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Congress More Divided Than The Nation; Senate All-Nighter Before Kavanaugh Vote; Kavanaugh Confirmation All But Certain As Collins, Manchin, Flake Pledge Yes Votes; Sen. Merkley On Kavanaugh Confirmation; Record Low Unemployment Rate, Record High Dow Jones; Wins On Kavanaugh, Jobs Report, Trade Agreements; China: Next Target In Trump Trade Wars?; Reshaping The U.S. Foreign Policy; Interview With Former Secretary of State John Kerry. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired October 6, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY WEEKEND: All right. More news straight ahead.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY WEEKEND: "SMERCONISH" is next. We're going to see you back here in an hour.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philedelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Well, he's in. After the most dramatic, contentious Senate battle ever, Brett Kavanaugh due to be confirmed for a job that was supposed to be above the political fray. Democrats are not going quietly. An all-night vigil on the Senate floor. I'll talk to one Senator, Oregon's Jeff Merkley, who tried to delay the vote with a federal lawsuit seeking a huge trove of unreleased Kavanaugh documents.
Plus, despite all the tumult in Washington, the economy humming along. The unemployment rate has just fallen to 3.7 percent, its lowest since 1969. With the midterms looming, I'll ask James Carville, is it still the economy, stupid?
Also here, the President's senior adviser for trade and manufacturing policy, Peter Navarro.
Plus, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley attacking former Secretary of State John Kerry saying he's subverting U.S. policy by speaking to Iran. What's his response? And where does Kerry think the country is heading? The former Secretary is here.
But first, what we've just witnessed is a symptom, not the cause of the problem. Regardless of which side of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination you're on, we should all agree on one thing. What was once regarded as the world's premier deliberative body is now almost devoid of Independents. The Senate's divided 51-49 in favor of Republicans.
Yesterday's vote on cloture was decided by that same margin. Only two of 100 Senators broke ranks. One Republican, one Democrat. In other words, 50 Republicans saw it one way, while Lisa Murkowski went another. Forty-eight Democrats saw it another. Only Joe Manchin disagreed. Think about that. I'll bet your dinner table and work place debates about Brett Kavanaugh didn't break so neatly along party lines, so why did Congress?
Well, while the Senate was consumed with partisan rancor over the Kavanaugh nomination this week, a Michigan state university professor of psychology and global urban studies published a study documenting that polarization among elected officials is at a modern all-time high and cannot get any higher. This analysis was published in the journal's social networks.
Dr. Zachary Neal performed a unique study looking at political networking among all members of the House and Senate. He studied data showing who sponsored bills in Congress between 1973 and 2016. He found that while thousands of bills are introduced each year, the average member of Congress co-sponsors only about 200 and what usually determines what they'll co-sponsor? Not the subject, but the party affiliation of the proposer. According to Dr. Neal, one solution to the problem of polarization would be the election of more centrists to Congress.
In the meantime, here's some potential good news. In 2017, Morris Fiorina at Stanford's Hoover Institution published this book, "Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting, and Political Stalemate." Fiorina found that despite how things appear in the news, Americans are no more politically divided now than we were in the '70s.
It's the parties and politicians who are more polarized and have sorted into narrow groups that don't represent many of the rest of us, but the typical Democratic or Republican voter has not adopted more extreme ideological views. Sadly, what we have done is to think worse of the other side. It's personal now, but not issue driven.
And remember this, according to the latest Gallup Poll, just 26 percent of Americans call themselves Republicans, 27 percent Democrats, 44 percent say, "I'm an Independent." The point is this. Yes, there's political division in the nation, too much, but Congress is in much worse shape than the rest us.
After Republican Susan Collins' speech defending her decision to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, Democrats held the floor for a debate overnight, including Senator Jeff Merkley who did a shift last night and again early this morning. Senator Merkley is joining me now. Senator, while you and your colleagues were on the floor last night, you may have missed something. Bill Maher said something interesting about Dr. Ford's allegations. I'd love you to watch and respond. Roll the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, AMERICAN COMEDIAN AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It does seem like things have morphed from listen to any woman who says she's been wronged, which is the right thing to do, to automatically believe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's the newest ...
