The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Policing and Race / Comey Statements on Clinton Investigation / ISIS Strength / Middle East Peace

John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Clarence Page, The Chicago Tribune
Tom Rogan, National Review/Opportunity Lives

Taped: Friday, July 8, 2016
Broadcast: Weekend of July 8-10, 2016

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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: No Justice, No Peace.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has been a vicious, calculated, and despicable attack on law enforcement. Police in Dallas were on duty doing their jobs, keeping people safe during peaceful protests.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer were killed Thursday night when a gunman ambushed them in downtown Dallas. Six other officers were shot and wounded. The officers had been providing security for a protest over the video that recorded police-involved deaths of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota this week.

President Obama expressed anger over those shootings, stating, quote, "speaking out about the issue is not an attack on police", end quote.

But FBI Director James Comey believes law enforcement officers are under siege.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.


MCLAUGHLIN: Is FBI Director Comey right?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: He’s talking about the Ferguson Effect, which is after Ferguson and the attacks on the police as racist, et cetera, they backed off tough policing, John, and crimes had really been at a spike.

But far more important here is what happened in Dallas, where those five policemen were murdered in a racist attack and the individual said he was killing them because they were white and because they were police. And it is an enormous atrocity and it follows -- and the president of the United States obviously condemned it. But the day before, there were two killings -- or this week, two killings of basically innocent black men who were armed but had committed no crime, and they were shot by police in incidents which are really being investigated, and rightly so.

But what I fear is going to come out of this is a massive polarization of the country. We’re going to have a full week, I think as we had after Orlando and that nightclub where that occurred. This is the worst slaughter of police officers in my memory, I think in my lifetime.

So, I think it’s going to polarize the country and I think President Obama is going to be on one side of it. And, frankly, the -- if you will, the conservatives and traditionalists and maybe the Trump folks are going to be on the other.

Trump hasn’t spoken as of now. But I don’t see how we’re going to get past a major blowup over this in this society.

ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: When you talk about the president being on one side of the other, I mean, how you divide the sides here? The police in Dallas were doing their job. They were protecting the protesters and the rightful -- what we all have, to protest.

So, I don’t think there are, you know, good people here and bad people. There’s somebody who seemed to take his dastardly emotions into his own hands. We’ll learn more about what’s happened in Dallas.

But I think when you heard the news out of Dallas and you heard Parkland Hospital, you thought 1963, President Kennedy’s assassination. And then, this year with the polarization, the country is already polarized. It feels a lot like 1968, where you had this sort of foreboding that what might happen next.

You correctly point out the two innocent black men were basically slaughtered in two American cities this week. And then you had people rightfully speaking out and expressing their anger. And so, that has to be dealt with as well.

And I think FBI Director Comey, the remarks that John just aired, go back to last October. A lot has happened even since then. But this is a time when the nation needs its leaders. We need to respect the FBI director and we need to respect our president, who will and should be speaking out about this.

TOM ROGAN, NATIONAL REVIEW/OPPORTUNITY LIVES: I think, you know, there are a few issues going on here. Obviously, you know, I speak to young black friends and there is this belief -- and perception in some sense drives reality in a democracy. But they worry about their interactions with police officers.

At the same time, however, if you look at the statistics, the 75 biggest counties in America, 15 percent black population, 62 percent robberies committed by black men predominantly, 45 percent assault, and 57 percent murder. So, there is a key problem in black communities in America.

What can we do immediately that I think can improve matters? Well, number one, we have those robust investigations of shootings that look very bad, but let the evidence play its course. Number two, immediately, and I think this should happen within a month, is that we have body cameras on police officers, so the interactions with members of the public are investigated and that people begin to feel that greater confidence.

CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, I agree with you on the body cameras, certainly and the promoting them.

Funny coincidence down there in that Louisiana episode, both body cameras fell off, conveniently so that they did not record anything. But it was outside, our cameras, that picked off on that horrible episode.

Also, President Obama, in his address from Warsaw, his remarks, talked about those statistics and pointed out that several studies have shown that black folks and Hispanics get more -- get heavier sentences for the same crimes. They get patrolled a lot more. They get stopped and frisked a lot more, et cetera, et cetera.

I can tell you --

ROGAN: That would correlate though --

PAGE: -- being a father of a young man in his 20s right now who when he was 7 wanted to be a police officer, and now, I have to talk to him about, look, all cops aren’t bad, because this is -- it’s not a perception for young black males. It’s the reality to be treated differently.

