Investigations, Indictments, And The Political Future Of Donald Trump
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser talks investigations, indictments and the political future of Donald Trump.
Guest Host: Amy Walter
Protests continue for a third night in Charlotte, North Carolina, following the fatal police shooting of Keith Scott, an African-American man. Protestors are calling for the release of a videotape showing Scott’s encounter with police. Donald Trump walks back his call for a national “stop-and-frisk” policy in the wake of police shootings in North Carolina and Oklahoma. Hillary Clinton reaches out to disabled Americans in a speech on the economy. Federal terrorism charges are filed against the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings. And the CEO of Wells Fargo faces tough questions from lawmakers about fake bank accounts. Guest host Amy Walter and a panel of journalists discuss the top domestic stories of the week.
MS. AMY WALTERThanks for joining us. I'm Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back on Monday. A police officer in Tulsa is charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a black man, as protests continue over a separate shooting in Charlotte. Federal terrorism charges are filed against the New York bombing suspect. And the CEO of Wells Fargo faces sharp questions in Congress over fraudulent accounts.
MS. AMY WALTERHere to discuss this week's top national stories on the Friday New Roundup, Edward Luce of the Financial Times, Janet Hook of The Wall Street Journal and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post. Thanks for being here, you all.
MR. EDWARD LUCEGreat to be here.
MS. JANET HOOKHi, Amy.
WALTEROf course, we'll be taking your questions and comments throughout the hour. We're also, for this hour, live on video stream. You can call us at 1-800-433-8850. Send us your email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can join us on Facebook or Twitter. And, of course, the live streaming, you can also watch at drshow.org. All right. So Ed Luce, we've had a lot of action, obviously, in Charlotte over the last couple of days.
WALTERAnd the reaction to the shooting of Keith Scott by a police officer there. Maybe you can update us on the latest and specifically, there seems to be a battle brewing over whether the police will release the video of this encounter.
LUCEAbsolutely. Well, last night, we have the third consecutive night of protests. Again, they broke the curfew, the midnight to 6:00 a.m. curfew that's been imposed. No violence and the police allowed the protestors to continue after midnight. The real issue here, I think, that's coming to a head is whether the police in Charlotte release the video. And they've done so elsewhere and most recently in Tulsa where there was also a police shooting.
LUCEThe mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, is now calling for that video to be released, but the police, in whose power it is to make that decision, are reluctant to do so. And the chief of police of Charlotte has said, look, we've seen it. We've shown it to the family of Keith Scott. We've got different interpretations of that, but it would complicate the investigations of this shooting if we release it. I suspect the head of steam with protestors and the fact that other mayor's a Republican mayor of Tulsa released the video of the Tulsa shooting, that the Democratic mayor of Charlotte's probably going to get away when she's now calling for it to be released.
WALTERAnd we have yet to see other political leaders to call on this yet, though I suspect there may be more pressure on other leaders in the state to...
LUCEWell, I mean, if the police in Charlotte don't want to release the video, they'll certainly get support from Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina. He's, you know, very much on their side and has been critical of Black Lives Matter. So but there hasn't been national calls. We haven't seen calls from Hillary Clinton, for example, yet for the video to be released. And as far as I understand it, Trump has not called for the video not to be released.
LUCEHe's made other incendiary comments, but not that.
WALTERWell, I want to get to that in a minute, but Phil Rucker, why don't you tell us a little bit about Oklahoma because it seems as if we are at a very different place there. Obviously, another shooting of an African American man, Terence Crutcher. Video was released. And we also have news about the police officer who shot him.
MR. PHILIP RUCKERThat's right. There's not been the kind of violent protests in Tulsa that we've seen in Charlotte, partly because of transparency. I think the police department in Tulsa's been much more transparent about the facts and releasing information and the news that just recently happened is that Officer Betty Shelby, who was the one who shot Terence Crutcher, she has been charged with first degree manslaughter in the case. She turned herself in to authorities over the last 24 hours.
MR. PHILIP RUCKERAnd so that's a different kind of development in Tulsa and one of the reasons we don't see that unrest there.
WALTERAnd we're just getting now breaking from the AP that they released -- the medical examiner released the autopsy results saying he did die of a gunshot wound to the chest. Toxology (sic) reports are pending. Cause of death, penetrating gunshot wound to the chest and the matter of death was homicide. So, again, to your point about transparency, now the medical examiner coming out the next day.
WALTERJanet, not surprisingly this has happened -- since it's happening in the midst of a presidential campaign, the two presidential candidates have weighed in on this with very different opinions about the manner and what to do about these issues. Can you tell us a little bit about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and the reactions?
