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Sean Spicer Quits, President Shakes Up Legal Team; Is Kaepernick's Image Blocking Him From NFL?; Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger; O.J.'s Parole and the Bronco Chase. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 22, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] PAUL: "SMERCONISH" starts for you now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

What can I say? It was a chaotic several days for the White House. Yes, words I could have used so often in these first six months of the Trump administration.

Yesterday, I paid a visit to Sean Spicer in his White House digs for an off-the-record chat. It turned out to be his exit interview. My thoughts on Spicer's departure are next.

Plus, Mr. Schwarzenegger went to Washington. The governator was talking gerrymandering and climate change. And we had a sitdown.

Also, no NFL team has yet signed free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Ex QB Michael Vick gave him hair cut advice. But I'm about to ask Bob Costas whether Kaepernick has been blackballed.

But first, I scored Sean Spicer's exit interview and didn't even realize it at the time. I was in Washington on Friday to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger, and for an off-the-record chat with Spicer at 9:00 a.m. I left the White House at 9:45. I didn't want to overstay my welcome because Spicer has told me that he was meeting with the president at 10:00 a.m. By the time that I'd returned to my hotel and turned on the television word was breaking that he just quit as White House press secretary.

No, I didn't know that his departure was imminent. The timing took me by surprise as well but not necessarily the outcome. "The New York Times'" farewell editorial today called him the four Pinocchio press secretary. I think that's unfair. I think he had the hardest job in Washington, especially given this administration.

I have no desire to violate our confidentiality from yesterday. The only thing that I'll offer is that in retrospect he did seem to take a strong interest in how I managed to juggle my many platforms -- radio, television, print and public speaking.

When I first arrived in his office at 9:00 a.m. after clearing White House security, I made a joke about finally getting to see the space that I helped him obtain. And he laughed. Knowing that I was referring to his many appearances here with me during the campaign when he was the RNC's chief spokesman and strategist.

We seemed to have a good rapport. Even when those exchanges were animated and one when I challenged the Trump campaign's partisan response to the Russian hack got a little heated.


SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But "The New York Times" wrote that the RNC had been hacked. That's false. Why is the disposition that you want to condemn --


SMERCONISH: How do you know it's false?

SPICER: Because I went --


SPICER: Please don't make excuses for them. They did when they --

SMERCONISH: I'm not making excuses for anybody.

SPICER: They came out -- hold on, Michael.

SMERCONISH: I need to ask you an additional question.


SMERCONISH: Speak to my point --


SPICER: Michael --

SMERCONISH: Wait. I want you to address this. I'm also concerned. Come on.

SPICER: I am outraged. I don't think any foreign entity, any individual, any entity --

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

SPICER: I'm saying it, Michael. I just said it.


SMERCONISH: That was December 10. And I knew that Spicer was happy with the outcome because the RNC soon tweeted a transcript. And he texted me afterwards to make sure there were no hard feelings. There were not.

Later that same day, Spicer attended the Army-Navy classic in Baltimore with the president-elect in the box of David Irvin, West Point graduate, former chief of staff for Arlen Specter, the man who engineered Trump's upset victory in Pennsylvania.

Irvin told me later that he watched as the president-elect congratulated Spicer for, quote, kicking my ass on TV that morning. Yesterday I reminded Spicer of this as well and we shared a laugh in his White House office during what I now realize was his final appointment as press secretary.

I don't want to give you the wrong idea. My dealings with Sean weren't always confrontational.


SMERCONISH: You know, usually, I have to pester Sean Spicer, the RNC chief strategist and communications director, to come on the program. This week, he reached out for me.

SPICER: Hey, Michael. I've never pestered you.

SMERCONISH: You clearly have the credentials to be the White House press secretary. Do you think you have the temperament? I asked that because I don't think I would.

SPICER: I'll tell Mr. Trump you're not interested. But the country --



SPICER: Hold on, I'll let you --

SMERCONISH: That's an answer that a press secretary -- that's an answer that a press secretary would give. That's a good answer. That's good, you're qualified, you're in.


SMERCONISH: I of course am not the only one who enjoyed Sean Spicer.


MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTOR: I'm not here to be your body. I'm here to swallow gum and I'm here to take names.


SMERCONISH: With each passing of Melissa McCarthy impersonation of Spicy, many Americans who despised President Trump also came to dislike Spicer as the face most associated with the administration. His daily briefings became daily sport for some as evidenced by the huge ratings.

I get all that. And we'll have to wait for his memoir to know what it felt like to be told by his boss to go out on day one and make a futile argument about inaugural crowd sizes. [09:05:09] But in my limited dealings with him he was always a

gentleman. He never did come back to my program as press secretary, a casualty, I'm sure of the state of affairs between our respective employers. But he did tell me yesterday that this program was still being watched every Saturday in the Spicer family kitchen, which I appreciate.

I knew it was time to leave when Sarah Huckabee Sanders popped her head in the door. My final comment to him on the way out referenced the next eight years. And he laughed. He had to have known.

Now, as Spicer exits, a new lawyer has arrived. President Trump is shaking up his legal team with Attorney John Dowd taking the lead on the investigation. Personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz taking a diminished role and spokesman Mark Corallo stepping down. But when the dust settles how will all the president's lawyers strategize against the expanding Russia investigation?

Joining me now two A-listers, Greg Craig, who led the defense against the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama, and Jeffrey Rosen, the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a professor of law at the George Washington University.

Greg, I'll begin with you, "The Washington Post" broke this news that Jeff Sessions discussed campaign-related matters with the Russian ambassador. But the president has said that the Russian investigation is a witch hunt.

Is he boxed in from getting rid of Sessions? Because if he were to do so, that would be an admission that this is not a hoax.

GREG CRAIG, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL UNDER OBAMA: I don't know whether he's boxed in or not, Michael. I do know that it puts the attorney general smack dab in the middle of the investigation. And I have no doubt that the Director Robert Mueller will be willing to interview him about his conversations with Kislyak.

I have no doubt that Mr. Mueller has access to the transcripts of the telephone communications between Kislyak and Sessions and also probably has access to the information that Kislyak sent to Moscow. And so he will probably be interviewing and want to talk to the attorney general. And it was well advised for the attorney general to recuse himself.

SMERCONISH: And Greg Craig, I should point out maybe this is bogus, maybe it's just kompromat by Kislyak, maybe he invented it?

CRAIG: You're absolutely right. There's no basis for having any reason to give that greater credibility than what the attorney general says. But putting that aside for a second, as a measure of credibility, it puts the attorney general right in the middle of the investigation as a relevant witness as to whether or not there was communications or collusion or cooperation between the campaign and the Russians during the presidential election. SMERCONISH: Jeffrey Rosen, what happens if Sessions leaves? Either

he resigns or he's fired. A new AG comes in, one who has not recused himself from the Mueller probe and seeks to fire Mueller. Could he do so?

JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL CONSULTATION CENTER: Yes, he has the constitutional legal authority to do so. The special prosecutor statute says that the prosecutor has to be fired by the attorney general. But the question is, would he do it? Or would he be like Elliott Richardson, Nixon's attorney general, who resigned rather than firing the special prosecutor? And then it was totals all the way down until Robert Bork finally carried out the act?

Another question is, if the new attorney general did fire Mueller, would that be an impeachable offense basically? Would the Congress conclude that the president had ordered the attorney general to fire the special prosecutor with the corrupt motive of obstructing justice which certainly is an impeachable offense? And that would be up to Congress to decide.

SMERCONISH: Greg Craig, there was talk, according to published reports this week of pardon powers within the White House. That seems to have been reported with a negative connotation. Is that not good lawyering? Wouldn't they be derelict in their duty if not at least exploring that subject matter?

CRAIG: I'm about to say something that's very unlawyerly because it doesn't rely on any kind of legal experience or knowledge. But let me just say, any conversation about pardons is not good for a White House to have. It's not a good thing for people in the White House or the president or anybody else associated with the president's legal team to be talking about the exercise of the power of a pardon.