BUCHANAN: You mentioned stop and frisk and that’s correct. But the Hispanics commit violent crimes three times the rate of white Americans, and blacks commit violent crimes at seven times the rate of white Americans.

PAGE: Tell me about the income breakdown on that.

BUCHANAN: Well, listen --

PAGE: Because as you know, crime is committed by poor folks. It was a bigger proportion --

BUCHANAN: But the point is, there are more poor white folks in the country than there are total poor black folks.

But, Clarence, this is why. But I -- let me say this, I think the difference here is it was a strategy in those white cops. Neither of those went out that morning said, "I’m going to kill a black guy."

PAGE: Right.

BUCHANAN: They got in an encounter with the black guy, one of them said, "I’ve got a gun", this guy pulled it, and he shot him and killed him when he hadn’t pulled out the gun.

There’s a difference between a tragedy and an atrocity. And this atrocity is when that guy when up there with that rifle. He came into town and he came out to kill white cops, and he was inspired by Black Lives Matter and he killed five of them and he wounded six of them.

And I can tell you this --


CLIFT: OK. So, you talked about the two difference sides. You just expressed one side. You’re focusing on the -- you’re cherry-picking facts on one side.

You also have the governor of Minnesota who said, would that man had been shot in his car if he were white? Conversely, if that policeman were black, would he have shot a white passenger?

I mean, you can’t deny -- you can’t deny the racial disparities that are in this country. They are more visible now because of social media. And the woman who had the presence of mind to record that, it’s heartbreaking to listen to her grief.

But she sure did the right thing in accounting what happened to her beyond --


BUCHANAN: They’re going to be investigated. But I think you’ve got to agree, that cop did not go out that morning -- he went up there, he had a taillight knocked off --

PAGE: Pat, I agree with you. But --

BUCHANAN: The guy says, "I’ve got a gun", and he went --


BUCHANAN: That cop was screaming.

PAGE: The tragedy of that whole episode -- the tragedy of that episode, number one, nobody deserves to be killed for a broken taillight.

Number two, that police officer -- look at that video, that officer was completely freaked out. He was -- he was losing control, emotionally.

BUCHANAN: I agree.


PAGE: That leads to tragedy and that’s what happened.

Well, yes, but on camera, though, he was freaked out.

ROGAN: He was.

PAGE: And I talked to a couple of police officer, friends of mine, and they said, he shouldn’t have been on duty in condition like that.

And somebody like that, you take them off duty for at least a day or two because of --

BUCHANAN: You keep talking about a tragedy.

PAGE: Yes. It’s tragedy, right.

BUCHANAN: What happened in Dallas was not a tragedy. It was a cold --

PAGE: I’m not going to join you on blaming Black Lives Matter for all this, Pat. I mean, I’ve got my -- I’ve got my disagreement with Black Lives Matter, too, beginning with their name. But I’m not going to blame for those -- they’re not ISIS.

BUCHANAN: Here’s what they say, "What do you want -- what do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now."

PAGE: Some of them say that, yes.

BUCHANAN: They marched in New York saying that.

PAGE: That’s the problem. They’re a hashtag movement, like the Tea Party. They don’t have a leadership.

CLIFT: We all need to be mindful of our rhetoric.

And I must say, I’m grateful that Donald Trump put out a very graceful tweet, expressing his sympathy and canceled his campaign events. So, he did not jump on this and use this to exploit divisions in the country. And, you know, maybe that’s a small sign that our political leaders are going to lead us in the right way in the weeks and months ahead.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Clinton-Comey Campaign.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Attorney General Loretta Lynch this week accepted the FBI’s recommendation that Hillary Clinton not be charged with mishandling classified, and she closed the case.

Director Comey distanced himself from a recent meeting between AG Lynch and Bill Clinton, and criticized Mrs. Clinton and her staff as, quote/unquote, "extremely careless" for sending classified material over nongovernmental email servers.

But on the GOP side, the case is not over yet, calling congressional hearings and suggesting other sanctions against Clinton.


MCLAUGHLIN: Is Hillary home free? Clarence?

PAGE: No, she’s not home free, as along as Republicans are around who want to hang her up one way or the other. I think they’re going to go for contempt of Congress now, charging that she lied before Congress. But it will be something or other going after her.

And also, she’s -- her public relations image just suffered badly this week, after you’ve been called careless with national security. It’s an awkward position right before the convention, when you were to be nominated for president. But I suspect she will survive.

CLIFT: Oh, she will survive, more than survive.

The Republicans are now going to investigate the investigation. They’re going to investigate how the FBI director did his investigation. And if they want to get at Hillary, they have to go through James Comey, who is six-foot-eight. He’s a pillar of independence.