HOOKRight. Hillary Clinton actually hasn't said as much in reaction as Donald Trump has. She had some comments on Wednesday where she basically said we don't know a lot about both of these incidents in Oklahoma and in Charlotte, but that we know that we've got two more black men on the list of people who've died in police shootings. Donald Trump, on the other hand, gave a speech yesterday in Pittsburgh, which was supposed to be an energy speech and it was mostly an energy speech.
HOOKBut he started out with his most extended comments so far about the Charlotte shooting and said, you know, how, you know, abhorrent it was. And he threw in a little aside that people had a hard time figuring, which was that he said that he thought that drugs were very, very involved in what you see on TV. And it seemed pretty obvious at the time that it was in connection with the violence people are seeing on TV.
HOOKLater, his campaign said, well, that wasn't really what he meant. But he also -- this was also sort of another occasion, and all week has been occasion, for Donald Trump to kind of step up his tough on law and order rhetoric. And so he's been -- to the extent that he's been walking a fine line between, on the hand, courting black voters and minority voters, and on the other hand cracking down an immigration and crime, this was a week where he leaned heavily to the right.
WALTERWell, and this is a state, too, North Carolina, a battleground state, very close and competitive about the presidential race, but also, there's a big governor's race and a Senate race. Ed Luce, do you see this having an impact on voters in this state?
LUCEWell, it's a -- I mean, Charlotte, in particular, but North Carolina, in general, is a very polarized state. I mean, you've got the South there and you've got a strong -- a very strong blue collar, white sort of Republican rural areas and you've got places like Charlotte, Raleigh, Dunham, the research triangle which are very much sort of urban, liberal centers. Charlotte, though, in particular, you know, has very successful downtown.
LUCEIt's great at attracting business. It's a modern economy. But it's also got some of the poorest black communities and some of the most segregated residential areas of any of the big cities in the South. So how this plays out politically, I expect it's more polarizing. Charlotte's had more than its fair share of polarizing politics in 2016. You remember, of course, the bathroom rights ordinance that was then overridden by the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature.
LUCEIt looks like what you've got is very, very heightened political participation. And interestingly, in the governor's race, Pat McCrory is a little bit behind at the moment, but the presidential polling shows pretty much a dead heat between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, with rising sort of levels of interest.
WALTERSo that's the question, Phil, is whether or not this law and order message, getting tough on terrorism -- we're going to talk a little bit about the -- what has happened in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, but is that going to benefit Donald Trump or is that more helpful to Hillary Clinton as we go into these last 40 or so days?
RUCKERYou know, it might benefit Trump, but here's the danger for him. It's the African American vote in North Carolina, which is substantial and it is also large in some other swing state. And to the extent that this incident can mobilize black voters to become more politically engaged going into the election, they have early voting in North Carolina, I mean, this is central to Hillary Clinton's strategy. She's got the Obamas out there trying to mobilize black voters. I'm sure they're going to be returning to North Carolina.
RUCKERAnd if this incident can sort of light a fire, so to speak, and galvanize that part of the electorate, it can really help lift Hillary Clinton in what otherwise is a very close contest in North Carolina. And the problem for Trump is there's not really a clear path for him to win the 270 electoral votes without North Carolina.
WALTERWithout North Carolina.
RUCKERHe needs to win that state.
WALTERLet's talk a little bit about combining this -- the talk that we've seen from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, not just about the police shootings, but about terrorism in general. The suspect in the weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey faces federal terrorism charges. Janet Hook, can you tell us a little bit about what do we know happened this week with Ahmad Rahani (sic) , the suspect in those bombings?
HOOKWell, he was caught pretty quickly and then brought on federal charges this week on Tuesday. And he's still in the hospital in New Jersey and there's some dispute about when and how he'll have his first hearing. There's actually -- and then there are two other people who they're looking for, not as suspects, but these mysterious figures who were caught on surveillance cameras who found another one of the bombs, took it out of the bag and let the bomb behind.
WALTERAnd left the bomb, yeah.
HOOKSo who are these people? They've got a nice piece of luggage with them, but -- so, again, they're not thinking that -- I haven't seen any sign that they're considered accomplices, but -- so there's still some outstanding questions.
WALTERAnd the reaction, again, from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to this, both their immediate reaction as well as proposals afterwards seem to be -- we seem to see this pattern continue, right? Get tough quickly, come out quickly with your -- if you're Donald Trump, make accusations or suggestions. Hillary Clinton, a little more reticent, a little more circumspect, took a longer time to come out.
HOOKWell, in this case, on Monday, they both kind of stepped out and they were totally true to form. It was kind of like this was an occasion where they really kind of intensified their message and with a really high profile thing, which is -- so Trump was in Florida, gave a speech and his message was national security is immigration security. He went straight to his immigration message. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, went to steady leadership, now we need calm vigilance.
WALTERThat was Janet Hook. Thank you very much. We're going to take a quick break. But coming up, we'll have more of the Friday News Roundup. You can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org. We'll be right back.
