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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Fareed's Take; President Clinton? President Trump?; Goldman Sachs Chief on U.S. Economy; Goldman Sachs Chief on Anti-"Big Bank" Anger; Who's to Blame When Big Banks Screw Up?; Interview with Lloyd Blankfein; Role of WikiLeaks in Presidential Election. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired October 23, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS HOST: This is GPS, the Global Public Square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world, I'm Fareed Zakaria.
Today on the show, what would a Trump presidency look like?
HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's clear -- it's very clear.
Donald Trump, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're the pop --
ZAKARIA: I know what you're thinking but he still might win. And if he does, what would his first actions be? Who would be in his cabinet? How would he govern?
Then, a rare in-depth interview with Goldman Sachs' CEO, Lloyd Blankfein. The bank and its chief have been frequent topics on the campaign trail.
TRUMP: (Speaking) thieves from Goldman Sachs.
ZAKARIA: I ask Blankfein whether he supports Hillary Clinton. What did he make of her now famous speeches to Goldman Sachs.
LLOYD BLANKFEIN, GOLDMAN SACH CEO: If it were me, in her position, I would have wanted to reveal.
ZAKARIA: An important revealing conversation.
Also, inside the WikiLeaks' data dump. Recent releases of hacked e- mails are an attempt to make Hillary Clinton look bad. But why does WikiLeaks want to sink her candidacy? And is it clear that Putin is behind it all?
But first, here is my take. We will get to the campaign in a moment, but there is something else important going on. The battle for Mosul will soon demonstrate that the key to success against ISIS is not that Washington should've surprised it or bombed the hell out of it. Around 100,000 coalition forces are involved in helping to liberate the city of Mosul, backed by formidable American air power. They will face up to 5,000 ISIS fighters at most. The struggle might be bloody but the coalition will win. The problem is, a battle field victory could prove to be irrelevant.
When Donald Trump rails against the Obama administration for having signaled its intent to retake Mosul, he is, as usual, ill-informed. Perhaps he has in his mind a few vivid examples from movies of surprise attacks like the D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944. But those are unusual cases.
From the day it took Mosul, ISIS knew that the Iraqi army would try to take it back. Given the desert topography, there are only a few open paths by which to approach the city. This lack of surprise is the Norman warfare. The real challenge for the coalition is to ensure that in retaking Mosul, it does not set off the same sectarian dynamics that led to the city's fall in the first place.
Remember, Mosul is a majority Sunni city. The reason it fell so easily in 2014 was that its residents had been misruled and abused by Iraq's Shiite government under then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. As a result, when confronting a choice between Shiite militias from the Iraqi government and ISIS, they sided with ISIS or they remain passive.
Over the past two years, Iraqi forces, often Shiite militia, have liberated some Sunni towns like Fallujah but then embarked on a new round of blood-letting. Now, from the perspective of the Shiites, they are engaging in extreme vetting to ensure that ISIS sympathizers are weeded out. But Sunni residents feel that they've been rounded up, presumed guilty and denied entry back into their homes and neighborhoods.
You see, the root cause for the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is political. The discontent of Sunnis in the region who see themselves as being ruled by two anti-Sunni regimes and Baghdad and Iraq and Damascus and Syria. Now some of this is the resentment of a Sunni population that believes it should be in power. Some of it is a response to genuine persecution by Shiites. In any event, without addressing this discontent, ISIS will never stay defeated.
When Mosul fell, many experts including within the Obama administration wanted Washington to rush to the aid of the Iraqi government. But President Obama resisted the calls because he understood that the underlying problem was sectarian. He insisted that the Iraqi government fundamentally changed its attitude towards the Sunnis, in effect, demanding the Prime Minister Maliki resigned. Only when that happened and a new more conciliatory leader emerge, did America agree to militarily support the Baghdad government.
You see, every government wants a free ride. Most would be happy if the United States would simply fight their battles for them with no strings attached. In the Arab world in particular, this attitude is wide spread. The only strategy that seems effective is for Washington to signal that it will not pick up the slack and mean it. It was only when it became clear that the Obama administration really would not help Iraq unless the government changed that Maliki resigned.