He’s a former Republican, now registered as an independent. You know, I think he did a good job. He said enough damning things about Hillary, that the Republicans should be satisfied with that.

Instead, they got to push it further, say as a presumptive Democratic nominee, she shouldn’t get security briefings. That is not going to happen, and they’re trying to impeach her before she even gets into the Oval Office.



BUCHANAN: Let me talk about Comey.

What Comey did, he said, I’m not going to recommend an -- not going to recommend an indictment or a prosecution. But what he did was devastating. Without saying Hillary Clinton was lying, he went out and made statement after statement after statement that she said that was flatly contradicted by the facts. He made the case if she were going to be indicted to convict her.

But then he said, and I think -- and I’m going to say this -- I think correctly. What he was saying, in fact, is I’m not going to decide this election by recommending an indictment, which would be the end of Hillary Clinton.


CLIFT: He went by the facts.

BUCHANAN: I’m going to let the people -- I’m going to let the people decide this election. You think, here’s the arguments, here’s the evidence, the American people, you decide.


CLIFT: He didn’t cop out. He went by the facts.

ROGAN: Jim Comey, he cannot, as a law enforcement officer, he has got to let -- prosecuting on the gross negligence charge, it requires a degree of malice intent under the law, under the precedents. But what he has said, pretty clearly, and you can see the disgust, is that Hillary Clinton -- and it is vested by the facts and the contradiction between what she said and what has been said by the FBI, is a pathological liar.

So, on one side, we have Hillary Clinton, a liar. On the other side, we have Donald Trump, the clown. And again, the American people will make that determination.

But I think, a special point here, two things, the Clinton Foundation, he didn’t say in the congressional testimony, he would not say whether there’s a separate corruption probe underway there. And secondly, if you look at what has happened with the Clinton security clearance issue, if she was a government employee, she would lose her clearance.

BUCHANAN: She would lose her job and lose her security clearance.

CLIFT: I didn’t hear a word about pathological liar. What I heard was "no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case. There is no evidence of obstruction of justice or lying to the FBI." These would be crimes. And I think he handled it --

ROGAN: But she lied to the American people.

CLIFT: He handled this appropriately, about careless use of emails.

ROGAN: Extremely careless.

CLIFT: Extremely careless. I mean, that’s like jaywalking compared to everything Donald Trump has put out there.


BUCHANAN: But what he said, but your conclusion from what he said was that Hillary has lied from beginning to end about this.

CLIFT: That’s your interpretation, Pat. That’s not what he said.

BUCHANAN: If she runs, a security risk is going to be running the Armed Forces of the United States.

CLIFT: You actually believe Hillary Clinton would be a security risk if she were in the White House?

BUCHANAN: I think she -- she doesn’t handle our secrets well.

CLIFT: Oh please.



CLIFT: She’s working -- she handles her secrets.

PAGE: That’s what got her into trouble here frankly.

ROGAN: John?

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s the point on Trump?

CLIFT: What’s the point on Trump? That the distrust of him and whether he is capable to be the president of the United States and lead this country is not high. And people are forced to choose between Trump and Hillary. As the president said, it’s chicken or fish. There’s no vegetarian option, unless you want to go for the libertarians. So, there actually is a libertarian option. But a lot of people are going to support Hillary because they cannot abide Donald Trump.

ROGAN: John --

PAGE: Speaking of lying, Donald Trump makes a hobby out of it. I mean, like part of his language when he gets up and speaks and the crowd seems to enjoy it. They know he’s lying.


ROGAN: I mean, it has entered the domain of the campaign now and that’s the opportunity of the American people to decide.

MCLAUGHLIN: It hangs on this exit question, my learned remark. Will Hillary Clinton be exonerated in the court of public opinion, yes or no?

BUCHANAN: No. There, she’s been convicted.


CLIFT: If you define exonerated by, she’s the likely next president, I will say yes.

ROGAN: I think she’s indicted as a liar, but she has been saved by the fact that prosecutors must only prosecuted where they have a confidence of reasonable doubt, you know, conviction. And he couldn’t do that.

PAGE: Yes, when you got a choice between being bad and worse, people will for bad. I think that’s what’s happening with Hillary Clinton.

ROGAN: What an optimistic statement.

PAGE: Hey, am I lying?

CLIFT: She’s a far greater --

PAGE: Am I lying?

ROGAN: No, you’re not.

PAGE: Thank you.

CLIFT: She’s a far better person and public servant than the remarks here would indicate.

PAGE: And better than Donald Trump. No question.

