Published July 13, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," July 8, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
The Trump administration is weighing options for its response to North Korea's military action after the rogue nation launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching Alaska.
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley says the United States is also focusing on any nation that works with the North.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: In order to move North Korea off its military escalation, we must do more. We will not look exclusively at North Korea. We will look at any country that chooses to do business with this outlaw regime. We will not have patience for stalling or talking our way down to a watered-down resolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: John Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Fox News contributor.
Ambassador, welcome back. Good to see you.
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Glad to be with you.
GIGOT: Let's talk about North Korea. You have written this week that you think relying on China to help is a fool's errand. Why?
BOLTON: Right. I think the premise of efforts both to negotiate with and pressure North Korea over the years have been grounded on the notion that you could change the behavior of the regime. And adding pressure to China to increase their pressure on North Korea to change North Korean behavior falls for the same reason. The North Koreans see a deliverable nuclear weapons capability as essential to regime survival, the ability to project power and, quite frankly, to sell or rent that technology to countries like Iran and even terrorist groups.
GIGOT: Right, but China is basically North Korea's patron. I mean, if China weren't assisting in doing business and buying its minerals and buying its coal and selling it, you know, goods and needs, North Korea could not survive. So why not put pressure on China to say, look, this is not your national interest here. You don't want a nuclear North Korea on your border. That is not helping you.
BOLTON: China's economic connection to North Korea is unquestionably essential to the North's regime survival. That is why my approach would be to convince China it's in their interest to merge the two Koreas to reunite them.
But consider the arguments of that putting pressure on China to put pressure on North Korea. We are going to name a few Chinese banks, individuals. These pinprick sanctions never work because once you name the A, B, C Corporation to sanction it, amazingly, the X, Y and Z Corporation springs up to do business. So if you want to put pressure on China you have got to put big pressure on a big economy. Are we willing to cut off access to the American market to all Chinese banks to get their attention? That is where the idea breaks down.
GIGOT: You think that you have to be that extensive in your sanctions to be able to really put pressure on China.
But I'll say this. It looks to me like maybe Donald Trump could be willing to do that. He has obviously raised objections to Chinese trade and the trade deficit that we have with China. They are talking now about, at least beginning with tariffs on steel as early as next week, Chinese steel. What do you think -- how effective would that kind of economic pressure be on China?
BOLTON: I don't think it would be terribly effective as regards North Korea. I could see a Trump administration imposing those kinds of sanctions on China for purposes of trade negotiation leverage. I can easily see that. And I do think Donald Trump really, if you focus down on key issues for him, the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea and Iran are two issues very central to his administration. So I think he is fully prepared to be tougher than the Obama administration, the George W. Bush administration or the Bill Clinton administration. But the issue is how much pressure do you need to put on China? I don't think, when he listens to his economic advisors, it would be enough. That is why I think this premise that we are -- all of these actions are intended to change the behavior of the North Korean regime ultimately fail. I think you need to change the regime.
GIGOT: All right. You need to change the regime. How do you do that? Robert Joseph, who was a colleague of yours in the Bush administration, talked about a comprehensive strategy aimed at precisely that. So you would ramp up the members of proliferation initiative. You stop them from selling goods or being able to get goods in for the nuclear program. You start to spread the real truth to the North Korean people from the south and elsewhere to try to maybe develop some opposition inside North Korea. And you really squeeze their cash flow. Although, it is harder to do that entirely because of China. What else would you need to do?
BOLTON: Well, Bob's right. I would do all that. But what you need to do fundamentally is persuade China. Contrary to the policy that they pursued for many years, that it is in their best interest ultimately to reunite the two Koreas and eliminate the North Korean nuclear weapons program. The Chinese say they don't want North Korea with nuclear weapons. Why? Not because they are a potential target, but because, ultimately, they fear Japan will get nuclear weapons. And that is a real threat to China.
GIGOT: But then if China does not come around and see it that way, then you have to basic -- you have to do something as radical as saying, you know what, tell Japan maybe you do need your own nuclear deterrent?
BOLTON: I do not believe that is the way to go. I think that would simply encourage a much wider nuclear arms race worldwide. I think it really is - - in China today, there is a debate among the older leadership and the younger leadership. Those are relative terms in China. The younger Chinese leaders, I think, by and large, see North Korea as a pretty ugly piece of baggage. There is a way to make a deal here. The Chinese historically have feared American troops on the river. We do not want to be on the river. We want to get the southern tip of the peninsula.
