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Trump's Troubling Response to Russia Hack; Has the American Dream Ended?; Trump Team Slams CIA for Russia Hack Intel; Interview with Sean Spicer; Pistachio Girl Fired for White Nationalist Views. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 10, 2016 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:19] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish coming to you from Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

The Russians are apparently doing to our politicians what they've long been doing to our athletes, but even with the CIA now saying that Russia did meddle in the campaign, the Trump team is dismissing the news as partisan politics and saying that, like the Iraq war, it's based on bad intelligence. Sean Spicer will be here to explain.

Plus, is the American dream dead? A new study of family income finds it's getting harder and harder for Americans to earn more than their parents did. Is this why Trump won? And can he do anything to reverse that graph?

Plus, a popular stadium vendor in my hometown of Philadelphia also happens to be a white nationalist and her politics on social media just got her fired. Was that fair? And what might it mean for others?

And Germany, the latest country to consider banning full-face veils, Chancellor Angela Merkel's political gesture to anti-immigrant populism, but does this infringe on religious rights?

But first last night at about 9:30 p.m. I and other members of the media received a press release from the presidential transition team communications office, but this was not just another announcement of a new addition to the Trump administration. It said this.

"Transition statement on claims of foreign interference in U.S. elections. These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on. And make America great again."

The statement was in response to published accounts that the CIA has concluded that Russia did indeed intervene in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win. According to today's "Washington Post," the CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed door briefing on Capitol Hill last week and according to a senior U.S. official briefed on that presentation, quote, "It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia's goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected. That's the consensus view," unquote.

The presentation was not a formal assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies and it was apparently received along partisan lines.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, whose wife Elaine Chao is now Trump's nominee for transportation secretary, raised doubts about the intel and said that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly as an act of partisan politics.

And there's more, "The New York Times" today reporting that Democrats weren't the only ones who were hacked. One reason that intelligence officials believe the Russian hack was intended to help Trump is that the Russians also hacked the Republican National Committee, but none that none of that information was ever released. Whereas in information gleaned from the DNC was given to WikiLeaks.

In this context, the release from the Trump transition is troubling. In a prepared statement, not an off-the-cuff remark at a rally, Donald Trump has just cast doubt on an intelligence community with which he's going to have to work. And it is Trump despite now having access to all the nation's intelligence who is reportedly receiving only one intel briefing per week.

The situation to me is reminiscent of the reluctance of the Bush administration and then House speaker Dennis Hastert post 9/11 to fully investigate the events of that horrific day fearing the information gleaned would be used for partisan gain. Ultimately of course facing pressure from 9/11 victim families, that administration relented and we got that report.

This situation is a similar case of national security. And what a shame that partisanship runs so deeply in this country that we no longer even unite against a common enemy, Russia, but instead see ourselves as Republicans or Democrats first instead of as Americans.

Mr. Trump, if these stories are based on bad intel, as you accuse, a president should want that out in the open, not swept under the rug as has happened with the WMDs. And if a foreign hostile government did indeed intervene in our election, you sir, as our next commander-in- chief, should want to know all of the facts of that situation and do so in a manner of full transparency. We can handle the truth.

Joining me now CNN counterterrorism expert and former CIA analyst Philip Mudd.

Phil, react to the story. What did you first think when you saw that release?

[09:05:02] PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, you know, it's sunny here in Rosemary Beach, Florida, but this is really depressing for an intelligence officer. What we're seeing is a transition from campaign rhetoric into the Oval Office. On the campaign trail you can create facts. Is the president a native-born American? The president had to have the humility to come out and say yes, and the president-elect eventually backed down.

When the President-elect Mr. Trump didn't like the facts from the Department of Justice and the FBI, FBI Director Comey saying he would not pursue the e-mail investigation into Hillary Clinton, attacked the messenger. Now getting the same thing when we have a transition from the campaign trail. If I don't like the facts, if I want to cozy up to Russia, let me attack the messenger.

One more thing, Michael, this is not just a president of the United States. This is the leader of one of the three arms of government, the executive branch. He is now before taking office told two elements of that executive branch, the FBI and the CIA, that he doesn't trust them. This is unbelievable.

SMERCONISH: Right. So what impact is this going to have on his relationship moving forward with that intel community on which he must rely?

