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Unresolved April 24, 2017
Unresolved: Trump's First 100 Days
Trump's First 100 Days

Five Debaters. Four Debates. Trump's First 100 Days.

The first 100 days of the Trump administration have been filled with a whirlwind of new policies and challenges to Washington orthodoxies, and the country is sharply divided.  But if we are open to it, we might find that there are reasonable arguments being made by both sides on many issues.  And those conversations can start by considering: President Trump’s “America First” policy, and what it means to different people; the administration’s impact on the health of the stock market and our economy; the team that the president has assembled; and whether it’s the media, or the president, that’s under attack. In one night we embark on a radical departure from our Oxford-style format, asking five debaters, from across the political spectrum, for their views on four key issues under the new Trump presidency.

  • 00:00:00
    John Donvan:
    And our handle is @IQ2US. Otherwise, we would appreciate it if you would turn off your phone, so that it doesn't start ringing in the middle of the program. So, I want to -- having explained all that, I want to ask you now to vote on the motions that are presenting to you.
  • 00:01:02
    And again, same thing using this key pad just pay attention to keys number one and two. We are not doing undecided tonight, that's another change that we're making. You have to make a commitment. One or Two -- yes or no, on each of these motions. And let's work through them. The first motion: America First is a sound policy direction. America First is a sound policy direction. One is yes and two is no. America First, a sound policy direction. And I am just going to wait for a signal from backstage that I can move forward onto the next one. Is anybody desperately trying to be undecided on this one?

    [laughter]

    And I get it [laughs]. Come in with an open mind. I don’t know. Yeah. Okay, we are going to move onto the next one. Resolution number two, resolved. The stock market says that Trump is good for the economy. One for yes, two for no.
  • 00:02:00
    The stock market says Trump is good for the economy. I am getting full eye contact which suggests that everybody is good. Can I move on? Not yet. Okay, we can move onto number three. Resolution number three: Trump has picked a terrific team.

    [laughter]

    That's -- that's not a punchline.

    [laughter]

    That's a sardonic chuckle. Thank you from the front row.

    [laughter]

    Yes, is number one, two is no. But here's the thing about that sardonic chuckle; there is going to be at least one, maybe two, maybe three debaters, but I think probably two or one who are going to try very hard to persuade you of that point. And that is why we're here. So, if you -- I want you to listen with an open mind to whoever argues that point.
  • 00:02:58
    [applause]

    And Jamelle Bouie, welcome to Intelligence Squared.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Thank you for having me.

    John Donvan:
    You are the chief political correspondent for Slate and the political analyst for CBS News. You are our only first-time debater tonight.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I hope --

    John Donvan:
    How do you feel about that? Huh?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I hope I'm just not hazed or anything.
  • 00:03:02
    The fourth and final motion, the press is out to get Trump. One is yes and two is no. Everybody's good? All right. Terrific. So, one more thing I want to say -- it will help in the production of the podcast -- what we do is we record the whole evening and then we edit it down to a smaller program, but we like to give the sense that you are all here and so there are various times when you may not actually feel the motivation to do so, but I would like it if you would applaud.

    [laughter]

    And so, I will ask for your applause at -- to be very spontaneous in those moments. I'm sorry, I just got a note in my ear to mention Twitter. I did mention Twitter, did I not?

    John Donvan:
    Yeah, I did. The person in the back wasn't listening.

    [laughter]
  • 00:04:00
    And is now apologizing.

    [laughter]

    What I want to do in -- a couple of points is to ask you to applaud. So, in just about five seconds I am going to ask you to applaud -- I am going to say something and then I am going to introduce our debaters. And when I introduce our debaters I want to ask you to continue to applaud until they get themselves seated. To keep that energy up. You're all good with that? Any objections? Is anybody pressing number two on that point?

    [laughter]

    No. Okay. All right, let's begin if you could give me some spontaneous round of applause. Thank you.

    [applause]

    Good evening, I’m John Donvan and this is Intelligence Squared US, where tonight, our faceoff is called, "Unresolved: Trump's First 100 Days." And because so much has happened since Inauguration Day, we are unlocking our usual format to let us debate not just one but four different resolutions, each a different arguable proposition about the impact of Trump's presidency so far.
  • 00:05:08
    Also, we are going to bring five debaters to the stage who will not be arguing in prearranged teams, but each one will be flying solo, arguing yes or no on each resolution depending on what that resolution is. They will be trying to convince you, our live audience here in New York of the merits of their individual positions. And you also will be voting on these resolutions. And we will track how your positions swing over the course of the evening and which of these debaters proves best at convincing you that he or she is most right about Donald J. Trump. 100 days, four resolutions, five debaters, let's meet them and bring them on.

    [applause]
  • 00:06:00
    Hello, Jennifer Rubin.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Nice to be here.

    John Donvan:
    You are an opinion writer and author of the, "Right Turn," blog for the Washington Post. You've debated with us before last fall. It's great to have you back, thanks.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Nice to be here.

    John Donvan:
    And Rich -- Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, commentator for the Fox News Channel. Welcome back to you, as well.

    Rich Lowry:
    Thanks much, John.

    John Donvan:
    Also, a past debater in a great debate we had last fall on immigration, thanks.

    Rich Lowry:
    Thank you.

    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State for Kansas and immigration advisor to the Trump campaign. That makes you the only member of our panel who has advised the Trump campaign, so we're interested in what you have to say. I also find it interesting that, of the many, many sitting elected officials that we've invited to debate on our stage, you're the only one who's ever said, "Yes." What's that about?

    Kris Kobach:
    Thank you.

    [applause]
  • 00:07:00
    You know, I think having -- you know, to win a state office, you usually have to do a few debates. And I think most politicians really don't like it.

    John Donvan:
    Yeah, we noticed.

    Kris Kobach:
    And maybe -- and I'm just odd that way. I actually really enjoy it.

    John Donvan:
    All right. Thanks very much. And now, Ian Bremmer, president and founder of the Eurasia Group, a global risk research and consulting firm, welcome Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Good to see you.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    And here's the thing about you, Ian. You are a three-time past debater for us. I think this is the big number four for you with us. And you were actually the inspiration for tonight's show, some writing you did back earlier in the winter on the topic of America First. You actually said, "I could argue both sides of this, it's that nuanced.” And we thought, "Okay, let's get nuanced to that." And so, thank you, Ian Bremmer.
  • 00:08:02
    That would be -- that would be really unpleasant.

    John Donvan:
    No, it's going to be fine. Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome one more time our team of debaters.

    [applause]

    So what we're going to do -- we're going to move on to the first motion. That first motion, again, is, "America First is a Sound Policy Direction." Each debater will have one minute to make an opening statement. Which debater that is will be chosen at random from these debater pictures cards that I -- that I have in my pocket. And I'm going to pull one out at random. And that person will go first and, after that, we'll move to the person's left. And, by the way, Jennifer Rubin's left, I decree, is over there. So, it'll go around this way. So, let's see who goes first. Ian Bremmer will go first. So, I'm going to put it to Ian Bremmer this way. And you're going to signal by turning that card -- a yes or no card -- to indicate to the audience which side you are on. Ian Bremmer, on the motion, "America First is a Sound Policy Direction," how do you declare?
  • 00:09:03
    Ian Bremmer:
    I declare, "Yes."

    John Donvan:
    You have one minute.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Sure. Look, I think the point is that America First should be leading by example. That's why I believe it's sound. We know that Americans are not interested in being the world's policeman, two and a half million Americans and their families having participated in failed and expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know a solid majority of Americans aren't as interested in supporting free trade like TPP or NAFTA because they feel like they did not benefit from it. Even though prices are lower, they don't see the opportunities. The American dream for many of them is dead. The point is not that America First as a first as a concept or policy doesn't work. The point is that Trump himself is incapable and unwilling to actually lead by example. So, the fact that you have the wrong vessel, the fact that he personally can't execute does not mean that America First as a concept is something we should be throwing away.
  • 00:10:03
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Ian Bremmer. And just in the nick of time as well.

    [applause]

    You didn't hear it because Ian came a little bit short, but there's a little tone that will sound if a debater hits the one minute mark, at which point they are strongly encouraged by me to stop talking within a few sentences. Okay, we move on now to Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state on the motion, “America First is a Sound Policy Direction.” How do you declare?

    Kris Kobach:
    Yes position.

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Kris Kobach:
    I think it's an interesting commentary in our times that this is even considered a debatable topic. I mean, it's axiomatic that the leaders of any nation should prefer to put the interest of their countrymen or their country over the interests of other countries. But I think it's a sound policy direction in practice, too, because if you look at how it applies in specific question, so for example, take refugee policy. Prior to the Trump administration we were granting about 93 percent of refugee applications, pretty much taking the refugee's word for it most of the time.
  • 00:11:02
    However, in the last 25 years we've had 21 major terrorists who abused the refugee program as a way of getting into the United States. Now, we're putting America's interests first saying well, the claim of the refugee is going to be secondary to the safety interest of the United States and we'll see, but I think that 93 percent is going to come down and our safety level is going to go up. Let me give you another example. NATO. In 2006, the NATO countries agreed to spend 2 percent of GDP. Right now, only five of the 28 countries are doing it. Our previous attitude has been well, just let them do what they want. Now we're saying America First. Trump has said we won't support you unless you meet your obligation. It's working.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Time is up on that one. We move now to Rich Lowry. Rich Lowry, how do you declare on the motion?

    Rich Lowry:
    John, I'm going to try to make this unanimous and vote yes.

    John Donvan:
    Your minute starts now.

    Rich Lowry:
    Just so all of you know where I'm coming from, according to the president of the United States' Twitter feed I am clueless, incompetent, and to quote, "One of the very dumbest people on television."

    [laughter]

    So, there -- you're applauding that? You agree?

    [laughter]
  • 00:12:00
    So there are any number of resolutions I would disagree with and come down on the anti-Trump side. Is he a commendable person? Can he keep track of our aircraft carrier strike group? Does he have small hands? But this one is just common sense. If Trump understood the fraught history of this phrase from the 1930s he would've had to read some history books so we can strike that possibility right off the top. What he clearly means and has said repeatedly is, he wants to put the national interest and our citizens first and you can disagree with what policies he thinks beat that test, but no politician ever goes out there and says, “Look guys, I really want you to support this policy. It will hurt Americans and help some other country abroad.” So, let me finish with this question. If not America first, what country do you want put first?



    John Donvan:
    Perfect timing. Jennifer Rubin, author of the Washington Post right turn blog. How do you declare?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I am going to break the unanimity and vote no.

    John Donvan:
    Your 60 seconds starts now.
  • 00:13:00
    Jennifer Rubin:
    All right. America First is such a silly idea, not even Donald Trump could adopt it. He has, in essence, repudiated most of what he advocated during the campaign, because America is the leader of the free world. It does guarantee the international order that has kept the peace, that has provided prosperity to democracies for 70 years. He has, for example, gone ahead and dropped a very big bomb on Afghanistan. He is reviewing the battle plans. He still wants to be engaged and wants to destroy ISIS. He is not leaving NATO. In fact, he's been glad handing and affirming that NATO is no longer obsolete. You can differ with how he's gone about it, but it's very clear that in concept, he has not applied it because it cannot be applied. America must be the leader. If not, bad actors take over. We've seen plenty of examples of that. And so, in that, I commend him.
  • 00:14:00
    John Donvan:
    Thank you. Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for Slate on the motion, “America First is a Sound Policy Direction.” How do you declare?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I declare no. So, I think it's worth going back to the origins of the phrase, America First, right? This is a phrase from the 1930s. This is a phrase associated with isolationism and anti-Semitism. It is a phrase adopted by people who did not want the United States to go to war against Nazi Germany. That origin is relevant to how we think about what America First means in the Trump administration. What it means in the Trump administration are policies that don't put Americans first, they put particular kinds of Americans first. Immigrants are not put first. Muslims are not put first. The kinds of Americans favored by the Trump administration are -- it's an exclusive category. And so, if that's what we mean by "America First," sort of this exclusive ethno-national division of the country, then obviously, no, it's nonsense. If we're going to broaden it out to mean, "Oh, yeah, America is great. We should do things for Americans, that sounds cool," then, like, yeah, of course people are going to say "America First" is a sound policy direction.
  • 00:15:05
    But in terms of its practical applications, as we're seeing from this administration, it's bunk.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jamelle Bouie.

