Return to Transcripts main page


Prison Escape Manhunt; Discussion On Historic Ruling on Same- Sex Marriage; Interview with Jim McGreevey; Hate or Heritage: The Confederate Flag Debate. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 27, 2015 - 18:00   ET


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. Welcome to the program.

Finally, a breakthrough in the three-week manhunt for those escaped prisoners in New York. Richard Matt has been shot and killed and the search is intensifying for the other fugitive, David Sweat.

On Friday, officials say that a team of agents from the Federal Customs and Border Protection Agency found Matt in the woods in Malone, New York after he fired a shot at the back of a camping trailer. Officers heard him cough as he fled on foot and a federal agent killed him when Matt - armed with a shotgun - refused orders to put his hands up.

And now, more than a thousand law enforcement officers are closing in on David Sweat. Law enforcement sources saying authorities believe he's contained in a perimeter set up around him.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is live in Malone, New York with the very latest.

Polo, was David Sweat with Richard Matt when he was killed?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, that is a very crucial question here for investigators and they can't really quite answer that yet. We've told you - at least, we reported earlier that there was a certain set of tracks that was located in and around the area where Richard Matt was shot by federal agents yesterday but investigators aren't quite sure who they belong to. I can tell you though, Michael, as they move forward with this manhunt, authorities say if David Sweat is hiding out in and around the wooded area that you see behind me here in upstate New York, they are very confident they'll find him. However, they're moving forward very carefully, with great caution, as this man is a convicted cop killer and of course, they're treating this man as armed, dangerous, and also growing even more desperate by the minute.

SMERCONISH: Well, I ask the question for obvious reasons because how can law enforcement believe they have guy number two encircled if they don't know whether he was with guy number one at the time they took out guy number one?

SANDOVAL: What's interesting here - really, the closest thing to an explanation here from officials is they don't have evidence to suggest that he's left the area. They also don't have evidence that seems to indicate that he's here. So they have really this hardest piece of evidence this confrontation also with Richard Matt yesterday that turned deadly for that escaped inmate. And so now, investigators are working on that as a potential lead. Just a few moments ago, we witnessed this seemingly endless parade of patrol cars just whizzed by us here because again, they do plan on saturating this area not only to try to track down David Sweat but also as a reassurance for the people who live in the shadow here of the Adirondack mountains. Many people not even staying home the last few days when the sheriff basically - when the search shifted closer to this portion of upstate New York. Officers determined to stay on the trail of this individual whether he's here, the neighboring state, or potentially left the country.

SMERCONISH: What's the working theory as to why he would have fired on a civilian?

SANDOVAL: That's another very critical question here too. The reports that we're getting, Michael, is that this individual in some kind of a recreational vehicle heard the shot and then - and then noticed some kind of a bullet hole on that vehicle. And then he called authorities. What's still yet to be explained though is if that shot actually came from Richard Matt. I think that's a very critical piece of information here that is missing from this investigation. Do investigators believe that it was actually Richard Matt that opened fire and of course why that was? I think that that's going to be one of the very critical questions we'll be asking today as we expect to hear more from officials and of course, expect to get more information here throughout the weekend.

SMERCONISH: Polo Sandoval. Thanks for the report.

I want to turn now to our focus on the hunt.

Joining me is retired chief deputy U.S. Marshall and former member of U.S. Marshalls Special Operations Group, Matthew Fogg, and CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.

Tom, where Richard Matt was killed, what seemed to be confirmation of the total reliance that these two had on Joyce Mitchell for their escape. They had all that planning in terms of how they were going to get out of prison but it now seems clear, their faith was in her hands for a pick-up.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I agree, Michael. It looks like they didn't have a plan B, plan C that we assumed if they took a year to figure out how to get out of that prison, that they would have also had a complex plan involving A, B, C and plans to get away from the prison once they came up out of that manhole. So that is surprising.

SMERCONISH: Matthew, it reminds me in several respects now of the hunt for bin Laden. Is it really a "capture or kill" mission or is it a "kill" mission?

