This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," September 5, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," Hillary's classified e-mail defense begins to fall apart and a former staffer vows to plead the Fifth.
Plus, with Donald Trump dominating the political debate, and Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina surging in the polls, our panel looks at the rise of the Republican outsiders.
And President Obama gets a big boost in his fight to secure the Iran nuclear deal. So what's next for opponents of the agreement?
Find out after these headlines.
(FOX NEWS REPORT)
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
New fallout from Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server, with "The Washington Post" reporting this week that the former secretary of state wrote and sent at least six emails that contain classified information. This, as two of Clinton's top aides testified before the House panel investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, and as the former staffer who set up the e-mail server announced he will plead the Fifth before that same congressional committee.
Let's bring in Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger: assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and editorial board member, Mary Kissel, host of "Opinion Journal" on WSJ Video.
Dan, how important is it that significant is it that a former aide has taken the Fifth?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Yes. I think it has to be regarded as very significant. Certainly not incriminating yourself is a constitutionally protected right, we all understand that. When politicians start doing it, you begin to wonder what is going on beneath the surface.
And in this case, the week has been very interesting because not only have we had Bryan Pagliano taking the Fifth Amendment, but we had an extraordinary press conference at the State Department in which state spokesman, Mark Tohler, said he had no idea who knew about the private e- mail system of Hillary Clinton or when they found out about it. He was incapable of answering that question.
So the sense grows that there is something serious going on here. It may be reaching the level of a federal crime for which someone is going to be prosecuted.
GIGOT: And the original statement that secretary of state made that she sent no classified information over her private e-mails, that has completely collapsed.
MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER & HOST, OPINION JOURNAL ON WSJ VIDEO: It has. Paul, remember, she was careful to say e-mails marked classified, but that's besides the point.
GIGOT: Under the law.
KISSEL: Under the law. Either the information is classified or it isn't, and secretary of state, she has a responsibility to know if that information is classified or not.
I think the interesting development this week is that you see the national media finally starting to ask the key question, which is: Why does Hillary Clinton need a private e-mail server? You don't need an e-mail server to have a private e-mail account.
GIGOT: You could have had a Gmail account for personal --
GIGOT: For your yoga instructor, you can send it over Gmail.
KISSEL: That's right. The only explanation I can come up with is that she wanted to evade public scrutiny of the e-mail that she was sending. It's the only explanation that makes sense.
GIGOT: Wanted to control the e-mail she was sending, as we have learned, to the likes of Sydney Blumenthal, the notorious political hit man, long- time Clinton confidant, who was employed by the Clinton Foundation, the State Department -- the Obama administration barred from getting an official position, but it looks like they were communicating, Secretary of State Clinton and Syd Blumenthal, with e-mails.
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Hundreds of times. And right, this is a guy who has been barred from the administration. He is basically running an off-the-grid foreign policy.
Working for the Clinton Foundation, also has other private clients, while he is advising Hillary Clinton on what to do in various hot spots around the world. So all of his potential conflicts have not been vetted. But, again, it undermines her original story. She originally said no classified data. We learned now it's classified. She originally said she was just largely receiving stuff unsolicited. We see her egging on Syd Blumenthal, "Keep the notes coming. Bill loves them."
Her story has really collapsed.
GIGOT: We also know that -- we learned this week that the FBI is investigating whether or not foreign intelligence services may have hacked or tapped in, otherwise, to her private account, which would be a major development and show that she has exposed secrets to outsiders.
HENNINGER: Well, exactly. The State Department released hundreds and hundreds of these emails this week. And I have been looking through them. They're fascinating. I mean, some of them are -- they're not quite classified, but they're very, very serious dispatches from ambassadors around the country about the state of affairs.
GIGOT: Insight into foreign actors.
HENNINGER: Right exactly.
GIGOT: And what they're thinking.
HENNINGER: All of this. And then they're the most mundane emails that are just like private events going on in her life. All of this is going through an address, hrod17@Clintonemail.com. It is the most extraordinary thing to see these high-level State Department emails being sent to that address and her replying to them.
Look, at a high-level military officer of the Pentagon were doing this sort of thing, they would be disciplined, that day, as soon as anyone found out about it.
