This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," May 26, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Welcome to the "The Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Senior intelligence and law enforcement officials held two high-level briefings Thursday for Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the Russia investigation amid allegation that is the FBI used a top-secret informant to spy on the Trump campaign. Both meetings were held as the president raised new questions about the probe and called for the Department of Justice to look into whether his campaign was surveilled for political purposes.
Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel has been following this story from the beginning. I spoke with her earlier.
GIGOT: Donald Trump this week, Kim, urging the Justice Department to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee and there are pledges of new cooperation. But if history is a guide here, we have to wait and see what happens because there's some history of not cooperating.
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Yes, I would bet on not cooperation, if you look over the past year. Not only refusal to make documents available for the committees but the serious redactions have been imposed on the documents that have sent over. DOJ's refusal to make witnesses available for different members and committees in the House and in the Senate. They don't want a lot of this information to come out, so I think we can expect that it's all going to have to be pried out bit by bit.
GIGOT: OK, now we do -- the name of this contractor has been widely reported, but we know a fair number of things about him. We know, for example, he's an American who is resident in the U.K. He met with three Trump campaign officials. All of this from stories that clearly seemed leaked by the Justice Department and FBI. Is that how you read it, they are responsible for leaking all these details?
STRASSEL: Absolutely, they are. And by the way, some of the stories said so. They said that it was according to government sources and that usually means Department of Justice, FBI. You also have to look at motives here. You know, this, Paul, we have been in the journalism business for a long time. You always look to see who has an interest in putting it out. And the stories that were written very much took the most-kind line that you could to the Department of Justice and FBI even going so far to suggest this person who was spying on the Trump campaign was not, in fact, spying on the Trump campaign but it very much designed to cast the FBI in the best light.
GIGOT: But then why are they blaming the House Intelligence Committee for having leaked this, the name? Is there any evidence that that happened?
STRASSEL: There's absolutely no evidence that happened. By the way, just a curious point, look at the level of details that were put in the stories about the particular spy/informant. The whole reason Devin Nunes is going to the Department of Justice with a subpoena is because he doesn't have the information about this person. They have the information about this person. So there's only one side that was in possession to leak in the first place.
GIGOT: We know from some reporting that this informant met with Carter Page, with George Papadopoulos. He also met with Sam Clovis, three Trump officials. What else do we want to learn about this informant and what he was up to?
STRASSEL: Most important question here is timeline. If you look at some of those stories that were leaked to The Times, the Washington Post, they all went out of their way, or at least one of them went out of their way to say, none of these contacts took place until after the FBI started its counterintelligence investigation on July 31st, 2016. But we know and we reported of at least one major interaction that this source Carter Page all the way back to the beginning July with invitation that had been extend to him for a symposium in England probably at the beginning of June. And there are other suspicious questions about people approached in the spring. Now, this is a timeline question.
STRASSEL: When did the FBI first start using a person or more than one to look at the Trump campaign and why?
GIGOT: OK, yes. But why does the timeline matter? Why does it matter if it happened in the spring?
STRASSEL: It matters because the FBI has doggedly stuck to this story that it only began this counterintelligence investigation because of information it received in the middle or towards the end of July about an overheard conversation of Trump aide, George Papadopoulos, and his claim that he knew something about Russians and e-mails. If it started much sooner than that, obviously, that was not the catalyst. And it means the FBI hasn't been straight about what it was that had inspired it to get involved here. And some people, you know, they worry is there political reason as well, what was going on?
GIGOT: Right. Was part of the motivation the Christopher Steele dossier? Was that the motivation when it started? We know that was paid for by the Clinton campaign. We also want to know what government officials knew about this and what was the reason they gave for tasking this informant. All of that still has to be uncovered.
STRASSEL: Yes, and there's been increasing focus, for instance, on former CIA Director John Brennan because there has been some suggestion that he might have been involved in some of this and maybe there was interagency task force from the beginning, starting in the spring when people began to have concerns about the Trump campaign. That's something to look at. Remember, we have pretty strict prohibitions, Paul, on the CIA and how it can monitor American citizens.
