The McLaughlin Group
Issues: Global Political Attitudes / China’s Currency Manipulation / Clinton College Plan / US Use of Nuclear Weapons in World War II
John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author & Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Tom Rogan, National Review/Daily Telegraph
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
Taped: Friday, August 14, 2015
Broadcast: Weekend of August 14-16, 2015
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ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: The New Zeitgeist.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so, as the mainstream parties in Europe lose popular support over the financial crisis, it was inevitable that political options outside the traditional elites would rise as a result. The French election is one of what will likely develop into several examples of the euro-skeptic message gaining appeal among those disillusioned with the traditional European system.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Disillusionment with traditional political parties and politicians is a worldwide phenomenon. In the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression, voters in democracies as far-flung as India and Denmark have been in an anti-incumbent mood. And the U.S. is no exception.
Donald Trump’s meteoric rise on a platform of economic nationalism is the latest manifestation of voter frustration with political insiders. According a recent Monmouth University poll, 68 percent of voters say they would not elect Barack Obama to a third term.
From Spain’s Podemos movement to Denmark’s Danish People’s Party, political outsiders on the left and on the right are taking power from mainstream political parties. In the European Union’s parliamentary elections last year, almost 25 percent of the seats were won by anti-E.U. parties which favor economic nationalism, placing their own country first over common European Union interests.
The new world’s zeitgeist is that globalism is out. Populism and nationalism are in.
In addition to the United States, over the coming 12 months, important elections will be held -- in the United Kingdom, in Spain, in Portugal and in Ireland. Collectively, they will determine whether the world retreats from the global economic and political integration that has characterized the past 25 years.
MCLAUGHLIN: Is this phenomenon true across the developed world?
PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: It certainly is, John. First, what Donald Trump represents, more than ideology or politics left or right, is anti-establishment, anti-elite, anti-Washington, overthrow the system that has failed.
And in Europe as well, you see the European euro-skeptic parties, they want to get rid of the big central government of the European Union. Some of them want to break away. Scotland wants to break away. And then you got, Catalonia wants to break away from Madrid.
So, this is a force -- economic nationalism, John. It’s tribalism, economic populism, ethno-nationalism. These are the forces -- really, it’s not simply Europe either or the United States. It’s all over the world that these forces are becoming predominant. Centralism is in retreat.
MCLAUGHLIN: Is this phenomenon bigger than a rejection of mainstream political party? Is it a rejection of globalism, with its cross-border trade and outsourcing of jobs that enriches the global elite, Eleanor Clift?
ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: I just think all these fancy words are putting lipstick on a pig.
CLIFT: I think Donald Trump is basically a jingoistic know-nothing who talks as though there are really simple solutions for all these complicated problems. You know, get me in the ring with the Chinese.
If there is one analogy, I think it’s in the U.K., and I think it’s Jeremy Corbyn, who -- a 30-year, you know, veteran of the parliament and he’s suddenly taken off with the positions very similar to that of Bernie Sanders.
I do think there’s the rise of the have-nots around the world. In every country, you do have a small elite that does very well, and everybody else gets left behind, and I think that’s finding its political voice in Europe and throughout the world.
But I don’t think this is Trumpism going global.
MCLAUGHLIN: Why have mainstream political parties been slow in responding to the angst many citizens feel in the aftermath of the Great Recession?
TOM ROGAN, NATIONAL REVIEW/DAILY TELEGRAPH: Well, I think -- I think partly because the people, at the political level, were somewhat unaware of that actually grassroots passion and feeling. And I think you see, actually – Pat’s piece today, talking about some in the Republican Party now who are trying to push Trump out. I think that’s the worst possible thing you could do.
As someone who is not a Trump man by any estimation, what we need to be doing, as conservatives, with Trump is challenging him on the point to where we disagree. But actually understanding that, yes, if you have a party where people are very concerned at our immigration, then at least talk about immigration and offer your own solutions, which I think is happening. Pat would perhaps say it isn’t, but --
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, well, we appreciate the anxiety your bringing to this message, but --
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: It’s excitement, John. It’s excitement.
