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Trump Bans Refugees For 120 Days; Opposing Views on Trump's Presidency; Accuracy of Campus Rape Statistics; Doomsday Bunkers For The Super Rich; Headline Change For Calling Melania Sexy. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 28, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:28] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CCN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish. Well, week one of Donald Trump's presidency has ended with a ban heard around the world. The Executive Order suspending all refugee admissions for 120 days from mostly Muslim countries and favoring Christians already testing the limits of executive power, even though he claims it's not a Muslim ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's not a Muslim ban but we were totally prepared. It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It's working out very nicely and we're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Already two Iraqis with valid visas detained at New York's JFK airport have filed a lawsuit and three others have been detained at Chicago's O'Hare, this on a day that the President dove into foreign affairs, engaging in calls with the leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Australia and Russia's Vladimir Putin. And with the doomsday clock at two minutes to midnight, some of the super rich are preparing for the worst, building luxury bunkers. How do you like to live in a former missile silo? We're going to get to all of that with great guests, and send me your tweets right now @smerconish.
But first, I've got a number of concerns about President Trump's fulfilling of a campaign promise by instituting a Muslim ban. And let's not play a semantic game, that's what it is, given that he has singled out refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries that have been hotbeds of terror activity. I hope he does defeat ISIS but I worry not only about the discriminatory implications of a religious test but also that likely Iraq invasion.
The action may make some feel more safe while actually making us less so. I can only imagine the positive way in which this announcement will be this agreement will be greeted by al-Qaeda and ISIS which both seek to portray its war with the west as one based on faith. Where President Trump ordered that Christians will be given priority over Muslims, he seems to have taken that bait. It may sound appealing but the President says that he's acting to keep out radical Islamic terrorists but that's not necessarily the case.
Here are few things that have crossed my mind. None of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 came from any of the affected nations. They came largely from Saudi Arabia and from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. Also missing from the list, Pakistan, birthplace of Tashfeen Malik, the wife of the San Bernardino attack killer where 14 were killed in December of 2015. She entered the United States on a fiancee visa. The Cato Institute has concluded that the chance of being murdered in a terror attack committed by a refugee, one in 3.6, 4 billion a year. You have a greater likelihood of being struck by a lightning than by terror carried out by a refugee. And you are 3000 times more likely to be killed by a fellow American with a gun than a Jihadi terrorist.
And what about those Iraqis or Afghans who have worked with the United States since 9/11 in the war against terror? How can we leave them behind? I'm mindful also mindful that Syrian refugees face a Hobson's choice of either siding with Bashar al-Assad or ISIS. Instead, many fled. The move seems at odds with that part of our American DNA which gives safe haven to those who escaping political persecution.
And there is something else that is bothersome to me. The United States did nothing to warrant the 9/11 attack, which claimed 3000 innocent lives of our citizens. But our toppling of Saddam Hussein in search of WMD did tip an important domino that contributed to the destabilization of the region, wreaking havoc from which some of these refugees are now fleeing.
Plus, as my colleague Peter Bergen documented in his book "The United States of Jihad", there have been roughly 375 cases of terror prosecuted in America since 9/11. Four out of five of them have been American citizens or legal residents. There's been no
lethal terrorism committed by refugees here. Bergen calls it a red herring. We've accepted 15,000 or so Syrian refugees, all subject to rigorous screening and none involved in terror on our shore.
[18:05:00] Our bigger problems here is domestic terror committed by Americans who are outwardly leading normal lives, not poor, not young men without family responsibilities but Americans inspired by Jihad who have kid and are reasonably well-educated. Think of Omar Mateen, the perpetrator in the Orland night club attack who killed 49 last summer, born in New Hyde Park, New York. Or the Major Nidal Hasan who killed 13 at Fort Hood in 2009. His birth place, Arlington County, Virginia.
We might be working, we haven't been working smark. So, will this ban make us more or less safe? Joining me now, author of this Op-Ed on the New York Times, Donald Trump's Un American Refugee Policy, David Miliband, who is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee overseeing humanitarian relief in war torn countries and refugee settlements in 26 U.S. cities and Former British Foreign Secretary. Mr. Secretary, among immigrant groups, where do refugees stand on the vetting scale?
DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Thanks, Michael. The refugees are among the group that have the hardest job of getting to the United States. The average is 12 to 18 months of vetting by 12 to 15 different government agencies, including the CIA. There is proper biometric testing so that people have to show that they are who they say they are. And all of the power resides with the United States. This country can choose which refugees it wants to take. And as you said in your introduction, the number from Syria has been very small indeed, just about 15,000 since the war began compared to allies of the U.S. like Jordan that have 650,000 registered refugees.
So the short answer to your question is it's harder to get to this country as a refugee than by any other route.
SMERCONISH: I think the perception in some minds is that there's a revolving door. How long is the typical process for say a Syrian refugee to make application and be accepted in the United States?
MILIBAND: Well, let me tell you the man I met yesterday who is a baker from her Damascus. He's a -- he cooks the Syrian dish of baklava. He -- I met him yesterday in Silver Spring, Maryland. He fled from Damascus in 2012 when his bakery was bombed. He went to Jordan where he had a cousin, I think. He went there with his wife. He spent four years there until he was finally admitted to the United States a few weeks ago. Now he's living in Silver Spring, Maryland.
This is a process that on average takes 12 to 18 months of detailed paperwork but also interviews. It can take up to 36 months for people to get through the process. This is a vetting process frankly that is second to none and it's one of the reasons that the U.S. has a real success story to tell in refugee resettlement.
In the refugees who join our employment program, we get 80% of them into work within six months. This is a group of people who know how to value freedom and they want to pay back the country that has welcomed them.
SMERCONISH: I know that have religious minorities have been persecuted but have religious minorities been neglected in this process thus far?
MILIBAND: I don't believe so, no. It's absolute right that persecuted religious minorities should be a basis for refugee admission. I met an Iranian yesterday in Silver Spring who was an Iranian Christian. Among Iraqis, about 15 percent of the refugees who've come to the U.S. are Christians. The number for Syrians is much lower but that's significantly because Syrians have not been targeted by President Assad. And also to make an obvious point, Syria is next door to Lebanon. Many Syrian Christians have gone to Lebanon where they've felt safe and where they're frankly been very strongly welcomed.
I'll just make one other point, that while it's right to say that those who are persecuted on religious ground should be able to claim refugee status, I don't think it'd be right to say that those who are persecuted on political grounds, for example Cuban dissidence or Russian dissidence or Chinese dissidence, they shouldn't have a lower claim t refugee status than those who are persecuted on religious grounds.
SMERCONISH: And finally, Mr. Secretary, I want to be fair to the president. Let put on the screen a portion of the Executive Order that he signed which pertains to some of the comments I made at the outset.
It reads as follows. Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism related crimes since September 11, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor student or employment visas or who entered through the United States' refugee resettlement program deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster and civil unrest increased the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The U.S. must be vigilant during the visa issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terror.
React to the statement -- the executive order that he signed.
[18:09:55] MILIBAND: Well, look, I've sat in a seating government where one has to take responsibility for national security. In the British system, the foreign secretary, the foreign minister is we're responsible for MI6. We're responsible for our international security operations. And so I think that the last sentence of the President's statement where he says that America must be vigilant about its vetting system is right.
The point I would make is the United States does have a refugee vetting system that is extremely well founded. And I think that on a day when 100 Google employees are being prevented from coming back to the United States, when an Iranian-nominated Oscar winner is unable to get into the United States, when people who have served the United States military as Iraqi translators are unable to get through into this country even though they've been through the vetting system, what we see is not an absence of vigilance but actually the kind of perverse outcome that you referred to in your first opening statement.
This is a situation where the slogans of the campaign need to be carefully translated and parsed before they are turned into government policy. And it seems to me that what the administration could do now is turn to experienced professionals, like the Defense Secretary, General Mattis, presumably like the foreign minister, the Secretary of State, Mr. Tillerson who is due to be -- to come through this week. Those are serious experienced professionals underneath including in the Homeland Security Department under General Kelly, there are -- there's real expertise there.
The administration should turn to those experts and say, look, let's build on American success, let's not turn it upside down and cause danger for ourselves.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for your time and expertise.
MILIBAND: Thank you for having me on.
SMERCONISH: Today Donald Trump -- President Trump went full throttle into foreign affairs. Back-to-back calls with leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Australia and Russia's Vladimir Putin. This day after, he met with the British Prime Minister and spoke on the phone for an hour with the President of Mexico.
