Why so many missed warning signs in the Florida shooting?

This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," February 17, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them good-bye in the morning. We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.



That was President Donald Trump reacting to the Valentine's Day shooting in high school in Parkland, Florida. The president and first lady traveled to that community Friday night to meet with first responders and survivors of the massacre that left 17 people dead and more than a dozen injured.

In the wake of the attack, new concerns over missed warning signs about the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. Police reportedly responded to his home more than three dozen times in recent years. And the FBI admitted Friday that a person close to Cruz contacted them in January to report concerns about him, including information about Cruz's gun ownership, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts.

Dr. Sally L. Satel is a practicing psychiatrist and lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine. She's also resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Welcome. Good to have you here.


GIGOT: So when you see a profile like this and the details about this young man emerging, what's your reaction as a mental health specialist?

SATEL: Well, the keyword is 'emerging.' And all of this is very pat in retrospect. You can almost connect the dots when you look back on it. But even at the time, the things that we did know in real time were that there were, as you say, 39 calls to the house for domestic violence with some sort of disruption --

GIGOT: Right.

SATEL: -- from 2011 to 2016. That's a small span of time for so much disruption. He was expelled from school. And before he was expelled not even allowed to carry a backpack because the school was concerned about weapons and, apparently, he had shown bullets. He had discussed guns and showed pictures of dead animals to classmates. Everybody had a sense that this young man was quite disturbed. The question is -- and we still don't know all the details - is, what did people try to do.

GIGOT: Right.

SATEL: For example, did his mother -- obviously, she called the cops, but did she try to get him some sort of civil commitment? Did she at least try to get him a court-ordered evaluation? We don't know what the formal diagnosis or symptoms were. We don't know what his I.Q. is. He's adopted. We don't know the mental status of his parents were. That may never be known. That could be hard to find out. But there are so many details yet to emerge.

GIGOT: Well, when you -- I guess, the question is, as a society which wants to maintain order and protect, particularly its children, but all of us from these kinds of massacres, what is the threshold that you need to intervene. And in this case, I mean, even if we don't know everything, should -- should they have intervened?

SATEL: As I say, in retrospect, it's all easy. But, yes, it looks like as if there were ample opportunities for intervention. You know, I'm obviously a psychiatrist and not an expert in guns.

GIGOT: Right.

SATEL: But as mentally ill -- as somebody with history of mental illness - - and I'm not talking about the young man, but he did have history but not a formal history in record books.

GIGOT: Right.

SATEL: But if someone has been involuntarily committed, they cannot get a firearm. It's just something to think about. But when you have a young person obviously history has to start somewhere. People aren't born with history. You established one. If someone -- if there's a record of so many calls to the house for violent episodes, if is school is so concerned about the child's menacing behavior, why wouldn't that go on the record somehow and also be a red flag for painting a gun at least until age 23 or 35. It's obviously something to discuss. The mechanisms of how that would work are complex. But we need, I think, to think about a lower threshold, especially when it's a young person with a history like this.

GIGOT: What would be the process by which you begin intervention? Would that happen with parents? Obviously, the mother died in November and the father died years ago. He was in an alternative home. People agreed to take him in, a friend. But is this something that would be triggered by his medical profession, if he had one, and he didn't need to have one, and the family, or can people at school or in law enforcement do the committing?

SATEL: I believe, for a minor, they can all approach a judge in the context of question of civil action, civil commitment, maybe not in an institution necessarily, but at least requirement that he go to mental health care. He was in a clinic for a while, but he dropped out. Now, were they -- was there attitude, well, he's troubled but we don't have to worry so much, or were they worried and not acted. Florida, excuse me, Florida is a state that's notoriously under-resourced in terms of mental health care. I'm talking in general. There are very few beds. And also, sheriffs in Florida have the capacity to bring someone in for sort of a civil hearing and civil evaluation. So, you know, I have to say again, the details will come out, but we really have to find out in a microscopic way where the breakdowns were. Right now, we have more of a global picture.