MUDD: I think there's two elements here behind the curtain in Washington, D.C. that you have to consider. The impact to me is unclear for two reasons. Number one, the pressure from the Congress who has received a briefing about this intelligence, how will they go public and use their bully pulpit to attack him?

The second piece that nobody is talking about, we have an incoming CIA director nominee who is going to be under tremendous pressure from the CIA work force.

I spent 25 years there, Michael. I can tell you what they're going to say. One, is the new incoming CIA director named by Mr. Trump going to answer to the president and speak as the president wants him to speak or is he going to represent the facts that the CIA knows them?

Mr. Pompeo, coming into office, that is the -- the nominee to be CIA director is going to have a limelight on him and I'm suspecting he doesn't know what his answer is yet.

SMERCONISH: Phil, you know that it's been reported that President- elect Trump is receiving about one intel briefing per week even though he has the opportunity to be briefed on a daily basis with the same information as President Obama. What do you now think of the fact that he's being briefed so infrequently in the context of this Russian story?

MUDD: There are two pieces to this, Michael. Let me make sure I remain sort of nonpartisan CNN commentator. I don't think it's a huge deal about whether the president-elect is briefed once a day or once a week. My question would be how he receives information. His vice president-elect Mike Pence is evidently receiving briefings once a day. How often do they talk? Is Mr. Trump actually reading the intelligence without receiving the briefings? Different presidents over the past 50 years have gotten briefings in a lot of different ways.

Sometimes orally, sometimes in writing. I think the underlying question, though, is not whether he receives the briefing once a week, it's whether he trusts the executive branch that he is charged with leading. And I think the initial reports are no. This is going to be corrosive within the executive branch on issues like Iran nuclear, North Korea, Syria.

When people bring bad news, what's the response going to be? And is that going to lead them to say, I'm not bringing bad news anymore?

SMERCONISH: A final thought if I can offer this to you as one who lacks your intelligence credentials and it's this, ask a local cop what's the most dangerous situation that they can walk into and surprisingly they'll say a domestic disturbance because two spouses will be arguing and then unite against the presence of law enforcement. We used to be like that as Americans. We could have our disagreements as Republicans and as Democrats, but if we had a common enemy, like a hostile threat from Russia, we'd be united in opposition to Russia.

And as I see the reaction to this story and the prospect that they intervened in our election, it really depresses me to think that we suit up as Republicans and Democrats first, and not as Americans. You get the final word.

MUDD: Look, this is not about partisanship. I understand. I live in Washington, D.C. That the Democrats hate the Republicans and vice versa. I must have testified 50 times. It's a horrible experience in a closed hearing when you see one member yell across the aisle to another member because of a partisan question.

The point here is not whether the Russians hacked in favor of President Trump. The point is that a foreign power intervened in one of the most sacred American acts and that is voting for a president of the United States.


MUDD: Is it unbelievable that the Congress can't figure out how to talk about this without partisanship.

SMERCONISH: So glad you said it. So well said. Phil Mudd, thank you so much for being here as usual.

Later this hour, I will also be speaking to RNC communications director and chief strategist Sean Spicer on all of this. What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish and I will read the best during the course of the program. As a matter of fact they're already flowing in. Hit me with something quickly.

"Smerconish, during the campaign he latched on to everything the FBI put out on Hillary like it was direct word from God. Why the reverse?"

Angel, why the reverse? Because it doesn't suit his partisan interests right now. That's why.

[09:10:01] One more if we've got time for it. "Smerconish, CNN International, it seems almost treasonous after Trump rejects intelligence from his own agencies regarding Russian hacking."

Such a depressing story. Phil Mudd said it so well. The point here is not, who did it benefit. It's the point that apparently it took place.

Up next a new study reveals Americans are much less likely to out-earn their parents. I'm going to talk to JD Vance and Thomas Frank about how this contributed to Trump's victory and what it means for all of our future.


SMERCONISH: Now the real secret to Donald Trump's electoral success may have just been unlocked by economists and sociologists from Stanford, Harvard and the University of California.

Here's what they did. They did a first-ever analysis tracking the income of individual families over time, rather than taking a snapshot of the nation. And they learned that children's prospects of achieving the American dream of earning more than their parents have fallen from 90 percent to 50 percent over the past half century.