It is an unlimited -- it is pretty much an unlimited power that the president has. It's open as to whether or not he can pardon himself. But the question that Professor Rosen rightly refers to when he talks about impeachment is not whether there's a technical violation of the law or an abuse of power. It's whether he, the president, is seen as abusing the powers that he has. And certainly, if he exercised the pardon power in an abusive way or for a corrupt motive for improper reasons, that is the basis for an impeachable offense.

[09:10:07] SMERCONISH: The president has already been very active via Twitter today. One of the tweets was related to the pardon discussion. There it is. "

While all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against us. Fake news."

Jeffrey Rosen, let's go back to where Greg Craig was a moment ago. Does the president have the power to pardon himself?

ROSEN: This is an open constitutional question of the highest moment and people disagree. Some say that the president does not have the power to pardon himself. That was what the Office of Legal Counsel advised when President Nixon was contemplating it. On the other hand, during the Clinton impeachment Representative Bob Goodlatte assumed that the president could pardon himself.

The argument that he doesn't have that power is based on the idea that no person should be a judge in his own case and neither the king of England nor any U.S. president has ever attempted to pardon himself.

On the other hand, if the president tried it for the first time, it could not extend the cases of impeachment. The Constitution says the pardon power extends except for cases of impeachment. So the president couldn't stop Congress from impeaching him for pardoning himself.

Basically it would be tested after the president left office. That's when he could be criminally prosecuted. He would have issued a prospective pardon and said don't prosecute me. A future prosecutor would prosecute him and it would go up to the Supreme Court to resolve the question of whether a sitting president can pardon himself for prospective crimes.

SMERCONISH: An unfair question that demands a very quick answer for time constraints. Are we headed for a constitutional crisis?

Greg Craig, you, then Jeffrey Rosen.

CRAIG: Well, all the clouds of a perfect storm are gathering. You've got civil cases. You've got a criminal investigation. You've got congressional investigations and so the clouds of a perfect storm that could lead to an impeachment are certainly there on the horizon.


ROSEN: A constitutional crisis is when ordinary and legal authorities don't provide the answer and there's violence on the streets or protest. And the Supreme Court can't decide it. And if the president were to pardon himself that could possibly lead to a constitutional crisis.

SMERCONISH: Counsel, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your time and attention.

What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish. I'll read some during the course of this program. You can also visit me on my Facebook page.

Katherine, what do you got? Put something up there for me.

"The day after Scaramucci is appointed and Spicer resigns Trump is full tweet storm mode. Is this going to be the new normal, @smerconish?"

Christine, I'll tell you what I think. I think that by this change in command within the communications operation, he is saying, it's the sales that's gone wrong here and not the product. And I know that many of you will disagree with that assessment. Yours truly included. Give me another one if you can. "Smerconish, why do you defend

Spicer? He's an adult. He made choices, he's accountable like all of us."

Steve, I recognize that. I just think that he had the toughest job in Washington and I'm including the commander-in-chief. And on a personal level, I think he's always been a very decent guy to deal with. And I'm not alone in that characterization. I have felt for him on many occasions during these first six months.

One more if we have time for it. "Have you considered that he may have been fired because he was doing an interview with you?"

Nick Nasti, that is a nasty thought.

Up ahead, I talk to the governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was in Washington accepting recognition of California's successful efforts to combat partisan gerrymandering.

And is the reason that no NFL team has signed quarterback Colin Kaepernick, his afro? I'm about to ask Bob Costas about this pronouncement by Michael Vick.


MICHAEL VICK, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: The first thing we got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. You know what I mean? I'm not up here to try to be politically correct but even if he puts cornrows in, I don't think he should represent himself, you know, in that way.



[09:18:15] SMERCONISH: Question, is NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick being blackballed because of his political beliefs, his performance or his look? You'll recall that last year the San Francisco 49er knelt during the national anthem saying that he could not show pride in a flag for a country that, quote, "oppresses black people and people of color."

Well, this season Kaepernick's a free agent. But so far no team has stepped up to sign him. And former quarterback Michael Vick weighed in this week saying that Kaepernick needs to clean up his image and should cut his hair.


VICK: The first thing we got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. You know what I mean? I'm not up here to try to be politically correct but even if he puts cornrows in, I don't think he should represent himself, you know, in that way in terms of, you know, just the hairstyle. Just go clean cut. You know, why not? You know, you're already dealing with a lot -- a lot of controversies surrounding this issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a fascinating thing to hear you say, Mike.

