Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Michael Hayden; Intel Blames Putin on Hacking; More Murders in Chicago in 2016 Than New York and California Combined; Interview with Delaware Senator Chris Coons; Interview with Vicente Fox. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 7, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:17] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I am Michael Smerconish. Happy New Year from Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

According to a declassified intelligence briefing, the hack of the U.S. election has been sourced to the one and only Vladimir Putin. The report says the Russian president aimed to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump but the evidence remains frustratingly classified. And Trump seems dismissive. Former NSA and CIA head General Michael Hayden is here.

Plus, last year Chicago had more homicides than New York and L.A. combined. Is the surge tied to law enforcement stepping back?

And GOP stonewalling kept Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat vacant for 11 months. With Trump now about to name his nominee, will Democrats respond in kind?

And finally I grew up decidedly middle class, and still think of myself as in touch with my roots. With the election outcome and a test I took and failed have caused me to make an important New Year's resolution. This year I am bursting out of my bubble.

But first, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at boosting Donald Trump and harming Hillary Clinton. That's what U.S. intelligence found and what they told the president on Thursday and the president-elect on Friday. After being briefed, Trump released a statement saying the outcome wasn't altered and his tweet blamed Democrats for their own vulnerability.

Then last night came the release of a declassified public version which left me wanting more. Having a president-elect at odds with his intelligence community forces the public to have to choose sides but we don't have enough to go on.

As one who suspects, Putin did cause the hacking. I was nevertheless disappointed in reading the declassified report due to its lack of specificity. And when I said so last night via Twitter, man, the immediate harsh response was indicative of how in this case our partisanship doesn't stop at our borders.

I tweeted last night, quote, "Where's the beef? Somebody please direct me to the evidence. I want to see more.: And my observation caused something of a tweet storm. It's classified. Oh yes, dang, I used to like you, but you jumped on the crazy train or, I have been done with this Nazi in sheep's clothing months ago. Smerconish has been a Trumper since day one. And I won't be watching this weekend.

Really? Have we reached a point where a demand for answers earns such disdain?

Here is how I followed up. I want an e-mail, I want a text, an affidavit, an intercept, something. I am a trial lawyer. And I deal in evidence, not generalities. People accuse me of doubting the findings. I don't. But given the stakes, I want proof, not just assessment.

Joining me now, the man with the expertise, the former director of the CIA and NSA, whose memoir is titled "Playing to the Edge," General Michael Hayden joins me now.

General, how can we the public be sure?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA AND NSA: Well, Michael, you raise great questions, and frankly, welcome to my world or welcome to my old world in which an awful lot of the things we know can't be shared because we need to keep going back to this well in the future, Michael, to learn things to keep America safe.

Now look, I read the same document last night. I had the same sense of disappointment. I probably had a little more understanding as to why it was a brick short of a load as you described it, but Michael, again, let's go back to the language that we did read. High confidence, and definition of high confidence is multiple sources consistent with other information and good sources.

And so when you've got the community coming together and giving high confidence judgments to these things, I think I certainly have confidence that that's a true story that was put out there, even though I haven't been able to see the fine print.

And one other point, Michael, very quickly, is that the Trump campaign, the Trump transition team has not complained about the facts of the case, even though they said some other things that want to seem to push the conclusions a bit off to the side.

SMERCONISH: In any other circumstance, maybe that it's a brick short of the load wouldn't be such a problem, but because we have a president-elect now at odds with the intelligence community, and General, let me put on the screen the statement that he released in the aftermath of having been briefed last night. He said, "While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the DNC, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines. There were attempts to hack the RNC but the RNC had strong hacking defenses." [09:05:19] In other words, it sounds like he is saying well, there was

no impact on the outcome, so move along. And also casting aspersions on the DNC saying you were lax, it's on you.

