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Republicans Pull the American Health Care Act Before it Goes to Vote; Rep. Devin Nunes Says Some of President Trump's Campaign Staff May have been wiretapped as part of incidental collection; How the GOP Changed the Shape of America; Going to 11 with Harry Shearer. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 25, 2017 - 09:00   ET


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You couldn't make this stuff up. After seven years of hollow votes, President Trump forced to pull the GOP health care bill from the House before its likely defeat. I'll tell you the real reason I think it failed.

Plus, this was a big week with regard to the presumed Russian meddling in our election, complete with the attempted criminalization of the collection of incidental US intelligence. So, will partisan politics now prevent us from learning the truth?

And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told me there was a book I needed to read. It's called, well, Rat-blanked and it details an unprecedented effort to literally reshape the map of American politics. The governator was right and the author of the book is here.

And you know his voice from The Simpsons. You know his face from This Is Spinal Tap. But Harry Shearer is also a legendary political satirist. And he's here to turn it up to 11.

But, first, yesterday, on my Sirius XM radio program, I said that should the GOP health care plan go down in flames, which it did, it would be due to a failure to answer a basic, a fundamental question. What was the goal?

Say what you will about President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, but it stood for a purpose that everyone, even opponents, understood, namely to supply more Americans with healthcare, to establish universal coverage.

That was the failure with the Republican plan, that there was no universal objective, no singular purpose, no common denominator other than to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which might be fine, so long as you have a replacement that is capable of explanation. It is after all now an entitlement, which people are loath to give up.

But despite there having been more than 60 pyrrhic votes to repeal Obamacare in the seven years since it passed, now when it mattered and with control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, the GOP couldn't get it done, proving that it's far easier to criticize than to govern.

If you disagree with my premise, well, tweet me or post a comment on my Facebook page and tell me, how would you fill in this blank, the GOP health care plan sought to what? Until that question can be answered with something positive, something proactive, something that builds while it deconstructs, then I don't see the public support necessary to get a bill passed through both houses of Congress even when controlled by a party chasing to repeal it.

Joining me now is Congressman Charlie Dent. He's a Republican who had said that he would oppose the bill. Congressman, you know I appreciate it whenever you're here. React to my premise. Don't you need to be for something in a circumstance like this?

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, yes. When we first started the new year - again, Mike, thanks for having me on the show. And go Lehigh, how about that, an NCAA champion out of Lehigh in wrestling this year.

Now, that said, I want to just get back to something here. We started the year with - we started the year talking about repeal only. And I cautioned the leadership at the time a repeal-only strategy would be terrible.

We would repeal it and then over the next few years we try to replace it. I said we would never replace it. It would be too difficult. Then we moved to a repeal and replace strategy, but the replace was just too rushed.

There were artificial timelines or arbitrary deadlines all to improve the baseline for tax reform. This debate should have been more about the people, who are going to be impacted by our decisions, and to reform Medicare and to create tax credits for people who are in the exchanges.

This was going to be very hard work. I don't think it could have been pulled off in 60 days. So, I think to a certain extent - we did have an alternative to provide healthcare in a competitive - providing greater choices, more competition, and help make it a more market- oriented approach. But the idea, in my view, was not fully fleshed out and it was simply too rushed.

SMERCONISH: You're a member of the Tuesday group, the more moderate Republicans. By the way, I'm thrilled to know there is such a collection of individuals in the House of Representatives. Is it possible to get your group and the Freedom Caucus on the same page?

DENT: On this issue, I don't think so because I think our goals and objectives were quite different. My reasons for opposition to the bill had to do with the fact that the Medicaid changes simply were not - they were not workable.

And I have a proposal right here from Governors Kasich and Snyder and Sandoval and Hutchison, four Republican governors who expressed real concerns that they weren't going to have the appropriate flexibility or resources necessary to serve their Medicaid population and they were concerned - they represent expansion states like Pennsylvania, Medicaid expansion states.

[09:05:09] They told me - they said, if this happens - if this reform were to happen, the people who would be off of Medicaid wouldn't be able to afford insurance on the exchanges because the tax credits would have been insufficient. So, they would've gone naked, no coverage.

And we didn't - there was a failure to build coalitions to help and allies to support this effort. But the Freedom Caucus, they had other reasons for opposing the bill.

SMERCONISH: So, if you say that you can't get the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday group on the same page, is that a failure of Paul Ryan?

