The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Russian DNC Hack / Equal Pay Issues / NATO Baltic Deployment / Venezuela Situation

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, June 24, 2016
Broadcast: Weekend of June 24-26, 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: Hacking the Election.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): OK, get this -- the Russian government has hacked into the database of the Democratic National Committee and seized emails and opposition research on Republican presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Why is the Russian government so interested in Mr. Trump, and in Democratic Party preparations against him?

And here’s another cyberspace factoid: Julian Assange -- leader of the WikiLeaks organization that has leaked tens of thousands of classified documents in the name of public interest -- he says he’ll release emails from Hillary Clinton. How did Mr. Assange gain access to the emails? He’s not saying.

But what the Australian is saying is that the material in those emails is enough to indict the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, a clear reference to the ongoing FBI criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails during her tenure as secretary of state.


MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is Russia disrupting the presidential election? Pat Buchanan?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: Well, Russia is hacking into the computers of the Democratic National Committee, John, probably for the same reason we broke in to the Democratic National Committee in 1972 in the Watergate affair -- to advance the people’s right to know.




BUCHANAN: No, that was Watergate.



BUCHANAN: But the point of the Russians is, look, hacking is going on more and more. They’d love to get the negative stuff on Donald, in case he’s a potential, meaning, he’s a potential president of the United States. Assange must have it in for Hillary. And I would take the threat mildly seriously because Assange character, I’ve got no use for them, but he’s certainly has put material out there deeply damaging.

But it shows the world of modern politics. But to be honest, I don’t think there’s any oppo research on the Donald that is not out there. And also on Hillary, if you want oppo research on her, go to They’re probably 20 books that go into her personal private life and everything Bill’s ever done.

CLIFT: Yes. Well, I think the Russians are looking at Trump. They don’t know that much about his policy positions. I’m not sure he knows that much about his policy positions. And so, they’re hoping to uncover something that the Democrats have on him.

You know, I think the fact that they can get into these computers is concerning. I think they’re way ahead of U.S. capabilities when it comes to hacking and advances in cyberspace and they’re much more aggressive. But, you know, I don’t see that this hacking of the DNC computers has any legs as a story. And let’s wait to see what Mr. Assange has. He’s given new hope to all the people who hope Hillary is going to be indicted. I think not. I think it’s more hot air, hot cyber air.


ROGAN: Yes. Well, look, I think the Russians -- I would disagree. I think NSA, we actually have the most effective capabilities, but we don’t use them. And we -- one of the big problems I think we have is that we haven’t -- the president hasn’t articulated the credible deterrence doctrine in terms of saying to the Chinese and the Russians, to a lesser degree, the French and the Israelis, there are lines you should not cross. And if you do, we’re going to shot your networks down.

The issue here though I think is very interesting -- where did Assange get this from? I think he probably got it from the GRU, the Russian equivalent of the NSA, and another agency that’s under Putin. And I think there are two reasons why. Number one, as Eleanor, you know, and Pat suggests, that they want to have an awareness of what is going on behind Donald Trump’s, you know, is there something the Democrats are saving for an October surprise, or is everything out there?

And secondly, I think the Russians actually, because of this, especially what Trump has said about Putin and about NATO, would preference having Trump in there. And I think that’s the reason you’ve probably seen Russian intelligence giving emails from Hillary server to Assange to potentially put pressure on her. And that’s the only way I can see that happening.

PAGE: Well, you solve two mysteries there.

CLIFT: Yes, with no evidence.

ROGAN: Well, how else would they get them? How else would they get them?

PAGE: But I agree though as far as is Trump is concerned first of all, they want to find out about Trump for the same reason the rest of us do. What the heck makes this guy tick? Why is he running for president anyway? And is he really running or is he trying to sabotage himself right now? That’s about the way his campaign has been looking in the recent days.

But as far as Assange goes, I think -- well, it sounds a lot like there are rumors we’ve been hearing floating around town, that there’s evidence that some classified information may have gotten out, but proving that Hillary intended for it to get out, that’s the thing, because what Assange --


PAGE: Assange and the other guy over there, Snowden, this is -- obviously, they intended to release that information.

BUCHANAN: I think Tom is right in this sense -- I mean, five years ago or more that the U.S. and the Israelis almost blow up that Natanz reactor. They got into that thing and the computers and working it all --

ROGAN: Spinning up the centrifuges a thousand times normal speed.

BUCHANAN: And blowing up the centrifuges.