HAYDEN: Yes. Well, look, we are responsible for our own cyber defense, so that's certainly a true statement, incomplete, but, Michael, let's deconstruct the entire statement. First of all, that it had no influence on the election. We don't know that. In fact, that's unknowable. And so we're done talking about it, certainly with me as an intelligence officer. That's just not anything we can discover, certainly not discover through intelligence information. But most important to me, Michael, was the front end of that comment which turned this issue into a larger, global, we got a cyber problem issue.

Now I freely concede, Michael, we've got a cyber problem, but that was not the issue yesterday. The point of that briefing yesterday, Michael, was we got a Russia problem. And the Trump transition team tried to get off the X from that question by simply pushing it over here and saying we got to do better cyber security. They're walking away from the core issue, Michael, which is the behavior of the Russian federation.

SMERCONISH: General, I read and you know from prior conversations, enjoyed your memoir, I want to quote from it.


SMERCONISH: In your book, you said, "The people at the NSA including me come from the same political culture that motivates all Americans, a reality often ignored by ideological purists in the periodic debates we have had over security and liberty and my liberal arts education had reinforced the idea that freedom was indeed a fragile thing."

The context there is that you gave a speech two days after September 11 to the entirety of the NSA. And I think what you were saying is our objectivity, we intel professionals, our objectivity is being challenged.

Is Donald Trump now challenging the objectivity of the entire intelligence community?

HAYDEN: He is rejecting judgments that -- from the art and craft of intelligence, Michael, we believe to be objective judgments. Now look, I'll be the first one to admit, they often sometimes occasionally aren't correct judgments. I get that. This is very hard work. But the criticism of the intelligence community's judgments on this issue have been that the community is incompetent and politicized and prejudiced and that's simply not right.

Michael, I think the dynamic we have here is that we have a president- elect who's been able throughout the campaign to by and large get away with creating reality in a shape that was useful to him at the moment, and now we have an intelligence community that doesn't do that, that creates a reality based upon their best understanding of the facts at that moment. And those two mindsets now are clashing right in front of us as we run up to the inauguration.

SMERCONISH: And then you factor in, General, his failure to take a PDB on a daily basis. I think he said words to the effect of he didn't want to hear the same thing, the same words every single day for the next eight years. A mistake?

HAYDEN: Yes, I think it makes the intelligence community's job harder. I like direct, I like often, I like exchange with the first client, but Michael, that's just on the intel community. We have to adjust to the tastes and to the character and the way the new president learns, and so we're just going to have to go back to the drawing boards and figure out a way, how do we get into the head of the new president, the new legitimate president of the United States. And I have suggested in some other writings that the gateway might be through the vice president who does get the briefing six days a week and whom the president does seem to trust a great deal. So maybe you put a lot of energy into how you brief him and let him be your messenger into those small meetings in the Oval.

SMERCONISH: There was a lot of concentration in that report that we each read last night about propaganda efforts by RT. In fact I'll put a quote up on the screen from the report of what I'm now referencing. And I don't doubt any of that. But I thought that's not what we were expecting, that's not what we were looking for. RT's coverage of Secretary Clinton was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism.

The report was heavy on that sort of thing, but as you say, I'm going to use your quote, a brick shy of the load on the substance. Would General Hayden now say to your friends in the intelligence community, come on, men, come on, women, we've got to show something,

[09:10:03] We've got to lift the skirt a little bit to give the American public something so that they know Trump is just not being full?

HAYDEN: You know, Jim Clapper, the outgoing director of National Intelligence, expressed pretty much the thought you just expressed, Michael, that we're going to lean as far forward as possible to make this case. And I agree with you, when I read the document, I wish we could have gone even further. Now look, I wasn't there. I don't know the specific tradeoffs. But my instincts are the same as yours and the same as Jim.

Boy, it would be better, the more we got out there. And frankly, Michael, putting that appendix in there in terms of what RT was doing really isn't the core of the story when it comes to effecting American opinion.