    [applause]

    Okay, we have 14 minutes to talk about this, and I want to go to Kris Kobach. First of all, I want to point out that it's three yeses and two nos on the motion, America First is a Sound Policy Direction. Kris Kobach, Jamelle Bouie making the argument that the actual historical origins of the term put off a stink from this term that still persists and actually characterizes certain attitudes that the Trump administration, he says, are pursuing and he finds undesirable. What's your response to that?

    Kris Kobach:
    Well, I would say that when he articulated the view America First throughout the campaign, I don't think he was doing so with echoes of the 1930s, in people's minds. I think most people probably don't think of that when they think "America First" -- especially in the context of the last few years, where you've seen -- you know, you name the international institution where the United States seems to be paying more of its fair share and getting less of its fair share out of it.
  • 00:16:08
    And so, you know, while I certainly agree that there is that history, I don't think that this phrase has the same meaning today.

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer Rubin.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Oh, come, come Kris. I think we know exactly what that means, and we know -- Mr. Bannon -- what it means. We know that Donald Trump practically endorsed Marine Le Pen, who is a fascist, who is an America First in French garb. So, of course we know what he means. We also know what he means when he hires people who have indeed dabbled with, encouraged anti-Semites, white nationalists. We know exactly what he means.

    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer, I'd like you to take this on now. I know that your point is not this question about the origins of the term, but I would like you to respond to that critique of the America First concept.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Sure, we know where it came from -- because a lot of people didn't want to get involved in World War II, Charles Lindbergh and the rest.
  • 00:17:02
    But I mean, my point is not -- look, the issue we are debating here is not whether we like America First or whether we'd vote for it; it's whether it's sound. And you know, when I look at the geo -- the economic recession of 2008, the United States had to respond with TARP, a trillion dollar bailout. Bush and Obama. You know why? Because if we didn't, our economy was going down with everyone else's. We are now talking about a geopolitical recession -- whether the United States wants to be fighting wars in Iraq, and Syria, and Afghanistan -- places like that. There -- if the United States doesn't do as much, Syrians can't swim here. Obama actually said, "Look, ISIS is the JV team." The rest of the sentence was, "In their ability to hit the United States." That's true. And the fact that I would like us to be a country where the Statue of Liberty really stands for something, and we're not anymore -- doesn't mean it's not sound policy. It just means I'm not happy with it.
  • 00:18:00
    John Donvan:
    Rich Lowry.

    Rich Lowry:
    Well, again, this is a theoretical discussion. Donald Trump does not know the historical resonances of this phrase.

    [laughter]

    It was 70 years ago. As Kris points out, most Americans do not know the historical resonances of this phrase. If we are debating this question in the 1930s, I would be on the other side. We are not in the 1930s. And you know, Ted Cruz -- I guess Jen would consider him an anti-Semite as well, or budding anti-Semite, because he actually used this phrase during the campaign. And it was just a way --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    No, he's just unprincipled.

    Rich Lowry:
    Okay, fine.

    [laughter]

    But he's not an anti-Semite. So you actually -- people can use this phrase and it's okay. And the way Trump means it is to denote, we're not going to engage in major land wars to try to democratize other countries, and we're not going to harm our economy to supposedly save the planet, and we're not going to welcome anyone who wants to come here, whether they are going to thrive in the society or not. That is common sense.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle Bouie.
  • 00:19:00
    Jamelle Bouie:
    So, the notion that American politicians should work in the interests of Americans is banal, right? That's just what politics is. And so, to use a phrase like "America First," regardless of whether or not Donald Trump knows its origins, actually conveys something. Words have a meaning; phrases have a meaning. Symbols have meaning. And so, whether or not America First is a sound policy direction, depends on what America First means in our history. And what it means is not simply putting the best interests of Americans first. What it means is a particular vision of nativism, a particular vision of exclusivity, a particular kind of America that works for some of us -- people who look like me, not in that group.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle, are you saying --

    Jamelle Bouie:
    And works for others.

    Rich Lowry:
    You're contradicting yourself.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Rich Lowry.

    Rich Lowry:
    [unintelligible] -- you're saying --

    John Donvan:
    I'm sorry.

    Rich Lowry:
    So, you're saying Donald Trump doesn't know the real meaning of this phrase, but he really means it in this nefarious way?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    No, no, no, no, that's not what I'm saying.

    Rich Lowry:
    So, you're saying he doesn't understand what it means.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    That is not what I am saying at all. What I'm saying is that America First has a meaning independent of Donald Trump.
  • 00:20:00
    And whether or not Donald Trump likes the fact that it has this meaning actually affects how we should understand what it means for it to be sound policy. And then when we look at the kinds of things Donald Trump is doing from immigration policy, from refugee policy, from appointing or nominating Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States, then there is a connection between what's happening today and that meaning in the past. And that is --

    John Donvan:
    Okay, hang on one second. I -- we haven't heard from Kris in a bit. I want to go -- I want to go Kris to Jennifer to Ian. Go ahead, Kris.

    Kris Kobach:
    We are a democratic republic. We are a place where the voters have decided in the Electoral College who is going to be president and that's the way the system works thankfully. And the point is that we can say, "Well, this term meant something to an audience in the 1930s. They would have thought something else." But we're talking about the English language as it's used today and America First, Buy American and give priority to American interests is what the Trump Campaign articulated.
  • 00:21:02
    And, like it or not, he won the election largely because that was his central message or that was the theme that united the, "Make America Great," message.

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    And now he's not following it. It's one of the policies -- one of the stances I'm very pleased he has thrown overboard with a whole bunch of the other ones. He is engaged in Syria. He issued -- ordered for a purely humanitarian strike, something President Obama did not do. He is bent on defeating ISIS. So, I suppose he does think that ISIS and Syria and Iraq pose some sort of threat to us. He has reaffirmed NATO. Sure, he wants them to spend more money, but every president does. He just makes a bigger deal of it. Every single Secretary of State has tried to get NATO to pay up. He is taking on the North Korean threat. That's an international project. He's trying to work with China to get North Korea to disable their nuclear program.
  • 00:22:01
    This is not America First. This is good old internationalist sound thinking, respect for our allies, American leadership in the world.

    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    I'm sorry, I --

    John Donvan:
    I want to bring in Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    -- I think the point I guess I push back hardest on is the notion that America First, if you don't say it's nefarious, is banal. And I don't believe that at all. You obviously don't either because you're saying he's arguing against it. Leaving aside that inconsistency, we have unilateralism is what Trump is about, right? America First is basically saying, "There are a lot of alliances we've had around the world and we've been constrained because we're forced to act in certain ways. There are values of liberal democracy which, frankly, we don't live up to very well. But we're going to be aligned with countries because they support it. Trump's saying, "I'm going to work more closely with the Turks. I'm going to engage more closely, if I can, with the Russians." Again, you may not like it. That is a very different kind of policy and, certainly, you can have a bomb of Syria and be America First because you're not asking your allies in advance, "Oh, will you do this with me?" or, "Am I going to get support for that? Then I'll go in," no.
  • 00:23:07
    Trump did that unilaterally in a fairly limited and defined way on the back of support from his defense advisors. That strikes me as perfectly consistent with America First.

    John Donvan:
    We're going to go Rich Lowry and then Jamelle Bouie.

    Rich Lowry:
    Yeah, these -- yes, there have been some contradictions, but Trump said throughout the campaign he was going to bomb the heck out of ISIS. So, it's not surprising that he's bombing ISIS for a contradiction or a contradiction of America First. Same thing, Jenn is shocked that President Trump dropped a big bomb on Afghanistan? This is the least shocking thing that's happened in the last 90 days. North Korea -- look -- go and read his foreign policy speeches. Last April, last fall, he talks about North Korea being an enormous problem that he's going to focus on and he's going to try to pressure the Chinese to do more about it. So, I think Jen has kind of a definition she has made up of America First that is totally removed from things that Trump actually has said in formal speech.
  • 00:24:06
    Jennifer Rubin:
    Well, let me give you --

    John Donvan:
    I wanted to go to Jamelle next, but because of the direct attack --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Yes.

    John Donvan:
    -- I'm going to give Jennifer --

    Rich Lowry:
    It was a mild corrective. It wasn't a direct attack.

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer, can you do it in 15 seconds?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I'll give you 20 seconds.

    John Donvan:
    All right, I'll give you 20 seconds.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Donald Trump, for example, said, "Who cares about Ukraine. Let the Ukrainians in or let the Europeans do it." He's not doing that because of course that's an insane policy that would destroy the concept of national sovereignty that would put NATO at risk. He has dumped that. Good for him. That's not an -- that's not an America First policy. That's a Europe-Western Alliance First policy.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I want to harp on this point that, like symbols are a thing and they actually mean something, that, again, if we were simply talking about and we were talking about mirrored unilateralism. You would say is unilateralism a sound policy if you were talking about if should the United States government focus its material resources on American citizens.
  • 00:25:00
    Primarily, we would use that terminology, but America First has a particular symbolic meaning. I grew up --

    John Donvan:
    Well, --

    Jamelle Bouie:
    -- let me say this.

    John Donvan:
    Sure.


    Jamelle Bouie:
    I grew up in southern Virginia. I grew up in a lot of -- in places where lots of people flew confederate flags, some of them my friends, people who said no, this is just a symbol of my southern heritage. This is just a symbol of my sense of defiance against an overbearing government. Whatever. It remains true that that symbol has a meaning independent of what those people want it to mean and that when evaluating what they're doing you have to keep that meaning in mind. And so, we can -- you can -- this is not to say that you shouldn't think America First is a sound policy direction, although I do not; it's to say that you can't simply bracket what the phrase actually means in American history.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle, the consensus on the board --

    [applause]

    -- on the panel seems to be that Trump himself didn't know that history and so -- and if that seems contradictory to the notion that he would then consciously use it. So, how do you resolve that?
  • 00:26:01
    Jamelle Bouie:
    So I don't necessarily see that as a contradiction. It is -- so, what I'm arguing is that there is this history that America First has a pretty well-defined meaning in the context of American history. Trump does not know this whatsoever, but Trump is taking actions that are consistent with what that meant in American history. And so, regardless sort of what Trump cares about or what Trump knows as observers and as people analyzing this, we should keep that in mind.

    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach.

    Kris Kobach:
    I'm finding it hard to comprehend this position because you're saying that the term -- the words are almost forbidden to use because if you use them, you bring up images of the past, but the rest of us are saying this is so obvious that we have to put America First, so maybe we just have to use a synonym for America First because that particular term is incorrect, but I would even disagree that, you know, you're saying that he has echoes of the 1930s America First, no he clearly doesn't.
  • 00:27:00
    He's willing to project American power internationally when he feels there is a clear balance of interest in favor of the United States. So, I don't think America First today means isolationism. America First today means we're going to see if it's good for us. If it's good for us, we will strike internationally. If it's not good for us we're hanging back.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Admittedly I was thinking more of the antisemitism part, but that's fair.

    John Donvan:
    Where do issues of trade come in -- questions of trade come into this, Rich Lowry?

    Rich Lowry:
    Yeah, in Trump's view we have basically been ripped off by these trade deals. I think this is a case where he is not defining the national interest appropriately and there are some of those -- Jenn's point about NATO, it's not an anti-American First policy to be pro-NATO. It's actually in our interest to be pro-NATO, and that's something he figured out when he actually got in the big chair in the White House and had some people advising him, actually knew what they're talking about. And so, to Jamal's point that returning to the 1930s, --
  • 00:28:00
    Jamelle Bouie:
    Jamelle.

    Rich Lowry:
    -- what is -- sorry. What is the war, world war that we're staying out of? Trump actually thinks, and other people think, we're in a war with radical Islam and he has been completely consistent saying we're going to go and smash them by any means necessary and he's in favor of enormous military build-up. So, if your argument is just sort of inadvertently somehow symbolically he's returning to the policies, that's just obviously not the case.

    John Donvan:
    Let's bring in Jennifer.

    [applause]

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Well, --

    Rich Lowry:
    Thank you.

    [laughter]

    Jennifer Rubin:
    -- well, Rich because he's very clever, has managed to define anything that Trump does as America First regardless of whether it's in support of an international alliance, regardless of how it is and we can play that game because in essence as several of my fellow debaters have said, it's meaningless because all presidents pursue their self-interests.