[09:15:08] And no doubt that explains the frustration felt by many who ultimately cast ballots for Donald Trump.

Joining me now, two authors who saw this election clearly and whose insightful books both made best end of yearbook's list. Thomas Frank's "Listen Liberal" was named Most Prescient Book of 2016 by "The Washington Post." And JD Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy" was named the Top Book of the Year by everybody, from NPR to the "Economist."

Thomas, let me begin with you. I'm going to put that graph back on the screen so that it can seep in a little bit. Here is what it says, that in 1940, your odds were 90 percent when you were 30 years old earning more than your parents had earned when they were 30. And if you bring it to modern time, it's at about 50 percent.

What key, if any, do you think that holds to understanding the election?

THOMAS FRANK, AUTHOR, "LISTEN LIBERALS": Well, Michael, in my opinion this is how you should -- I mean, this is inequality. This is what is the number one issue that undergirds everything that's been going on for us. You know, but this is -- I always think of this in connection with the Bernie Sanders campaign, you know, the young people who are burdened down by the student loans, who are going out into -- you know, to look for a job out of college and are, you know, running into the give economy --

SMERCONISH: Limited income.

FRANK: You know, that sort of thing.

SMERCONISH: And in your book, JD, here is the point I'm taking away, the folks you write about, who you were raised with in Appalachia, they didn't need the economists from Harvard and Stanford and University of California to tell them this. They've probably been hearing about the American dream but not experiencing it themselves.

JD VANCE, AUTHOR, "HILLBILLY ELEGY: A MEMOIR OF A FAMILY AND A CULTURE IN CRISIS": Yes, that's exactly right. And it's surprising in some ways to me that this study came with such a wave of approval and excitement from the media because it's really not that surprising. If you paid attention to the economic trends of America the past 30 years, you know that this has been a significant problem. And what's so striking about this is that as you mentioned, folks who are born, you know, more recently only have a 50 percent chance of making more than their parents, but that's really geographically concentrated in certain areas. So places like the industrial Midwest where Donald Trump performed so well, this problem is especially acute. It's not so much of a problem, let's say, in California or in places like Kansas or Nebraska.

SMERCONISH: Well, to your point, and you remind me of Thomas's other book, one of his many books which is "What's the Matter with Kansas," let me put a map of the country up on the screen and show you where your prospects are worse of outperforming your parents. And look at the south. I mean, you know, look at those southern states.

And gentlemen, if it's reminiscent of anything, let me now put on the screen the electoral map of 2016. I mean, there's a lot of correspondence, Thomas Frank, between where Trump won and where the American dream is not being utilized. You have argued previously that those folks were nevertheless voting against their own economic interest.

FRANK: Oh, yes. Well, I mean, that's a different story. But we'll get to that in a second. But there's a lot of maps like that that you could use, Michael. I mean, the map of, you know, shorter life expectancy for people, you know, the places are people are using methamphetamine, you know, all of these things, wherever you find sort of economic despair and destruction you'll find, you know, I'm sorry to say a lot of Trump voters. And you know, back to about people and their economic interests, well, you know, the idea that Trump is going to fix this -- come on now. Look who he just appointed to be Labor secretary.

SMERCONISH: JD, respond to that. I mean, Thomas makes the point that the Labor secretary nominee is not someone supportive of, for example, a minimum wage. Will those folks who are in that very dark and shaded part of the country get the relief they're looking for?

VANCE: Well, I think a lot of folks in that part of the country when they think of the Labor secretary they're probably more upset about his views on immigration than the minimum wage and we can sort of figure out which is more important from the perspective of a low-wage worker, but I really think that ultimately these voters are going to judge Donald Trump not on who he puts in some of these positions but on whether their lives actually get better over the long term.

You know, these folks give politicians a fairly long leash. They voted for Bush in 2000. A lot of them voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and have just now swung to Donald Trump in the past few months, so I really think that whether those things that Thomas talks about, the meth addictions, the opiate addictions, the wage stagnation, if those things start to move in the right direction, a lot of people are going to care who the Labor secretary or who the Commerce secretary is.