HAYDEN: But Michael, it's really important, if you're in the Baltics, if you're in the Ukraine, RT does create an information bubble that really distorts reality for the people living there, and that is somewhat of a strategic threat there. SMERCONISH: Final quick subject for General Michael Hayden, thank you

for being gracious with your time. What frustrates me the most about this is the way that so many Americans are suiting up in their usual jersey. My god, what happened to the day that partisanship used to stop at the water's edge?

HAYDEN: Michael, we should be the one institution of government, the intelligence community, that is above the partisan divide. And what we've seen since the election has been putting the intelligence community right smack in the middle of the middle lane of a hyperpartisan atmosphere here in Washington.

Michael, intelligence can't survive in that lane. It will die.

SMERCONISH: General Hayden, thank you, sir.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Joining me now, former House Intelligence chair and CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers.

Mr. Chairman, respond to what you just heard from General Hayden. He shared my assessment, and he's got the expertise, and you've got the credentials, but that report that was issued last night to the American people was a brick shy of a load.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. Clearly there wasn't enough information to draw any of our conclusions on the outside. But what the general pointed out and those of us who are interested in trying to find out the level of confidence in an assessment by the intelligence community, you have to walk away from that thinking well, the CIA had a high degree of confidence, the FBI had a high degree of confidence, the NSA had a moderate degree of confidence, which tells me there's a lot of information that those analyst groups and they're all separate came to that conclusion that they think that they're in a position to say that Vladimir Putin ordered it, they have an interest in at least impacting the election, I don't believe that they were for one candidate or another. I think they just wanted to cause confusion, lack of confidence, and by the way, with all of the debate over the last week, they've been successful in that.

SMERCONISH: Right. In ordinary times, that would be enough. But we've got a president-elect who frankly has been casting his lot with Julian Assange. I want to show you a clip of what Assange said earlier this week to Sean Hannity, and then ask Chairman Rogers to respond.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Can you tell the American people a thousand percent you did not get it from Russia or anybody associated with Russia?

JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS FOUNDER: We can say -- we have said repeatedly over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not state party.


SMERCONISH: Mr. Chairman, you said earlier this week somebody needs to march into Donald Trump's office and tell him who Julian Assange is. OK. Let's assume you walk into his office. What's at the top of your list?

ROGERS: Well, first of all, you have someone who is a fugitive from the law. He's wanted on sexual assault charges. That's why he's hiding in the basement of an embassy for several years now, number one. Number two, he has caused the leak of information harmful to the United States national security along the way. I almost, you know, not seeing the inside information, you could buy the fact that Julian Assange didn't know that it came from a Russian, you know, was caused to get to him through a cutout of the Russian government. You could -- that's plausible.

But the problem is he has other information that he is eager to leak that would hurt the United States, and United States' interests. So giving any credibility at all is harmful, it's not smart, and I argue at the end of the day it's going to be dangerous because other nation states will use that as an outlet to hurt the United States. You should never give, A, a criminal this much credibility by engaging with a U.S. president, let alone the information that he will continue to leak in the days, months and years ahead.

SMERCONISH: You have served at the highest levels of government.

[09:15:02] Reflect on how you think this puts pressure on General Mattis, or General Kelly at Homeland Security. In other words, these extremely well credentialed, by all accounts, individuals that Donald Trump, the president-elect, has tapped to surround him. How must they be feeling about the events we're now describing and discussing and that I just discussed with General Hayden?

ROGERS: Yes. I mean, those folks in the intelligence business or business of national security are obviously hoping for a bit of a change on January 20th. There comes a point where the campaign must end for both parties, by the way. For both parties. And I think this whole public flogging of the intelligence community over the last few weeks and the pushing of the intelligence community by the current president of the United States has been a disservice to the very difficult job that our intelligence community has.