I want to show you a reaction from the right. This is what Breitbart looks like this morning. And they're calling into question whether Paul Ryan can survive? Discussion about GOP replacement to Paul Ryan as speaker of the House intensifies in White House and Congress. Is his role in jeopardy?

DENT: No. No, it's not. But truth be told, when John Boehner stepped down as a speaker more than a year ago, I said that the dynamics that led to John Boehner's resignation have not changed. The dynamics of the House Republican conference hasn't changed. And that was going to be Paul Ryan's biggest challenge. Those dynamics still must change.

But I'll tell you, Mike, the big thing on healthcare is this. If we're going to have a durable, sustainable healthcare reform in this country, it must be done on a bipartisan basis. The failure of the Democrats - and I voted against Obamacare at the time, their failure was they jammed this thing through on a partisan basis and we've been fighting about it ever since.

We, as Republicans, should not make that same mistake, trying to jam this thing through, muscle it through on a partisan basis. The House could flip and the Senate could flip and we'd be back at this fighting ad nauseam. We need a bipartisan, durable, sustainable solution.

SMERCONISH: OK. So, to that point, yesterday, President Trump said something that I want to show the audience and then have Congressman Dent react to. Roll the tape please.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare. They own it. 100 percent own it. And this is not a Republican health care. This is not anything but a Democrat health care.


SMERCONISH: It really frustrates me to see this treated as a hot potato because we're talking about something that keeps people alive.

Having made that observation, to the president's point, what could Democrats do now if they were motivated - they have to acknowledge, there are shortcomings with the Affordable Care Act. What opportunity do Democrats have to try and extend an olive branch and get something done?

DENT: Well, look, as you point out, there are Democrats who love Obamacare, but they know darn well that there are problems that need to be repaired. There are Republicans who detest Obamacare and know darn well that there are parts of this law that are going to be retained.

So, I think there was one great area of potential collaboration, the Democrats know the individual insurance market is broken and Obamacare made it worse. And Republicans acknowledge that. So, let's work to repair, at the very least, the individual insurance market. That's got to be repaired.

We can also talk about - there are some of the taxes that pay for, both the Republicans and Democrats do not like, the medical device tax, many don't like the Cadillac tax. I can list some. We could find areas of agreement to improve this system.

And again, no matter what we do, we have to do on a bipartisan basis because to get a bill through the Senate is going to require 60 votes, so we'll need at least eight Democrat votes there, but we also need to build a coalition in the House.

If we have some on the hard right who can't get the yes on anything, well, then, of course, we need to have Democrats help us get to 218 votes. It's that simple.

SMERCONISH: No doubt. Hey, I applaud your approach. I think we need more bipartisanship and I think we only solve problems when individuals like Charlie Dent are willing to reach across the aisle. So, thank you for that, Congressman. Good to have you back.

DENT: Mike, great to be with you as always. Thanks. Tweet me your thoughts @smerconish or post your thoughts on my Facebook page. Joining me now to further discuss healthcare and the impasse, Phil Rucker, the White House Bureau chief for "The Washington Post." His piece just out detailing the back story of how President Trump tried to marshal support for the bill. It's a terrific read. And senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News Mary Agnes Carey.

Mary Agnes Carey, healthcare law is tough, right? This is the ultimate sausage factory. Isn't that the lesson?

MARY AGNES CAREY, PARTNERSHIPS EDITOR AND SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, KAISER HEALTH NEWS: Absolutely true. It's so hard to get consensus within your own party as we've seen with the Republicans. It's hard to find policy solutions that work for everyone. It's very, very difficult.

And I think Paul Ryan and House Republicans and President Trump found that out in their efforts to try to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

SMERCONISH: And to your observation, Mary Agnes, even if this had been successful, it faced doom in the United States Senate. [09:10:06] CAREY: Absolutely. You had moderates there, including Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, very concerned about the changes in the Medicaid funding structure. There were concerns the subsidies simply wouldn't be enough rather to help people afford coverage. There were lot of concerns that faced lots of opposition in the Senate.

SMERCONISH: Phil Rucker, is this really a good bill? That's not Michael Smerconish asking. In your "Washington Post" coverage today, that's President Trump repeatedly during the course of the last week. Explain.