And here is the main point to China I think. At some stage, North Korea will be threatening enough that an American president will really have to consider the use of military force. And if that happens, there could be chaos on the peninsula. That has to be to China's disadvantage. So, China, you can do this the easy way or you can it the hard way.
GIGOT: But then you have to be able to show that you are willing to use military force, or otherwise, it will be -- we will end up with acquiescing to the North Korean nuclear threat.
BOLTON: That is right. And, look, if you read the media today, some academic publications in this country, people are already being prepared to accept a nuclear North Korea. I will not accept a nuclear North Korea. I understand the risk to military force. I understand the danger to the South Korean peninsula. But Donald Trump is not president of South Korea. He is president of the United States. And I am not willing to risk an erratic Communist dictatorship with nuclear weapons threatening our civilians or civilians in other countries in the hopes that they won't lose their way.
GIGOT: OK, thank you, Ambassador.
Ahead, we dig deeper into the diplomacy surrounding the North Korea troubles. What can the president do and what roles will his adversaries and allies play? Our panel joins us, next.
GIGOT: President Trump putting pressure on China to pull back its economic partnership with North Korea. The president tweeting, quote, "Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter. So much for China working with us. But we had to give it a try!"
So it is there room for negotiation?
Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; editorial board member, Mary Kissel; and columnist, Bill McGurn.
So, Dan, you heard Ambassador Bolton. Do you share his urgency here and what do you think Trump will do?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: I do share his urgency, Paul. But, you know, the question is, how have we arrived at this point of urgency? I mean, you know, back during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, when we had that nuclear standoff, there was a lot of serious thinking around the idea about deterrence, nuclear deterrence.
HENNINGER: I'm afraid that after the Cold War ended, we stopped thinking about that subject. And we have gone through several presidencies watching North Korea build its nuclear capability without any serious thought about how we would deter it. And as John Bolton was suggesting, it is not just North Korea. The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. Iran now, almost assuredly, is pursuing nuclear capabilities. There is the possibility that terrorists could get their hands on a small nuclear weapon. And I think that the time has come to start recommissioning the sort of people who can think about gradually deterring this sort of thing u sing convention weapons, maybe even tactical nuclear weapons. But you run the risk here --
GIGOT: Wait a minute, Dan. Are you saying that as a first strike or just as a deterrent in the Korean peninsula?
HENNINGER: I'm saying -- I'm saying put everything on the table. I'm not going to sit here and say we should do it first strike against North Korea. But I think he should think about doing a first strike and try to game out how that would work.
GIGOT: So, Mary, you lived, worked in Asia. You heard John Bolton say that he did not think that we should pressure China, but more persuade them that a nuclear North Korea is not in their interest. Do you think -- do you see China coming around to that point of view?
MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: I think that is a very difficult thing to achieve unless you exert the kind of pressure that Ambassador Bolton talked about, truly hurting China's economy, putting sanctions on their five biggest banks, putting potentially trade restrictions on them. And the question is, is the Trump administration --
GIGOT: That would hurt us.
KISSEL: Yes, exactly. Is the Trump administration willing to exert that kind of damage on the U.S. economy? Look, Paul, there are not good options here. That might very well be a better option than the kind of first strike that Dan talked about.
Bill, I mean, you worked in Asia as well. You've seen China. I've been to I don't know how many meetings with these diplomats where you talk to them and you make the point about this not being, a nuclear North Korea, not in their interest and they always say, no, no, we can't have chaos there. You know, we cannot have a unified peninsula because it will be terrible. Perhaps China really wants us out of Northeast Asia and maybe they think that North Korea is the way to get us out.
BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: China, for all of its growth in the global economy, has never been a leader in the way we have been hoping, to be a force for stability and so forth. Look, I think all of these things have to be on the table. It is not either/or. It is not pressure to the banks or military strength. We have to be for all of them. I would add -
GIGOT: You would put even tariffs on China?
MCGURN: I don't know. I am actually more inclined -- I would like to revoke the student visas for the children of the Chinese Communist Party. You know that leader there, his daughter went to Harvard. That is something
GIGOT: You would put a lot of American colleges out of business!