WALTERAnd we're back on "The Diane Rehm Show." I'm here with my guests, Ed Luce of the Financial Times, Janet Hook of The Wall Street Journal, Phil Rucker of the Washington Post. Ed, let's talk a little bit, just to get a little bit on North Carolina and the suggestions that Donald Trump has made about ways in which to do some police reform, including, he talked about, "stop-and-frisk."
LUCEYes, well, as Janet mentioned, he brought up the drugs gangs as part of the context, rather bizarrely, because it hasn't been suggested anywhere else in North Carolina. But "stop-and-frisk" is his sort of catchall solution, both to the police problems in places like Charlotte, but also to the terrorist threat, which is the police just need to be given the right to stop anybody on any grounds if they have the slightest suspicion. And he made this in the context of black communities as well. It was in a response to a question about that. And, of course, when this bombing happened, Trump claims he was the first to call it out, ahead of it so I should be in the news business, I beat you guys.
LUCEAnd his -- as Janet pointed out, his solution is basically more tough law and order. I mean, it kind of encapsulates the psychological differences between the two candidates. Hillary's a stronger, together solution to all of these issues. You need to cooperation of the communities. You need the federal, state cooperation. You need more online vigilance. And we're stronger together in preventing terrorism and these kinds of racial incidents with the police if we don't stigmatize communities.
LUCETrump's was essentially, first of all, I call the news before anybody else, I know what's going on. Second, be afraid, be very, very afraid. And we should take all draconian measures at our disposal, including the widely discredited "stop-and-frisk," which has been struck down in New York by the courts, for example. And one end and the other, bomb the hell out of ISIS, which he presents as increasing its territory, when it's actually very much on the retreat in Syria and Iraq.
WALTERAnd yet the other morning he called into Fox News and seemed to be more muted in his response, his earlier response, as you pointed out, the sort of tough, be afraid. He said, there's a lack of spirit between the white and the black. So Phil Rucker, what is he trying to do? He's being very, on the one hand, "stop-and-frisk," we need to get tough, and on the other hand, there's just not a lot of spirit between our communities.
RUCKERBetween the white and the black, yeah, it's not the way we normally hear people talk about race issues. But I think this is part of the problem we've seen all week from Donald Trump, which is that he's reacting based on sort of gut instinct at the moment based on whatever headline he sees on TV news. And there doesn't appear to be a whole lot of thought that's gone into his overall strategy for combating terrorism and reforming the criminal justice system.
RUCKERAnd we should also note that he has a volunteer Ohio county chair who gave an interview to the Guardian this week with some very racially coded language, and that really went off on social medial and got a lot of attention, and she resigned from her campaign immediately. So even as Donald Trump is trying to reach out to black voters, he has these problems that keep coming up in his campaign.
WALTERWell, and there was a -- there's a congressman in North Carolina, Janet, Rob Pittenger, who made comments. I don't know if you saw this, Phil, as well. About the protests where he had said that African Americans were jealous of the success of white voters. I have an email here from Rob who said that Pittenger also said that, quote, "America is a welfare state. We've spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we're putting people into bondage so they can't be all that capable of being."
WALTERHe says, "This is a strong narrative on the political right, but I've not heard anyone on the political left address this. It is certainly part of what drives Donald Trump, and the Tea Party's political base is this because of lack of connection to these people or because the issue's too politically dangerous to touch." You want to talk about that?
HOOKWell, this really gets to the kind of underlying racial tensions that Trump is kind of trying to play both sides of. I mean, to the extent that there have been Twitter messages and campaign surrogates and even his son sort of sending out messages that connect with a kind of white supremacists and kind of attention about the changes that are going on in society more generally, about multicultural, multiracial changes, so that there's this huge tension that he's got that, on the one hand, he's appealing to that, and it's still kind of doing this campaign stump rhetoric, at least, and visiting black churches and reaching out to blacks.
HOOKIt's just -- and he stumbled into it specifically on this issue because, on the one hand, he's reaching out to blacks. And his answer "stop-and-frisk" is one that minority communities have opposed, because it seen -- it's exercised in a discriminatory fashion.
WALTERI want to use all of this to transition us to something else that we know, where this is going to get a lot of attention, which is the debates coming up on Monday. As the two candidates, we'll see how they actually react to each other on stage talking a lot about these issues. But we've seen a number of stories this week, Phil, if you want to address this, about how the two candidates are preparing for these debates, how they're setting expectations. I got in my email box from the RNC a memo basically saying, it's all on Hillary Clinton. If she fails, then that's a disaster, because she's the most experienced candidate in this race, and it's hers basically to lose.