So, I think the Americans have an extraordinary capability and, frankly, you don’t want a war, but the idea of using this, say, hold on, fellas, you know, we can do a lot worse to you than you’re doing to us. I mean, this is Mickey Mouse at the DNC.

CLIFT: But so far what they’ve done has not crossed any redlines. They’re smart enough -- the Russians, the Chinese are smart enough to keep it at low levels. So, there’s not --

ROGAN: What bout the OPM hack?

CLIFT: Well, there’s not a significant military or economic response yet on the part of the administration.

BUCHANAN: Twenty-three million personnel files isn’t a serious act? It is if you’re working for the government and they got all these background material on you. There’s a real possibility of blackmail here.

PAGE: There are constant hacks going on 24/7. Most of them don’t get through. But constant vigilance is what we’ve got to have, though, with this sort of thing.

MCLAUGHLIN: Is Russia preparing for cyber boots against Hillary Clinton?

BUCHANAN: I think the Russians would like to see Hillary Clinton defeated, to be honest. I think as of now, I agree with those who suggest that Trump would -- they’d rather see Trump there because Trump would be more reasonable in negotiating the Baltic and the Black Sea problems.

CLIFT: Right. How would we define a cyber blitz against Hillary Clinton? I don’t know what that would be. She’s had enough blitzes against her over the last 30 years. What’s one more?

PAGE: And since when did Trump become reliable as far as any policy is concerned. The guy changes his mind, sometimes in the same day or a couple of times.

ROGAN: In defense of the president, one of the advantages that he has in terms of saying why we shouldn’t. I mean, I disagree with it -- I think you need to show deterrence on the cyber front. But every time you use your capability, the enemy learns from it, so it becomes less useful. So, he is -- to some degree, they’re trying to save it up for a cyber war.

PAGE: And we learn, too, of course.

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s the best way to punish this Russian cyber intrusion?

BUCHANAN: I think the best way to do it would be to give the Russians a warning, say, we know what you’re up to and we got far greater capability than you do, and if something happens, it’s really going to be bad, and then maybe give them -- show them a little bit of what we got.

CLIFT: It doesn’t rise to the level of a significant response. In fact, Donald Trump is suggesting that the Democrats engineered it because they just want to draw attention to it. So, I don’t think it -- people are not taking it that seriously.

ROGAN: We can turn the lights on and off in the Kremlin or we can shut down their computer networks and the GRU --

CLIFT: I don’t think we want to do that.


PAGE: Yes, we have capabilities of a lot of mischief and they know that. So, it’s -- but, you know, the fact is everybody does it. This is the slogan in the cyber community. And so, you have to decide which intrusions you’re going to recognize, which ones you’re going to take action, which ones are you just going to leave alone.

ROGAN: Brave new world.

PAGE: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Is Russia preparing a cyber blitz against Hillary Clinton? Yes or no?

BUCHANAN: I think if Russia has got any oppo research on Hillary, they’ll dump it.

CLIFT: No, they’re going to leave that up to her critics in the U.S.

ROGAN: I think if they have something, they will use it.

PAGE: Yes, Russian moles will poke around any chance they’ve got, whether -- even if it’s only a fishing expedition.

CLIFT: Yes, what would that something be? I mean, something of her views on NATO.

ROGAN: Political corruption --

CLIFT: Right.

PAGE: Pat, why did you guys break in to the DNC in the Watergate?


BUCHANAN: Wrong place.

PAGE: Yes, wrong place. That’s right.


PAGE: Sometimes people do it because they can.

CLIFT: Wrong place, too many fingerprints.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Wealth, Women and Men.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): In a new report this week, "The Wall Street Journal" took note that women in high skilled jobs continue to earn substantially less than their male counterparts. Male doctors working full time earn about $210,000 on average for each of the five years through 2014. Female physicians made 64 percent of that, about $135,000 a year.

According to the study, a key cause for lower female wages is that women separate themselves from the workforce in order to start and raise families. This allows men to gain years of experience and associated earning potential.

And note something else -- France is also waging its own struggle with perceived sexism. Seventeen French female politicians published an open letter this week protesting against what they say is endemic sexism from male political colleagues.

And note one more factoid, speaking to "New York Magazine", Hillary Clinton claimed she often meets voters who say, quote, "I really like you. I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president," unquote.


MCLAUGHLIN: Question: is the economy sexist? Try that out, Eleanor.

CLIFT: I think you can, you know, pick examples here and there. For example, among physicians, females tend to go into family practice and the men seem to go into the higher paying specialties.