GIGOT: OK, so the president has said he will convene a task force conference of law enforcement, state politicians, medical specialists. If you were invited to that conference, what would you tell him?

SATEL: I think I'd tell him not to cut some of the programs that it looks like might be on the chopping block in terms of substance abuse and mental health service's administration. We are putting a lot of money into opioids, and I certainly think we should. I'm actually an addiction psychiatrist. It's my specific area. But we can't do any of that at expense of cutting programs for schools, which look like they maybe endangered. And maybe Medicaid is, again, not into health care reform, but the point of the fact is that Medicaid has provided mental health care for many people. If that's not the mechanism that's preferred, fine, but we need funding for that as well.

GIGOT: OK, Dr. Satel, appreciate you being here. Thank you.

SATEL: Thank you.

GIGOT: Still ahead, the Justice Department indicting 13 Russians for meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. What the charges mean for President Trump and the future of the Mueller probe when we come back.


GIGOT: The Justice Department on Friday indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russians companies for alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The 37-page indictment unveiled by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign but, instead, documents a broad social media and propaganda effort operating out of Russia with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system. Rosenstein said Friday that there's no allegation that any American knowingly participated in the operation and no allegation that the defendant's actions affected the outcome of the election.

Let's bring in 'Wall Street Journal' columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger, and Columnist Kim Strassel.

So, Dan, I think the value of this indictment is the level of detail about the extent of the Russian operation to sow discord?

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Tremendous amount of detail, Paul. Hundreds of Russian operatives in the United States using all of our social media Web sites and millions of dollars being spent.

Let's go through the timeline, though, because it's very telling. This began back in early 2014. And they got up and running and they are doing this through 2014, 2015, into the campaign, through the election, all right. At that time, who was president of the United States? Barack Obama. James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, John Brennan running the CIA, James Comey, director of the FBI. January 2017, after the election, the Clapper report comes out saying that we have evidence that there are Russian and cyber-attacks going on and we should be paying attention to this. After that, the narrative starts in the press that there was collusion -- the word collusion -- between the Trump campaign and the Russians. This proves incontrovertibly there was meddling, but no collusion.


HENINGER: So why didn't they reveal what was going on at the time it was happening?

GIGOT: That's a very good question. If they didn't know, why didn't they know.


GIGOT: Because you'll think that they had the ability to know at least a lot of this. And if they did know, why didn't they say anything until after the election? Were they going to keep it quiet if Hillary Clinton had won? That's a very important question. And these guys, I think, need to be asked about that.

Kim, let's talk about the collusion issue. Donald Trump is saying no collusion, therefore I am vindicated, but, in fact, we don't really know what else Mueller might know regarding contacts between Americans and Russia.

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Well, that's one of the problems with indictments is that they don't exist to exonerate people. They are about detailing about what crimes we do know happened. You have crime critics saying it does not exonerate him. The word 'unwitting,' that Russians did communicate with the Trump campaign, but officials were unwitting, and they did not know what was happening to them.

So the question is, is there a different scheme out there and completely entirely different one that the Russians were engaged in that Mueller is following up that could deal with collusion? It's possible. But it seems as though this is the -- this is the deal, this is what the Clapper report was referencing. And we've got to wait now and see what the Mueller probe does next and when they decide, if ever, to close up shop.

GIGOT: Clinton partisans are saying, well, this was big enough operation that could have turned 70,000 votes in a couple of key states and therefore the election, and they are doing that, of course, that Clinton lost the election not by dent of her own miserable campaign, but the Russian influence. There's no way to know that is there? We have a campaign that's loud and countercharges so much information, we don't know how much this would have influenced many votes?