Joining me now, John Negroponte, Former U.S. Ambassador to both Iraq and Mexico and Former Director of National Intelligence under President George W. Bush.
Mr. Ambassador, I express concern at the outset about Iraqis who may have been supportive of our war on terror who now get caught in the crosshairs of this refugee ban. Your response, sir.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ AND MEXICO: Well, I share your concern and of course people, interpreters and others who work for our forces and for our embassy, as a matter of fact, when I was there, we had a program to give them special immigrant visas upon honorable completion of their duty. And I think it's a great pity if any such person gets caught up in this kind of a buzz saw. And there was one such case today. I'm glad to learn that that person got released from Kennedy Airport. But those kinds of people should be allowed into our country and I think we could pay some kind of price to -- for the security of the forces that we have remaining in Iraq if we don't fulfill our pledge of these people.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Ambassador, I and others have been putting the map up on screen all day long of those affected nations. When John Negroponte looks at the map and sees the countries that are listed, first what reaction to the ones that are on the list and what are you thinking in terms of those that are not on the list?
NEGROPONTE: Well, I would say -- I think you have to credit the President and the White House and the administration for having picked the countries that are probably the most severely affected by ISIL terrorism, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and so forth, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. So I think the selection of countries is not just some kind of a Muslim ban, as you suggested. I think it's where some of the most serious terrorist activity is occurring in the region. But I do think --
SMERCONISH: I don't deny --
NEGROPONTE: Let me just say, I think they pushed these Executive Orders out the door pretty quickly because they wanted to get it done in the first week in office. I think the President wanted to convey this image of acting rapidly as he takes office. But there are a lot of details that are going to have to be sorted out next week and beyond about details of implementation and so forth so that we can identify the kinds of exceptional circumstances wherein people will in fact be allowed in the country, in spite of this ban. SMERCONISH: A final question, let me take advantage of your expertise with regard to our southern neighbor. What does ambassador Negroponte make of this flap with Mexico that has just will continue to play itself out?
NEGROPONTE: Well, I've been very concerned about the impact of this flap on the trading relationship. Mexico is our third largest trading partner. We -- it's our second largest export market. There's $500 billion worth of trade with Mexico, about 10 times as much as we have with the country of Russia. So I think it behooves us to get the relationship on some kind of an even keel as soon as possible.
[18:15:09] I'm glad to see the final outcome of this week's activity was that the President had this one-hour conversation with President Pena Nieto and I think they've agreed to talk about some of these trade issues and see if we can sort them out in a satisfactory way that allows this excellent trading relationship to go forward. After all, we've quadrupled or quintupled the level of trade with Mexico since we -- it entered -- the NAFTA entered in to force in 1994. That's a good thing.
As far as the wall is concerned, I think that's more symbolic and more of an emotional thing. I don't think it has as much direct impact on the economic relations between the two countries.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for being here.
NEGROPONTE: My pleasure.
SMERCONISH: Ambassador John Negroponte.
So, here are a couple of the early tweets that coming in already @smerconish. Put it up there. Wake up Smerconish, refugees become citizens. You refer to the terror attacks being committed by citizens. It all starts with refugees. NewsBALL, the data just doesn't support the assertion that you're making. Is there time for one more? If so, give it to me. Let's -- Smerconish, in seven days the POTUS has divided the country, the world and next comes his party. Hiram Horton, the country was divided. Man, look at the election that just played itself out and it's sad.
Still to come, with the President's first week now in the history books, how is he doing? Well, to that last tweet, the answer, it depends on which bubble you live in. And the media spends a busy time fact checking the new Commander-in-Chief, some of them even using the L word as in lie. And the President's teams responds by calling all media the opposition party. Is this any way to start an administration?
[18:21:02] SMERCONISH: So with week one in the history books, how's he doing? That like everything else in this country depends upon your silo, on your bubble. And I know this from my personal interactions from hours spent this week conversing with my SiriusXM radio listeners and many, many social media exchanges. Here is the divide, to the critics, the 73 million who voted for someone other than Donald Trump, this thing is already a hot mess. They think we've got a President still fighting over the size of his inauguration crowd, that he sends bombastic, petty tweets, that he made an overly political speech standing in sacred space at the CIA, that he has lied about voter fraud, entertains thoughts of reinstituting torture, has already offended the Mexican President, now wants to stick the American people with a bill for that wall and has a senior adviser openly telling the media that they are the opposition party.
