Higher Learning for the Conservative Mind

DOJ.jpg

John Kelly and the Nunes Memo

Share

HUGH HEWITT: Morning glory, Americans. Hugh Hewitt on the Hillsdale Dialogue. Every week at this time, I talk with a member of the Hillsdale team, whether it's Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, or Matt Spalding. Dr. Spalding runs the Kirby Center in the shadow of the Capitol. And Dr. Spalding joins me this morning. But I'm seriously freaked out, Matt. Good morning, how are you?

MATT SPALDING: Good morning, how are you?

HUGH HEWITT: Well, I was fine until I just saw a picture from the opening ceremonies in South Korea of the Olympics. They got 1,200 drones up in the sky to simulate a snow boarder about 600 feet tall. It's like the attack of the drones. They have a snowboarding drone machine. 1,200 drones choreographed, I've never seen anything like this. They're coming for us soon.

MATT SPALDING: Well, we'll see what happens tonight. This is going to be quite interesting when they have their thousand North Korean musicians there, or something, I understand.

HUGH HEWITT: Well, the opening ceremony's underway right now. And I'm watching it live via some feed. And I just got to say, it's freaking me out, these drones. Matt Spalding, we are talking about two hours after the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of a sequester-busting, defense-appropriating bill that's got some deficit hawks upset. What's your assessment of what happened?

MATT SPALDING: Well I was trying to think about that. I come down to it, this is the compromise of 1850. Right? Step back and look at it in the bigger sense.

There are some good things here. The defense is the biggest great thing. The domestic spending is mostly for genuine priorities, from what I can tell. It's not that objectionable disaster relief, opioid addiction. It gets rid of some nifty things. IPAB, remember IPAB? That's gone.

HUGH HEWITT: That's gone. Would you explain to people what that is? Because Obamacare is being taken apart piece by piece. The mandate was taken out by Tom Cotton.

MATT SPALDING: Right. So the mandate was taken out. This is the other key piece that was at the heart of it, which was something called the Independent Payment Advisory Board in Medicare. And it would basically decide on whether people get medical treatment. This was the same as death panel.

And those kinds of things, so you're going to go and take them out one by one, rather than one sweeping bill, which from a practical point of view is just not possible. This is a good thing. And so that's gone. And then the other thing that's happened here in the wings is that the Democratic Party folded again on using DACA as leverage. That will be put off. I think that will be settled later.

But that wasn't in here. And it avoided a shut down. That's all good. The flip side is there's a spending problem, but it's been pushed down the road. You get tax extensions in there. We should come back and talk about it. I think what this does is this means there's going to be no big legislative budget in the future, not another reconciliation package.

They don't get another bite at this. But it puts that off so now you're set up for 2018. But the big thing here, I think, is that it's a deal that both sides get some things in. You buy some time-- that's why I say the compromise of 1850. You buy some time. The big questions aren't solved. But politically, I think this is actually quite good for the Republicans. And it's excellent for Trump.

HUGH HEWITT: Let's spend a moment on that. Earlier today, I pointed out in his first year-- and we are basically now in the first year, the conclusion of first year-- Donald Trump delivered on the promise to allow the military to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Justice Gorsuch, many other originalist judges, the tax cut, mini tax reform, the repeal of Obamacare's mandate, many of its taxes, and other features like IPAB, massive defense build up, Paris accords, and regulatory rollback, a lot of great appointees-- and a lot of noise, and for a Victorian Republican like me, discomfort at his tactics. And he's going to get the wall when we do the DACA deal in the next six weeks, which is going to happen.

MATT SPALDING: That's right, he's going to get the wall. And I think even with this two-year budget deal, I think it's highly likely they'll get another infrastructure bill later in the year. And then there's some things brewing on trade, it might not occur through the legislature. But he's doing that, too. This is a guy who, despite all the objections to him-- as you say, people don't like this or that-- he's actually doing what he ran on.

And he didn't run as a fiscal conservative in that sense. I think the House will push back. The Congress will push back against that at some point. The problem right now, I think, is the Senate. House has done its job. But if you play this out over time, I think what we're seeing is that Trump is keeping his promises.

But it's also a strategic ordering. He wanted to start by going after the big things. He got his promises, but he's also going after the regulatory state, who are his enemies. And he's also trying to undermine and divide the Democratic Party, his opposition. After he's done that, then the question is where does he go next?