MAHER: That's what is scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Does he have a valid point, Senator Merkley?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, D-OR: I couldn't catch the beginning of that, but it -- was the gist of it that we should listen to women who assert their stories of assault?
[09:05:05] SMERCONISH: Yes. It's that we should listen for sure and be fair and judge what they're saying, but not automatically believe. In other words, he articulated a concern that somewhere along the way, the #MeToo movement has shifted or morphed into you've got to give the benefit of the doubt to the woman who's making the claim.
MERKLEY: Well, we've come out of an era, and that continues till now, where so many of these arguments are he said, she said and society automatically attacks the woman and doesn't look into the credibility of her presentation and we saw that the Senate did exactly that under Republican leadership.
This FBI investigation, for example, that was directed and narrowed by a scoping document from the White House did not talk to a single one of the eight individuals that Dr. Ford asked them to speak to and they did not speak to one of the 20, not one, they spoke to zero of the 20 individuals that Debbie Ramirez asked to be talked to. And so it was set up simply as he said, she said.
These sort of things cannot be determined. You have to have the pattern of corroboration and if you deliberately exclude those who can corroborate, then it's a sham and that's what we had. Not the FBI's fault because they're only able to talk to the people they're instructed to on these background investigations.
SMERCONISH: On that subject of corroboration, your colleague, Susan Collins, said something interesting in her speech. Roll that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-ME: I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life. Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Is it true, Senator, that there was no corroboration in that report? You've read it.
MERKLEY: The report did not talk to any of the eight individuals that Dr. Ford asked to be spoken to so that is accurate, but the point here is of course you're not going to find corroboration if you don't talk to the individuals that have been suggested.
And here's the thing. There's a whole pattern of activity here and this falls somewhere between the concept off a job interview and the concept -- as Senator Collins said last night, the concept that one is innocent until proven guilty, but that -- we're not on either end of that spectrum. We're in the middle of that and in the middle of that you want to get to the pattern.
And here's the pattern. We saw that Kavanaugh directly defamed a young woman in his high school year book, participating with other men in saying that they were part of a club that had been aggressive towards her and then he proceeded to say that that was simply a club about what a good friend she was.
And then we have the pattern of him joining a fraternity that has a reputation for mistreating women. And then we saw that he joined a secret society that had a reputation for mistreating women. And then he's in his freshman year and Yale and his suite mate, his suite mate who lived right with him, reported that he heard about this incident with Debbie Ramirez and that he relayed it to a friend, his roommate, in his first year of graduate school.
Those individuals were not talked to, but that entire pattern has to be taken into account in determining whether this individual is fit to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America and clearly he is not.
SMERCONISH: Final question, Susan Collins said yesterday that she thought in the end, Dr. Ford's allegations failed to meet the more likely than not standard. Do you think that Dr. Ford met that standard, if that were to be the standard we'd apply?
MERKLEY: If the standard's more likely than not and when you see the pattern of all the things I just mentioned and the corroboration of Debbie Ramirez's experiences, yes, it is more likely than not that he did assault her in the fashion she described.
SMERCONISH: Senator Merkley, thank you for being here.
MERKLEY: You're welcome.
SMERCONISH: I want to see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages From Facebook, what do we have? "It amazes me that the Democrats have become such obstructionists to the point of a planned smear campaign." Ralph Hawkins, I can hear the Democrats responding to you in their living rooms and kitchens right now by saying, "Wait, we're the obstructionists? We're the ones who wanted Merrick Garland and instead, for a year, Barack Obama couldn't put somebody in that position."
What's the next one? "Hey, Brett. Me think thousand dost protest too much. If you were a legitimate candidate, people wouldn't have to take an hour explaining why they voted for you."
[09:10:04] Listen, I thought that Susan Collins -- you could disagree with where she came down on it. I liked the approach and the logical manner in which she tried to lay out her thinking. There, frankly, for me, you heard my opening commentary, wasn't enough of that in the process and therefore I applaud the independence that I think she exhibited, even though, in the end, she voted along with her party members.
I want to know what you think. Now, go to my website at smerconish.com and answer the question. I showed you the video, right? Of Bill Maher last night. Is he right when he says that the #MeToo movement has now morphed from listen to any woman who says she's been wronged, which is the right thing to do, to automatically believe? Cannot wait to see the result of that.