Of course none of that seems to matter to the 46 percent who voted for him. They are elated. And here's what they see, a media driven fight over crowd size, immediate action to end Obamacare like he promised, a reinstated abortion ban, the end of TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA life support, a revival of Keystone pipeline they see follow through on the pledge to build the wall and a willingness to send the Feds to end all that carnage in Chicago. There's not much overlap in those two views.
Let's talk about it with the CEO of the conservative leaning news organization, Newsmax, this is Chris Ruddy. Chris, you chat with the President on a frequent basis. It occurs to me that one thing he has been, in fact this is what infuriates the detractors and pleases the supporters. He's been consistent insofar this. He's done what he said he was going to do.
CHRIS RUDDY, NEWSMAX CEO: And Michael, I know it's very shocking to people in the media establishment that a president gets elected and he actually starts implementing his campaign promises. I know that's just flabbergasted a lot of people. But I think it's a sign that he's serious about what he's doing. And if you really look at what he's doing, I know there's a lot of media spin on almost every little thing he does, there's a consistent theme, protect the U.S. economy, protect jobs, grow the U.S. economy. He's cutting government regulations by over 50 percent. He's putting a federal hiring freeze. He wants to limit the number of immigrants coming in while we figure out our own economic situation.
I think this is fun. I think the media has been actually too critical on him and I think it's unfair and I think we need to give him a chance.
SMERCONISH: But you know -- but Chris, the media is today whatever you want the media to be. Gone are the pre-satellite radios, pre- cable T.V., pre-Newsmax days where you had Brokaw and Rather and Jennings and not much choice. You can go anywhere you want.
I want to talk for a moment about Breitbart and Steve Bannon's comment about the opposition party. Put up on the screen and let's remind everybody what the senior adviser said. The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a whole, said Steve Bannon. There's more to this. The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the President of the United States. I think he's thinking of the way he ran Breitbart when it was President Obama's watch or there I say Newsmax during President Obama's watch? The media is not the opposition party.
RUDDY: Well, I don't know. If you're looking at some of the same polling data, just look at some of the few studies, I think it's actually smart politics what Trump and Bannon are doing which is --
SMERCONISH: I don't deny that. Go ahead. Finish you thought.
RUDDY: Yes. Well, I mean I think the public has less respect for the media, the major media. I know they love you, Michael, and Newsmax but I think for the rest of the media, there's a lot of very little respect, a lot of distrust. They think it's very liberal. By the polling data of major journalists, we know that they're very liberal, far of -- far out of line with most of the American people.
[18:25:04] So Trump is saying, hey, I'm -- these guys are attacking me and I think it's a smart political move on his part. So I don't think it has anything to do with Breitbart and I think Donald does not want to make the Democratic Party the whipping boy here. He would like to focus on what his agenda is. He needs democrats to come in. The media is really the bad guy. They were the bad guy in the election. They didn't look for --
SMERCONISH: I think --
RUDDY: -- the news fair.
SMERCONISH: I think he is ripping the reward of seeds that have been sown over literally 25 years of conservative outlets kicking the crap out of the mainstream media and having driven numbers into the ground. I want to ask you about the refugee ban though because I want -- I know Chris Ruddy is a pure conservative. Can you square this ban with your conservative ideals? I mean it occurs to me these Syrians, they either had to stick around with Bashar al-Assad or ISIS. And we're no longer giving them refuges. Does that not trouble you?
RUDDY: Well, we know in the Paris attacks that some of the people involved in those attacks were from the refugees out of Syria. And so there is just a real inability for us. How do we vets these people? There's no databases to search. We don't even know who they really are. They could give certain identity papers. We don't know if they're accurate or not.
So I think Trump is saying that, hey, before we start accepting these people that are coming from a country that's wreaked with Civil War, let's wait a minute. Let's create a better vetting system. Most of the countries in the Executive Order he's doing are temporary ban. And I think it's just a matter of time. He said he was going to do this on the campaign. I don't think he's anti-Muslim. I think he loves the Muslim world. I think he's going to reach out to them and I think he's done business in Muslim countries.
SMERCONISH: Well, let me just -- give me the final word to say that I'm troubled by the idea that in some cave, ISIS is celebrating -- ISIS figuratively is celebrating the idea because now it is a religious war. They may view it as a religious war, that small band or radical Islamists. I'm not afraid to say the words but that's not our approach. Anyway, thanks --
RUDDY: Well, the basic view is the Obama policies failed so I think we need to try something new.