GIGOT: Probably fired.
HENNINGER: And probably fired.
GIGOT: So what are the implications here for the Democratic campaign? Is this going to resonate at all in the campaign?
KISSEL: I think it's already resonating in the polls. Hillary Clinton's steady slide and the rise of Bernie Sanders. You see that in Iowa and elsewhere.
But, Paul, you do have to go back to what Dan said. Was there a crime committed here? There are so many questions that we don't have answered. Who had access to this server? Was there more classified information? Did foreign intelligence agencies have access?
And also, the Clinton Foundation. You have aides of Hillary Clinton that were using e-mail addresses on this server while they were affiliated with the Clinton Foundation.
GIGOT: I think -- all that I agree with.
But I think the bigger picture, James, sort of looking back at her as a presidential candidate, is one of judgment. She's a very smart woman. What kind of judgment does it show that you would be willing to take these risks of setting up this kind of a server, knowing that that information was almost certain to come out, and knowing that you were put -- or have to assume putting at risk your communications?
FREEMAN: Yeah. Scott Walker got a big laugh line on the campaign trail recently saying that the Chinese and Russians know more about her e-mails than we do. But I think it does -- it's less funny now as you see the amount of potentially important data that went across that network, and you wonder how could she -- how could she have done this?
GIGOT: All right. Thank you all.
Still ahead, move over, Donald Trump. Ben Carson is surging in Iowa and Carly Fiorina is making gains in early primary states as well. Our panel takes a look at the rise of these political outsiders when we come back.
GIGOT: Will 2016 be the year of the Republican outsider? Businessman Donald Trump, of course, still leads in the polls and continues to dominate the headlines, but some other Republican first timers are beginning to gain momentum with retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, tied for Trump in first place in the latest poll out of Iowa, and retired Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina coming in third. Fiorina also places third in a new poll of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire.
So, James, Ben Carson, first. What do you make of his rise in the polls?
FREEMAN: I think he has got a lot of appeal to a lot of voters because he is an impressive man. He built a really world-renowned pediatric neurosurgery practice --
FREEMAN: -- at Johns Hopkins. He has real achievements, unlike so many people who are on these stages.
And I think the image that he projects of a calm, kind, generous man, who, from what I can tell, is largely the reality.
GIGOT: But Trump accuses Jeb Bush of being low energy. Ben Carson is on stage low energy.
FREEMAN: Well, it's funny, isn't it? You can -- it's a fine line between calm and reassuring and wimpy, isn't it, if you are in these political debates. But --
GIGOT: You don't accomplish what Carson has done, by being wimpy.
FREEMAN: No, you don't. I think, in his case, the low key, the steadiness is appealing, especially in contrast to these kind of over-the-top personalities Trump and Cruz. It's almost kind of a nice breather in these debates when you get to Carson, and he sounds like a kind of even-toned person.
GIGOT: All right, Mary, what's -- how is Carson different than Trump?
KISSEL: Oh, let me count the ways, Paul. We don't have enough time to go into it. One of the ways is that he seems to be a uniter. He is somebody also who can reach out to parts of the GOP base that the party didn't win the last time around, mainly the minority communities. He's been honored by the NAACP at one point. Also --
GIGOT: Those are people outside the Republican coalition.
KISSEL: That's true. But also his policy instincts seem to be very different from Donald Trump's. For example, he wants to simplify the tax code. He wants to be able to do it in 15 minutes. Wouldn't that be terrific? Whereas, Donald Trump has talked about raising taxes on certain Americans. He wants health savings accounts. Donald Trump said -- praised universal health care in Canada, for example.
Now we don't know many policy spifx through Carson, but what we know right now, there's a great difference.
HENNINGER: But one way in which he is like Donald Trump is that he is a nonpolitician.
HENNINGER: And, obviously, a lot of people want to vote for a nonpolitician. I think Donald Trump has kind of a 25 percent or 30 percent ceiling on his support. And that people who are looking for an alternative to the system are now transferring a lot of that to Ben Carson. Because I don't think there's a real ceiling on Ben Carson's support. Now you are beginning to see people say Donald Trump is just a little too rich for me, too volatile, but I still want a non-politician, and that's going over to Ben Carson.