MCGURN: But we are talking about an ICBM that could reach Seattle or Chicago. And we have to communicate that we are serious.
Look, North Korea has always been a problem. In 1950, Dean Atchison gave a speech basically saying it is outside our perimeter --
GIGOT: Security perimeter.
MCGURN: Six months later, you know, North Korea invaded. And 67 years later, we are now being threatened with missiles. It is a serious problem.
And in addition to the nuclear problem that we have, we have a second problem. Kim is a guy, he is akin to the suicide bomber, willing to blow himself up in the process. That gives him, unfortunately, a lot of leverage. Because almost any real choice we pick, whether it's pressure on China or North Korea has pain or death on the other side.
GIGOT: Dan, what about this idea that is picking up steam that the ambassador mentioned? I have seen even somebody like Charles Krauthammer suggest that maybe we are moving towards acquiescence here. Look, you've got a weapon, OK, it's a fait accompli. The price of forcing you to get rid of it is too great. But if you ever decide to use it, you will be destroyed. That kind of deterrence from the Cold War.
HENNINGER: Yeah, that's right. It seems to be that's just unacceptable. And again, I point out the possibility of the Iranians getting nuclear capability. Now, if Iran were to, say, get close to what North Korea is able to do -- and they do have a very sophisticated missile program -- does anyone think that the Israelis are going to sit there and simply allow a situation of acceptance to exist? It is inconceivable. So I think the idea that we could acquiesce at this point is simply giving up and that we need a lot more intelligent thinking about what we can do to deter getting to the point where we have no option, as I was suggesting, other than a first strike. You don't want to get to that point. But we need a strategy now.
GIGOT: Quickly, Mary?
KISSEL: I think it's also important to understand what North Korea wants. North Korea wants to conquer South Korea. They want unilateral disarmament in the south and they want reunification on their terms. They think they are racially superior to the South Koreans. This is their goal, a unification of the peninsula on their terms. That's something we need also to think about.
GIGOT: All right. Thank you all.
When we come back, Congress sets its eye on a tax bill as health care stalls in the Senate. What this could mean for the larger prospect of tax reform.
GIGOT: With the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare stalling in the Senate, Congress is now focusing its attention on tax reform. Something Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Paul Ryan say will get done before years end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We are very committed to get tax reform done this year. It is one of the president's top priorities for economic growth. I think the people of America understand that, that we need economic growth and we are committed to doing that. I expect that health care, hopefully, will get done. But regardless, we are committed to getting tax reform done.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We are going to get this done in 2017. But we will not wait for a path free of obstacles. Guess what? It doesn't exist! And we will not cast about for quick fixes and half measures. Transformational tax reform can be done and we are moving ahead full speed ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: We are back with Daniel Henninger and Columnist Bill McGurn and Columnist Kimberly Strassel. Kim joins us as well.
So, Kim, it looks like -- first, before we get to the separate tax reform, let's talk about the tax portion of the health care bill. It looks like Republicans in the Senate are blinking on the repeal of a particular portion of the Obamacare taxes, the 3.8 percent surtax on investment income.
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Right. Running instead of blinking.
You have guys like Tennessee Senator Bob Corker who have already come out and said, look, I just think it is bad optics to be giving a tax break to the wealthiest in the country while we are cutting Medicaid for the poor. Of course, the problem here is that they said that they were going to repeal all the taxes.
GIGOT: Yeah, I don't remember him saying only some of the taxes we'll repeal.
STRASSEL: And this is considered one of the monster bad taxes because, of course, it is tax on investment income. So it is particularly bad.
GIGOT: Now tell me what that means. It's capital gains. It's dividends. It's interest income from your bank account, for example. And it hits couples at $250,000 worth of income. Now, a lot of people think that is a lot of money. I can tell you, for a two-income family in a lot of places, it isn't.
STRASSEL: Yes. For many people, this is a tax on the solidly middle class. And what you already seeing, though, I mean, this could be something actually derails the bill. I mean, the discussion.
GIGOT: How so?
STRASSEL: Well --
GIGOT: Because the Corkers and so on, if they say take it out, then some conservatives might block?