STRASSEL: No. Look, I think the important point is they actually do reference money amounts here. There was a budget for this operation. We are talking about millions of dollars here. But in the context of a presidential campaign in which you get billion-dollar figures, this is not the kind of thing that could potentially have made an enormous difference. And remember, too, that a lot of this effort went not to necessarily helping one campaign or hurting another, but on issues. They were trying to foment opposition. They were specifically being told to target people that were unhappy with the social and economic situation and just try to sow discord in the American political system.

GIGOT: Dan, there's no question from this that was really Russian intent here to damage America's democratic system, an authoritarian regime. If Barack Obama didn't impose sanctions in January for this effort, now that's puzzling to me. And they are pretty weak sanctions.


GIGOT: Closed a couple of compounds, ejected some Russian diplomats. But Trump's response to this, you know, he keeps saying, look, this means there was no collusion. OK, there's no evidence of that. But I guess my question is, why doesn't he put Putin on notice and say, look, you do this again -- I mean, publicly, not just privately -- you're going pay a price for this because we noticed this and it's unacceptable.

HENINGER: That raises a good point. After indictments came out, Mr. Trump put a tweet out saying this was more evidence there was no collusion, and he's right about that.

GIGOT: So far.

HENNINGER: So far. But the main reason so many people suspect that something might be going on is that, during the campaign and after, Donald Trump would say such admirable things about Vladimir Putin and how he had a relationship with him and he kind of liked Vlad. No one understood why he was saying that. If at this point, he publicly puts distance between him and Vladimir Putin, repudiating the statements, I think that would go a long way towards knocking down the collusion narrative, which, at this point, is very weak.

GIGOT: The other point I would make is that Facebook, Twitter and Google, who were the vehicles for a lot of this information, they need to put a lot more controls on the way they --


STRASSEL: Well, they look like dupes.

GIGOT: They look like dupes.

All right. Thank you, Kim.

When we come back, the Senate fails to forge a deal on immigration leaving the fate of hundreds of thousands of so-called DREAMers in limbo. Is there a path forward after this week's defeat?


GIGOT: The Senate Thursday failed to advance any of four immigration proposals leaving Congress with no clear path for addressing the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. A bipartisan compromise, which would have given 1.8 million DREAMers a path to citizenship while providing President Trump with $25 billion for his border wall, was seen as having the best chance of passage but failed by a vote of 54-45 after the White House issued a veto threat. The plan, backed by President Trump and sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley, garnered even fewer votes and failed 39-60.

Let's bring in 'Wall Street Journal' columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger, editorial board member, Allysia Finley, and columnist and Manhattan Institute senior fellow, Jason Riley.

Allysia, you've been following this. Why did this fail?

ALLYSIA FINLEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, basically, the restrictionist right pushed the bill too far. Trump issued a veto threat at the last moment on Thursday morning warning that this could actually --


GIGOT: That's a compromise version.

FINLEY: That's a compromise version that had been negotiated between two Republican Senators, had the backing of eight Republican Senators and seven Democrats, and likely could have passed. But this bill would undermine border security, lead to a flood of illegal immigrants coming in that would hurt American workers, and a lot of hyperbolic rhetoric.

GIGOT: And that caused those Republicans, not enough Republicans to vote for it. It loss by six votes, basically.

FINLEY: Right. Almost all Democrats voted for the bill. We don't know if they would have if President Trump hadn't issued his veto threat.

GIGOT: Probably.

FINLEY: Enough would, and it probably could have garnered enough support from other Republicans, moderate Republicans.

GIGOT: Jason, this is what puzzles me, the wall, one of his symbolic campaign proposal, he got the money for it.




RILEY: I think the president has gotten too greedy on this issue. He has to decide whether he wants a partial victory or total defeat. That's the decision he needs to make.

Traditionally, the trade-off here is legal status for the illegal DREAMers versus border security. Instead, the restrictionists wanted more. They said we want border security. We want an absolute reduction in legal immigration as well.

GIGOT: So this maybe has political leverage --

RILEY: Exactly.

GIGOT: -- to get a large part of their additional agenda.

