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Florida Stand Your Ground Law: Today is the Funeral for African-American Man Shot Outside Convenience Store; Mid-terms on the Horizon; Michael Cohen's Claims About President Trump; President Trump Delivered on 4 Percent GDP Growth; Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization was Subpoenaed This Week; Pennsylvania Middle School Teacher Moonlights as Nazi Wrestling Villain. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired July 28, 2018 - 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. Was it retribution or self-defense? Today a funeral for an African-American Florida man shot and killed by a white man outside a convenience store. All captured on video. But the local sheriff decided not to prosecute citing the controversial Stand Your Ground law. Now federal law makers want a Justice Department investigation. The lawyers who represented Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are here.
Plus, for the president, it was the best of weeks and the worst of weeks, depending on your point of view. Michael Cohen again dominating headlines claiming Trump knew in advance of the Trump Tower meeting with Russian representatives. Meanwhile, the president's longstanding, loyal accountant gets a federal subpoena. But amidst the legal woes came more good economic news. The president met his promise to lift the GDP above 4 percent while unemployment remains at historic lows. With mid-terms on the horizon, is it still the economy stooping (ph)?
And this Pennsylvania 5th and 6th grade teacher has been moonlighting for years. But suddenly it's endangering his day job, why? Because he plays a bad guy, a German professional wrestler who does the Nazi salute and shouts, "Sieg heil." But is the problem his or the fans who cheered him on rather than boo him?
But first there's a funeral today for a man shot dead July 19th in a Florida parking lot. The shooting is on video, everybody knows who did it, and the culprit has been charged because of the Florida Stands Your Ground law. It's the same one much discussed in the context of the George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin. And now, federal lawmakers are calling the DOJ to investigate.
So how did we get here? After finishing her nursing shift, Britany Jacobs and her boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, wanted to grab snacks and drinks. So they took their car full of kids, all under the age of six, to this Circle A convenience store, they parked in the handicapped spot, despite the fact none of the car's inhabitants were disabled. McGlockton and her five year-old then went inside.
Also in the lot, Michael Drejka, a regular at the Circle A, whose pet- peeve was able-bodied people taking that reserved spot. After inspecting their car for a handicap permit and finding none, Drejka began to lecture Jacobs -- it proved heated. McGlockton noticed, came out of the store, confronted the man threatening his girlfriend and kids and violently shoved him to the ground.
Drejka immediately takes out a gun and shoots him. After the sheriff declined to charge Drejka, there were public protests and calls for the state attorney to do otherwise. Florida Senator Bill Nelson sent this letter to Jeff Sessions asking the DOJ to investigate the case with signatures from Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Representatives Charlie Crist and Alcee Hastings.
Joining me now to discuss this issue both sides of this issue, Benjamin Crump, the attorney who's representing Britany Jacobs, who famously represented Trayvon Martin's family and veteran criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara who defended George Zimmerman. Benjamin Crump I'm going to begin with you. The sheriff said that the shooter felt that having been slammed to the ground, he was going to be slammed again. Is that the right question?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, BRITANY JACOBS' ATTORNEY: I don't think so, Michael. You can watch the video and it's clear when he pulls that gun out. And we have to remember he's the initial aggressor. This is a strange man who approaches a mother in the car with her two toddlers in the back seat. Just imagine that for a second, how fearful that is. But after Markeis McGlockton comes out to defend his family and defend his property, if anybody should have the right to stand your ground it is him. And when he pushes him back and he falls, he pulls the gun out. Watch the video.
Markeis McGlockton takes four steps back, four seconds elapsed, he is not in intimate fear. There is no objective threat. There is no justification for him shooting Markeis McGlockton in front of his infant children. I mean his five-year-old son reaches out for his father and his father falls at his foot and that is the last memory that child to will have of the rest of his life of his father living.
SMERCONISH: The local sheriff, who, by the way, is also an attorney had this to say a week ago Friday. Roll the tape.