RUCKERYeah. I don't know that we've seen campaigns play the refs as much as they have this week. You've got the Clinton campaign saying, look, Donald Trump needs to be held to the same standard that she does. He can't be graded on a curve. There's a feeling that if Trump gets out there on the debate stage and strings together a couple coherent sentence and doesn't have some huge mistake, he will be seen as presidential. And they're saying, no, he needs to answer the questions with the same level of specificity as Hillary Clinton.
RUCKERAnd the Trump campaign is saying, look, Hillary Clinton's been debating for decades, literally, she's been in this role for decades. She's by far the master debater and should be treated as such. And he's also playing with the moderators. He's trying to discredit Lester Holt, the NBC news anchor who's going to be moderating the first debate. Even accusing him of being a Democrat, saying he would be unfair, saying he shouldn't interject to correct his facts, if, in fact, Donald Trump has a misstatement, which anyone who's been watching his campaign knows that he's prone to exaggerate and misstate the facts.
RUCKERSo that's the gaming of the refs. They're also doing prep. Hillary's is much more intensive. She's got days of debate camp going over all the issues and really focusing on style and tone. I think they're trying -- she and her advisors are trying to game out what kind of Donald Trump is going to be at the debate and how to deal with him from a style and tone perspective.
WALTERRight. So, Ed, what about Donald Trump? What does his debate prep look like?
LUCEWell, I think as Phil said, he's been playing the refs. He's been putting it about that he's not been preparing at all. So he's been lowing the expectations bar as much as he can, that he doesn't really care about this stuff, you know, he just takes things as they come. I think a lot of people probably quite rightly suspect that he's prepping a lot more than he's putting it about, that this is a clever grading on the curve expectations game he's playing at. Roger Ailes, of course, the former head of Fox News and the legendary sort of TV manager for Richard Nixon in the 1968 campaign, Roger Ailes, he's apparently helping Trump with prep.
LUCEAnd I guess, you know, this is a head game for the Hillary campaign. Is he going to be the calm Kellyanne Conway Trump, you know, that sticks to script and doesn't insult people? Or is he just going to come out like a street fighter and go for Hillary's husband's sexual record or whatever it is that he's capable of? And that's a pretty wide spectrum for the Hillary campaign to prep on.
WALTERAnd, of course, Kellyanne Conway is his campaign manager...
WALTER...his third now campaign manager that he brought in recently. But since her appearance with him in that role, he has been -- has more discipline.
LUCEYeah, she's the first one who can handle him. I think she was likened to be a lion tamer. She's the first successful, not completely successful, but she's the first one who's shown any evidence of getting him to stick vaguely to script and put down that -- stop his twiddling thumbs. But, you know, Hillary's -- I mean, it's a really tough job. I mean, will she smile enough? Will she sound too shrill? How will she respond to his bullying? I mean, all of this sort of fashion theater criticism that she tends to attract at the most normal of times is going to be there on sort of galactic scale on Monday evening. And Trump's going to be playing with that, too.
WALTERI like the term galactic scale. It's a good name for a band. I think we should think about that.
LUCEYes. We should launch one.
WALTERJanet, I want to go -- your publication, The Wall Street Journal, along with NBC, put out a poll this week that showed Clinton up by six points. Earlier this week, though, the talk was about how the race was tightening, this race is really, really close, she had a big lead in August, now it's all gone in September, the race is very close. You all came out with your poll, six points. Since then we've had two other national polls come out, the AP-GfK, she's up by six, McClatchy-Marist, she's up by six. But then we've also seen these state polls where Donald Trump is ahead in places like Nevada and Ohio and North Carolina. Can you explain what's going on?
HOOKWell, in our poll, our national poll that showed her up six points, it actually had narrowed from the last time, so I think the trend that we're showing is not completely inconsistent with the idea that the race is narrowing. And I have to say, there are more people polling, and they're polling more often, and they're using, like, different techniques. Some are, you know, doing internet polls, some are calling cell phones, some are only calling landlines. I mean, there's so much polling going on, and this electorate is just so volatile and so different this year, it's kind of not surprising that the polls are all over the map.
HOOKI do think our poll has been pretty stable though, and showing that Hillary has a lead, sometimes, you know, bigger than others. And the internal measures of strength we find -- that we found in this poll are consistent with her maintaining a lead. So...
WALTERSo what are those measures of strength?
HOOKWell, she actually showed more people -- we asked people, are you supporting your candidate because you don't want the other guy or because you're supporting your candidate? And she actually now has a majority saying they're voting for Clinton for Clinton, not against Trump. Whereas the majority of Trump's vote is now against Hillary Clinton.
HOOKShe's closed the gap in terms of voters' expectations of who would be better in handling terrorism and homeland security, and that's really key. It was earlier this year Trump had a big advantage on that issue, and as that issue gains prominence, the fact that she's gotten to parity is significant. And she's got a big lead, and a growing one, on who would be better equipped to be commander in chief.
