(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to act. We can't wait and play games, and nothing gets done. What surprises me more than anything else is that nothing's been done for all these years because I really see a lot of common ground, whether it's Democrat, Republican. I don't understand why this hasn't happened for the last 20 years. Nothing's happened. So we're going to get it done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: Welcome to the JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT. I'm Paul Gigot.
That was President Trump Wednesday telling lawmakers that the time to act on guns is now. The president surprising members of Congress from both sides in a bipartisan White House meeting, voicing support for tougher background checks for gun buyers, greater power to seize guns from the mentally ill, and tighter age limits for buying rifles like the one used in the Valentine's Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The NRA's top lobbyist pushed back on some of those proposals Thursday night following a meeting with the president and vice president, tweeting, quote, "We all want safe schools, mental health reform, and to keep guns away from dangerous people. POTUS and V-POTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process, and don't want gun control."
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger, and Columnists Kim Strassel and Bill McGurn.
So, Bill, is the president finally breaking what he calls the gridlock on gun control?
BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: Well, it depends on which President Trump you mean. The President Trump that sort of said we could do away with due process and do a lot of things --
GIGOT: Grab the guns first?
MCGURN: Right, or the president after he met with the NRA lobbyists and seemed to walk back some of his things.
That's one of the interesting things about this debate is that the president on --
GIGOT: Both sides?
MCGURN: Yes, both sides.
I was going to say the other side.
I think that what we saw after the meeting with the NRA is going to be closer to what he is. The Republicans can do somethings, mental health restrictions and so forth, but I don't think it is going to morph into the full-blown gun control Democrats want. For one thing, I don't think Democrats want it. The ones in sensitive states, you know, folks like --
GIGOT: Like in the Trump states.
MCGURN: In the Trump states. In the 10 Trump states that where Democratic Senators incumbents are up for reelection, four of them I think voted against Dianne Feinstein's amendment in 2013 trying to ban assault weapons.
GIGOT: But, Dan, I think what's interesting here is maybe the president's responding to what he senses is a shift in the political winds on gun control. That, after a long time, maybe there is something that has to get done, if only because Republicans need to vote for something.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, that's right. I think the Republicans are under a lot of pressure. And whether he's breaking the gridlock or not, I mean, let's say no one would ever mistake Donald Trump with Lyndon Baines Johnson in terms of being a political animal. I mean, when the president sits there and says, we've got this, we've got that, why don't we just all get this done, you just cannot wave your hand and change the politics of an entire country. And Bill just described some of the political pressures that weigh in against merely transforming the gun control debate. So I think it's possible that, yes, he's broken the gridlock, and I think that the public pressure is breaking a lot of gridlock, but that doesn't mean that the political realities around this issue in Congress won't reform once these bills get into the House and then try to get through the Senate. You're going to find the same problems.
GIGOT: Kim, I wonder what you think about this. You followed gun control for years. And I mean, sometimes we miss the shift, right, we miss the big political change. So we think about a subject one way for a long time, and I wonder, is this a moment where the NRA, as influential as it is, is overplaying its hand politically?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: I'm not sure it is overplaying its hand. Although, I think it does -- look, it's done what it could do. It come out and said that here are the things that we need to fix. Look, I have some respect for their position in that what they are focused on is in fact what we should be focused on. The question is, how do you keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people? Now the tricky thing is that involves a discussion of mental health. It involves state laws like commitment. It involves due process. That's a place that not a lot of Republicans want to go. And so they have defaulted, led, unfortunately, by the president, back to a meandering discussion on gun control, which, you know, he started out all right talking about fixing the background check system. That is something that needs to be done. But raising age limits and assault weapons ban, if that's what people want to call it, it is not going to go through the House. And it probably wouldn't even make it through the Senate.
GIGOT: Dan, what about that NRA point, though? Do you think that maybe that they need to bend more?
HENNINGER: The question is, I don't know whether they need to bend more, but I think they need to realize the pressures that are out there leaning against them right now. We're in a new era. And --
GIGOT: Social media?