[09:05:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB GUALTIERI, PINELLAS COUNTY SHERIFF: What's relevant is not whether this guy is a good guy, a nice guy or whether he's a jerk or whether he's a thorn in people's sides and what he's done whether it's three weeks ago, three months ago or three years ago. What's relevant, and the only thing we can look at here is was he in fear of further bodily harm because of what Markeis McGlockton did and was he in an ability and have the capably to carry it out? And the answer is yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: Benjamin the question I ask as I watch that and evaluate the tape myself. Is the sheriff's analysis incorrect or is the law at fault? I'm not comfortable with the outcome of this case. I should say right out-front, so my perspective is known. But am I to blame the law or the way in which it's being applied?
CRUMP: Well I think the sheriff is incorrect, the state attorney Bernie McCabe should know that there is enough evidence to charge this killer with cold blooded murder. And that's troubling for many in communities of color that you can pick a confrontation. You can be the initial aggressor. You killed an unarmed black person and then you say, oh, it was self-defense. I was standing my ground and you get to go home and sleep in your bed at night. We think the law is a bad law that encourages people to take the law into their own hands.
It's a license to kill black people and people of color, because many times when black people make their stand your ground argument, it's behind the bars of a jail cell, but white people make their stands your ground arguments a week later after they have been sleeping in their beds comfortably, so the law then applied racially and calculated, we believe that it's a terrible law that Florida needs to address. They were the leader for stand your ground. Hopefully they can be the leader in gun responsibility laws. We have all these laws for gun rights in the state of Florida, but we have very little laws gun responsibility, if even
SMERCONISH: Benjamin Crump, thank you so much for being here. Let me shift to Mark O'Mara and get Marl's analysis of this issue. Mark was this a case of retribution, or self-defense?
MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know the way Ben said it is a good analysis of it. The sheriff had a problem with the Stand Your Ground law because the sheriff could, in fact, be held liable if he arrests without good reason. So to answer the question, when you look at that tape, when you look closely at it, Mr. McGlockton did, I disagree with Ben, McGlockton was the initial aggressor in that he started the physical confrontation, having said that he also backed off after that.
And I don't think the shooter at that point gets to shoot as you say, and as I said in retribution. I have a tough time believing that even though he was on the ground he was in reasonable fear of imminent great bodily injury. Everything else aside, we do need to look at it Drejka's perspective, are you in reasonable fear at that moment of ongoing imminent great bodily harm and quite honestly, I don't think the tape shows it, even presuming the way a person looks, reacts and interprets things when they're in the middle of a physical confrontation.
SMERCONISH: In other words Mark, if we could (inaudible) the tape, we have to stop right at that image where he's on the ground, the man who has shoved him is towering over him. And the question, what's in his head and is what's in his head a reasonable fear of imminent great bodily harm right there -- boom. Right there is the question, right?
O'MARA: That's absolutely correct. The only analysis I would add to it is we do need to look at it as the statute requires from Drejka's perspective. What he's going through. And I'll tell you there's things that he's going through that we don't see on the tape. You get thrown to the grounds, you have a dump of adrenaline into your body.
We know from cops telling, you get tunnel vision -- you don't hear things the way, interpret things the way. So sounding like a criminal defense attorney for a moment, Drejka is in a position where his perception of what's happening is also skewed because of what he's going through him.
But when you look at the tape, McGlockton had backed away, there's a distance, he's not towering over him. And the idea of taking out the gun, pointing, I'm almost okay with that. But the idea of center of mass shooting and killing a man over a push that has now ended, I don't see the justification.
SMERCONISH: Hey Mark, I think so Benjamin is right in saying that when the gun comes out, that the decedent appears to take a few steps back, and probably a few seconds, maybe split said, tick off the clock. Is it fair to say you were OK to pull the gun but not to fire the trigger?
O'MARA: Yes, I think the answer to that is yes. And let's not forget Florida a couple years ago tried to pass what we call the Warning Shoots statute --
SMERCONISH: Look at that -- by the way, he just backed up like four steps, I mean if you watch it again, pardon my interruption, we can all see this.
O'MARA: He absolutely did. And again, Florida tried to pass almost did pass a warning shot statute that would have said, you are allowed to take out the gun. You're even allowed to shoot it, to let the person know, I'm armed and I will use it.
That's the theory behind it. But the idea with a two, three, four step backing up and a two, three, four second delay, I think that if you are going to exercise your second amendment rights and we have them. We will always have them -- that you have to do it responsibly. And here's the problem. Someone like Drejka, who used their weapon in my opinion unreasonably, really affects the rest of us and our ability to properly utilize our second amendment rights because he used it improperly, now the focus is again on that.