GIGOT: What about this argument you hear from the critics of the president that he has crossed some ethical line by saying to Justice, cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee? Is that crossing a line?
STRASSEL: No, because it begins from the premise that it is somehow out of bounds to ask any questions about the investigators. Look, we do have separations of power. We have a Congress that's tasked with oversight of the executive branch, and that is a way you'd rather have do it, rather than the Trump administration investigating itself, as it were. But if the Justice Department is not going to cooperate with dually issued subpoenas, then the president is absolutely right to tell the people who work for him that they need to respond to and comply with congressional oversight.
GIGOT: Is the ultimate burden here maybe on the president to override the Justice Department and maybe declassify everything and say, look, you come in and look at, and I'm saying it's OK? He has the power as president to do that?
STRASSEL: He ought to do it tomorrow, in my mind, Paul, because they are really the only organization, the only body that can get to this. People have talked about the inspector general at the Justice Department, but he does not have subpoena powers and a lot of other powers. They need to have access to this. Declassify it for them. And by the way, there's no problem with that. We're talking about the Gang of Eight here. These are people with the highest security clearances who have always in the past have been allowed today look at material like this.
GIGOT: Kim Strassel, thanks.
STRASSEL: Thanks, Paul.
GIGOT: When we come back, President Trump pulling out of his sit-down with Kim Jong-Un, at least for now. So what's behind this diplomatic dance and what's next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will see what happens. We are talking to them now. It was a very nice statement they put out. We will see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Based on the recent statement of North Korea, I have decided to terminate the planned summit on June 12th. Well, many things can happen, and a great opportunity lies ahead potentially. I believe this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: That was President Trump Thursday saying he had called off the planned summit with North Korea blaming increasingly hostile rhetoric from the rogue regime. North Korea responding in a statement, said Pyongyang remained open to resolving issues with Washington regardless of ways at any time, any format. The president called that statement warm and productive on Friday, and so talks are ongoing. So is there a diplomatic way forward?
Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger, and Columnists Mary Anastasia O'Grady and Bill McGurn.
So, Bill, what do you make of this on-again, off-again dance?
BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: I'm probably not as opposed to the idea of the president sitting down with any leader at any time as some people are However, you know the danger, right? It's like getting engaged and planning a wedding and then, if the week before the wedding, you're thinking, this isn't the gal for me --
The pressure when she's in her dress and the cake is baked and everything.
GIGOT: She's already there.
MCGURN: The process overrides it. That's always the danger. People have talked about that it's in Kim's interest to have an agreement and so forth. I'm not sure it is.
GIGOT: It's in Kim's agreement to have a meeting.
MCGURN: To have a meeting.
GIGOT: -- president
GIGOT: And it looks like he's a co-leader with the president.
MCGURN: That's why I think we always have to keep our eye on the ball, which is denying him the capacity to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon. If a talk were advanced and sincere, the danger with North Koreans is they've always done these kinds of talks. I remember Bill Clinton staring across the DMZ in 1994 saying, if you pursue a nuke, it'll be the end of the country, it wasn't. So they know how to -- that's the danger that we forget what's at stake here.
GIGOT: Yes, Mary, I think the threshold for me is has North Koreans -- have the North Koreans made a strategic effort to get rid of program. If they haven't, then there's not a lot to talk about.
MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: Right. I think that the president is having doubts about that, which is why we got to this point this week. But I will give him credit, I mean, he never changed -- you know, everybody explained this as the extreme pressure and he said, nothing in that category has changed even as they've arranged this meeting.
GIGOT: The U.S. pressure, sanctions?
O'GRADY: Exactly. If I was the president I would not have made a commemorative coin so far in advance. But I have to give him credit for saying, look, you know, if you don't show good faith, we are not doing this. That's very different from the way President Obama behaved with Iran and Cuba.
GIGOT: Dan, we know that Kim Jong-Un wants a summit, appearance at least, even if he doesn't want to make any commitments from it, because it puts him on the world stage as Trump's equal. Why is Donald Trump seemingly so eager to have a summit with Kim?