VICK: He needs to do is, you know, just try to be presentable. I mean, look, all the social media stuff that he's doing, we get it, we understand it. It's time for, you know, Colin to step up in a different way.


SMERCONISH: So here's the haircut that he's referring to. There's the pic. Kaepernick fired back with the reference to Stockholm syndrome implying that Michael Vick had taken on the views of his employers. But is this all a coded discussion about race in sports?

Joining me now, one of the deans of American sports broadcasting, how about 12 Olympics, seven Super Bowls, seven World Series, 10 NBA Finals and 28 Emmys?

Thank you so much, Bob Costas, for being here.

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS COMMENTATOR: I'm worn out, I hope I can make it through the next few minutes.


SMERCONISH: So is he being blackballed? I'm laughing, but it's a serious subject.

[09:20:02] COSTAS: I don't think there's any question he's being blackballed. Do I think there's been an edict from the legal office? No. Do I think the 32 owners got together and decided collectively that this would be their approach? No. But it's obvious that there are at least 64, and in some cases teams might carry three quarterbacks, and we talk about training camps, there's more than 100 quarterbacks in training camp as teams practice and play exhibition games.

The idea that Colin Kaepernick, while he's not Tom Brady, he's not Aaron Rodgers, he's not Russell Wilson or Cam Newton at this point in his career, but the idea that Colin Kaepernick can't play for some team and that he isn't among the 50 or 60 best quarterbacks who could play in the NFL is ridiculous.

SMERCONISH: Are you saying that they're more concerned, the NFL owners, about putting fannies in seats than they are winning?

COSTAS: Well, they're more concerned I would think with the PR blowback. The fan reaction. Now there is some cover for some of these owners, and in some cases it's legitimate in that Colin Kaepernick came to prominence -- I don't want to get too inside football here, but running the pistol offense or zone read offense that depends upon the versatility of a quarterback, the ability to run or throw.

And there are some thought that NFL defenses have quickly adjusted to that. And Kaepernick's team went 2-14 a years ago, which may obscure the fact that while he wasn't great, he wasn't terrible individually. He threw for 16 touchdowns, only four interceptions, had a decent quarterback rating. So some teams may say, look, we don't run a system that aligns with the abilities of Colin Kaepernick. That's legitimate. But again, 32 teams, backups, come on.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Bob, is this a coach or owner call? And you know I'm a political animal. Talk to me about the politics that run through the offices of each in the NFL.

COSTAS: I think this is primarily an owner call. Now, as I said without being repetitive, there may be some teams that very legitimately say Colin Kaepernick has a lot of ability. He doesn't fit in our system. But that doesn't account for all 32 teams.

Mike Florio on "Pro Football Talk" on NBC Sports, who's connected to the league, knows everything that's going on. I spoke with him a couple of days ago. And he said that the usual sort of gathering of intel that you'd find about almost anybody who could play in the NFL. A sixth-round draft choice, a potential free agent linebacker, teams are always looking for intel, they're making inquiries to former coaches, to personnel director.

There's almost no buzz around the league about Colin Kaepernick which indicates to me that coaches and front office people are under the impression that it's useless to pursue it because the owners won't sign him.

SMERCONISH: If we were having this conversation in the context of the NBA, would it have the same outcome?

COSTAS: I don't think it would, although it's interesting that the NBA had in place a longstanding rule whereas the NFL had none about national anthem policy. You'll recall about 20 years ago, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf who played with a number of teams in the NFL refused to -- in the NBA rather refused to stand for the national anthem. They reached a compromise where he would stand in kind of a prayerful position. He held his hands up like this.

The other alternative was to remain in the locker room. The NFL did not anticipate this. They have no policy and all they have said is that, while we encourage players to stand respectively for the national anthem, they are free to do whatever they choose to do.

SMERCONISH: Has he earned -- Kaepernick, has he earned standing among the likes of Ali, Tommy Smith and Giancarlos?

