Politics In The News: 1 Day Until Election Day
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
We begin this morning with the news that former Attorney General Janet Reno has died. She was 78. She had served for two terms of the Clinton administration, becoming the longest-serving attorney general in 150 years. We'll have more on her controversial tenure running the Justice Department elsewhere in this program.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We are remembering that attorney general on a moment in which the Department of Justice is very much in the news. The FBI director, James Comey, has sent another letter to Congress. This latest update says, in effect, never mind about the last update. Agents found nothing new in an added bunch of emails. So after a week of drama, Comey stands by his decision last summer that Hillary Clinton was extremely careless in handling classified information. But no reasonable prosecutor would file charges. Jennifer Palmieri is Clinton's communications director.
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JENNIFER PALMIERI: We have seen Director Comey's latest letter to the Hill. We're glad to see that, as we were - that he has found, as we were confident that he would - that he has confirmed the conclusions that he really reached in July. And we're glad that this matter is resolved.
INSKEEP: Campaigning last night in Sterling Hills, Mich., Donald Trump declared nothing resolved at all.
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DONALD TRUMP: Right now, she is being protected by a rigged system. It's a totally rigged system. I've been saying it for a long time. You can't review 650,000 new emails in eight days. You can't do it, folks.
INSKEEP: Just to drop in a little reporting here, sources familiar with this probe are telling NPR these emails mostly contained personal email and copies of emails already seen. Let's talk about this with NPR commentator and columnist Cokie Roberts, along with Tucker Carlson of The Daily Caller and Fox News. They're both in New York getting ready for election coverage. Good morning to you both.
COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Good morning.
TUCKER CARLSON: Morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: I assume, Cokie, that the people who thought James Comey was awful now think better of him...
INSKEEP: ...And the ones who thought better of him now think he's awful again.
ROBERTS: Well, he's been - they've been on all sides of views of James Comey, depending on what he's saying what week. But it is extraordinary what has happened here. I mean, it was extraordinary for him to come out last July and make this statement about no prosecutor would take the case and incredible for him to come out last week and say, wait, whoops, we're reopening it or looking at it again - and then yesterday. It has had a tremendous impact. I mean, before his letter last Friday, after the third debate, Hillary Clinton was riding high. There was a whole kind of momentum around that just went...
INSKEEP: Talk of landslides and so forth, yeah.
ROBERTS: And, yes, all of that. And that just went completely away. And I think, probably true, that the Senate was lost to Democrats as a result of it because this past week would have been Hillary Clinton and the surrogates, the president, the first lady, all of them out campaigning for senators and trying to get her numbers up.
INSKEEP: Tucker Carlson, has this changed the election?
CARLSON: I don't know. It's hard to know. I mean, it's obviously - it's helpful to the Hillary Clinton campaign. I'm not sure exactly what it means. Comey sent a three-paragraph - three-short-paragraph letter to the Congress. And he didn't say the investigation was over. He didn't really say much. You couldn't really understand - other than it doesn't appear that anything horrible was in these - in these emails. I think the macro picture is, no one emerges from this with greater confidence in the American justice system...
CARLSON: ...And that, you know, one of the many casualties of this campaign. I do think this hangs over her. I think it makes it harder to govern if she's elected. You don't see a ton of winners in this, I guess.
INSKEEP: Let me just ask a little bit about the early voting signs that we saw over the weekend. There are signs out of Nevada, possibly out of Florida that there's been a huge Latino early vote, that that could influence the election. That could plausibly clinch a couple of states for Hillary Clinton and close some doors for Donald Trump. Could Latinos be the ones who actually decide this election?
ROBERTS: Sure. I mean, if there's states like Nevada that were somewhat iffy, that could certainly make a difference. And Florida's the big place. So that's the - if they - if Latinos bring Hillary Clinton over the top in Florida, that's a very significant fact. You know, it's another sort of reason for the electoral college because you wouldn't be paying that much attention to Latinos nationwide. They're only about 12 percent of the vote. But in states like Florida, Nevada, Texas and Arizona, it's a much higher percentage. And clearly there's been a tremendous organization to get them organized and voting. And that's a direct result of build the wall.
INSKEEP: Tucker, are Republicans headed for yet another reckoning with how they handle the Latino vote and issues that are of concern to Latinos?
CARLSON: The state to look at is Texas. I mean, so without Texas being a Republican state - a solidly Republican state, it's over. There are no more national elections. Republicans will probably hold the congressional seat in Provo for generations to come.
INSKEEP: There you go.
CARLSON: But once Texas goes Democrat, there's really no need for a presidential election anymore. The numbers are just too overwhelming electorally. And so if that vote is within 3 or 4 percent, that's really ominous for Republicans. You can draw your own conclusions about how they ought to respond to that, whether we ought to tighten immigration or they ought to win more Latino votes or whatever. But it definitely means everything is different if it gets that close.
ROBERTS: Well, immigration wouldn't do it. You'd have to do birth control to make it useful to Republicans.
INSKEEP: I'm not even going to touch that...
CARLSON: Well, there have been massive demographic...
INSKEEP: Hold on. We've just got a few seconds left. Let me ask you both in a few seconds here, how divided is this country really?
ROBERTS: Very. I mean, you look at the numbers, and they're really high. Between men and women, we've never seen a gender gap this big as in the most recent polls, between rural and urban, between college-educated and not college-educated, between white and non-white, evangelicals - 97 points separate evangelicals from people who don't identify with a religion. So it's a very, very divided country on all kinds of fronts.
INSKEEP: Tucker Carlson, you get the last word here.
CARLSON: Here's the measure. Even as Americans are becoming much more open-minded about who they would be happy to see their children marry outside their race, outside their religion, they're becoming much more closed-minded about thinking about their kids marrying someone from another political party.
INSKEEP: Wow. OK.
ROBERTS: There you are.
INSKEEP: Tucker Carlson of Fox News and The Daily Caller, thanks for coming by. Really appreciate it.
CARLSON: Thanks a million.
INSKEEP: Also commentator and columnist, Cokie Roberts. Cokie, always a pleasure to talk with you.
ROBERTS: And you, Steve.
INSKEEP: Have a nice election night. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.