STRASSEL: Right. Because the moderates have been demanding, demanding, demanding. They wanted money for opioid addiction and they wanted more generosity in the Medicaid program, but this is a bridge too far. You had about 40 conservative groups come out this week, send a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, who runs the Finance Committee, saying, no, this cannot happen.
MCGURN: I agree. I think the Republicans have made a mistake from the beginning, which is not --
GIGOT: Only one?
MCGURN: Well, on this, it leaves them vulnerable to the same you're giving breaks to the wealthy and you're hurting the poor. I think the big mistake they have made is not explaining what we want to replace Medicaid. You know, we want to give people a better deal. We don't want to return it to the pre-Obamacare status. We want to make it better. And we have failed to do that, to say why this isn't working for you. I mean, I think that -- we would see it later with the governors having flexibility to improve the program and so forth. But I think that has left them hostage because you see a slashing on one part and giving breaks to the other and it just fuels a very debilitating conversation.
GIGOT: OK, but, Dan, on the politics of this and the optics, if Republicans are basically routed on the class war argument, in this context, then do they think that they will get, oh, well, we'll do it in tax reform, the Democrats are going to make the same argument!
GIGOT: I mean, if you lose on this, what makes you think that you will win on the other one?
HENNINGER: It is very difficult to see how they would win on the other one, Paul, especially since they are making the Democrats' arguments for them. Let's face it, these Republicans moderates are talking like Democrats, right? You raise taxes on the wealthy, or at least these people with upper incomes to pay for other programs. That is what they did with the 3.8 percent tax originally. The idea that it is a tax cut for the rich simply jumps over the fact that when Obamacare was passed they slapped this capital gains tax on people making $250,000 to pay for it. That same argument, just as you're suggesting, will roll forward into tax reform when the Republicans start talking about cutting --
HENNINGER: -- the corporate income tax or going to --
HENNINGER: -- immediate expensing for new investments.
HENNINGER: They will be vulnerable again.
MCGURN: Paul, I would say this is a role for the president, too. He's been absent on this in the health care bill. If President Trump had given an Oval Office address and explained what we are trying to do on Medicaid, to counter the Democratic claims, I think that would have gone a long way on how we are fixing it. I think he would have the same credibility as a businessman to give that address on, say, corporate tax cuts, to say, this is a way to make us more competitive and not give companies an incentive to go relocate in Ireland and so forth. But he hasn't used that. I mean, he's gone to rallies but he is not using on behalf of the two most important pieces of legislation.
GIGOT: But, realistically, Kim, I mean, this president -- I mean, I agree totally with Bill -- he doesn't give speeches like that.
STRASSEL: No, he doesn't. But I think the Republicans also need to understand, too, what credit do they get if they actually are going to go down this route? Is not as if, suddenly, Democrats will say, oh, yes, this is a good health care bill.
GIGOT: If they were to abandon --
STRASSEL: If they were to abandon this and raise taxes, or even double the double the Medicare tax, at least they would get credit.
GIGOT: No, they -- they might before it is over!
Still ahead, where the White House stands with the Kremlin following the highly anticipated meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
GIGOT: President Trump meeting the Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time, face to face, at the G-20 meeting in Germany. The president had this message for Putin before the sit-down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran. And to, instead, join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: We are back with Columnist Bill McGurn, Editorial Board Member Mary Kissel, and Dan Henninger
So, Dan, these details about these events tend to dribble out in time. And we do not know exactly what happened. Two hours, 16 minutes. Long meeting. What you think the most important thing we should be watching for is?
HENNINGER: I think probably the most important thing is the atmospherics, the relationship between Donald Trump and Putin, because, you know, Vladimir Putin, a hard-nosed former KGB official, and he will be taking Donald Trump's measure in this. He'll be sizing him up to see what he can get out of Trump in the future. They're not going to solve the world's problems here.
Two things that Donald Trump mentioned, stop destabilizing Ukraine and stop supporting authoritarian regimes in Syria. I do not think that is going to happen anytime soon.
In so far as the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border, and as Putin has a clear idea of what he wants to achieve in the Middle East. I think what he has done here is try and figure how much he is going to be able to get over time out of Donald Trump.
GIGOT: And the atmospherics --you may think it is a small point, but the Russians wanted only two people in the room, Mary. They wanted Lavrov, the foreign minister, and Putin with Trump and Rex Tillerson. Where is H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor? Russians likes small meetings.