COSTAS: I don't think so, but before answering that, let me say this, others who followed his lead, for example Brandon Marshall, the linebacker with the Broncos, or Malcolm Jenkins, the safety with the your Philadelphia Eagles, virtually no repercussions. It's Kaepernick who owns this. He was on the coverage of "TIME" magazine. It's Kaepernick that this whole controversy seems to center around.

He was not the only one. And when you consider the fact that domestic abusers, people guilty of various forms of misbehavior find a place on NFL rosters. Pacman Jones was just suspended again for a single game for some run-in with the police several months ago. This guy's got a rap sheet a mile long and collects millions of dollars from the Cincinnati Bengals with various times seemed to have been running a halfway house for misprints. You got to believe that Colin Kaepernick, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with him politically, deserves a chance to ply his trade.

SMERCONISH: I think you make a convincing argument. Can I just say that I thought Michael Vick got criticized this week for things he said? And by the way, he withdrew some of that thought process.

COSTAS: Yes, he did. He walked it back.

SMERCONISH: I thought he was giving him agent-like advice. He was not telling him what's right, he was simply saying hey, you know, if you want to get back in, this is the way you got to play it?

[09:25:01] COSTAS: Yes, I think it was well intended but Michael has since walked it back. There are a variety of hairstyles in sports worn by people of all different backgrounds. So I think that's probably a minor issue when it comes to Colin Kaepernick.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Bob Costas, you are kind enough to stick around so that we may later discuss that other famous crime for which O.J. Simpson was acquitted because we all remember you were anchoring an NBA Final that was famously interrupted by O.J.'s Bronco chase so I'm really looking forward to that.


SMERCONISH: What do you think? And keep tweeting me @smerconish, and hitting my Facebook page, which I'm told by Katherine is blowing up over my Sean Spicer comments.

"Smerconish, Vick's comments were ignorant. Sports players have a long history of rockin' afros."

Elizabeth, as I just said to Bob Costas, I think it was Michael Vick saying not so much Stockholm syndrome, like Michael Vick cares what Kaepernick's haircut looks like. I think he was simply saying if you want to get back in the NFL, you got to be smart about this.

Give me another one. "Kap hair has nothing to do with it. It's what he stood for. And the NFL owners don't want to be on the spotlight."

Unknown X, I think Bob Costas just laid it out. I mean, Costas has the credentials. He gave me a no BS answer. I said, Bob, is he being blackballed? He said, I think that he is.

One more. "Smerconish, Kaepernick is a mediocre backup quarterback wanting $20 million a year. That's keeping him from getting a job. Not his hair or his protests."

Angry Moderate, by the way, I love your name, Angry Moderate. Sometimes I'm an angry moderate. You might be right. It might be systematic, meaning as Bob just laid out, it could be that the new style of offense doesn't suit with his attributes. Still ahead, I sat down on Capitol Hill yesterday with Arnold

Schwarzenegger to find out why he was in town to lobby against gerrymandering.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: We cannot continue this way. It doesn't matter if it's a Democratic president or Republican president. This is not just Trump. I mean, Obama had a very difficult time getting anything done, so, I mean, it has to stop.



[09:31:33] SMERCONISH: Arnold Schwarzenegger distinguished himself as governor of California for his initiatives in addressing gerrymandering and partisan primaries. The box office star and former Mr. Olympia is passionate about polarization, a plight he now addresses at his USC Institute for State and Global Policy.

Well, yesterday, we sat down on Capitol Hill where California's efforts were being recognized.


SMERCONISH: Governor, a lot of trends begin in California, whether it's decriminalization of marijuana, the hula-hoop, Van Halen. Is combating gerrymandering going to be one of those trends that leaps from California to the rest of the country?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, that's the idea. I hope so because I think it worked very well in California. We've seen tremendous changes already. I think that the legislators are much more in a spirit now to work together and to get things done. And we don't want to have Democrats not be Democrats. You should be Democrats, Republicans should be Republicans, and they should have the ideology and all this stuff, but we want them to be able to work together.

And thus in so many cases they did work together, in so many cases they couldn't work together because we always hear them saying, like, if I vote for this, I'm going to go back to my district and I'm going to get voted out. And I'm going to get beaten up. And I'm never going to be able to raise any money again for my campaign, this is a disaster. I can't do it. Even though it's a great idea.