SMERCONISH: That's right. Great observation. Thank you for being here, Mark. I appreciate it. What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. This I think comes from Facebook: I'm a supporter of the second amendment and concealed carry, this however was murder. This jackass was looking for a fight, like you say a lot of blame to go around, everybody was wrong, but illegal parking shouldn't be a death sentence.
And Guy, Mark O'Mara just made that point, right? That this guy in this instance, frankly jeopardizes second amendment rights for a lot of other Americans because of the way he acted. Yeah, they shouldn't have parked in the handicap spot, the guy that come out shouldn't have shoved him. But those are minor transgressions in my opinion, in comparison to the guy who has been shoved, pulls out a gun and responds self -- with deadly force.
Up ahead, this week the president had a lot bad news on the Russia and Michael Cohen investigations and some pretty good news about the economy.
We're going to dig deep into both. In the meantime, I'm asking this, which will have more impact on how long Donald Trump is the president? Go to my website and cast a ballot on this survey question. Which will more determine President Trump's longevity in office? A strong economy or the Mueller and southern district investigations?
SMERCONISH: So why is Donald Trump so popular with his supporters, despite being under siege on so many fronts? Simple, it's the economy stupid. In September of 2016, Trump claimed that if he were elected, the U.S. gross domestic product would hit 4 percent. A lot of people mocked him. But Friday we learned that it hit 4.1 percent.
It's the best showing since the third quarter of 2014. And remember unemployment remains at a near-record low. Joining me now is Steve Cortez just named as an advisor to President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign. He was a Wall Street trader for 20 years and is head strategist for BCG Partners, which advises banks and hedge funds. OK Steve, I'm giving 30 seconds to take a victory lap and then I want to play devil's advocate. Go ahead.
STEVE CORTES, ADVISOR FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP's 2020 RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN: Sure. We should take a victory lap, by the way. And not just for team Trump, but for team America, more importantly. We've endured really a decade of slow growth in this country and the lion's share of that slow growth went to the only the very top of economic ladder.
We're seeing the opposite now. We're seeing both accelerating growth and broadening growth, meaning it's going to more people, for example, African-American and Hispanic unemployment recently hit all-time lows. So the economic underdogs are starting to do well. For example, people without a high school degree, who are really by definition underdogs, the lowest unemployment since the year 2000. So we're seeing fast growth because of tax and regulatory relief. There is an optimism in the country that's pervasive and real and its tangible.
SMERCONISH: All right. Let me be Debbie Downer at least for the purpose of this conversation. John Harwood at CNBC sort of put this in perspective by showing where would this rank with modern presidents? This would be the fifth best quarter under Obama, tied for fifth under George W., tied for thirteenth under Clinton, tied for fifth under Herbert Walker Bush. This would be the 14th best under Ronald Reagan. Doesn't sounds so impressive when you put it in that context.
CORTES: Sure, Michael listen - that's a great point. I'll be the first to say we have more work to do. This is just the beginning. And I do believe that. We can't have one great quarter. We need to have many, many great quarters and we need to have them in succession. I believe we will, because I think the government is finally creating the conditions for success in our country and small business in particular is responding.
If you look at those surveys, again optimism, even dependent on the survey -- it's an all-time high or multi-decade high, consumer confidence soaring. But I agree, there is more work to do, we have more wood to chop. We won't be satisfied with a single quarter growth. We need many of them.
SMERCONISH: All right. How about this one? It's all about the soybeans, buyers seem to have stocked before the government-imposed tariffs. This is actually a reaction to trade wars.
CORTES: Right. Well listen I think that's an important point, it is certainly possible that some of the growth was effectively pulled into this quarter that might have been quarter three growth. So we'll find out right, and by the way, we'll find out right before election day, which is very interesting --
SMERCONISH: Right --
CORTES: -- the timing of that. I think it's 11 days before the vote. We'll get third quarter GDP.