SMERCONISH: I'm not sure about that, Chris. I mean as a father of three sons, I'm thrilled that there aren't boots on the ground -- more boots on the ground over there fighting what frankly are other nation's battles. And I'll say one other thing, you know, the 9/1 attack was not precipitated by any of our conduct. Radical Islam was responsible for that. But we made a blunder going into Iraw and we pushed over an enormous domino and the storm and disintegration of North -- of the Mideast that has followed. I think it's partly our responsibility.
RUDDY: But Michael, in fairness --
SMERCONISH: And now we're like washing our hands of it.
RUDDY: In fairness, Trump agrees with you on the Iraq debacle. So I mean I think he thinks that was a mistake it. There's no disagreement. But I think we've seen an increase in terrorist attacks all over the world.
SMERCONISH: All right, I got to run. Chris Ruddy, thank you.
RUDDY: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Appreciate it. What are you thinking? Tweet me @smerconish. Catherine (ph), do I have time for one? I haven't had many tweets. Here we go. I find you fair to both sides to tell the truth. You do agree that Trump's presidency has been a train wreak so far. Gary Roe, my whole point is it's in the eye of the beholder. I mean, you know, to the detractors, this is a -- I can't say it on cable even. It's a Blanc Show. But to those who voted for him as Chris just pointed out, he's a man of his word, given them everything they wanted. So somewhere in the middle of that lies the truth.
Still to come, a new lawsuit alleges 52 rapes by Baylor University football players. But are these statistics that we keep hearing about a campus rape epidemic, are they accurate?
[18:33:10] SMERCONISH: Yet another story about campus rape broke last night. The Dallas Morning News reported Baylor lawsuit alleges 52 rapes by football players in four years. Show them a good time culture. Now this would fit the narrative about the climate of sexual assault on college campuses. And it goes something like this, 20 percent to 25 percent of female undergraduates will be sexually assaulted before they graduate. This epidemic has been sustained by a rape culture that permeates university administrators, fraternities and other groups of male students.
Colleges have ignored the emergency and have been indifferent to millions of victims. And the situation warrants a limitation on due process rights because males, after all, 90 percent to 98 percent of those who are accused are guilty. And thankfully the federal government has stepped in to address the issue with good result because not all of that is actually true.
My next guest has some statistics. He is the co-author of "The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities". Stuart Taylor Jr. joins me now.
How much of that narrative that I just spelled out is accurate. I don't mean Baylor. I mean the conventional wisdom about campuses.
STUART TAYLOR JR., CO-AUTHOR, "THE CAMPUS RAPE FRENZY": I think all of it is either inaccurate or highly, highly misleading. Even though there is a serious rape problem on campuses, off campuses now, throughout human history, the idea that there's some unique epidemic or crisis of rape -- campus rape now is total nonsense and the best statistics belie it along with the 40 or so cases of false accusations that our book discusses.
SMERCONISH: I know that President Obama -- Former President Obama have to get used to saying that, himself, September of 2014, said one in five female college students will be sexually assaulted. Is that true?
TAYLOR: It's absolutely false. And frankly, I'm surprised that a man as smart as President Obama, Former President Obama, and as careful a politician would say something so wildly inaccurate, something that had already been totally discredited at the time he said it.
[18:35:14] SMERCONISH: What's the real number?
TAYLOR: The real number according to the best Justice Department statistics and he was in charge of the Justice Department when they did these statistics is maybe one in 100 women are raped during their college careers, maybe one in 50, including the rapes, are sexually assaulted, one in 40, one in 50, maybe fewer. So a small fraction of the claim. And those statistics come from the best surveys that have been done. The surveys that get you to one in five or one in four are highly misleading if not fraudulent. And I can point at that.
SMERCONISH: Hey, let's say this together, guys can be pigs. And those who are sexual assaulters, we want them -- I'll speak for myself, we want them prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And our purpose in having this conversation is not to excuse any of the real bad behavior, right, Stuart?
TAYLOR: Yes. And there was some real bad behavior at Baylor. Speaking of Baylor, two of them were criminally convicted and went to prison, two former Baylor football players. So I don't deny that. And convicting real rapists and sending them to prison is a way to protect real victims, not rounding up people who are accused under extremely dubious circumstances of having sex while drunk and then kicking them out of college, pretending they're rapists.