SMERCONISH: And Thomas, is part of this aspirational? That maybe they're not caught up so much, these voters that you've both written so effectively about. They're not caught up so much on trade policy as they are being aspirational.

[09:20:02] They look at Donald Trump. He's a huge success financially speaking and they say, I want to be like him. I'm going to cast my lot with Donald Trump whether he's a Republican or a Democrat?

FRANK: Of course, that's exactly right. But like JD just said, I mean, like what -- how things change in their actual lives is what really makes a difference. And here you have to go back to the lost promise in Barack Obama. I mean, he was elected in 2008 for a lot of the very same reasons, you know. The economy was in free fall. You remember what this was like. And we elected him with all of that hope. And this -- this sort of grand picture inequality, the deterioration of the American dream did not reverse itself.

And you think of all the things he could have done to change the direction of the country on this, getting tough with Wall Street, making it easier to form a labor union, starting to enforce anti-trust laws, for Pete's sake. Any of these things would have made a dent in those numbers, you know, in this big picture sort of disaster that we're talking about that has befallen middle America. He didn't do those things. And now we have gone -- you know, now our hope and sort of curdled into despair.

SMERCONISH: But you know, JD, final thought from you. What I think of when I look at that initial graph is that there wasn't so much zigging and zagging. If you mind, indulge me, put it on the screen one more time, but there was a pretty steady decline from 1940 to the present day which tells me -- there it is. I mean, which tells me that frankly this hasn't been because of any particular administration.

It makes me wonder, JD, have things been so good for so long in this country? Do so many have flat screens and do so many have a home that it couldn't always continue the way in which it had been? You get the final word.

VANCE: Well, I think it's important to recognize that these trends are absolutely bigger than one politician or one single party. This is a long-term problem in our economy and it's not just about the decline of unions. It's also about the fact that our technology has made it so that we prioritize and value skills in our economy more than we ever have. It's harder to get a good job if you're graduating from high school without good trade schools or good access to a college education.

The simple fact is that this is a long-term and complicated problem. And I think the failure of Barack Obama and frankly the failure of the politicians that came before him on both parties is the failure to recognize that this is a long-term problem that requires extraordinarily dedicated and complex policy work. And frankly, neither party has really been up to it for the past obviously 30 or 40 years.

SMERCONISH: That was my point. Thank you, gentlemen. Plenty of blame to go around.

JD Vance and Thomas Frank, nobody knows those issues better than those two gentlemen.

What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish. I'll continue to read the best story in the course of the program. What do we got, Katherine?

"You liberal Democrats just don't stop. Your jealous opposition to Trump is what's hurting this country." Hey, Jacbrad, is that your name? No, I'm an American first. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not an independent first. I'm an American first and I'm frustrated by the idea that people are so caught up in their partisanship as to whether they like the outcome of the election that it then dictates whether they care about a Russian hack of what Phil Mudd said is one of the most sacred aspects of being an American and that is our right to a free and open democracy. Come on, man.

Still to come, that new CIA intel revealing Russia was involved in the 2016 election trying to help Trump, intel that Trump's team attacks is partisan and not credible. I'm so thrilled that Sean Spicer will be here to hash that out with me.


[09:28:01] SMERCONISH: According to the CIA, Russia definitely had involvement in the American election, working toward Trump's election victory. And they shared this intel with key senators in a closed door briefing on Capitol Hill last week.

Donald Trump's transition team's reaction was to attack the messenger. Quote, "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and make America great again."

Joining me now, CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

Elise, tell me what you're hearing on this subject?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Michael, I think it's really interesting that what the transition and Donald Trump are saying is that these are the people -- about the Iraq war and it's kind of making this charge that the intelligence was politicized. People don't know what to make of what's going on right now, but these are not the same people that led the charge over the Iraq war. This was 13 years ago. Of course there probably are still some officials at the CIA, but the leadership that made those conclusions is long since gone.

So I think it's great that you have Sean Spicer here to -- that can explain what the transition really meant. Did they mean that the intel itself coming out of the community is flawed? That's going to be a real problem because what Donald Trump and the transition is saying is that they don't trust the 17 intelligence agencies that not only are going to be under President-elect Trump's command but are going to be informing him to make monumental decisions about national security or is the charge just about this politicization of the election?

