ANNOUNCER: This is the Washington Week Webcast Extra.
GWEN IFILL: I’m Gwen Ifill. Hello, and welcome to the Washington Week Webcast Extra, where we pick up online where we left off on air. And boy, did we leave a lot off. (Laughter.)
I’m joined by Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal, Joan Biskupic of Reuters, Jonathan Martin of The New York Times, and Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post.
Remember when Marco Rubio said we should vote for him for president because the Senate was useless when it came to getting things done? Well, he lost his presidential bid and things have changed – a lot of things. The lesson now on the Rubio transformation, Ed?
MR. O’KEEFE: He’s trying to get back in. He has cleared the – what was a – gosh, I lost count – five-candidate primary field down to one guy, as –
MS. IFILL: Who all voluntarily dropped out.
MR. O’KEEFE: Exactly. And he’s got an August primary ahead of him, and he’s likely to win it very easily. The signal that this was happening actually kind of happened a few weeks ago when a reporter just kind of on her way through the hallway said to him, so, are you reconsidering? And he goes, no, I’ve got – I’ve got till June 24th. And everyone kind of went, wait a second, like –
MS. IFILL: What, what?
MR. O’KEEFE: He knew exactly what was going on. And his staff insisted it was a joke, and that he wasn’t really serious about it. But day after day after day, the tea leaves started to show that he was doing this.
MS. IFILL: Well, they started putting out stories like they’re sitting at sunset in a pickup truck and he’s talking to one of the guys who tells him he really should run. The story was a little too perfect.
MR. O’KEEFE: And most crassly, last weekend in Orlando, at the site of the shooting, one of the guys who dropped out, the lieutenant governor, had said to him –
MS. IFILL: Right, this is who it was.
MR. O’KEEFE: – you know, maybe you should consider getting back in. So he’s getting back in. If they can hold this seat, Republicans have a better shot at maintaining control of the Senate. If they lose this seat, they’ve probably lost several Senate seats.
MS. IFILL: But he’s still not for Trump.
MR. O’KEEFE: No, and he made that very clear. He says he sees his candidacy now as a sort of a thumb on the scale against an either President Trump or President Clinton.
MR. MARTIN: But he’s still endorsing Trump, though. I mean, he hasn’t pulled back his endorsement yet.
MR. O’KEEFE: Right.
MS. IFILL: He’s just gone back and forth about whether he’ll speak on his behalf at the convention.
MR. MARTIN: Yeah, but he’s still voting for Trump. Yeah, absolutely.
MR. O’KEEFE: Yes, yeah, but he won’t actively campaign for him.
MR. MARTIN: The politics of it are good for the Republicans broadly. This gives them a shot to hold the Senate, or at least it sort of increases their prospects, and so they’re happy about that, and they should be. On Senator Rubio himself, I do think it reinforces perceptions that flowered during the primary, and certainly after the primary, that he is driven by ambition at a remarkable scale, even for a politician, and that he sort of calculated and saw this was the better play to stay in the Senate to run again for president.
MS. IFILL: Hey, listen, at least it gives us –
MR. MARTIN: So I know being a politician who is full of ambition isn’t a felony in this town, but he really showed it this week I think.
MS. IFILL: Gives another chance to cover another Charlie Crist race. (Laughter.)
MR. MARTIN: (Laughs.) That’s right.
MS. IFILL: In the House against one of the people who was going to run against Marco Rubio. Florida, the gift that keeps on giving.
Joan, let’s go back to the Supreme Court, because we’re going to have another big week next week and we’re waiting for another big shoe to drop on one of those hot-button issues, this time abortion.
MS. BISKUPIC: Abortion, the first time since 2007 the justices have an abortion rights case pending, from Texas, the scene of almost all of the big cases this term. Tests two provisions: one, new restrictions on physicians, saying that they have to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital if they want to perform abortions at a clinic; and the other provision requires hospital-grade standards at the facilities. And the justices heard this in early March. Here we are, late June, without a decision. And we have, as we all know, four liberals, four conservatives. I think they’re desperately trying not to deadlock on this one. They could split the difference on the two.
MS. IFILL: How do you do that? Do they have conversations where they say, we don’t want to deadlock, what can we do?
MS. BISKUPIC: Oh, completely, because, see, they know that everybody has gotten energized for this case with the filing of briefs, it’s a very expensive process. They know that clarity is needed in the nation for what is the standard for assessing state regulations on abortion. And actually, lower courts have been divided on that standard of what constitutes an undue burden on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
MS. IFILL: I don’t think people know that about the Court, that they sit down and they say, well, how can we not just decide what we think is right individually based on our reading of the Constitution, but also how can we set policy in a way that’s –
MS. BISKUPIC: Well, it’s not – well, the policy word, really, Gwen?
MS. IFILL: Really.
MS. BISKUPIC: You think Chief Justice John Roberts is thinking, let’s think about our – no, they’re not thinking policy. What they’re thinking is, look, in the – between when we accepted this case and when we heard it, our ninth member, Antonin Scalia, passed away. We now have just eight justices to decide it. If we deadlock, it means there’s a lot of uncertainty out there. So they work at it. And what we saw on some other cases is they worked at it and they still divided – 4-4, for example, on immigration. But I think that this one, it’s come late enough that we’re likely to get a ruling. And which way will that go, favoring abortion rights or favoring the states? It’s hard to tell.