[10:05:04] This strategy of forcing others to take action was once described by an Obama official as 'Leading from behind'. And while the phrase is unfortunate, the idea is exactly right. In this case, it is only the Arabs who can address the sectarian dynamic by engaging in genuine reconciliation and power sharing.
The United States can help in this process but only if these countries and their leaders actually want to help themselves. For more, go to cnn.com/Fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week and let's get started.
ZAKARIA: It's hard to find an election forecast that does not have Donald Trump losing on November 8th but we still have to remember, there is a possibility Trump will be president.
And in any event, I think it is revealing to try to understand just what the transition would look like, whether it's Trump or Clinton. Evan Osnos, staff writer for the New Yorker has written the definitive article on how the GOP candidate would govern, titled president Trump. Melody Barnes was a key transition official as the Obama administration prepared to come to power in 2009. She was later the president's chief domestic policy adviser. They both join me.
Melody, you describe to me a moment when it's inauguration day -- it's inaugural day and you walk into the White House. What happens?
MELODY BARNES, CHIEF DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER: Yes. So we were cold and we were already exhausted from the campaign and the transition, and I remember making my way through the parade -- literally, through the parade, getting my I.D., taking that picture which is an awful picture to this day and walking into the White House and finding my office and the phones were ringing. I mean, it gives you this very strong sense that the government is always an operation.
ZAKARIA: When you did the transition, were you stunned by the extent of what you had to do? You described to me as almost like the take over of a company.
BARNES: Exactly. I mean, if you think about taking some of the largest companies in the world, if you bolted together Exxon and Walmart and doubled them in size, you would still not reach the size of the United States government with over three million employees and the size, you know, a $3 trillion budget.
So you have to recognize that there are many departments and agencies and employees, there's litigation underway, there are regulations, there are any number of things that are already in motion and because of the promises that were made during the campaign, because of the governing philosophy of the candidate that you work for, you have to be prepared to walk in the door and make some decisions about how you're going to proceed.
ZAKARIA: And you've got to identify the 4,000 people the president is going to have to appoint within weeks.
BARNES: Absolutely. I mean, one of the things -- in fact, one of the things that's most memorable for me and I think it's a significant issue for this election is that the Bush administration was so helpful to us during that transition period. And they said to us, there are about 250 positions that you really need to think about very, very quickly and very early on.
People had also given us advice that you need to get your White House staff in place because you have to have some kind of heartbeat for the entire organ to operate around so you have to think about getting these people in place, who can be confirmed with less controversy and how you're going to move forward.
What's the concern to me today is that not only do you have those issues front and center but there's also been this questioning of the legitimacy of our election and how that affects, for example, a president Clinton when she walks in the door, but quite frankly, how that affects our entire country as the fundamentals of our democracy are being questioned.
ZAKARIA: But now, assume Trump wins, it's not just that he comes in with none of these experience but he comes in with a very radical approach. And one of the people -- one of his key advisors, Stephen Morrissette, said to you in that article, we believe that on day one, he has to sign 25 executive orders that erase the Obama presidency. Can you do that as president?
EVAN OSNOS, NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: Technically, yes. You know, the Trump campaign as we all know has been running in essentially sort of radical opposition to everything the Obama campaign represents -- the Obama administration represents. And what they've said is that they would come in the door, and using the powers of executive authority, seek to -- in the words of one of the campaign advisers, erase as much of the Obama administration with the stroke of a pen as they could.
What that means in practical terms is they could come in and on day one or within several days, they could withdraw the United States from the Paris climate deal, for instance. They could suspend the Syrian Refugee Program. They could radically accelerate the pace of deportation.
But, you know, I think what's significant also is that this is also an indicator of how little experience this group of political folks actually has.
[10:10:06] We talked to people who've been in those transitions; Melody has done this.
The idea that you would be able to do what they're saying they want to do which is 25 major initiatives on day one is not plausible. But, I think one of the things that's important to point is, a lot of us, whether you oppose Donald Trump or you agree with him, people don't really believe that he would be able to do a lot of the things that he says he would. And what the purpose of this project was to discover and it did, in fact, suggests is, is that legally, he has the ability to do many more of the things than we might imagine.
ZAKARIA: And then you get the foreign policy where I think he has even more leeway because a lot of it is not formal issues. I mean, as president of the United States say I'm not going to come to the defense of Eastern Europe because I don't think they're paying their fair share. I'm not going to come to the defense of Japan. If they want to develop nuclear weapons that's fine by me.