HUGH HEWITT: Now, the New York Times is reporting at this hour that the president is angry with the chief of staff over the Rob Porter fiasco. And it is a fiasco. There's no denying it. He should not have been in the White House. The FBI full-field background investigation should have been pushed to the top. Somebody dropped the ball here.

Nevertheless, John Kelly's brought a lot of order to the White House. But it is reported that the president called Reince Priebus to talk about bringing in Mick Mulvaney to be the chief of staff. You know, Mick Mulvaney gets every job nobody else wants to do, apparently. What do you think of that?

MATT SPALDING: Well, I got to say, Mick Mulvaney, he is doing great. I think he's probably where he ought to be. He right now is the sharp edge of the sword when it comes to getting control of the regulatory state and the budget. The executive order the president issued about going back and reviewing all of your departments, that every department head has done-- all of those go to Mulvaney at OMB.

He's now at CFPB, which is a model. He's turning that into a model of how to deconstruct the state. So I'm mixed. My initial reaction is I kind of like where he is right now. He's very talented. I'd rather have him cutting budget and controlling things-- he's a numbers guy-- than in the middle of all that, myself.

HUGH HEWITT: I personally don't know enough facts about Porter. I know he should be gone. And he is gone. But I am familiar enough from my time in the White House with the personnel file process that stuff does get overlooked when you're bringing in at the beginning of the administration about 300 people with full-field background investigation.

MATT SPALDING: I actually know Rob. I've met him several times, worked for Senator Hatch as his chief of staff. He seemed on his face to be a straight shooter. I mean, I think he misled a lot of people, assuming this is true, and he should have the ability to defend himself. But this is just amazingly unacceptable, the notion that he could be that close and that important in the White House, and no one noticed this.

HUGH HEWITT: And there is a file somewhere with the ex-wives talking with the FBI.

MATT SPALDING: They spoke with the FBI, yeah.

HUGH HEWITT: Right. So there's a file, it's called the raw file. And you used to carry those around, occasionally a senator would want to see a raw file. And you had to take the raw file up to the Senate and stay with the senator as they read through it. Because an unverified report is just that-- unverified.

But this is two reports with pictures and police reports. I do not know how this did not set off a red flag. And I don't know that I can blame John Kelly. That's not his job to know what's in the file, that is actually the White House counsel's job.

MATT SPALDING: Apparently, these FBI interviews occurred way back in February, long before Kelly's even in the picture.

HUGH HEWITT: Well, I'm going to talk to Reince Priebus on MSNBC tomorrow. My guess is Reince was never told, either. It is a job typically of an associate White House counsel, or an assistant counsel, to read and flag the full-field background investigations for senior staff. And so I am guessing-- it's just a guess from my time in the White House-- that someone of my age when I was in the White House did not think that was an issue. And that person made a huge mistake.

MATT SPALDING: Well, I'm sure if we had a good Hillsdale College graduate, they don't have character problems. We could fill that--

HUGH HEWITT: There you go. When we come back from break-- nevertheless, I don't know that firing John Kelly is a very good idea. I think he's done a fine job of bringing order to the White House. But Peter Baker, who is reporting this, that the president is floating Mick Mulvaney as chief of staff, is-- Peter and Maggie have good sources at the White House. They're typically named Trump. And after you've had a series of big wins, I don't know that you want to step on your story, Matt Spalding.

MATT SPALDING: No, that's right. And also floating these things is very different from actually doing something. I think he needs to show some sort of vetting with this problem and solve it. You can't have these things be popping up.

The timing of this popping up right now, of all times, is not exactly helpful, given this White House in particular and what's going on right now. They're on a roll. They can't stop that. They need to be very careful not to get off track.

HUGH HEWITT: As James Hohmann said yesterday, the president keeps breaking into prison. I wish he wouldn't do that. I'll be right back with Matt Spalding of the Kirby Center. All things Hillsdale are at Hillsdale.edu. Go and sign up today for Imprimis. All of my conversations with Matt, Dr. Larry Arnn, others from the faculty and staff of Hillsdale, are collected at hughforhillsdale.com. Stay tuned.

Welcome back, America. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics are over, but you've got to watch them tonight, because they are just spectacular and wild. So they'll be on NBC tonight. I'll be on MSNBC tomorrow morning at 8:00 o'clock with Reince Priebus, former chief of staff of the White House, in an extended interview about his time in the White House and as chairman of the RNC. Do not miss that tomorrow morning at 8:00 on MSNBC as you start your weekend.