Now, is that because women allegedly more caring and nurturing? You know, I don’t know. I mean, I think there are some gender differences, but I think they sure are lessening, and we are on our way to full equality to where men are going to be equal partners in child raising and we’re not quite there yet.

Yes, Pat, that’s coming. He’s looking at me with this look of horror on his face.


CLIFT: But with Hillary Clinton, just to say one thing, Donald Trump went after her early in the campaign, saying if she were a man, she would have no business running for president, that she’s not qualified. That she’s only running -- she’s playing the woman card. And she responded to that and said, "If he’s accusing me of playing the woman card, deal me in." A lot of women are getting dealt in, in this election, and I think this will be somewhat a battle of the sexes.

BUCHANAN: Well, Eleanor, there’s no doubt that Hillary Clinton does better among women because she is a woman, just like Barack Obama set all time records among African-Americans, because he was an African-American and the first one, and folks had took pride in his accomplishments.

Now on women’s -- in the doctors thing, there are some many outstanding women physicians and things, but, John, if you take procedures that are paid for by the state of the federal government, they’re not discriminating against those -- and government often, you know, pays the bills here. But I think Eleanor is basically right on that. And I know a lot of women doctors who have raised two -- have two and three kids and they took out months and years and that’s why the other -- the guys stay with it constantly, they don’t take time out. That’s why they make more.

But there’s all kinds of laws on the books that, you know, equal pay for equal work in the same work in the various professions.

ROGAN: One of the things I think that we have to look at is, in terms of conservatives, is the idea of how do you make social conservatism relevant in the modern age? And one of the areas that, you know, speaking to my father about this, and you know, grudgingly, I think he persuaded me is that actually we should pursue at the state level greater paid maternity leave and paternity leave, because we need -- if you think about law, and that is a problem in terms of -- I mentioned before. I do worry about things like the minimum wage, but I think the social gain is so significant here in terms of promoting, people starting families, having children, but also having women being able to take that time and make that decision and return to the workforce in a position that gives them the financial confidence, but also that ability to continue generating a productivity gain in terms of big economy, if we’re capitalists believing that skill development experience leads to an economic gain, and so, you know?

BUCHANAN: But if you believe in free markets, the tendency here is, look, there’s inequality, the free market is producing inequality. Therefore, government must come in and cancel out the free market and set the reward levels for private enterprise and all the rest of it, and that’s not freedom and that’s --


ROGAN: That’s specific social gain though.

PAGE: That’s old school socialism. Now, we’re in the Elizabeth Warren era now in which you have incentives that help to do that sort of thing without disrupting the capitalist system. But I think we’re going to see some positive changes here, coming up.

MCLAUGHLIN: Right out of college, there is no difference in pay differential. What makes the difference?

PAGE: A lot of it is whether you take maternity leave, but also, your desire to negotiate, for one thing. I mean, I think testosterone gives a lot of people a real desire to go in and push for higher --

CLIFT: I never asked you for a raise, John.




CLIFT: Or a promotion.

BUCHANAN: Women go into service -- into the service industry, so to speak rather than industrial an all the rest of it, you know, they say, well, women exec -- they only got so many executive, ask yourself, how many of the Fortune 500 companies was begun by a woman?

CLIFT: A lot of small businesses. In fact, I think now that women dominate in the creation of small business, and, Pat, maybe long after you and I are forgotten, those small businesses would be 500 -- Fortune 500 companies.

BUCHANAN: Then the men will be running them.


CLIFT: No. No. The women will be running them.


MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Baltic Deployments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will agree on the deployment by rotation of four robust, multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg declared that four NATO battalions totaling 4,000 military personnel will be deployed to Eastern Europe. One battalion each will be sent to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Added to that, two U.S. carrier groups conducted operations in the Mediterranean Sea, while the USS Porter trained with Romanian naval forces in the Black Sea.

These actions precede July’s annual NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland. NATO is responding to Russian military buildups, along the alliance’s eastern border.

The RAND Corporation warns that these Russian forces could now overrun NATO forces in the Baltic, was in 60 hours of a conflict commencing, according to professor, Steven Cohen, quote, "There has never been such an amassing of hostile military force on Russians western frontiers since June 1941", unquote.


MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Assess this deployment. Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN: John, we’re putting in four battalions, but the French and the Italians will not be one of them. We’re going to have to find out. The Canadians may be the fourth. It’s the Germans, the Brits and the Americans, as usual.