SMERCONISH: So what happened? Because in the big picture, when you think of sexual predators on college campuses, first things that pop into my mind, Duke, UVA, Stanford. Two of the three of those were hoaxes. So how does all this attention yield a result where you argue due process rights of men has been sacrificed. You would think, given that those two cases blew up, there'd be more concern for the due process rights of those accused.
TAYLOR: You would think that. And I think the answer is that the people who are hyping this as a huge epidemic are ideologues, Blanchard ideologues. Facts don't matter to them. You could prove a dozen famous rape charges to be false, fraudulent, and it wouldn't matter to them. The same New York Times for example, that relentlessly hyped the Duke case as a case of clear rape and then were proven dead wrong even after the rest of the media kind of got it, they didn't, they've just gone on and in every case they've written about since then that I can think of they've made the same mistakes. They've assumed the guilt of every accused guy. They've distorted the evidence. They've omitted the exculpatory evidence. Their coverage has been shameful. And I single them out, even though I worked there for eight years when I thought they were pretty straight newspaper. I single them out not because they were unusual but because they're typical.
SMERCONISH: I read the book with great interest. My own conclusion is that maybe these universities, these colleges are not equipped to be judge, jury and executioner and that law enforcement ought to have that responsibility. And again, I want the bad seeds weeded out, prosecuted, locked up, key thrown away.
Stuart, thank you for being here.
TAYLOR: Thank you very much. I appreciate you having me.
SMERCONISH: Still ahead, with widespread fears about the future, the super rich prepare for doomsday, building high tech bunkers, and supply can't keep up with demand. And after publishing a headline calling the first lady sexy, my hometown newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer got so much flack they rewrote it twice and apologized. Really?
[18:42:59] SMERCONISH: If your image of the person who preps for end of times is a lower income, red stater who hoards gold and stores baked beans and water in his basement, think again. A recent report in The New Yorker Magazine by Evan Osnos details how doomsday prepping for the super rich has taken hold among some of the wealthiest in America, from Silicon Valley to New York City. They trade tips via Facebook on everything from gas masks to how to avoid locations impacted by climate change.
And there is the survival condo project, the 15-story luxury apartment complex built in a Kansas former nuclear missile silo, and for $3 million, you could have had a full-floor private apartment. It was designed years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers not as a residence, but after taking into consideration the height above sea level, seismology, and proximity to population centers, I say could have had because they're sold out. Perhaps the good news is that developer Larry Hall is now involved in a different project. And Larry joins me now. Larry, what amenities in that bunker?
LARRY HALL, OWNER, SURVIVAL CONDO PROJECT: Well, it's like a miniature cruise ship, Michael. It has everything from rock-climbing wall and a game arcade for the kids to continue education classrooms, a library, a movie theater, a bar lounge. It's got everything that you need to spread out and maintain some semblancy (ph) of normal when things outside are anything but normal.
SMERCONISH: Do your purchasers come and hang out or are they only coming there in a worst case scenario?
HALL: Well, originally, when they purchased it, they believed that they were only going to come out when there was some catastrophe somewhere. But after they saw the level of finishes and the variety of things to do, they've started coming out regularly. Most of them come out between two or even three times a year and spend a week or two to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and feel in a very safe environment.
[18:45:10] SMERCONISH: If everything hits the fan and I am one of your owners, how am I getting to Kansas?
HALL: Well, you're getting to Kansas probably by driving or flying. Most of our clients have a three-plan type of thing. They also have purchased extended range armored vehicles. These people have vehicles that have a range of up to 2500 miles without having to stop for fuel and they're armored and they're bulletproofed. So, if it takes them two days to drive and they have to stop, they can, you know, get here without having to worry about a fuel supply.
SMERCONISH: If I had 3 million burning a hole in my pocket, and I don't. Among my concerns would be that I'm claustrophobic. Once I'm inside my apartment, I'm looking at walls, right?
HALL: Well, no, you're not. We've actually employed some of the best psychologists that there are, the two consulting with NASA. We've got nine-foot high ceilings in the apartments and they have electronic windows that are fed with a variety of scenes. Some of them are live, high definition scenes that are displayed on television sets that are framed out to look like windows. And you can see what time of day it is, you can see what the weather is doing. It psychologically doesn't make you feel like you're underground. And they're really wonderful.