And I'm joined by Matt Spalding. Dr. Matt Spalding is the chief of staff at the Kirby Center. He runs the Kirby Center which is Hillsdale College's lantern of reason, lighthouse of good thinking in the shadow of the Capitol. You can follow everything about the Kirby Center at Kirby Center on Twitter. Everything Hillsdale is at Hillsdale.edu.

And all of my conversations with Dr. Spalding, Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale, other members of the staff and faculty from 2013 forward are collected at hughforhillsdale.com. Dr. Spalding, this goes to a key issue. Rand Paul gummed up the Senate last night. And he made these remarks, which I would like to play for the audience, so that you can then comment on them. Cut number two.

RAND PAUL: No one has read the bill. No one can thoroughly digest a 700-- that had already recklessly let spending get out of control. The bill is nearly 700 pages. It was given to us at midnight last night. And I would venture to say no one has read the bill. No one can thoroughly digest a 700-page bill overnight.

And I do think that it does things that we really, really ought to talk about, and how we should pay for them. One of the things this bill does is it's going to add $500 billion in spending over a two-year period. This bill increases spending 21%. Does that sound like a large amount? Anybody at home getting a bonus or an increase in your paycheck of 21%?

And yet, your government is going to spend 21% more without really having a full debate, without having amendments. The exchange you just watched was me asking to have a 15-minute vote. I've been asking all day. I've been asking all week for it. We could have literally had dozens of votes today. But we squabble, because people don't want to be put on the spot.

So the reason I'm here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, how come you were against President Obama's deficits and then how come you're for Republican deficits? Isn't that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty? If you were against President Obama's deficits and now you're for the Republican deficits, isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy?

HUGH HEWITT: All right, now let me-- Matt Spalding. It's not, actually. The definition of hypocrisy, in my view, is knowing the rules of the Senate and then pretending like they don't apply. What do you think of that?

MATT SPALDING: No. Intellectual honesty is going on as if there's something real happening, when it's actually not. I mean, so on the one hand, a lot of the particulars that Rand Paul is pointing out-- I mean, this is a big piece of legislation. There are a few things in it which are a little squirrelly.

You have it at midnight. It is a large amount of spending. All of that is true. This is why I referred earlier to the compromise of 1850. It's not perfect. But what prudence dictates in these situations, the way one must think, the way politics ought to think, is not to raise the hypocrisy question, as if there is a real deliberative matter going on in the Senate.

I mean you're right, the Senate rules is what has brought us to this situation in which there isn't that kind of deliberation possible, because of the filibuster rule. And as a result, they have to do it this way. They couldn't open it up for amendment. If they opened it up for amendment for Rand Paul, who knows what would have happened.

And he talks as if that was what was actually going on and trying to take the high ground. It's a certain unrecognition of political reality, which unfortunately-- I mean, because he's good on so many things-- unfortunately I think he just does not see that, didn't use the moment. We should have used the moment to explain, we have to do this because of these rules. We should have used this as an opening to complain about those rules.

HUGH HEWITT: That's it. The hypocrisy is on Senator Paul. Because when you accuse the body of which you are a member, and whose rules are available to you-- and everybody knows it takes 60 votes. We cannot address entitlements until the Republicans get closer to 60 in the Senate, because that requires legislation. So the answer is not to give self-serving, attention-seeking displays of ego.

But it's to go out and get Republicans elected in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Florida, in Wisconsin, in North Dakota, and in every-- in Montana, everywhere across this country. That's the answer. Stay tuned, America. I'll be right back with Matt Spalding from the Kirby Center on the Hillsdale Dialogues.

Welcome back, America. Hugh Hewitt here with the Hillsdale Dialogues. All things Hillsdale are collected at hillsdale.edu, including an amazing course on Churchill, which you should be watching as we get close to the Oscars and hopefully Gary Oldman's best actor Oscar for his performance of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour.

I'm joined this week by Dr. Matthew Spalding, the leader of the Kirby Center, which is the Hillsdale outpost in the shade of the Capitol, to which many people, many members of Congress, prepare to reinvigorate, and to study, and to think, and to just generally have a great time and a cigar on the patio occasionally.

Dr. Spalding, I want to play for you a video-- you can't see the video, but you'll get the gist of the audio-- released by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on all of the controversy surrounding the FISA warrant on Carter Page. Here is that House GOP audio.

SPEAKER 1: You have a right to know what happened with this FISA process and whether reforms are warranted.

SPEAKER 2: The American citizens that are represented before this court have to be protected. And the only place that can protect them is the US Congress.