MCLAUGHLIN: Don’t think you’ve persuaded me.
The median income for the Washington -- get a load of this -- the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is now over $90,000, the highest in the country. Does that help explain why the political class is insulated from the economic pain most Americans still feel? Clarence Page?
PAGE: To some degree, yes, but I mean, income is a reflection of the education level around the Washington, D.C. area. This is a white collar area. This is not a factory town.
But I think the -- I’m really wondering how much of this can be explain by the fact that it’s August. Now, this is not a time -- August, in off-year, when people -- most people are sane enough to have other things to think about in August, besides politics.
The Trump folks, those I’ve talked to and I bump into them everywhere. I bumped into a security guard last night who said, well, Donald Trump really tells the truth.
And that was the big thing --
MCLAUGHLIN: Were you baiting him? Were you baiting him?
PAGE: I said, I said, are you going to vote for him? And he said, well, I don’t know. But he really tells the truth.
MCLAUGHLIN: You said or he said?
PAGE: He said that, yes.
CLIFT: That’s how --
PAGE: And the fact that he doesn’t tell the truth, the things the guy quoted were patently false, but they sounded good.
MCLAUGHLIN: OK. Hold on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): A new CNN/ORC poll of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa puts Donald Trump in first place with 22 percent. The poll also shows Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, in second place, with 14 percent, and Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, in third place with 9 percent.
And get this: the poll suggests Mr. Trump has a 35 percent lead as the candidate most likely to change Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: They’re both GOP outsiders, and what does that tell you about --
BUCHANAN: Well, you get Carson. Carson is an outsider. Fiorina is an outsider -- Carly Fiorina. I think Cruz to a degree is an outsider and Trump is an outsider.
Let me say on Eleanor’s point, Bernie Sanders and that fellow in Britain -0-0 that is a different kind of economic populism, let’s bring down the rich, et cetera.
Trump is wiring in to immigration, the change and alteration of society. Our Census Bureau, John, says we got 42 million immigrants in the country. People are wondering, why are all these folks coming, they’re driving down wages, who’s doing this?
And what they’re against, frankly, is the elites of this country who are basically backed by the corporatists --
CLIFT: I’m sorry.
BUCHANAN: -- backed by the money power.
CLIFT: Running on anti-immigration, the dark underbelly of nativist politics is not -- is not how you win an election in this country. I believe you need to be optimistic and not optimistic about how you’re going to drive out all the immigrants.
BUCHANAN: Trump is winnning -- Trump has plugged in to this concern about wide open borders. It’s all over Europe as well. It’s nothing illegitimate.
CLIFT: But he’s not running in Europe.
PAGE: But Trump has left fewer answers than you did, Pat, when you were running on the same issues, you know? This is a part of --
PAGE: -- because, you know, you can exploit --
BUCHANAN: Do you think people have the right to be concerned about this?
PAGE: No, people have a right to an answer, to some solutions, some suggestions. Trump has no position papers. No policy speeches.
BUCHANAN: What is your solution?
PAGE: Well, let him present – he’s made the issue --
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait --
PAGE: Let’s have a serious debate about immigration. I agree. We need a serious program, comprehensive immigration reform. We’re nowhere near that. But we got plenty people like Trump who are ready to exploit to issue.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. Well, I’m going to answer my own question. Are economic nationalism and populism the new world zeitgeist? Are they the driving force behind the rise of outsider candidates like Donald Trump in the U.S. and Nigel Farage in the U.K.?
Answer: Voters around the world are dissatisfied with how mainstream political parties and career politicians have handled the Great Recession and its after-effects. They are in an anti-establishment mood and are turning to political outsiders and fringe parties.
So, it’s as simple as all that.
BUCHANAN: It’s not only economics. Sanders is economics, I agree.