PHIL RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That's exactly right. It's a question that he asked when the bill was first introduced by Speaker Ryan back in the beginning of March and it kept nagging at him. He kept asking his advisors again and again, is this really a good bill.

He couldn't convince himself that it was a good bill. And yet, he went forward to try to sell it. He was all in for the win. That's what he cared about, the big picture, the victory. And he tried to sell it.

This is a guy who wrote Art of the Deal. He campaigned by saying he would make the most beautiful deals, like nobody had ever done in Washington before. And this was his big chance to prove it. And unfortunately for him, he failed.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Phil. Here's the tell as you point out in "The Post" today. The tell was that he was selling the rare product on which he refused to emblazon his own name.

SMERCONISH: That's exactly right. Look, this was a bill that was created by the House Republicans, of course, in concert with the Trump administration. But it's not the ideal measure. In fact, had the bill passed, it would have violated one of Donald Trump's campaign promises on the campaign trail, which was that he was going to provide a healthcare coverage for all Americans.

This bill, as the Congressional Budget Office scoring ended up showing, would've led to 24 million people not having insurance over the ten-year period, after the bill was enacted. So, Trump was making a lot of sacrifices in pursuit of this broader victory, this win. He wanted something that he could claim as a big victory in his first 100 days and, unfortunately, he's not going to get it on healthcare. He's going to look now to tax reform and other issues. But that's going to be very difficult too.

SMERCONISH: Mary Agnes Carey, you have a better handle on healthcare policy and law than anyone with whom I've ever spoken. I want to show you a tweet that I sent out yesterday as the president was reacting to having to withdraw this that got a lot of traction.

I asked, what insurance company WOULD want to begin offering coverage under the ACA when all President Trump does is trashing. If he's out there saying it's going to implode and it's going to explode and other Republicans are saying likewise, and I'm Independence Blue Cross or I'm Aetna or some other provider, why in the world do I all of a sudden want to be proactive under the ACA?

CAREY: Well, I think you raise an excellent point. Insurers are going to be looking for assurances from the Trump administration and Congress to try to find out what sort of marketplace will there be in 2018, what sort of outreach will there be to get people covered - to get people to sign up rather in the exchanges, what kind of support will there be, will there be administrative changes perhaps that will help them recover some of their losses that they've had.

As we know, we had a lot of sicker people get in to the marketplace. So, we've heard these insurers evaluating what they're going to do. Their bids aren't due until later in the year, but that will be a key question.

Does the administration try to do anything to keep insurers in the market or do they not? Do you see more insurers leave? Does that hurt the next enrollment period? And then who gets the political blame for that?

SMERCONISH: And, Phil, to Mary Agnes Carey's point, isn't almost a trap being set now for the Affordable Care Act to continue a downward spiral?

RUCKER: Potentially. And Trump said in his comments yesterday after this bill failed that it was going to be all on the Democrats, that Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, the Democrats own Obamacare. But the reality is he's the president of the United States.

If something is not working, it's incumbent upon him to fix it. He doesn't think this law is working. He tried to fix it and he couldn't get it fixed. And I think the American people, over the next few years, if they see problems in the healthcare system, are going to increasingly actually look to the administration to try to make this system better rather than pointing their fingers at the Democrats in the minority.

SMERCONISH: Phil Rucker, excellent job in The Post today. Mary Agnes Carey at Kaiser health, you've got a better handle on this than anyone I've met. Continued good work and thank you both.

CAREY: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: So, I asked you after my opening commentary to fill in the blank. The GOP health care bill sought to - well, what did you reply? Hit me with some tweets. The GOP sought to discredit Obama. OK, mom, veteran consumer, that's my point. You've got to be for something. It's got to be positive. Is there another that we can show everybody.

What exactly did it represent? The GOP health care plan sought to, Mark says, discriminate. Negativity is not going to move the ball forward, is my point, and apparently those as well.

[09:15:08] How about from Facebook. Randy Bogram (ph), OK, it didn't pass, but Obamacare still needs some tweaks, will it get the help it needs? Randy, I agree with you. It's not a panacea. It's got a lot of shortcomings.

And by the way, I'm someone who bought my family's health insurance through the exchanges. So, I know a little bit about this subject. I don't like the fact that all this negativity now is going to cause individuals who could turn it around to stay away from the Affordable Care Act instead of fixing it.

Still to come, the administration and its claims of surveillance fulfilled exactly what General Michael Hayden predicted here on last week's show, the criminalization of the collection of incidental evidence. So, what's next? Juliette Kayyem is here.