MATTHEW FOGG, CHIEF DEPURTY U.S. MARSHALL (RET.): I think it's a "capture" mission. If they happen to kill him, they will kill him. I mean, the bottom line is if they told Matt to put his hands up, he had a gun in his hands, then of course, you're going to - you're going to take evasive actions 'cause this man has been known to have killed before. So that would be (inaudible) in line.


My concern again though is where they are, (inaudible) the fact that are they together, and I've always - my theory has been that they probably separated before now. So that's my theory. But again, they would have had to have killed him if he didn't - if he didn't comply, knowing his background.

SMERCONISH: Matthew, I know that no two of these cases are alike but typically, do you see fugitives who are in pairs splitting up or sticking together?

FOGG: Well, the major cases that went over to (inaudible) that I know of, that I - that I - was made with Bernard Welch. I know him and Hugh Colomb split up when they went over the wall, went down and got away. And I know that the Michael Lucas case out of Texas, those guys split up. Now, they have known some prisoners that stay together and go on a crime spree, but normally, they really want to get away, they split up.

SMERCONISH: Tom, of course, two civilians have been charged in connection with the prison break. I'm wondering how their fate might be impacted by whether Sweat is taken dead or alive. If he's taken alive, presumably, he'd be able to offer law enforcement an explanation as to what transpired here and how they got out.

FUENTES: Yes, he could. And I think that a lot will be learned from him even though people say, "He has no reason to talk. They can't plea bargain anything. He's already going to be in lockdown 23.5 hours a day" and all of that. However, these types of personalities are usually extremely narcissistic. This kind of sociopathology or psychopathology - it's all about them. They're selfish and you can get them to talk just based on their ego that say, "Hey, tell. You had this great plan. It was just unbelievable. You were able to get out of there. How did you do it? Tell us your story." And oftentimes, people like this will tell you their story if he's alive to tell it.

SMERCONISH: Tom, to your point of the narcissism involved with individuals like this, I've been wondering, will he take himself out and you may have just put your finger on the explanation as to why he wouldn't. I mean, surely, if he's in that wooded area and if he knows that his colleague was killed by law enforcement, then he knows his days are numbered.

FUENTES: I would think so. And I think that we - it'll still play out. Will it be suicide by cop, will he surrender? There've been so many people over the years that said, "I'm never going to be taken alive. By God, I'm going to shoot it out." And then they go along like little puppies when the police surround them. So we just don't know. That'll be his determination whether he walks away from this alive or dead. SMERCONISH: And Matthew Fogg, might the fact that we now have a dead body of guy number one assist the dogs in hunting for guy number two? Is that cadaver a value in terms of picking up a scent presuming if they were together?

FOGG: If a scent was on the guy, yes. But I - obviously, I don't know if that's what they have here. Now, we've got to realize that probably law enforcement has not given us everything they get because there are a lot of (inaudible) ambiguous things coming out of this thing. There are some things that we can't (inaudible) not being on scene can really determine. But I would say to you, yes. If there's a scent there, they would have picked it up. The other piece is too if they catch this guy, I think one of the things he would probably try to negotiate is that he won't be in a hole for the rest of his life. So that's another reason why he might talk and tell them more information as they catch him.

SMERCONISH: Tom Fuentes, it's been noted so many times that this is akin to a movie and one of the aspects of it that is mind-boggling is how allegedly a corrections officer was compromised by one of these guys and traded him tools for certain of his paintings. How common do you think the behavior is not to this extent, not to this extreme, but behavior like this where individuals are co-opted, are corrupted by those that they're supposed to be protecting? Protecting meaning not to escape.

FUENTES: I think it happens on a kind of a frequent basis, not that they're helping them escape but just this kind of relationship. It's not just the inmates that are locked up in this prison, it's the corrections officers also. It's the staff. It's other people, employees, handymen, you name it, that work in this facility and they've got to work together. And especially with budget cuts as the staff becomes more shorthanded. They need to ensure peace in the valley with the inmate in there and they will exchange favors, they will start to establish some kind of a trust even though crazy as that sounds, a little bit of a trust relationship.