But here's what I believe, that the United States because of our tax and regulatory relief that's going on, and because that is so powerful, that no matter what happens in terms of sort of manipulating sales into quarter two, I still think the growth in quarter three is incredible in this country right now. I really think the American economy, what it needed -- it needed government to get out of the way. Most entrepreneurs when you talk to them. They don't want to help them. They want government to get out of the way and that's what's happening via our tax code, via a more simplified and lower tax scheme and a via sensible and predictable regulatory regime.
SMERCONISH: Another critique I heard from the glass half-empty analysis would be this is by virtue of the tax cut the president put through and at what costs to the debt are we going to accept that?
CORTES: Right. Right. Listen Michael, I think that's a great point by the way. And I do worry about our debt and our deficit. I would say this, too, though, we are in a situation because there is no political will on either side of the aisle to touch entitlements and that's just the political reality. Neither President Trump, nor congressional republicans, nor congressional democrats have wanted to touch entitlements.
If we're not going to touch entitlements, the only way then for us to reduce our debt long-term is faster growth. I mean, that's the only way the math works. So we need much, much faster growth. So in my view, it is worth the risk of taking a deficit -- of growing the deficit near-term for reducing it long-term because we get the kind of growth we need.
SMERCONISH: Hey, I appreciate the honest banter. I mean, it's good news. We're thrilled for it. Right? But it comes with some caveats.
SMERCONISH: That's the bottom-line.
CORTES: Of course.
CORTES: I say MAGA stands for make America grow again. This is to me the seminal issue -- I mean this is the reason I believe Donald Trump was elected -- was among many, but I think it was the primary one -- was the economic anxiety, particularly for working-class people in this country who haven't seen their wages grow and seen expenses grow. That's an unsustainable situation for them. They've reacted with their vote. And now I think Donald Trump is starting to deliver. We're not done, not even close, but starting to deliver.
SMERCONISH: Steve, thank you. Appreciate you being here.
CORTES: You bet, thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Let's see what folks are saying via social media? What do we have Katherine (ph)? From Twitter:
Smerconish why didn't you start it by thanking the @realDonaldTrump for the success that Americans are enjoying?
I think the implication, Dan Oliver, is that that was a hit piece? That was no hit piece, that was me saying we got great economic news, there are some critiques of the economic news and let me let the Trump spokesperson run through them and respond to them. Go look for bias elsewhere, my friend.
So this relates to the survey question at smerconish.com today. I hope you are voting. Which will more describe President Trump's longevity in office? A strong economy or the Mueller and southern district investigation? Please go vote.
Still to come, the latest developments on the other half of that question, Michael Cohen's claim that Donald Trump knew in advance about that notorious Trump Tower meeting with Russians. It could mean the president was personally willing to accept Russian assistance or Cohen is implicating himself. I'll ask Michael Isikoff. But despite the focus on Cohen, it's another Trump Organization employee who was just subpoenaed -- who really knows the president's secrets, including his tax returns. Who is Allen Weisselberg and what might he end up revealing? And finally, when does a teacher get in trouble after trying to earn extra main after hours. Well, when he is moonlighting as a Nazi- themed wrestler. I'll explain.
SMERCONISH: A blockbuster report from CNN this week said the president's former lawyer Michael Cohen is claiming that then- candidate Donald Trump had advance notice at the infamous campaign meeting at Trump Tower with Russian nationals. If it can be proven, it's a game changer. The president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani denied that charge and so did the president when he tweeted Friday -- I did not know of the meeting.
Also, this means Cohen would be contradicting his private testimony last year to two congressional committees. His current claims weren't mentioned in separate reports issued by republicans and democrats on the House Intel Committee. Nevertheless, as is often the case with President Trump, partisans quickly took sides based on instinct and not evidence
My legal experience tells me that such binary reviews overlook nuance. I'm wondering if the truth lies somewhere in between. It's strange credulity to think that there was not repeated discussion at Trump headquarters of a desire to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton and vice- versa. Such is the nature of a hard-fought presidential campaign. But I'm not holding my breath for any smoking-gun evidence of the president's knowledge of this one particular meeting. If it existed, I think we'd know by now, instead, this will come down to inference and interpretation.