Up ahead, while the nation has been transfixed on the Kavanaugh nomination and the Russia probe, the economy remains robust. So which will matter more to midterm voters? I'll ask Democratic strategist James Carville.
SMERCONISH: Despite all the tumult in Washington, the economy keeps humming along. With any other president, that would be the dominate headline this week. Still, will the economy, nevertheless, be the factor that could help rally supporters for the midterms?
[09:15:02] I spoke earlier with political strategist James Carville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: OK, James. The most predictable question imaginable, 3.7 percent unemployment, a 49-year low, but against the back drop of Kavanaugh and Russia, is it still the economy, stupid?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean I think -- I think it's always -- the economy's always a big issue, but I mean the economy was good when this administration took office. It is better now, but that's a result of a trillion dollars worth of stimulus. So then there are also a lot of other issues out there that people are affected by and excited about or mad about or a lot of other things.
But understand, this is not an economic turnaround. This is just taking something that was good and it's gotten better or (ph) sort of predictable outcome of -- to what they did by increasing spending and cutting taxes. But I don't think this is the smartest thing to do in recovery, but we'll see.
SMERCONISH: Would it have been better for the GOP if Kavanaugh had failed because then the base would have been so livid, so PO'd ...
SMERCONISH: ... They'd all come out to vote?
CARVILLE: You know, that's the money question, Michael, and I just found myself today, to the Democrats, Kavanaugh is worth a lot -- is worth a lot more alive than dead. And what's going to be very interesting about this is usually so you confirm the Supreme Court Justice, they go on the Supreme Court, then every now and then you hear about them, they write a decision that people like or don't like or something like that.
This is not going to go away. They're not going to stop doing stories on Kavanaugh. They're going to -- you know, they're going to keep them front and center. If the Democrats win the House, they'll probably hold some kind of hearings on the fact that a lot of people think that he perjured himself during his confirmation hearings to the Court of Appeals.
In this issue (ph), he's not going to go away and had they defeated him, they would have just picked someone equally as right-wing as Kavanaugh and at a random through (ph) in a -- in a lame duck session. We're not going to get this seat on the Supreme Court and I think in terms of political optimization, I think today's result is probably as good as you could hope for.
SMERCONISH: I saw that Marist survey a couple of days ago that said the enthusiasm gap that had been 10 points in July for the Ds had shrunk to two.
SMERCONISH: But that was before the vote was taken and I -- that's what I was referring to. I was thinking, OK ...
SMERCONISH: But now that Kavanaugh is going to go through ...
SMERCONISH: Then what to the enthusiasm?
CARVILLE: Right. I understand clearly what you're saying. And look, I think some of the resentment against what happened -- Kavanaugh, people feel like he was treated unfairly. I think some of that is going to stick.
The other thing is we're going to be looking at some record, record high turnout in November in this off-year. I can't imagine how high it's going to be because, you know, the argument was the Democrats are really stoked and they're stoked. The Republicans and -- you know, some of it will recede, but they do a good job rallying their base and rallying their people and I suspect they will too, but watch out because the Democrats around the country are pretty jacked up right now.
SMERCONISH: Do you think that one of the reasons that the President and the White House may have tripled down with Kavanaugh was the idea, OK, we're going to lose the House. We're going to lose the House, we may as well go forward in the Senate because you know those odds are dramatically different. There's an advantage to the Republicans ...
SMERCONISH: Given how many Democrats have to defend themselves in red states. Could that have been part of their calculus?
CARVILLE: I think at the end of the day, the carnage, when you look back over it, they can't be really happy with the way this thing is. And understand -- and I'm really serious. I think this is significant. Unlike most Supreme Court appointments, after they're sworn in on the Supreme Court, they just recede in the background. Kavanaugh is going to be an issue in 2018. He's going to be an issue in 2020. The Democrats are going to keep digging up stuff. The press is not going to stop all of the things that they're working on about Kavanaugh.
It's just one of these amazing things that probably has never happened before in American politics where a Supreme -- sitting Supreme Court Justice is going to be a real issue in the coming campaigns.