But Trump is not. Immigration is not simply economics. It’s about culture. It’s about changing the composition of a country against the will of the people.
PAGE: Nobody is talking about stopping all immigration. Except maybe you are, Pat.
MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, hold on.
ROGAN: There is a difference though -- and we have to be aware of this -- between the populist element. It’s not -- there is a middle ground in the sense that it is not just sort of fanatical racists on one side and, you know, people on the other.
There is a medium ground where people are concerned. U.K. Independence Party in the U.K. blurring people from left and right. Trump to a degree doing that.
ROGAN: Republicans have to be astute to that. But also have to challenge it where we disagree.
CLIFT: Tom is --
ROGAN: But one final point --
CLIFT: Tom --
ROGAN: Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. is, you know, there is an -- the Golden Dawn in Greece is a good example of where it is.
BUCHANAN: That’s right.
ROGAN: And they are neo-Nazis. But they’re not -- you know, they’re not -- there’s a big difference between them and Pat.
CLIFT: Trump is tapping into a portion --
MCLAUGHLIN: Let Pat in.
BUCHANAN: Look, the Swiss people voted to basically get out of the Schengen Agreement and to seal their borders. People don’t want their countries overrun by people from abroad, foreigners.
CLIFT: Pat, Pat, Pat --
BUCHANAN: Some people, I know you like it --
CLIFT: The rising American electorate is young people. It’s minorities.
BUCHANAN: Are you saying we’re going to lose? We may. But I’m telling you what is.
CLIFT: And Trump is responding to a quarter of the Republican Party that you are giving voice to, but that is not America.
BUCHANAN: But, no, it seems to be the Republican Party right now.
MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether this phenomenon of economic nationalism and populism true across the developed world.
The answer is: the political consensus of the past 25 years was the greater trade and more economic integration would deliver prosperity. But instead, the incorporation of hundreds of millions of low paid laborers into the world economy scores of millions of jobs in the developed world, lower and middle class voters across the developed world are in slow motion revolt. True or false? True or false?
ROGAN: Look at Vietnam. Globalization in the long term and capitalism has done more for human good than any other ideology by a long way. But there are costs to it. We have to be astute to that. That’s why you need education programs --
MCLAUGHLIN: You’re talking about one country, Vietnam. I’m talking about --
ROGAN: I’m talking about the world.
MCLAUGHLIN: -- what we are seeing in the United States is being seen worldwide.
BUCHANAN: Why are the American people -- look, NAFTA is despised in Ohio, working people who have been shafted by these deals that send jobs to China. Look, China devalues its currency, this place went wild.
CLIFT: The promise of trade was way oversold and politicians actually from Richard Nixon onward are very adept at playing on people’s grievances, and that is what Donald Trump is doing today and he’s being very successful in August of the year before the election.
BUCHANAN: The grievances are legitimate.
CLIFT: I’m not saying they’re illegitimate. But I don’t hear any solutions that make any sense.
MCLAUGHLIN: This segment of the program will be deciphered by the audience.
BUCHANAN: Issue Two: China Declares Currency War.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you have to do something to rein in China. They devalued their currency today. They’re making it absolutely impossible for the United States to compete.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): China’s communist government abruptly devalued its currency this week. In a move to boost its exports, at the expense of its trading partners, particularly the United States and the European Union. By weakening the yuan, Chinese imports become cheaper in the U.S. and Europe, thereby strengthening Chinese manufacturing and hurting American companies.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 214 points as stock markets around the fell in response to the devaluation. Beijing’s decision to cut the yuan’s value comes amid growing economic chaos at home. China’s growth rate has fallen precipitously over the past year, and its stock market has dropped 24 percent, despite Beijing’s frantic efforts to prop it up.
The sudden policy shift could not come at the worse time for the Obama administration. President Obama’s efforts to complete the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact depend on thwarting congressional demands to include rules that bar currency manipulation.