HENNINGER: I think it dates back to the meeting that Kim's sister had at the Olympics with South Korean President Moon. It's always been U.S. policy that what we want from North Korea is, in a term of ours, complete verifiable denuclearization. And at that time, the North Koreans conveyed they might be willing to talk about that. Secretary of State Pompeo went to North Korea and came back with the impression that that kind discussion was on. And then, I think what happened after, Kim went from the second time to visit Jinping in Beijing, he pulled back. The United States started to get the strong impression that the North Koreans were no longer interested. They objected to the routine military exercises we have with South Korea. We pulled back from that, they did not show up for logistical meetings in Singapore. We were not able to get them on the phone. At that point, the U.S. decided that the North Koreans were not negotiating in good faith. And their foreign ministry was saying at the time that they were a nuclear power and a complete denuclearization was not their goal. After that, Paul, what was there to talk about?
GIGOT: I agree with that, Bill. But it seems to me that Donald Trump was played in a way by President Moon, of South Korea, and maybe a little bit by the North Koreans. I'm wondering why put the possibility back on the table?
MCGURN: I don't know. I wouldn't have agreed to the meeting. It's not the thing that I think -- my whole view is that what the North Koreans are doing are trying to get more time. Even if they could delay a meeting, if Secretary Pompeo was right when he said, with the CIA, that the North Koreans are within a handful of capacity to strike America, then what you want to do is play for time in these games. But I think -- I think he showed who is insincere about these talks. I actually think he gains from it.
MCGURN: For moving out. For moving out of the talks.
GIGOT: Do you agree with that or is this has been a setback?
O'GRADY: No, no. I think -- like I said, I think that he is showing that they have to show good faith, and if they're not going to do that, then never mind. I think it's something that he should be proud of having done.
GIGOT: Where does it go from here? Does it go from here where he's got to restore maximum pressure, if the summit doesn't come off, and keep squeezing them?
O'GRADY: They have to keep maximum pressure.
MCGURN: I'm hoping there's a Plan B from Secretary Mattis. And if I were Kim, I might be worried about that. If the talks --
GIGOT: Military action, right?
MCGURN: If the talks don't produce anything, the North Koreans don't agree, the president has made this a red line, they cannot get this capacity. And what people forget nothing has really changed for Japan and South Korea. We are talking now about an attack on the mainland, the capacity to do that.
GIGOT: The U.S. mainland.
MCGURN: I don't think Kim will give up weapons lightly.
GIGOT: Thank you all.
When we come back, President Trump opening up a potential new front in the trade war. What his investigation into auto imports could mean for American consumers and carmakers, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think your auto workers and your auto companies in this country are going to be very happy with what's going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: President Trump potentially opening a new front in the trade war this week, instructing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate whether automobile imports pose a threat to national security. The move is sure to further strain relations with American allies and could ultimately result in hefty tariffs for American buyers of foreign cars.
So this action is being -- investigation being brought under Section 232 of American trade law, the national security provision. Are foreign cars a threat to our security?
O'GRADY: Of course not. Of course not. And 56 percent of all cars sold in the United States are made in the United States, but we also make lots of parts, and we do a lot of design and research for cars. So the auto industry in the country has probably never been healthier or maybe not been healthier since maybe 1940 or something like that. I mean, it's globally competitive. It's using all the advantages of open trade to make itself stronger. And so you not only have a strong U.S. base but have a very strong export component because of it.
GIGOT: When we talk about the U.S. auto industry, we don't mean Ford, Chrysler and G.M. We are talking about Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, and Nissan. They all make cars in the United States.
O'GRADY: Well, one of Donald Trump's theories here is that if he does this, then they'll have to come here and build more plants and make more cars here. But, of course, what we know about a protected market is that the quality of the cars goes down. You know, for those of us who were alive in 1970's, cars didn't last. They were terrible. It was only in opening in the car market that cars became a better experience for consumers.
GIGOT: Why is Donald Trump doing this?