    John Donvan:
    Is that what Jamelle means by it's a banal statement to make?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    To some degree it is. What he was saying is that, and this is I think sort of the menace that is at the heart of his philosophy, that somehow elites, and we can talk about who he thinks those are, have sold out America by helping other people at our expense.
  • 00:29:08
    I don't think that was ever true. I don't think even in his worst days that's what either President Bush or President Trump -- or President Obama was doing. But that's the tale he has told and the phrase he uses is meant as an invective towards other people who have opposed his views. He says you haven't put America First, in essence you've been a traitor. And that's the language and that's the dialogue that Donald Trump uses.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Very important point here, which is that there is a belief on the part of many in the Trump administration, that you have a series of U.S. CEOs, U.S. bankers. They say they're American, but actually, there's nothing American about them. They will hide behind their shareholder and fiduciary responsibility.
  • 00:30:02
    And if it turns out the taxes happen to be cheaper in Ireland, they'll do a corporate inversion. They're not American companies anymore. And the perspective is that those organizations, with immense money and special interests, have been able to capture the American political process against the interests of the average American. That makes a lot of sense to a lot of average Americans, and why they don't support a lot of the free trade. I don't think that's fake; I think it's real. It doesn't resonate with me, a wealthy New Yorker, but it resonated with my brother, who voted for Trump. And I think that's interesting. Finally, we should remember where America First came from in this campaign, which was Maggie Haberman and David Sanger interviewed Donald Trump on foreign policy. It was the first time -- and they asked if he was an isolationist, and he responded strongly against it. He's like, "No, people are taking advantage of us. I want better trade deals. We're the superpower. We should act like it on behalf of the American people." And they said, 'Well, what about America First? Would you consider that a good definition of you?"
  • 00:31:04
    And he said, "Yeah. Yeah. America First sounds good."
    [laughter]

    So, look. If you think the New York Times is anti-Semitic, and that they were the ones that pulled this from the 30s, you can have that. That's not my view personally.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you. That concludes this debate –

    [applause]

    -- debate number one on the night of "Unresolved: Trump's First 100 Days." Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to have you vote now your view on this debate -- see if you've changed your mind, if you swung in one direction or the other. Same vote as before. The motion is the same: America First is a Sound Policy Direction. Vote Number One if your feeling is yes with this. Vote Number Two if your position is no -- whether it changed to no or stuck to no. And while you're doing that, we are going to move on to our second resolution. The motion this: "Resolved: The Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy." The debater who will speak first on this, Rich Lowry.
  • 00:32:02
    Rich Lowry, on the motion, The Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy. How do you declare?

    Rich Lowry:
    I am a yes.

    John Donvan:
    You have one minute.

    Rich Lowry:
    The timing here is quite notable. On the night of the election, futures fell precipitously. Paul Krugman predicted the market would never recover. And immediately thereafter, it went on a huge run-up. And it's not hard to understand why this happened. The market considers tax cuts, deregulation, infrastructure spending to be stimulative, because broadly speaking, they are stimulative. In fact, most economists agree that if you cut the corporate tax rate, that directly increases corporate profits, and therefore, makes companies more valuable. So, just the expectation of corporate tax reform alone would be enough to drive the market up. And even Democrats of good standing -- like the former Obama economist Austan Goolsbee -- said this fundamentally is the dynamic that's driving the markets.
  • 00:33:04
    So, to vote on this resolution, you don't have to vote on whether you like Trump's economic policies; you just have to acknowledge what's obvious -- the stock market and Wall Street like his economic policies.
    John Donvan:
    Thank you. Jennifer Rubin, on the motion The Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy, how do you declare?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    That will be a no. The stock market obviously got very excited once they thought the promise of Donald Trump and the policies that -- some of the things Rich listed were going to come their way. In fact, none of that is coming their way, and that's in why you saw the bond market begin to tank last week. It's coming to a realization this man is not capable of delivering on tax reform, he's not capable of delivering on healthcare, he's not capable of delivering basically on anything that has to go through Congress. He has done some regulatory reform, and they sort of like that. But ultimately, what does Wall Street tell us? It's a prediction of profits. And if profits are not there, the market will go down.
  • 00:34:02
    Linking his success to the market is a very dangerous strategy, and when there is a course direction that goes the other way, I'm sure Rich will be arguing that Donald Trump had nothing to do with it.

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jennifer Rubin. Jamelle Bouie, the motion again -- The Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy. How do you declare?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    No. So, the resolution, right, is the stock market is saying Trump is good for the economy. Do -- is the stock market correct? Right? Is the stock market --

    John Donvan:
    Yeah. That's the sense of it.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Right. Is the stock market -- should we trust the valuation of the stock market? Now, for my part, I'm not sure that I do -- I certainly -- you know, I save some portion of my savings in an index fund, you know. I hope the stock market does well. But in terms of the broad economy, how it works for most Americans, how it works for ordinary people, I'm not sure that I trust the stock market's evaluation of whether or not Trump is good.
  • 00:35:00
    And looking at the Trump Administration's proposed policies from tax reform which is heavily weighted towards the wealthiest and the largest corporations to health care, it is weighted towards taking it away from people. I think the stock market is wrong, that the Trump Administration is not going to be good for the economy for the reason that the Trump Administration will be harmful to the vast majority of Americans who participate in working that economy.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jamelle Bouie. "Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy," Ian Bremmer, how do you declare?

    Ian Bremmer:
    Oh, it's really close. I'm going to say, "Yes," though in another 100 days I'd probably say, "No." It's -- no, no, no, because it's in the process of getting to, "No," but it's still saying, "Yes," right now. I mean, when you talk to actual market participants, they're still kind of thinking, "Yeah, it's really hard to govern the United States. It takes a long time even with Republicans in the House and in the Senate, but everything he's saying on tax sounds good to us. We like it." And executive orders, regulatory rollback -- the fact is it may be bad for the environment, but over the course of the next year, year and a half, you're going to see frackers with a dollar to two-dollar cheaper ability to produce energy.
  • 00:36:06
    That's not only a tax benefit for the average American, but it's good for that economy. Coal certainly isn't coming back on the basis of anything that Trump is doing but, again, we're not talking about that. Long term, is this good for the dollar? It may not be, right? If you're going to trade war between the U.S. and China, that's a problem. How about a war with North Korea? We'd hate that. Does any of that price into the market? Absolutely zero. The market is very short term and, right now, the animal spirits -- you just saw the markets in Europe go up on France. That's ludicrous except for the short term. Right now, markets are saying Trump's good.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach, "The Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy." How do you declare?

    Kris Kobach:
    Obviously, yes. I mean, I don't see -- I mean, it's difficult to argue otherwise. I mean, if you look at the graph of the Dow Jones, right up until November 4th, it's going along at -- well, I guess from your perspective, it's going along like this and then, on November 4th, which is the Friday before the election, it's at 17,888.
  • 00:37:02
    And then the next week it rockets upward and continues on an upward climb until the beginning of February and it's up above 20,000. It's been above 20,000 since the beginning of February, sometimes getting as high as 21,000. But it stayed way up there. So, I think that this isn't coincidence. It's causation. Clearly, the election caused the stock market to surge. I think Rich is right. A lot of it has to do with corporate earnings, right? Corporate earnings drive the stock market and the Trump Administration, along with many in Congress, have said that they want to reduce the corporate income tax which is among the highest in the world. If the corporate income tax comes down, the corporate earnings go up. And then you also see consumers. It's not just the companies. Consumers -- the consumer confidence index also took a positive switch right after the election and has remained positive for 22 weeks. So, clearly, it's good for the economy from both perspectives.

    John Donvan:
    All right, let's jump in and Jennifer Rubin is ready to go.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Picking up on what Jamelle said, the question here is whether it is good for the economy.
  • 00:38:00
    And I don't think some of my fellow debaters really homed in on that.

    Kris Kobach:
    Is that really the question?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Yeah, that is, whether it is good for the --

    Kris Kobach:
    But the stock market thinks it's the stock market.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    The stock -- well --

    Male Speaker:John Donvan:
    It is. The stock market --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    -- we've had a little discussion about that.

    Male Speaker:Kris Kobach:
    -- [unintelligible] good for the economy. Is the stock market correct?

    John Donvan:
    Well, it's a little murky.

    Male Speaker:
    "Is the stock market correct?" part of the question?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I'm changing my [unintelligible].

    John Donvan:
    Well, literal -- technically and literally, it is. But I think the sense of it is more, "Is the stock market -- is the apparent stock market endorsement of the Trump Presidency well-founded and well-grounded?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Exactly. And, to that point, I think it's not, obviously. We have real systemic problems in the United States having to do with low productivity. The things that Donald Trump is proposing, by and large, do nothing for those things. They would make some of the worst in many instances to the extent that we need inputs in education, science, and the rest. He's really sort of decimated that part of the federal budget which is the good stuff that people like.
  • 00:39:04
    He has this notion that a supply-side tax cut dug up from the 1980s is the way to go that is going to give relatively little to the small guy. So, the issues that we're facing, which are, "How do you prepare American workers to get the open jobs?" not simply to make jobs, but to have Americans to fill them, that is, in large part, the problem that many people are trying to solve and I would commend you to take a look at a piece today in The American Enterprise Institute --

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    -- which essentially makes that case.

    John Donvan:
    Let me try to patch this over a little bit because -- thank you. I see the looks of consternation, just a bit.

    Kris Kobach:
    I don't look consternated at all.

    John Donvan:
    I thought you -- okay. I think the sense of it is those investors who are enthusiastic about what's going on are they crazy or are they onto something? So, I'll take that question to you, Jamelle.
  • 00:40:00
    Jamelle Bouie:
    Those investors are most concerned with their short-term economic prospects, and I'm sure that for them there is something happening here. The promise of deregulation, of tax cuts is great for them, but if we're talking about the economy at large, the economy is not simply a bunch of Wall Street investors, the economy is producers. It's ordinary workers. It's tens of millions of people, hundreds of millions of people whose prospects it's not clear Trump will actually be good for. And so, I think the investors are wrong and if the resolution here is evaluating whether or not they are right or wrong, I'm still going to stick with [unintelligible] here.

    John Donvan:
    Rich Lowry, do you want --

    Rich Lowry:
    So, the question is whether the stock market is right.

    John Donvan:
    Yeah. The question is the stock market -- the question is, is the stock market a good indicator all the time, but --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Would you like to change your vote?

    Rich Lowry:
    Well, I mean, these are people who are --

    John Donvan:
    You can switch your vote.
  • 00:41:00
    Rich Lowry:
    They really have money in the game. They're not just journalists popping off and --


    Rich Lowry:
    I guess all of us up here qualify for that except maybe Kris. And the economy has been dragging along at 2 percent or less growth and I think part of the market rally was just relief. There's not going to be more regulation. There's not going to be higher taxes and I don't think the Trump agenda is a complete one, but it's a good start to deregulate, take the boot off of the government off businesses, to get a corporate system that actually makes sense. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the advanced world, which is a huge drag on our companies, and I'm not a fan of infrastructure spending, but at least in the short term that is stimulative. So, I don't think the stock market is irrational.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Unfortunately, Trump doesn't seem to be able to do any of this. We don't see any evidence that he's able to deliver on these very large legislative projects.
  • 00:42:04
    Now, maybe, things will turn around dramatically, but if you haven't done something in the first hundred days and in fact you've failed in the first hundred days on each of your big legislative initiatives with the exception of the Supreme Court, that doesn't bode very well. So, I don't know whether these people are good market watchers. I suppose they are because they make their living, but they're bad political watchers because they haven't evaluated how poor he is at delivering.

    John Donvan:
    [unintelligible]

    Kris Kobach:
    [unintelligible] disagree with Jen. The stock market and the American economy are not driven by votes that members of Congress take despite the advertisement that they show you saying that if you elect me I will cause our economy to get stronger or whatever. Our economy is driven by psychological factors, by consumer confidence, by people making decisions that in turn push other people to make the same decisions.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    That's the market, not the economy.