And he was in Spinal Tap and does dozens of Simpsons voices, satirist, entertainer Harry Shearer is here.


VOICE OF HARRY SHEARER: Mr. C. Montgomery Burns.

I'll keep it short and sweet. Family, religion, friendship, these are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.



[09:20:08] SMERCONISH: The latest bombshell in the Russian hack investigation came on Friday. House Intel Chair Devin Nunes suddenly canceling Tuesday's public hearings about the Russian hack. Now, this capped a week of back and forth regarding Russia and President Trump's claim three weeks ago that he was wiretapped by President Obama.

On Wednesday, Nunes suggested that Trump transition members may have been picked up in surveilled communications with foreign intelligence officials. The White House quickly seized this as substantiation of the president's tweets on March 4, which by the way I don't think it was.

In other words, there's nothing in what Congressman Nunes said that justifies or substantiates President Trump tweeting that President Obama was a bad or sick guy who tapped him at Trump Tower.

Remember, the critical tweet said that. "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."

Only somebody not paying close attention will see this as affording President Trump a defense of what he said about President Obama and it is something that was predicted right here last Saturday by General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA. Watch.


MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CIA AND NSA: I think where this is going, Michael, and I think this is the lifeline, that I think the administration is hoping they can grab on to is something that we call incidental collection.

I suspect if there is any example of a US identity being unmasked that has any relationship to the Trump campaign or Trump Tower, and again, Michael, very normal, very correct, very legal, I think at that point the White House goes, aha, I told you so. I think this is where it is going.


SMERCONISH: He was prescient. On Wednesday afternoon, Congressman Nunes traveled down Pennsylvania Avenue to share his thoughts with the president, causing "The New York Times" in a Friday editorial to label him a lapdog in a watchdog role.

Joining me now, former homeland security assistant secretary and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, who also hosts The Skiff podcast. Unpack, Juliette, what you heard from General Hayden and how those events played themselves out this week.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ASSISTANT SECRETARY AND CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Hayden predicted exactly how it unfolded and one could even argue that maybe the White House saw him and thought this might be our lifeline.

And so, what your viewers have to understand is that the law recognizes that there will be incidental collection, they're following a potential foreign intelligence agent, he happens to call me because we're doing some project together, and so therefore whatever I said to him might be captured. So, the law has in it - it specifically designates the potential for incidental collection and protects the US citizen who may not be under surveillance.

And so, it's so normal that the fact that the Trump administration would come out and say, aha, this is the moment, and as you said, it really wasn't the moment, I think, shows a certain amount of desperation about the investigation and how it's unfolding at this age.

I will say also on Nunes, it was a meltdown week for him because remember, by Friday, he was kind of even backtracking from what he said. He basically needs to go for having done this.

SMERCONISH: Well, I want to show you, show everybody, part of what he said this week after making that trip to the White House. Roll that tape please.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: To me, it's clear that I would be concerned if I was the president and that's why I wanted him to know and I felt like I had a duty and obligation to tell him because, as you know, he's been taking a lot of heat in the news media and I think, to some degree, there are some things that he should look at to see whether, in fact, he thinks the collection was proper or not. SMERCONISH: Juliette, when he said that he thinks there are things that he, President Trump, should look at, I said to myself, lacking your credentials, I said, wait a minute, that's your job.

KAYYEM: Yes. Basically, Nunes has one job and he didn't do it, right, which is to be the oversight committee, to ensure that this election was secure and that there is no collusion with the Trump campaign.

Look, a lot of evidence is coming out. We're only talking about one story this week. There were stories about Manafort and his past lobbying efforts. By Friday, there was a story about Mike Flynn, the former national security advisor. All these different pieces cut across the spectrum from mere coincidence to potential collusion.

And that's what an investigation is about. The idea that - they haven't shown anything yet. It seems to be the answer by Trump supporters. This is what an investigation does. It takes all those different pieces from foreign intelligence, wiretaps, surveillance, the potential that one of these witnesses - and I believe it might be Mike Flynn is talking to investigators about what he knows - all of those pieces will come together and we'll see at some stage whether a legal case can he made.

[09:25:13] SMERCONISH: OK. So, now to go back to Gen. Hayden being prescient in saying that when all is said and done, the White House will try and portray in criminal terms what is the routine collection of incidental evidence. I want to show you President Trump seizing the moment. Roll the tape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel vindicated by Chairman Nunes coming over there?