WALTERJust wanted to let everybody know here that you are listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I am Amy Walter. I'm not Diane Rehm, but you can join us, call 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. You can find us on Facebook. You can send us a tweet. You can watch all of us live video stream, we have there very attractive people here sitting in the studio that you can see. So please do that.
WALTERBut, Phil, I think for many folks who are trying to follow this election and they see data points, as Janet pointed out, that seem to be all over the place, and you obviously have to report on all of this. How do you make sense of this, number one? And number two, what does this tell us about the Electoral College and the battlegrounds? What states should we really be focusing on right now as we hit this last stretch?
RUCKERYeah, so to start with number one, I mean, one guide for all of us can be what the Clinton campaign is doing, because we know they have a fairly sophisticated analytics division. They do nightly polls. They talk to voters all the time. They have more data every day than we see publicly. And so you can watch the moves that they're making, and what they've been doing the last couple of weeks is having Hillary Clinton talk a lot more about herself and make a more affirmative case for her own candidacy.
RUCKERThe reason for that is they've found a lot of voters don't like Donald Trump and are ready to vote for somebody other than Donald Trump, but they also don't like Hillary Clinton. And so Clinton needs to kind of close that gap and pick up that kind of 10, 15 percent of voters out there who are against Donald Trump, but not yet sold on her. She's trying to do that with millennials, young voters in particular this week.
RUCKERNow, in terms of the battleground state map, it continues to be difficult for Trump. He just begins with a disadvantage. The map favors any Democrat, especially this time because of the demographic changes in some states. So he needs to win a lot of the big states. He needs Florida. He needs Ohio. He needs North Carolina. He probably is going to win Iowa. That one looks pretty good for him. But it's only seven electoral votes.
RUCKERSo for him to really get to the 270 he needs, he also is going to have to pick up a place like Nevada or New Hampshire or maybe Pennsylvania. He would love to get Pennsylvania, a huge number of electoral votes, but that seems a little bit out of reach at the moment. So it's tricky for him. He really needs to have a sweep, if you will, of a lot of these states, and the polling just doesn't show that right now.
WALTERWhat we're also hearing from a lot of voters, Ed Luce, and this kind of goes back to the expectations for the debate, is a sense that they don't like either one of these candidates, that many voters saying, ugh, I don't want to have to make a choice. So how does a debate play into that, for those voters? What does Hillary Clinton need to do to convince those people who maybe don't like Trump very much, but aren't sold on her and vice versa?
LUCEWell, I mean, the first thing to note is, you know, if any of these predictions as to what the debate audience is going to be are anywhere near correct...
LUCE...then we're talking about, what, 100 million or so people which will break, I mean, shatter any records. By comparison, the first debate in the 2012 election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was 46 million, I believe. And I think the record is 65 million. So, you know, you're going to get eyeballs, tens of millions of them, who haven't actually watched any debate so far, and haven't seen either of them debating. So I think this is -- in terms of what Hillary should do to reassure those who don't trust her or who don't like her or don't feel energized by her, goodness knows, you know, what kind of advice she's getting. I suspect that every kind of advice.
LUCEAnd I'm not sure I'm qualified to give it. I do think though that if Trump overreaches, there is a record, there's a pattern, and she has experience most famously in 2000 with the debate for the -- with Rick Lazio for the New York Senate of being bullied by a man and responding with dignity. And, you know, being seen as a dignified victim of male overreach. And, you know, that's a very potential theme of Monday night. If Trump is Trump, you know, he's not going to be able to resist going for her in some fairly nasty, fairly personal way. How she deals with that could be absolutely critical.
WALTERWell, and I've also seen in my email box say Donald Trump fundraising, solicitation, where he asked his supporters, what should I do with Hillary Clinton? Should I bring up this issue? Should I call her crooked Hillary? Should I not call her crooked Hillary? So clearly he's telling his supporters, you know, you might not -- saying the same thing. It's kind of unpredictable. You don't know what you're going to get, but really leading them on to suggest, yes, you want to see a much more pugilistic Donald Trump. Is that what you're expecting to see out there?
HOOKIt is hard to imagine him getting through 90 minutes without being pugilistic.
HOOKOn the other hand, if he wants to change perceptions of him in some way, to reach beyond the base of voters he's already got, what our poll showed was that people who have concerns about Trump, their top concern is that he doesn't have the temperament to be commander in chief. So, you know, he -- like Hillary, he's got a push and a pull. On the one hand, he, you know, Trump can't help but be Trump, but so far that character isn't getting him a majority of support.
WALTEROf support, yeah. We're going to take a quick break, but when we come back, we're going to get your calls and your questions for our panel. Please stay tuned.