O'GRADY: I think it's mostly about NAFTA. Because if you take the cars made in the United States, plus Canada and Mexico, you have something like 75 percent of all cars are made in North America. He's not getting the cooperation that he wanted on NAFTA and this is his response to that. But he's forgetting here that, first of all, Mexico -- his main thing is if he launches this investigation, it's going to take eight months. That's going to get him through the November election, and he can say when people go to polls in November, oh, yes, I didn't get the NAFTA deal but I'm being tough with Canada and Mexico. Because he's being criticized about that right now. And in eight months, he's not going to win this appeal because it is not harming the industry.
GIGOT: Dan, it's hard for me to determine, get a coherent strategy from the Trump trade team and I think, in part -- the president this week on China he was saying, oh, it's a great deal, after the weekend negotiations. And then by the next day, he's saying not such a great deal. And the next day after that, it's really a bad deal and we have to re-do the whole thing. What -- what is going on here?
HENNINGER: Well, it's very hard. I think Donald Trump likes to play three-dimensional negotiation chess. And it's hard to keep your eye on the ball. As Mary was suggesting, the national security threat from the auto industry, very difficult to credit. Currently, there are 24 Japanese and German auto factories in the United States employing American workers, all right? So then you have to go looking for other reasons, what might be going on here. Mary suggesting the possibility of forcing Mexico's hand on NAFTA. I think another target here is Germany and Angela Merkel. Trump has several things going with her, the most important of which is the Iranian nuclear deal. Needs her support on that. The United States and England are very upset that the Germans are negotiating a gas pipeline with Russia. They would like them to stop doing that. And Trump has said any number of times he wants the Germans to increase military spending. I think part of this is to put pressure on her, get her attention. But of course, the European Union has already posed on array of counter tariffs that they're going to impose on American goods if we go through with these auto tariffs.
GIGOT: And Japan, 11 percent of imports are made in Japan. Japan is already teeing up retaliation on steel and aluminum tariffs.
GIGOT: How does this get Japan to cooperate?
MCGURN: I'm not sure it does. Look, the president was talking about auto workers would like the deal, as you point out, some auto workers might like it. Because if you're working at a Toyota plant in Tennessee, you're an auto worker, too, you might not like this as much.
You know, it used to be that when you had a blockade and you prevented people from importing things into the country, that was considered an act of war. Now when you have the White House sort of suggesting this on their own consumers, it's inconceivable to me. And, again, the same auto workers that might like the tax on foreign cars, the tariffs on it, they're complaining about the steel tariffs because that raises their costs. It's counterproductive across the field.
GIGOT: There's a view, politically this helps president and Republicans because they are speaking for workers and so on and so forth. But there's another side of the story, which is that the trade protectionism and the potential retaliation is hurting parts of the farm bill, for example, which would be the targets of that retaliation. And there's also a problem I think with a lot of business decisions being withheld, delayed, because of the uncertainty about when the tariffs are going to hit, how bad will they be. And so I think this is slowing growth. And we are hearing that as CEOs and others get to the earnings, saying, well, this is my biggest concern now.
O'GRADY: Yes, I think one of the things that mysterious me is that Donald Trump talks about the trade as if his trade partners don't have any way to respond. And Mexico has a lot of ways to respond. As you mentioned, it's a big importer of us, U.S. food, U.S. agricultural products. But don't forget also that the U.S. has some retaliation rights from the solar panels and the dishwashers that Trump put the tariffs on. And if they use those retaliation rights on June --
GIGOT: These are other countries?
O'GRADY: Mexico. Mexico has retaliation rights. And on June 1st, if the steel tariffs that Donald Trump has threatened on Mexico go into effect, they can immediately use those retaliation rights. And I think they will. And that will harm red states.
GIGOT: All right, big, imponderable, possibly trouble.
Still ahead, Democrats are feeling the heat as polls show the race for control of Congress tightening. So what's behind the Republican rebound?
GIGOT: Good news for Republicans this is Memorial Day weekend as the midterm campaign season kicks into high gear. New polls show the GOP closing the gap when it comes to which party voters will support in November's congressional elections. With the latest Real Clear Politics average showing the Democrats lead narrowing to 4 percent.
Wall Street Journal columnist, Karl Rove, is a former senior adviser to President George W. Bush and a FOX News contributor.