TRUMP: I somewhat do. I must tell you, I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found.


SMERCONISH: So, he now sees vindication, but I remind the audience of the tweet that began all this, three weeks ago today, just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism." And in an interview with Michael Shearer at "TIME Magazine" this week, the president said, 'well, I had that in quotation marks.' I'm paraphrasing, but it's a very liberal interpretation of what I meant by wiretapping. Explain.

KAYYEM: When Trump said those tweets or when he wrote those tweets, he clearly wanted the American public to believe that President Obama himself, with no predicate, demanded of the FBI that they put wiretaps on Trump Tower and on Trump himself.

First of all, you can't do that. There's no way that a president can do that. But assuming that he's right, it would be so - it's such a hostile statement about the previous administration and I think what's happened this week is it led Comey - Director Comey by Monday to say, look, this is about my investigators in this investigation.'

I was wrong. I thought Comey would not validate that there was a criminal investigation going on or investigation going on about potential collusion with the Trump administration. It was a jaw- dropping moment.

And the reason why I believe now Comey did that was to protect his agency and to protect the investigation. It's now almost impossible for the Trump administration to close down the FBI investigation.

They can sort of be in collusion with Nunes, which is clearly the case right now, but it's almost impossible now for them to have any influence, which is good, over an independent investigation about Trump ties to the Russian hacking events.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Juliette, final thought, just tell me yay or nay if you agree because this gets confusing quickly. The big picture question is whether there was an aiding and abetting of a hacking. That's the legal issue, right? That's where this is headed. We don't know the answer to that question. But when all is said and done, that's the issue.

KAYYEM: That's the issue. And on a scale from 0 to 10, zero being these are all coincidences and ten is collusion, I'm now at a 7.

KAYYEM: Wow, OK. Juliette, thank you as always. Appreciate your expertise.

All of our scales here today go from 1 to 11 because Harry Shearer is still to come. Those of you who remember Spinal Taps. As always, tweet me your thoughts @smerconish or post them on my Facebook page. Katherine, what have you got?

It's clear as mud that Nunes is in Trump's pocket and not impartial. He must go and be investigated for his own Russian ties. Look, all I can tell you is, I don't think he should've made that trip down Pennsylvania Avenue and given a briefing to the president because that's not his role. His role is to be our eyes and ears and not the president's. That's how I see it.

SMERCONISH: Up next, it's a political Rorschach test. I love this. Put it up on the screen. What does this look like? What do you see in that image? Some see goofy kicking Donald Duck. It is actually Pennsylvania 7th congressional district that incorporates my neck of the woods, the Philly burbs. Redrawn that way and the GOP's Operation Redmap, which literally changed the shape of how America votes. It was a project that took gerrymandering to new highs or lows. How did it happen? I'll explain.


[09:33:33] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Gerrymandering, the drawing of political boundary lines to suit a particular partisan purpose, nothing new about that. The word itself coined in 1812 and both parties do it. But in the aftermath of President Obama's 2008 election, Republicans

took the practice to new heights, which partly explains why today Republicans have got 68 of 99 chambers, both houses in 35 states, a modern record of 33 governors and trifectas, meaning both chambers and the governor in 25 states. And due to gerrymandering, they will have decade-long advantage.

David Daley spells it out all in a book whose title I cannot read on a family cable station. It's a book that was recommended to me by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who told me it was right in my wheelhouse and he was correct. Let's call it "Rat blanked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy".

Joining me now is author David Daley. He's a senior fellow for Fair Vote and former editor in chief at

Hey, David, it's a tale as old as time. So, what was different about Operation Red Map?

DAVID DALEY, AUTHOR: It was a brilliant and effective and incredibly cheap way to take control of the political map for the entire decade. A handful of really savvy Republican strategists reinvented the oldest trick in the book, the gerrymander, in an altogether audacious new way, with really modern technology that allowed them to draw surgical, precise lines of which every single squiggle is there for a reason.

[09:35:16] The goal was to capture state legislative chambers and take control of them so that after the 2010 census, Republicans were able to lock the doors and have the only hands on the maps when state legislative lines were drawn and then when the congressional lines were drawn. For $30 million, they took control of the House for a decade.

