why there are some rumors that Hillary Clinton may keep on some of President Obama's cabinet officials, just so that she doesn't have to go through that process with everybody. But you do wonder...
DONVANSo their confirmations carry over.
LERER...yeah, that they wouldn't have to necessarily...
DONVANGo through it again.
LERER...be reconfirmed. Yeah, but you do wonder should this Merrick Garland issue linger into a potential Clinton Administration, and if Democrats win the Senate, I think she'll be under a lot of pressure from progressives to pick someone a bit more liberal. And that may not be what she wants to deal with immediately in her administration. Particularly since she campaigned so intensely on Obama's record and he is really going to do a lot for her this fall.
DONVANLet's bring in Martha from Ithaca, New York. Martha, welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MARTHAThank you. I love your show, but I have a criticism. This asymmetry about Trump and Clinton. Look at what you did today. You talked at length about Clinton and the Foundation and Bill Clinton...
DONVANIf you're about to say Pam Bondi, we were gonna get to that next. Were you?
MARTHAYeah, please. This is something -- there's no debate here.
DONVANAll right, you've, you've, you've altered our schedule a little bit by bringing it up. So, we're going to go ahead and do that. I'm gonna let Domenico tell us what the Pam Bondi story is in relation to Trump. And thanks, Martha.
MONTANAROSo, the headline is Donald Trump Has a Foundation Problem, Too. I mean, everyone talks about Hillary Clinton's Foundation and the fact is, the Clinton Foundation, you know, has, has attracted Republican donors, including Donald Trump, who donated between 100 and 250 thousand dollars. Which we only know about because the Clinton Foundation makes all of their donors known on their website, as required by the Obama Transition Team. But Pam Bondi is the Attorney General in Florida.
MONTANAROAnd Trump's Foundation donated money to Pam Bondi just as she was considering bringing charges against Trump University. Which, we should also note, by the way, is not a real university. It's just not. It's, it's -- it was a degree -- it was a certificate granting program that was almost conducted in the way time shares are, where they get you into a room. They have these harsh, tough sales tactics to not let you leave. And that is not the same, even as these for profit colleges, which have come under tons of scrutiny from Democrats.
MONTANAROAnd, and even this, this Loriett group that Bill Clinton was associated with has a better record than some of the other for profit colleges. And Hillary Clinton, by the way, has said she'll continue or go even further than President Obama has on for profit colleges.
LERERThe problem with this story, for Trump, is not only the specter of pay for play, but it's that Trump has repeatedly boasted about buying politicians. It's actually a part of his campaign message. I understand how the system works, I gave all these people money so I could get something back. But in this case, he's saying, well, I gave her money, but I didn't buy her. There was nothing (unintelligible) . So, it's a bit confusing, I think, given how many months he spent bragging about buying politicians.
DONVANI'm John Donvan and you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. David Rennie, also, Martha from Ithaca was talking about the asymmetry and it was an interesting moment to bring it up, because you've been arguing about this point earlier. Does Trump -- does the public not really care that much about Trump's pay for play possibility?
RENNIEI think that there are -- it's possible to meet lots and lots of Trump voters for whom the policies are not really the issue. We saw this with the immigration stuff last week, where he had flirted with changing his position several times. With Trump, the relationship between a lot of Trump supporters and Trump isn't really about the fine detail of what he's saying, it's that they believe that he is a champion for them. That they identify with him. That he validates the way that they see the world. It's a very, sort of, psychological -- I'm not trying to demean this.
RENNIEAnd again, you see, here I am, apologizing for seeming to criticize Trump supporters for doing politics in a different way from the way that everyone else does politics. This is why we're all kind of stumbling over ourselves.
DONVANWe have an email from Chris in Pittsburgh. He asks, he laments, is anyone going to mention Gary Johnson's what is Aleppo gaff?
MONTANAROWhat's that? Oh, no. I'm not serious. No, I mean...
DONVANWell, well, let's back up. Who is Gary Johnson?
MONTANAROGary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate. He's polling...
DONVANHe probably regrets that I had to ask "who is Gary Johnson" in front of an audience. I did actually know, but I was playing a game a little bit. I think, for those who don't know.
MONTANAROSo, Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate. He's polling around 10 percent in the polls. You need 15 percent to get on the debate stage. Because of the record high unfavorable ratings for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a lot of people have been looking at Gary Johnson and, to a lesser extent, Jill Stein, as potential reservoirs of protest support. Or, you know, looking toward something else given their dissatisfaction with these two candidates. Gary Johnson has started to get a little bit more attention.