HENNINGER: Yes, social media is the great new pressure out there. That's what the students down there at the high school galvanized, the media itself responds to it, recreates and becomes this kind of exponentially greater power that leans on anybody in politics. As we know, Paul, politicians respond to public pressure. And the pressure that's being brought to bear on the members of Congress right now is enormous. And I think the NRA would be wise if they saw a way to kind of give some ground.
I'm talking purely in political terms. Not talking about giving up the Second Amendment.
HENNIINGER: But give some ground so that --
GIGOT: Nobody is talking about that.
HENNINGER: -- release the pressure.
MCGURN: Paul, I would just say I have looked at the Twitter feeds of these students down there, the more active ones, and I think where this is likely to go, there's going to be a march on Washington. It's going to be an anti-Trump march. These people basically seem to pick Democratic talking points. They are backed now by organizations helping them on the march, Planned Parenthood, moveon.org. They have a celebrity P.R. firm. I think it is quite likely that the other side overplays its hand, because a lot of the gun owners -- and I'm not talking about just the NRA. I'm not a gun owner. But a lot of them feel that they are being called deplorables and they are law-abiding people and they will be made to suffer for the actions of other people. I think it is equally likely that the left overplays its hand.
GIGOT: All right. Thank you all.
Iran, Russia and now North Korea. A leaked U.N. report alleges that Pyongyang is the latest rogue regime aiding Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad in Syria. Senator Lindsey Graham just returned from the region. He joins us next.
GIGOT: A stunning new United Nations report was leaked this week claiming that North Korea has been sending equipment to Damascus that could be used to make chemical weapons. The report documents at least 40 previously unreported shipments of chemical weapons components between 2012 and 2017, and says that North Korean missile technicians were seen working at Syrian chemical weapons facilities. The allegations, just the latest in a string of troubling developments as Syria's seven-year-old civil war threatens to engulf the region.
Earlier, I spoke to South Carolina Senator Graham who just returned from a trip to the Israel/Syria border.
GIGOT: You just got back from the Middle East. I want to talk about that. But first, I want to talk to you about the news, get your reaction to the news from the U.N. that the U.N. has found that North Korea supplied material and experts for Syria to build chemical weapons plants, going back many years, but as recently as the last two. What do you make of that?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, if the U.N. found it, it was pretty obvious.
All kidding aside, the biggest concern about allowing North Korea more capability is that they share their capability or sell it. So the idea of allowing them to build an ICBM with a nuclear weapon on top to hit America is a nonstarter because they are likely to take that technology and share it or sell it. So that's why I think President Trump is right to deny them the capability to hit the homeland. This is just another example of how they share their technology with bad actors.
GIGOT: There's no way in your view that we can contain North Korea like Susan Rice and others say because we can threaten massive retaliation?
GIGOT: You are saying they will just sell it?
GRAHAM: Yes, I think it's the hardest decision any president has to make. There's no place to kick the can now. We've run out of options pretty much in North Korea. Now is the time to tell them to stop. So the president's made a decision, I'm going to deny them the capability to hit the homeland with a nuclear weapon through an ICBM. And the main reason that we want to do that is if you allow them one hydrogen bomb, they will get 50 over time, and they will sell it or give it away, just like you see with this episode in Syria. So I don't think containment works. I think they are likely to sell anything they build. That's a nightmare for the world at large.
GIGOT: OK, now, in Syria, you looked, inspected the Israeli Syrian border.
GIGOT: You can look down on that Damascus plane as you know -- what's going on there? How big a problem is this? The military buildup by Iran and Hezbollah and Lebanon and Russia in Syria?
GRAHAM: It's far worse than I thought it would be. On the Golan Heights, on the Israeli side, you can see right in front of you a village in Syrian Democratic Forces hands. You can see one village over in Assad's hands with Hezbollah flags flying. Twenty miles down the road, there's a town of 80,000 people. So the Assad regime is moving all throughout Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces are collapsing. And wherever Assad goes, Hezbollah goes with him. And that's a nightmare for Israel.
GIGOT: Well, and we had the skirmish there recently with Iran sending a drone into Israel and Israel retaliating.
GIGOT: How regularly is Israel bombing in Syria to stop the buildup?