SMERCONISH: I'm going to put up both PA 7th and Michigan's 14th while you continue to discuss "Operation Red Map." I want to make clear -- nothing nefarious, nothing illegal. The Democrats were asleep at the switch or they could have done likewise.

DALEY: Oh, absolutely. The Republicans laid out what their plan was going to be in an op-ed piece in "Wall Street Journal" in March of 2010 written by Karl Rove. And Rove lays out there are 113 legislative seats in 17 states that if the Republicans can take them over, they would have the ability to draw the lines for 190 of the 435 congressional seats. That's a pretty good advantage when you only need 218 to have a majority.

The Democratic Party lacked both the strategic imagination to come up with this idea on their own. But, also, they could not play defense against it when the Republicans laid it out on the op-ed page of the largest newspaper in the country.

SMERCONISH: Chris Jankowski not a name that I would know as well as the public would know Karl Rove, or James Carville or Mary Matalin, but he not only was the architect of this, but in your book, "Rat blanked." he was quite proud laying it out for you, saying, yeah, that's exactly what we did. DALEY: Yes, this is the political heist of the century, of the

decade. I mean, for $30 million, Republicans took control of all of these blue and purple states at the legislative level and then massive control at the House level that has not abated throughout this decade. I would be proud of that, as well. It is a terrific accomplishment.

On the other hand --


DALEY: -- it has had true negatives for our democracy.

SMERCONISH: No doubt about it. I'm with the Governator on this. I want to see professionals have the Sharpie in their hands and not the politicians. Quickly respond to this, because I do pay attention to this data. And I know there is the Bill Bishop big sort argument out there and David Wassermann at Cook Political Report has his whole Cracker Barrel versus Whole Foods conversation which speaks to self- sorting driving the bus, not gerrymandering. Take my final 30 seconds and respond to that.

DALEY: If the lines did not matter this much, politicians would not fight so fiercely to control them and to have the pen in their hands. The numbers bear this out. If you look at a state like Pennsylvania, 2008 and 2012, the same number of votes for Democratic House candidates in both years. 2008, it elects seven Republicans and 12 Democrats. In 2012, it's 13-5, Republican, based on the same Democratic majorities.

You could say that all of the Democrats in Pennsylvania move during that period in time or you could admit what actually happened, which is that the lines changed. We have been big sorted by big data and by big technology.

SMERCONISH: And here is the take away from "Rat blanked" -- those zero elections are of huge consequence.

David Daley, thank you for being here. I'm glad the Governator recommended your book to me.

DALEY: Real pleasure, Michael. Thank you for having me.

SMERCONISH: Hit me with another tweet before we move on. "Smerconish, new-found respect for you. Excellent Spinal Tap reference slipped in, #dialto11."

Mark, yes, but somebody else, I won't name them, just emailed me and said to me during the break, why can't ten just be named louder? And I thought, oh, that person is not old enough to remember Spinal Tap.

In fact, I invited my next guest here after he tweeted me last week. The multi-talented Harry Shearer is here to talk politics. He does dozens of voices for "The Simpsons" and played bassist Derek Smalls in the heavy metal satire, "This is Spinal Tap." And once you've seen it, you will never forget this case of airport screening.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any artificial plates or limbs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really, no.






SMERCONISH: So, you might want to turn your volume dial up to 11 for this conversation. It's not often that I'm tweeted at by multiple celebrities all at once, but last week on the program, I heard from the "Simpsons" Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders and "Spinal Tap" Derek Smalls because those are all one person.

The multi-hyphenate talent Harry Shearer who tweeted this, "Smerconish, Clapper lied under oath at a congressional hearing. Why is he a credible source?"

I was so happy to hear from him, I didn't answer his question. I thought, instead, I'd invite him on the program and give him more time.

He's an entertainer and satirist. He hosts the podcast and radio program "Le Show". This is Harry Shearer.

Harry, thank you for being here.

[09:45:01] What is it you were saying to me last week in that tweet about James Clapper?

HARRY SHEARER, ACTOR, COMEDIAN, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER: Well, thank you for inviting me, Michael. What I was pointing out was that James Clapper was being now presented to the public as a truth teller and, of course, we know that intelligence personnel are expected to tell the unvarnished truth to their primary customer, which is the president and his aides.