It's one thing to say as candidate but as president, presumably, sets off a chain reaction in all those countries.
OSNOS: There's almost a unique power of the American presidency to set the tone, not only for what the world thinks about what that president would do but for all of the American will and capability that it represent. So if the American president says that he would no longer, unconditionally, support the existence of NATO as Donald Trump has said as a candidate, that sends out a message to all of these other governments and they've begin to make calculations, they've begin to hedge, they've begin to reimagine their relationship with United States and their relationship with other powers, whether it's china or with Russia.
And so with simply the words that he chooses, which he has been able to use almost indiscriminately as a candidate, as a president, it would become extraordinary volatile if he was able to operate in the way that he has.
ZAKARIA: Melody, you've dealt with a lot of companies, private sector, you've lots of CEOs, do you think that the confidence that Trump has, that his skills as a CEO will stand him in good stead in the White House applies?
BARNES: I am so glad you asked that question because it often comes up. And you're right, I've spent time with, I think, some of the best CEOs in the country, and they have off-the-chart skills. But there is a difference between leading even one of the largest companies in the world and leading the United States of America.
When you're the CEO of a company, you don't literally have to sit down with your loyal opposition every single day to get from an idea to a conclusion and to negotiate your way through that. You don't have the checks and balances in place that our founder set up to ensure that the chief executive of the country doesn't run a muck.
All of those things are part of what make our republic work and operate. And Donald Trump I think, has shown a fundamental lack of understanding in that.
ZAKARIA: And we have to leave it at that. Thank you, both.
Next on GPS, I will ask Goldman Sachs' CEO and chairman, Lloyd Blankfein, about the economy, the banks and why Hillary Clinton didn't want to release the transcripts of those speeches she gave to his company.
[10:17:36] ZAKARIA: Donald Trump railed against Goldman Sachs, despite the fact that both his finance chair and his campaign chief worked at the Wall Street giant.
TRUMP: I know the guys at Goldman Sachs, they have total control over Hillary Clinton. Hillary speaks in secret to Goldman Sachs, sharing her private position then lies to you. In a secret speech to Goldman Sachs, she said citizens who want to control immigration are un- American.
ZAKARIA: But rather than talk about Goldman Sachs, how about talking to its chairman and CEO and asking him all the questions? Well, I sat down with Lloyd Blankfein recently in Los Angeles. We will get to the campaign questions in just a moment. But first, this is someone who has a broad and deep view of the U.S. economy. I wanted his opinion on where the country stands today.
Lloyd Blankfein, pleasure to have you on.
LLOYD BLANKFEIN, GOLDMAN SACHS CEO/CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Fareed. Good to be here.
ZAKARIA: From your vantage point, what does the economy look like? You know, how strong is growth? Because it still seems steady but tepid.
BLANKFEIN: Well, it feels steady but tepid. But that being said, it is steady and there are a lot of advantages that the U.S. economy has. So for example, the consumer has deleveraged banks -- the banking system is in excellent shape. If you look at energy, there's a lot of tailwind in the U.S. economy and the fact of the matter is, we went through a big trauma, which included a banking system trauma and it took a while to work itself through. So the answer is, it's tepid but we're definitely growing and it's established, and the latter point is the more significant point.
ZAKARIA: A lot of people say, though, there's a lot of economic anxiety. People don't feel like these numbers are right, that unemployment is down, but at the same time, you know -- so for some reason, they remain as great sense of economic anxiety, what do you attribute that to?
BLANKFEIN: Well, I'd say, there's economic anxiety but I'd say there's a more generalize anxiety and a very negative sentiment and I think it's fed and feeds into the political cycle. I have trouble explaining. If you look at the metrics, you talk about unemployment -- unemployment is not just down, we're virtually at full employment.
Now, you'd say that there's some degree of underemployment or wage (earning) that was always the case.
[10:20:01] I'm not minimizing the consequence to people who should have -- who feel their jobs should be higher paid and legitimately so, and the legitimate issues about minimum wages, but at the end of the day, these problems always existed to some extent. They're less -- people should feel better than they may actually do. I'm not saying they should feel good or there aren't challenges to try to surmount or other objectives to strife for. But the sentiment is a lot worse than the economy.