GRAHAM: Pretty regularly. The fear is that between Damascus and Beirut, there's going to be a corridor where weapons can pass. The big takeaway, Paul, was south Lebanon. The environment along the Syrian/Israeli border, the Golan Heights border, is turning bad for Israel at a pretty rapid pace.
But southern Lebanon is a nightmare. It makes Gaza looks stable. The IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, said there are over 100,000 rockets and missiles in the hands of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. As you recall, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon years ago. The United Nations was supposed to police the area. The United Nations Interim Force-Lebanon has sat on the sidelines and watched Hezbollah dominate southern Lebanon with missile technology that now threatens every part of Israel. So it's a matter of time until Israel strikes southern Lebanon.
GIGOT: It seems to me, I mean, the Trump administration has said rhetorically they are going to expose Iranian expansion in the Middle East.
GIGOT: They do not have a policy to do that in Syria. Would you agree with that?
GRAHAM: Well, yes. General Votel, who is the CENTCOM commander in charge of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, said this Tuesday, 'Make no mistake, while we continue to confront the scourge of terrorism, Iran's maligned activities across the region pose the long-term threat to stability in this part of the world." And he said the following, "Countering Iran is not one of the coalition missions in Syria.'
So I see no strategy to deal with the Russian/Iranian connection that is dominating Syria. Syrian Democratic Forces are falling. Iran now is in de facto control of Damascus and that will throw the entire region into further chaos.
GIGOT: I assume you will deliver that message to the White House one of these days here coming up?
GRAHAM: Yes. I talked to General Mattis today about it. I'm writing an op-ed piece, hopefully, in the Wall Street Journal. But I'm going to meet with General McMaster and tell him that seven United States Senators, four Democrats and three Republicans, believe that Israel is in a no-win situation. The United Nations has failed miserably to protect Israel's borders regarding Lebanon and southern Lebanon. And it's just a matter of time before Israel has to use military force. The message is we need to come up with a policy, not just to destroy ISIL but to counter Iran. You know --
GRAHAM: -- Obama withdrew from Iraq. He took a pass on taking Assad on when he was weak. The vacuum was filled by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. And we have no plan to push back.
GIGOT: All right. One other quick subject. If the president of the United States fires his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is the Senate going to confirm a new attorney general this year?
GRAHAM: I don't know if I would vote for anybody dumb enough to take the job.
Here's the deal. Jeff Sessions is doing a good job. This criticism against Jeff about appointing somebody to look at the DOJ, FBI problems with FISA is unwarranted because Jeff rightly recused himself. But I agree with the president in this regard, we need a special counsel to look at the FISA abuses here. They are real. I don't think the I.G. is capable of doing it. He's a good man, an honest man. He institutionally doesn't have the tools of a special counsel. But as far as Jeff Sessions goes, I think he's doing a good job. I cannot imagine the turmoil that would be created to try to replace him in this environment.
GIGOT: Thank you, Senator Graham. Thanks for being here.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
GIGOT: Still ahead, President Trump says his administration will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, spooking the financial markets and raising the specter of a trade war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It will be 25 percent for steel. It will be 10 percent for aluminum. And it will be for a long period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: President Trump announcing Thursday that his administration will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports next week, a controversial move that he framed along economic and national security lines. The announcement caps a fierce month-long debate inside the administration, one that has divided some of the president's top advisors. The president defended his decision in a tweet Friday calling trade wars 'good' and 'easy to win.'
We're back with Dan Henninger, Bill McGurn, and Wall Street Journal editorial page writer, Jillian Melchior.
Dan, this is the protectionist Trump who campaigned. This is the protectionist Trump we thought might appear. What's the economic and political damage?
HENNINGER: Well, I will tell you, Paul, I think this is really probably one of the most significant -- really one of the most significant political events of the Trump presidency, and it may not end up well. Donald Trump is famous for making outrageous statements. Did it on the campaign trail.
He's done it in Washington, whether he's legislating healthcare, immigration. And with that, you've got Senators, members of the House, they all go, whatever, it's Donald Trump, he will change his mind. It is conceivable that before the announcement is due next week, he will change his mind. Kind of like a prison warden saying, I will withdraw rations, and then saying a day later, no, it's OK guys. And it creates this chaos. This issue involves the entire international trading block of nations.