Obviously you've heard from Donald Trump when he thinks that someone is criticizing him. This was not an off-the-cuff remark as he's been saying. This is something that was thought out if it's related to the election, that's one thing. But if it's a larger lack of trust in the intelligence community that's going to be the problem and I think that that's what you're going to hear from intelligence agents. Phil Mudd and others I've spoken to are very concerned that the president, that they will be reporting to does not trust them.

[09:30:10] SMERCONISH: Does this represent the Obama administration wanting to make sure that this event is recorded while he's still president lest it never get addressed by a President Trump? I mean, what are you -- read the tea leaves of the White House, if you would.

LABOTT: Well, I think it's a couple of things. First of all, the administration did say yesterday they called it a lessons learned about what -- you know, what happened under this whole election system. They already know what happened because 17 intelligence agencies already had their intelligence and as "The Washington Post" reported yesterday there was this intel assessment. So when you say lessons learned, it's not for an administration that's walking out the door, it's to let the next administration know what happened, perhaps give them incontrovertible proof, but you've also heard many in Congress ask to declassify some of this information.

Democrats want it declassified, leading Republicans on the Hill, many of them who are skeptical of Russia say they're going to lead investigations. So I think it's to carry this forward. And if Donald Trump were to just dismiss it all as president, I think that there could be some problems with not only Democrats but Republicans on the Hill. And lastly, I think it could be to impose some measures as President Obama is walking out the door.

I've heard that officials have already prepared a whole range of options, more sanctions. Perhaps there could be some cyber activities that we won't really know about, but it's certainly to kind of make a case that this happened, make sure that Russia holds itself accountable and then pass it forward to the Congress and the next administration if President Trump were to say, I don't believe in all this, then he'd be open to charges of politicization, so this isn't over, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Elise Labott, thank you so much for being here.

And joining me now is RNC chief strategist and communication director Sean Spicer.

Sean, you heard Elise. To her point, we're not talking about the same intelligence community responsible for weapons of mass destruction 13 years ago. So why was that statement made?

SEAN SPICER, RNC CHIEF STRATEGIST AND COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: If you bear with me a minute, there's a lot to unpack with. Let me just start with before the election, it was the Democrats and the media who questioned if Donald Trump lost would he accept the results of this election, he won overwhelmingly, 306 electoral votes, 2300 counties, nine of 13 battleground states, and it is now the Democrats and the media who are questioning the validity of this results. So it's amazing where we've come.

But let's get back to where we are now. The report that "The Washington Post" put out and Elise said this that all 17 agencies agreed on this, false. Here is what "The Washington Post" said. The report fell short of a formal assessment because minor disagreements among the official agencies had some questions remaining. The CIA then refused to comment.

So let's be honest about what's going on. Then let's look at what "The New York Times" reported. They based that conclusion, meaning the intelligence agency, on part of another finding that the Republicans hacked the Republican National Committee's computer system in addition to their attack. That's false. So the intelligence is wrong. It didn't happen. We offered "The New York Times" conclusive proof that it didn't happen. They refused to look at that. They ignored it because it didn't fit the narrative.

The bottom line is, Michael, the intelligence is wrong because they're writing that the conclusion that they came to was based in part on the RNC was hacked. It wasn't hacked. We have intelligence agencies that we work with that we're willing to help sort this out.

They refuse to look at that because it didn't fit the narrative that "The New York Times" wanted to write. It is reprehensible what they have done. And so I do question so many of these things. One, if that's how the intelligence was based, then it clearly is wrong and we were willing to offer proof to that point. Second, the report was not conclusive among the 17 intelligent agencies. They admit that.

Three, if the CIA is so -- so convinced, why won't they go on the record and say that it was as they did with the DNC? This is -- I mean, I believe that there are people within --


SPICER: -- these agencies that are upset with the outcome of the election and are pushing a personal agenda. But the facts don't add up. And I think that the media immediately sides with these unnamed sources is a problem.

You guys are willing to run with whatever comes out as unnamed sources from unnamed agencies, and yet the CIA itself won't go on the record.

SMERCONISH: So I'm now -- OK. Sean, come on.