SMERCONISH: Matthew Fogg, final question. Given your long tenure with the Marshall service, do you worry - I mean, we're not the only ones. There are prisons that - prisons all across the country that have televisions sets. There are prisoners watching this thing unfold. Do you worry that this is now going to be an impetus - a motivator for other prisoners to try schemes like this?

FOGG: Well, I think the bottom line - a matter of fact, a lot of prisoners right now are a little upset because now, their rations, everything that they had is probably being scrutinized right now. So, no, I don't see it that way. I just - 'cause - when you talk about the millions of prisoners in this country and the numbers that actually go over the wall, this is an anomaly. So bottom line is that prisons - all prisons right now are on special alert.


Check everything but as - I agree with Tom a hundred percent that in these prisons, a lot of times, guards have to work with these prisoners so you - sometimes you might let them do little things, turn your head, break the protocol but do not (inaudible) they're trying to escape like this woman did by assisting them. The woman had assisted these guys in getting hacksaw, blades, and stuff. That's sort of like an anomaly. Actually trying to, "Gosh, trying to help somebody escape."

SMERCONISH: Matthew Fogg, Tom Fuentes. Thank you, gentlemen.

FUENTES: Thank you, Michael.

FOGG: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Believe it or not, there are people who are rooting for these bad guys. But why?

Coming up, we'll explore the psychology of why some people would side with killers.

And the Supreme Court made history yesterday ruling that same sex couples must be allowed to marry in all 50 states. The landmark ruling set off celebrations across the country. American's weatherman, Sam Champion, and his husband will join me to discuss.


SMERCONISH: Welcome back.

This week, on my Sirius XM radio program, I wondered aloud whether anyone in my audience was rooting for the two killers who escaped from a New York maximum security facility.


Now, that might sound crazy given that Richard Matt who killed last night and David Sweat are two horrible lowlifes, convicted killers.

Well, you might be surprised by what some callers had to say.

Listen to this one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deep down inside, every time there's a news release saying "we're so close, we've got DNA, we know where they are, we're hot on their tail, and then another few days go by, inside I sort of have this warm feeling that the authorities are just chasing their tails. A small part of me is pulling for the bad guys.


SMERCONISH: And several people also tweeted at me their support for the prisoners.

Joanna said, "Ha ha. Unfortunately, my husband and I are in that group. Quite odd considering he's a retired cop! Lol. Can't explain." And Ken tweeted and said, "I hope they are not caught and go on to live crime-free lives."

What might make people root for killers? Joining me now is psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz.

Hopefully, it's not just a quirk to my audience. I mean...

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Definitely not. I heard - I heard this from patients during the week. And really, what we're talking about is it's not people who truly want murderers to be free among us. It's a fantasy and an identification with people who are in prison. So we all can feel imprisoned in our lives, right, in our jobs or maybe even in our families. Like you're going to the grind and you relate to the idea that you feel trapped, that you feel imprisoned, and that you want to race free - you want to run free, you want to escape. So it is - it is this mixed fantasy not like I actually want a person who kills and decapitated someone to be among us, but it is an idea that someone who is imprisoned like I feel could get away, could be free, could escape even if it's the wrong thing to do.

SMERCONISH: I thought maybe - when I was listening to those calls and when I was reading the tweets - that it was like an F.U. to authority.

SALTZ: I think that is also some people's fantasies. Some people have this sort of - yes, they have a rivalry like what - to the man and the idea that these guys could be giving it to the man as it were - definitely is a fantasy for some. So it depends on sort of your background, what's going on with you, why you might identify with these guys or (inaudible) with the idea that they could get away from or even make look foolish an authority figure?