So what bothered me was that I think -- and someone says it's a great idea but I can't vote for it because the way the district lines are drawn. So that has to stop.

SMERCONISH: How do you make it sexy? H do you make this appealing? The sort of thing that people want to talk? I mean, you've been very effective on your Facebook page with some videos.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, you know, the thing is all about communication. There's certain subjects that are very, very difficult to communicate to the mass because people don't have much time to listen to a 30- minute video or to read a lot about something because there's just so many issues out there. So you got to be able to find a way about communicating very quickly. And just say, look, what we did in California is basically told the voters, and said look, the politicians are picking the voters.

But it's supposed to be the other way around. The voters pick the politicians. And so they've turned the whole thing upside down. Let's stop it. And so people got it and they started paying attention more and more.

But like I said, remember, it lost four times, this initiative. And the fifth time, it won. And so I think that the rest of the country will be an uphill battle. But it is totally doable. I think we can go state to state. There's 37 states that have the initiative process where it can go directly to the people with a proposition. And just in California. And I think we can use that means to get to the people, if the legislator or someone to cooperate that want to create the reforms.

And the rest can do it through the courts. I mean, there's a case now that will go all the way to the Supreme Court that deals exactly with that Wisconsin case, that this deals with redistricting reform.

SMERCONISH: You know that in that Wisconsin case -- I'm glad you brought it up, Governor. The issue is whether partisan gerrymandering should be regarded the same as racial or ethnic gerrymandering. Do you see them all in similar light?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, absolutely. I think we should, first of all, pay attention to that. You know, is everyone dealt with fairly. And represented fairly. But it's also a matter of making it competitive for, you know, the politicians.

[09:35:06] Because the way it is right now, as you -- as I said earlier out there in my speech, you have Congress that has a low approval rating. But 90 percent of them get reelected.


SCHWARZENEGGER: Because it's fixed. The system is fixed. That no one can challenge them in their district. They don't even have to pay any money for their re-election. Nothing. So when there's no competition, it takes away performance. So competition creates performance and that's what we need in politics because the private sector in America is doing so well. So if we have a public sector that matches the private sector, I mean, this country can go through the roof again.

SMERCONISH: You are not an ideologue. And I think that's one of the reasons why you're able to get so many things done in California.

President Trump, he's not an ideologue either, and yet he's having difficulty getting things done. What management advice would you give him? SCHWARZENEGGER: I'm not going to give him any advice other than just

bring people together, and Democrats and Republicans. Let's not leave out half of the people, half of the intellectual power, the smartness, the experience, just because they are Democrats.

We got to have Democrats and Republicans come together and solve the problems of this nation. And I think he has enough votes on some of the issues that the Republicans can do for themselves. But I just think that if everyone is in the game and everyone is participating you get much more creativity, much more action and something that will stick for a long time. Because, remember, all these executive orders that Obama did, they're gone.

All of the executive orders that Trump did, they're going to be gone when the next president comes in. So we need to pass legislation. We need to have Senate and House come together and pass those things so he can sign it.

SMERCONISH: People that I meeting just in my day-to-day existence, they don't see the world through left wing or right wing glasses. They're independent thinkers. They're conservative on some things, usually fiscal. And liberal on a whole host of other things, social, mostly. But you don't see representatives, except their Governor Schwarzenegger, who seem to reflect those kinds of views.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, there's a lot of legislators, a lot of lawmakers that are in the middle, that are willing to work together. I think that it's just an enormous amount of others that have stuck in their ideological corners. And I think in the end, what politicians have to do -- if they're Democrats or Republican, they have to go and say to themselves, I'm a public servant. I'm not a party servant. And stop serving the party.

It can be staying with the ideology, but you have also to be able to go and cross the aisle and work together with other people in order to get some things done for this country. Because the way it has been, for the last eight year, where everyone is stuck and nothing is getting done, I mean, we cannot continue this way. It doesn't matter if it's a Democratic president or Republican republic president.

This is not just Trump. I mean, Obama had a very difficult time getting anything done. So, I mean, it has to stop. That's why redistricting reform is so important.