KISSEL: Yes. Or Fiona Hill, another Russia expert in the Trump administration. Look, it is savvy of Putin. When he sits down next to Donald Trump, looking like a world leader, acting like somebody who can, quote, unquote, "solve problems with the U.S. president," that is a propaganda victory --
GIGOT: For Putin, back home.
KISSEL: -- for Putin, back home. And look, at the end of the day, Putin is great at solving problems that he himself created. Let's not forget what he did in Syria, bombing the U.S.-backed forces, carpet bombing civilians. He wants a port on the Mediterranean. He is propping up Assad. This is not a guy who you can trust in Syria to help solve anything.
GIGOT: Did -- what you think of the atmospherics, Bill? Trump didn't stand up to him like Emmanuel Macron, the French president, who dressed him down before he met him and said, look, you shouldn't interfere with our elections. I wish, as an American, that I had heard our president dress Vladimir Putin down.
MCGURN: Yes. I don't know. Look, the reality is the policy was decided before the meeting. The meeting is sort of the show, right? He knew -- President Trump new the shape of this deal.
GIGOT: You are talking about the Syrian cease-fire that has been announced in southwest Syria --
GIGOT: -- which is a modest deal, at most.
GIGOT: It is a very small portion of Syria.
MCGURN: What I'm saying is the meetings, I don't think they matter too much. I think --
GIGOT: You don't?
MCGURN: No. I think that reality is what the policy is. Macron -- let's look at what French policy is.
MCGURN: If French policy is serious, we'll take France seriously. I think the key is, this is a legacy of Barack Obama. The Russians have military foothold in the Middle East. They're not going to give it up for any deal going on. I think what we have to change the dynamic, the way to pressure them is to look for other places. We tend to deal with these things discreetly, North Korea, Ukraine, Syria. The bad guys are watching all of that. I think Donald Trump has to be serious about what he said in Poland. And he has to change the dynamics so that, instead of saying, how will Vladimir Putin react, it should be how will Donald Trump react?
GIGOT: Here's how you get Putin's attention on Syria -- I mean, on Ukraine, Mary. You sell lethal weapons to the Ukrainians.
KISSEL: Absolutely. And you keep the sanctions on. And you keep American energy pipes open and you start shipping LNG to Europe. That's --
GIGOT: And Donald Trump is doing that!
KISSEL: And that's true, and that's what he's doing. Look, I agree with Bill that Trump inherited a certain reality on the ground in Syria. Where I differ a little bit is you don't want to legitimize Russia's role in that conflict. We don't need to accept that Russia is going to help set our foreign policy when it comes to Assad. I think I'm a bit more hawkish here than my colleagues.
MCGURN: Well, I'm more hawkish. I want policy. Secretary Mattis said we don't deal in red lines, we deal with reality. Let's see what the policy is. I think, frankly, the press goes too crazy over these meetings. This is what the press covers.
GIGOT: But don't you think that there is -- I mean, there is a personal dynamic here. And Putin is an old, canny KGB guy. He's going to look at Donald Trump and say, can I take him? He looked of Barack Obama, and we know from people who had talked to Putin about Obama, he had contempt for Obama.
HENNINGER: Well --
GIGOT: And he rolled over him.
HENNINGER: That is true. But, you know, sure, and Trump has to stand his ground. But he's got some pretty good people. Rex Tillerson understands Vladimir Putin. He has done business with him. He knows how ruthless he is. And he is got McMaster. I think they've put in policies in place that are sending a signal to Putin.
To follow up on this liquified natural gas point, last month, there was a huge shipment of LNG from Louisiana to the Polish port on the Baltic Sea. The Pols -- and then in that speech that Trump gave, he talked specifically about Poland getting alternative sources of energy that would not make them rely -- reliant on one supplier, meaning Russia. Putin understood that because that was gas that they had been selling --
MCGURN: -- selling missiles to Poland, too.
GIGOT: Poland will --
MCGURN: Look, I think Vladimir Putin is going to be watching North Korea. Secretary Mattis said it's our biggest danger point, however, he has characterized it. And he's going to see, is Donald Trump serious about --
GIGOT: Yes, but Putin did not help on that front.
MCGURN: Of course not!
MCGURN: He's the bad guy. He is on the other side.