RILEY: And that is the bridge too far here. Not only for Democrats, Paul, but for a lot of Republicans. Trump's position is to the right of most of his party.

GIGOT: But, Jason --


RILEY: That's his problem.

GIGOT: Even this compromise version that Allysia talked about, they made vows in the direction of reducing chain family migration. They said you couldn't bring across parents, for example, couldn't sponsor parents, and even current residents couldn't bring in, I think it was adult siblings. Is that --


RILEY: I think the lesson here, when you go back to Bush administration or Obama administration, is you need to go small on immigration. When you try to bring in too much, the diversity visa lottery, employer security and E-Verify, things like that, it gets too big and complicated. I think you need to go small. And the hardliners are asking -- they want to do too much at once.

GIGOT: Dan --


GIGOT: -- I don't get the politics from the president's side, because he could have said, I've got the wall, I solved the DREAMer problem that Bush couldn't solve and Obama couldn't solve. He could march here to November 2020, saying I did something nobody else did.

HENNINGER: But he's not going to be able to do that, right? Because --


GIGOT: If it fails, he won't.

HENNINGER: I mean, when we say this is a political issue, what do you we mean by the world political? We mean the Republican and Democratic parties are engaged in it, they do back and forth.

GIGOT: Right.

HENNINGER: They are both trying to negotiate for a position going forward. President Trump is the one who said, off and on during campaign, he wanted to do something about the DREAMers. He gave them a deadline of March 7th. They went through the process. And now it has collapsed. That is a failure. That's a political failure. Someone is going to get the blame or take the cost for the political failure. And going forward, if you're a restrictionist, you say, nothing has happened, I'm happy. They'll stay home and they won't vote. The Democrats will drive the issue, rev up their base, and drive them out in November against it. Tax reform was a positive thing. It was a success. Deregulation is a positive thing. This is a negative. I don't see how this helps the Republicans in November.

GIGOT: Do you think, Allysia, this can be resurrected in some way now, maybe not in the large sense they tried this time. But I have been talking to Republican Senator this week that said maybe we can do a one-year or two-year extension on the DREAMers legislatively to the work permits that is expire on March 5th and kind of kick this past for 2018 elections?

FINLEY: Right. But I think some Democrats may be reluctant to do that. I have heard the same thing, that maybe two years of funding for a border wall in return for two years of an extension of DACA. Then the question is, are we ever going to get this done. And this continues to raise uncertainty for these young adults who don't know.

GIGOT: And 700,000 who have come out of the shadows and said, look, here I am, my name, rank and serial number. So they are subject to deportation if this -- once their work permits expire, Jason.

FINLEY: Yes, yes, they are. With Republicans controlling Congress, Republicans controlling the White House, I don't see how they don't take the blame. There's a lot of sympathy in the polls for this group.


GIGOT: Even among Republicans.

RILEY: Even among Republicans.

GIGOT: A majority.

RILEY: Because Trump will have not fulfilled the campaign promise. He won't get his wall and he won't have done something for DREAMers. He said he would do both on campaign trail.

GIGOT: It really puzzles me.

All right. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is under scrutiny for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former top presidential aide. Is the White House staffing process working the way it should? We will ask Karl Rove, next.


GIGOT: Chief of Staff John Kelly ordered an overhaul Friday of White House security clearance procedures in the wake of domestic violence allegations against former staff secretary, Rob Porter. Kelly came under increasing scrutiny this week for his handling of the Porter case after FBI Director Christopher Wray offered a timeline that differed from the one provided by the West Wing. Wray told Congress Tuesday that the agency had briefed the White House on several occasions about the status of Porter's investigation, submitted a completed background check in July, and closed the file last month without granting Porter permanent security clearance. Kelly had defended the White House handling of the matter earlier this week telling the 'Wall Street Journal,' quote, 'It was all done right.'

Karl Rove is a 'Wall Street Journal' columnist and former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

Welcome, Karl.