HENNINGER: I think the damage it's done here, no matter what he does next week, is that his credibility is going to be eroded in the future on any trade agreements that he tries to cut with anybody. I think in particular of the idea that we're going to have a bilateral trade agreement with the U.K. and Theresa May, I think, would be very difficult for her to get that through now.
GIGOT: Jillian, the media damage was in financial markets. We saw them fall precipitously on Thursday. The companies that use steel, for automakers, Ford, G.M., falling 3 percent and 4 percent. Is that a warning to Donald Trump?
JILLIAN MELCHIOR, EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: Absolutely. If you look at it, there are 6.5 million Americans working in sectors where steel has an input. Only about 140,000 people who work directly in steel. We're seeing the impact just ripple across the industries.
And I think another important thing to note with this is that it's likely to raise consumer costs. I mean, that 10 percent increased input for aluminum, that's going to drive up canned beer prices.
MELCHIOR: These are commodities that people like.
GIGOT: Trump voters, they do eat canned goods.
GIGOT: They do drink beer. Those costs are going up, Bill, as the price of everything.
MCGURN: Everything. I mean, that's the problem. It's the law of the commons. You benefit a few at the expense of the many. And the reason you can do it politically is that the many are dispersed, whereas the beneficiaries are quite small, and you can target them, right?
GIGOT: But -- just think about that for a second, Bill. You can target them, but the damage is going to be fairly extensive.
MCGURN: Absolutely. But it points to, I think, the larger political problem with trade, which is that other countries do cheat and do give unfair subsidies.
MCGURN: But there's -- no one has found a way to punish them effectively without hurting yourself more. I found a tape from Milton Friedman in 1978 when we were talking about steel tariffs on the Japanese, and he explains all these things that economists know, that you can't do it. And at the end, he said, if they are going to subsidize and give our consumers cheaper goods, and some of the consumers are producers like car manufacturers, he said, why should we reject this foreign aid.
GIGOT: But even if you worry about China, Jillian, because it doesn't play fair, steals our intellectual property, these steel tariffs don't hit China hard because China only supply 2.2 percent of our input.
GIGOT: Canada supplies 16 percent. So we're hitting our friends, like China, Mexico -- I mean like Canada, Mexico and Brazil and South Korea.
MELCHIOR: You are absolutely right. If you look at it, too, let's keep in mind that Canada brings in a significant amount of American steel. That's one potential area for retaliation.
You know, I think this across the board approach, it really ends up hurting our allies and arguably benefitting our enemies.
GIGOT: And the retaliation -- I know from watching what happened back in the Bush and Obama administrations, these countries can get really canny, Dan, about retaliating.
GIGOT: They going to retaliate. They may go after Paul Ryan, Harley- Davidson motorcycles, for example. They may go after Jim Beam in Kentucky for Mitch McConnell, go after fruits and vegetables in Arizona to hurt the Republican Senate candidate there.
HENNINGER: Paul, who works for all the companies you just named? Trump voters. This is the politics that's hard to understand. The steelworkers, sure, but all the steel fabricators, the auto industry, there are exponentially large number of people working in those industries, blue- collar workers, who undoubtedly voted for Trump. They are the ones that will get hurt, and they will be upset about this.
GIGOT: I guess Trump will say, if he were watching this well, Bill, you know what, this is what I promised and I'm fulfilling a promise.
MCGURN: Right. I'm not sure he needed to full it this way. If you look, I think Donald Trump has a view of manufacturing America and these traditional jobs, a lot of his voters. But if you look at how he behaved on coal, which is taking off restrictions and letting the market determine whether there's a market for coal, and compare to this where you're protecting, it just --
GIGOT: You're slapping on a tax.
MCGURN: You're putting a tax on people, and this tax, as we've just said, is being paid all across the economy.
GIGOT: All right. We will watch this closely. This is, as Dan says, a big deal.
When we come back, President Trump taking aim this week at a familiar target. But is the latest attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions the right way to get the answers he wants from the Justice Department and FBI?
PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: President Trump taking aim at a familiar target this week, Jeff Sessions. The president taking to Twitter Wednesday to call his attorney general disgraceful for asking the Justice Department's inspector general to look into possible eavesdropping abuse by the FBI.
The attorney general firing back in a statement of his own saying in part, 'As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner, according to the law and Constitution.'
We're back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel and Bill McGurn.
Kim, why does the president keep picking on Jeff Sessions, and is it smart politics?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: It is very bad politics. First of all, you don't go shooting at your own troops in their trenches. Secondly, the particular thing that he is picking on Jeff Sessions over is not correct. Look, he got after him because he said that he didn't like that Sessions had asked the inspector general to investigate potential FISA abuses during the 2016 election. And he claimed it would be better if Jeff Sessions' lawyers, appointees were doing it. The Justice Department has no job investigating itself. It is not the way things go. This inspector general, Michael Horowitz, has done a good job in the past. Sessions was right to ask him to take an impartial look at this. And Trump, I know he's frustrated that there are no answers yet in all of this, but a procedure has to be gone through. And Jeff Sessions is doing it the right way.
GIGOT: So, Bill, why isn't Jeff Sessions resigning? I ask this question not because I want him to, but because you know would you stay in a job like that if the president --
BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: No, I --
GIGOT: -- just almost out of self-respect?
MCGURN: Right. Right, I think it is very hard. Also it is not the first public attack. He did it last July.
GIGOT: July, that's right.
MCGURN: Called him weak on the Hillary Clinton thing. I don't know why except maybe he knows it one worse if he goes.
GIGOT: In what respect?
MCGURN: In respect that I don't think President Trump would get a new replacement through the Senate. I'm not sure even the Democrats would allow the Senate to recess so he could make a recess appointment.
GIGOT: For a short-term?
MCGURN: So he's likely to be saddled with like Rod Rosenstein --
GIGOT: The deputy -- he's deputy attorney general. He's not career.
GIGOT: Well, he's deputy attorney general.
MCGURN: Attorney general.
GIGOT: He's a political appointee.
MCGURN: Right. So I don't think the choices are that good. Look, I think President Trump is right in this sense. Once Jeff Sessions had to recuse, and I think he did have to recuse, I think he was crippled, and I think it would have been better --
GIGOT: Recused from the Russian investigation.
MCGURN: On the Russia -- I think it would have been better to have a real attorney general who could be in charge of --
GIGOT: Then he should have resigned at that time?
MCGURN: Yes, at that time. But I think again, Donald Trump in some ways in his own worst enemy. He could get a lot of this information out. He's upset that the investigators are taking so long to make public what they found out. But he hasn't helped the process at all. And he has the power to do it, to declassify information, for example, the FISA application by the FBI, which is at the heart of this.
GIGOT: Transparency does seem to me to be the best solution here.
But I think, on Bill's point, if Sessions quit, then he'd have Rosenstein. And if Trump didn't like Rosenstein, he would have to fire him.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Yes.
GIGOT: Then he would have to fire somebody else. Then he would have to fire somebody else. You're left with the janitor, you know, running the joint. That's the potential danger.
HENNINGER: I don't think this point can be emphasized enough. There are a lot of pro-Trump people out there who say, get rid of Sessions, bring in Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, bring in a tough guy. Not going to get confirmed and there's not going to be a recess, not going to happen. The result is the kind of chaotic situation you are describing.
The question is, is that impacting the White House? The media spent days writing about the chaos in the White House possibly following the resignation of the communications director, Hope Hicks. Possibly it was just a transition that she had planned. But possibly she's the canary in the mine shaft suggesting to other people it is time to go.
GIGOT: Kim, you have a lot of White House sources. I want to ask you about that. Are we back to, just in terms of the disarray in the White House, kind of chaos with the staff and demoralization, back to where we were before John Kelly came to be chief of staff last summer?
STRASSEL: It would be hard to go back to where we were before --
GIGOT: It was that bad? Yes.