If you knew all the numbers and you are teleported here from two years ago or three years ago and you're told where employment was, where the price of energy was. What the federal deficit was looking like is a percentage of GDP, the strength of the consumer, a lot of other metrics and you heard that. You would think that sentiment would be a lot better than it is today.
ZAKARIA: The one thing that people are sure of still is that they are suspicious of the banks. If you listen to Donald Trump, you know, he varies on lots of different things but the one consistent thing he keeps hitting is that the banks are bad, that they're in cahoots, that they're -- you know, the big banks are part of the group of things he attacks, big media, big government, you know, the Clinton machine, the banks and he always gets wild cheers.
BLANKFEIN: Well, I think you're being generous. I think it's not suspicious, it's outright accusations and it's not just Donald Trump, you know, frankly. I mean, I don't like telling -- I don't like the fact that I don't like saying it to you but, you know, we're not -- at times, people think of us as, you know, bankers is tone deaf. Believe me, I read the papers everyday and I hear it.
Look, variety of reasons. Let me just start out. One of which is, I think, some of the behaviors that have been, you know, highlighted and visited, you know, are real and justify some negative response. And then, other parts of it are just a general -- and I don't want to minimize it so let me pause for a second and say, there has been -- bankers have played an important role in the system, generally, get rewarded for the risks they take. And some of those risks were poorly managed and some of the behaviors were not, you know, recorded as bad behavior. And so, there's a legitimate reaction to that, full stop.
Other things also -- let me tell you, bankers are no better at predicting the future than anybody else. And most of what we do are trying to get the future right, trying to make good decisions of how to allocate capital, trying to lend money to people who pay you back, trying to finance winners and not finance losers and guess what, you don't always get it right and you get drawn into the same mistakes and the same confusion that anybody would and everybody does in connection with their efforts to try to figure out what the future is going to be.
ZAKARIA: Back in a moment with Lloyd Blankfein. Up next, are the Clintons too cozy with Goldman Sachs? Is Lloyd Blankfein too cozy with them? I ask him.
[10:27:14] ZAKARIA: One of the criticisms people make about the banks which is playing itself out with this Wells Fargo affair is banks make mistakes. They do bad things. They do things they shouldn't have done and they pay fines in a sense admitting the wrongdoing, whether or not technically they do but nobody at the top gets held accountable. Goldman Sachs has paid fines. Do you think that's a fair criticism?
BLANKFEIN: I would -- well, let me just say, first of all, I can't own or comment on Wells Fargo situation, you know, I could apply it in abstract. Everyone is looking for someone to hold accountable but sometimes -- the answer is -- look, the short answer is you would like to ascribe malevolence to everything that goes wrong.
Now there is bad behavior. Someone has cheated or this fraud, well, that's the remedies for that and people go to jail for that. But sometimes, people are just wrong. And they're wrong about things within their area of expertise because I may be in finance and you may be a political scientist but I have views about political science and I may be right, you may have views about where the financial markets are going, you may be right. You just don't know.
And sometimes, what's going on here is that people are trying to prescribe malevolence for people who were wrong and the evidence that they were simply wrong is look how much money they lost. And at the end of the day, if you still think that their behavior was off, to be punished the way people are saying they should be punished, you still have to find some kind of a criminal intent.
You know, to this day maybe the law shouldn't be this way. But stupidity is not a crime. Sometimes it's even a defense because if you're merely wrong and you didn't get it right, it's hard to ascribe criminality.
ZAKARIA: But some of the cases -- and again, I know you can't comment about Wells Fargo particularly but there are some cases where it wasn't just being wrong.
BLANKFEIN: Sure. If there's bad behavior, then bad behavior should be punished. Look, there was nothing -- it was not criminality but there were civil wrongs in Goldman Sachs which we, you know, paid fines with respect to which we paid fines. And so that punishment -- but you're asking something different. You're asking --
ZAKARIA: I'm saying that the public sentiment seems to be and you see in the words of Elizabeth Warren which is why the people at the top not held accountable.
BLANKFEIN: Well, I think people should be held accountable for what they're responsible for. In other words, if somebody has a duty and they didn't fulfill their duty, well, that's a civil wrong.