SMERCONISH: Is part of it that it's - and I don't want to minimize what they've done. I mean, they're despicable and I hope, frankly, I hope guy number two got - gets what guy number one got. But is part of it - that this is pretty good show and this is reminiscent of a lot of TV and a lot of movies. Didn't we see this in "The Fugitive" and damn, I don't want it to end.

SALTZ: You know why they do those movies? So art imitates life and life imitates art. It is a - it is thrilling an escape, right? We all have that thrill of watching in movies, often, the bad guys getting away or the escape or be chaste. That is a very compelling rendition to see. And so we can involved be in that and it reminds us - even of nightmares, right? I mean, you think about bad dreams. You (inaudible). You're trying to run, you can't lose. What's going on? It's the drama. So it takes out of the (inaudible), what is the crime that actually happened. Of course, we also have (inaudible) people getting punished for things they do. But with this dream is a very common-stream of the idea of escape and then narrow escape. They're hiding in the woods and do we hear them, do we hear them cough? What happened in that moment?

SMERCONISH: Initially, we were wondering how could the woman, Joyce Mitchell, allegedly have slept with one or both of these individuals? How could they be so persuasive? Now, there's a second individual who's been charged and he was apparently trading tools in return for the paintings of one of these guys. What does it tell you about their level of persuasion?

SALTZ: Pretty high - which, by the way, is not surprising. So as earlier in the show, someone mentioned it's very common for people who are in prison, who have committed these kinds of crimes, to have sociopathy. And part of that - not for all but for some - is a charm, is an ability to manipulate, is an ability to zero in on what you want, what you need, and give it to you. And they do that in a guilt- free, remorseless way.

SMERCONISH: You see these paintings that we're showing?

SALTZ: Yes. It's...

SMERCONISH: OK. So here's another question that I want to ask you. Apparently, the guy who traded the tools - whose name escapes me - then shipped a painting to a woman in Florida who sold it for $2,000 on eBay. Presuming that the person who was the purchaser knew that a murderer - a murderer did this, who the hell wants to - it's like Hitler's art. Who wants to own this?

SALTZ: And people do. Because it's like getting a little piece of evil. It's - so we feel in our day to day lives, sometimes many of us feel powerful, right?


And the idea that we could own - but not be - but own a little bit of something vicious or something evil, something that has power, that we kind of want at some level. We don't really want - we don't want to go out and murder somebody. But the fantasy of being that kind of powerful person who takes what they want, who gets it all, who has no regard for someone else - actually, that is a fantasy. Now, you have to realize, fantasy is different from action. Completely different.

SMERCONISH: You're still scaring me.

SALTZ: We all have - but we all...

SMERCONISH: You're still scaring me. There are people rooting for these guys and some who want to own their art? Why?

SALTZ: No. It shouldn't scare you. It shouldn't scare you because you should understand that there is a difference between thought and action. We all have sometimes bad thoughts, heinous thoughts. They might even be about a wish to have some power to do something bad. But we are human beings and we don't act on them. Some of us do act on them, that's why I'm back here talking to you about things that go on. But most of us are not going to act on them especially if we can understand that thought, where it comes from, analyze it for ourselves and we have less of an urge to act on it. That's what I do in my office. That's very important. But the separation of fantasy and thought (inaudible) don't be frightened about it.

SMERCONISH: I hear you. I think whoever bought the painting needs your treatment. I hope they call you.

SALTZ: Not necessarily at all. Maybe they're able to vicariously enjoy that and keep that separate and live a very wonderful and upright life.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Saltz, thank you as always.

SALTZ: My pleasure.

SMERCONISH: Appreciate your analysis.

Coming up, front pages all across the nation are reporting on yesterday's landmark Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Famed weatherman Sam Champion and his husband join me to talk about the historic decision next.



SMERCONISH: Welcome back.

Celebrations rang out amongst same-sex couples yesterday in the aftermath of a landmark Supreme Court ruling which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

The decision overturns states' existing marriage bans. Justice Anthony Kennedy was the swing vote and delivered the majority opinion in what was a 5-to-4 ruling.