    Kris Kobach:
    Well, but the -- exactly. And the market -- the free market decisions in turn drive the strength of the economy. And so, if you look at -- sometimes we do have a stock market where the stock market is going up and consumer confidence is not especially high.
  • 00:43:05
    But here we have an interesting coincidence of the stock market going up dramatically at the same time that consumer confidence is also turning around in a dramatic way. So, therefore, I think the stock market is going to be reflective of people buying, people building homes, manufacturers investing in plant and equipment, and so therefore I don't think it's much of a stretch at all to say if you're going to bet money on the stock market or bet money by investing in your corporation now's probably a good time to do it because all the factors are put -- and let me just give you a couple numbers, Pew Research says that Americans currently hold the most positive assessment of the U.S. economy since 2007. Gallop Small Business Index reflects the fact that small business owners are the most optimistic they have been since 2007. So, if you have this confidence and optimism it's almost self-fulfilling in the way our economy works.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle Bouie.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    One interesting wrinkle to throw at you, Kris, is that immediately after the election when asked about their assessment of the economy and broken down by partisanship, Republicans immediately went from being no this economy is crap to this economy is great, and so how much of what you're describing is actually representative of anything?
  • 00:44:10
    How much of it is just sort the irrational passions of partisans? And in which case -- I don't quite understand how you can then say oh well look, Trump is causing all of this. Trump is actually doing something here. When the actual conditions on the ground have really changed.

    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Yeah, so, look. First of all, the United States is not Turkey or Russia. Corporations don't expect U.S. officials to do an awful lot. They just want the government to keep working. You ask the average American CEO; will they invest more in this market as long as you don't actively break it. In other words, don't break through the debt limit. Don't shut government down, but I don't want you to touch an awful lot, right? Like, I don't want a lot of additional legislation. From that perspective, accomplishing little on the legislative front, and regulatory rollback, is kind of a corporate wet dream, right?
  • 00:45:02
    [laughter]

    So, you know, I do think that if you want to go animal spirits, as it were, that is going to get you more benefits, and it definitely shows that the economy is doing better, and that the stock market is doing better. I think the likely connection of that to the average American worker is increasingly distant.

    John Donvan:
    Rich Lowry?

    Ian Bremmer:
    That's clear. But you know, when -- talking about -- I was talking to Larry Summers recently, and Larry was looking at the OMB and their projections for where the budget was going to be, and the fact that they used a fairly aggressive sense -- high, two-point high percentage increase in the U.S. economy. And Larry is no fan of Trump's, and Larry said, "Yeah, yeah, that may be a little aggressive, but yeah, given on the base what they're going to do, you're going to get some short-term growth here."

    John Donvan:
    For --

    Ian Bremmer:
    "It's not good for us long term."

    John Donvan:
    For our podcast listeners who don't know who Larry Summers is --

    Ian Bremmer:
    Former Secretary of Treasury, now professor at Harvard. And -- but Democrat, right? I mean, a serious Democrat. No fan of the Trump administration, no fan of the Secretary of Treasury, no fan of this entire team -- in fact. I think --

    Rich Lowry:
    Is there anyone he likes?
  • 00:46:04
    Ian Bremmer:
    Yeah. We get along very well --

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Right. But we even had a guy -- this was a guy who clearly was saying that in the short term, the response to your question -- one of the biggest Democratic minds on the economy recently -- believes that the stock market is right on this.

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer Rubin.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I guess Kris and Rich owe Barack Obama a huge apology, because if their definition is that the stock market takes off, that's good for the economy, the stock market had a huge run-up during President Obama. So, obviously, that's not what we're talking about.

    [applause]

    What we're talking about is growth in average wages. We're talking about employment, we're talking about a higher participation rate, we're talking about, in essence, a recovery for the middle class. And the things that Donald Trump has recommended are not really going to get us there. Some of the things that he might want to do might get us there.
  • 00:47:03
    But again, he's not getting infrastructure spending. He's not getting any of this through. So, as -- the ability of someone to deliver on an agenda that is responsive to the actual needs right now -- which are low productivity, a mismatch between labor and business -- he's not going to do it for us.

    John Donvan:
    Okay, I want to point out, just for the record, on this motion, we have three yeses and two nos. And I want to go to Rich Lowry.

    Rich Lowry:
    Yeah. I would say the persons on each side should have a little note of modesty here. George W. Bush pursued a very traditional Republican economic policy. It didn't work out so great. President Obama pursued a very traditional liberal economic policy. He stabilized the financial system in the midst of the financial crisis, which is significantly to his credit -- partly responsible for the stock market running up. But it hasn't worked great either. And I think Trump, at his best -- and this is an optimistic interpretation -- is going to do kind of these traditional stimulative things to try to create a broader environment of -- for growth and create more jobs.
  • 00:48:08
    And he's going to focus on the lower part of the income distribution, where people have really been hurting and haven't felt the recovery. And he's going to try to get a tighter labor market down there -- not just through more jobs, but discouraging foreign competition, both by trying to create a culture that tilts more against outsourcing and also by reducing the flow of low-skilled immigration, which comes in here and competes against low-skilled native and legal immigrant workers.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle Bouie.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I'm just -- so, I'm skeptical that any of this will actually happen for Jen's stated reasons, right, that we have no actual concrete evidence that President Trump or his team is capable of carrying -- pushing through or carrying through any kind of legislation to that effect, and that's assuming -- that's like -- that's buying your premise that this stuff would help low-wage and middle-income workers.
  • 00:49:03
    For my part, even if Trump were successful, the kinds of policies that the Trump administration supports, they say nothing about wealth inequality, they say nothing about racial wealth inequality. They say nothing about the concentration of business and corporations across the country -- which does have a deleterious effect on people in the middle of the country. The Trump administration's healthcare policies would directly take money out of people's pockets. So, you know, add it all together, and you have a footprint for the typical American that is very negative. And if we're thinking about the economy in broad terms, beyond just Wall Street and investors, then again, if we're looking at that resolution, I don't think there's much evidence at all that Trump would be great for the economy.


    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach.

    Kris Kobach:
    Okay, I see Jamelle and Jenn shifting a little bit to say, "Okay, yeah, we're not going to be able to win this debate on GDP growth, so we're going to have a more nuanced view of what, 'good for the economy,' means."
  • 00:50:05
    Well, I'll take them on, on that. Jenn says, "good for the economy," means that the lower-income workers see wage improvement. It is undoubtedly true that there has been wage stagnation for I think going on seven years now. You have just seen wages just flat in blue-collar jobs. Now, if we do what Trump is already doing -- he doesn't need to wait on Congress to do this. He's already increased removals of people illegally in the country. We are at 21,000 now since -- as of late march and a year ago we were at 16,000 over the same period. You will, with the removal of these individuals, open up jobs for Americans who are out of work. And that will, in turn, cause wages to go up, too, as we -- as you decrease the supply with the illegal labor leaving the pool. And that's why blue-collar workers did something really amazing that ended up winning Pennsylvania and Michigan for Trump as they voted overwhelmingly for Trump because they know intuitively that in the job market where they are fighting fist to fist for those jobs that this will improve their chances of holding jobs and improve the level of wages.
  • 00:51:09
    Another example is favoring jobs over -- when you have jobs versus environment conflict, Trump has said he's going to pick jobs. So, Keystone Excel, he's already done that. And so, that's another example of jobs created in the short term without having to wait on Congress.

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer Rubin.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Well, I suppose if you believe that throwing out illegal immigrants is going to create whole jobs and industrial jobs in the Midwest, then Kris is right. If you actually think that the problem for those displaced workers has nothing whatsoever to do with illegal immigrants who aren't even in the states that we're talking about, then I think that's not a very good immigrant. So --

    [applause]

    Nor do I think, for very classical conservative economic reasons, that Buy American makes any sense whatsoever. It doesn't.
  • 00:52:00
    We have American companies that have supply chains. That doesn't make any sense. We have foreign companies that are located here that employ lots of people. So, that doesn't make any sense. So, a lot of the stuff may make them feel good. Maybe they don't like illegal immigrants for other reasons. But it's not going to help the economy.


    John Donvan:
    Let me give Kris -- since it was a direct attack -- 20 seconds -- really make it 20 seconds, and then I'm going to go to Rich and then to Ian.

    Kris Kobach:
    Look, we have illegal workers in every state. And when you have that, a large presence of illegal labor, it takes what once were --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    They're tiny in these states, tiny.

    Kris Kobach:
    It takes jobs that once -- and you also suggested that these are jobs that Americans won't do anyway. Look at meatpacking.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I didn't say that.

    Kris Kobach:
    In Kansas, we have illegal --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I didn't say that.

    Kris Kobach:
    -- labor has displaced U.S. citizens in meatpacking. Meatpacking used to be a job a U.S. citizen could raise the family on and have a really good wage. We have a team -- a football team in the NFL named after the meatpacking industry. Now, everybody seems to think that's a job that U.S. citizens won't do and it's in part because the illegal labor has come in and depressed wages so U.S. citizens don't take those jobs. Union --
  • 00:53:01
    John Donvan:
    Okay, Rich Lowry.
    Rich Lowry:
    [unintelligible] depressed wages, not illegal immigrants.

    [applause]

    Kris Kobach:
    Union and nonunion. It's true in union and nonunion meatpacking plants. Doesn't matter.

    John Donvan:
    Rich Lowry.

    Rich Lowry:
    I think Jen believes in classic free market economics except for when it becomes the supply and demand in the labor market. If you have something like 40 percent of workers in this country without a high school degree who are immigrants, that is going to have an effect on people's wages. And I --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I do believe in classical economics.

    Rich Lowry:
    -- and free market -- I love free market people who say, "Supply and demand always applies, but we could have as many immigrants as we want. It has no effect on our economy or on our wages."

    Jennifer Rubin:
    That's because -- that's because, Rich, you don't understand the labor fallacy, the lump of labor fallacy, which is that it's not like supply and demand, that because workers also create demand also for other industries, that it doesn't work that way.

    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer, you're going to get the last word --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    So, I would suggest you pick up a --

    John Donvan:
    -- last word in this.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    -- book from the Hoover Institute and that'll explain it.
  • 00:54:00
    John Donvan:
    Let's not get personal, please.


    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Labor increasingly is going away or coming because of technology, not because of globalization, not because of those jobs moving.

    [applause]

    And, I mean, look. No one -- this wasn't addressed under Bush. It wasn't addressed under Obama. It's not being addressed under Trump. So, we can take that really off the table. It's not about that. What's interesting is are we going to see -- given the business massive inequality, are we going to see increased economic growth under the policy to be put in place? And in the short term, the answer to that, according to not only economists and the animal spirits and the markets and the investment [unintelligible] is obviously, not evidently, "Yes." Is it sustainable over the medium to long term? Probably not, especially with the kinds of policies Trump's going to put in place that everyone else is talking about. But that's not the question.

    John Donvan:
    And that concludes this debate.

    [applause]

    Debate number two on our night of Unresolved: The First 100 Days of Trump.
  • 00:55:02
    We'd like to ask you to vote again. Go to the keypads at your seats. Same as before. The motion: The Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy. One for yes. Two for no. If you press the wrong button just correct yourself quickly and the system will lock in your correct vote. We're going to move on to resolution number three. Resolution number three is: Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team. Random selection of our first speaker on this one. Kris Kobach. Kris Kobach on the motion: Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team, how do you declare?

    Kris Kobach:
    Against the jitters of the audience I'm going to say yes on this.

    [laughter]


    John Donvan:
    Your one minute starts now.

    Kris Kobach:
    No challenge too great.

    [laughter]

    No, look, the -- Trump's -- look, all presidents to a certain extent pick a great team.
  • 00:56:01
    You always get the cream of the crop wanting to be in the president's cabinet, in the White House, so you always have talented people who have risen to the top of their field. So, this is kind of a tough question. I'm looking at it from is this team talented in what he has chosen them to do, which is execute the laws of the United States. And so how do you measure that? Well, they all have fine resumes, but let's look at the White House team. One thing we can see that Trump has done very far and above what other presidencies have done and that is in the first hundred days he has had so far 25 executive orders and you say well, executive orders, that's no big deal. Actually, it is. It requires a lot of legal analysis and policy analysis and all kinds of eyeballs on it. But 25 of them in the first hundred days, Obama had 19, Bush had 11, Clinton had 13. There's one empirical indicator that his team is getting things done. Now, if you disagree with what they like you may disagree with what Trump's like, but -- what Trump likes, but the fact that you disagree with the policy doesn't mean that they're a bad team.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Got to stop you. Move on to Rich Lowry on the motion: Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team. How do you declare?
  • 00:57:00
    Rich Lowry:
    No.