This is a force that could not stop any kind of Russian sweep, if they went into the Baltics. Baltic states at all, 4,000 troops. The Russians are building up in that part of – the end of the Baltic Sea. You know, I was against the bringing the three Baltic States into NATO, as was George Kennan, for the simple reason, though, that we gloried in their freedom, we simply could not accept a nuclear war with Russia over whether or not they remain independent.

So, I think if the next president of the United States, I like to see him sit down with Putin and deescalate on both sides of these borders, because neither of us has any interest in any kind of war, which might escalate. And the Russians say it will if they get into a war escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.

CLIFT: You said you like to see the next president and you used the pronoun "him", I don’t necessarily know what Putin is going to do if he gets into office, but I do think that we have a commitment to the Baltic republics and that the Russians have been making all these incursions, sort of threatening those republics and I think this is kind of a pushback. I think Russia is still smart enough. They’re not going to test the NATO treaty and I think the NATO treaty is responsible and something that this country will live up to.

BUCHANAN: You think we should go to war with Russia if they move in to Estonia?

CLIFT: They’re not going to move into Estonia. This is peace through strength.

ROGAN: This is Bob Gates, former defense secretary who’s, you know, fantastic thinker, has mentioned the point that in 2004 recession that Pat is talking about with the Baltic states, that was a political decision made without sufficient military conception, and I think that’s right, and I think probably, in the balance of history, in the utopian world, on paper, it would be a mistake. But we are where we are. They are members of NATO. You have to have credibility to deter the Russians.

The four battalions intended, it’s not enough, absolutely -- Pat is right. But it’s a tripwire. It’s designed to send that message to the Russians. Sadly, I don’t think Putin sees credibility from President Obama. I think he would cross the line potentially. So, you have to do this.

But the final point is, with those Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, they still don’t spend 2 percent on GDP. You see the Bulgarians refusing to go into the Black Sea with us, and the Germans -- the French refusing to come in. If these NATO nations do not do it, then we simply -- they get chucked out.

PAGE: Just briefly, I don’t know that Putin isn’t just saber-rattling here because he loves to do that Everything he does is motivated by how he’s perceived by the Russian people. He doesn’t care as much about what do we think? And already, he’s getting stretched thin with Syria and Ukraine, other involvements they got.

I don’t think he wants go out and invade the countries, these neighboring eastern bloc countries. But he wants to show that he’s a man of strength, that he’s got --

BUCHANAN: I agree with you. I don’t think he wants to invade either. I think quite frankly, what he wants to be seen is a major super power, equal to the United States, but I think he wants to be brought into the West.


BUCHANAN: Everybody talking about him, he’s a thug and all these things -- they’re doing nothing to help us.

But, look, when you mentioned, you mean, it’s a tripwire. What happens if you step over the tripwire and set it off, are you saying we should fight World War III with Russia, which we avoided for the entire Cold War?

ROGAN: So, would you chuck out Baltic States? Do you force them out?


BUCHANAN: If necessary, I would tell the Baltic States, we are not going to go to war with Russia over your independence, period.

CLIFT: That’s why that’s not going to fly for the next president. And if --

BUCHANAN: It wouldn’t. He would go to war?

CLIFT: We have a commitment there. We’re not going to bail out on that.

BUCHANAN: We would go to war?

CLIFT: Nobody is going to war. We’re preventing war.

MCLAUGHLIN: Will NATO’s moves deter further Russian military aggression in Ukraine, yes or no?

BUCHANAN: I don’t think the Russians are guilty. I mean, people aren’t going to like this. I don’t think they’re guilty of Ukraine. We dumped over that government, and he went in and secured his naval base.

CLIFT: It rebuffs Russian aggression.

ROGAN: Putin’s won in Ukraine.

PAGE: I think it rebuffs Russian aggression.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Utopian Dreams and Trash Cans.


TRANSLATOR: We will move forward because Venezuelans are tired of this humiliation. We will keep going.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Once celebrated as a socialist utopia by liberal celebrities, such as Oliver Stone and Sean Penn, in June 2016, Venezuela is near total collapse, from medical devices to sugar supplies, from coffee to vegetables, Venezuelans are suffering a catastrophic shortage of key goods. Although Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, it’s been pummeled by the collapse in global oil prices.

And that’s not all. Venezuela’s crime rate is now at war-like levels, with murder rates skyrocketing.

As a result, Venuezela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s government is facing growing numbers of street protesters who want the opposition dominated parliament to force Maduro from power. But President Maduro has other plans. He says that the nation’s economic difficulties are the result of a U.S.-led plot involving big business owners, and that he won’t back down.