But when they speak to the public they may relate to the old varnish can on occasion. And he had testified in a Senate hearing. He was asked by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon whether there was blanket surveillance of Americans by American intelligence agencies. And he said, no. And, of course, a couple months later, the Snowden revelations came out and he had to send a note to Congress saying, well, I'm sorry about the little thing there.

So, you know, we're old enough, some of us, to remember a time very recently when intelligence was weaponized. Intelligence people stood up and went to shows like this on "Meet the Press", and told what one think tank calculated were 935 lies to get us into the Iraq War. So, I'm just suggesting that if we're looking -- you know, this is a story now that is very much like a house of mirrors where intelligence is being talked about and being referred to, but never, ever being revealed.

We've seen no evidence of anything, but we see a lot of people giving their opinions and their assessments. And my suspicion is that we're living in a house of mirrors right now. And in a house of mirrors everything ends up looking two dimensional. I don't know what that means --


SMERCONISH: It does, indeed. Am I misreading Harry Shearer if I think, therefore, you are giving the president the burden -- you're giving the benefit of the doubt, that's what I should say, in so far you have these intelligence community sources who are saying that his tweet pertaining to his predecessor is without merit? How do you see that issue is what I'm really asking?

SHEARER: Yeah, I know. And I'm -- I should be saying I'm not here as a supporter of any politician. I think it's very likely, according to some people, that the president was in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution for day one. But Congress isn't investigating that. They're investigating this other much murkier stuff.

I'm not, you know, I think benefit of the doubt is not what we have here. We should have more doubt because the picture is very cloudy.

I -- one question did occur to me that I would love to have you or your viewers or anybody else answer. We were told after the Snowden revelations that this did great damage to the country because terrorists were now learning to communicate and not be surveilled. Be free of surveillance.

And yet, we're led to believe that Russian operatives from probably the most sophisticated intelligence operation in the world were in frequent contact with representatives of a then probably losing presidential campaign and using communications means opens them up to blanket surveillance. Sounds like the Russians were being pretty dopey at that point. Didn't they know Snowden was living in Moscow? They could have called him up and asked how to avoid this?

SMERCONISH: If they want it avoided, because I'm going down that rabbit hole with Harry Shearer and I'm saying to myself, maybe they wanted us to know what we know today, to foment more decent here in the United States.

SHEARER: Well, you know, that's where the house of mirrors comes in and it's very hard at that point to know which of these reflections we're looking at is real.

I'm a skeptic and professional skeptic. I try to spread that particular mode of thought wherever I can because I think it's a useful deterrent to a lot of spin that's going around and has been going around for years. I think -- SMERCONISH: Harry --

SHEARER: Go ahead, sorry.

SMERCONISH: I was going to say, pardon me, final question. Do you ever order a pizza as Ned Flanders?

SHEARER: Well, Ned doesn't eat pizza very much because it's not blessed.

SMERCONISH: It's a privilege to have you here. Keep tweeting me, OK? I love reading what you send in during the program.

SHEARER: Thank you very much.

SMERCONISH: That's Harry Shearer. Keep tweeting me. Let's see what else the audience is saying this week. What do we got?

"Smerconish, seriously, dissemination of incidental info is against the law." Look, General Michael Hayden, go back and watch what General Hayden said a week ago. He called the events as they would unfold, saying, before it's said and done the White House would be seeing to portray in criminal terms, the collection of innocent incidental evidence. And that's what's happening.

Still to come, more of your tweets and Facebook comments.


[09:54:27] SMERCONISH: Hey, thank you for watching and for following me on Twitter and at

What do we got? I don't see them until you see them.

"Smerconish, 64 days, they had six years. They had 6 years. They have the majority. Stop enabling them."

Hey, Connie, I want them to get together and fix it. But you're absolutely right that if in fact you're saying they had six years and they were always voting to repeal it, but they never came up with a plan in all that time, and there's no reason why they can't pass something if they can get their own house in order.

Another one.

[09:55:00] What else? "Nunes needs to go. He's been compromised and can no longer do his job. Lost all credibility."

Chris, it was a mistake for him to travel down Pennsylvania Avenue and brief the president of the United States because that's not his boss in this regard.

One more. This is from Facebook. "General Hayden should buy a lottery ticket."

Yeah, well, a lottery ticket is luck. You know, his was knowledge and skill. And I just thought that he gave us a roadmap of exactly what was going to transpire.

Thank you for watching. I'll see you next week. Follow me on Twitter.