But it also -- this is the other part of this is that it sends a message. Imagine if you're in Tehran or Moscow or somewhere North Korea and you're thinking you know what, my regime -- my government is up to no good and I want to help the United States, I want to give them information that keeps the world safe, if you have to make that determination that you're going to risk your life, commit an act of treason to your country to help the United States of America, if you have this big public fight about the confidence and credibility of our intelligence services, not only do you hurt our folks' morale, you're also sending a message to those people, if you don't trust them, maybe I don't trust them either. That's dangerous for the long-term health of intelligence collection

so that the next president can get the information that he needs to make a good decision to keep the United States safe, so we need to take this out of the political debate as soon as we possibly can and get back to regular order.

Remember, he is going to own the combination to every lock, he's going to have a key to every Cabinet on January 21st. That intelligence community is -- he'll set all the priorities, his administration will set the collection priorities and where we go and how we do it, he'll have the ability to do that. You don't want to damage the one institution that we have that is nonpartisan, that doesn't look at the world in a partisan way, that can collect that information to do and accomplish the kind of things that you want.

I think Mattis and Kelly are going to be just fine, they're great leaders, they're very strong national security credentialed individuals and very confident. Mattis, as a matter fact, I look forward to that first conversation in there. I think it would be a hoot to be in that National Security Council when Mattis lays out an agenda that will be well -- it will be well researched and it will be -- well, it would be a lot of fun to be in that room to hear that conversation.

SMERCONISH: Mr. Chairman, thank you. By the way, Mike Morell channels a lot of your thinking in a great op-ed in the "Times" today which everybody should read.

Thank you. Sir.

ROGERS: Great. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: So what are you thinking about all of this? Here are some of the tweets already flowing in @smerconish. Get out, Smerconish, off the air, claims to be a trial liar, BS, he is a Russian agent like real oh my god. Really? Is this what we're in for for 2017? I asked to see the evidence. The former head of the NSA and CIA shared my assessment, but I am now the Russian agent.

Coming up, President Obama's another one -- OK, well put, I usually pay no attention to your bias.


SMERCONISH: President Obama's hometown was the number one U.S. city last year in a category no place wants to win, deadliest. Is it because the Chicago PD is stepping back? Perhaps you saw my next guest on "60 Minutes," Brian Warner, a former Chicago cop is about to join me.


BRIAN WARNER, FORMER CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER: You have a 911 call, you go to your 191 call. But if you want aggressive patrol, when you're out looking for people breaking the law, that's not happening as much as it was. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you say they're not being as proactive?

WARNER: No. That's -- they're not, and how could you ask them to be and why would you expect them to be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's their job. They signed on to do that.

WARNER: Right. It's my job to go to work, and listen to your 911 calls and respond to my 911. That's the basic ability of my job. So if you want me to do the basics, that's what I'm doing now.



[09:23:25] SMERCONISH: 2016 was one of the most violent years in Chicago history. 762 homicides, more than New York and L.A. combined. 4,000 shootings, an increase of 1100. As killings and shootings rose, police activity, it fell. And some say that's due to what's been described nationwide as the Ferguson effect. Chicago had its own videotape showing a white officer's controversial shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald. And for over a year, the Justice Department has been investigating the Chicago PD's use of force.

Now consider this. In August of 2015, cops stopped and questioned over 49,000 people. A year later, those stops dropped to less than 9,000, that's down 80 percent. At the same time, arrests were off by a third.

Joining me now, a former Chicago police officer, he had 18 years on the force, was wounded in action, suffered PTSD. Brian Warner now is the chair of the organization known as Chicago Police Survivors.

So, Brian, I was watching on my sofa outside of Philadelphia. My take away was Chicago cops feel under siege and they're taking it down a notch. Is that a fair assessment?

WARNER: It's not. I'll have to clarify what you saw on "60 Minutes." I wasn't given the opportunity to finish my sentence. The police department did -- was reeling, if you look at 2016, what was happening. You just talked about the Laquan McDonald video. And locally our mayor and elected officials were blaming us and telling about a code of silence.