WALTERWelcome back. I'm Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report sitting in for Diane Rehm. We're here for the Friday News Hour with Edward Luce of the Financial Times, Janet Hook of the Wall Street Journal and Phil Rucker of the Washington Post. Phil, I want to turn to you. Your newspaper, one of your reporters, David Farenthold, had yet another pretty scathing report out about Trump's foundation. He's had a number of stories out questioning many of the foundation's -- the way it works and the contributions it's given.
WALTERIn this case, he writes about Trump using 258,000 dollars from charity, from his foundation to settle his personal legal problems. So tell us a little bit about what the reporting uncovered.
RUCKERYes, so my colleague, David Farenthold, for several months now, has been trying to document the charitable giving and spending practices of the Trump Foundation. We hear a lot in the news about the Clinton Foundation, but not the Trump Foundation. And what his reporting has shown is that it's really a sham charity. There's no -- very little charitable giving that takes place here. It's basically Donald Trump setting up an entity to take in other peoples' money that they give to charity, either through his golf tournaments or reality programs or what have you.
RUCKERAnd then spending it on different things. For example, he bought a couple of portraits of himself, had those commissioned. He spent 258,000 dollars to settle legal disputes and there's no evidence yet that Donald Trump himself has given to charity over the last eight or 10 years. Now, the information is a little bit spotty, because Trump has not released him tax returns. I think if we had his tax returns over these years to look at, it would actually document what he's actually given to charity, but they refuse to put out the tax returns.
RUCKERHe also refuses to provide answers to my colleagues' questions. So the reporting so far is based entirely, almost entirely, on a review of the Trump Foundation's 990 tax forms as well as pretty exhaustive interviews with hundreds of charities that either Trump has claimed he's given to when he hasn't given to them. Or that show up in some other way, but the total here is that it looks to voters like a really suspicious enterprise. It might even border on a criminal enterprise.
RUCKERThe New York Attorney General is looking into the spending practices of the Trump Foundation and Trump himself has offered really insufficient answers to questions about this. He's tried to discredit the Post's reporting, but can't point to any falsehoods in the reporting.
WALTERWell, that's what I wanted, that's what I wanted to ask you about. There -- there was no interaction, as you said, between Farenthold and the campaign. They refused to answer his questions, but they did release a very tersely worded -- what was it, one paragraph response to that...
WALTER...oh, it was several paragraphs? Okay.
WALTERAnd what was the essence of their response?
RUCKERTheir response was that they accused him of being a biased reporter and they said that, that information in the story was incorrect. But they, to this date, have not provided any example of information that's incorrect, which I think has led most neutral observers to conclude that in fact the story is correct. And the Washington Post, of course, is defending the report and stands by Farenthold's reporting. And I can just say personally I sit next to Farenthold in the news room and he's about as diligent and fair a reporter as they come.
HOOKWell, and this is kind of a classic Trump response to the media. I mean, they are often just doing broad brush -- the media lies, the media lies and they never say what they're talking about. Or he says -- and he stands up and says, you know, the media will never show you how big the crowd is. Well, we often write about how big the crowd is. And so, this is kind of a blanket pushback, but in this case, there -- it really is kind of inexcusable that they could accuse the Post of printing mistakes and then not saying exactly what they're talking about.
WALTERIs there any action that the IRS or any other legal entities could take between now and the end of this campaign against the foundation? Is that, is that a possibility at this point?
RUCKERI think it's possible. I mean, the Washington Post stories over the last few months have documented clear wrongdoing on the part of the Trump Foundation. Now, the IRS has been pretty cautious as it approaches these things. Certainly, they had their own political scandal a few years ago and ever since then, they've tried to avoid any kind of partisan subjects like this. So, I think it might be unlikely that the IRS actually investigates, at least before the election. But the New York Attorney General certainly is and we'll see what those findings are.
WALTERAnd, and Ed Luce, given the focus on the Clinton campaign -- on the Clinton Foundation and its -- has been a part of the Clinton campaign, the Hillary Clinton campaign. Does this limit the ability of the Clinton campaign to make the Trump Foundation a very -- a salient attack point?
LUCEI think it does a little bit, although, you know, it, it, it should be pointed out more often that those groups that monitor charities, that monitor philanthropic foundations say that they get all the metrics necessary to judge the Clinton Foundation, that they get all the sort of normal numbers that charities are supposed to provide. And none from the Trump Foundation. So it's, you know, it's only because of the really exemplary reporting at the Washington Post that we know this.
LUCEI think in general, the media, particularly the broadcast media, has to some degree discredited itself. The degree to which they've allowed Trump to use them for free time for media. But the kind of reporting we've seen in the Post on this is really exemplary and I think we should see -- I hope we'll see a lot -- it will encourage other papers to do just as much.