    [applause]

    Through my extensive reading of Hoover Institution briefing books --

    [laughter]

    -- I have learned that it's customary in the United States government for the national security advisor to last at least one month, right? Michael Flynn didn't make it and he was actually acting as an agent of foreign interests, Turkish interests, during the campaign. And I also highly doubt it that some of the very best people to advise the president of the United States just happen to be his son-in-law and his daughter, right? Now Jared Kushner --

    [applause]

    -- by all accounts is a very impressive and decent guy, but what qualifies him to be quasi-Secretary of State? Then there's Trump's management style where you have all these White House advisors. They really -- they follow themselves around from meeting to meeting like ducks crossing a road because they're all afraid there will be some major decision made on a snap basis and they'll be left out of it.
  • 00:58:04
    So, look, are there impressive people on the team? Yes. Is it a terrific team? Sadly, no.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer Rubin, Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team. You say yes or no?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I know it's going to shock you, but no.

    [laughter]

    I got two words for you. Sean Spicer.

    [laughter]

    Steve Bannon. There are many people who are not qualified and this is the one case where the president has specifically not chosen the cream of the crop intentionally, because they have been disloyal in some respect. He has ruled out a whole slew of very fine conservative -- some Democrats as well, advisors who could really have helped him here and he says they can't come on board because they wrote something nasty or they said something nasty. That's his prerogative, but that means he doesn't have the cream of the crop. I also would not bring up executive orders if I were Kris.
  • 00:59:03
    I do seem to remember a travel ban that was struck down by just about every court in part because the rather uncareful White House council thought that he could amend it in order to fix the order by excluding green cards, when in fact, the president had to reissue it and that was one of the major things cited --

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    -- in the --
    John Donvan:
    Okay. You got to stop talking.

    [laughter]

    Jamelle Bouie, Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team. Are you yes or no?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Obviously, I'm a no here. If we're thinking about it on Trump's own terms, had he chosen a team that can competently execute his vision, that can competently run his administration, I think the clear answer is no. From his White House, Jenn mentions Steve Bannon, that's – he’s shown no evidence of being a particularly skilled advisor; the same goes for Stephen Miller, the other one of the two Steve’s in the White House.
  • 01:00:00
    If you look at Cabinet agencies -- Rex Tillerson seems to be growing into the job, but by all accounts, he's not a competent manager of the State Department. Ben Carson --

    [laughter]

    -- the Secretary of -- at Housing and Urban Development doesn't appear to know what the agency is there for.

    [laughter]

    Go down the line and you find -- even Scott Pruitt, the EPA director, who is there as sort of a critic of the EPA, doesn't appear to be a competent manager of the EPA. So, even on the terms Trump set out for himself, none of these people seem to be any good at managing government, and this is even before we get to the fact that huge numbers of positions haven't even been filled. So --

    John Donvan:
    Thank you.

    [applause]

    Ian Bremmer, on the motion Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team -- are you yes or no?

    Ian Bremmer:
    No.

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    I need to tell the people who can only hear at this moment that you did a head fake on that one.
    Ian Bremmer:
    I did a head fake on that one.

    John Donvan:
    So, you're a no. You are a no.

    Ian Bremmer:
    I am a no.
  • 01:01:00
    I don't even believe you’re a yes.

    [applause]

    I think he's screwing with everybody, here. Look -- no, because first of all, you said Trump picked a terrific team, right? You can say there are a lot of competent people, more solid than expected -- you can't say -- first of all, he hasn't picked -- you do not pick your relatives, right?

    [laughter]

    Your relatives, they're there. They're stuck with them. They're around. He's like, "I've got to get them jobs. There they are," right? I mean, at least Melania's kind of sidelined. So, that's a good thing.

    [laughter]

    But no, Jared and Ivanka. No. And Ben Carson. Like, I mean, they wanted a black guy on Cabinet. But –

    [laughter]

    -- no, but seriously. I don't know how much about Jamelle's background, but I know that he'd be better at HUD than Ben Carson, right?

    [laughter]

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I mean, I know what it stands for.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Exactly.

    [laughter]

    Rick Perry. He said that that was -- he wanted to get rid of three departments, and the one he couldn't remember on the debate stage, they gave to him.
  • 01:02:00
    [laughter]

    [applause]

    Okay? So, I mean, where are we going from this? This is a no.

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    All right. I want to point out, we have four no’s and one yes.

    [laughter]

    Kris Kobach, in the -- this is interesting, because in the interests of sort of a fair amount of time for both sides, you're going to get a lot more time talking than anybody else. So, you're on the defensive on this one.

    Kris Kobach:
    So, I would answer a few things off the bat. First of all, on Jen's point about the travel ban -- why therefore you shouldn't use executive orders as a measure --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    No, I said this particular White House counsel was incompetent. He didn't save it as he could have, by having the president re-issue it to remove green card holders.

    Kris Kobach:
    Well, my point is this -- that regardless of whether you're looking at the original executive order or the subsequent executive order, as someone who litigates in the field of immigration law, I guarantee -- and I will bet whatever amount of money you want that when the appeals are done, the travel ban that is currently being litigated, will be upheld in court. I guarantee it.
  • 01:03:00
    It's not even going to be close. One of the things, as litigators, you find is you -- people jurisdiction shop all the time. "Well, maybe we should file this -- in this district, because there are a lot of good judges who are going to agree with our position." Well, the opponents of the travel ban, they picked jurisdictions where they got very lucky in the draw in the judges they got. So, I think, at the end of the day, when it goes to the Court of Appeals, where that luck doesn't have as much effect --


    John Donvan:
    Okay. I'm going to --

    Kris Kobach:
    -- [unintelligible] --

    John Donvan:
    I'm going to pull you back, because we're not -- we started moving off and not really --

    Kris Kobach:
    Well, let's go -- going back to the --

    John Donvan:
    -- [inaudible] --

    Kris Kobach:
    -- Cabinet --

    John Donvan:
    Yeah. That's where we need to be.

    Kris Kobach:
    So -- right, right. But I -- so therefore, I stand by my measure that executive orders being issued is really difficult, and they're doing things very quickly, at least on the White House team. And I know that a lot of the criticism is of specific people in the White House. I think those criticisms are incorrect too. I mean, the media has portrayed Steve Bannon as this Rasputin figure who's, you know, either evil or incompetent, and he's neither. I know him well and he is extremely bright. He's very gifted at keeping the President focused on the strategic objectives of the administration, which is what his job title is.
  • 01:04:03
    And so, I think -- you know, he -- Trump was wise to put him in that position. One other point. When you look at the team and you say, "Well, what about these first hundred days? Why hasn't the State Department accomplished anything yet? Why hasn't this" -- you also have to remember this. Congress -- the Senate has been very slow to confirm people, excruciatingly slow to confirm people. So, the team is actually not fielding a full team on the field. They're not playing in the NFL with 11 players. They're playing with two players right now -- the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary. They don't even have the undersecretaries --

    John Donvan:
    I --

    Kris Kobach:
    -- in the --

    John Donvan:
    I want to go to Rich Lowry, because you are the only one not frowning.

    Rich Lowry:
    Right.

    [laughter]

    I'm thinking of changing my vote, just to make it more sporting –

    [laughter]

    Kris Kobach:
    No. Stay where you are.

    Rich Lowry:
    What can I say? I think the team has gotten better. You know, H.R. McMaster is a great national security advisor, a wonderful man. But it's just not -- it's not an impressive team. As Jenn pointed out, there's huge swaths of the Republican Party that didn't support him or wrote letters saying, "We're opposed to him."
  • 01:05:00
    And, you know, for understandable reasons, he wants people loyal to him. So, that immediately cuts out a huge element of the talent. But, for whatever reason, they've just been very slow to nominate people. So, I think the best you could say, the best grade you could give them would be an incomplete.

    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer?

    Ian Bremmer:
    Yeah. I mean, you know, the Flynn debacle is already clear and a world record. But, you know -- he did, but then he ended up with a better national security advisor who was not his pick but the next iteration was good. Let's see what happened at state. He wanted Giuliani which would have been an unmitigated disaster, all right? And so, then he's like, "Okay, okay. Let me -- let's try some other people." So, he had Romney there and then he had Stavritis, and he had Hudson. And these were capable people. And he's like, "No, no, I don't want any of these guys." Tillerson comes in who he'd never met before. I mean, it's like, "Rex." You know, Rex, big guy, his name's Rex, he kind of looks like a Secretary of State. And, I mean, you know, his favorite author is Ayn Rand and Trump thinks he's Howard Roark.
  • 01:06:02
    So, I mean, you could see how that works, right? But that wasn't his pick. And so, now, of course you've got to actually, I think, a very capable Secretary of State, but one that doesn't actually have access to the President, right? And so, it's not working. And so, it goes nowhere. And that's a real problem because he doesn't have staff because he can't promote staff and staff he wants to promote will get stopped by the White House. So, like, everywhere -- I mean, I'd love to say you could give this guy an incomplete on this. It's so much worse than that.

    John Donvan:
    Okay, let me bring in Jennifer Rubin.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Ian is right. The problem has not been that the senate has been excruciatingly slow. They're always excruciatingly slow. It's been that he hasn't bothered to nominate dozens and dozens of jobs. In fact, he's announced that he doesn't need them at all. So, he's throwing away hundreds of positions which, of course, he needs to implement his policy. So, not very bright. But I think the bigger issue with Ivanka and with Jared Kushner is not simply that they're totally unqualified, which they are, but that they have by Trump himself massive conflicts of interest.
  • 01:07:09
    And what they are creating is a cesspool of corruption. They are flying in the face of, "Yes, the Emoluments Clause, which applies to them because they are White House officials -- White House employees as well. And that republicans, unfortunately, have sort of thrown constitutional niceties and a concern for good governance out the window because it's their guy, so they have to protect him. Well, I guess that's politics, but it's pretty cruddy for the country.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Okay, I want to leave Jamelle back into the conversation, but again, I want to have this sort of ping pong match with the other side. So, Kris, it's you again and then I want to go to Jamelle. So, to respond directly, if you could, to the issue of a conflict of interest.

    Kris Kobach:
    Well -- I think you have conflict of interest questions in all administrations. And obviously, when you have --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    No, you don't.

    Kris Kobach:
    Well, no, you do, I mean, it --
  • 01:08:01
    Jennifer Rubin:
    No, you don't.

    Kris Kobach:
    -- members of -- secretaries frequently have to recuse themselves, especially in like the Justice Department. Attorneys have to recuse themselves all the time. As long as an appropriate recusal is done, you can deal with conflicts of interest. Now, again, as long as the recusals occur when recusals should occur.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    No, they actually divest themselves. They actually liquidate. And, in fact, most of the people in his cabinet, with the exception of his son and daughter, have done so, including Rex Tillerson to his credit.

    Kris Kobach:
    Right.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    And there is a very long process they go through. Jared and Ivanka still own what they own. They have a conflict. This is contrary to what other cabinet officials in other White Houses have been [unintelligible].

    Kris Kobach:
    Essentially what you're saying is then they absolutely cannot serve. And if that's your position, that you just can't do that, then that's fair enough. But, I mean, you -- they're trying to find a way where -- well, that would be --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Or they could steal their stuff.

    Kris Kobach:
    --Saudi Arabia would be fine, right?

    [talking simultaneously]

    Jennifer Rubin:
    They could still --

    Kris Kobach:
    [unintelligible] legal problem [unintelligible] --

    John Donvan:
    All right, Jamelle Bouie. Jamelle Bouie.

    Kris Kobach:
    Robert Kennedy, I mean --



    Jamelle Bouie:
    No one's forcing Jared and Ivanka to be in the White House, right? Like, they -- no one put a gun to their heads and said, "You got to serve in the White House."
  • 01:09:00
    If they want to serve, then they divest themselves of their assets. And that's -- hey, problem served. But if they're not going to do that, then we're going to criticize them for conflicts of interest. I want to -- I want to get to something you said, Kris, earlier, which was to suggest that because in the future maybe a policy may work out, therefore you can fairly evaluate the team that put it in place as terrific, right? So, like, the travel ban may end up staying in place and so that reflects well on the people who crafted it. But the fact that the immediate unveiling of the travel ban plunged the administration into chaos which took weeks to get out of and which likely energized the opposition even more I think is, like, on its face evidence that the team is not terrific.