[10:30:02] You can fine somebody. The idea, going further and saying there should be criminality, you still have to -- you still have to commit a crime to be a criminal. And to commit a crime, you still have to have some level of intent for what you're doing. So we're talking very abstractly here.
And so I'm not saying look, I'm a citizen, also. Any time there's some malfeasance, I would love to see a head roll, but you have to -- can't -- but once the head starts to roll, it's no longer an abstraction for the person whose shoulders it was on. They have to really have -- there has to be a crime. And I -- listen, we were investigated. The people who investigated us, and others, presumably, you know, we were very, very -- a subject of a lot of focus. I would have to say that people looked at a lot of behaviors. And if there was no -- and I'm not talking about myself in particular; I'm talking about the group -- and the outcome was, was there were people who -- who -- people in the community of people who -- in the enforcement community -- were not going easy. If they failed to bring a case, they felt that there was no case.
ZAKARIA: I have to ask you about the relationship of Goldman Sachs to the Clintons. There was a front-page story in the New York Times alleging that there are very close connections, that Goldman Sachs has done all kinds of things, from give money to the Clinton Global Initiative to creating a partnership between the -- your foundation and the State Department when Hillary Clinton was in office, to, of course, holding fund-raisers for both Clintons at various points.
How do you respond to that charge?
BLANKFEIN: Well, Hillary Clinton was the -- was our -- was a New York senator. We're largely a -- well, we're certainly a New York- headquartered firm. The -- when -- when Bill Clinton was in office, obviously, he was the president of the United States -- we're one of the larger banks; we have influence in the financial system; of course we engage. We engage with Senator Schumer. We engage with Governor Cuomo.
I don't know how to -- we could have -- I know that, you know, in the conspiracy world -- theory-driven world in which we live in, you connect data points, but, heck, I have -- I go out and I meet with editors of newspapers. I meet with Republicans, leaders. I -- we -- it's necessary for us to do that. Part of what we do is -- part of our role requires not just that we're committed to -- our sense of duty requires that we explain the financial system and the ramifications of what official action would be. And of course we engage our political leaders.
ZAKARIA: But the implication is that there was a tighter connection. Do you -- do you...
BLANKFEIN: Well, I'll give you -- I'll give you an example of a tighter part of a connection. In the '08 political cycle, I held a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton. And I could tell you, throughout our firm and other firms, so did a lot of people and so did a lot of people in our firm hold fund-raisers for people running against her. We had no -- I mean, you can -- you can go on and trace it. But, listen, if the fact is that we're identified with Hillary Clinton, who, as we say this, you know, the election is coming up and I'm sure this will -- this conversation will survive that moment, but as we sit here now, we don't know who will win the election. But it looks like the odds are favored Hillary Clinton. If the worst thing was that we had a history of having engaged positively with Hillary Clinton, that's not going to annoy me.
ZAKARIA: But do you personally support and admire Hillary Clinton?
BLANKFEIN: Well, I've -- I'm supportive of Hillary Clinton, and I certainly -- yes, I do -- yes. So, flat out, yes. I do. That doesn't say that I agree with all her policies. I don't. And that doesn't say that I adopt everything that she's done in her political career or has suggested that she might do going forward.
But in terms of, you know, her intelligence, her, I think, her positioning not only in terms of her ideology but what I regard as a certain -- as a pragmatism that I saw demonstrated when she was our senator and in earlier stages of her political career, when she could cross the aisle and engage other people to get things done, I admire that, and it stands out a little today because it's a little -- because it's a little -- that kind of -- that kind of willingness to engage and compromise -- but let's just stop at engage -- that willingness to engage is a scarcer commodity these days.
ZAKARIA: Up next, I ask Lloyd Blankfein about the speeches his company, Goldman Sachs, paid Hillary Clinton to make. Why does he think she didn't want to release the transcripts?
You'll hear his answer when we come back.
ZAKARIA: It's been a hot topic on the campaign trail from very early on. What exactly did Hillary Clinton say to Goldman Sachs?
The answer came out, at least in part, when WikiLeaks released what it says are transcripts of three paid speeches Clinton gave for the Wall Street giant. I talked to Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein two days before WikiLeaks made those transcripts public, but of course she already knew what was in them, having read the speeches or heard them when she gave them.