WALTERAnd we're not seeing, for example, the Clinton campaign push back and say, let's -- let me show you all of the work that the Clinton Global Foundation has actually done. Have we seen anything like that to make the contrast with the Trump Foundation?
HOOKI mean, not specifically in connection with this.
HOOKI mean, I do think that the -- what the Post reporting shows that they could seize onto without kind of pot calling the kettle black kind of stuff coming up is that the message of what you found is it's all about Donald Trump. And that's kind of core to what they're trying to discredit in him as a political leader. It's not about you, it's not about the country, it's all about Donald Trump.
RUCKERAnd President Obama, when he was in Philadelphia campaigning for Hillary last week, he had a line about this. He said, look, the Clinton Foundation saves millions of lives around the world and the Trump Foundation buys a portrait of Donald Trump. And then Obama went on to say at least he had the sense not to get the 10 foot version. He only got the six foot version. But it's a laugh line on the campaign trail.
WALTERI want to, I want to take a caller here. Dennis who's from Mooresville, North Carolina. Dennis, you're on the air. Thank you for calling in.
DENNISWell, thank you, Amy. Thank you for taking my call.
DENNISI feel like I'm just above Charlotte and we're really taking a beating this week, because, you know, Wells Fargo has a very big presence in Charlotte. And then, of course, there's still HB2 and in the line of HB2, this same legislature that passed HB2 also passed a law that goes into effect in eight days that would prohibit the release to the public of any police video without a court order. So in light of the recent shooting in Charlotte, we've got a deadline here eight days away that would take it out of the hands of the police chief.
DENNISOr anyone else in Charlotte, and that basically the new law says that police videos are not public videos. And so, we do have a deadline and it's my opinion, and I'd like to hear what your guests think. But what would diffuse the whole situation in Charlotte now would be to go ahead and release the video since the family has seen it and has said it would be okay.
WALTERRight. Thank you, Dennis. Phil, is there any help you can give him about both one, whether this law is impacting the ability to get this video out. And two, whether or not it would truly diffuse the situation to put it out.
RUCKERYou know, I can't speak to the details of the law, but I can say it's pretty clear that I think putting the video out would diffuse some of the tensions, at least in Charlotte. I mean, there just seems to be an utter lack of transparency from the law enforcement authorities there. And it's the reason you see the mayor out today publicly calling for the video to come out. I think there would bring some closure to this family, but also, it would allow everybody in Charlotte and around the country to really evaluate with their own eyes and their own ears what happened.
RUCKERAnd draw their own conclusions. And I think that's an important step in the process. And it's why, again, in Tulsa, with the video coming out there, we've not seen the same kind of unrest that we saw in Charlotte.
WALTERWell, and I also wanted to bring in -- Dennis brought up the point of Wells Fargo and that was a nice transition to talk as well about the fact that Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf came to Capitol Hill to testify about the scandal at his bank where there were two million fake accounts set up. He did not have a very warm greeting by members of the Senate Committee, specifically Elizabeth Warren. Ed, tell us a little bit about that, and what you think it means for his future and the era of the big banks?
LUCEYeah, well, I mean, I guess the problem is it doesn't seem as if it means that much for his future. The bank has fired 5300 relatively low level employees, which suggests, numbers on that scale, that this is a systemic problem. These aren't bad apples. This isn't like the whale in JP Morgan or the rogue -- the (word?) person at (word?). This is a systemic, bank wide practice that comes from the top. And that was Elizabeth Warren's line of questioning.
LUCEJohn Stumpf, you know, as continued in his job, got paid 19 million dollars last year. And continues to get his stock options and his bonuses. Made all the sort of necessary sounds of contrition but had absolutely nothing to say about what role the senior executive bank strategy had in encouraging this behavior. The cross selling and ultimately the fraud on a grand scale. The bank's been fined 180 million dollars, which is a drop in the bucket. It has tens of billions of dollars of annual revenue, and this, you know, shows a pattern that we've seen since 2008.
LUCEWhere the fines that banks pay, in exchange for having no criminal liability, the fines that banks pay, you know, are a fraction, are so small that they're not going to actually deter a repetition of exactly the same behavior that led to the fines in the first place. One executive in a previous cross selling fraud scandal at Wells Fargo did resign or was retired. And he got his 100 million dollar payoff. He was head of retail. 100 million dollar payoff. So, it's, you know, it's hard to see that banks are going to recover their reputation.
LUCEI think John Stumpf has just done a huge disservice to those, those in the banking community who are trying to rehabilitate its reputation publicly.
WALTERWell, and Janet, is there anything that the folks on Capitol Hill can do? I mean, they can sort of try to shame and humiliate and, you know, continue to cross examine these bank executives, but is there anything that legislatively can be done for cases like this?