[09:25:06] Nationally you had presidential candidates vilifying the police for political gain. More importantly, you had officers gunned down, protecting the same citizens protesting against them, and then you had law enforcement being ambushed and shot just because of the uniform they wear. So emotionally the trauma coming from all this direction, emotional, physical trauma, coming from so many directions had a dreaded effect on the police officers.

I don't care what profession you're in, if you have so much trauma and that much energy being forced on you, you're going to have to step back, pause, and reevaluate. There was a reflection period and there were some officers who stepped back and realized, reevaluated. But to go to a fetal position like our mayor suggested, that never happened. The true reason why the crime -- not why crime has spiked, one of the major factors crime has spiked is the ACLU report that's been forced on the police department.

That report is a two-page report that used to be a single index card. And it's hindering and affecting the way officers police. It slows them down, and it slows down the ability to stop more people. With all that said, the good men and women of Chicago Police Department, embarrassed that the people are putting the brunt of the blame on them, took over 6,000 guns off the police -- off the streets last year. If you think about the ripple effect, how many lives did that save. How much senseless violence did that prevent, by taking those 6,000 guns off the street. But people don't want to mention that. They only want to talk about the police are laying down, and this is why crime has spiked. That's certainly not why crime has spiked.

SMERCONISH: Well, I'm glad -- OK. I'm glad that you're clearing the air and I hear you. It sounds like part of the key part of your interview got left on the floor over at "60 Minutes."

WARNER: It did.

SMERCONISH: So I want you to finish your sentences.

WARNER: It did.

SMERCONISH: What I was unsettled about --

WARNER: Thank you. Thanks for giving me that opportunity.

SMERCONISH: I was -- well, here's what I was unsettled about. I was unsettled by the McDonald case, and we can run the video again, everybody has seen it, but the perception that it left me with was that the Chicago PD didn't like the fact that a police officer has been charged in connection with the 17-year-old, the shooting death of the 17-year-old. He was shot 16 times and the video seems to show him moving away.

WARNER: I -- I don't --

SMERCONISH: Let me just finish my sentence and then you can have the final word.

WARNER: I'm sorry. I apologize.

SMERCONISH: And I said to myself, well, gees, I would hope that the police officer's response would be hey, we want something like that to play itself out in court because if a guy got shot 16 times who wasn't posing a danger to cops, then maybe that cop was out of line. So that's what left me unsettled. You get the final word.

WARNER: OK. The reason the police department -- front line patrolman is upset about this is because it is a political animal. You never heard the police department say don't release the video. It's awful to look at, but it is an lawful situation that the policeman took. And when the facts play out in court, we're going to see that. What happened was it was politicized once again by our mayor. The only two people who did not want the video released were the two people running for elected official -- elected office. The state's attorney, Anita Alvarez and the mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

Those are the two people who sat on that video because they had the most to lose by it. If the police department want to put that video out, explain the facts, and let people know truly what happened that day when those facts not in court, I think a lot of people are going to be -- have insight that they don't have right now and may have a different opinion of how police do their job each and every day.

SMERCONISH: Is there anything else that you came here to CNN today to make sure you get off your chest that you weren't given the opportunity to say on "60 Minutes" on the first of the year?

WARNER: I would just ask that when -- you just made several inflammatory, not inflammatory, but people are looking at situations directly after a police shooting, people are taking to the streets, and protesting. Ten minutes after the shooting in I believe Baltimore or maybe New Orleans, that these people ran to the streets -- Milwaukee, exactly. It was Milwaukee, they go outside, they start (INAUDIBLE) cars, they're throwing rocks at the police, they don't even have the facts. They don't know the officer's black, they didn't know the offender's back, they know no nothing.

They just assume that a police officer shot somebody, so that must mean that they did something wrong. Think of it, police officers are human beings, we're fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, we're people in your community who are just going to work and trying to do the right thing. When you continually vilify the police and keep bashing them, the end result is that you're going to have crime spike because you keep --


SMERCONISH: Listen, I'm fine with everything you just said. Here's my final word. I'm fine with everything you've just said, just so you also agree the bad cops need to get weeded out and those who exceed authority using deadly force --

WARNER: One hundred percent.