GIGOT: He joined with the Chinese to say, oh, why don't you guys stop --
MCGURN: My point is that, that is where he is going to take the measure of Donald Trump. Not just meeting him in person but seeing -- you know, you go back to -- I think you mentioned Khrushchev and Kennedy. Kennedy blinked almost everywhere in the world, whether it was Laos, Berlin, Cuba. He blinked!
KISSSEL: Yes. That is an important point. But how do you establish or reestablish, rather, reinforce U.S. deterrence after these past eight years? You see Trump doing that in the south, trying to see more freedom of operation --
KISSEL: Freedom of navigation operation. You saw him bombing the chemical factory, chemical - look, the airport used to launch chemical weapons in Syria. But there will have to be a lot more than that.
GIGOT: And Article V. In that Warsaw speech, Trump said --
GIGOT: -- we'll stand up for that, which means NATO, if one is attacked, we're all attacked.
All right. Still ahead, one group of immigrants facing deportation here in the U.S. could be a target of ISIS if they are sent back to their homeland. We look at the fate of Iraqi Christians under close watch by the feds.
GIGOT: While much of the president's immigration policy has put the focus on illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America, another group of people facing deportation are at risk of death if they are sent back to their homeland. Fourteen hundred Iraqi Christians, some of them in the Detroit area, were recently detained by immigration agents. Their status is now in legal limbo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been here since 8:00 a.m. with a paid attorney and everything. Nobody is giving me answers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you take my brother, these families to Iraq? None of them speak the language? And they will kill the Christians. They will kill our people!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining me now, Jillian Melchior. Jillian will join the Wall Street Journal this coming week as an editorial page writer.
Welcome to the program --
JILLIAN MELCHIOR, EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: Thank you
GIGOT: -- and to "The Journal."
So, Jillian, what is going on with these Christians and why are they at deportation risk?
MELCHIOR: In June, there was an immigration sweep in Detroit. It ended up catching a lot of Iraqi Christians who were living there. And what this really dates back to is, for years, Iraq wouldn't take people back. It wouldn't allow you to deport them. Under Donald Trump's travel ban, that changed. Iraq agreed to take them back. So you have people who committed petty crimes, in some cases, decades ago. Have built lives, have built families, who are now eligible for deportation back to Iraq.
GIGOT: Now was this immigration sweep focused only on people with criminal records?
MELCHIOR: It was. It was.
GIGOT: OK. So, but what kind of crimes are we talking about? I think the average viewer might say, well, wait a minute, you don't have a right to stay here if you're not a citizen and you commit a crime.
MELCHIOR: It kind of runs the gamut. So on one extreme end, you've got the head of a mafia, someone that had a murder conviction. On the opposite extreme, you have people who served probation for drug charges but have not committed crimes since. You have people that have committed misdemeanor fraud.
GIGOT: Even misdemeanors?
MELCHIOR: Even misdemeanors. What this means is you can come to the United States legally, but once you commit that crime, your immigration status is eligible for deportation. In a lot of cases, they had these decades since the crime occurred, have not committed repeat crimes, but they are now eligible for deportation.
GIGOT: But otherwise, they have green cards. They have visas. They're legal -- these people are not illegal immigrants. These are people here legally.
MELCHIOR: They came here legally. They're status is eligible for deportation now, which is kind of a legal gray area.
GIGOT: OK. And under U.S. immigration law, if you commit a crime and you have that status, even if you have legal status but you're not a citizen, then you are subject to deportation.
MELCHIOR: Yes. And this is where it gets complicated, I think, for both progressives and the Trump administration. So because these are Iraqi Christians, if they are sent back, they will face persecution. You've seen Mike Pence saying, for instance, that Christians are subject to genocide in Iraq.
GIGOT: In Iraq? Remember, these are -- they're not going back to Syria. Iraq has a functioning government. It has police and so on. But you're still saying the record is they will face persecution in Iraq?
MELCHIOR: Yes. And if you look at what happened to the Christian community there in the last 15 years, it was 1.5 million in 2003. Four- fifths of them have left. So the U.S. government has acknowledged that as a genocide. They view that threat as very real. There is also concern about where in Iraq they will be sent back to, places like Irbil would be less insecure for them.
GIGOT: Also, the Kurdish --
GIGOT: -- the Kurdish territory.