Karl, good to see you again. Thanks for coming in.
The primaries have been rolling through here, many states now. What's the big take away from your point of view?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, if you look at the generic ballot, just before Christmas, before they passed the tax cut, the Democratic margin was 13 points. By mid-February, it was down to nine. By late March, down to seven. And as you say, this Memorial Day weekend, we find ourselves with a four-point advantage for the Democrats. Think about what's going on during that time. I think three things are at play here. One is improvement in the president's job approval. It's gone from being in the high 30's to the low 40's. That maybe four to five-point increase may sound small but it's critical to the Republicans and 42, 43, 44 percent range. Second of all, the economy. Perceptions of the economy are improving. Whether that's directly because of the tax cut or not, we can argue all day long, but the fact of the matter is people's perception of who - of what they're feeling about their own circumstances --
GIGOT: People feel better. People feel better.
GIGOT: What's the final point.
ROVE: The final point would be the Democrats are now, as we're going through these primaries, and they are starting to see, in certain states, who the Democrats are putting up, and I'm not certain that's necessarily helping the Democrats in each and every case.
GIGOT: You say that because I've seen the race in Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania, the left side of the party is winning in districts that are competitive districts, where that kind of message may not play as well as a centrist voice, is that your point?
ROVE: Yes. I think it's two things. One, they are nominating some left- leaning candidates, like in Nebraska, two, and Pennsylvania, one. But even when the candidates have entered the race, not as a left-wing fringe candidate, the rhetoric that they feel compelled to adopt in a Democratic primary places them to the left of where they need to be. Remember, in order to win the House, the Democrats will have to win districts that are at least purple and, in some instances, red.
GIGOT: OK, here is the thing, though, and the generic ballot, there's no question it's tightening. The margin for holding the House, according to Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, is six. If they're within six, the Republicans think they can hold the House. But here's what that doesn't take into consideration, Democratic voter enthusiasm. I've talked to Republicans in some of the special races. In the Virginia governor's race, Ed Gillespie told me the Democratic turnout didn't show up entirely in the data before Election Day, and that was because Democrats are so fired up that they exceed the polling. What do you think of that?
ROVE: I think that's accurate. But it's a long time between November 2017's Virginia governor's race and the November 2018 midterm elections. And we have seen this year conflicting information. For example, we've had a great deal of -- of media commentary that pointed towards a big turnout by Democrats in Texas, even suggesting that they might eclipse the Republicans. Well, half again as many people voted in the Republican primaries voted in the Democratic primaries.
ROVE: And the Democratic runoff is the lowest in history. And in Ohio, Republicans outvoted the Democrats. Both parties had competitive primaries for governor. The Republicans far outvoted the Democrats. So, again, it's hard to say. I would say that enthusiasm is on the side of the Democrats, but whether that's sufficient enough, we don't know. We have an eternity to go between now and November, and all kinds of things can happen to effect voter enthusiasm in any party's likelihood of turning out.
GIGOT: It seems to me something else the happening, and that is that the Democrats who have focused on Robert Mueller -- Robert Mueller, Donald Trump, corrupt, even talking impeachment, are beginning to shift. They think that maybe impeachment and all that rhetoric is driving more Republican enthusiasm. Because they don't like to see a Republican president, the election repudiated. And Democrats are turning to health care, rising costs, rising premiums, and gasoline prices, which we know have gone up for a variety of reasons as the summer driving season increases. Are those two Republican vulnerabilities?
ROVE: They are. You put your finger on a really interesting point, which is the Democrats have moved away from impeachment. I think it's for two reasons. One, it obscures their chance to talk about broader issues. And second of all, remember, in order to win these districts, in these states, in many instances, they will have to win swing Independent voters. And it's interesting, Democrats are strongly in favor of impeachment. Republicans strongly opposed to it. And Independents on this question tend to look more like the Republicans than they do Democrats.
GIGOT: If you were wearing a Democratic hat, you would tell them, lay off impeachment?
