The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Guy Taylor, Washington Times;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, June 27, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of June 28-29, 2014

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: IRS Fireworks.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R-WI): This is not being forthcoming. This is being misleading again. This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial. I don't -- I don't believe you. This is incredible.

IRS COMMISSIONER JOHN KOSKINEN: I have a long career. That's the first time anybody has said they do not believe me. I'm --

REP. RYAN: I don't believe you.

(End videotaped segment.)

(Begin videotaped segment.)

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY (R-SC): You have said today that there's no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. And I'm asking you what criminal statutes you have reviewed to reach that conclusion.

MR. KOSKINEN: I reviewed no criminal statute.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appeared before two congressional committees this week and last to testify vital evidence in the probe of former IRS manager Lois Lerner and six other employees under investigation by Congress has been permanently destroyed.

In February, Commissioner Koskinen testified under oath that the IRS would turn over all of Lerner's emails to Congress, vital evidence. Five weeks later, Koskinen told the Treasury Department that Lerner's emails over a two-year period were lost in a computer crash. And in addition, the archived backups were, quote-unquote, "recycled," meaning gone, destroyed.

The missing emails covered communications to the Justice Department and other executive-branch agencies, including the White House. At this time Lerner was urging audits for tea party groups and fishing around for criminal-prosecution grounds.

The White House was informed of the missing emails in April. Koskinen withheld the information from Congress until after April -- namely, June the 16th, when Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and ranking Republican member Orrin Hatch asked Koskinen to legally certify that the IRS had turned over all relevant communications. The senators had asked Commissioner Koskinen to so attest as a prelude to closing the Senate probe into IRS harassment of conservative nonprofits.

Only at this point, the Wyden-Hatch legal certification, did Koskinen acknowledge Lerner's missing emails. He mentioned nothing, however, about the other six employees, who also suffered computer crashes that obliterated emails investigators were and are seeking. Koskinen said nothing about those lapses in the documentary record until pressed by the House Ways & Means Committee. According to Koskinen, the IRS has destroyed all the crashed hard drives by putting them in the recycling bin.

Question: Seven employees under investigation, seven hard-drive crashes, zero archival backup, all the hard drives now destroyed. What kind of a coincidence is that? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: Striking coincidence, John. Look, Ms. Lois Lerner has already taken the Fifth Amendment. The activity here they're investigating is the IRS going on a full-court press after all these little tea party groups, denying them basically their constitutional rights to participate in the democratic process.

It is worse than what Nixon allegedly did. Somebody said they're out to harass people by having audits of them. And this was an article of impeachment against Nixon.

John, this thing calls for -- it screams for an independent prosecutor to investigate this, the truth about it and the lies and who was behind it and what happened there. If, again, it were a Republican administration, the entire press corps would be all over it, the way they were all over the break-in at Watergate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that idea of an independent prosecutor?

ELEANOR CLIFT: Pat is still looking for payback from the Nixon era. There has been nothing to connect this to Barack Obama. That's the one big missing link here. And there's a lot of conflation of so- called facts. The Republicans claim they sent a letter about an investigation and then all these emails got destroyed. The letter was about a different investigation, not this one.
Twenty-four thousand emails have been recovered. So they haven't all been lost. And Mr. Koskinen is a -- he's the ultimate technocrat. He got us through Y2K. He's widely respected. And he wasn't even there when all of this happened. And the notion that he's orchestrating this big cover-up is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: -- ridiculous. I mean, the Republicans are getting nervous about going into November. They've got to rally their troops. "Obamacare" has lost some of its edge. And they're now trying to, you know, pump this up into a major scandal. If you can't connect it to the White House, you're not going to get people all worked up about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Koskinen's contributions. Since 1989, Commissioner Koskinen has given $80,000 plus to Democrats. Two years ago, he contributed $5,000 to candidate Obama's reelection drive. That was $80,000.

Question: Given this track record of financial support for Democrats, should Koskinen be judged as truly impartial? I ask you, Guy.

GUY TAYLOR: Look, it doesn't matter, John, whether he should or he shouldn't. This whole scandal is so jacked up on the steroids of politics that it's hard to tell what's actually happening. You can come at it from both sides.
One of the reasons, Eleanor, that the White House has not been connected with this is that a huge amount of data in the middle of the case appears to have been destroyed, possibly intentionally so.

