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Interview With Author Naomi Wolf On Sexual Misconduct; Alabama Political Hard Hitters John Merill and Marty Conners Weigh In on Judge Roy Moore's Campaign; Pentagon Approves Payment for Soldier's Sex Reassignment Surgery; Dr. Christine McGinn Volunteers Her Surgical Work Free of Charge; Articles of Impeachment Have Been Filed Against President Donald Trump; Tom Steyer, Billionaire Environmentalist, Financially Supports Campaign for Trump's Impeachment. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 18, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia; we welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. A torrent of sexual wrong doing charges continues across party lines The latest against Senator Ralph Franken, who some already say should step down. Could that happen? Should that happen? Feminist icon, Naomi Wolf, is here to weigh in.
Meanwhile, despite additional accusers, Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore, swears he'll never step down until he's in his grave. But, as Moore falls behind in the polls what are the GOP's options? Plus, you've seen the ads, California billionaire, Tom Steyer, is on a crusade to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
But where's the evidence of treason or bribery or a high crime or a misdemeanor? I'll ask Steyer. For the first time ever, the Pentagon paid for a trans-soldier's vaginoplasty. The plastic surgeon who performed that operation, Dr. Christine McGinn, herself transgender, is here to explain. But first, good news, amid the drip, drip, drip daily allegations of sexual harassment, we're in the middle of a sexual right revelation, the right of a woman to be left alone and the corresponding obligation of a man to leave her alone, with real consequences for him of any violations.
Now in order for that right to be fully recognized, more women will have to make contemporaneous complaints and pursue their legal remedies against those men who overstep. Too often in the past, stigma and embarrassment precluded prompt reporting; hopefully, that will change in a more welcoming environment, in which women who've been wrong can present their claims. That's in their best interest and in the best interest of men who stand accused because each may then rely on fresh memories and evidence.
Otherwise, there's no way to safeguard the due process rights of the men accused and the public is left making decisions swayed by gender and partisan predilection. The latest to be a focus of such claims is Senator Al Franken. While this story is just two days old, it's already a remarkable snap shot of just how far the revolution has taken us. In the old days, which may mean going back just a couple of weeks the accusation likely wouldn't have been made, or if it had, would probably have been denied.
The perpetrators colleague most likely have said things like, this is a matter for someone else like for the courts to decide, or this seems out of character for the person we know. But now women are feeling somewhat more emancipated to come forward, and perpetrators are somewhat more likely to admit fault, like Franken did. And colleagues are more likely to undertake an investigation, as the US Senate will do, and punish even over issues that arose many years ago.
Until the revelation is complete, there will be some instances based on events many years ago where sharp disagreements exist between the parties as to what occurred. In those cases, the public will need to apply critical thinking and evidentiary analysis to that which is know, resisting the temptation of making judgment based upon like or commonality with the parties.
Some of us lived through the Civil Rights revolution for African Americans, including the passage of the Civil Rights Act, most of us lived through the gay rights revolution including the national recognition of marriage equality. Now we may be at the beginning of the development of the civil right to be left alone.
It's about time for this right to be recognized, valued, asserted, and protected by us all. Joining me now to discuss, Naomi Wolf, author of the Seminal Book, The Beauty Myth, and The CEO of the Daily Clout, she also served as an advisor to Al Gore. Naomi, what do you make of my assessment of this being such a remarkable moment in time?
NAOMI WOLF, FEMANIST AND AUTHOR: I mean, Mike you're right, it is a remarkable moment in time but not because there are new rights. The law is very clear, and actually very good, on what these alleged violations are. What is changing is, woman and some men are done with taking in to themselves, shame and bad secrets that don't belong to them. And they're bringing them forward and technology is helping too.
Social media allows women who, and I will just use women for short hand, men are violated as well, to make claims are then other women in real time can validate. And what happens then you start to look at the methodology of the perpetrator rather than always singling out the victim and looking at her, what was she wearing, what did she say, why was it her fault. And what we see again and again is all these waves of accusations coming forward, is that perpetrator often have the same methodology over and over and so that really does radically change our reality.
We're looking at historical events that are likely, rather than, the eternal he said, she said.