ROVE: Oh, yes. The voices in the Democratic Party that have been saying that have been right on. Whether or not every candidate is going to listen to them is another thing. And during the primaries, the rhetoric, even if they have not come out and endorsed the resistance by calling directly for impeachment, candidates who have been moderate or centrist in views have adopted rhetoric, which makes them sound like they are part of the resistance. For example, in Dallas, one of the Democrats talked about how Trump will take us into a war that will destroy the world and said the question is not just Democrats versus Republicans. It's common sense versus, quote, "idiocy." That kind of language, even if they don't endorse impeachment, makes it sound like they are an avid part to have resistance.
GIGOT: That plays in Palo Alto but not necessarily a swing district.
ROVE: Yes, Plano. Yes.
GIGOT: Thank you, Karl.
Still ahead, Starbucks courting controversy with its new guest policy. Why the coffee chain's latest nod to its progressive patrons may be backfiring, next.
GIGOT: Starbucks finding itself at the center of another controversy this week, this time, over its new guest policy. The coffee chain announced last weekend that it would allow visitors to use its cafes, including restrooms, whether or not they make a purchase, a response to April arrest of two black men in one of its Philadelphia stores. The new policy not a hit with all of the coffee chain's patrons, however, with some worrying that it won't leave seats for paying customers and it will turn the stores into de facto homeless shelters or drug dens. Starbucks will close all 8,000 of its company owned stores this coming Tuesday afternoon for mandatory racial bias training.
We are back with Dan Henninger, Mary Anastasi O'Grady, and Wall Street Journal editorial page writer, Jillian Melchior.
So, Dan, you wrote in your column this week that Starbucks and Howard Schultz can win no matter what they do. What did you mean?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: What I mean is that Starbucks, I mean, it's become a household word. It represents something. And what it represents is Howard Schultz's great insight when he was starting out with Starbucks that liberalism was not nearly politics, but that political liberalism had become a lifestyle, a way of thinking about the world. You know, in the old days, you bought a coffee, you got black coffee in ceramic cup. No anymore. You drink it through a big pile of white foam. And when you go into Starbucks, you read on the wall that you're not nearly buying coffee, your money is going to support ethically sourced coffee or even to fight climate change.
GIGOT: I tell you, Dan, I still think it's about coffee, but please explain why Howard Schultz can't win here?
HENNINGER: He can't win because, after the incident in Philadelphia, in which two black men were arrested for coming in, using the bathroom, weren't buying anything, said they were there on business, the manager had them arrested. There was a video made of it. It went viral. Starbucks was then immediately accused of being racist. Now, one of the things that in this world you cannot be accused of and survive. And so Starbucks immediately announced, as we just suggested in the introduction, that they would close all 8,000 of their stores next Tuesday afternoon to summit their employees to sensitivity training. I personally think, Paul that the Starbucks baristas are the most sensitive people in the world.
I think they already know about trying not to be racist. But you can't win. You cannot make progressives happy anymore. We have seen this on campus, we have seen this in corporations, that you cannot appease them. And that's what Starbucks is finding out.
GIGOT: Jillian, what should they have done? I mean, if you're a corporation stuck in this kind of a controversy, a whirlwind, like Dan says, what do you do?
JILLIAN MELCHIOR, EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: You have an investigation. If you do something wrong, you apologize. I'll just say, I think they are putting employees in a terrible position. It's not the first time they've done this. They did a "Race Together" campaign where they were putting their employees on the front of culture war, creating a situation where they have to engage awkward conversations about race. Here, they'll have to be arbiters. If they have a really complicated situation and do it in a way that goes viral, they will be accused of racism. I think it's putting the company up to huge liability.
GIGOT: They should have kept policy that says you to buy something to be in the store, whether you want to use bathroom or sit and use your computer, as we know millions and thousands of people do, certainly in Starbucks I visit. But you to buy something, that's our policy. If you violate the policy, sorry, you can't be here.
MELCHIOR: It's a really reasonable policy.
GIGOT: A lot of other places follow it.
Mary, you're a Starbucks patron. I have seen you around with the cup.
GIGOT: What do you make to it as a customer?
O'GRADY: That was a long time ago, Paul.