SPICER: Go ahead. SMERCONISH: I am sitting here as -- first of all, to your first

point, to your first point, the reason that Donald Trump was questioned so often as to whether he'd accept the result, if I have to remind you of this, is because Donald Trump himself was casting doubt before the election on whether he was going to accept the result of it. That's why all the questions came his way.

I'm not sitting here as a Democrat, I'm not sitting here as a Republican, I'm not even sitting here as an independent.

[09:35:01] I'm sitting here as an American who is so frustrated by the idea that people are suiting up in their usual jerseys on this issue, respectfully including you, and instead of uniting against a common enemy, in this case Putin and Russia, and being pissed at the idea that he put his thumb on the scale in our election, instead you look at the result of the election --

SPICER: Wait, hold on. Stop. Stop.

SMERCONISH: -- and you decide well, we like the result of the election and therefore we don't want to deal with this anymore.

SPICER: Hold on. Wait, wait. Just stop for a second. I'm not suiting up. I'm actually using fact. Facts that "The Washington Post" even put in there. This is what they wrote. They wrote that the 17 agencies couldn't conclude with certainty what happened. They wrote that, not me. They also wrote -- "The New York Times" wrote that the RNC had been hacked. That's false. Why is the disposition that you want to defend them?

SMERCONISH: How do you know it's false?

SPICER: Because I work with those intelligence agencies. We were -- hold on. Michael --


SPICER: Michael, hold on.


SPICER: We were willing to offer "The New York Times" inside access to know what happened. We were willing to offer them proof. They chose not to engage in that conversation, not us. I sat there with senior folks from "The New York Times" last night and said, I will bring you inside, we will give you access to certain things so that you can see that we are telling the truth that we are -- that we can prove this. They chose not to engage in that conversation because it didn't fit their narrative. So when it comes -- respectfully --


SPICER: We are the folks that are actually trying to show this. So please don't turn around and put it on me. This is what we are trying to work with these agencies and these reporters to get it right. They are choosing not to look at that. SMERCONISH: You are saying -- just so I'm clear.

SPICER: That's not on me.

SMERCONISH: OK. I really -- all right. I want to understand. I want to understand facts. You are telling me that you know to a certainty that the RNC was not hacked by the Russians or anyone else and so to the extent whether it's "The Post," "The Times," CNN, to the extent that anyone reports including the CIA that the RNC was hacked, Sean Spicer knows that to be a falsehood?

SPICER: I know that we have worked with intelligence agencies right now that are saying that we have not been hacked, our own systems show that we have not been hacked. I'm not a forensic, you know, computer person, so I can't say it with -- but I know that the intelligence agencies that we are working with tell us with certainty that we haven't been hacked. We've said it before and we tried to work with these media outlets to explain that to them and to show them. They've chosen not to engage in that conversation.

That's not my fault, Michael. So -- and again, look at what the reports. If they're so certain it happened, why won't they go on the record and say it? I don't understand it. It doesn't make any sense. Go out there and say this is what happened.

SMERCONISH: Well -- OK. There's an obvious answer to that which is -- there's an obvious answer to that, I imagine, which is to say that they don't want the Russians to know of the way in which they've been able to assemble this case. Let me move to a slightly different aspect of this.

SPICER: But they did with the DNC -- hold on.


SPICER: No, that's not true. No, no. But -- no, please don't make excuses for them. They did when they --

SMERCONISH: I'm not making excuses for anybody.

SPICER: And hold on, Michael, they came out and said with respect to the DNC and the DNC confirmed it, OK? So I don't understand why -- look, there is questions on that side. We've been willing to talk to people to show that it wasn't true and people are willing to ignore it. So on the flip side, there was a difference. When it came to what happened on the DNC -- and I'm not -- I'm just trying to get the facts out there. And somehow it's well, you must be lying. You must not be accepting the facts. No, I'm actually trying to get the truth out there.

SMERCONISH: Didn't say that to you. OK. Sean, different aspect of this --

SPICER: The implication is clear. No, Michael, the implication --

SMERCONISH: I am -- SPICER: Hold on Michael, with all due respect, you -- you said that

why won't we accept the facts and we're suiting up and taking our positions. No, I'm actually trying to get the facts out. I'm trying to make reporters understand what's really happening and -- and actually bring them into the process.