Joining me is Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo! News. He's the co-author with David Corn of this best- seller "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's war on America and the Election of Donald Trump". Michael, where Cohen didn't say this, in his congressional appearance, my suspicion is he will be much more vague than perhaps prosecutors would hope in listening to the conversation this week.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWSMERCONISH: Look, there is a lot of reasons to be cautious, but there is also a lot of reasons to hear Michael Cohen's account. First of all, the significance of this should not be understated. If the president, then-candidate was informed of the Trump Tower meeting, it would clearly bolster any obstruction case that Robert Mueller was -- is preparing, because it would give a clear motive for the president himself, to shut down the Russia investigation.
Then there's plausible reasons to believe the president might have been informed. There's that blocked phone call that Donald Trump Jr. makes after speaking to Emin Agalarov about the upcoming Trump Tower meeting. The democrats on the House Intelligence Committee clearly believe that that may have been a phone call to his father. There was the reference that the campaign was going to give a major speech about Hillary Clinton just at the time that the e-mails setting up the Trump Tower meeting was taking place.
But, you know, we don't know exactly what Michael Cohen has to say. As you've pointed out, he's testified twice before the House and Senate in private. In his public statement he said he had no hint of any collusion by President Trump with the Russians. the House Intelligence report says all witnesses were asked if Trump was aware of the Trump Tower meeting and denied it.
So Michael Cohen may well have to opt (ph) to lying to the House Intelligence Committee when he privately testified because, you know, that, it would be a false statement if he didn't disclose this before. So, you know, we got to be cautious. I do have to say, it is a little odd the way we're learning about this. Normally, if you wanted to get a deal with Robert Mueller. You wouldn't go running to the press. You would get a proffer to Mueller's office saying, here's what we got. And Michael Cohen's legal team for whatever reason didn't go that route.
SMERCONISH: Michael Isikoff, what other observation? Is this not going to extend, all these recent developments, however they pan out, this not going to extend the Mueller probe, not through the mid-term but into the 2020 election?
ISIKOFF: Look, it could. We don't know exactly where Robert Mueller is. There is a lot of reason to believe he is moving forward. We may see more before Labor Day because there's an assumption he will not want to do anything during the election season. So, you know, there is an expectation that there could be more coming from Mueller. But look, one of the most frustrating things about all of this is, you know, Michael --
ISIKOFF: -- every major political scandal for the last half century, whether it be Watergate or Iran-Contra or Whitewater -- resulted in public hearings by the Congress in which witnesses testified under oath before the TV cameras so the public can hear or learn them.
None of that has happened here, Michael Cohen like everybody else has testified behind closed doors and then each side spins and cherry picks those aspects of testimony that they want the public to learn about. That's one way for Congress to have investigated. You know if Michael Cohen wants this out there, Richard Burr and Mark Warner tomorrow or Sunday, Monday, could subpoena him, have him testify in public this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee and we could hear what he has to say and what he doesn't have to say.
SMERCONISH: Michael Isikoff, thank you. Appreciate it as always.
ISIKOFF: Sure enough.
SMERCONISH: Now he's been called the most senior person in the Trump Organization who isn't a Trump and he's been subpoenaed. Allen Weisselberg as been Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization for decades. This week we learned, he was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in the probe of Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen referred to him on the infamous tape leaked this week regarding the payment to playmate Karen McDougal.
The "Wall Street Journal" today is saying he could have already testified. Since Weisselberg knows where all the financial bodies are buried and knows Trump's tax posture for sure. Could his testimony reveal more information that could lead to more problems for the president? Joining me is Richard Teitelbaum, senior contributing writer at the "Institutional Investor", he wrote this 2016 "Wall Street Journal" profile of Weisselberg tied (ph) to the foundation probe under the headline "Donald Trump's Loyal Numbers Man". Richard, give me some insight -- who is this gentleman?
RICHARD TEITELBAUM, SENIOR CONTRIBUTING WRITING "INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR": Well, Allen Weisselberg has been with the Trump Organization for literally decades. He actually worked for Fred Trump before Donald Trump going back into the 1970s. He's been involved where so many of the transactions. His sons, Barry works for the Trump Organization.
And another son, Jack, works for Ladder Capital, which is a mortgage company that's closely involved with the Trump Organization. So he is there dealing with some of the minutia of running a large organization. He signs checks. He's the money man as you mentioned, and he knows where the money is going, and he is very, very close to Donald Trump. Ivanka Trump in a statement said that he is an integral part of the organization. This was back in 2016. He's really key to the organization and the big surprise as well, why is it taking so long to get around to subpoenaing him?