    [applause]

    Kris Kobach:
    The -- if the Trump Administration did any executive order in that issue -- in that area of travel and refugees and legal immigration, they were going to get sued.
  • 01:10:04
    So, by your definition they were always going to fail in that because -- just because a lawsuit happened, which in turn caused the chaos.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    But a lawsuit happened no matter what. Again, a lawsuit didn't just happen. Like, if the travel ban were crafted in a way that could withstand legal scrutiny, --

    Kris Kobach:
    Yeah, lawsuits would've happened. ACLU is going to sue no matter what.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Right but they might've lost one or two.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    We can keep on going on this sort of like this path here, right? So, the White House attempted to pass a massive health care reform bill with the help of House Speaker Paul Ryan in a three- to four-week span. That is not something that terrifically chosen people do.

    Kris Kobach:
    Just a quick civics reminder, White Houses don't pass bills. Congress passes bills and to say that --

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Are you --

    Kris Kobach:
    -- wait, wait, wait.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Are you telling me that the White House had nothing to do with the attempt to push this bill through? Is that what you're claiming?
  • 01:11:03
    Kris Kobach:
    Of course, but the White House cannot unilaterally --

    Jamelle Bouie:
    That's not --

    Kris Kobach:
    -- ensure that a bill passes.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    That's not what I'm saying.

    Kris Kobach:
    By that measure, Obama who had a pretty good start, didn't get any major legislation accomplished and you would say well, he didn't get any legislation accomplished therefore he failed.

    John Donvan:
    Kris, are you okay in terms of the four on one? Because it's feeling a little whack-a-mole right now. I'm feeling bad for you.

    [laughter]

    Kris Kobach:
    If you want me to back off on it I will.

    John Donvan:
    No, I don't.

    [laughter]

    I commend you for standing up --


    Rich Lowry:
    Just a factual note, that's on Paul Ryan. That's not on the White House. He came up with that strategy. He told the White House this is what he wants to do and he tried to do it and it was an abject failure. It's insane to try to pass a major health care bill in three weeks. And also, just on the executive orders, there are two executive orders. They did one that was rushed and flawed in lots of ways and the implementation was terrible. Then they did a second that was much more buttoned up and to Kris' point, that second got stopped as well because you have judges who are hostile to this policy and take it upon themselves to impose their policy on the nation.
  • 01:12:09
    And eventually it will get to the Supreme Court and will pass mostly because it's in black and white law in U.S. code. He entirely has authority to do this.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    If it was so obviously insane to attempt to pass or to attempt to rush through a health care bill in three weeks, then why didn't anyone in the White House make that argument to the president? Where were the terrifically -- terrific advisors to tell President Trump that for as much as you may want this policy objective it is unwise to take this course of action?

    Kris Kobach:
    Because there was a chance that it could have worked.

    [laughter]

    They came when they -- look, I mean, look. They came within what 20 votes? I mean, it's -- you don't say well, we can't get it done in a hundred days so let's wait until day 101 to start. You go ahead and you make the push. Now, you're right, it was wrong to establish expectations that we're going to get this done in three weeks or we're not going to do it all. I agree with that, but I want to turn to another point that some of the folks on the opposite side and they've attacked specific individuals.
  • 01:13:07
    Oh, come on. Can you really believe it? They put Governor Perry in there or this person here. Look, Trump promised the American people that he was going to turn over the tables and that he was going to aggressively rock the boat when he came to Washington, and so, we shouldn't assume that he would come in and appoint the type of person that a typical politician would appoint. I mean, I really was curious. I didn't have any inside information on which direction he was going to go with a lot of these picks and it does reflect some of the promises that he made. I mean, Pruitt in the EPA is a perfect example. He's -- Trump is hostile to a lot of what the EPA has done and so it is perfectly expected that he would appoint someone who wants to roll back what the EPA is doing. And so, you know, I'm not surprised. You could say wow, these are so unconventional. Yeah, they are unconventional, and these are people who may be hostile to the very agency that they're going to.

    John Donvan:
    All right.

    Kris Kobach:
    What better person to roll the agenda back?
  • 01:14:01
    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    I think there is an argument to be made that the appointment of Goldman Sachs generals and “gajillionaires” is not aligned with a lot of what Trump was saying for his base during the election. There's an argument to be made there, right?

    [laughter]

    But to create a little bit more balance, I mean, I would say it's not like Trump has a monopoly on appointing some inside loyalists that really have no basis to do their job. I mean, I think when Obama first came in as a first-term senator and, you know, a lot of their experienced people were on team Hillary, he's got Ben Rhodes, he's got Valerie Jarrett. No basis to be -- smart people. No basis to be in the position they're in. Like Steve Miller, like Jarrett. I mean, just from an objective capabilities and experience perspective. The difference being that Obama reads and gets briefings and Trump doesn't. So, in terms of understanding what kind of a team you really need, you want a team that complements the skill sets you have, the skill sets you don't have. And I think that Trump's done a bad job on that.
  • 01:15:01
    But final point, I look at -- I look at someone like Steve Bannon. I don't think he's a disaster. He's a disaster if he runs everything. But if -- having someone like that being a voice around the table, a voice that really is necessary, to say, "Wait a second. Economic nationalism is important to pay attention to, and wait a second, globalization has hurt a lot," that's a -- you want some bomb throwers in there. You just don't want them to have the ability to actually launch the bombs, right?

    [laughter]

    And again, but to go to the other side, since no one has said these two words yet -- let me just end on Jeff Sessions.


    John Donvan:
    Yeah.

    Ian Bremmer:
    Yeah.

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    Jennifer Rubin.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Trump didn't really vet a lot of people, and that's why some 15 people have already cycled out of the people he appointed. They really didn't have a vetting process, and that's how you got people like Michael Flynn. That's how you got people who sort of came and went before you knew who they were.
  • 01:16:00
    So, part of this is not simply the people who have come in, but everyone who was with him in the transition stage, who -- granted, we didn't think he was going to win either. But they were not prepared for this, and they did not do a professional job of vetting people. Now, you can bring in all kinds of brilliant outsiders, but it's quite another thing to bring out -- bring in someone like Sebastian Gorka, who is -- I would suggest you guys all read Tthe Forward [spelled phonetically] when you get home this evening -- who has really documented horrendous ties with Hungarian fascists. He left in quite a huff today when he was asked questions at a college gathering. So, we don't know what's going to happen to him. There is a lot of cracked pottery. There's a lot incompetence well above the norms for any given presidency of either party.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle Bouie.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    And again, this is less about whether or not I think Scott Pruitt should be leading the EPA. But if Trump's goal is to dismantle the EPA or at least pull it back from it’s -- from a more aggressive stance, then it's not clear to me that Pruitt is in fact the kind of person you want in that position for reasons of managerial competence.
  • 01:17:12
    The same goes for Ben Carson of HUD, for Betsy DeVos at Education. These are appointments that may be ideologically favorable to Trump. But in terms of executing the Trump agenda, they can't even advocate for people to fill the positions, right? Like, if you want the EPA to do less, you need actual people at the EPA to carry out your agenda, and the EPA is full of vacancies like every other federal agency. And so, a principal who cannot advocate for his own agency, to get the kind of funding and expertise necessary to then dismantle that agency, it doesn't appear to me to be a terrific fit.

    John Donvan:
    Last word to Kris Kobach.

    Kris Kobach:
    Okay. I want to -- there's so many things to answer, but I'll --

    John Donvan:
    I can only give you 30 seconds.

    Kris Kobach:
    [laughs] Okay. Thanks.
  • 01:18:00
    So, I would say a couple of things. As to the Bannon point, Bannon is not the only one making the decisions. He is a voice among many around the people. And Trump does get briefings on -- it's just one meeting after another, after another in the White House, and the White House is still humming at 11:00 p.m. At night. They're constantly working, and it is not what -- this cartoonish image that you're describing.

    John Donvan:
    15 seconds.

    Kris Kobach:
    Jeff Sessions is the perfect Attorney General for a transformation at the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has a lot of ideologically-driven attorneys -- in the civil rights division, especially. And so there -- you need someone who is going to be very driven himself on what the policy objectives are in the legal world -- which prosecution will take priority. And so, he's actually the perfect person to enact Trump's agenda in that Justice Department.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. That's time on that motion, and that concludes our third debate on this night –

    [applause]

    -- where our theme is "Unresolved: Trump's First 100 Days." I'd like to ask you to go vote a third time now. Go to the keypad. The motion, again, Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team.
  • 01:19:02
    One for yes and Two for no. And while you're doing that, we will move on to our fourth motion. The fourth motion is The Press is Out to Get Trump. Our first speaker in this round will be Jamelle Bouie. Jamelle Bouie, on the motion: The Press is Out to Get Trump, how do you declare?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I declare yes, actually, on this one. I think -- as a member of the press. No, I -- if you look at the reaction of mainstream media in the wake of Trump's election, it was very much not just, "Oh, we're going to cover this President as we're going to cover any president." It was explicitly adversarial. It was, "This President is potentially a threat to the freedom of the press, and we're going to treat him accordingly." Now, I don't think that's a bad stance at all to take. That's in fact the stance I took. But if we're evaluating the resolution here, is the press out to get Trump? I think it very much is. Now, this is balanced against the fact that for some elements of the press, like the cable news press, Trump is a huge moneymaker, right?
  • 01:20:05
    People want to watch Trump on TV. There's a big incentive to constantly kind of hang on Trump's every word. But for major newspapers, for many, many magazines, I think they're very -- is -- there is an obvious antagonism towards the Trump Administration. It's just antagonism I think is warranted, but it's there and it's -- he chose to deny it.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jamelle Bouie. Motion moves to your left. Ian Bremmer, "The Press Is out to Get Trump." How do you declare?

    Ian Bremmer:
    I say, "Yes." And, look, I mean, Trump's -- Trump hates pets. He hates dogs, right? I mean, Trump doesn't drink and he treats his wives as objects. So, I mean, for all of these reasons, he's hard to relate to as a human being, right? And the people that I know in the press, right -- I mean, I would say like 95 percent of the mainstream media just as individuals find Trump odious.
  • 01:21:02
    And, you know, they were absolutely willing to go with it when it was entertainment at the beginning. But now that it's actually like he's President, they want him to fail. And they're willing to go with that. Look, their jobs are not getting any easier. They're not making a lot of money. A lot of them are getting fired, right? The media's kind of going to hell. They're absolutely against him and I think that absolutely is hurting our mainstream media across the board. It is undermining the legitimacy of the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and the rest. I'm not with Jamelle in thinking it's good for the country.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you. Kris Kobach, "The Press Is out to Get Trump," how do you declare?

    Kris Kobach:
    No surprise here. Look, I'd say a number of things. One, it's empirically provable. I don't know how many of you saw it but, today, the media research center came out with a study and they found that Trump has received more hostile treatment in the broadcast media than any president in history since they've been recording this. From January 20th to April 9th, 89 percent of the broadcast media coverage was negative.
  • 01:22:00
    They looked at 1,500 on-air statements that were negative compared to 186 on-air statements that were positive. So, I mean, you could look at some objective things and say, "Yes, the press does seem to be out to get Trump." Another example of this is what's going on right now in the media this week, the old budget squabble or debate about the wall. Now, remember four years ago when a Republican Congress was refusing or thinking they might refuse to give President Obama the appropriations in the budget bill for Obamacare? They said, "The Republicans are threatening a shutdown of the government." Now, we're Democrats in the Senate are threatening not to give a budget bill because of appropriations for the wall. They're saying, "The President is threatening a budget shutdown." It's a clear double standard. The press is so obviously leaning one way.

    John Donvan:
    Rich -- sorry, Rich Lowry, how do you declare on the motion that Trump is out to get -- sorry, how do you declare on the motion, "The Press Is out to Get Trump?"