So do you think that, as John Kelly said, this was all done right? Admittedly, you're looking from the outside, but what do you think?

KARL ROVE, COLUMNIST: I doubt it, and I think he was probably misled. Let's go over what we know. We know that on January 25, 2017, one of Mr. Porter's previous wives, the one who was hit in the face and had a black eye, was interviewed by the FBI as part of background check. By March, they had preliminary analysis that they shared with the White House. By June, they had final report they submitted in July. There was one leak from the FBI that says they told the White House in June that he was unlikely to get a permanent clearance. The White House raised questions. The questions were answered by November and the file was administratively closed in January 20 -- of 2018. What that means is that the White House knew as early as March and as late as July that there was a real problem with this one. Somebody raised some questions, perhaps, about the underlying charges by the first two wives and the former girlfriend, and those were answered by the FBI no later than November. But the question is, who inside the White House knew this --


GIGOT: Mostly, in this kind of situation, my understanding the way the White House works is this stuff -- this evidence will be presented to general counsel -- I mean, the White House counsel. And then say, wow, OK, this doesn't look good, and go to chief of staff and say we have a problem here, sir, because we are talking about a senior White House aide. And they would say, having talked to the individual, or they would have to say, get his side of the story and then make a judgment on it, or say, this just is not going to work, you're going to have leave, Mr. Porter.

ROVE: Right, that's how it would work in some White Houses. The White House personnel director plays a role. But we don't know. That's one of the mystifying things about this. It's never really been clear what the process was. This doesn't go directly to chief of staff. You want it to be reviewed in most instances by legal counsel and then chief of staff. I cannot imagine that the White House counsel's office took this to the chief of staff in June of last year and General Kelly was caught unawares by all of this. I can't believe that.

GIGOT: He wasn't chief of staff until July.

ROVE: Right.

GIGOT: What about the calls that -- for General Kelly now to step down as chief of staff? Do you think that would help President Trump?

ROVE: No, I think that rather than fixing the problem, the opponents of General Kelly, I think some of the comments that have been made about this are being largely voiced by people inside the White House who don't like being constrained from their activities like General Kelly has constrained them, and from outside advisers who want to have unfettered access to the president to cause him to spin off on a moment's notice. Those are the people who are calling for his departure. Yes, ultimately somebody has to be held accountable for the failure of the system to look at this problem and raise the problem to -- and conclude by saying, Mr. Porter, no matter how worthy he was in his job, you need to leave the White House. But I don't see -- I don't think the responsibility lies with General Kelly. One, as you say, he came in July. Tis was known in March, known in June. The question is, was he briefed about it in July? I find it hard to believe that he was briefed about this when he arrived and allowed Mr. Porter to remain.

GIGOT: It would be difficult to have third chief of staff, particularly replacing General Kelly, who seems to have imposed order and discipline on chaotic White House.

ROVE: The White House couldn't afford to have another chief of staff, a third chief of staff within a year and a half. And he said the White House has only had one chief of staff who has been able to bring order inside the building and that would be General Kelly.

GIGOT: All right, let me change briefly, Karl, to immigration. You saw the collapse of the bills. Now we will have a blame here over who did it, who and what. Who do you think gets most of the blame for the failure of doing something about the DREAMers?

ROVE: Well, I think the panel is right, it's going to fall on the president and the Republicans, because the Republicans hold the White House, the House and the Senate. However, there is a big pile of manure underneath the Christmas tree, but I'm one of those people that thinks there's a pony in there. I had some conversation today with some senior Republicans on the Hill and, look, there are two avenues to movement here. The Senate seems to think that the conversations are going to continue. They were not helped by the president's veto. Absolutely did not help the process. The House, people on the House side, seem to think if they can pass a bill, even if it's more restrictionist than what the Senate will accept, this will keep the movement towards some kind of reform going forward. So I'm not certain where -- we are at the end of the drama, and not helped the president saying, you have to support Grassley and that's the only measure I will support. The Senate sent him a message that only 39 people voted. He would have been better off by complementing the process and standing back and letting the process move forward rather than trying to call premature into it.