SMERCONISH: No, I'm making a different point. I'm actually making a different point. I'm casting doubt on whether Sean Spicer could definitively know the answer to the question of the extent of the Russian hack and my frustration is at the idea that until this thing is fully developed already President-elect Trump is saying move on, folks. There's nothing to see here. But I need to ask you an additional question.

SPICER: No, but --

SMERCONISH: Speak to the point that I'm -- wait. Wait. I want you address this.

SPICER: That's not true. Michael --

SMERCONISH: I'm also concerned -- come on. I'm being fair to you, but I got to get a word in every once in a while. I'm also troubled by the idea that my president-elect, he's going to be all of our president, is already throwing under the bus the intelligence community with whom he's going to have to work on life and death matters. Wasn't that a troubling thing to do at 9:34 last night in that very --

SPICER: No. No. Michael, "The New York Times" in their story said that they based their conclusions on the fact that the RNC was hacked. OK? If the RNC was not hacked, then that casts doubt on their conclusions. I don't understand why this is that difficult to understand. If you're basing something on --

SMERCONISH: OK. Regardless of whether -- regardless of whether the RNC was hacked and that would be a big and new development, I think we know to a certainty, given Podesta and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that the DNC was hacked.

[09:40:09] Why aren't we, as Americans, upset about the fact that a foreign hostile actor apparently put its thumb on the scale in our election and why doesn't Donald Trump want to get to the bottom of that as he takes office? That's the issue.

SPICER: Well, first of all -- OK. There's a couple things. One, is I am outraged. I don't think any foreign entity, any individual, any --

SMERCONISH: Well, why don't you say that? And why didn't Trump say that?

SPICER: I'm saying it, Michael.

SMERCONISH: That's what I haven't heard. SPICER: I've said it -- stop and let me -- OK. I just said it. Let

me actually take yes for an answer. I said it. OK. I don't think Donald Trump doesn't think -- no one thinks that a foreign entity should be interfering with the U.S. elections. Bottom line, full stop, I said it.

Now let's get to the next thing. What proof does anyone have that they affected the outcome? Because I've heard zero. OK. So show me what facts have actually shown that anything undermined that election. Donald Trump won with 306 electoral votes, 2300 counties, 62 million Americans voted for him, so what proof do you have or does anyone have that any of this affected the outcome of the election?

SMERCONISH: I'm just an American who is trying to discern all that I'm reporting on and reading.

SPICER: No. Then answer the question, Michael.


SPICER: You're asking me, show me what --

SMERCONISH: I want the fact the --

SPICER: You need one fact that an outcome was changed.

SMERCONISH: OK. Ask Debbie -- I can't say that it impacted the ultimate outcome, but that it took place, go ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

SPICER: Thank you. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: To be continued. I do appreciate your being here. I really do. By the way, love to talk to your boss on this. He's a watcher. He tweets about my show.

Mr. President-elect, I'll treat you with dignity and respect. Come here and let me ask you these questions.

Thank you, Sean. I do appreciate you.

SPICER: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: I've lost my place, guys. I don't know where the hell we are. Where are we? OK. Still to come, a popular cracker -- yes, cracker hack and nut vendor at the Phillies baseball games fired her -- look, I'm going to talk about this story next. I just think that that issue of a foreign hack of an American election is a serious -- is as serious as it gets. And I want to know all the facts and frankly I don't care where the chips falls. I don't care if they hurt Democrats, if they hurt Republicans. That's not my game. I'm not here. This is not FOX and this is not MSNBC. I'm here to try and figure out where the truth lies. Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:46:35] SMERCONISH: So we have so many tweets coming in we can't wait until the end of the show. We've got to deal with some of them now. Let's see this, Millard, "He doesn't trust info from Obama's CIA but will believe his own CIA people when put in place."

Millard, it's unsettling that he would come in already casting doubt on the intelligence community with which he's going to have to work.

Give me another one. That's what I was trying to say. "Smerconish, stop your Smer campaign against the real Donald Trump and get back to the real world at CNNi."

I'm not here to smear Donald Trump. I'm the guy who came on after the election and I said, I voted for president, not for him and not for her, but I'm willing to accept him as my president. And if you remember what I said, I said, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. We're going to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.

Well, OK. We started from scratch but I'm not liking what I'm seeing. And I'm surely going to say that as events unfold.