MONTANAROWe certainly had been to his convention and had looked at him. And he was on "Morning Joe" yesterday. A show on MSNBC where he was asked about Aleppo, which is at the heart of the Syrian refugee crisis. And he, in all earnestness, said, what is Aleppo? What is Aleppo? And he was not kidding about it. He literally didn't know, and he transitioned...
DONVANHe also said it in a way that sounded like he might have been separating it into two words. To my ear, in any case.
MONTANARO...and he said...
DONVANWhat one leppo, two leppi.
MONTANARO...he did later say that he thought it could have been an acronym, which, even tells you even further how far removed he has been from the news of this. I really think this is fascinating from a political standpoint, because he's been such a reservoir of protest vote for many Republicans in particular. If those Republicans start to say, okay, there's no way I could vote for Donald Trump because I don't think he knows enough. And there's no way I could vote for Gary Johnson now.
MONTANARONow what do they do? Do they leave the line blank? Do some of them go to Hillary Clinton? Or do some of them go back to Donald Trump? I think it probably helps Hillary Clinton by a point or two.
DONVANLet me, let me -- I rarely share my opinions when I'm acting as the moderator of the conversation, but I watched the rest of what Gary Johnson said after he was -- what the meaning of Aleppo was was clarified for him. And he did not have a ridiculous grasp of the tangle of Syria. He went on to describe it. And so, I can see a sort of blank on Aleppo or maybe he's been very busy for the last three weeks as things have heated up there. And the oh my gosh, what an amazing gaff kind of moment that the political class loves to jump on, you know, Dean Scream for example.
DONVANIf I listen to the rest of what Gary Johnson said, I thought, this man may not have the name of the city, but he's not a fool.
LERERIt's very hard when the dog catches the car. It can be very difficult, right. If you're running as sort of -- we've, you know, we've seen this before. You're running as -- running for President is really hard. There's a lot of spotlight, and these gaffs become emblematic of a lack of knowledge of other issues.
RENNIEI think, also, Aleppo is -- Aleppo is an iconic city for a horrible, tragic reason, which is that one of the things about Syria policy is it's not just complicated and there's lots of players. But it is also a humanitarian catastrophe. And the reason I think that people are a bit upset that he didn't know about Aleppo is that if you read the papers at all, on the front page of the papers, the most heartbreaking photographs of injured children, of devastated streets, of terrible suffering, have been from the seat of Aleppo.
DONVANSo you, you, you find it pretty unforgivable.
RENNIENo, I mean, look, everyone flubs and if he -- if his brain was somewhere else, maybe -- I happen to think the Gary Johnson bubble will burst, because I think the Libertarians, you know, if people knew just a tiny bit about, Domenico mentioned their convention where they nominated Gary Johnson. That is the convention at which he said that Libertarians need to adjust the fact that driving licenses are not in fact a badge of tyranny and they have to embrace the idea of having driver's licenses. And he got roundly booed by the crowd. I think that's not a party that's ready for prime time.
DONVANAnd Domenico, the last story we want to touch on. Is there really going to be a vote this week in the House to impeach the head of the IRS?
MONTANAROJohn Koskinen. Where there are some Republicans who have wanted to go through with this, it appears that they've been able -- that more of the leadership of Republicans have been able to delay this, so it doesn't look like there's going to be a vote this week. But there is a faction of Republicans who are still pushing this, because of those 2013 IRS scandals in which they looked at Tea Party Groups more strongly than they did, perhaps liberal groups. And their political activities.
DONVANWhat do you think's going to happen?
MONTANAROWell, it's probably going to be pushed off. It could come up later this month. I think Republicans, like Paul Ryan, want no part of trying to impeach someone like Paul Ryan -- like John Koskinen, because they don't feel that the threshold for impeachment, you know, has been reached for this. Especially since he wasn't even there when this went on.
DONVANWell, thank you to you Domenico Montanaro, Lead Political Editor for NPR. Lisa Lerer, National Politics Reporter at the Associated Press. David Rennie, Washington Bureau Chief and Lexington Columnist at The Economist.
DONVANAnd I'm John Donvan, moderator of the Intelligence Squared US Debates, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thank you so much for listening.
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