SMERCONISH: You portray him -- I thought of the odd couple as I was reading your 2016 profile. Because you portray him as somewhat of an antithesis. He is a quiet guy, he eats a tuna fish sandwich in the lunchroom, he's been married to the same woman for 46 years. Opposites I guess attract in this instance?
TEITELBAUM: Well, he has one attribute which I think plays well to his longevity, which is he tends to fade into the background, fade into the wallpaper as person described it to me. He doesn't upstage his boss, never has, and he seems to agree with his boss on numerous occasions, which you might understand, disagreeing with Donald Trump is not great for career longevity.
So he's been very good at that. And he's also been accorded an enormous amount of trust. Remember, he is on or was on the board as treasurer of the Donald Trump Foundation. He was on the board of the Miss Universe Pageant, an organization close to Donald Trump's heart. So he's really been, oh and actually he was connected to the casinos, themselves. So he's right in the core (p of this just -- very sensitive portfolio of duties at the Trump Organization. SMERCONISH: A one-word answer in the essence of time. Who knows more
where the bodies are buried pertaining to the president? Michael Cohen or Allen Weisselberg.
TEITELBAUM: I'd placed my money on Allen Weisselberg.
TEITELBAUM: He's the person that's closest.
SMERCONISH: Thank you for being here. I appreciate it, Richard.
TEITELBAUM: A pleasure.
SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments -- all the social media. What do we got? From Twitter: @smerconish, whether or not the president knew about Trump Tower meeting, doesn't matter. Nothing came from it. It's not a crime to listen to what people have to say. Everyone is making a mountain out of mole head.
Elaine, how do you know nothing came of it? We know the DNC server was hacked, right? We know by virtue of -- we think we know, it's not been proven, we know from the indictments there was meddling according to Mueller's articulation of the chronology.
So how is it that you know there was no connection between the two? I don't know that. I don't know what Mueller knows. I'm eager to find out and my view of this is going to follow the evidence, not the politics.
I want to know what you think, go to the website today please right now at smerconish.com and answer this question. Which will more determine President Trump's longevity in office? The strong economy or the Mueller and southern district investigations?
Still to come, a school teacher here in Pennsylvania just trying to pick up some extra bucks in his off hours, playing a bad guy pro- wrestler character. Now his job might be in question because the character he plays is a Nazi sympathizer. Is that fair?
SMERCONISH: You know, teaching is a tough job, often for not enough pay. And now one middle school teacher here Pennsylvania is in hot water for moonlighting at another gig. During the day 36-year-old Kevin Bean teaches fifth and sixth grade at the Spring-Ford Intermediate School where he's taught since 2004.
As a matter of fact, a mom who called my SiriusXM Radio show this week sang his praises as the faculty adviser of her son's chess club. But at night he becomes Blitzkrieg the German Juggernaut in what's the minor league wrestling. He's a clip of him from a June match in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. As you can see, he comes in, waving a flag with a German iron cross,
he shouts "Sieg heil, Blitzkrieg" and raises his arm in Nazi salute. He's being doing this shtick for years, but then the founder of a website called Pro Wresting Sheet, Ryan Satin, who used to work at TMZ and presumably knows a good story when he sees one, waved the PC flag when he tweeted the video and said, "This video makes me sick, watching the guy do Nazi salutes on his way to the ring while children for the crowd cheer him on like a good guy, is terrifying."
Well, you can guess what happened next. Local school officials were apparently unaware of the other gig. After they found out, they launched an investigation in his future at the school.
They released a statement that said this: The Spring-Ford area school district was made aware of a video featuring an employee outside of the school setting participating in an amateur wrestling event. Once administrators were made aware of the video, they acted immediately to conduct an internal investigation. The actions portrayed in this video do not represent the core values of the school district.
Now full confession, I'm a product of the 1970s, and a big part of my misspent youth was spent watching pro-wrestling.
Saturday mornings, my brother and I used to sit on these hideously colored green beanbag chairs in our rec room with paneling from Kmart all around us, looking at a TV set that only got seven channels. And when we watched it, we were watching pro-wrestling, which we loved to imitate. These were the days when Vince McMahon really was a pencil- neck geek, there were good guys, there were bad guys, and much like today's political conversation, there was no in-between.