One more very quickly if we have time. "Smerconish, Russian hacking equals WMDs, remember the government and media role in WMDs didn't work out so well?"

Keith Parker, you're right, it didn't work out so well. But these are different folks. It's been 13 years. I want to know all the facts. That's all I'm saying. And by the way, it's Donald Trump who seems predisposed already to knowing the answer. And I don't know how that's possible with one intel briefing a week.

So a popular crackerjack and nut vendor at Philadelphia Philly baseball games fired for her political beliefs. The case of the white nationalist also known as pistachio girl is next.


[09:51:13] SMERCONISH: Free speech is in a confused state right now. The president-elect says that people should be arrested for burning the flag. A First Amendment right affirmed by the Supreme Court, yet he uses his own amendment rights in a way that we haven't seen a president do before. Goes on Twitter to voice displeasure with individuals, like me. And corporations and TV satire.

We find ourselves in a time of political extremes. And I want to talk about a story that illustrates this. A woman who says things that we may find loathsome, I know I do, but should she lose her job?

For seven seasons, stadium vendor Emily Youcis made a name for herself as pistachio girl. She earned the name from the distinctive way that she hawked her product at Philadelphia Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park.




SMERCONISH: Emily Youcis' stardom moved product, but also brought responsibility that wouldn't apply to an anonymous vendor as Youcis learned the hard way. Last month she was captured on this video outside a conference of the National Policy Institute, scuffling with protesters who spray painted her hair, while accusing her of supporting anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and fascism.

She's been fired by her employer, the food vendor, Aramark, because of her political speech off the job. Youcis, who is 26, says that she was told her social media doesn't align with Aramark's values.

I think her firing raises an interesting question. While I doubt that she has a legal leg to stand on, the outcome, nevertheless, risks setting a dangerous precedent. When I first heard of her case, I pulled my Sirius XM Radio audience. More than 3,000 immediately voted. And 61 percent of them said that she shouldn't be fired for expressing her beliefs off the job. Then I interviewed Youcis on radio and a lot of listeners contacted me and said, hey, now that I've heard her, I want to change my vote.

She called herself a die-hard Trump supporter and white nationalist, and when I then asked her to define white nationalism, she said this.


YOUCIS: Well, basically, we just want to keep whites from become minorities in their own homeland. I mean, if you see what's going on in Europe, native Germans are going to become the minority in about four years and in Britain, I think native British are already a minority. And this is the forced immigration, forced integration, forced assimilation, which is basically what you can call genocide. And in the United States, we are -- whites are going to become a minority in just a few years.


SMERCONISH: Those might sound like long-festering, deeply held convictions, but she told me she's only been thinking this way for several months, but in that short time, clips of her views were posted on social media and she became notorious.

Youcis argues that she's never said anything political at Phillies games. That away from games, that's where she says what she wants and it's her personal choice.


YOUCIS: This is my personal life. And I think people should have the right to freedom of speech. I mean, you don't see any Black Lives Matter people getting fired over these things. And Black Lives Matter routinely shout, bang, bang, shoot, shoot, what's better than 15 dead cops, 16 dead cops? I've never advocated for violence or anything.


SMERCONISH: But Youcis was a public face associated with Aramark, so the company cut her loose. Was this legal? Yes. As CNN legal analyst, Avery Friedman told me, Aramark is a private employer. She doesn't have a First Amendment right to free speech, per se. Also, Pennsylvania has no law about employment biased based on social media activity or political association. And unless she had a specific contract, she can be fired at any time for any reason.

[09:55:07] But even if Aramark had the right to fire Youcis, was that the right call? I think that it was. But it risks setting a dangerous precedent. Many will see Youcis' case as a no brainer that Aramark is in the business of selling nuts, not being defined by one. But what about the next time, in a world where everybody is a keystroke away from embarrassment, do we want to encourage the termination of employees for their speech on their own time? If so, there are many who ought to begin scrubbing their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds right now.

Thank you so much for watching. Interesting show, wasn't it? Hope I see you back here next week.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So great to see you. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. 10:00 here in the East and 7:00 out on the West Coast. CNN NEWSROOM begins right now. We're starting with President-elect Donald Trump. Offering up a pretty stunning rejection of the U.S. intelligence --