And also, if you want to live in New York City and you want to view of Central Park, we can get the high definition views and seasonal views, and you can literally live wherever you want to live. You can have whatever views you want to do. But the bottom line is that psychologically, you don't feel like you're underground.
SMERCONISH: Final question. So, OK, I spend the 3 mil, I own one of these condos, everything goes to hell in a hand basket, isn't the whole country going to be beating a path to get to your silo in Kansas? And how are you keeping them at bay?
HALL: Well, the facility was engineered and designed by the Army Corps of Engineers to withstand a direct nuclear blast. So once we close the doors, you could shoot all the bullets you want to the place. We do have armed guards. They are there24/7. And we have automated defenses. But the bottom line is if a nuclear blast can't get in, we're not too worried about the neighbors. And to that extent, there's a lot of people that know there's gold in Fort Knox and you don't see people beating down that door either.
SMERCONISH: What a story. Larry Hall, thank you so much for being here.
Keep the tweets coming, @smerconish. Put one up, Catherine (ph). Let's see what we got.
Smerconish, you live in a bubble. Yeah, Mark, I do live in a bubble. But I am spending as much time as I can in 2017 getting out of my bubble and fulfilling my responsibility to bring to you people who are representative not only of my bubble but of all other bubbles as well, because it's a two-way street.
Is it wrong to call the first lady sexy? My hometown newspaper, my column runs in the Philadelphia Inquirer. And the Philadelphia Inquirer did that and their response was so strong they changed the headline twice. How come?
[18:52:30] SMERCONISH: Hey, welcome back. Now to a story about our new first lady. Last Sunday, my home newspaper, my hometown newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer where my column runs published a fashion article titled, "Melania Trump, First Sexy First Lady?" The headline sparked instant outrage online and the paper tweaked it. So it then read, "Melania Trump is Clearly Embracing Her Sexy as First Lady."
And I guess that addressed those who saw it as a dis to Michelle Obama and other past first ladies, but the Twitter-verse still piled on and so another revision followed. The final headline, "Melania Trump Brings Sultry Elegance to the White House." The paper also apologized calling the headline, inappropriate, adding, quote, "We understand that many readers feel our handling of this subject missed the mark. We can do better."
You know what struck me about this story? Sure, it's always tricky when you start using terminology that some view as sexist especially when you're talking about the new first lady. But in this case the one person I suspect who was not offended by that characterization, her spouse.
Still to come, your best and worst tweets like this one. Smerconish, ironic that they got in trouble for saying sexy. She made a career out of sexy and that's how she got her husband. Tom, she's a beautiful woman. That's all I'm going to say.
[18:58:08] SMERCONISH: Well, that was fun. Let's see what came in via Twitter during the course of this hour.
Smerconish, why is it wrong to call a former fashion model sexy? Noreen, I don't think that it was. I think that she is a sexy woman. And I think that plenty of other first ladies have been equally -- maybe not equally, but sexy as well. And I don't think it's a pejorative. I think she's a very attractive -- all right. They're telling me move on already. Stop talking about how sexy she is. You're getting yourself in trouble, Smerconish.
Watching your three Trump supporters last night made me cringe. Dysfunction 101, Lord help us. Precious, we need to be better listeners, OK. That's 46 percent of the country that you saw represented last evening. Again, it's a two-way street. The red states need to listen to the blue states and vice versa. We don't all need to agree. But we've got to do a better job listening.
Hit me with another one. "Smerconish, a lie is a lie, why sugarcoat it just because he's POTUS? We need the press to call him out every time." Vicky, you know what my issue is? I really do have respect for the office. I always hated it when those vehement Obama opponents would trash him, never recognize his legitimacy, and then thump their chests and call themselves patriots. And I respect the office so much that I'm reluctant to see people use the L word. But call him out? Absolutely. I'm calling him out.
Again, what do we got? Smerconish, you are an ass. OK, we know that. But to everyone, which is exactly why we need you right now, Faster Faster. I like that, Jay (ph). That was a winner. Do we have time for one more? Give me.
This is too good. "Smerconish, you gained followers because you are the only on-air person willing to deal with both sides. Proud of CNN for having you on. Hey, Bobby, I don't know why they invited me to host that program last night, a one-week recap of the Trump administration.