STRASSEL: It was that bad. And so, yes, there is an issue here. Obviously, John Kelly took some fire over his handling of the Rob Porter issue. He's now been taking more internal fire over this decision to change the security clearance question, which has robbed Jared Kushner of classified clearance, and there are discussions about whether he's going to go. Look, I think Kelly is continuing to try to impose order there, consistent rules. That's why he came out with the new security rules.
There are probably going to be some people who are chaff at that. You are hearing them speak anonymously to the press. But I think this Kushner thing gets resolved one way or another. He probably ends up going. Hope Hicks is gone. There is going to be some continued turnover. But I think Kelly is doing the right thing still moving forward.
GIGOT: Kim, 10 seconds, is Hope Hicks a big loss for the president?
STRASSEL: Look, this is, I think, their fourth communications director. He can look and get someone equally talented.
GIGOT: All right, thank you.
Still ahead, much more on this week's West Wing turmoil. Jeff Sessions still in. Hope Hicks, she's out. So what about Jared Kushner? Has the president's son-in-law become a political liability? We will ask former presidential advisor, Karl Rove, next.
GIGOT: President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, under increasing scrutiny this week amid reports that his family's real estate business obtained more than half a billion dollars in loans shortly after Kushner met with executives of those companies at the White House.
That report coming on the heels of the news that Kushner's interim security clearance had been downgraded from top-secret to secret by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. His lawyer insisting that it would not affect Kushner's ability to continue to do, quote, 'the very important work he has been assigned by the president.'
Karl Rove is a former senior advisor to President George W. Bush and a Fox contributor and Wall Street Journal columnist.
Karl, welcome. Good to see you again.
KARL ROVE, COLUMNIST & FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, sir.
GIGOT: So I think when we talked about Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, a year ago, you said it was a bad idea to put family in senior jobs. And then you said maybe you have warmed to the idea because they may have offered the president some good advice. Where are you now a year later?
ROVE: First of all, he was given too broad a mission and it's not particularly well defined in some instances. Jared Kushner was put in charge of Middle East peace, bringing about a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. That's a job for Henry Kissinger in his prime. And then he was put in charge of some sort of ill-defined effort to reform the government. And look, he might have provided, and she might have provided sort of a stabilizing influence on their father and father- in-law, but you mentioned two issues, the security clearances. That, because there are continuing problems with his FBI clearance. You mentioned the large loans. We also have had the revelation that at least four foreign governments, including at least some adversaries of the United States, talked among themselves about how could they use Jared Kushner's family business difficulties as a way to gain influence in the new administration. So, look, they've given it a good shot. I'm not certain that there's much to be gained by having them continue to hang on, particularly since we're not going to have progress in the Middle East any time soon.
ROVE: And he continues to draw fire on these issues regarding his clearance.
GIGOT: What about -- he's also, we know, a subject of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He's got that going on. He has to have an outside lawyer on that. You were also besieged when you were in the White House by a special counsel. It turned out, of course, to be nothing. But it can't make life any easier there. How does it interfere with your ability to do your job?
ROVE: You have to work very hard to compartmentalize this. I was able to. But it was tough to do so. I had to get up every morning and walk in the White House and keep in mind, I couldn't let people see me sweat over the issue, the Valerie Plame investigation, and I also had to keep completely focused on my job so nobody would walk out at the end of the day and say, Karl's mailing it in on his work because he's concerned about the investigation. That was two and a half years. And it was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I think I was able to achieve it. But it's not easy, and particularly when you're not one of one, you're one of two, because he's not only taking incoming fire, but she's taking incoming fire as well, albeit, not to the degree he has been.
GIGOT: Just think about it from the president's point of view though. He's going to lose Hope Hicks, a confidant of the campaign, so called Trump translator for the media, close to Trump, implicit trust. Then if you lose her, and you lose Ivanka, his daughter, and you lose the son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Donald Trump going to be a pretty lonely guy in that White House?
ROVE: Well, he's already lost Keith Schiller, his personal bodyguard, who used to sit literally right outside the Oval Office.
ROVE: Hope Hicks was in the next office. So, yes. And, look, this is not fun for him. He liked having his daughter there. Think about it. He came from a situation where, in his business, his two sons and his daughter worked with him.