On the other hand, if we slow this down from -- the Republicans in the House have gone nuts over it. This case involves also looking at liberal groups that might have been abusing their 501 status. So if we parse this down a little bit, it's entirely possible that the IRS had midlevel managers who were looking at trying to clean up the mess around the 501(c)(3) and (4) groups and political activity. But they're so inept, as the IRS notoriously is, that this thing has blown up in their faces politically.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that rendition? Do you think it was somewhat forced?

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Look, this thing does not pass the smell test. There's something that has gone on here. We don't know exactly what went on. So in that sense, given the stakes involved, given how important this can be, if there was real manipulation, then I think we have to have a further investigation.

You're going to get both sides arguing it in two different ways. We've got to find some independent way to find out what really happened to (all of this ?).

MS. CLIFT: Well, political groups, right or left, shouldn't be getting this huge tax break from the federal government. And they can easily fix that; go back to the original intent of that regulation. And portraying this --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- as going after all these little tea party groups --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they just were forming --

MS. CLIFT: This is Karl Rove and this is millions of dollars.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a violation of their constitutional rights. And the person responsible has taken the Fifth Amendment.


MR. BUCHANAN: Do you think somebody in the Nixon White House, whether any Republican administration, would get away with that? Everybody in this city would be screaming for an independent counsel --

MS. CLIFT: If this administration --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- if only to go after the folks in the IRS.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- hold on. Hold on. If the seven computer hard drives or the backup archives were deliberately destroyed to get rid of the emails, is it a criminal offense? I ask you.

MR. TAYLOR: Yeah, I think it is a criminal offense. It's like -- I mean, I appreciate that she pleaded the Fifth, but destroying evidence -- this is a good question. Is this actually a federal investigation that involves law enforcement, or is it a congressional investigation that's largely political? And if it's largely a political investigation and evidence was destroyed, that's not --

MR. BUCHANAN: It would be obstruction of justice.

MS. CLIFT: It's political, although --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, Pat, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It would be obstruction of justice --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- if it were a criminal investigation. But I think you've got a point. If they're just looking at all this stuff and people threw their files out before it was turned into a criminal investigation, that's a different matter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, the Los Angeles Times editorial board has called for an independent investigation of the IRS by an outsider with stature, not an independent counsel but an independent probe, if you can see any distinction there.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a good idea?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think some independent kind of review of this is absolutely essential, because if it gets caught up in the kind of politics that each side is going to sort of beat each -- beat the other with, it's just not going to really deal with what the issue is.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There is a real -- there is a real event here that took place that has to be properly explained. Maybe your version is right. Maybe the other version is right. We have to find out independently.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So do we want subpoena power? Do we want subpoena power --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for this gentleman --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or lady, whoever does the investigation?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: I believe there already has been an investigation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the power to prosecute -- and the power to prosecute wrongdoing.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going around the horn this way.

MS. CLIFT: There have already been investigations with the power of subpoena.


MS. CLIFT: And installing -- excuse me -- installing Mr. Koskinen in that job -- he came in with this revered background. He was seen as the person --


MS. CLIFT: -- who could clean it up. And now the House Republicans are --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, here's what you do.

MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If there are subpoena powers, then this prosecutor or this independent investigator will still be dependent on the IRS and Justice Department, but not in the same way.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As a matter of fact, he won't be dependent on them.

MR. BUCHANAN: An independent prosecutor, you walk -- after you get her testimony, you walk Lois Lerner into a grand jury and immunize her and say start talking.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's exit on that. Do you -- are you arguing for an independent --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's really essential. If it's only the IRS, OK, it's the IRS. We ought to see what went on in the IRS.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no, Eleanor -- do you favor one?

MS. CLIFT: Why don't you offer Lois Lerner immunity before a congressional committee and see what she has to say? I think her lawyer has been fishing for that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. TAYLOR: I think you have to get to the bottom of it with some kind of a report (at first ?), whether it goes to prosecution or --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With subpoena power.

MR. TAYLOR: With subpoena power that we can look at afterwards and say what actually happened here, regardless of politics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think this has gotten to the point where we really, as a country and as a government, should have a very clear review of this thing and a very clear investigation so that, whatever comes out, there is now no longer the kind of back and forth that one person and one side says about the other. I think that's -- this is really an important issue.