Listen to what he had to say.
ZAKARIA: Why won't she release the transcripts?
BLANKFEIN: OK, well, you'll have to ask her -- you have to ask her that. I would say -- and the answer is I don't know. But if it were me in her position, I would have wanted to reveal -- I'm not sure what she's afraid -- you know, these transcripts were her -- somebody who had left office as secretary of state giving a tour of her impressions of the world. They weren't given to Goldman Sachs -- you know, the press talks about Goldman Sachs partners. She spoke at our client meetings. These were meetings with -- with hundreds of people. Believe me, she was not saying -- I didn't think she was saying anything untoward. I don't recall specifically. But nothing that she said would have jarred me that she was going into some impermissible or revealing some secrets. I don't know what secrets she would have had about the financial market that she could have revealed.
ZAKARIA: There's a poll out, I think, a couple of months ago. Sixty percent of Americans worry that Hillary Clinton would not be able to properly regulate the financial industry because of her ties to it. What do you say?
BLANKFEIN: You know, I don't know how to -- I don't know how to -- I'm not sure how to respond to that. People say that. I would say that the financial system today is so much more tightly regulated. The regulators in their seats are so vigilant and so tough and their reputations depend on that toughness. Everyone is -- it's not a place where everybody is disarmed; everybody is armed. And the consequences of any kind of breach are so severe, I think -- I think we've -- I think we've handled that aspect of it.
I think -- look at the, you know, it's something I -- you know, frankly, I'm scared to death of mistakes that are made in my organization, and guess what? The world wants me to be scared to death of that and they want me to be vigilant at the end of the day. And they've accomplished their purpose. They have me on edge all the time.
My biggest -- I am not -- I don't live in fear that I'll do something wrong. I know I won't. Of course, there are accidents can happen, but I know I'll never do something wrong intentionally. I live in fear that one of my tens of thousands of employees -- and for other people who run big companies, it's hundreds of thousands of employees -- will do something wrong and their bad behavior will be ascribed to me, not simply because I failed to supervise, but in this current milieu, it will be ascribed to me as if I intended that act that was accomplished by somebody in the organization, or even if it's multiple people in the organizations.
And that's a very -- that's a very hot -- we're talking about an anxious economy. Guess what? You have an anxious industry. And guess -- you know, and I'll say, go further, I'm sure that people are happy that it's that way.
ZAKARIA: Lloyd Blankfein, pleasure to have you on.
BLANKFEIN: Well, thank you very much, Fareed, always my pleasure.
ZAKARIA: Up next, more on WikiLeaks and the documents they received as a result of the hack of the e-mail account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chair. Why are they out to get Hillary Clinton, and who is "they"?
ZAKARIA: How did WikiLeaks go from a movement dedicated against secrets and concentrated power to one that seems singularly focused on taking down one person, the Democratic candidate in the U.S. presidential election?
Is President Putin pulling the strings?
Those are questions that have been puzzling many, and we are going to tackle them today with two excellent guests. David Smith is The Guardian's Washington correspondent. He wrote a terrific this week story probing those very questions. And Julia Ioffe is a columnist at Foreign Policy and a contributing writer at Politico.
David, let me start with you. How do you explain this shift?
I mean, you look at the origins of WikiLeaks and it started out as something quite different.
DAVID SMITH, THE GUARDIAN: That's right. I think it's difficult to explain. This was a website for whistle-blowers that was really a darling of the liberal left, most obviously a few years ago when this -- there was this huge dump of U.S. diplomatic cables from various embassies that really lifted the lid on American foreign policy. And at that time, WikiLeaks was really praised by many as standing up to, being a scourge of American imperialism around the world, taking on the military-industrial complex, taking on the establishment.
And yet, here we are a few years later, and at first glance, anyway, it seems to be a tool of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
ZAKARIA: And, David, do you think that some of this is personal because Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, does seem to have some kind of a -- there's some fixation on Hillary Clinton.
SMITH: Indeed. It's certainly speculated that he's got a personal grudge against her, but when he was asked in an interview about Clinton versus Trump, he said, you know, "That's like asking me to choose between cholera and gonorrhea."
ZAKARIA: Yeah, it does seem, though, that to be unable to draw a distinction between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- I mean, for what it's worth, in Western democracies, I don't think you've had a starker choice, you know, in any Western democracy in a while.