SMERCONISH: They need to be prosecuted. That's it. OK?

WARNER: One hundred percent. And I said, if you know how the gentleman is trained, how we're trained in Chicago and you know the state statute when you can use deadly force, when those facts come out in court, then we'll have different situation.

[09:30:00] Thank you for the opportunity.

SMERCONISH: Brian Warner, thank you for --

WARNER: Please pray for our law enforcement.

SMERCONISH: Will do. Thank you for being here.

Up next. My mailing address says Pennsylvania but the election results were a wake up that I reside in a bubble. I have plenty of company with both sides of the aisle. Can we do anything about that?

And we've only had eight Supreme Court justices for a year, thanks to an unprecedented GOP blockade after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Will Senate Democrats do to a Trump nominee what Republicans just did to Merrick Garland?

Judiciary Committee member Chris Coons is here.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY), INCOMING MINORITY LEADER: We are not going to settle on a Supreme Court nominee. If they don't appoint someone who's really good, we're going to oppose them tooth and nail.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Apparently, there's a new starred no standard, to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that's something the American people simply will not tolerate.



[09:35:19] SMERCONISH: After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last February, Senate Republicans declared that he would not be replaced in an election year. That action was unprecedented. They refused to hold hearings, much less vote on President Obama's imminently qualified nominee Merrick Garland.

So, the court remained at eight members for nearly a year. As soon as Donald Trump is inaugurate rated, he will nominate a new justice. Will Democrats respond in kind? Should they?

Joining me now, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who is going to have some say in this matter, Delaware Senator Chris Coons.

Senator, you told me yesterday on Sirius XM Radio that you think Republicans stole a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Are you going to let them get away with it?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Michael, what I think we have to do is continue to uphold the role of the Senate, our constitutional role, and provide advice, but not necessarily consent to a nomination of a Supreme Court justice. The Republicans held this seat open for yearly a year by refusing to not have a hearing and not have a vote.

I think we should have a hearing and I think we should have a vote, because I don't think it is fair and responsible for us to do the same thing to them that they've done to us and continue to grind farther downward any possibility of our respect and support for the Supreme Court. But to be clear: I don't think we should vote to confirm a Supreme

Court nominee who is well outside the mainstream of American legal jurisprudence.

SMERCONISH: What's your gut on the list that was put forth by candidate Trump as to those individuals he would contemplate putting on the Supreme Court. I don't know that you studied the list. But do you have a gut feel for them?

COONS: I know a few of them, I do not know all of them. And so, you're asking me for a gut feel. He was a candidate at the time running to try to win over the most conservative elements of the Republican Party. So, my hunt or my assumption is that he may at that point have been putting forward names that would be among the most conservative he could possibly find among potential candidates.

Let's roll back here to weeks after Justice Scalia passed away. Before President Obama nominated someone to the Supreme Court I was calling on him to nominate a consensus confirmable candidate, and in Judge Merrick Garland, chief judge of D.C. circuit, he certainly did that.

Judge Garland, who is among the most seasoned, most circuit court judges in the entire United States, has been confirmed by the Senate of the United States by overwhelming bipartisan votes in the past. He is not a partisan bomb thrower. He's not a judge who has a record of dividing, rather, he is a judge who has a record of leadership, and of consensus and of uniting the D.C. circuit.

It's my hope President-elect Trump will turn away from bitter partisan warfare over this empty Supreme Court seat, change direction and nominate someone confirmable. But that's not what the list put forward by president-elect Trump as a candidate would suggest.

SMERCONISH: I played sound going out of my last segment of Mitch McConnell. Catherine, do we have that, can I roll that for Chris Coons? If you do, roll it. I want to ask him a question.