MR. TAYLOR: If you do have this report, then both sides will pick each other apart as to what this thing actually means.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes, there should be an independent counsel. He should have the power of subpoena and he should have the power to prosecute.

Pat, let me point out to you that this book by Patrick J. Buchanan, "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority," is a spellbinder.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, thank you very much, John. It's the story of Richard Nixon's comeback from two defeats of his own and the Goldwater disaster of 1964 --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great prose.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the history of that time of riots and revolution and war and assassinations to win the White House in 1968, which no one could have imagined or expected three years before.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hilarious in places.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's -- (laughs) -- he could be hilarious.

MS. CLIFT: Did you run it through you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I got through a couple of hundred pages last night and loved it. What you've done is you have skipped, in some places, the chapter format and you've gone into about 10 pages or eight pages of a certain subject that interests you or a certain occasion --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And those are gems. You know what I'm talking about?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, thanks. (When I was talking to Mort ?), one of the chapters, little chapters, is about Nixon and I traveling to the Middle East right after the Six-Day War. He was there when it started -- meeting Ben-Gurion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The two of you were on the plane together.

MR. BUCHANAN: Just the two of us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just the two of us.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He went right to sleep at the end of the day.

MR. BUCHANAN: He would go to sleep at the end of the day, and he'd set off his alarm. He had an alarm clock on his watch. He'd wake up and start writing notes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you put in the book that it amazed me how he could just fall asleep. Then you say about yourself I couldn't sleep at all.

Issue Two: Iraq War Bloat.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: (From videotape.) We've made it clear to everyone in the region that we don't need anything to take place that might exacerbate the sectarian divisions that are already at a heightened level of tension.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary of State John Kerry responded to a new concern about the war in Iraq. Syrian warplanes on Tuesday bombed positions inside Iraq held by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, that is not only fighting in Iraq, but also Syria.

To defend itself, Syria bombed ISIS within its own borders, and now within the borders of Iraq this week, in and around the town of Qaim, a border town in Iraq used by ISIS. ISIS wants to form a Sunni- dominant country under strict Islamic law. To accomplish that, ISIS already occupies about a third of Iraq and is battling the forces of Iraq's Shiite leader, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has formed a government, Shiite-dominated, that the Sunni population in Iraq resents.

John Kerry wants al-Maliki to form a new, more inclusive government in the hope it will ease sectarian tension and keep outside forces like Syria and Iran from filling any vacuum.

SEC. KERRY: (From videotape.) We want a government formation as rapidly as possible that represents unity for the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But al-Maliki is less than willing. Here's what he says about a multi-constituted government in the manner of the nation of Bosnia. Quote: "The call to form a national salvation government represents a coup against the constitution and the political process," unquote.

Question: President Obama has asked Congress for $500 million. Is that a good idea? And is he going to get it? I ask you, Guy.

MR. TAYLOR: I don't know if it's a good idea, because it's not entirely clear what this money is going to really go toward. If this is supposed to be a way to reach out to moderate Sunnis inside Syria and get them to fight against ISIL, this al-Qaida group that's spanning the border of Iraq and Syria, possibly.

But I really think the policy of the administration has been to try and trickle money into moderate opposition forces in Syria to fight against Bashar Assad, the Syrian president. And what's happened here is that Bashar Assad is actually fighting against the terrorists, or so he says. So this is -- I'm not sure that this does anything other than further confuse the administration's policy towards the region.

MS. CLIFT: Well, events have moved so far ahead of Obama's foreign policy. And we look at that region and we see Iran, Iraq and Syria. We see three countries. They look at it as an existential fight between Shiites and Sunnis. And so now you've got the Syrian air force going in and conducting the airstrikes that Maliki would like the U.S. government to do.

So, you know, there are no permanent alliances. There are permanent interests. And so we have interests now with people we would necessarily regard as our enemies. And so it's totally confusing. And I actually think the most courageous thing to do right now is nothing.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John, let me say, look, $500 million for training and arming rebels to overthrow a government -- first, I think it's a mistake to overthrow Assad because, quite frankly, he's on our side against the terrorists. But secondly, you can't do this without the authorization of the Congress of the United States.

Senator Tim Kaine has joined Rand Paul and said, look, this is a new war. The president's not authorized to take us into a new war in Iraq or in Syria. And to do that, you need a vote of the Congress. And they not only ought to have a vote; they ought to debate just what we're debating now. And we ought to ask, is it wise to go back in there militarily?