Julia, you think Assange has a colorful history, personally, also. He was involved in Snowden's rescue. And some of it does lead to Russia?
JULIA IOFFE, FOREIGN POLICY: Yes, I don't think it's a coincidence that Edward Snowden ended up in Russia while the whole time being accompanied by Sarah Harrison, the lawyer for WikiLeaks. There is some speculation among Russia watchers that he was in some ways hand- delivered by Assange's lieutenants to Moscow. That is still a theory.
Shortly after Assange got stranded in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he was given a show on the Russia Today, which is of course the wholly Kremlin-owned English-language propaganda channel. So his ties to Russia go back a long way.
ZAKARIA: Julia, remind us what it is that Putin dislikes so much about Hillary Clinton.
IOFFE: Oh, they don't -- he hasn't liked her going back for a very long time. Back from when she was secretary of state, he didn't really like dealing with her. She was much tougher with him than other secretaries of state. But more importantly, there was a rigged election, a parliamentary election in Russia in December 2011, and evidence of fraud was widespread and Russians were sharing it on their smart phone -- I mean, were recording it on their smart phones, uploading it online. These videos went viral; they triggered mass protests. And Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, came out and said that these elections were clearly fraudulent and she said that Russians deserve to have their voices heard. And Putin was furious.
And so, for him, Clinton represents somebody who's there to take him out. And what he's doing, essentially, is what he thinks is giving her a taste of his own medicine and saying, you know, you interfered in my presidential re-election in 2011, 2012; I'm going to do the same thing to you.
And I do want to get back to one point about the, kind of, alliance between Trump -- this weird kind of tandem between Trump and Assange and Putin. You had a tweet from WikiLeaks that said that this wasn't a real American election; this was just power consolidation. And it uses the word "rigged," which has become, you know, Trump and Trump supporters' favorite word, probably like four or five times in one tweet, so in some ways even, kind of, taking on the language of Trump. It's very interesting.
ZAKARIA: David, Julia, pleasure to have you guys on.
Next on "GPS," O captain, my captain, when did you turn into a robot? From driverless cars to driverless boats, in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The justices that I'm going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent. They will be protecting the second amendment.
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ZAKARIA: The final presidential debate began with Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump explaining their opposing views on the Supreme Court. Half of the current Supreme Court justices are over the age of 68, which means that it could fall upon the next president to fill multiple open seats.
It brings me to my question. Who was the only full-term president of the United States not to appoint a single Supreme Court justice: George Washington, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant or Jimmy Carter?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is a magazine. It's one I've recommended before. The November/December issue of Foreign Affairs is terrific, and I'm not just saying that because I have an essay in it. There is a really interesting set of articles on the rise of populism, one of them being mine. They look at Trump, Latin America and Europe. But there are also excellent pieces on Turkey and Egypt as well, and there's one on Europe under austerity that you will like. You'll get a big bang for the buck from this issue.
And now for the last look.
ANNOUNCER: Automated control engaging.
ZAKARIA (voice over): Self-driving car prototypes have already the roads in the United States, but we may soon see more unusual driverless vehicles. Meet the Roboat, a clever name for a robotic boat. These self-driving vessels, a $27 million project by MIT and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, are expected to be tested in the canals of Amsterdam next year.
Each Roboat can be used for transporting goods or people, will be powered by renewable energy and will be able to scan the scene around them to minimize the risks of collisions. We've talked a lot on this show about the potential impact self-driving cars could have on the jobs of millions of Americans who drive for a living. Self-driving boat technology will surely elicit a similar debate. After all, 90 percent of world trade makes use of maritime transport and more than 1.2 million seafarers operate ships, according to the ILO. And that's just for trade. The scientists behind the Roboat did tell us that, much like the driverless car, one of the project's objectives is to improve boat safety. Sounds like progress to me. Just please don't put robots in place of the gondoliers of Venice.
The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is D. Jimmy Carter was the only full-term president who did not appoint a single Supreme Court justice. George Washington appointed the most Supreme Court justices, of course, 10, while FDR was a close second with eight appointments. Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated 221 days ago, would be the third of Barack Obama's appointments to the court if the Senate were to ever confirm him.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.