SMERCONISH: You want to join Arnold's Army, the Web site is

Let's see what you're tweeting me @smerconish and putting on my Facebook page.

"Smerconish, gerrymandering is the Republicans' last stance to scandalously get the votes. Otherwise they would lose."

Sheila, the Republicans were very effective. Democrats were sleep at the switch in the aftermath of the 2000 election. But it's a tale as old as time and both parties have done it. It's just gotten much more sophisticated because of big data.

Coming up in 1994, Bob Costas was on the air covering the NBA Finals. When suddenly, he was cutting away for a different kind of sports story. The Bronco chase of O.J. Simpson who was granted parole this week for his armed robbery conviction.


COSTAS: The Knicks and the Rockets have reached halftime, but before we talk about basketball, let's return to Tom Brokaw for report on the still developing O.J. Simpson's story, and here's Tom at our Manhattan studios. Tom.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Bob, we are witnessing tonight a modern tragedy and drama of Shakespearean proportion being played out live on television.



[09:43:03] SMERCONISH: O.J. Simpson won his fight for parole this week after serving nine years in prison for armed robbery charges. I asked Bob Costas to stick around because he had a unique role in that other Simpson case. The day of the famous Bronco case on the L.A. freeways, Costas was broadcasting game five of the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and the Houston rockets.

As detailed in the ESPN documentary "June 17th, 1994," it was just one of five major sporting events the same day as the ex-NFL's riveting ride including golfer Arnold Palmer playing his final round ever at the U.S. Open.

Bob Costas rejoins me to discuss the latest twist in the Simpson saga. And what it was like having to cut in to an NBA Final for the kind of news that well, he doesn't normally cover.

Bob, take me in the booth at the NBA game and tell what you most remember.

COSTAS: Well, Marv Albert was calling the game for "NBC Courtside" and I had a perch up at the mezzanine level. And this is before anyone had any streaming video on cell phones or whatever. And a lot of people, once they got wind of what was going on, including some members of the press, were going out on to the concourses where television sets might be available to follow the Bronco chase.

Others, fans and media both, were kind of crowding around me and looking over my shoulder at the monitor which sometimes has the game in its entirety, sometimes was following the Bronco chase, other times kind of strangely had a split screen of it, too. And then there were times when I would take it back from Marv, throw it to Tom.

He'd complete his report and his observations, then I'd have to hand it off. But this wasn't the usual transition from, you know, figure skating to skiing that you do in sports casting. This was a rather unusual situation to say the least.

SMERCONISH: We have a clip from the documentary. Let's roll it.


COSTAS: Kelly, Kelly, you're not going to do like an effect or anything, right?


COSTAS: So when we come up, we'll be in double boxes, right?

[09:45:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. That's, cool, thank you.

COSTAS: Are you going to come to a single to start? All right.

This is Bob Costas back at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks and the Rockets have reached halftime --


SMERCONISH: Hey, Bob, as always you are cool understand fire. What was running through your mind as you're juggling those responsibilities on that night?

COSTAS: Well, I knew that the O.J. story would transcend the basketball game. But on the other hand, it was the NBA Finals and especially for fans of each of those both that was something that in the moment was of paramount importance. So you had to balance the two but I knew that going forward the O.J. story would be the bigger story.

I had worked with O.J. for four or five years on NFL coverage. He and I had played golfs several times, we'd had dinner a number of times. I knew he was something of a rogue. I was not aware of all that became -- apart from the letters themselves, all that became known about his background prior to that. He may have led some sort of double life in that respect but most of us generally liked him.

He was good company. He was an affable person. The kind of person that would remember the name of the kid who brings you coffee and the newspapers in the morning on the set. But by the time the Bronco chase took place on Friday you're already beginning to think if you have any common sense at all, an innocent man doesn't run. An innocent man doesn't do what he did. And then as the trial played out, regardless of the verdict, anyone who lives on this planet has a pretty good idea of what actually happened.

SMERCONISH: Am I right that you didn't know it that night, but came to know, he was trying to reach you from the white Ford Bronco?