SPEAKER 3: It has been the talk of Washington for weeks. And today, Republicans released a memo.

SPEAKER 4: The memo reveals partisan bias at the Justice Department.

SPEAKER 5: Grassley and Graham confirmed the information and went farther, revealing that information was passed from British spy Christopher Steele through an intermediary close to the Clintons and then to the State Department.

SPEAKER 6: The Republican memo fairly raises questions about why certain facts were never disclosed to the FISA court.

SPEAKER 7: --that political dirt was used by the FBI-- and they knew it was political dirt-- to open a counterintelligence investigation into the other campaign.

SPEAKER 8: This dossier was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. They hired a political opposition research firm who hired Christopher Steele, who wrote it. See how easy and straightforward that is? It tells you the source with clarity and specificity. Now, contrast that with the way it was presented to the court. For reasons the Democrats can never explain, the FISA application went to great lengths to avoid identifying a material point about the financial source behind the dossier.

SPEAKER 9: Neither the initial FISA application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party campaign in funding Steele's efforts.

SPEAKER 10: The Democrats claim Chris Steele was a reliable source. But he wound up being dismissed as a source by the FBI for two different reasons. And in addition to that, Steele's reliability isn't the seminal issue. He didn't know the facts first hand.

He repeated what sources in Russia were telling him. So for that matter, a parrot could have been the source. If all you're going to do is repeat back what nameless, faceless people in another country are telling you, your experience and expertise aren't nearly as important as the reliability of people you're listening to.

SPEAKER 11: The DOJ and FBI had four opportunities to disclose these facts in the original FISA application and in each of the three subsequent renewal applications over nearly a year long period, but never did. Now the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, who oppose the release of our Republican memo, have since prepared their own counter memo.

SPEAKER 12: Every single Republican on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Democrat memo. Every single one. On the other hand, not a single solitary Democrat voted to release the Republican memo. Not a single one. The lead Democrat most responsible for the drafting of the Democrat memo was representative Adam Schiff.

Representative Schiff didn't have much interest in finding out how much of the dossier was used, whether it was vetted before it was used, whether it was vetted, for that matter, after it was used, or who paid for it. Keep in mind, they went to court to keep you from finding out who paid for the dossier.

SPEAKER 13: The American people will learn that the Democrats' memo attacks Republicans for questioning the integrity of DOJ lawyers like Bruce Ohr and FBI agents like Peter Strzok who have been either demoted or removed. The Democrats' memo also defends the integrity of Christopher Steele as a reliable and credible source, even though the FBI and Department of Justice terminated him.

SPEAKER 14: In September 2016, Christopher Steele admitted to Justice Department official Bruce Ohr his feelings against then candidate Trump, when Steele said he, quote, was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.

SPEAKER 15: After all, we only have a FISA because you consented to it. And with that consent comes the obligation of those entrusted with power to exercise that power judiciously and to answer legitimate questions when you have them. And asking questions of those in positions of power used to be something we could all agree on.

HUGH HEWITT: So Matt Spalding, that was a compilation of people talking about the memo released by GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy yesterday. What is your comment on it and on the underlying memo that prompted it?

MATT SPALDING: Well, first of all, Hugh, that haunting music in the background was actually pretty powerful, I thought. I could hear Gowdy there. I couldn't see him. But Trey Gowdy, Nunes, I mean those guys are doing an amazing thing.

Look, the way I see it, the big question here is-- we have two big stories going on. And they're changing positions. I mean the so-called Russian collusion story is collapsing. There's nothing there. And this other story is just taking on a life of its own, because as in true legal fashion, this is just kind of dribbling out in these massive amounts of information. And these storylines are coming together.

And it turns out that that's the real scandal here, is what is been going on. And it's been going on for some time in the previous administration. And all the parts are coming together. And so that memo came out, which has been completely buried. But it seems to me to pull together a lot of things that a lot of people have been worrying about and thinking about for a long time.

And it sounds like they've now got the information and show this, that the FBI, which is supposed to be nonpartisan and nonpolitical, was using information originally paid for by the opposition party, opposition research, a questionable source. They used that to obtain a warrant through a FISA court, which is going to turn out lead to unmasking of political opposition.

If the FBI played that role, and it turns out that information either was directed by or ends up in the White House against political enemies, this is a true crisis, much larger, in its way, than Watergate ever was in terms of one political party using its power. In this case, perhaps focused in a small number of individuals at the FBI.