SMERCONISH: With regards to Senator Franken, there are two aspects of this claim, there's the forced kiss and there's the photograph. In Naomi Wolf's assessment, are they equally reprehensible? Or is one worse than the other?
WOLF: Well I'd really, Mike, like us to get away from these subjective discussions of sexual violation, sexual assault and really drag it always out of culture and emotions into the realm of law. I was in my fifties before I was told by my partner who is a private investigator that my professor putting his hands between my thighs unwilling, against my will when I was 19 is sexual assault according to the law of Connecticut. I didn't know, I thought it was harassment.
And all of the discussion, a lot of the discussion in the media, including CNN, often has been identifying a lot of these violations that are crimes according to state law. It various state by state but they are crimes, as harassment that's not accurate. So you know, forcibly kissing someone is sexual battery or sexual assault, depending on where you are. In Afghanistan, or even on a plane, if in a military context that's US law, the US law applies. And the other thing is, I can't see from the image, that extraordinary image, whether Senator Franken, or then Al Franken, hands are on Ms. Tweeden's body but if, that's a big difference. If he's touching her, it is sexual battery or sexual assault. If he isn't touching her, it's just an incredibly, horribly, insensitive violating thing to do.
SMERCONISH: Right. I ask because Leann Tweeden in her statement on Facebook and in her interviews has said that she was groped. And from that photograph, I don't know that he's actually physically touching her, he may be just staging something in poor taste. And presumably, she would have awakened, right? If he had touched her, I'm just wondering how you assess one.-
WOLF: --I mean, not necessarily. Just to jump in, this Tweeden thing, all of these waves of horrible of descriptions of crimes, this Tweeden thing really gets me. I've started to speak publically about the fact that I too am a survivor of childhood rape and this image is such, it says everything and it's going to be triggering to a lot of rape victims about rape culture.
There is nothing funny about this image. First of all, she's unconscious so she cannot, you know she's unconscious. she's exhausted, she's been in a war zone, she legally cannot consent if she is not conscious. If she's asleep, the law is very clear about that. And it it just says everything about, you know, how rape culture says women bodies are yours to enjoy, use, touch, manipulate, they have no boundaries.
So it's a very serious image to me and the thing that really offends me about Senator Franken's apology, even though it was kind of written with a lot of input of women and it sounds nominally kind of heartfelt, it, it infuriates me because it's 2006 when that image took place, it's not 1840. He, you know, women like me and all these other women in the women movement, have been very vocal for decades, and decades, and decades.
And the law is very clear, that touching women sexually against their will, when they're unconscious, when they're intoxicated, and the law is clear about that, is illegal. And, you know, the other think is a third of women have already been raped or sexually molested by the time they're 18, 17 percent of men. He doesn't know if she's already been violated, right? Like, when I mean you know, many women who are victimized are being re victimize so it's a very serious image. And, I don't think.-
SMERCONISH: --Quick final.-
WOLF: --An apology, is, is sufficient in those terms, he should have known better.
SMERCONISH: OK, you've just anticipated my final questions. Where she has accepted his apology, are we obligated as a society to do so?
WOLF: Well again, Mike, I don't want to be so difficult, but I want to keep challenging this notion of what our social views are about this. It's not up to her to decide what standard procedure should be in the Senate when someone's accused of an assault or a violation. Right?
There should be transparent procedures in every workplace, including in the Senate, including on a USO tour, including in the US military, in Afghanistan. Right? Where the US was holding this event with the nonprofit, and they should be transparent. I mean, (Yale), when I filed a complaint against Doctor (Bloom), decades later I filed a formal grievance as you encourage women to do.
I did it in 2016, and the system is set up to say, well Naomi, what do you want to have happen. Well, LeAnn, what do you want to have happen? It's not up to me, and when a woman files a police report, it's the state that should be prosecuting.
SMERCONISH: I get it. You're making, you're making an argument for the rule of law.-
WOLF: --I am indeed.
SMERCONISH: --and I buy into that. Naomi Wolf.
WOLF: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Naomi, thank you as always.
WOLF: It's a pleasure. Thank you.
[09:10:00] SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish. Or hit my Facebook page after and what do we have? From Facebook: "I think it's great, the floodgates have opened and women are ready to talk in a forum where people are actually listening and care." And Amanda, as part of my opening commentary, what I was trying to say is, go back to that one if you would, the first one, that's a good thing for women.