You knew you were for one side or the other. My personal favorite was Chief Jay Strongbow. And when my brother and I would wrestle after watching, I would do Chief Jay's war dance. I think I can still do it. But there is a long tradition of cartoonish bad guys -- a villain for a crowd to boo. Like The Sheikh a Syrian character that enters the ring wearing a Bedouin-style headdress and before matches, he would kneel on a prayer rug.
The moonlighting teacher was a more recent incarnation, and maybe he played the role too well for some, "The Post" pointed out that the issue here may have been more about the audience than the teacher performer. Quote, Blitzkrieg appeared to elicit more cheers from the crowd than his opponent, Cody Rose, while he paraded around the ring waving the iron cross flag, then he applauded. One man could even be seen extending his arm in a Nazi salute.
A young boy held up a sign that proclaimed, "Blitzkrieg rules". And another fan's sign read "Blitzkrieg, Herrscher aller Menschen" which translated means Blitzkrieg, ruler of all people. As Blitzkrieg prepared to enter thing ring, chants of USA and Trump's America filled the room. So is that the real issue here? Let us not forget in an earlier life, the president made a famous cameo in pro-wrestling himself. Is Kevin Bean responsible for the crowd turning his villain character into a hero? When I asked my radio audience whether a school teacher who moonlights as a wrestler pretending to be a Nazi sympathizer is necessarily unfit to teach? Two-thirds said he's fine to have both jobs. And I think that's the correct answer.
Absent evidence that the teacher really harbors and act on such appalling views. And let me be clear, there is none of that evidence here, he ought to keep his job and young minds should continue to boo his character.
Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments, like this one from Twitter:
@smerconish, we have enough Nazi parading through this country, at the moment, character or not. Pick another villain or pick a new daytime profession.
Joseph, I think that's good advice for him. He'd be best served moving on, but he shouldn't lose his gig for it.
I hope you're answering the survey question at smerconish.com because I'm about to give you the result. Which will more determine President Trump's longevity in office? A strong economy or the Mueller and southern district investigations? Go vote now.
SMERCONISH: Hey, time to see how you responded to the survey question at smerconish.com. Which will more determine President Trump's longevity in office? Will it be a strong economy or the Mueller and southern district investigation? Survey says -- 10,477 votes cast, 68 percent say Mueller and southern district investigation, 31 percent say strong economy.
I know how was in the 31 percent among others -- was Carter Page who just texted me to say I voted for strong economy. He also wanted me to know Michael Isikoff argues with you that everyone only testifies in complete secrecy behind closed doors during the witch hunt. Well at least he is consistent in terms of truth and accuracy.
There it is. I guess a reflection of the fact that Carter Page testified without a lawyer and the full transcript was made public with very minor redactions. What else came in during the course of the program this hour? What have we got? Let the president do his job. Hey Gary, I'm letting the president do his job. He got full credit today for the economy. We brought one of his spokesman to talk about it and then I posed the critique questions to him, but that's acknowledged, but I'm surely not going to ignore what's going on relative to the Mueller and southern district probes. Wouldn't be doing my job if I did that. What else do we have? @Smerconish, what if the Trump Tower meeting was completely innocent? Did the lies start immediately after it was revealed? Did the lies start immediately after it was revealed -- Sarah, I don't
know; but I wanted to add a little nuance to the black and white analysis that I was hearing this week as to whether Michael Cohen knew that President Trump was in the loop, that he was present when President Trump was told of this upcoming meeting in Trump Tower with Russian nationals. You know, it did happen or didn't happen, and my hunch is that it is much more in a gray area, right?
I mean it stands to reason that there was plenty of conversation about the fact that both sides wanted dirt on the other. And maybe in the end, Michael Cohen's story is going to be that he believes the president was probably in the loop on that one meeting because he had been present for other conversations about collecting political dirt generally.
And why do I say that? I say that because that would preserve the honesty of the testimony that he offered twice before Congress. Then it could all line up. Right? That he can't say well, it was that meeting but there was general discussion. Again, you can catch up with me anytime at CNNgo and On Demand. See you next week.