MCCONNELL: Apparently, there's a new starred no standard, to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that's something the American people simply will not tolerate.


SMERCONISH: But that's what they did to Garland, right? I mean, that's exactly what the GOP did to Judge Garland.

COONS: It is not only exactly what they just did to Garland, what they did was even worse. They refused to even hold a hearing, let alone give him a vote in committee or a vote on the floor. And I think in the 100 year history of the Senate judiciary committee on which I serve, this has never previously happened where a nominee for the Supreme Court, I think there were two exceptions where the nominees themselves withdrew, but I think it has never happened that the American people were denied an opportunity to get a sense of what that nominee would be like by having thorough hearings.

And I just want to bring us ahead to next week if I could, briefly, Michael, we're going to have confirmation hearings on the Judiciary Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee and five other committees next week as the Trump administration, President-elect Trump's folks, his allies in Congress, try to rush through their nominees for attorney general and secretary of state and EPA secretary and a dozen other major positions, all in one week. That will largely prevent us from doing our jobs as senators of having thorough and detailed hearings.

SMERCONISH: Yes, that's not right.

COONS: So the American people can absorb in a timely way.

[09:40:02] SMERCONISH: That is not right. Senator Coons, thank you as always. I appreciate you being here.

COONS: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: This week, the president-elect modified his controversial plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, instead of making Mexico pay up front, he says America can pay and then be reimbursed by Mexico. The former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, responded on Twitter in no uncertain terms. "Trump, when will you understand that I am not paying for that f-ing wall? Be clear with U.S. taxpayers, they will pay for it."

President Fox joins me now from Guadalajara, Mexico.

Mr. President, I am looking at a huge headline in today's "New York Times", Trump's insistment that Mexico will pay for the wall. Has something changed? Is Mexico now paying for the wall or not paying for the wall?

VICENTE FOX, FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT (via telephone): (INAUDIBLE) rejected by every single Mexican negotiator all in the states, by Mexican government, by anybody, there's no way Mexico will pay for that wall.

On the other side, (INAUDIBLE) making them think that really Mexico will pay for it. And he's in Congress, because he wants to pull out money out of Congress, out of the national federal budget, to build the wall, he promise he will get that money from Mexico. There's no way Mexico will pay for that wall.

SMERCONISH: Have there been any conversations you're aware of President-elect Trump's incoming transition team with anyone with the Mexican government about how perhaps this could take place?

FOX: I am sure things are going on with the appointment (INAUDIBLE) foreign relations minister in Mexico, he was responsible for bringing Trump to Mexico while campaigning. So, he's been appointed because he's got some friends within Trump's team. I get President Pena's move is to present this guy that would be, let's say, like the good, the bad and the evil. He is going to be the good guy, he's going to try to construct a possible good relationship with United States, going to try to make a good deal out of NAFTA negotiations.

On the other side, Mexico must get out of its reserves the bad guy, (INAUDIBLE). It is incredible, but he (INAUDIBLE) corporations like Toyota, like Nissan, like Ford, like GM, that he go to tax upon them if they don't build the factories within the United States.

And he absolutely lost upon history in -- he who doesn't learn about history is sentenced to repeat the same mistakes. General Motors, Ford went broke just seven years ago. And U.S. taxpayers had to rescue these three corporations from their bankruptcy with tax money. It is incredible.

And now, they're going to repeat the same story. He's putting in big, big disadvantage to GM, to Chrysler, to Ford to compete with cars manufactured abroad. Not only in Mexico. I don't know why he hates, tricky (ph) Trump, why he hates Mexico so much.

He (INAUDIBLE) personal hate directly to take the great (INAUDIBLE) relationship that we have between Mexico and United States and Canada. There's no way that global corporations, U.S. corporations will survive by enclosing, enforcing them to manufacture within the United States. That's not the way to take charge. He is absolutely mistaken on that.