Right? Because now hopefully they won't feel ostracized if they bring forth their claims, it's also good for men that there be timely complaints made while memories are fresh and there is other evidence either supporting or in contradiction of the charges. So I think it's all good. One more if I've got time, I'm sorry about that, that was a twitter I missed. There are sexual assault, sexual harassment, and bad behavior.
Don't you think, Frank, it is more about bad behavior than sexual assault or harassment, staged photo with the intent to be funny at a rehearsal kiss that wasn't forced, political or traumatize? Caroldee, I see the two separately. Naomi, I think suggests that they're equally reprehensible. I treat the photograph differently than I do the forced kiss, which might have been a battery or assault depending on how it played out. So that's my view of it.
Up next, that other potential Senate scandal. Alabama candidate, Roy Moore, who says he'll only step down when he's in his grave. How will this story end? I want to go over the options.
[09:17:00] SMERCONISH: So how is this Roy Moore standoff going to end? With Alabama's December 12th special election for Senator Jeff Sessions former seat less than a month away what are the remaining options for the Republican Party and what's the view from the ground? Joining me now two perfect people to provide insights, Alabama's Secretary of State John Merrill, and former Alabama GOP Chair Marty Connors.
Mr. Secretary let me being with you, I want to game it out. Election Day is 12/12. The people are already voting by absentees so there's no chance Roy Moore's name comes off that ballot in any scenario, right?
JOHN MERILL, ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: No Sir, Michael our state law would have indicated that after the names had been confirmed by the state party on October 11th, that when the ballots were printed and begun distribution on October 18th, within that 76-day window, there's absolutely no way that the ballot can be changed. A candidate cannot be not about substituted or to removed from the ballot at that time.
SMERCONISH: You could have a write-in candidate, has anyone, as far as you know, Mr. Secretary, won in Alabama statewide, as a write-in candidate?
MERILL: No Sir. To our knowledge, we cannot find any indication of any candidate that's ever won statewide. We've had regional elections where write-in candidates have been successful, local county races, legislative races where that has occurred but not at the state wide level. We have had a lot of information introduced to us about people who have an interest in write-ins.
One of the things we'll do at the polls on Election Day to make the process a lot simpler for our voters is we will have an information sheet and instruction sheet that will be available for their review. And will also be on our website to download prior to the election if they wish to write in a candidate of their choice, other than the two that will appear on the ballot. SMERCONISH: All right, number three on my list does Governor Kay
Ivey have the opportunity to postpone this election, and if so, on what basis?
MERILL: Well, a governmental proclamation from Governor Ivey can establish a date for a special election. That's not going to happen in this particular instance. And primarily because people are already voting, voting has been underway (Ucaba) Military overseas voters, for regular absentee voters who that wish to participate.
So those hundreds of ballots that have already been cast in all 67 counties are out there and I know the Governor does not want to interrupt that process by delaying the vote that will occur in 24 days.
SMERCONISH: All right, here's scenario 24, and thank you for being so concise in your assessment. Let's say Judge Moore is elected to the U.S. Senate. He gets to the senate and is expelled by a two-thirds vote. You folks in Alabama still need to fill that seat, even if there's a temporary replacement, could Judge Moore come back and run in whatever the next election might be?
MERILL: Well, certainly, I don't see anything that would disqualify him legally from being able to do that. I do find that scenario highly unlikely. But the rules of the senate would actually govern the seating of a new member and the governance of the senate overall would term that individual's ability to serve.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Secretary, I really appreciate your being here to clear up some discrepancies.
MERILL: Michael, thank you for having me as your guest this morning.
SMERCONISH: Now to former Alabama GOP Chair Marty Connors. Mr. Connors, the latest poll from Fox News shows that Judge Moore is now behind his Democratic opponent Doug Jones by eight points. Does that comport with your gut feel from the ground?
MARTY CONNERS, FORMER ALABAMA GOP CHAIR: Not even closely. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't trust any poll right now.
CONNERS: Not even closely. I mean first of all, I think the samples included way too many democrats. If any poll -- I just don't believe any polls right now. The ground is totally fluid.