    Rich Lowry:
    I'm going to vote, "Yes," but only to be on the same side as Jamelle finally this evening.
  • 01:23:03
    I know a lot of reporters. I don't know one reporter who supports Trump or comes within 100 miles of supporting Trump. And a lot of them try to be objective, but there's still a haze of loathing around their coverage of Donald Trump. During the campaign, the New York Times, almost every day literally devoted the lead of the newspaper to something critical or hostile to Donald Trump, a lot of it justified. But if you just read the Times, you would have had no idea, no idea there was some significant chance of this man actually becoming President of the United States. You never would have known. In the New York Times, actually, the editors ran a Mea Culpo letter in affect after the election saying, "You know, we might have missed this one guys." But immediately, like three days later, they snapped back to form. So, has the rest of the media. That's why you have a lot of half-baked and tendentious stories that are undermining and discrediting a good reporting about Trump. So, you don't have to agree with Trump's attacks on the press to support this resolution.
  • 01:24:02
    You just have to acknowledge what's obvious which is that sometimes even paranoids have enemies.
    John Donvan:
    Jennifer Rubin, finally on the motion, "The Press Is out to Get Trump," yes or no? You're a no?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I got to do that, right? I voted, "No," for the listeners. I vote, "No," on this not for any of the reasons that the gentleman to my right said, but because the press doesn't really have a meaning anymore. Rich isn't out to get the president. He's the press. Fox News isn't out to get the President. They're the press. Breitbart isn't out to get the president. They're the press. Are some outlets very antagonistic and very I think forceful, aggressive in going after the president because he lies a lot? Yes. But there are also people who are really sort of painful cheerleaders for this president and that's the nature of the media we have.
  • 01:25:02
    We may not like it, but the media that you and you and you watch probably is somewhat hostile to Trump, but the media that Rich watches isn't. And I don't think this is a good thing. I don't defend the silos, but I think there's plenty of support out there for him if you look in the right places.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Thank you.

    [applause]

    So, we have four yes' and one no thus saving our debate by a --

    [laughter]

    -- I was going to have to go the audience to find a no vote. Jamelle, I find it interesting that you and Ian have opposite takes on what -- I think that you have opposite takes on whether this is a good thing. I may be wrong about that that you're -- if I'm understanding you correctly, Jamelle, you're saying yeah, the press is on his trail because his trail needs to be gotten on.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Yes.

    John Donvan:
    They're doing it well. So, I want you to talk about that a little bit in light of Jennifer's assessment of the situation as well, because in a lot of ways I think you might actually overlap, although you're voting on opposite sides.
  • 01:26:03
    Jamelle Bouie:
    So, I guess this all depends on how you see the Trump administration and President Trump. If you simply see him as an ordinary president then the press is -- or then the mainstream press' hostility towards him might be unwarranted. I really make the distinction between mainstream press because while Breitbart is the press, I'm not sure I would call it the mainstream. But Fox News certainly is a mainstream so we have this, you know, -- so you have that. If you view Trump as a threat to the free press, as a threat to pluralism, then there is a real case, right, that mainstream outlets, that the press as an institution, which doesn't just exist to defend its own prerogatives, but exists as a part of our democracy that is committed to the values of our democracy, it is appropriate for that threat to be more critical and scrutinized more and even be a little antagonistic towards a figure and a sort of political style that is itself very hostile to our democracy as we understand it.
  • 01:27:05
    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    I think that's a very good way of putting it and I think there's a judgment call here because there are few things about Trump that are different from other presidents, right? There's a level of incompetence. There's a level of corruption and there's a level of authoritarianism and all three things you find in other presidents, but you find more of them in Trump. Now, you're saying that if it's mostly an authoritarian problem then the press needs to just get out there and hit him as hard as possible. I think you're right, but that's not my judgment. My judgment is this presidency is mostly about incompetence to the extent their different. And, by the way, that's something that will normalize over time. You fired Flynn. We bring in McMaster. You get rid of K.T. McFarland, you send her literally as far as possible from Washington, Singapore, right, and you bring in somebody else that's more capable. But I will say in terms of how you define the media and say well there's some media -- look, the Dutch are tall, okay? There are some Dutch that are short, okay? That does not make the statement the Dutch are tall less true, and that is the way I would view our view of the media being biased.
  • 01:28:05
    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach, I'm wondering if you're having a hard time being the same yes -- being yes with Ian Bremmer's yes.

    Kris Kobach:
    We see things a little bit differently. Look, there's no question that the media view Trump as a threat and they really, really don't like him so maybe --

    John Donvan:
    Should they?




    Kris Kobach:
    Well, this is where I'm going. So why don't they like him? Now, Jamelle is suggesting that they are noble freedom fighters fighting against an authoritarian ruler and they are the only Vanguard that can save us from this tyrant. Well --

    John Donvan:
    Yeah, yeah. I don't think Jamelle says that.

    Kris Kobach:
    In so many words that they're acting nobly in order to stop a tyrant. I mean, I think that's overblown and, again, I am exaggerating it for effect. But the point is that I think a lot of them are attacking him in part because Trump declared war on them as much as they declared war on him. I don't know how many people in this room attended a Trump rally.
  • 01:29:00
    I was at a couple of them during the campaign and at every rally he would have the audience at some point for effect turn to the media pool at the back of the arena and boo or he'd make some joke about them and these reporters for the first time in their lives were actually the subject of the attention of all this audience and it was really negative attention. So, I think a lot of them had something visceral like this guy doesn't like us so we don't like him.

    John Donvan:
    Did anybody on the panel experience that covering Trump?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Well, I've been insulted by Trump and his folks on Twitter.

    John Donvan:
    But -- no, no, no. Hang on just a second, Jen, I do want to come to you, but Jamelle raised his hand in the sense that you were in the sort of scene that Kris --

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Right, right. At Trump rallies with press being jeered at angrily.

    John Donvan:
    So, I think what Kris is saying is that he got to you and, you know, he hit you emotionally and your response is more emotional than intellectual, I think. Is that --

    Male Speaker:
    Well, I don't --

    Kris Kobach:
    I'm suggesting it's -- not necessarily -- but it's a visceral kind of thing, like he really doesn't like us. I've got my pen now, you know?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    So, I think there is a distinction to be made between politicians merely disliking the press.
  • 01:30:04
    It's a pretty normal thing -- politicians don't really like reports, they don't really like journalists all that much -- and whipping up anger at journalists and casting them as somehow illegitimate actors in this game of democracy. The former we can all live with; the latter does sort of begin to constitute a threat to the idea of a free press. And I think journalists are reacting to the latter. Had Trump not, again, stirred up angry crowds of people to yell at journalists, and cast them as illegitimate, I'm not sure there would be the same kind of visceral anger. But --

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    -- he did, and there is, and it's justified.

    John Donvan:
    It's time to hear from our one no vote, Jennifer Rubin.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Well, to the judge -- you know, Fox News, as they keep telling us, is the most watched cable news. So, they're a very big news source. And they clearly are not out to get him. So, there is -- I don't think it's completely balanced 50-50, but I don't think we should diminish. After all, they helped elevate him, and elect him, and continue to support him.
  • 01:31:05
    I would point out, however, that for all of his hostility to the mainstream media, what does he do when he wants to get a piece of information out? He calls Rich's ex-employee, Bob Costa, who is now a very good reporter at the Washington Post -- and tells is to him, because he knows more or less he's going to report it straight. He does the same with Maggie Haberman at the New York Times. He calls these people to impart the information. They then relate it -- they accurately relate it. He didn't go into the Wall Street Journal editorial rooms during the campaign. He came to the New York Times and he came to the Washington Post. Trump has used the media his entire career. He has played this game to the hilt. Whether he really hates them or not, this is his shtick. He has done it from the get-go. To the extent to which he's really offended or really upset -- who knows.
  • 01:32:03
    But this is a game that he plays. And he actually does know the respected media outlets, because those are the people he calls when he wants to break news.


    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach.

    Kris Kobach:
    So, on that point –

    [applause]

    -- Trump is not acting viscerally, as some reporters may be. He's acting cerebrally. He is actually --

    [laughter]

    -- he is manipulating the press better than any president has manipulated the press in the modern media era. He knows how to get under people's skin. And so, he deliberately picks a fight if he knows that the fight will benefit him. He deliberately picked those fights at the campaign rallies. He wasn't doing it because it was fun. It might have been fun. But he was doing it because knew that this trust of the media was low. He knew that on balance, the coverage of his policy or whatever the issue of the campaign was at that moment was going to be tilted against him, so he wanted to undermine trust in the press, and he has been successful in doing that. In its February annual competence poll, Gallup found Americans trust the media to, quote, "Report news fairly, accurately -- fully, fairly, and accurately," was at its lowest level in polling history.
  • 01:32:11
    That's what they do. And so, they are going to fact check them and they are going to investigate the Russians and they are going to investigate conflicts of interest. There's a lot of stuff that's never happened before in the White House.

    John Donvan:
    Rich Lowry, continue.

    Rich Lowry:
    No one opposes fact checking. But, look, they're clearly -- there's a love and hate relationship on both sides. The press fears and loathes him, but he's great for ratings and everyone's subscriptions are going up. Trump hates the New York Times, says “it's failing, it's losers.” But as Jen refers to, he calls Maggie Haberman whenever he wants to get something on the front page, and no one cares -- no one has ever cared as much about what is written about him and said on TV than Donald Trump does. But I think the play for the press here, going to the numbers Kris cited about his credibility being low, when you're being attacked this vociferously and viciously by a very powerful person for being biased and unfair, you shouldn't react in kind.
  • 01:33:04
    Only 32 percent saying yes. So, he cultivated this battle because it would help him win the election and it will help him achieve his objectives politically. And so, he's doing it for a reason and he's very good at getting under people's skin. And I think that's the perfect example of it.


    Jennifer Rubin:
    I want to agree in part with something that Kris said, which is it did help him during the campaign. But I would argue very strongly, it's not helping him anymore. His level of trust and credibility is even lower than the media is now. He's -- it's not working. It doesn't help him to get things through Congress. It doesn't help him to vilify the press. And I don't blame him for going back to the well.
  • 01:35:02
    That's what he was so successful at. So, he naturally tries it again. But governance, of course, is very different than winning an election. And I think he'll find that simply because he brings up Hillary Clinton once in a while isn't going to help him now the same way that if he brings up the press or yells at the press it doesn't help him now.

    Rich Lowry:
    If --

    Jennifer Rubin:
    He is judged on his results. So, I think the axe is going to wear thin after a while.

    John Donvan:
    If this idea is valid, that Trump himself set out to damage the press and to make the press an enemy and to get the press, is not the press's proper and appropriate and reasonable response at that point to -- for the press then to therefore get Trump in response as, I think, maybe the thrust of Jamelle's argument. Am I --

    Jamelle Bouie:
    I mean, my -- the thrust of my argument is that I think the assessment of Trump is being sort of a kind of at best uncertain force, at worst, quite dangerous force in American democracy, justifies a somewhat more antagonistic response than you might see against a different policy.

    John Donvan:
    Including the part that he's out to get the press?

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Right, right.
  • 01:36:01
    John Donvan:
    Okay. Ian?

    Jennifer Rubin:
    I would say one thing. It's very difficult to cover a president who lies this much.

    [applause]

    And I don't mean political lies. Obviously, there's suspects that aren't so, and he says it again and again, either because he doesn't read and he doesn't know things or because he convinces himself or because he can. He lies a lot. And I will acknowledge that the press is a little offended by this. They've never had presidents who lied to their faces like this, with the exception, perhaps, of Richard Nixon, but he didn't do it as much. So, I think in that regard --

    John Donvan:
    But there is, "I did not have sex with that woman."

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Yes, but I don't think the --

    Kris Kobach:
    That's the other political side, though, so you shouldn't miss that.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Right, right.

    Kris Kobach:
    Oh, [unintelligible].


    Jennifer Rubin:
    But I do think that there -- the press understandably feels that there is a fact-checking role to be had.
  • 01:37:00
    And, by the way, I don't think, talking to my colleagues at the post, they were under any misbelief that they were going to influence people, necessarily. That's just their job.
  • 01:38:02
    You actually should take a step back and be more fair-minded and more professional. And that they clearly haven't been able to do. And just a key part of Jenn's argument is almost a scholastic argument that we don't know what the press is. We can't define it, you know? And the national review in the New York Times taken together have five million subscribers. Well, that might be true, but we are a very small slice of that five million. And people still look at the broadcast -- the three big broadcast networks. And there are a couple -- few big newspapers that define the tone of the press coverage in this country and they are clearly hostile to President Trump.

    John Donvan:
    Ian Bremmer.

    Ian Bremmer:
    So, I think that Brexit, Le Pen, Trump, Sanders, these are protest votes. And, fundamentally, they're a protest against established political parties, against public intellectuals, against mainstream media, against elites, against science, against research.