SMERCONISH: When you say I am not paying for that f-ing wall, you are speaking in universal language.

President Vicente Fox, thank you, sir.

Still ahead, question for you: have you ever walked on a factory floor, have you or your spouse bought a pickup truck? If you haven't answered yes, you may be living in a bubble. I never thought I was, but I have my own personal New Year's resolution, and it is to burst out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if there was a place where the unthinkable didn't happen and life could continue for progressive Americans just as before?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the Bubble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who knows what the hell is happening outside in their America?

[09:45:02] The bubble will be a fully functioning city state. That's my life --



SMERCONISH: I once failed a quiz consisting of every day questions. My score was only 42. Whereas Americans who spend their lives among the working class, they average a 77.

And the quiz was in Charles Murray's prescient 2012 book "Coming Apart." The questions included, have you ever walked on a factory floor? Who is Jimmie Johnson? Not the coach. Have you or your spouse ever bought a pickup truck? And since leaving school, have you ever worn a uniform?

Murray's book and quiz proved his point as to how isolated America's upper class has become and explained what that detachment means to the working class where interaction between the two is so limited. My poor results should have prepared me for the disconnect I felt watching Donald Trump's ascension to the presidency, compelling evidence of my being out of touch with 46 percent of the nation.

[09:50:04] And then, the Christmas break brought even further evidence that I've been leaving in a bubble. Mine is a virtual gated community, defined by things like my zip code, or where my kids go to school, my graduate law degree, my political registration as an unaffiliated, my health consciousness, even the color of our Christmas lights, we favor white LEDs, and the TV shows that I watch. I'm more into "The Crown" than "Duck Dynasty".

And while I pride myself on being well-read across the political spectrum, I admit, I am quick to discount many sources due to the story's point of origin. My bubble is at odds with my roots.

My grandparents were Pennsylvania coal crackers with eastern European lineage. Both of my grandfathers had black lung from working the mines. My parents raised me on a great middle class street. I grew up on a house and a quarter acre lot, three bedrooms inside there. We didn't have a shower until I was in the eighth grade. As a matter of fact, that bathroom renovation was performed by a prison inmate on work release.

I went to public school, K through 12. My first job when I turned 16 was a maintenance man at the local McDonald's. But as the years have passed, like others, I've intentionally self-sorted. Nothing deliberate but it's happened. I was reminded of my disconnect when I had a holiday meal, a breakfast, with an octogenarian and a '50s themed diner in Collier County, Florida.

Collier had the state's highest percentage of registered voters casting ballots. Their turnout was 87 percent and Trump won it by about 45,000 votes en route to a critical Florida victory.

The breakfast diner was a tune bubble. FOX News was playing on the big TV. My companion was speaking and informing me that Trump is the only shot we have of turning this around. Never quite defining what this is.

He also said he's delighted that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is retiring after, quote, "all that spending." My retired breakfast companion enjoyed his biscuits and gravy, while saying that America is no longer his watch.

But actually it is, and time will tell whether it's for better or worse. And in the meantime, I've made a New Year's resolution to be better grounded, meaning, to have a greater awareness of those not living in my bubble and to build better rapport. I have resolved to keep an open ear and be a better listener.

Still, I won't be cowed. My analysis will continue to be evidentiary based. But you can look for me at Cracker Barrel, shopping at Walmart, driving my F150 more and my sedan less, maybe even lingering in the parking lot at Eagles home games instead of sidestepping all those tailgaters.

In 2017, I am out to burst my bubble.

Still to come, your best and worst tweets from both in and out of the bubble right after the break.


[09:57:08] SMERCONISH: Hey, time only for one tweet @Smerconish. Put it up on the screen, let's check it out. "You are doing Trump's bidding by criticizing the evidence provided by our intelligence community, disgraceful." Hey, Slide999, the former head of the CIA and NSA was a guest on this program and his words were that report was a brick shy of a load.

So, take up your beef with General Michael Hayden.

See you next week.