SMERCONISH: so, I was wondering if perhaps the polling data might reflect a reverse Bradley effect, if you follow me here.
That if a pollster calls a home in Alabama, maybe the person is for Judge Moore maybe there half of the vote there is evangelical Christian.
CONNERS: Right, right.
SMERCONISH: But you're not going to tell - you're not going to tell some stranger on the phone because it is suddenly so out of step to say I'm for Judge, so you lie.
CONNERS: Well, I saw that first hand when I was going door to door in the northern neighborhoods of Cincinnati, Ohio. People who were voting for Trump -- this was the same weekend; by the way, the video came out. People who were voting for Trump just didn't really want to say it for multiple reasons.
But I guess some of it they don't want somebody showing up at their door. They don't know what's going to happen next. They don't want to get labeled. Right now, you can get labeled for these kinds of things and people don't like that. So, that's why I don't trust any polling whatsoever right now.
SMERCONISH: Is it fair to say that the Moore folks from outside Alabama tell Alabama what they should do; they're probably benefits from Judge Moore. That Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, whomever it might be, what side, it doesn't matter, but you're going to bristle. I think I'd bristle at outsiders telling me how to vote in Pennsylvania?
CONNERS: Well, that's pretty much true across the south and western states in general. I mean, just let us choose our own. And we really don't need to adjudicate this in "The Washington Post" or CNN. I understand you have to do your job. And you're doing a good job. But -- but this is for Alabama to decide. And ultimately, we think that the people and not the media is the best jury.
SMERCONISH: People forget, and correct me if I'm wrong, that Judge Moore, when running successfully in that 2012 race for Chief Justice only won by four points. He's never been rock solid. Is that true?
CONNERS: That's not true either because it goes to your turnout models. He also enjoyed -- what was it -- Obama was running, was it? Yeah.
SMERCONISH: Yeah, right. So --
CONNERS: So, you had tremendous African American turnout, where you will have it this time, but I don't know that you'll have the same money on the ground this time as the Obama machine did.
SMERCONISH: If Judge Moore should be successful, this was a problem for the National GOP in so far as in 2018, every Democrat will link their opponent to Judge Roy Moore. He will essentially become the running mate for every Democrat running anywhere.
CONNERS: I would agree with that. And I don't know that it will work, though. I mean, keep in mind, the conservatives, and rural voters, traditional voters, and evangelicals are not limited to the state lines in the state of Alabama.
SMERCONISH: OK, so you're there, you've got the credentials. Where's this thing headed?
CONNERS: Well, I'll tell you the reason I don't know exactly where it's headed, I'll tell what you the strategy is. Let's just take the whole issue of the accusers aside and just talk about the horse race. I think from a Democratic perspective what they're trying to do is create enough confusion where they suppress, let's say, suburban Republican voters, in other words, I'm just not going to vote.
And that's, I think, what they're hoping to do. That's the part I cannot predict. So, if you wanted to do a real poll, I would try to get maybe a focus group looking at Republican voters about this issue. And the question is, will some of them stay home.
SMERCONISH: But I understand you're giving me a political answer, but you don't expect it --
CONNERS: No --
SMERCONISH: -- for voters to keep out of their mind all of that investigative reporting from the "Post" whatever the source may have been is, a broken clock is right twice a day, you got to look at all of the details in those tales, right? You and say something's here?
CONNERS: Well that -- that's true. This is also, what a four decade old just breaking story it's not like there's an actual piece of hard evidence. And some of the evidence already has been proven questionable, as you pull back the skin of the onion. But, no, I'm not giving you a political answer. I'm giving you an honest political science answer.
And that the question is what will suburban voters do, Republican, will they vote for the continuation of tax reform or removal of Obamacare? Will they vote for continuation of a conserve Supreme Court or will they sit at home? And that's the question I've yet to come up with an answer for.
SMERCONISH: Yeah, my hunch is that perhaps they should. But none of those things are going to matter as much as the allegations that have been leveled against them. You can have the final word.
CONNERS: I would think just the opposite, I think a lot of people are going to go to the polls and say I don't like this, I'm confused about this but I haven't made a conclusion. Therefore, I'm going to vote to maintain control of the Senate and a conservative Supreme Court. Remember, Kennedy could be up for appointment, or replacement here, very, very soon.