Famed weatherman Sam Champion has already called yesterday the second best day of his life. The first was the day that he married his husband. I'm eager to get his thoughts. Sam Champion is here along with his husband, Rubem Robierb.

Sam, early in your career, you had to worry about the public finding out that you were gay. Here you are today. You're on CNN with your husband. Doesn't that say it all?

SAM CHAMPION, HOST OF AMHQ ON WEATHER CHANNEL: It pretty much does says it all.

RUBEM ROBIERB, SAM CHAMPION'S HUSBAND: (inaudible) feels really good.

CHAMPION: Yes, it does. And it - what - the way you said it, it kind of hurts to still hear it because there weren't gay people in television when I started television. I was afraid if people knew about my life that I wouldn't get the opportunity to do what I love to do, to succeed in this career. And at times, it was difficult. And now, it is not.

ROBIERB: Thank God.

SMERCONISH: Rubem, he said yesterday in a tweet that it was the second best day of his life and that the first best day - most special day of his life - was the day that he married you. ROBIERB: That was really sweet. I agree. That's why today is the

second best day of my life too. It was such an important decision and we cannot forget then so many people fight for us for so long time to be able to be here today and talk to you.

SMERCONISH: I remember sitting in my car - I had one of those great radio moments. You were explaining to Howard Stern what it was like to come out to your father and to have him be not so accepting. I remember the story. He was a big guy and a marine.

CHAMPION: Yes. Career marine.

SMERCONISH: Might it have been easier for people in your position and might it be easier going forward for individuals in your position with this decision? Because now, there's the imprimatur of the United States Supreme Court saying, "Same-sex marriage is OK."

CHAMPION: Yes. I think because - again, we all know what we're taught and I don't blame my father and the people of his generation who grew up believing what they learned. What I want is a new generation of Americans to understand that there is no shame to be felt here. This isn't - we're no different from anyone else. We're people who have hopes and dreams and fears and we want to love and if you want a family, you should be able to have a family. You should be able to live in this country happy. And I think that yes, I think this new generation will get that opportunity because of a day like this.

SMERCONISH: You were able - before he passed - to put it all together?


SMERCONISH: I mean, there was a time period it went off the clock, not unlike others in your situation where you just weren't speaking.

CHAMPION: Yes. It's true. And I kind of knew because he was a brilliant man and I told him that at the time. I said to him - I said, "You're a lot smarter than you sound right now and I know that you'll figure this out. So I don't really need to - I've got a family" - at that time, I had friends in New York - "so I'll let you figure it out and you'll get back to me as soon as you do." And he kind of did. We had the talk and we understood each other. And it was a - that was a great day for me as well.

SMERCONISH: Is it easier for the two of you because you're a celebrity couple?

ROBIERB: Not at all.

CHAMPION: That's funny. I don't think either one of us think of ourselves that way.

ROBIERB: Yes, first of all, we don't think of ourself - ourselves in that way and I don't think it is easy. Of course, it is easier as a couple who live in New York or Atlanta or Miami then for a couple who live in a little city of Arkansas or in a small town. For them, it's really difficult because we cannot have that big city (inaudible) because we have a (inaudible) culture.

[18:30:06] CHAMPION: We have a support group. We have a support group. In a big city you do. You have friends and people just like you.

I come from small town American, born in Paducah, Kentucky, and proud of that and proud of the way I grew up. But it is a lonely place to be if you're different and not accepted. Not Paducah, in particular, I don't want to pick out any city. But I mean, you know, Middle America and small towns, can be a very lonely place if you're different, and if the community isn't accepting of that difference.

SMERCONISH: We should acknowledge that everybody is celebrating today. Some are still having a difficult time accepting this because to them this is not what marriage is supposed to be.

CHAMPION: Yes, I think there is a great deal of confusion on what the goals are here. The goals are -- this is still a country and should always be a country that respects religion and supports it. And in your religion, you have the right to believe in worship as you believe.