CLIFT: And a lot better than Donald Trump.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: ISIS Existential Fight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People came to buy clothes to celebrate Eid. Now, they’re buying coffins. They’re buying coffins. May God punish those who are responsible.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan ended, ISIS launched bloody attacks that killed 350 people across several countries: the U.S., Turkey, Iraq, Bangladesh and surprisingly, ISIS attacked Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Medina.

Still, some believe ISIS’s terrorism campaigns are less about the group’s power and more about its weakness. In recent months, ISIS has lost 45 percent of its territory in Iraq, 20 percent of its territory in Syria.

Now, it faces a loss of oil production revenues. So, ISIS leaders are slashing salaries for fighters, attacking their people, kidnapping, even from small ransoms.


MCLAUGHLIN: Is ISIS near defeat, Tom?

ROGAN: No, because they’ve moved towards a terrorist -- I’ve read a piece, three observations on the Baghdad bombings a couple of months ago, talking about how, under more pressure, territorially, yes, and -- you know, because we have special operations forces now taking that impact, the president took way too long to authorize that, but he has now, and good.

But the problem is this terrorism campaign. With the Europeans returning, the terrorism threat in Europe is very significant. And because their ISIS banner has so much credibility still, losers like Omar Mateen in Orlando are inspired to create those attacks.

And so, I think what we have to do is number one, things like al Qaim, which is the border crossing with Iraq and Syria, the Anbari tribes there. If we gave them arms to take that back, that would be positive. But the president won’t do that because he’s worried about upsetting the Iranians.

BUCHANAN: John, here’s what’s happening in Mosul and Raqqah: ISIS is being squeezed. It’s losing territory and it may be very well lose its caliphate over a period of time, but the disease has metastasized and it’s spread to various places. And what they’re doing now is very costly, pointed, lone wolf and wolf pack attacks in various places to ignite division and all the rest of it.

And you’ve got enough of these fighters around that I think these folks are going to be around visiting us in the West many, many years.

CLIFT: It doesn’t even have to be their fighters necessarily -- they’re imported to this country. As you pointed out, it’s the lone wolves and it’s people just trying to wrap themselves in the supposed glory.

And as long as they’re willing to kill innocent people in what we call soft targets, democracy is full of soft targets, it’s not hard to do, even what happened in Dallas, you get a long gun and you go on a rooftop, or you hide behind a pillar. Unfortunately, this country is susceptible to that. And in the past, things like this come typically in bursts, and maybe they kind of burn out. But I think this is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.

It’s terrifying. And again, we need to hear from our leaders to help us put this in perspective.

PAGE: Yes, President Obama didn’t use the term long hard slog back when he described this current strategy. But he did say it’s going to take a long time.

CLIFT: That was Rumsfeld, wasn’t it?

PAGE: That was Rumsfeld in Iraq.

CLIFT: Right.

PAGE: But it is the same kind of strategy.

Now, in terms of, it’s going to be a long game, not a short one. But we can see, 40 percent of ISIS territory lost already, they gained at a time when they were getting virtually no resistance and just rolled through blitzkrieg style. They are being pushed back. That’s why they are touching off other explosions around that region and around the planet for that matter if they can.

But I think we still got to after the head of the snake, though, because then, you won’t even have the inspiration for attacks like we saw here in Florida and in California.

CLIFT: You have to make them look like losers.

PAGE: Yes, losers, yes. Exactly.

BUCHANAN: And if they lose the caliphate, they will.

MCLAUGHLIN: This is a sharp question for you. This is issue -- is ISIS, excuse me, on the defensive or offensive in Iraq?


BUCHANAN: It’s on the defensive in Iraq. It’s lost Ramadi and it’s lost Fallujah. But it has counterattacked in various places against American-backed rebels and things.

But I think -- I mean, if -- I think if they get the act together, folks get the act together, I think Mosul will eventually fall and I think the caliphate is going to fall, and that will remove the center and the cause. But I still think the metastasized elements -- we’re going to see them a long time.

CLIFT: Right.

ROGAN: I closely agree with Pat on that. I just worry about the European cells. That’s a big problem but --

PAGE: Yes, the call from central leadership.

MCLAUGHLIN: No, the answer to the question is that, the Ramadan terrorist attacks by ISIS are a sign of strength or weakness, to that question. The answer is neither. They are a sign of evolving tactics and an adaptive enemy as ISIS adjusts to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Issue Four: A New Wall, New Floor, New Attitude.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We’re going to take the necessary steps to attack the attackers and to defend those who need to be defended.