ROVE: The two sons came in every day. And now, suddenly, they are up in New York running the business. Ivanka and Jared are under fire and may leave. Hope has left, who is like another daughter to him. Keith Schiller, who is his best buddy, is gone. And the president spends too much time watching the media and hate-watches people who he knows will say ugly things about him. All that combined is a toxic environment. Can't be a pleasant thing.
GIGOT: So he's just got -- look he's the president. He's got to get over that. He's got to keep moving on.
GIGOT: How important right now is keeping John Kelly in that job of chief of staff?
ROVE: Critical, because Kelly going would be way too much change, way too quickly, even if Jared and Ivanka stay, way too much change, way too quickly. He's at least brought a semblance of order to the West Wing where they try and make decisions in a methodical way, prepare the information for the president so he can make a good decision. He bridles that.
Witness the decision on the tariffs, where he goes out and announces it before they have it finalized. Nobody can explain exactly what it is.
Maybe that was good because that made -- the response to the markets on this may cause the administration to back off and say, OK, it is not going to be every country. We're going to take major trading partners either at a lower level or exempt them from this. If the purpose was to punish China, they're doing a damn poor job of it. Done a pretty good job of penalizing our neighbors and friends.
GIGOT: Karl, we only have about 30 seconds. I can't imagine that in the Bush administration you would have had -- made an announcement of that economic significance without actually putting the legal part of it in order and having the details to announce. Instead, the president just sort of blurted out 25 and 10 on everybody.
ROVE: Yes. Blurted it out. Yes. Not only that, but put it on the basis that I think is not defensible, which is the 232. Our steel tariffs were on 201, a part of the law that refers to dumping and illicit trade practices. And 232 is aimed to make this more durable, but I think it is less supportive, particularly, when you are penalizing your neighbors and friends, who, at a moment of international crisis, you want as your suppliers.
GIGOT: All right. You and I have talked about those back then. I didn't like the tariffs either. But that's a different subject for another time.
When we come back, Dianne Feinstein fails to secure her state party's endorsement for her reelection. So could California's senior Senator be the latest casualty in the Democratic civil war?
GIGOT: Is Dianne Feinstein the latest victim of a growing civil war on the left? The California senior Senator failed to secure the endorsements of the state's Democratic Party at their convention last weekend, receiving just 37 percent of the ballot compared to 54 percent for her challenger, state Senate leader, Kevin de Leon, who has mocked Feinstein for saying last summer that she believed Trump can be a good president if he had the ability to learn and change.
We're back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel and Jillian Melchior.
Jillian, you looked at the convention in California. Where are the Democrats headed in the age of Trump?
JILLIAN MELCHIOR, EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: I think there's a real division here. Part of the question they are asking is, do we focus on the economic issues. Do we try to steal Trump's thunder by playing up income inequality, going to the blue-collar voter, or do we double down on our focus on identity politics? I think that one it actually the one that carries the more political liability. One of the risks of identity politics is it breaks the party into smaller groups, smaller factions that will inevitably war with each other, but I think that's where we're at.
GIGOT: What is Feinstein's political sin that she's so unpopular? She's been around a long time? She's not leading the resistance? What is it?
MELCHIOR: She's not quite left enough on single payer and that's one of the ones --
GIGOT: National, government-run health care?
MELCHIOR: Exactly. I think that's one of the ones. Also, there's a generational divide here. You saw de Leon saying that it is time to make room for a younger generation. I think that's emblematic, too, of some of the divides in the Democratic Party, the anti-establishment viewpoint.
GIGOT: Kim, the opposition, total resistance to Trump seems to be almost a necessity now as a kind of Democratic litmus test, number one, and in California, single payer really is becoming a litmus test. Gavin Newsom, the candidate for governor, got the most support among the Democrats. He's for single payer. Antonio Villaraigosa, who has only got 9 percent, and I think he's against single payer.