GIGOT: If you add up all of the support for the three main outsiders, Fiorina, Trump, and Carson, and it's over 50 percent in the national polls. But the last time the Republicans nominated somebody for the White House, who was never held elective office, that was Wendell Willkie in 1940.
GIGOT: I remember that.
GIGOT: And that didn't turn out very well.
FREEMAN: No too well for the Republican Party or the country. So it is a cautionary tale. When you get a rookie -- and this is why they almost never get to the nomination -- is there is a large universe of things they don't know about politics. And it includes they don't have talking points, and they haven't thought of 100 issues that a normal politician has dealt with on a day to day basis. So there are going to be some rookie mistakes.
KISSEL: But they do bring something to the race. Take Carly Fiorina, for example. She has been an attack dog against Hillary, really taking on the issues and the war on women in particular, and providing another perspective. She can attack Hillary without being accused of bullying her. And she's really the only one in the campaign that can do that.
GIGOT: I think the potential for mistakes are there, and that's why -- we'll see how each of these candidates wears in the polls.
But here's a fascinating question that I haven't been able to answer. It used to be, Dan, that governors who were outside of Washington, they would be the outsiders, right? They would come in. Ronald Reagan from California. Even George W. Bush from Texas. They would come in and clean up the mess along with some executive experience. Why aren't the Republican governors running this time, former and current, considered to be outsiders enough?
HENNINGER: Well, I think we're discovering the intensity of the anger at the status quo. But the question then is, what exactly --
GIGOT: Politics as usual?
HENNINGER: Well, that's the question. What exactly are all these people angry about? We say "the system." By "the system," do they mean the economy right now? Poor job creation? Or do they mean the system itself, system of checks and balances, and that actually has made it difficult for Congress to operate in the context of the Obama --
GIGOT: But that's having a problem with the Constitution.
GIGOT: With James Madison.
HENNINGER: Exactly. If you reach that point, then you have a kind of anger that equates to something like you're seeing in Europe right now, where people are just P.O.'d at the central government, and they want to get rid of it.
GIGOT: I would argue --
HENNINGER: And that's dangerous.
GIGOT: I would argue that one of these governors probably is going to emerge as a major alternative to one of the outsider candidates as the campaign moves forward.
What do you think, James?
FREEMAN: Yeah, that's -- history would say that's what happens here. The problem is this is a weird year. We're into this strange era where the -- the Obama era has basically dialed back American growth and maybe people want a real change.
GIGOT: All right.
Thank you all.
When we come back, a big win for the Obama administration in its effort to secure support for the Iran nuclear deal, so what's next for the opponents of the agreement? And are Democrats now accountable for the fallout in the Middle East?
GIGOT: The Obama administration scored an important victory this week in the fight to secure a nuclear agreement with Iran when Maryland's Barbara Mikulski was the 34th Senate Democrat to announce her support for the measure, giving President Obama enough to sustain a veto if Congress passes a resolution disapproving the deal.
"Wall Street Journal" "Global View" columnist, Bret Stephens, joins us with more.
So, Bret, this means that it -- this deal is moving forward now. Any possible way to stop it?
BRET STEPHENS, "GLOBAL VIEW" COLUMNIST: No. Look, the only way it's going to be stopped is if the vote -- a vote of disapproval lays a predicate for the next administration to begin to walk away from the deal as Iran cheats, as it will cheat, on aspects of the deal, and as Iran continues to behave the way it does in the Middle East.
GIGOT: Now, the White House is building on -- they're not happy with just 37 votes -- I think is the latest count that we have in favor of -- they're trying to get 41 and then filibuster it in the Senate so that, using that procedural move, it would never really come up for a formal vote of disapproval and never get to the president's desk.
STEPHENS: Right. You had 98 Senators voting in May for a bill that would force at least -- at least force a vote and now the Democrats have so little confidence in this agreement that they don't even want to have a vote because they know that, even now, a bipartisan majority of both houses of Congress disapprove of the deal.
GIGOT: Are they going to go ahead with that, do you think?