MS. CLIFT: Actually --

MR. TAYLOR: The people who are going to complain about that in Congress are the same people who said the administration should have been supporting the Free Syrian Army all along. And now he's finally making moves to --

MS. CLIFT: And the Bush --

MR. TAYLOR: -- (inaudible) -- now they're going to stand up and criticize him for it?

MS. CLIFT: And the Bush 2002 resolution legally still applies.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll repeat what I have said before on this show. This is a much more important struggle and confrontation than we're sort of talking about. It is really critical that we find a way to deal with Iraq, because it borders on, you know, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Our whole position in the Middle East is at stake here; never mind the oil world. It is critical that we find some --

MR. BUCHANAN: Can we put it together again?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know, but I wouldn't want to stop and not do anything --

MR. BUCHANAN: American troops should put it together?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I haven't gone that far yet, OK? But one of the things we have to do, if we have to get involved there and try and prevent this whole thing from unraveling, as it has been, without any of the kinds of things that we --

MR. TAYLOR: We're already involved there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's look at this from --

MR. TAYLOR: (We head up ?) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a more humanitarian --

MR. TAYLOR: -- an oil embargo against the Iranians globally while exploiting oil with ours and British and Chinese companies from southern Iraq. We've gone ahead and done both of those things. Who's ahead in that?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's --

MR. TAYLOR: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's talk about the people who are really suffering -- global refugee crisis.

ISIS fighters in Iraq are capturing cities and towns and spreading terror. The number of Iraqis who have fled their homes and left their belongings because of ISIS exceed a half-million people. An estimated 300,000 of these Iraqis have flooded northern Iraq, a region called Kurdistan.

Life is hard for the uprooted, living in makeshift tents under sweltering skies, no electricity for light, no gas for cooking. These people, whom the U.N. calls displaced persons, are adding to a shocking total worldwide that has risen to proportions not seen since the Second World War.

Get this: As of 2013, last year, according to the U.N., the number of refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers, totaled 51.2 million people, the first time that number has surpassed the 50 million total since, as noted, World War II.

ANTONIO GUTTERES (U.N. high commissioner for refugees): (From videotape.) It's because we are witnessing a multiplication of new conflicts in the world. And the global conflict generates global displacement. At the same time, old conflicts seem never to die.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Half of the world's refugees have fled three countries: Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. The countries that host the most refugees are under immense strain as humanitarian organizations struggle to provide a modicum of relief to the multitudes: Pakistan, 1.6 million refugees; Iran, 857,000 refugees; Lebanon, 856,000 refugees; Jordan, 642,000 refugees; and Turkey, 610,000 refugees. Another heartbreaking fact: Half of the world's refugees are children.

Question: Why is disorder and warfare escalating around the planet? Why has the refugee tragedy not been so high since World War II? Mort Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, in part because you have communities there that have the most limited kind of, shall we say, strength of place. I mean, they are completely vulnerable to these kinds of waves of attacks from either side. They don't know what to do. They have no way of defending themselves. There's no real law and order there. And therefore, this all accumulates. And we have a burgeoning human crisis and tragedy going on here.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you've got a sectarian war breaking out between Sunnis and Shia. The Christians are getting slaughtered over there. And it's going to broaden and widen. And it's very hard to see now how it's going to stop. I just don't think we're going to be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

MS. CLIFT: Well, in some cases these are fictional countries with borders that were drawn almost willy nilly a long time ago. And you've got a lot of sort of nationalistic fervor rising. Plus you don't have enough jobs, so you have a lot of young men who are, you know, creating problems and following extremist ideology.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Given the prevalence of war and chaos around the world, is it fair to conclude that President Obama has been a transformative president, but not in the way he intended? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, events are in the saddle and ride mankind, including Obama. He is not responsible for all of this. He is in power when it is all coming down.

MS. CLIFT: You can't lay this all at the feet of an American president. If we could rule the world in a humanitarian way, that would be great. But we've learned we can't do that.


MR. TAYLOR: John, Barack Obama was elected because the pendulum needed to swing back the other way. It has now swung a little too far the other way. There's a vacuum where there is not leadership in the world. That is exacerbating these problems.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I agree with the general sense that this is something that Obama, in a sense, happened to inherit on some level. But I will also say one thing about it. What he did with Syria so eroded the credibility of the United States and the role it's going to play in that region. That is something that has to be laid at his footsteps.