MELCHIOR: Exactly. Places like Baghdad, that would be extraordinarily dangerous.
GIGOT: OK, so what is the legal recourse now? And the Trump administration said -- Donald Trump has said that he pays particular attention to persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Does he have to step up and do something? Can he do something?
MELCHIOR: It's very tricky. Basically, the burden of proof is on the immigrants. They have three real options. They can apply for relief under the Convention of Torture at the U.N. They can look for a pardon for the original crime, either from the president or from the governor. Or they can argue that this is going to pose extreme hardship to their citizens, spouse or children. All of those are very difficult to prove. And there is also a jurisdictional question. So you have the Eastern District of Michigan saying, we're not even sure if we can answer this. It might have to be handled administratively. It is very complex right now.
GIGOT: And it almost does suggest that, given the challenge that these immigrants have, the government in the United States is going to have to say, you know what, we do think you will face persecution under the Geneva Convention on Torture and, therefore, we are going to make a special dispensation here. Is that, ultimately, what you think should happen?
MELCHIOR: It is. But I think it is a tricky one for progressives because they positioned themselves as the main defender of the immigrants. What this brings --
MELCHIOR: -- is a religious question. In this case, the persecution is explicitly because of religion. But if you apply religion here, why not with the travel ban? Why not with prioritizing Christians for refugee status over Muslims from Iraq? It opens up a lot of questions both for the administration and for its progressive opponents.
GIGOT: But there is a special problem for Christians in the Middle East.
GIGOT: You can argue also there is a problem in other places, so you might -- I see what you mean. It is a slippery slope argument that you would have to allow in a lot more people. What do you think will happen?
MELCHIOR: It is up for grabs right now. I think this is a case that is very politically charged and emotionally charged. I think, uniquely, American's have sympathy for Iraqi Christians. I think that may put some pressure on the administration.
GIGOT: All right. Thank you, Jillian.
MELCHIOR: Thank you.
GIGOT: When we come back, the life of a baby with a deadly genetic disorder in the hands of U.K. courts. But now the effort is on to meet his parents' wishes to get their son to the United States for treatment.
GIGOT: A baby with a rare genetic condition is in a fight for his life and it has caught the attention of President Trump and Pope Francis. 10-month- old Charlie Gard suffers from Mitochondrial Depletion Syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. Charlie's parents want to take him to the United States for experimental treatment. But the British courts are refusing, ruling his doctors in the U.K. should take him off life support and that Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity.
We are back with Dan Henninger, Kimberly Strassel and Bill McGurn.
A terrible case, Bill. but sometimes they eliminate moral issues.
MCGURN: Yes. This is monstrous, this case, because it is not a case of resources. The family has raised money. It wouldn't cost the state something to do this.
GIGOT: To bring him home.
MCGURN: To bring him. The wording of the European court about that the parents have rights, overriding control is vested in the court, exercising it's independent and objective background. I mean, this is just chilling. And this is what it comes down to when you have a government-run health care. These questions come down to not what is to be done. I don't know what treatment the child should get. But who gets to make that decision?
GIGOT: I don't understand. Why won't they let him go home, first of all? Even from the hospital, if the parents want him to. They won't even do that. And then, if it is not the states money, if it is money that the parents have raised, what is the argument for not letting them try some experimental the treatment in the United States?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: The argument is -- and I think this what Bill was saying is so scary -- is that we control the state of this child. It's not really necessarily about the treatment or --
GIGOT: Is it power?
STRASSEL: It is about control. Believe it or not, they actually appointed this hospital, and the state, a guardian for the baby, who has argued actively against the parents in the court system. So --
GIGOT: But I don't understand this. Do they fear a precedent, that somehow --
MCGURN: They sure do! They fear a precedent of having individuals control their own health care destiny. I think Kim is especially right. I mean, it's telling that they wouldn't even let the child go home to die in the arms of his parents.
GIGOT: Explain this precedent. Are they saying that if Charlie Gard can go home, if his parents can say -- or sent him to the U.S. for treatment, that somehow other parents want to take terrible cases, people on life support, people with diseases that are probably not going to recover, we can't let -- everyone will want that kind of treatment then.
STRASSEL: They're not outright saying that. Rather they are saying --
GIGOT: That would be inhumane!