But China’s devaluation now puts pressure on prospective TPP partners such as South Korea, Japan and other nations of Asia to follow suit with their own devaluation. A general currency war would undermine the benefits of the Trans Pacific Partnership and global trade, dampen the economic growth in the United States and give rise to protectionist pressures around the world.
Also, next month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet with President Obama in Washington for a formal summit.
MCLAUGHLIN: Great video, Shelly.
Question: What will President Obama do in response to China’s currency manipulation? I ask you.
PAGE: I expect a wait and see attitude, John, because the real thing that China’s leaders are afraid of is their own people, especially young people in their country who have been investing in the stock market and expecting it to always keep going up, and they were surprised. Stock markets go down sometimes.
And this is the kind of -- this has caused a remarkable panic over there among a lot of people who have sunk too much for their savings into the market. The government is very much concerned about that kind of anxiety could lead to street protests and the kind of Tiananmen resistance again.
So, that’s China’s primary concern. And I think the U.S. has to know how to --
PAGE: How to hold back at the --
CLIFT: The answer is Obama is going to do nothing because -- the Chinese economy is deflating right now. They’re going through in effect what we went through in ’08 and ’09. It’s in the stock market. It’s affecting real estate, banking. And the leaders over there are frantically trying to do everything they can to stabilize things and they’re struggling.
CLIFT: So, there’s not really a role for the U.S. right now.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well --
BUCHANAN: Well, the U.S. could -- I mean, look, if they devalue 2 percent or 4 percent, all you’ve got to is put 2 percent to 4 percent on their goods, you take away the benefit of that.
But we won’t do that because that would be the beginning of economic nationalism where we start looking out for America rather than China.
But I do agree with both of you. I think China is in very grave condition. They are crushing dissent. They got corruption all shut through that place, a communist party, its basic legitimacy rests on the old world revolution that doesn’t exist. And they fail at what they’re doing, what is the argument for maintaining the communist party’s monopoly of power?
That is what Xi Jinping is at bottom worried about.
ROGAN: China has a profound advantage in one way though that with their alignment of finances with the Asian Investment Bank, a struggling TPP, their ability, successfully so far, to overwhelm the Obama administration’s foreign policy with this island construction which is a profound challenge to nations, to new American allies, like Vietnam --
BUCHANAN: But, Tom --
ROGAN: But one thing, though, that China has an issue in the economics in the sense that divorce between rural and urban -- urban wealth and rural poverty. But also, you know, there are major structural deficiencies and this is going -- they’re being undercut with wage growth. Their wages are too high versus Vietnam.
BUCHANAN: They’re feared and disliked by almost all of their neighbors.
BUCHANAN: We are not.
ROGAN: We should take advantage of that.
MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Now, listen to this -- how likely is it that Japan and South Korea will follow China’s lead and devalue their currency?
The answer is, they’ll watch how Obama handles China and hope that the yuan’s slide stops or is reversed.
BUCHANAN: The Japanese --
MCLAUGHLIN: But if Obama can’t get China to change course, South Korea and Japan will have to devalue -- to devalue. Otherwise, they lose market share to Chinese competitors.
BUCHANAN: Japan has been slowly devaluing its currency to increase its exports into the United States. They play these games, manipulate their currencies. That’s why the United States has gotten its clock cleaned --
CLIFT: And it’s an argument --
BUCHANAN: -- and that’s why Donald Trump is being listened to.
CLIFT: It’s an argument for the trade pact, because you’re looking at this behemoth of China. And so, we got to have some alliance that’s competitive with it.
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Apple --
CLIFT: You won’t argue that.
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Yum Brands are going to be hurt by seeing their earnings devalue?
BUCHANAN: John, a lot of them -- I know who’s going to benefit. American companies who located factories in China love it if they devalue, because they can sell back to the United States.
CLIFT: But Donald is going to bring them back, Pat. You forget.
MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Hillary’s College Plan.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe this will save thousands of dollars for many students and it will also mean that more money will be freed up for these young people and their families to do other things with it.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Hillary Clinton says that if she’s elected president of the United States 15 months from now, she’ll help students graduate from college with lower debts. Her plan will cost $350 billion over 10 years, $35 billion a year.
First, refinancing. The plan will allow students to refinance loans at lower interest rates.
Second, $200 billion in federal grants to states that provide, quote-unquote, "no loan" four-year degrees at public colleges and free two-year degrees community colleges.
Third, capping loan repayments at 10 percent of a graduate’s annual income.
Fourth, unpaid debts will be forgiven after 20 years.
Spendthrift liberal advocacy groups are praising Mrs. Clinton’s plan.
But parsimonious Republicans are critical. They say the plan is paid for by higher earners, who won’t get deductions on their taxes.
Also, charities and other philanthropic groups that rely on those deductions will be hurt.
Candidate Clinton should go elsewhere if she seeks to snatch the mantle of economic progressive populism from her Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders. But she’s on her way. Just last month, Mrs. Clinton announced she would protect union organizing rights.
CLINTON: It’s time to stand up to efforts across our country to undermine worker bargaining power, which has been proven again and again to drive up wages. Republican governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights. And practically all the Republican candidates hope to do the same as president. I will fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks.
MCLAUGHLIN: How likely is it that Hillary Clinton can finance her $350 billion college spending program by closing deductions for the wealthy?
CLIFT: She has a credible plan here, and if she is elected, this would be as important to the country and to her legacy as President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. College affordability is a huge issue, substantively and also politically. It’s the kind of issue that will get people to the polls and will get those millennials to the polls to vote for her. And she’s going to put pressure on the Republicans to come up with some credible plans as well.
This is a -- this is very good move.
BUCHANAN: Will President Clinton ram it right through the Republican House?
BUCHANAN: Come on, Eleanor! This is DOA. It changed the subject --
CLIFT: Not necessarily.
BUCHANAN: -- from the server and the classified documents.
PAGE: That’s OK.
BUCHANAN: And the classified documents, John.
PAGE: It doesn’t hurt her incentives at all.
BUCHANAN: Hillary’s got a terrible political problem with the server and the classified documents. Let’s give $350 billion bailout to --
MCLAUGHLIN: Forget about the servers.
PAGE: Pat, what matters here is the optics. You know, people who care about those college loans, young people and their parents, love this idea. And so what if does die? Then, people will say, OK, who was fighting on my side and who wasn’t? That’s what’s really important here.
ROGAN: What I would say is that it’s just the expansion of the state extensive subsidies. It’s not going to address, there’s some little tacit things in there, but it’s not going to address the inflation.
CLIFT: There are strings attached --
ROGAN: What we should be focusing on are community colleges, expanding opportunity there, and technical schools --
CLIFT: She already does that. She does that. Obama does that. That’s not new.
ROGAN: But why isn’t she allowing more competition for federal funds for online training programs?
CLIFT: Excuse me, there are --
ROGAN: It’s good to be a plumber and electrician. Too many people are going to college.
CLIFT: Hold on. This is public universities, public colleges. States would get money only if they keep tuition down, and if people gradate.
ROGAN: That’s not true. I doubt that’s --
CLIFT: There are strings attached and it would end the scam where kids get Pell Grants --
CLIFT: -- and they just raise the tuition at the colleges and colleges scoop up that money.
ROGAN: They should be an income-based repayment. That’s --
MCLAUGHLIN: Don’t interrupt, Eleanor.
CLIFT: Structural reallocation of federal money. It’s a good idea.
MCLAUGHLIN: She won’t have the support in Congress. You know that.
MCLAUGHLIN: To find the money, she’ll have to raise taxes or limit deductions for the middle class. That’s going to --
CLIFT: Deductions for the middle class, I didn’t hear that.