MR. BENDAVID: But if they do deadlock, I mean, are these cases just going to come back? I mean, it seems like they’re going to end this little phase with several cases in which they’ve been 4-4, haven’t created a precedent, haven’t really answered the question. So can we just expect all those issues to resurface in the coming year or two?
MS. BISKUPIC: Year or two. It takes a while to have a case work its way up. And I can tell you that states will continue putting restrictions on abortion, so we’re likely to see that kind of case come back. Some will come back, some won’t.
MS. IFILL: Naftali, I want to talk to you a little bit more about the Brexit decision which completely overwhelmed us all at the end of the week, because there is – there’s a political fallout which goes beyond just what we saw. And there are names like Marine Le Pen and Boris Johnson and who knows who in Germany who are all now poised to take advantage of this political earthquake that happened when Britain decided to pull out of the EU.
MR. BENDAVID: Yeah, I mean, I think this is going to energize a lot of the parties that are on the right in a lot of the countries in Europe that really have this anti-establishment and anti-EU sort of motivating force behind them. And I think what you’re going to see in some countries, explicitly or implicitly, is almost a coalition between the center-right and the center-left against the establishment parties instead of the traditional right-left divide. I think you’ll see that a little bit in France, where Marine Le Pen is gaining a lot of power. I think you’ll see it in other countries as well.
Germany is almost in its own category because of its history. Because it’s held responsible for ripping apart the continent twice in the 20th century, the push to leave the EU is much less likely to gain traction. We have seen some anti-immigrant and even some anti-Muslim sentiment and demonstrations there, but the likelihood that it would gain a critical mass is probably less there than it is in a lot of other countries.
MS. IFILL: And does this really crack up the EU, or is the EU too much an entrenched institution/organization now, that this is a blow but not a death blow?
MR. BENDAVID: I think it’s more likely not to be a death blow. I mean, one thing that I think is perhaps not entirely recognized is there’s a lot of different ways to be in the EU or even, as in the case of Norway or Switzerland, not to be in the EU but kind of have a close relationship with it. There’s all kinds of layers of alliances, and maybe you’re with them on security but you’re not with them on certain economic issues. So I think you may see more of a multi-layered kind of quality to it. But the overall idea of this – of this coalition of 28, soon to be 27 countries, I think the idea of a fragmentation is still pretty unlikely.
MS. IFILL: Fascinating.
OK, Jonathan, let’s talk about one of those stories that didn’t even squeeze into the main program tonight, which is staffing and how the Trump campaign tries to figure out – I mean, well, they had 70 people on staff and Hillary Clinton had 700 people on staff, that 10-to-1 thing. So the big loss this week was Corey Lewandowski, one of his right hand men, who got fired even though there are a lot of other things he did this campaign that he didn’t get fired. That’s one question. And the other is, he got fired and landed a pretty decent gig the very next day.
MR. MARTIN: He was one of the real enforcers. In fact, he was the enforcer for the Trump campaign. He would play the heavy with the press certainly, with rivals. I mean, we know for a fact that he was intimately involved in sort of pushing Trump to be Trump. He was very open about that, and behind the scenes he encouraged Trump to sort of, you know, throw some pretty tough punches along the way. So –
MS. IFILL: We’re thinking maybe he threw a couple of punches along the way, too.
MR. MARTIN: And I was going to say, and he himself was involved in a physical altercation with a reporter earlier this year, which he faced charges for that were ultimately dropped. So, look, I think the fact is that Trump recognized, after a brutal few weeks, that he had to make a change – that he had to put loyalty aside to this fellow and try to bring some more order to his campaign. But Gwen, as you know, you can’t change the candidate. And the candidate is the one who is driving the negative coverage by saying a series of things that are offensive or at least outside the norms of American politics. And so I don’t think you’re going to see that big of a change as long as Trump is Trump.
MS. IFILL: Well, and we don’t have anybody at this table from CNN tonight, but let’s take a little media responsibility here too. It’s not like we can change us either. There is money to be made, there is eyeballs to be gotten by hiring Corey Lewandowski. Within 24 hours, even though he has – he has already admitted he signed a non-disclosure – a non-disclosure thing with Trump, the idea that he’s going to show up and be a Trump apologist for pay.
MR. MARTIN: He said I think last night that he would be umpire calling balls and strikes.
MS. IFILL: Wow, we’ve heard that before.
MS. BISKUPIC: Chief justice of the United States. (Laughter.)
MR. MARTIN: Yeah, exactly. And there were some who questioned that, too.
MS. IFILL: Yeah, exactly.
MR. MARTIN: Yeah, we shall see just how detached and unbiased he is in his campaign analysis here, given his financial investment.
MR. O’KEEFE: They all do it, though. I mean, Axelrod and Gibbs did it the moment they left the White House. Rick Tyler did it leaving the Cruz campaign.
MS. IFILL: And they were just as defensive, you’re right, of the president. It’s not like they started criticizing him once they got out. You’re right, you’re right.
MR. O’KEEFE: It took a few years.
MS. IFILL: It took a few years, but they’re there now, right? Boy, what a gig. I don’t want that gig, I’m just saying. (Laughter.)
Thank you, everybody. While you’re online, join us for 16 for 2016, our feature where you can share your videos, comments, photos and tweets every day whenever you like. We want to know what you’re thinking about the 2016 election. That’s #16for2016.
And we’ll see you next time on the Washington Week Webcast Extra.