    And, I mean, in that regard, Trump deciding that he is going to take on in theatric and reality television form -- TV form the mainstream media in the U.S. is an extremely smart thing for him to do and something he'll be able to continue to ride for quite some time.
  • 01:39:12
    Notwithstanding all the facts that he wants to make sure that he can continue to have influence over his favorite ones that he can dole out, you know, to his -- to the court jester that's most appealing to him at any given time. But I also think we have been talking about only one part of the media. We haven't talked much about the media he likes the most, which is social media because he can control it. He can get the information out directly. Now, social media is owned by Silicon Valley. And that social media -- which they weren't paying attention. Mark Zuckerberg, "No fake news," not a big deal until after elections. "Oh, my god. We've got a fake news problem." You know, Eric Schmidt, Google, "Don't know what to do about the algorithms." And then, suddenly, "Wait a second. We're going to deal with these artificial bots that are causing difficulty." I suspect that we are going to see a very big structural fight between Silicon Valley, social media, Bezos, and maybe a little Washington Post, too, against the White House is going to get larger going forward, not smaller, and that's one where the media needs to really watch out.
  • 01:40:06
    John Donvan:
    Jennifer Rubin.

    [applause]

    Jennifer Rubin:
    That sort of makes the argument that the media isn't out to get him because there's also social media, which is on his side, so thanks.


    Jennifer Rubin:
    I knew that. But I don't think he's going to be able to stop doing this and it's not because it's working, it's because he can't. This is a man with no self-control, no self-awareness, and he does this the way you breathe oxygen. So, he will continue to do this whether it's productive or not and I think it has ceased to be productive. We haven't asked the [unintelligible] question has his hundred days been successful, but according to a very large percentage of Americans, it's not been and I don't think this is helping. I think it re-raises and it cements this feeling that this guy is not all there.
  • 01:41:02
    I mean, if you read that Associated Press interview that's been circulated, it's pretty scary stuff. All he does is cement his opposition, which as a minority president he has to win over some of them, and really rattle his supporters. So, at some point, it's not going to work and maybe he should try something else.

    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach.

    Kris Kobach:
    I disagree completely with what Jenn just said. He is going to keep going it because it makes sense for him to do it and it is beneficial for him to do it for three reasons. One is, in legislative battles the press is now a combatant on the battle field. In the battle to repeal and replace Obamacare, the press is going to be taking an opposite position to discredit his opponent is good for him. Number two, it rallies his base. When he had that press conference when he, you know, [unintelligible] attacked the press, in my neck of the woods out in Kansas, people were sending emails and texts saying this is amazing, this is awesome. The base likes it. And number three, 2020. He wants to get re-elected.
  • 01:42:01
    It worked really well for him. It's called free media. He crushed the Republican field because he got all the free media, they didn't, and that's another factor in the election battle that's coming up. He'll keep doing it.

    John Donvan:
    Jamelle Bouie, last word.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    So, on this political question there is evidence, right, from focus groups to polling that large numbers of Americans are really uneasy with tweeting. They're uneasy with this behavior towards the media and there's a real question here, Kris, you accurately said that his base loves it, but Trump did not become president because of his base. He became president because of marginal Trump voters who disliked Hillary Clinton more. So, looking forward to Trump's political future, are those marginal Trump voters going to look at this behavior and say you know what, I gave him a try, I thought he'd cut it out and he didn't and so I'm not going to support him, and that I think is a political danger for Trump.

    John Donvan:
    And that concludes debate number four. Thank you very much.

    [applause]

    Last time to vote. Go to the keypads again. The motion: The Press Is Out to Get Trump. One for yes and two for no.
  • 01:43:06
    One for yes and two for no. Okay, so while we're waiting to get those results I just want to first of all thank these debaters for coming in and --

    [applause]

    -- standing and holding their ground but doing it with such civility and obvious respect for one another and that's what we're here to try to bring about, so thank you for all -- all for doing that.

    [applause]

    Regulars for our debates know that very often we start the debate where I have a conversation with our chairman, Robert Rosencrantz, who is responsible for bringing Intelligence Squared to the United States. He's actually in London now and what he was doing in London was he was attending a debate by our sister organization, Intelligence Squared in the U.K., and they were -- they finished a debate about four hours ago where the motion was Trump is Making America Great Again.
  • 01:44:11
    And I just thought I would share how that debate went. So, the pre-debate vote, 13 percent were for the motion that Trump was Making America Great Again and 67 percent were against. In the post-debate vote, the 13 percent -- I'm just looking at the screen, the 13 percent went up to 20 percent and the 67 percent against the motion went up to 76 percent. So, the motion failed in the United Kingdom, so I just thought I would share that and we also wanted to thank our co-founder, Alexander Monroe, who we were hoping could join us tonight, but illness prevented that, but we thank both of them for keeping this organization moving forward. Intelligence Squared, I've said this many times before, we work and operate as a philanthropy and the ticket prices that are paid by those of you who braved the weather in coming out here don't actually cover anywhere near the full cost of running one of these debates.
  • 01:45:09
    We send them out in the wild as a gift for free. The podcast is free, and we're using schools for free. And so, we rely on the public for support as well. So, we've gotten very, very digital in the way we're asking for support. And that is that you can text to a number. If you text the word "debate" -- very clever -- to the number 797979, you'll be sent a link where you can make a contribution to us, and we would very, very much appreciate it if you could do that. While we're waiting for the results to come from your audience vote, I just wanted to take a minute to go very quickly around the table -- starting with the last card in my pocket. Jennifer Rubin -- I'm sorry, but this is your chance to be first. Since -- in a sense -- what we encourage this audience to do is to listen critically and keep an open mind, the question I'm going to have for all of you, is there -- was there anything that any of your opponents said tonight that maybe got you to think in a different way?
  • 01:46:01
    Maybe you thought, "I can kind of see what he's saying there; I'm going to have to think about that." So, I'll start with you. And if so -- and the answer doesn't have to be yes.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    All right. I actually think, on the last issue, I was being a contrarian. I think particularly --

    Male Speaker:
    Now you tell us.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Yeah.

    [laughter]

    Male Speaker:
    You were with us all along.

    Jennifer Rubin:
    Well, you wanted to have, like, a debate, right? So, listen, there's an argument for it. But I think on balance, you probably have it right. And I think Jamelle's point is an excellent one -- that whether Trump defenders think so or not, the press does think that they're playing a role in the democracy. It is -- the press is mentioned in the Constitution. The press does have a responsibility. And they are confronted with something that they've never dealt with before, and they're doing the best they can. And they're kind of making it up as they go along because Trump is making it up as they go along. So, I think Jamelle's point was a good one.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. How about you, Jamelle? And it doesn't have to be just on that last debate, but all across -- America First, the stock market, all that.
  • 01:47:01
    Jamelle Bouie:
    Yeah. I mean, I guess, on the stock market question, if you define that resolution in, like, a very narrow way, right, that, like, "Is Trump good for the stock market?" I didn't give it that much thought, whether or not he is, and he may well be, and we'll see how that works out. But -- yeah, so there's that.

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Jamelle Bouie:
    Which is, like, really [inaudible].

    John Donvan:
    [laughs] Ian Bremmer.
    Ian Bremmer:
    I'd go back to the first one, on America First. And I mean, I hold to my position. But I think Jamelle's arguments about the fact that America First fundamentally -- irrespective of how Trump plays it -- on foreign policy is deeply problematic, in terms of the way the American population sorts itself. And -- it is a -- that is the argument for the other side, and it's the right argument. And it's -- you know, so it depends on whether you're prominently a foreign policy guy -- which I am -- or you're fundamentally thinking about the United States at home, which Jamelle is. And if I was, I'd absolutely be on his side of the argument.

    John Donvan:
    Kris Kobach.
  • 01:48:00
    Kris Kobach:
    On the America First debate, some of Ian's arguments got me thinking about it differently. I was thinking about it primarily in terms of transactional and domestic policy, the way you look at decisions. And I think Ian's foreign policy perspective made me think quite different.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you. And Rich?

    Rich Lowry:
    What most surprised me about this debate was just how quickly Ian can talk.

    [laughter]

    You guys didn't see the clock, but when it got into the 15 or 10 second red zone, he sped up. And it was -- and he was already talking quickly, so he got into a one minute answer more than most people can get in with three to five minutes. I would say the -- we had kind of a disagreement among ourselves about what the question was on the stock market debate, but I think the point Jamelle and Jen were making, that a lot of this agenda that Wall Street likes and is excited about at the moment might not happen -- it's a little difficult to argue against because it very well could be true.

    John Donvan:
    All right. Thank you.
  • 01:49:00
    I now have the results of the audience vote, resolution by resolution. Remember, we have worked through four resolutions -- four debates. You voted before you heard all the arguments, and you voted again after you heard the arguments. And what we're looking for is to see which way the swing went. On the first motion, America First is a Sound Policy Direction, the swing went strongly to yes by 17 percent, and that was the side argued by Ian, by Chris, and by Rich. In the second debate, The Stock Market Says Trump is Good for the Economy, the swing went to no by just a little bit, by two percent. That was argued by Jamelle and by Jennifer. On the third debate, Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team, the swing went just a little bit towards no, argued by Jamelle, Ian, Rich, and Jennifer.

    [laughter]

    Kris Kobach:
    Ooh, yeah. Yeah.
  • 01:50:00
    John Donvan:
    And on the fourth debate, "The Press Is out to Get Trump," argued by Jamelle, Ian, Kris, and Rich. The swing went to, "Yes." So, those are our results. What it shows us is that because you swung, you all listened. And we appreciate that. That's our goal here. Thank you so much for taking part tonight. Thank you from me, John Donvan, and Intelligence Squared U.S. We'll see you next time.

    [applause]

    [end of transcript]
America First Is a Sound Policy Direction
Winner: No
Yes: 0%
No: 0%
The Stock Market Says Trump Is Good for the Economy
Winner: No
Yes: 0%
No: 0%
Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team
Winner: No
Yes: 0%
No: 0%
The Press IS Out to Get Trump
Winner: No
Yes: 0%
No: 0%
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If not America First, what country do you want to put first?
Clip: Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review, gives his 1-minute opening statement.
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Jamelle Bouie - "I think the stock market is wrong about Trump"
Clip: Jamelle Bouie in his opening statement on "The Stock Market Says Trump Is Good For the Economy," explains how the stock market doesn't evaluate economic gains for lower income and middle income Americans.
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What will the economy look like under Trump?
Clip: Debaters discuss the actions the Trump administration has taken to improve jobs, wages, and the economy.
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Jamelle Bouie & Ian Bremmer on Trump's team
Clip: Jamelle Bouie & Ian Bremmer give their opening statements on Trump's team.
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Did Trump pick a terrific team?
Clip: Debaters discuss executive orders, special advisers, un-nominated positions, and the successes/failures of his cabinet.
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Is Trump playing the media?
Clip: Debaters discuss the antagonistic role of the press, social media, and Trump's strategy of using the media to his advantage.
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What does America First mean independent of Trump?
Clip: Debaters discuss the history of America First, and whether that applies to President Trump's policy direction.
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Does "the press" still have meaning?
Clip: In Jennifer Rubin's opening statement on "The Press IS Out to Get Trump," she explains that he receives plenty of positive coverage, as well as antagonistic coverage in the media.
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Play this video clip.
Debate highlight: Did Trump pick a terrific team?
Clip: Debaters discuss executive orders, special advisers, un-nominated positions, and the successes/failures of his cabinet.
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Does "the press" still have meaning? #debate #Trump
Clip: In Jennifer Rubin's opening statement on "The Press IS Out to Get Trump," she explains that he receives plenty of positive coverage, as well as antagonistic coverage in the media.
About The Debaters
An image of Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie − Chief Political Correspondent, Slate
Jamelle Bouie is the chief political correspondent for Slate and a political analyst for CBS News, covering... read bio
An image of Ian Bremmer
Ian Bremmer − Founder and President, Eurasia Group
Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting... read bio
An image of Kris Kobach
Kris Kobach − Fmr. Secretary of State, Kansas
Kris W. Kobach is the former secretary of state for Kansas and former professor of constitutional law at the... read bio
An image of Rich Lowry
Rich Lowry − Editor, National Review
Rich Lowry became editor of National Review in 1998 when selected by William F. Buckley, Jr. to lead the magazine.... read bio
An image of Jennifer Rubin
Jennifer Rubin − Author, The Washington Post’s “Right Turn” Blog
Jennifer Rubin writes the “Right Turn” blog for the Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a... read bio
Where Do You Stand?
America First Is a Sound Policy Direction
The Stock Market Says Trump Is Good for the Economy
Trump Has Picked a Terrific Team
The Press IS Out to Get Trump