HOOKThere might be, but the shaming is really the main thing that they're trying to accomplish here. And actually, it was a real Elizabeth Warren moment, because she was grilling the CEO and saying why did you let this executive retire with this enormous pay package? And he said, that's a decision -- if we're going to, if we're going to take it back, it's a decision for the Board of Directors, the decision of the Board of Directors. And she said, but wait, you're the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
HOOKAnd so she kind of put the onus on him in a way that he was trying to back out of. It was also an Elizabeth Warren moment in that she is the godmother of the Consumer of Financial Protection Bureau, which is the agency that extracted this settlement from Wells Fargo about it. And in case anybody wondered why they established that agency, this was sort of a good illustration for her to be able to point to.
WALTERI'm Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report, sitting in for Diane Rehm. I want to take an email here from Austin from East Bend, North Carolina. And I think Austin really sums up what so many voters I talk to are saying to me about their choice in this election. Austin says I want to know how either candidate will bring this country back together, because all I see is if Trump or Clinton wins, the other side will do all they can to take control of Congress by either gerrymandering or some other strategy.
WALTERHow will America come back from this election if half the nation is against the other? I'm not a supporter of either, but I will vote for Clinton because I am in a battleground state. I'm afraid how me and my friends will be treated if we have a Trump president. And Phil Rucker, I want to get to the heart of that, which is no matter who wins, a whole bunch of people are going to be angry and a whole bunch of people are also going to say, well, even though my side won, I don't feel -- I feel like I lost.
RUCKERExactly. And that's a huge challenge for both of these candidates. And it's something that Hillary Clinton and her advisors are thinking a lot about. It's one of the reasons that she's out here trying to make an affirmative case for herself even if it's not breaking through entirely. But she's trying to build some popular support around her ideas. So that if she were to win the election, which polls suggest she is most likely to do, that it won't be seen as a lesser of two evils choice.
RUCKERThat she won't be President only because she was able to beat Donald Trump, but that there'll be some sort of mandate or support behind some of her ideas. And then the challenge, of course, is to deal with what we expect to be a Republican House.
WALTERYeah. And Janet, you cover Congress and have been up there for a long time. How likely is it that if Hillary Clinton does win, if there is a Republican House, that there's going to be cooperation? This idea about reaching across party lines that she discusses. Is that even realistic?
HOOKIt is very hard to imagine. I mean, I think Barack Obama became President with none of the baggage that Hillary Clinton has and she -- he had a very hard time dealing with a Republican controlled House. And the Republican Party now is defined even more clearly now than it was in 2009 as a Party that is oppositional. And going to -- has very little interest in cooperating with the Democratic Party. And I do think that, you know, there's some fantasy thinking that maybe the House will go Democratic
HOOKBut really, Hillary Clinton would have to live -- win by a landslide that doesn't seem to be in the offing. And now, even there's, you know, more question about whether the Democrats will take the Senate.
HOOKThere's some key Senate races that they have to win in Ohio, for example, and they thought they'd have a shot at Florida that just are farther out of reach than people were expecting.
WALTERAnd even if Democrats did take control of the Senate, it might be by a seat or two. This is obviously not a 60 seat majority.
HOOKRight. And one seat is better than...
HOOK...being in the minority.
HOOKBut we're just not looking at commanding Democratic majorities on the Hill.
WALTERSo Ed Luce, what does that say, not just about our ability to come together, but for anything to come out of Congress? We've heard the only thing that both sides seem to agree on in this election is that we need a big infrastructure spending. We need some sort of a tax reform that's going to bring money from overseas both to help pay for that, but maybe to do other things. Is this a realistic expectation that Americans could have that well, at least, once this election is over, everybody's going to agree that we're going to spend some money to do big infrastructure projects.
LUCEYou know, I shared -- I share Phil and Janet's skepticism on that. I mean, the -- I think that the 2020 campaign for the Republican nomination began in Cleveland when Ted Cruz stood up on the podium and said you should vote your consciences. That's already underway. Rubio, Kasich possibly, and Paul Ryan are all going to be jousting. And anybody who's seen to compromise with Hillary and to enable her to push some of her agenda through, even if it's supposedly bipartisan, like infrastructure spending, is going to handicap themselves in the race to appeal to the Republican base.
LUCEAnd if Trump does lose, Cruz has set himself up perfectly to say look, we chose a big spender with New York values. We chose somebody who isn't a true conservative. And so, we're going to get right back onto that Tea Party track we were on before Trump came along, but with a far more nativist sort of flavor. And so, you know, that does sound rather gloomy. But I think it's probably a realistic assessment that Janet and Philip made of Hillary's chances of getting stuff done.
WALTERSo Austin, the short answer, I'm sorry to say, is it's not going to get all that much better. We can always hope. Thank you Janet and Phil for joining me. I’m Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.
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