MCLAUGHLIN: What is the status of a recall referendum against President Maduro? Can you handle that, Eleanor?

CLIFT: I think it’s basically stalled. It’s in the works, but it hasn’t happened. There are no good guys here, and the villain really is the economy because the oil prices have tanked and there’s no money. And what we’re seeing is actually middle class voters, who have been hurt the most really, because they’ve kind of lost their entree to the government, and Maduro is a socialist and has taken care of the poor. So, he still has a base among the poor people and what you see is middle class folks taking to the streets. And you have these competing demonstrations.

It’s hard to tell how this is going to come out. Maduro has managed to hang on. The opposition isn’t very popular either.

BUCHANAN: But look, there are villains here, and it’s Chavez and it is Maduro, who have taken this country down the road to hardcore socialism. And you’re right, the drop in the price of oil has damaged him, but they have ruined one of the richest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The Americans, I think, have handled it well. Maduro was saying America is going to send in the marines, gunboat diplomacy. The Americans are staying out and letting it go down.

Now, Maduro has got to be dumped or recalled before January 10th, because if it’s after that, I believe his vice president would be moved in, and there would be no resolution for a couple of years. So, the hope is that this can get done this year and get these guys out of there and let this country go back -- frankly go back to the middle class.


ROGAN: In the beginning, it wasn’t -- there’s no success of socialism here. It’s the purest evidence of what happens when socialism leads to its inexorably end, in the sense you have the largest oil reserves in the world, and he paid funds to the poorest members of society, actually functioning as any capitalist leader could have developed a more beneficial program, sort of bringing public services to the impoverished favelas. But in the same time, he’s destroyed the middle class. They have coffee shortages in Venezuela. They have toilet paper shortages.

The hospitals have run out of toilet paper. The people are on the streets. The military is still with Maduro, who’s crazy, not as crazy as Chavez. And again, this is -- if you look at the economic policies that they pursued, that was the continuing decline in productivity, they ruined foreign investment, and now, they have this whirlwind of horror.

PAGE: Now, that’s true, as far as that goes, but leaving out one element, bad management.


PAGE: And the fact is, you can manage a socialist economy and do it well --

ROGAN: Where? Where is that happening?


PAGE: Everybody is prosperous. We wouldn’t be talking about Venezuela now if oil prices hadn’t talked. But they didn’t save for a rainy day and you just can’t hand out money to poor folks without preparing for the day when you won’t have money to hand out. And that’s where Venezuela is stuck now --

CLIFT: And if the capitalists were in charge of the economy during this period, I don’t know if it would have been much better. Their economy is going through a wrenching change.

BUCHANAN: It could not be worse than it is now. There’s no way it can be worse.


BUCHANAN: A rich country is totally destitute.

PAGE: Some of them got stolen away. I mean, it was bad management.

ROGAN: He’s given it to kleptocrats.


BUCHANAN: These guys, with due respect, Maduro, I’ve got nothing against him, the guy is a bus driver.

PAGE: Yes. You do have some socialist economies that have done well.

CLIFT: He’s a bus driver without the charisma of his predecessor and he wasn’t able to ride his way through this and, you know, I agree, there’s been a lot of mismanagement.

BUCHANAN: I think Chavez is lucky he’s dead because it would be going down under him.

CLIFT: You have to look at it and understand the fact that poor people are still the base of the government that’s in power. So, this is -- it’s a power struggle.

ROGAN: And now, they don’t have toilet power. Where is the socialism that has worked anywhere in the world?

BUCHANAN: Exactly. Where is Cuba --


ROGAN: The benefits of American capitalism, developing iPhones, they don’t develop anything and the homogenous society was the precursor to that and defined. And now they have --


PAGE: How about a mixed economy?


PAGE: I mean, this is what we’re really talking about here. You know, pure socialism, you’re right. It doesn’t work. But a mixed economy, properly managed does well. Venezuela didn’t have that.

ROGAN: Well, that’s why we need a debate. I would accept that.

BUCHANAN: Sort of like Cuba?

MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Will China accept The Hague’s verdict on the legality of a territorial claims in the South China Sea? Yes or no?


BUCHANAN: Good luck.

CLIFT: Yes, then they’ll go back to what they were doing.

ROGAN: Bon chance.

PAGE: Yes, they will if China -- if Hague agrees with China.


MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no. China will attack the tribunal’s legitimacy and ignore its ruling in a flagrant violation of international law.