I actually stopped going to Starbucks. One of the problems is they are everywhere. And in my opinion, some in New York are not as clean as they used to be. The way we associated with them when they first opened. There's lots of competition and other coffee shops. Two different chains just opened in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. So, you know, I don't think they are thinking very much about their customers.
And to Jillian's point, I mean, I grew up in New York, and I remember as a teenager walking around New York with my brothers, and there were always signs that said, you know, got to buy something if you want to use the bathroom. That's so standard. And --
GIGOT: They put Chock Full of Nuts out of business. Those used to be the stores, Dan. I think, Dan, you even remember those.
HENNINGER: They had great doughnuts at Chock Full of Nuts.
HENNINGER: Let me try to make one more point. It's not just Starbucks. We shouldn't beat up on them alone. This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York told the NYPD they should start issuing just summons to people smoking marijuana in public, rather than arresting them. Smoking marijuana in public in New York is still illegal. And the police --
GIGOT: Technically illegal.
HENNINGER: Technically illegal.
GIGOT: Technically illegal.
HENNINGER: The police said, you are putting us in a tough position. Are we supposed to enforce the law or are we supposed to let people go out and do whatever they want? The progressive view is anything goes. And you get this kind of confusion and even chaos about whether you're doing the right thing or enforcing the law.
GIGOT: All right, thank you all.
When we come back, one year after protests rock Evergreen State College, a backlash against the progressive school from the unlikeliest of places.
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(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: It's been a year since Evergreen State College in Washington State was wracked by protests following a so-called Day of Absence in spring 2017 when activists asked white students, faculty and staff to stay off campus to call attention to issues of institutional racism. When Biology professor, Bret Weinstein, objected, enraged students disrupted his class and staged wider protests on campus. But what has happened at the college since those protests garnered national attention last year may surprise you, as our own Jillian Melchior reported in the Wall Street Journal this week
Jillian, first, some background. A public university?
MELCHIOR: Public university.
GIGOT: How many students?
MELCHIOR: About 3,000 to 3,500 a year. They are known for being extraordinary progressive, to the left of Berkeley. Their motto is, in Latin, "Let it all hang out." As liberal as you can possibly get basically.
GIGOT: So this is part of the attraction. People go there knowing.
MELCHIOR: Yes. Yes, absolutely. It draws progressives.
GIGOT: What happened here that created the controversy?
MELCHIOR: We have two things. First is that they were going through an equity plan that rests on the assumption that all white people are racists.
GIGOT: Equity plan? What is that?
MELCHIOR: Equity is a buzzword on campus.
GIGOT: And what does it mean?
MELCHIOR: One of the things that it would have done, if you're new hire, it has to have an equity justification. You can't just teach chemistry. You have to teach chemistry with a gender focus or a race focus.
GIGOT: I see. That rules out me, OK.
The second thing they did was Day of Absence where white students were asked to leave the campus. Professor Weinstein objected to this. He said he thought that was really offensive and racial segregation. And that ended up triggering these massive protests. You had students occupying the building, holding professors hostage, not letting them use the bathroom, and demanding his firing.
GIGOT: And he was, in fact, forced to go, was he not?
MELCHIOR: Yes. He sued the university for creating a hostile environment. They settled for $500,000. As a condition, he and his wife no longer teach there.
GIGOT: They're no longer -- no longer there.
GIGOT: OK. What are we finding out now, a year later, about the impact of all this controversy on Evergreen?
MELCHIOR: I think every university --
GIGOT: University of Missouri.
MELCHIOR: Yes. Every university where we have seen administrations give in to radical protesters, you've seen massive backlash. I was interested in Evergreen because it has this far-left reputation. What I found is, really interesting, there are a lot of people on the left who care about free speech and free inquiry and were horrified by what they saw. So Evergreen is losing the support of donors, of prospective students. Enrollment will be down about 17 percent. They will lose 500 to 600 students next year.
GIGOT: That's a lot for a school that has --
GIGOT: -- as Evergreen. That's a big deal.
MELCHIOR: They're financially in trouble, too, because tuition is about half of their revenue. They've had to tip into their emergency fund. They are in trouble.