But that information starts waving up into the political debate at the highest reaches, that's really scandalous to be using that against political opposition. That's what's undermining American elections, not Russian interference.

HUGH HEWITT: Well, I want to make sure that we understand-- we believe Russia attacked the election. They did do the Facebook ads, the Twitter. They broke into Podesta's email.

MATT SPALDING: Sure, they did.

HUGH HEWITT: They broke in the DNC. They did all that. But we're focused on the second Russia problem. And I want to read to you an email I received last night from a longtime, now retired, Assistant United States Attorney, member of the Department of Justice, who wrote, "David Laufman resignation is a big deal. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General for National Security Division, Laufman was the primary supervisor over the counterintelligence work in the National Security Division.

He would have had a hand in the approval of the FISA application on Carter Page. He likely had a role in the decision-making on the Clinton email investigation, since his section handled cases involving leaks of classified information. The decisions in that investigation on granting immunity and allowing conditions to be attached to the examination of computers would have come from his office.

I do not think those conditions were what the FBI would have wanted. On the immunity issue, FBI wouldn't have the authority. That could only come from the prosecutors in the National Security Division. The press is reporting that he offered his resignation yesterday, Thursday, effective immediately.

That's what happens when you are told that you are the subject of an OPR, Office of Professional Responsibility, or OIG, Office of Inspector General, investigation. He was in the post since 2014 under Carlin, Yates, and Lynch in the chain of command."

Now, Matt Spalding, my source is very, very good, very, very experienced. Now, he isn't perfect. But that does seem to be consistent with the removal of Bruce Ohr and Peter Strzok. It looks like we had sepsis in the counterintelligence division and the National Security Division, counterintelligence, FBI, National Security Division at DOJ. And we do not yet know if all of these are spokes on a hub that go back to, as many people suspect, Ben Rhodes. But we can suspect that, right?

MATT SPALDING: Sure, we can suspect it very easily. And that's what I meant by all the pieces are falling into place. Now there is an IG report coming soon, I understand. And my guess is this resignation was prompted by that, as that plays itself out. So these pieces are all clearly falling into place. And how far this goes is the question.

But at the very least, it seems pretty clear that there's some small number-- I don't know what it is. But you know, of all the thousands of great people working in the FBI, there is a small number who are very politically engaged. And that has to be completely expunged. That's a cancer in that organization that needs to be completely destroyed for the sake of saving it.

HUGH HEWITT: And this resignation is not the Bureau. It's the National Security Division at Justice, so it's a lawyer not an investigator. Although there are often lawyers working at the Bureau. This is a DOJ problem. And the corruption, I believe, extends into DOJ.

But it's a very small group. There are 35,000 people working for the FBI. I think this is 10 to 20 people at DOJ and the Bureau, max. By the way, the President of the United States has tweeted.

"Just signed bill," writes the president. "Our military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our military and gave them everything, and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS," in caps. Matt Spalding, that's the president's latest tweet. What do you think?

MATT SPALDING: Well, he's right. I mean, look, his numbers have gone up. What is he, almost approaching 50%? This, and the economy, even though the market is making some adjustments. This extension for two years-- he's in a pretty strong spot, I think, looking forward. He's meeting his goals and his objectives. Going into '18, I think from a month or so ago, things looked a lot different for Republicans.

HUGH HEWITT: They certainly did. Now I am saying elections actually don't get decided until the six weeks before the voting begins. And very bad things happen in off-years to income. And I am not confident. I'm just a lot more confident today than I was three months ago.

MATT SPALDING: No, that's right. So one thing this budget deal does, right, so they've got a two-year budget, which means they're not going have another reconciliation next year. You're not going to have another shut down before the elections. That also probably means you've quieted your opposition, who won't have that leverage against you.

So the Republicans have at least politically dampened a lot of things down. They can control things a little bit more going ahead. So I think they're in a safe zone. A lot can happen. A lot will happen. But I think the momentum in the other direction that seemed to be taking off a while ago has been stopped.

HUGH HEWITT: Has arrived. I'll be right back with Matt Spalding from the Kirby Center, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale.edu. Welcome back, America. I use that because the President of the United States tweeted again as I talked with Matt Spalding of the Kirby Center, Hillsdale College, his outpost in Washington, DC.

The president three minutes ago tweeting, "Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our military. Sadly, we needed some Dem votes for passage. Must elect more Republicans in 2018 election." Matt Spalding, that's exactly correct.