GIGOT: Thank you, Karl Rove. Appreciate it.

ROVE: You bet. Thanks.

GIGOT: When we come back, some good news for Republicans heading in 2018 midterms with a new poll showing the GOP pulling even with Democrats in the generic congressional ballots. And President Trump's approval rating evening tacking up. What's behind the shift and will it last?


GIGOT: Some good news this week for Republicans heading into the crucial 2018 midterm elections with a new poll showing the GOP pulling even with Democrats in the generic congressional ballot. And 39 percent of registered voters say they support the Republican candidate for Congress in the latest political morning poll while 38 percent would back the Democrat. That same poll showing a bump for President Trump as well with 47 percent of voters approving of the job he's doing as president and with the same percentage disapproving.

We are back with Dan Henninger, Allysia Finley, and Jason Riley.

Jason, it's only one poll. And the generic is still wider than the average, but this is interesting because of the timing.

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST & SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: And also, it's trending in the right direction for Republicans that generic ballot, I think it was around 13 points back in December. Now it's down to seven points in the 'Real Clear Politics ' average.


RILEY: Approval rating is up. I think obviously the tax cut happened and the media trashed it. It was polling very badly itself but then people started seeing the raises, the bonuses, higher matches of their 401K plans. They said, are we going to believe 'The New York Times' or our pay stub.


I think that's what happened. So Trump is seeing the benefit of that tax reform.

Now, there are some caveats there. Independents, you still need to see movement there for Republicans. Women, you are still -- you need to see movement there. And some of the more recent developments, I don't know if that's going to help or hurt. But right now, things do seem to be trending in the right direction.

GIGOT: Well, Allysia, you had a 10-point spread, generic, that means Democrats are taking over the House. If it's close, that means Republicans might lose a few seats, but they could hold their own and keep the majority. What's the big deal?

ALLYSIA FINLEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Right. What we should be looking at also is there are about 38 Republicans that are retiring this year that could make it harder for them to hold the House.

GIGOT: Sure.

FINLEY: But on the other hand, as long as Trump's approval rating is, you know, bumping up a little bit and holds steady, I think that'll at least provide some momentum for Republicans or at least not hurt them as much.

GIGOT: Dan, this comes as crucial, time too, because Republicans are trying to make a last-ditch effort to get good candidates in. You have Kevin Cramer, House Republican from North Dakota, saying he's going to jump in against Heidi Heitkamp, for example. Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, may decide to challenge Bill Nelson. This polling might help them with recruiting.

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: It might help them with recruiting but then your recruited candidates have to have something to run on, and I think this is -- we are here in February, the election is in November, it's a ways off, almost an entire year, and a lot can happen then. I think they are relying at the moment on strong economy, effects of tax cuts carrying them through. But is that enough?

GIGOT: I don't know.

HENNINGER: There used to be an old basketball coach in North Carolina called Dean Smith who perfected something called the four-corner offense. At the end of the game, he would just have players throw the ball around for five minutes until the clocks run out. Are Republicans going to be able to do four-corner offense for the next 10 months or do they have to put some more numbers on the board?

RILEY: We also have the special elections that we have seen in recent months that have not gone the Republicans' way, Virginia, Georgia. We had a special election in Florida for state legislative, the Democrats swept.


RILEY: All of that has got to have to the give Republicans pause. The enthusiasm on the Democratic side that we have seen in turnout is something that has to worry Republicans.

HENNINGER: As Ted Cruz recently said, the left will crawl across glass to vote in November.

GIGOT: Broken glass.