SMERCONISH: I know. It just seems kind of odd, though that we should be -- well, for a different day. I was going to say casting a ballot for a candidate who's under attack based on all of these allegations because we want him to make a determination as to who should be on the Supreme Court of the United States. There's something not right there? CONNERS: No, didn't say that we would have him make that decision.
We would say it would be a Republican and conservative majority make that decision, as opposed to a guaranteed liberal majority.
SMERCONISH: Marty Connors thanks for being here.
CONNERS: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my twitter and Facebook pages. What do you have, Kathryn?
Franken making a bad joke isn't the same as Moore trapping a teenager in his car. Carrie, to Naomi Wolf's point it's an unlawful act if in fact he forced himself upon her; I understand the distinction. I think they need to all be dealt with, with consistency. I'm not saying they're all the same in their factual assertions, but they need to be looked at the same way and not through a partisan lens.
Another one, do we have time? Sure. God has forgiven Judge Moore and he will forgive those who vote for him. Grackle, I wish I could see your face as you're typing that, are you serious?
Still to come, this week House Democrats introduced five articles of impeachment yet they don't have the votes but impeachments most post public proponent it putting millions of his own into a national ad campaign. Tom Steyer is here.
And for the first time ever the Pentagon paid for a soldier's vaginoplasty. I'll talk to the plastic surgeon who performed the operation Dr. Christine McGinn, herself transgender.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: When does a soldier undergoing an operation make national headlines? When that active duty service member is having gender confirmation surgery and it's paid for by the Pentagon on Donald Trump's watch.
Remember, back in July and via a tweet, President Trump announced he was reinstating a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military. The President's ban caused my next guest to say right here on my program, that if the government wouldn't provide for trans soldiers she would. Dr. Christine McGinn, a former U.S. Navy Flight Surgeon, who herself, is transgender, offered to perform gender confirmation surgery on U.S. military for free. But this week as she prepared to perform her third related surgery since her pledge, her patient got a surprise. The Pentgon said it would shoulder part of the cost. This is the first time ever the government would have paid for a vaginoplasty. Dr. Christine McGinn is back with us.
Dr. McGinn, how surprised were you when you heard that news?
DR. CHRISTINE MCGINN, FORMER U.S. NAVY FLIGHT SURGEON AND TRANSGENDER VETERAN: I was pretty shocked actually. So was the patient, very shocked. However, I think it just goes to show you that the actual people that are day to day running the military want to support their troops. You know this was an effort put forth by the commanders locally to take care of their own troops. And it's gathered a lot of momentum. So it's very exciting.
SMERCONISH: The statement that was released by the Pentagon, in fact, let's put it up on the screen. I want people to see what the Pentagon said when announcing this.
This afternoon, an active duty military member received a sex reassignment surgery. Military hospitals do not have the surgical expertise to perform this type of surgery; therefore, it was conducted in a private hospital. Because this service member had already begun a sex reassignment course of treatment says the statement, and the treating doctor deemed this surgery medically necessary, a waiver was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency, et cetera, et cetera. Why was this medically necessary? You are the treating doctor presumably who deemed it medically necessary. Explain that.
MCGINN: Well, it makes it sound like I'm the one that is acting on my own, but this is really-this is an established protocol. You know I can't think of one medical organization in the United States that doesn't agree with that statement that transgender care is medically necessary. And, you know, when someone signs up to fight and die for our country, we provide them with heath care. You know, health care. And, this is just another form of health care. It's not like somebody's getting-the military's not paying for a tattoo or a hairstyle. This is health care. Just like the military pays for the GI bill, or a VA loan. You know there are things that come as benefits with fighting for your country. And we need to take care of our troops.
SMERCONISH: When I had this discussion and broke the news that you had shared with me on radio, there were more than one caller who had the mindset of saying I'm for getting rid of the ban that President Trump seeks to reinstate. But why should American taxpayers pay for a vaginoplasty? And maybe you just anticipated that question. But what is your answer to that?