STRASSEL: And so the courts have been more careful than that. And in these decisions, what there are instead saying is it is better for Charlie to stay in the hospital. Better for Charlie to be taken off a ventilator. And we know what is best for Charlie. And that is what should scare people because it's setting precedent --
STRASSEL: -- the other way.
GIGOT: I dare say, Dan, it sounds to me like maybe this court is a death panel.
HENNINGER: Yes, they do sound like a death panel.
But, look, Paul, there are a couple of things going on that are very European that Americans ought to be watching this. Euthanasia is much more popular in Europe than it is here. The Netherlands has an aggressive policy of euthanasia. And it applies generally to elderly people. But the argument is extend it as well to the mentally disabled and now to infants. I mean, it is a concept known as a duty to die.
And I think the other thing that we have to be aware of is that most of Europe have these nationalized health care systems that are under tremendous economic pressure. And cost-containment is an idea that sits beneath a lot of these decisions not to treat people. Because it is just too expensive. And that is the sort of thing United -- you know, that we should be aware of right now as we debate whether we want to go towards more of that kind of national-provided health care.
GIGOT: So this is the moral consequence, Dan, of single-payer health care? Government-run health care?
HENNINGER: Absolutely, it is one of those consequences, because you get to the point where your cost, especially among elderly people, are so high that you say, these people have a duty to die because we simply cannot afford to pay for them. And especially with Charlie Gard, that will be expensive treatment. But still, in the United States, where we do have the best neonatal care in the world, we can experiment and try to find a way towards helping infants like that. But under the cost-containment environment, you simply don't do that, Paul.
GIGOT: I guess they would respond and say, well, we don't -- he doesn't have much chance of recovery.
GIGOT: They say you are just wasting money.
MCGURN: You're causing pain is what they are staying in this case. But, look, again, it gets back to who makes that decision. Do we really want a government bureaucracy making these decisions about our children? In this case, because they raised the money, as you say, we don't have the issue of someone claiming that the state should spend three or four million to keep someone alive at the end.
STRASSEL: Also, allowing the state to make that decision allows them to make future ones. Right now, it is Charlie Gard and this very rare disease. But who is to say somewhere down the line it is not the state saying a child with Down's syndrome don't have quality of life? We shouldn't help them either. We do not want it. It is terrifying.
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.
Dan, first to you.
HENNINGER: I'm giving a miss to electric cars, Paul. I mean, we all know how electric cars are supposed to be so desirable for saving the planet that they are sold with huge tax breaks for buyers. Well, apparently, that generosity doesn't quite extend to saving the roads. Because a lot of states like California and Michigan are now imposing fees on electric cars, EVB's, to pay for the repair of roads and bridges. At least 13 states have these EVB's now. Obviously, what the state giveth with one hand, it taketh away with the other.
KISSEL: I'm going to give a miss to New York City Major Bill de Blasio, quite possibly, the most inept mayor in American today, taking us straight back to the '70s. I don't mean that in a good way. We found out this week that homelessness in New York is up almost 40 percent, the highest rate in more than 12 years. So while our trains are derailing and we've got public urination in the streets and the homeless everywhere, where is Bill de Blasio? He's off to Germany to protest at the G-20.
GIGOT: All right. I hope he stays there.
STRASSEL: So, Paul, as many people have watched, Europe has had this growing problem with sexual assault at a lot of its concerts that it is having. This is nonetheless a miss to Sweden that decided the organizers of its biggest music festival, have decided that the way to answer this is to have a man-free concert series going forward. Men will simply not be allowed to attend. There has to be some better way of dealing with sexual assault, maybe policing or something, than banning half of humanity from listening to good music.
GIGOT: All right.
MCGURN: This may be a first, but a hit for Harvard Law School for announcing the new Antonin Scalia professorship of law. A spokesman for the Constantine (ph) family that endowed it said it was appropriate that his alma mater recognize him. Justice Scalia once said that he wrote for law students. So this is a great example of his legacy. The opinions are what really matters. But a tip of the hat to Harvard for honoring a son whose views weren't always popular on that campus.
GIGOT: And the new dean of the Harvard Law School, John Manning, is actually a conservative, believe it or not. So give him credit for that.
MCGURN: That's right.
GIGOT: All right. 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 you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. We hope to see you right here next week.
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