So, this isn't a decision against religion. It truly is about equality under the law. It's equality in the world that we live in, in the states that we live in. These cases, if physical you take time to look at them they're heartbreaking in what people have had to live through.

For surviving spouses to not be listed on a death certificate, for two women who want to adopt four special needs babies that were abandoned or left surrendered at birth and not to be able to because the state of Michigan doesn't recognize them as a married couple. These are real legal difficulties. These are hardships.

You know, we're not -- this takes it beyond the point where everyone is waving a rainbow flag. This is real life, real pain, real hardship inflicted on real people and it just shouldn't be in America.

SMERCONISH: To your point, Sam, the lead plaintiff in this case whose name I still have difficulty pronouncing. Justice Kennedy said, to fulfill their mutual promise, they traveled from Ohio to Maryland, where same sex marriage was legal, it was difficult for Arthur to move. And so, the couple were wed inside a medical transport plane as it remained on the tarmac in Baltimore.

When you hear details of a case like that, I mean, how can you argue with it?

CHAMPION: Yes. So, my hope is that anyone who is in love has been in love, understands love, will be a person who will stand up and say, everyone deserves to feel that. If you love someone, hearing that story drives you, I mean just, you can't take it. You just can't take it. No one should have to live like that.

SMERCONISH: You know, for me, the argument ended when I recognized that there was no day in my life when I made a decision that I was interested in women. There was no decision, that's the way that I was wired. I imagine there was not a day in your life when you decided, I think I'll look for a guy like Sam, right?

ROBIERB: You don't wake up one day and decide to be gay. That's just not an option. That is the whole point. It's not an option. You are who you are and I'm really glad today we can be ourselves in the country, now officially in the whole country.

SMERCONISH: Sam, did you have to play a role that wasn't honest or did you just not say nothing? Did you have to hold yourself out on television as heterosexual when you weren't?

CHAMPION: I will tell you that coming up in this business and moving from market to market and town to town, I had to make a decision. My decision was not to talk about it at all. Television was the work. I wasn't going to talk about my personal life.

If an interviewer wanted to sit down and discuss it with me I would simply say something I'm sure we can say on cable that I would say, look, I really only talk about sex with people I'm about to have sex with. Unless I misunderstand this situation, we don't need to talk about sex. So, let's talk about what we're here to talk about, my work, the forecast or something else.

That was -- I was very direct with it and very aggressive about it because I felt like it was very unfair to have to carry that, to not be just judged solely on my work and my abilities, but to have to carry a label and to be judged for that.

SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate your time.

CHAMPION: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Rubem, thank you.

Coming up, more reaction to the Supreme Court's historic reaction from the first openly gay governor in U.S. history. Jim McGreevey is about to join me to give his take.

And as Charleston mourns the nine victims killed in the church massacre, the debate over the Confederate symbols isn't over. I'll speak to one man who says the flag is a war memorial and should continue to fly high.


[18:38:26] SMERCONISH: Welcome back.

He was the nation's first openly gay governor and famously resigned from office in 2004 after coming out as gay.


JIM MCGREEVEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: So my truth is that I am a gay American. And I am blessed to live in the greatest nation with the tradition of civil liberties, the greatest tradition of civil liberties in the world and a country which provides so much to its people.


SMERCONISH: I want to get Jim McGreevey's take on yesterday's landmark Supreme Court decision.

Governor McGreevey, thank you so much for being here.

MCGREEVEY: Good to be with you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: How might a decision like this have impacted your life had it have come decades ago?

MCGREEVEY: Oh, it's a staggering decision. Basically the nation is saying that I am created equal in the eyes of the law and the eyes of society. It's a major seat change, Michael. What it says to young LGBT youth all across this country that you're equal in the eyes of the law and for many of us in the eyes of the church.

And it's a powerful decision, the notion of equality, the notion of dignity. It's a word Justice Kennedy used again and again.