GIGOT: What's the response of the university to your reporting? You dug into public documents, you solicited documents and found out what they wouldn't have announced publicly?
GIGOT: What's their response and explanation?
MELCHIOR: Not our fault. Not our fault. This is the fault of Bret Weinstein for politicizing the issue. They say that this is the fault of the media. They're basically doubling down on the same identity politics, P.C. focus that got them into trouble. So I think they are going to see a lot more backlash.
GIGOT: Any impact so far on the president of the school?
MELCHIOR: No. He's still in place and he's putting diversity and equity and inclusion at the center --
GIGOT: What's his name?
MELCHIOR: George Bridges.
GIGOT: George Bridges. He's still pushing the accelerator down on all of these things.
Bill, what do you make this as a signal, culturally? Are you encouraged by what's happening?
BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: I'm encouraged by some of the response. Look, this is -- since the French Revolution, the left has been eating its own. At some point, the revolution turns on the people that started it. And on campuses, this is how we see the original progressive goals of color blindness, and now has led to gender quotas and all sorts of things. Free speech is leading to speech codes. And tolerance is leading to intolerance. They don't seem to be able to create rules of the game where everyone has -- to actually learn requires some basic values and they don't seem -- I don't blame students. I blame the faculty and the president. So few are willing to stand up to defend the institutions that they run. And we saw this in Vietnam War, too. Think of the protests. The protests, the most violent were at universities where there was probably more support for the anti-war movement than there was in regular country.
GIGOT: Dan, could this possibly be something of a culture turning point? Do you think if people see that at the university of Missouri and Evergreen there are real consequences for allowing disorder to break out and dominate over education?
HENNINGER: It possibly could be, Paul. As Jillian reported, there are some people not sending their children to Evergreen who self-identify as people of the left, but say they are not signing up for something like this sort of chaos. And I will say, very interesting, Paul, the "Washington Post" had a poll this week in which 50 percent of the people polled said that they think that demonstrations today are more violent and more unruly than they were 50 years ago, and they don't like it. So I think the kind of just chaos that progressives are creating in places like Evergreen are being noticed around the country and people are recoiling form it.
GIGOT: Jillian, what do you think is going to happen going forward at Evergreen?
MELCHIOR: I think they are in real trouble. You know, it's been interesting talking to different students who considered Evergreen, crossed it off list. One-third of the students said they were terrified of academics mobbing. So I think this university is in trouble.
GIGOT: Great. Thank you, Jillian.
Catch her podcast, at WSJ.com, 30 minutes, on what happened at Evergreen.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits & Misses" of the week.
GIGOT: Time now for "Hits & Misses" of the week -- Bill?
MCGURN: Mine goes to Betty Crocker. Someone tweeted a complaint about the use of genetically modified ingredients in their formulas and they, instead of caving to bad science and so forth, they defended themselves, saying we're all about safety. And they point to a scientific organization to back them. So good for a company for not caving in.
GIGOT: All right.
MELCHIOR: My hit of the week is tough love from parents who evicted their son in court. He was 30 year's old and he refused to leave. But --
GIGOT: He wouldn't leave their home.
MELCHIOR: Yes. He wouldn't get out. So they in a twist to the story, an Italian restaurant offered him a job. So if he wants to stand on his own as 30-year-old, now is his chance.
GIGOT: Any word whether he took it?
MELCHIOR: No word yet.
HENNINGER: Paul, I'm giving my hit, believe it or not, to the U.S. Congress, which this week passed right-to-trial legislation, which gives seriously-ill patients, allows the Food and Drug Administration and drug companies to give seriously-ill patients access to experimental drugs. It's far from an ideal law but it makes significant progress on a battle that goes back 30 years. President Trump deserves credit for pushing right-to-trial legislation and he says he's going to sign it this week.
GIGOT: Bill, I love my parents and they were great, but I have to tell you when I was 22 I was out the door, man.
MCGURN: Paul, I didn't want to back, and they didn't want me to go back.
GIGOT: And 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. We hope to see you right here next week.
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