STRASSEL: Yes, this has become the litmus test in what is an ongoing civil war in the Democratic Party, and it doesn't get as much attention. But it's going to matter because what you see going on out in California and these litmus tests are also going to be applied to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. And so far, those that seem to have the most momentum are those that fall in this progressive wing. Now, how that actually plays out in California is a little bit more complicated. They have a jungle primary. Dianne Feinstein is still leading some 30 points in the polls. Everyone in California, obviously, gets to vote. So I mean, does she actually lose? Possibly not. But the bigger question is, where the future direction of this party is in races that are not involving someone that's already run and won statewide, like Dianne Feinstein has, and has such name -- brand identity in the state. And that gives her an advantage. But it's the other coming races where it's looks as though the progressive movement is becoming ascendant.
GIGOT: Dan, if Feinstein loses, that's an earthquake. Even if de Leon comes close, that will have a big effect on the mentality of Democrats in Washington, and certainly in the presidential race.
HENNINGER: Yes, that's right. Though, as we have been discussing here, the division seems to be between what you might call heartland Democrats, middle of the country, which are economic populists, versus the coastland Democrats, coastal Democrats, which I'm going to start calling Google Democrats, I think, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York --
GIGOT: Gentry liberals.
HENNINGER: Gentry liberals. And they are mentioning things like gender, race, cultural appropriation, intersectionality -
HENNINGER: And if you don't know what intersectionality is, start reading the New York Times Arts and Culture pages. It's in there every single day.
But the fact is that in the national election, this is what the heartland or economic populists are afraid of, in the national election they are leaving a lot of blue-collar voters on the table, the coastal Democrats are, and they are begging them to pay attention to them. I think the coastal Democrats will sell them out because the blue-collar workers are basically tied with unions, and that's a declining movement in the United States. So it's going to be very difficult for the Democrats to close this circle.
GIGOT: Briefly, Jillian, there's another race. Dan Lipinski, incumbent in the Chicago area, is being challenged from the left. He may lose.
MELCHIOR: Yes, he may. Maria is giving him a run for his money there.
But, again, I think we are seeing this play out across the country. There's this progressive challenge. I think it is going to function a lot like the Tea Party. It's going to be a big problem for the Democratic unity.
GIGOT: Because they will nominate people that can't win, is that what you think?
MELCHIOR: That's part of it. But I also think they will put their own priorities forward and drive the party further left than the American electorate is.
GIGOT: All right. Thank you very much, Jillian.
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.
Kim, start us off.
STRASSEL: Paul, this is a miss for the West Virginia teacher's union who spent this week outside of their classroom on strike. But also to Republican Governor Jim Justice who caved to their demands for greater pay.
The media's all obsessed about how teachers are paid in West Virginia relative to the rest of the country. What they also missed though is how West Virginia performs, and so dismally next to the other states in terms of education scores. So taking a hostage of our students never great and rewarding hostage takers also not good.
GIGOT: All right.
MCGURN: Paul, remember back in the 2016 campaign, when Donald Trump complained that a judge of Mexican descent could not be fair in a class- action against Trump University? Well, the judge's name was Gonzalo Curiel. He gets a hit this week because he backed President Trump's right to waive certain environmental regulations to build his wall. Some federal judges have allowed their bias to go against Donald Trump but that's because they are liberal. And this judge gets credit for showing, you know, what a good and honest judge does.
MELCHIOR: I have a miss for you. It is the founding of the Bernie Sanders political dynasty. I think Americans are tired of political dynasties.
But in the last week, we have seen Levi Sanders, Bernie Sanders' son, launch a congressional bid in New Hampshire. And then his step-daughter, Carina Driscoll, is running for mayor of Burlington, Vermont, a position that Bernie Sanders had at some point. She's an interesting one, because she has nepotism tied up with the Burlington College scandal.
GIGOT: All right.
HENNINGER: Well, I'm going to give a miss to another empty corporate gesture. This one, from Lacoste, the sports clothing manufacturer, which was founded by Rene Lacoste in 1933 with the legendary tennis player known as the crocodile. They put that on their shirt. Now the designers there are putting 10 endangered species on the shirt instead of the crocodile.
And, you know, it's going to accomplish nothing whatsoever for those animals other than to let Lacoste express another virtuous and empty culture gesture.
GIGOT: And you will feel good about wearing it.
All right. That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. We hope to see you right here next week.
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