SMERCONISH: Your story is so well known and in your case, you were actually married and then, of course, came the revelations. You announced to the country, as we just saw in the tape. I am a gay American.

Do you think it would have put you on a different path? A personal path that would have been different had the Supreme Court decades ago given this green light?

[18:40:01] MCGREEVEY: Sure. I mean, I think that if that decision had been there as a young boy, I would never have made the decisions I did. Frankly, I probably would have talked to my mother and father and asked them. I would have talked to a teacher and I would have talked to a person and authority, a local parish priest.

But frankly, you looked all around and there was no support. I mean, the government didn't recognize homosexuality. In fact, it was labeled by the American Medical Association as an illness. There was no recognition of gay marriage. There was no support. There was no recognition by the state, the authority of the state.

And so, when the United States Supreme Court, the highest law of the land, recognizes gay marriage as being worthy of the recognition of the Supreme Court, it's a sea change not only in the eyes of the law, but what it does culturally, Michael.

SMERCONISH: You're so well known because 11 years ago you became the first openly gay governor in the history of the country. You're also an attorney.

Let me share something with you that Justice Scalia said in his dissent. He said that, "Until the courts put an end to it, we were witnessing one of the great exhibitions of American democracy on this issue. But now five justices have just concluded that every state was violating the Constitution for 135 years, the time period between ratification of the 14th amendment and when Massachusetts recognized same-sex marriage in 2003."

What would be your response to Justice Scalia?

MCGREEVEY: My response would be that Justice Kennedy saw that within the 14th Amendment there is this basic right of dignity and that gay marriage ought to be afforded the same equality as heterosexual marriage. So, that if we know that equality is equality, why wait until the plebiscite or the legislative process moves on? I mean, if you extract Justice Scalia's argumentation to an awful conclusion, then he might not have moved to address the questions of interracial marriage.

I mean, then he would have allowed the legislative process to play itself out on a whole host of issues involving civil rights, involving women, involving gays and involving African-Americans.

So, I think what Justice Kennedy did was to show not only the seismic change in the American culture, but he, he dug deep into the law and that the law is a living, breathing document. And that the court has a moral responsibility to lift America up to our better angels and that's what I believe he did when he embraced the notion of dignity inherent in the 14th amendment.

SMERCONISH: And, finally, Governor, now you dedicated your life to prison ministry. I find it interesting that proponents of marriage being recognized only between a man and woman often invoke faith, invoke God, say that he was the original architect of this being a union of only man and woman. You would say what to those folks?

MCGREEVEY: Well, God bless them. I mean, religion is so much a part of individual culture and in my faith, you know, when Pope Francis says, "Who am I to judge?", I think the pope has moved us significantly beyond our own cultural moorings.

And for me, personally, you know, Michael, I grappled, I didn't want to be gay at that point in my life. I wanted to be like every other kid on the playground and every other kid in Boy Scouts. But now, I understand, It's a gift. It's who God made me to be.

SMERCONISH: Governor, thank you for being here.

MCGREEVEY: Thank you, Michael. Great day to celebrate.

SMERCONISH: Coming up, yesterday, the president said the Confederate flag must come down as an acknowledgment for which the Confederacy fought slavery was wrong. My next guest begs to disagree.


[18:48:18] SMERCONISH: Welcome back.

Pastor Clementa Pinckney was laid to rest yesterday. Pinckney, One of the nine victims gunned down at a historic black church in Charleston. President Obama who considered Reverend Pinckney a friend praised renewed efforts to remove the Confederate flag in South Carolina.


OBAMA: Removing the flag from this state's capital would not be an act of political correctness. It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought. The cause of slavery was wrong.


SMERCONISH: In the wake of the church massacres, there's been a major debate over the Confederate flag, a symbol embraced by the 21-year-old gunman. The Confederate flag is still flying high despite being taken down earlier this morning by a woman who climbed the flag pole and tore it down. She and either man were then arrested.