BUCHANAN: The rich are going to pay, Clarence. Don’t worry about it.
PAGE: The rich are going to pay. That’s the idea. Right.
MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Seventy Years Later.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): August 9th, 1945, 70 years ago, Sunday, an American atomic bomb detonated over the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Between 40,000 and 80,000 people were killed. Three days prior, on August 6th, 1945, another American atomic bomb had been dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 90,000 to 170,000 people.
Most historians believe that these atomic bombs forced the Japanese government to quickly and unconditionally surrender on August 14th, 1945, without the need for an American invasion.
Other scholars disagree. They argue Japan would have surrendered by the end of 1945 anyway. Whatever.
Here’s supreme allied commander, General Douglas MacArthur, accepting Japan’s formal surrender.
GEN. DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed.
MCLAUGHLIN: Now, in 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to change Japan’s pacifist constitution so that it can support an ally like the United States, if that ally is attacked by another power.
But to some, like Nagasaki’s mayor, Prime Minister Abe is making a grave error.
TOMIHISA TAUE, NAGASAKI’S MAYOR (through translator): There’s a growing worry that our resolve from 70 years ago, the ideal of peace written in our constitution, is starting to waver. I ask the government and parliament, listen to the worries and concerns of the people.
MCLAUGHLIN: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this weekend extended heartfelt -- quote-unquote, "heartfelt apologies" for World War II, and that Japan’s view of this will remain unshakeable on the 70th anniversary of the country’s surrender. He expressed profound grief for all who perished in the war and acknowledged that Japan inflicted, quote-unquote, "immeasurable damage and suffering", unquote, on innocent people.
Quote, "On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all of those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal sincere condolences", Abe said.
Question: How should history judge America’s use of the atomic war in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
BUCHANAN: I think history is -- the historians are deeply divided. History is an argument that never ends. I had four uncles, my mother’s younger brothers, who had fought in Europe and the Atlantic and they are headed for Japan. And a lot of those guys headed there thought they were never coming home, but they had to invade. Tens of thousands or scores of thousands, some say hundreds of thousands would have died.
But it still raises a moral question, John. Are you allowed to deliberately massacre and murder hundreds of thousands of women and children to force a nation to surrender, when many say, Tokyo, the emperor wanted to surrender in February and they wanted to surrender, and you could have won the war by blockading the islands and just stifling the place.
MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is: the end does not justify the means.
ROGAN: I think it does.
BUCHANAN: What justifies the means then?
CLIFT: Well, first, it took two bombs. They didn’t surrender after the first bomb and there was that time there, and they didn’t.
Second of all, if you were the commander-in-chief in the White House and you were looking at the loss of life, I think it’s a justifiable decision. My oldest brother was a 19-year-old on a troop ship heading for Asia. They literally turned that ship around. They would have all been heading to their graves.
Now, you trade that group of lives for another group of lives. These are moral ambiguities that everybody is going to bring their own particular biases too. But I must say, Harry Truman has not really suffered in the history books. So --
PAGE: Your brother may have been on the same ship with a couple of friends of mine who also turned around.
This is the thing -- there are strong moral questions here, endless arguments. There’s also the basic fundamental and political question that leaders must face, that they’re going to answer much more harshly or receive much more harsh criticism for allowing deaths on their own side as opposed to many deaths on the other side.
ROGAN: My grandfather was an Okinawa field lineman. He was going to go on Coronet, which is the second landing on the Tokyo approach. And I did a piece this week, he probably would have died.
But, look, I think Truman made the right decision. I think Eleanor is absolutely right. I think the proof of that is in the interim period between Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese (INAUDIBLE). The army wanted everyone to die essentially in total resistance when the invasion forces came on.
And so, I think it was the right thing to do. But again, a profoundly moral question.
MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary Clinton will have her security clearance lifted, yes or no?
MCLAUGHLIN: Answer: Yes.