COSTAS: Yes, apparently, he called first my home in St. Louis and no one answered and then he called the Studio Line because he had that number because the same studio from which we did the NBA games, was the studio from which we covered the pre-game and halftime for the NFL, so, he had the number.

He calls. And a tech picks up the phone. And he says, is Bob Costas there? No, he's not here. I have to speak to him right away. Well, he's not here. I have to speak to him right away. Who's calling? O.J. Simpson. Yes, right. Click. And the guy hangs up the phone.

Now that was on Friday. A few days later I'm in Houston awaiting game seven -- in between six game and seven. And a woman from "TIME" magazine calls and asked me, did you hear from O.J. Simpson during the Bronco chase? We hear that he called you. And I say truthfully, I think at the time, no that didn't happened. And I think nothing more of it until the first and only time since the murders that I've seen O.J. he asked me to come by the county jail, and I did.

Robert Kardashian picked up at the hotel. He took me to the L.A. County jail. A.J. Collins who was driving the Bronco that night was there. And as we talked with O.J., almost casually said, you know, we tried to call you from the back of the Bronco.

Now had he reached me, anyone's first impulse would have been to ask whether he wanted to go on the air. If he'd gone on the air from the back of the Bronco, then that would be I guess a memorable television moment but it never came together.

SMERCONISH: Quick answer, because I have a time constraint. What is it he wanted to say to you? What is it he wanted you to do? Do you know?

COSTAS: Yes, his notion was apart from the murders themselves that he as a person was being misrepresented. That the media was not being fair to him. Where have we heard that before? But in any case, the media was not being fair to him. And he thought that someone who knew him and liked him might be able to president another side to act as some kind of character witness.

In that moment, with him heading down the 405 in that Bronco, I don't know that anyone would have taken that stance. That wasn't -- the fact that he was a nice guy to play golf with or to go to dinner with, I don't think was relevant at that point. But obviously his thought process was not that of a normal person in that moment.

SMERCONISH: Can you come back next Saturday and the Saturday after that and the Saturday after that?

COSTAS: I don't know if I can come back every Saturday but I'd be happy to come back again. And you know, we didn't really address the political part of the Colin Kaepernick thing. And I wasn't dodging it. We just didn't have time in the segment. Maybe we can talk about that the next time.

SMERCONISH: I'd love it. Bob Costas, what a privilege. Thank you so much.

COSTAS: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments.

Hit me, Katherine. What do you got?

"Smerconish, Michael, do you think Trump will have a Cabinet post for O.J.?" What am I going to say to that other than no. Back in a moment with more.


[09:53:48] SMERCONISH: Hey, if you miss any of the program, you can catch us at any time on CNNGo, online and through your connected devices and apps. We thank you so much for following on Twitter and Facebook.

My producer T.C. in Raleigh, North Carolina, today says she can't keep up. The volume is just off the charts, which is a good thing.

What do we have, Katherine? Put it up on the screen. Let's see.

"Why didn't Spicer tell you about the resignation? Didn't you get him the job?"

You know, Don, it's a great question. What you're really saying to me is, did he know? When I was in the White House yesterday and walked out the door of Spicer's office at 9:45, because he was seeing the president in 15 minutes, did he know he was getting out?

I don't know the answer to that question. My hunch is that he didn't. That he knew that at some point soon, this was not in the cards. But did he know in 15 minutes? He didn't exhibit, you know, the body language of someone who was on a 15-minute countdown if that answers your questions.

Give me another one. "Smerconish, pardons, why would Trump ask what his pardon power is if there's no there-there."

Well, I asked Greg Craig that question, right?

[09:55:01] I mean, I said it sounds nefarious like uh-oh, we've got explore pardon power because we've got an issue. On the other hand, as an attorney, wouldn't I be thinking in my mind about their pardon power of my client? Maybe it's a different man for the president to be expressing it. But I don't read as much into that as you do.

Thank you for watching. Stick around. There's another great program at the top of the hour.


SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Hard to believe, we're just six months into the Trump administration. By any reasonable assessment, it was not a good week for POTUS. He dissed his own attorney general. His staff has been brushing up on the subject of pardons. He changed lawyers and his press secretary quit.

Still I want to give the president a pat on the back.