There are growing calls to remove it permanently, but many still support the flag and what they believe it stands for.

Joining me now is Jeff O'Cain. He's the former commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter.

Jeff, why do you think the flag should continue to fly?

JEFF O'CAIN, FORMER COMMANDER, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS CHAPTER: Michael, it is a war memorial to over 25,000 men called to duty by their state to bear arms. They defended the state of South Carolina and died as their state had asked them to do.

SMERCONISH: The president yesterday, you just heard this clip, said removal would not be an insult to the valor of the Confederate troops but, rather, he said, that it would be an acknowledgement for the cause of which they were fighting was wrong.

[18:50:11] O'CAIN: We have analyzed this and the flag has become such a focal point and a whipping post for so many things that I believe and I can't speak for the Sons of Confederate Veterans but personally and for a good sense, I, with respect to my ancestors would like to take a retrograde and step back and say, look, the feeding frenzy and all the controversy is doing more harm to the honor and dignity of that flag for those men, who were not slave owners. They were defending South Carolina.

Secession does not start war. Invasion starts war. And these men stepped forward to defend, you know, 250,000 Southerners died in the cause for Southern independence. Perhaps as many as 450,000 Union soldiers died. And you continue to calculate, it's not unreasonable to say 1 million people were killed during that conflict that wasn't started by the Confederacy.

It has to be noted that folks are drawn to the big lie when repeated over and over. They begin to believe it.

SMERCONISH: What is the lie? (CROSSTALK)

O'CAIN: I'm sorry?

SMERCONISH: What is the lie? What is the big lie?

O'CAIN: That the flag is a symbol -- no, I'll give it to you. The flag is a symbol of hate, racism and bigotry. Kweisi Mfume was a very smart individual when he took over a floundering organization, and he had to find something to sell, because black teen pregnancy and destruction of the black family structure or a disproportionate number of black men in jail and so on wasn't a very pleasant to sale item.

So, he picked the flag and pointed at it. He says, with all great amount of hate, that is a symbol of hate, racism and bigotry. That's what's gotten into the minds of folks. It is a soldier's flag.

SMERCONISH: As you now know, this transcends the flag. Mitch McConnell said that the statue of Jefferson Davis should come down in the Kentucky state capital. House Democrats discussed the relocation of most symbols in the United States capital.

Take our final minute together and tell us what you think about that.

O'CAIN: Where is this going to go?


O'CAIN: The scenario is the flag is gone. OK, kumbaya, let's have a big celebration. After that, oh, my God, I drove by this state house and there is a monument. Someone told me there's 25,000 soldiers underneath it. I was so pained and so hurt and I was so offended, I had to take the rest of the day off.

Instead of bring it down, the now rally cry will be move it out. And once the Confederate monument is moved away, oh, my God, we're going to see something behind the flag and the monument and it's another slave owner and racist. It's George Washington.

Are we to cleanse the entire American history? And you can't take today's civil and religious and philosophical and legal train of thought and apply it to 1860. In 150 years, they are going to say about us, can you believe those people in 2015 actually killed their own unborn children and they burned these fuels that polluted the air, I can't believe they did that kind of thing.

Well, today is different. We're going to step back from the Confederate flag and say, OK, it's time to furl the flag so that these men aren't continually dragged into some politically correct, liberal progressive agenda that speaks (ph) hate.

SMERCONISH: It sounds like the debate is not yet over.

Jeff O'Cain, thank you for being here.

O'CAIN: Thank you very much, Michael. SMERCONISH: Coming up, I'll show you one of the best parts of

President Obama's eulogy as he pays tribute to the nine Charleston victims.


SMERCONISH: I want to leave you with this. One of the most memorable moments from President Obama's eulogy yesterday was when he launched into a solo of "Amazing Grace".


OBAMA (singing): Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now I see --


SMERCONISH: Thank you so much for joining me. Don't forget, you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish.

I'll see you in two weeks. Have a happy Fourth of July.