MATT SPALDING: That's exactly correct. And he said it directly. And it's exactly what he should be doing. Look this is what-- if you think about political realignments in reshaping political parties, this is what great presidents do. This is what Franklin Roosevelt did. You go out, you push your agenda, and you get people in Congress to support your agenda, and you'd go out and you'd get more of them.

If he does that, he goes into 2018 like that, I think we're in-- this two-year deal sets aside a lot of those things. He could now focus on that. He can go out with his agenda, what he's working on, a few things he's got to do.

His record, I think we see now with this deal, all the cards are on the table. We're going to play the 2018 election with what is on the table. And right now, all other things being equal, other things may happen, the Republican cards look pretty good.

HUGH HEWITT: This is exactly what I think they need to do for the next seven, eight months, which is to list the accomplishments-- the defeat of ISIS, the tax cut, the tax reform, the piecemeal repeal of Obamacare, the regulatory rollback, the exit from Paris, the upping of the defense budget, the repeal of sequestration. And just say it again and again and again. And if you want to tackle the underlying big problem of entitlement, we need more Republicans.

MATT SPALDING: Right. Send us more.

HUGH HEWITT: We need more Republicans in the Senate. It is very simple. The Democratic Party is a party of the left. They believe in single-payer socialism, and massive deficits, and no defense.

The Republican Party is a party of the center right. And it believes in the opposite of that. And that's a pretty basic appeal. Do you think he can carry through on that, Matt Spalding? Because he likes the noise.

MATT SPALDING: He does like the noise, and that's always going to be a temptation. But I think things are getting better. And if he plays this out, consistently working with Congress as a unified message, I think he's in a very powerful spot. And I think he likes to win. I think Congress likes to win. And the American people like to win.

And I think that they keep this momentum going, which this deal did, despite things in it that push off the need to address spending, for instance. You know, that's what this deal did. They'll continue with that. And I think you get the momentum. He'll like that. And that's good for the kind of politics he wants to play.

HUGH HEWITT: Now, I want to go to the military parade. If they ran on this 4th of July and they raised money for the Semper Fi Fund and Fisher House, and they allowed the American people to thank the men in uniform and the women in uniform, I would be all in favor of this.

But the left is attacking it, because they seem to think Trump wants a Soviet-style stand on the top of the Presidium and look at rockets. I don't get that at all. It really does reveal a pretty fundamental division in the country, when some people don't want to honor the military with a parade.

MATT SPALDING: I think once again it proves that Donald Trump has got a very good ear for political opinion. It was a brilliant move. Because whether it happens or not, it's positioned things very nicely. Because it drew out all the critics who immediately started going after it, because they think this is a sign of him wanting to be a despot.

And it allows him to say, what's wrong with a good patriotic show of our military to honor them? And we can do it. I mean, the anniversary of World War I is coming up. We could pick an appropriate occasion. Instead he could say, let's not do it in Washington. Let's do 50 of them in every state. Right? And turn this into a bigger thing. And I'll go to them. Invite me. I'll come.

HUGH HEWITT: And by the way, I think most Americans would love to come and applaud the military. Because every time I run the Semper Fi Fund, we raise tens of thousands of dollars every time I do that, because people want to say thank you. They don't have the occasion to do so.

And if it's run the right way-- and I think he would run it the right way. But everyone instantly jumped to the idea that he's a despot. You used the right term. And I just think that is such a reflexive, bizarre reaction by The Beltway media elite.

MATT SPALDING: And it draws them out. He does best when he puts something out there and they essentially slit their own necks.

HUGH HEWITT: I've got to tell you, the wild week that we are finishing, Matt Spalding, with the memo, the counter memo, the revelation that basically, as Speaker Ryan said on this program yesterday, Hillary Clinton paid Russians for information she fed to the FBI in order to obtain warrants on former Trump volunteers. That's this week, combined with the spending bill. I don't know how anyone says Donald Trump didn't have a great week.

MATT SPALDING: No, I think he had a great week. But also I think looking back now, this is a monumental presidency. It already is. And where this is going, any critics of his, any critics who were nervous about this, who still don't like certain aspects of him, should see where this is going and potentially where this could lead to in these elections and beyond. He's made some massive and monumental changes in our politics.

HUGH HEWITT: I'm a Victorian Republican, I would like him to tone it down. But I cannot argue with the results. The results are there. And my gosh, if Hillary Clinton had been president, wow. Matt Spalding, great to talk to you.

C.S