MCLAUGHLIN: Israel is preparing to build a $600 million, 40-mile long concrete underground wall. The new wall will surround the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip and it’s designed to stop terrorist infiltration through tunnels.

Also this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to the African nations of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, offering arms sales and counterterrorism advice. In return, Mr. Netanyahu wants these nations to give Israel greater diplomatic support at the U.N.

Mr. Netanyahu is also boosting funding for Israeli settlers on the Palestinian-owned West Bank, considered illegal under international law. And note this, international donors are working with Israel and Palestinians on a proposal to construct a $5 billion island off the Gaza coast. The idea is that the island will provide the locale for an airport, hotel and seaport that would attract economic investment for Palestinians in Gaza.


MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What should we expect from the Quartet, the latest Middle East peace initiative? Clarence?

PAGE: Well, I don’t expect much, but I’m fascinated by this idea of the island, though, because this would be a public/private partisanship to generate some independent economic development for Gaza, and get in the long run what Netanyahu really wants, which is contentment with the status quo, continuing to build more settlements in the West Bank, and Gaza continues to be a problem on every level.

And I think this is -- this fits in with his agenda, but not necessarily the rest of the Quartet wants, you know, the U.S., Russia and the European Union. So, we’ll see.


BUCHANAN: I don’t expect anything, John, for this reason that -- look, whatever the Europeans want, the French are in the lead. They like to get a two-state solution. But the Americans will back the Israelis and Bibi Netanyahu is never going to uproot tens or scores of thousands of Israelis from the West Bank when he opposed withdrawing from Gaza a number of years ago.

So, I think we’re just spinning our wheels, quite frankly. And until the Americans -- or if the Americans get behind forcing something and I’m not sure they can even do that, I don’t think Benjamin Netanyahu in this hard right wing government he’s got is going to give up anything.

CLIFT: Yes, I agree. And the Quartet supposedly was working on their plans since February. I didn’t see one innovative idea in there. They’re basically on the Israelis to stop the settlement expansion, which Netanyahu is not going to do.

And they call upon the Palestinians to rein in terrorism, which the leadership there may be trying to do, but it’s very difficult, given the lack of opportunities. When you look at that map and you see how tiny Gaza is and they’re basically trapped in there without any economic opportunity.

That’s why I agree with Clarence, that that island, if I believe that was truly an idea that might happen, that’s the best thing to come out of this.

ROGAN: And that is one positive in a sea of -- well, bad situations, in the sense of the West Bank settlement construction, Gaza continuing suffering there, I think the wall is a positive in security, but the Gaza island would be positive, because a lot of Europeans, for example, would travel there in order to support the Palestinian economy.

So, if you have a relatively nice hotel, you can incentivize that and it moves things forwards. But I think, you know, Netanyahu’s cabinet, because of the deal he has now with an even more right -- he’s the moderate in the government. The potential for peace in this, it’s not going to happen.

MCLAUGHLIN: So, would you invest in a luxury resort off the coast of Gaza?


CLIFT: I’m going to see if Donald Trump is investing.

PAGE: Yes, right.

CLIFT: So, follow the money.

BUCHANAN: Trump Hotel there.

Look, John --


BUCHANAN: -- an airport in Gaza, I believe, why don’t they just open that up?

MCLAUGHLIN: Why did Yasser Arafat make an historic mistake in rejecting a two-state agreement under the Oslo Accords?

BUCHANAN: That’s very much in dispute as to how much he rejected, how much he was offered. But it’s at the end of Ehud Barak’s term. I think it was the end of Bill Clinton’s term.

CLIFT: And Clinton.

BUCHANAN: But they say he rejected, and they say, well, he would never have accepted something, but I don’t know whether he got an offer.

ROGAN: He was weak and corrupt I think. He didn’t want to --

PAGE: He didn’t even to want to negotiate, though. I mean, he was getting about 95 percent of what he’d been asking for.

ROGAN: Clinton and Barak did a great job I think with that deal and he blew it for the Palestinians. Abbas I think would have signed it.


BUCHANAN: -- Israelis offer it again.

MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes. It will be at least another generation, maybe two, before the two sides are ready to agree on peace again.

Forced prediction, will Interior Minister Theresa May be Britain’s next prime minister? Yes or no, Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN: Yes, despite what Tom thinks.


CLIFT: Yes. She’ll be the next Margaret Thatcher.

ROGAN: No, I think Andrea Leadsom because of her support in the domestic constituencies.

PAGE: I think yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with you. I think she’ll be Britain’s first female prime minister since Margaret Thatcher.