And he's right. Just to show and prove the point in that Florida seat, south Tampa seat, Trump carried the district by five points. The Republican is the son of a congressman in the area, so a famous well-known political name, but lost seat by four points to a Democrat. And we've seen this --

FINLEY: And we're also seeing what's happening, Democrats are pumping money into, especially the state legislative races, instead of governors' races, because they want to be in charge of redistricting after 2020, which would allow them to gerrymander and basically throw Republicans out of power for perhaps a decade.

GIGOT: They finally figured that out after ceding the ground to Republicans for eight years. And I think Republicans have to be worried. They are not going to have an uneven playing field when it comes to money. But there's a crucial seat coming up March 13th -- I think it is, Pennsylvania, southwest Pennsylvania district. Representative Tim Murphy has left or is leaving. The replacement, the Republican, and a new poll only leading by three points in a district that Trump carried by 2020.

HENNINGER: Exactly. What people will watch after that vote comes in is how the Republicans turned out, how the Democrats turned out, because the game is to suppress votes on the Republican side because, generally in midterm, turnout is low, and animate it on the Democratic side. So you need issues to do that. Donald Trump's personality, the women issue, maybe even immigration. This is a highly hotly political atmosphere we live in, Paul, day day-to-day. Democrats will keep elevating issues that will turn voters out and allow Republicans to sit on their hands in November.

GIGOT: When we come back, North Korea's Olympic charm offensive. Kim Jong-Un's younger sister was a media sensation at the Winter Games, but was her South Korean foray a diplomatic success?


GIGOT: Kim Yo-Jong, the younger sister of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong- Un, making headlines at the 2018 Winter Games, with the media fawning over her everyday move. But was her Olympic charm offensive a success and did it drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea?

We're back with Dan Henninger, Editorial board member, Mary Kissel, and columnist, Bill McGurn.

And, Mary, did North Korea win its diplomatic offensive?

MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: North Korea deserves a medal for propaganda, Paul. If South Korea wanted to include the North in the Olympic Games, they could have invited the athletes. There was no reason to invite the sister of Kim Jong-Un.

And in addition to that, President Moon's administration used South Korean taxpayer money to pay the costs of the North Korean elites that came in. And as you said, they got media coverage, so I'd say at least on propaganda front it's a victory.

HENNINGER: It's more commentary on the media than anything else, Paul. This is where they are today. They covered Kim's sister as they would have covered Kendall Jenner.


They wrote about her, quote, "barely their make-up, her "no nonsense hairdo." This is journalism of celebrities these days, and that's the way they cover everything.

But the South Koreans themselves, the "Wall Street Journal" had a good story of how South Koreans weren't fooled by Kim's sister. They feel they are on the brink of a very serious military confrontation with North Korea. Serious people weren't charmed by it, but the media gets caught up in these sorts of things and that's what they --


GIGOT: Look at the wonderful in-sync cheerleaders. Aren't they wonderful? Never mind that if they get out of line, their relatives are likely to be shot or put into an internment camp.

BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: Just the pictures, the cheerleaders, the sister. Do you ever see Kim Jong-Un, what he looked like with a bad haircut? Isn't it better to put the pretty face forward?

Look, people know about this. It's meant to override the reality of North Korea.

You know, it's very different. I was out in Asia to the '88 summer Olympics in South Korea, which were instrumental in promoting democracy in the country and so forth. And Pyongyang was a huge loser there because they boycotted. But at the same time, South Korea used the Olympics to improve relations with China, the Soviet Union. This time, they decided we are going to play the game rather than pout on the sidelines.

GIGOT: But that reinforces Mary's point that this may have been a diplomatic success. You had President Moon, of South Korea, inviting the sister to the opening ceremonies, inviting her to the Blue House, the equivalent of the White House over there. And she basically turned around and said, why don't you come visit the North. Moon said I will defer that, but nonetheless, it was -- it put him back on the spot.