MCGINN: It's pretty simple. It's health care. You know, we can't pick and choose what we are going to provide for our military members based on political controversies. You know, this is medicine. And there's science and there's facts. It doesn't take long to go-I know this is hard for people to wrap their head around, but it's not just me acting like a rogue physician. This is what established by the community of professionals in this country and around the world, frankly. Eighteen other countries have had transgender service members in their military. Some countries for 40 years and it hasn't been such a political football as it is in this country. Like I said earlier, there isn't one medical organization that is legitimate that doesn't agree with that statement. That transgender heath care is considered a medically necessary benefit.
Which I think people get sick of hearing those words but in plain English, it's a legitimate condition that is improved, based on evidence, through the treatment protocols that we use.
SMERCONISH: Dr. McGinn, when the President announced the ban via twitter, I want to put up on the screen one of the successive tweets that he put up and draw attention to his words. He said that it was due to tremendous medical costs, the victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs. What is your response to him saying that there's an enormous cost associated with welcoming transgender service personnel?
MCGINN: Well, you know, I made this offer back in August because I knew that that was an inflated statement. And it might be based on ignorance. But since I'm in the field, I wanted to shed some light on it. And you know, just-you know I offered on international television that we would be doing surgery for free for these folds. And since- and in two months, we've had 17 requests, that's all. So, for the entire United States military, 17 people are requesting surgery. We've performed three and we plan on doing several more in the next coming months. And the costs, even if the military pays for all 17 of those patients, the cost to the military is $100,000. When you compare that to all the other things like the Viagra program in the military or trips to Mar-A-Largo, it's a minute amount of money. And then if you want to talk about deployability, if you take all those 17 patients and see how many lost days of work it would be, it would be 500 lost days total for all 17 patients. So we've just taken care of everyone who potentially wants this surgery that's an active duty military member now for $100,000 and 500 lost days of work. Compare that with the tweet-
SMERCONISH: Dr. McGinn, thank you for coming back and closing the loop on this story.
MCGINN: Yes, you're welcome. People need to hear it.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, this week a half dozen House Democrats introduced Articles of Impeachment against President Trump. As of now, they don't have the votes but Billionaire Tom Steyers has been putting his money behind an impeachment movement. Will he help sway public opinion or will he embolden the President's supporters? He joins me next.
SMERCONISH: This week, a half dozen Democratic members of Congress introduced Articles of Impeachment against President Trump, but they don't have a chance of getting the votes in the Republican-led House. Democratic WHIP Steny Hoyer said now is not the time for Democrats to push for impeachment. But that hasn't stopped my next guest, Democratic mega donor and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. Surely you have even his ads here on CNN and other networks, probably not on Fox though which pulled them after it says its viewers complained. He $20 million so far on pro impeachment ads. I recently spoke with Tom Steyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO) SMERCONISH: So Mr. Steyer, let us talk Article 2, Section 4, treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Which do you think apply?
TOM STEYER, BILLIONAIRE ENVIRONMENTALIST AND DEMOCRATIC MEGA-DONOR: Well Michael, I think that there's no question that the President has obstructed justice in his firing of the head of the FBI which he said he did because he persisted in the Russian investigation. And I think that he has broken the Emoluments Clause virtually on a daily basis. And I think that his public request for the Justice Department to do a criminal investigation of his political opponents is also a clear abuse of power. And in effect, what the Constitution says about impeachment is that the President cannot be allowed to violate his trust with the American people and his-the spirit of his office. And he's clearly done that.
SMERCONISH: I ugess, my question is one of, we need to make sure when we talk about impeachment that we're dealing with objective not the subjective because you set a precedent right? If you're reliant only on conjecture. In your case, it could be Democrat who's the next President. And if Republicans have an antipathy toward that individual, they may say we see grounds for impeachment where they really couldn't be proven.
STEYER: Well, I have a couple things to say about that. One is, he has committed these infractions, he's committed these acts in public. We don't need to go through the tapes of his phone calls or tapes of emails because he's done it right in front of our eyes and he's admitted it. And the second thing I'd say is this, this President has committed-has put us in unprecedented danger. This is not a matter of policy or dislike of his health care or his taxes, or anything like that. This is a President who is a clear and present danger to the American people. I think everybody in Washington, D.C., including members of his party recognizes that. I think members of his Administration absolutely recognize that
And in fact we're seeing Senate Republicans trying to take away his ability to unilaterally use nuclear weapons because they know it's true.