STEPHENS: I think they will, but I suspect it's bad politics on the Democrat -- on the Democratic part. It looks very bad that they won't even allow it to come to a vote.
GIGOT: Why did this happen, Dan? I mean, the bipartisan opposition, and the going into the August recess it looks like the opponents had some momentum and big ad campaigns against it by the American Israeli Political Action Committee and, yet, the president is prevailing pretty easily.
HENNINGER: Well, the president and his supporters rolled out a full court press against the wavering Senators, and the Senators claimed they convinced them that this the best deal they could get. They deployed representatives from our European negotiating partners who sat down with them and said, look, we are not going to impose sanctions with you if you try to do that. You are on your own. And the argument was that U.S. leadership in the world would suffer. U.S. leadership in the world began to suffer the day he began to negotiate with the Iranians.
But let's understand the bizarre reality here. This is an arms control agreement. And it will go through, as we say, with minority support from the Senate.
GIGOT: One party.
HENNINGER: From one party.
GIGOT: Partisan vote in the -- of a minority of both houses of Congress.
HENNINGER: It's not passing. It's going through.
STEPHENS: Well, this -- this is the thing. I think in the long run, Democrats are playing a very foolish game. They're making themselves the hostages of the ayatollah. This deal ultimately will depend on whether Iran abides by the terms, and whether the Iranians don't use the deal as a base from which --
STEPHENS: -- to start expanding their influence and testing the deal's limits. That's going to hurt Democrats in the long run because they own this agreement in the way that no Republican --
GIGOT: So you're saying that they'll be accountable for what -- if Iran cheats on the deal, they'll be accountable politically if Iran takes the money that's going to come in the easing of sanction, investing in Hezbollah and other terror enterprises. That is going -- if a Democrat were here, he would say, look, that's unfair. We're not responsible. This is just an arms accord agreement.
STEPHENS: Yeah, except this a deal that will release anywhere between $50 and $150 billion in the very near term to the Iranians. All of this is predictable. These are not unforeseeable or unforeseen consequences. We are talking about this right now as part of the nature of this agreement. And we also know that this is a deal that lets Iran inspect itself when it comes to the nuclear inspections and gives them the possibility for quick breakout time. So the Democrats ought to be praying for some kind of extraordinary revolution in Iran that changes the nature of their politics because, otherwise, they're on the hook.
GIGOT: Then they could claim, look, we set this all up. Otherwise, if Iran cheats and gets away with it or even begins to have evidence that they cheat, it's going to be very tricky for Democrats.
All right, we have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits & Misses" of the week.
GIGOT: Time now for our "Hits & Misses" of the week.
Bret, start us off.
STEPHENS: This is a miss for the Gwen Ifill, the anchor of PBS's "News Hour," who sent out a tweet. She was re-tweeting an administration's tweet on the successes or the achievements of the Iran nuclear deal as the administration sees it. She wrote, "Take that, Bibi." She later tried to explain that this was not a partisan comment on her part. Even that was too much for the PBS' ombudsman. This is a publicly funded television station. We should get opinion from our opinion leaders, but we should get straight news and not bias from people like Mrs. Ifill.
GIGOT: Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.
STEPHENS: That's right.
KISSEL: I want to give a miss to President Obama, who went to Alaska this week to whip up fears about climate change and, yet, said nothing about the Chinese ships floating off the coast that we later learned were in our territorial waters. I don't know what you're worried about, Paul, but I'm not worried about something that may happen a hundred years from now, and a lot more worried about the Chinese patrolling off of our coast.
GIGOT: All right.
FREEMAN: On a serious note, Paul, at this time of the year, I like to give a miss to ESPN for televising the Little League World Series, which is the most ridiculous event in the history of television.
It's largely a competition to see which kids hit puberty first. It's ridiculous. But of course, ESPN also bounced Curt Schilling from the broadcast, who actually has real achievements, not that ESPN would know the difference.
GIGOT: What do you want, Aussie Rules Football in place of the Little League World Series?
FREEMAN: That's exactly what we want.
GIGOT: And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us at JERonFNC.
That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. I hope to see you here next week.
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