KISSEL: It did. And also, I think, put Vice President Mike Pence in a difficult position. You saw the photos of him sitting in the same box of a woman who is, let's be honest, the deputy director of propaganda, and blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for human rights abuses. She's no pretty face. She's a brutal lady presiding with her brother over a brutal regime. So, you know, I think it was very awkward for the United States.

GIGOT: How did Pence do, Dan? He met with -- he came with the father of Otto Warmbier, the young man arrested, American arrested for grabbing a propaganda poster, brutalized, and essentially sent home all but dead.

HENNINGER: And he met with some of the North Korean defectors. And I think he was very steady in trying to make it clear that the United States was not going to permit the North Koreans to get away with this propaganda offensive. And he talked about our goal is still denuclearization.

And, I think, that once the Olympics are over, Paul, we will reboot to reality. The reality here is not the same as we've had in the past negotiating with North Korea. The new reality in the last year is this, they've created a long-range ballistic missile that can reach the United States, they've exploded a hydrogen-like atomic device, and everybody in the intelligence community understands that it's getting to a point to attach that device to missile, allow it to reenter the atmosphere without disintegrating. And that clock is ticking. We know it, the Japanese know it and the South Koreans know it. After the Olympics, we will get back to talking about that.

GIGOT: Mike Pence did say after his trip that you have to be -- we're willing to talk to the North Koreans.

MCGURN: We are always willing to talk to the North Koreans. Dan is absolutely right. We have this glitz and ice skaters, skiers and snowboarders, and it's just papering over this reality that they have the - - it's now about attacking the U.S., not about South Korea. And right now, the job of General Mattis is to expand the president's options. And what Kim is doing is playing for time. That's the tension that's going on.


GIGOT: They're trying to divide the U.S. from South Korea.

MCGURN: Yes. And the problem there is, again, now it's about the U.S. defense. The South Koreans have been hostage for decades, right? They get worried if we get too strong. They get worried if we get too soft. As much as we have to take them into consideration, this is about U.S. security now.

KISSEL: Well, look, the Korean left -- and President Moon is a man of the left -- always wants to talk to North Korea. Remember, I think, almost two decades ago now, Paul, South Korea paid half a billion dollars to sit down with the North, so they are willing to go there. But remember, too, President Moon has his own domestic political constraints. I think he can only go so far with the North before he suffers politically at home. So that's another issue to watch.

GIGOT: All right, thank you all.

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 -- Jason?

RILEY: Paul, Princeton recently decided to cancel a course that they've offered for several years on hate speech because some students objected to use of the 'N' -word during a class discussion. Think about this, you sign up for a class on offensive language and then get upset when the professor uses offensive language in a class discussion. It is ridiculous. The Princeton mascot -- I believe is a tiger - I think they might want to change that to a kitten.

GIGOT: All right, Jason.


MCGURN: Paul, a big miss to Judge Frederick Block, a federal judge in Brooklyn. This week, he ordered the owner of a factory building to play $6.7 million to people who defaced it with graffiti. The owner's crime was you can't get rid of graffiti on his own building. The artists sued under something called the Visual Artists Rights Act, which gives artists some rights. But the judge reminded people that the owner expressed no remorse. This is nuts. Right?


And we know the property rights should be a lot more important. And who are the first people to their property rights when somebody wants to use something? Artists.


HENNINGER: I will give my hit to Peter Thiel, who, as we know, the famed Silicon Valley investor, announced he's going to move to Las Vegas. And the reason is, in large part, liberal intolerance in Silicon Valley.

GIGOT: He famously endorsed Donald Trump.

HENNINGER: Famously indorsed Donald Trump. I think there's something that people in the valley should take seriously. This is kind of an early sign that closemindedness is the most toxic thing you can have in the world of technology. And what Thiel is trying to say to them is that toxic fumes are leaking out all over the valley. They better do something before he kills tech in the valley.

GIGOT: I'm not so sure he will find Hollywood all that much more tolerant.


But -- remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us, @JERonFNC.

That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel. Thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. Hope to see you right here next week.

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