SMERCONISH: Right, but in the ad I think the language you use is that he's brought us to the brink of nuclear war. But bringing us to the brink of nuclear war if in fact that's accurate, that's not treason. That's not bribery. That's not a high crime or misdemeanor. In fact, some would argue that's the situation he inherited from predecessors who didn't do anything about Kim Jong-Un.
STEYER: Well I think, Michael, I see this as two different things and I think you're conflating the two of them. One is has he met the criteria for impeachment and that was the first question you asked me and I referred to the Emoluments Clause and I referred to Obstruction of Justice-the kinds of things that meet the criterion for impeachment. The second question you said, well people could use this as a
precedent. I said actually, what he's doing, not in terms of meeting the standards which he clearly has met, but in terms of the urgency for acting on this, his behavior, the danger that he's present to the American people and to our Democracy is unprecedented. And I see that one is do you meet the criteria, and second, it is so urgent that we act on it because he's presenting unprecedented danger to the safety and health of Americans and of our democracy.
SMERCONISH: Might you be helping him? Might you be helping him insofar as the Trump base sees your ads. The whole country can't help but see your ads and they interpret your adds as your attempt to overturn a legitimate Presidential election that we just had and they, therefore, become emboldened in their support of Donald Trump.
STEYER: I think what we're trying to do is not to be smart. Not to make political calculations about which segment of the population would this appeal to, which segment of the population would this annoy, but instead, we're trying to do something very different from that, Michael. We're trying to do the right thing and we're trying to do the moral thing because we think it's important and we are not trying to figure out how the game is going to play out because partly we don't think it can. We're just focused on the idea that this is a danger to the health and safety of Americans and we're trying to give the American people the ability to speak up in their own defense and say we really are scared by this man. We are extremely unhappy about his behavior and we need to get rid of him.
SMERCONISH: Quick final question. Fox won't run your ad. Why did you spend the money there to begin with?
STEYER: Well, I wasn't one of the people figuring out the ad strategy. But I talked to them, of course. So, let me say this, we placed that ad in media channels all over the country hitting all different kinds of viewers. And Fox has a very particular kind of viewer and I think that the people who were placing the ad wanted to make sure that those people saw the ad, got access to the information, and they knew there was a chance the President would see the ad on "Fox and Friends" and they felt like he should get a chance to see this ad. So he understands that the American people are speaking out against him directly.
SMERCONISH: Tom Steyer, thank you so much.
STEYER: Michael thank you for having me.
SMERCONISH: Hey still to come your best and worse tweets and Facebook comments like this one, "Tom Steyer rocks even if impeachment isn't accomplished Trump's danger to our country is now a topic of discussion. Discuss. Discuss." And Carol, I don't think he can meet the burden under the Constitution in terms of the elements of impeachment. That's why I asked the questions that I did. We'll come back in a sec.
SMERCONISH: Remember if you ever miss this program, you can catch us anytime on CNNGO, online, and through your connected devices and apps. Please follow me on twitter and Facebook. Here's some of what has come in during the course of this hour. Al Franken and Roy Moore, apples and oranges, both fruit @smerconish. No comment. Next.
It's remarkable that in a regular blue collar job an employee would be dismissed in a heartbeat if several women came forward with these accusations but if you're a politician, like Trump for example, it appears the same rules don't apply. Wendy, it does see the higher your rise in some workplace or socioeconomic ladder the more protection you seem to be afforded. And that's not right. I'm troubled by the idea that public monies would have been paid to resolve any shenanigans going on Capitol Hill.
Next. I would rather we pay for the surgery than pay for sexual harassment settlements in Congress. Tim Keaney, I am with you. I think that Dr. McGinn makes a point that, look, it's health care. Maybe not the health care that some among us envision, but its health care.
[09:55:00] Another if we've got time for it. Smerconish can't stand to watch 30 seconds of any show on CNN. But I'm very impressed with your show today. I will continue watching. Oh come on Jason. Give everybody a shot. Can't we all just get along? Hey gang, have a wonderful Thanksgiving week. Make sure you come back to us next weekend. We'll be here on Saturday as always. Thanks for that.