So I think that is something that we are going to have to live with, where we have much less credibility, and therefore we have to overreact in order to restore our credibility. And in terms of what's happening here, we simply can't let this kind of thing just run out of control.

MS. CLIFT: Mort, you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With regard to Syria, read Sy Hersh and his piece about a month ago on Syria in the London Review of Books. It's an eye opener -- an eye opener. And I think it would support your view that Syria is -- well, Syria, in point of fact, was innocent when those bombs were set off --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- killing those children.

MS. CLIFT: Mort -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Read Sy Hersh.

Issue Three: Putin the Peacenik.

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY: (From videotape.) Now we believe it is critical for President Putin to prove by his actions, not just his words, that he is indeed fully committed to peace. It is critical for him to stop the flow of weapons and fighters across the border, to call publicly for the separatists to lay down their arms, to pull Russian forces and equipment back, and to help get OSCE hostages released.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was the message on Ukraine from Secretary of State John Kerry to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin. But Mr. Putin is ahead of Mr. Kerry. Earlier this week, Putin called on Russia's parliament to rescind his authorization of the use of military force in Ukraine. Putin's conciliatory move came during a fragile cease-fire declared by Ukraine's new president, the chocolate oligarch, Petro Poroshenko.

On Wednesday, President Putin conferred by phone for more than one hour with Poroshenko and French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The four leaders discussed a mechanism for negotiations between pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and the Ukrainian government in Kiev.

Secretary Kerry warned that unless President Putin takes further steps to deescalate the crisis that began over Russia's annexation of Crimea, President Putin may face further economic sanctions.
Also on Friday, Ukraine's President Poroshenko signed a long- awaited trade deal with the European Union.

Question: Is this the light at the end of the tunnel? Are we firmly on the path to a negotiated resolution of the Ukraine crisis? Guy Taylor, in 25 words or less.

MR. TAYLOR: I think we're at the beginning of the end of the tunnel. But the Russians are still sending troops into eastern -- equipment into eastern Ukraine and massing equipment on the border. Twenty-seven words.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Russians are doing that?

MR. TAYLOR: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think Putin's (permitting that ?).

MR. TAYLOR: I think he is. On the border, he is. He's making conciliatory moves with the parliament and getting on the phone with other European leaders. But the State Department throughout this week has threatened more sanctions --


MR. TAYLOR: -- against Moscow specifically because of intelligence that the Russians --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were those threats superfluous in the light of the way he's been conducting himself for the last 10 days?

MR. TAYLOR: (A little ?).

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what's going to happen -- what Putin is doing is he's slicing the Europeans off from the Americans. And some of these Europeans aren't going to go with sanctions. I don't think Putin wants a conflict there.


MR. BUCHANAN: I think Luhansk and Donetsk, he's happy to keep them inside the Ukraine. But he is going to have a problem if Ukraine and Georgia and Moldova hook up with the European Union. I think he will protest that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. BUCHANAN: But I think he wants out of a military conflict.

MS. CLIFT: The Russian bear is climbing down. He doesn't want another round of sanctions. The administration doesn't trust him, so they're keeping the heat on. But it looks like the thing has been defused.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's more.

OK, Warsaw jitters.

Russia's annexation of Crimea has shaken the confidence of Eastern European allies in American defense pledges. Get this from a leaked recording of Poland's foreign minister, Radoslav Sikorski. Quote: "The Polish-American alliance isn't worth anything. It's detrimental, because it creates a false sense of security for Poland," unquote.

Question: How much credibility did America lose in the showdown with President Putin over Ukraine?

Do you (get the ?) question, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's Mort's turn.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you know, this is something that we've talked about before. The president's credibility in that part of the world, under these circumstances, is as low as it could be, like it or not, OK. Nobody believes he's going to do anything other than talk.

And this is a real problem for the United States. Nobody -- you know, as we say in a moment like this, our friends are worried about us and our enemies do not fear us. And that is a real problem for anything we want to do. There's no sense that there are going to be any consequences on the part of the Soviet -- on the part of Russia.

MS. CLIFT: You've had -- you've had the vice president over there reassuring them. If Putin goes into any of those countries in NATO, the U.S. will act, and will act militarily.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.

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