SMERCONISH: Lindsey Graham dusted off another of your lines from the old days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SC: You know, here's what's personally degrading. This is what you get when you go through a trailer park with a hundred dollar bill. You've seen -- this is not the first time this has happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's actually a reference to something somebody said.
GRAHAM: In James Carville ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: It didn't go over so well in 2018. What were you thinking when you heard that?
CARVILLE: I don't know. You know, I've said a lot of things about life as joke (ph). I was cracking a joke. It was actually about Gennifer Flowers and I don't think that Dr. Blasey Ford strikes me as a kind of a little bit of a different -- a little bit of a different deal here, you know? But I always -- I'm always complimented when people use my lines. I'm glad that you started and now (ph) Senator Graham and we always like to have a little legacy out there, Michael.
[09:20:05] SMERCONISH: There's going to -- there's going to be -- there's going to be some room issues on that tombstone. We hope it's 100 years from now, but which of these is going to be the final one, I don't know. I've got to ask this of James Carville. As a -- as a political strategist whose skills are unparalleled, do you think that the Russians could have pulled off what they pulled off without some kind of assistance within the United States?
CARVILLE: No. I mean it was -- it was really highly targeted. I mean and, you know, there's a very good book out by Kathleen Hall Jamieson who's a -- who's been around -- a very respected academic and ...
SMERCONISH: Yes. At Annenberg.
CARVILLE: And she agrees with Nate Silver -- right. And she says the Russians did throw the election to Trump, that their interference was deterrentive. We'll keep doing that (ph), but they knew exactly who they were targeting and where they were going. Now, do I know that President Trump himself was doing this? I highly -- I doubt that, but they had Americans that were helping them every step of the way. They were targeting African American voters in Detroit and telling them to vote by text. You know, they knew exactly -- on social media, exactly where they were going and who they were going for and what kind of message it was.
I mean I don't think there's any doubt that they had American assistance. What I'm not prepared to say is that there's no doubt that Trump or his people were involved in this. Mueller will let us know who was involved and how much and I suspect that he already knows that. But I'm not saying that Trump people could very well -- I'm not saying they weren't, but I know there was professional American help. I'm just not certain as to who it was.
SMERCONISH: Hey, James, thank you so much for being here.
CARVILLE: Michael, always a pleasure. You have a great show and love doing it. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Let me see what you're saying via Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have, Catherine? "Imagine how much more like 45 would be if he would just shut up and ride a strong economy." Ray Lucas, I hear you, but would he be able to gin up the enthusiasm? You see those rallies. You see those crowds. Would folks be coming out? I mean, the acerbic side of him that, perhaps, you find offensive is what drives people into those stadiums and arenas, to hear more of what he's got to say. It's his blessing and curse, politically speaking.
Coming up, you can't deny the Trump administration had a really good week. Kavanaugh, the jobs report. Now, they've just negotiated a NAFTA replacement deal with Canada and Mexico. Is a trade war on the horizon with China? I'll ask Peter Navarro. He's the President's senior advisor for trade and manufacturing policy and he's here.
Plus, my discussion with former Secretary of State John Kerry about Trump's foreign policy, the midterms and the Kavanaugh nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: It's quite different, though, than the Senate in which you served. It looks like one individual, Joe Manchin, is voting with the other party. Nobody on either side. No Independents.
JOHN KERRY, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: This is going to cost the Senate and it's going to cost the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SMERCONISH: It's been a great week for President Trump. Even "The New York Times" has conceded, listing the imminent confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, the excellent job numbers and, quote, "an ambitious and elusive new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico." Might a trade war now loom with China?
Joining me now is Peter Navarro, an assistant to the President for trade and manufacturing policy. He has just authored this piece, by the way, no less than for the failing "New York Times", titled "America's Military Industrial Base Is at Risk" and here's what the White House is going to do about it. Peter, you argue that a core threat to the U.S. industrial base comes from China. Is the point that you're making that our defense is too dependent on their supply chain?
PETER NAVARRO, PRESIDENTIAL TRADE ADVISER: Yes, but it's a bigger problem. The over arching idea is that economic security is national security. That's President Trump's maxim. It's akin to Reagan's peace through strength. And what drives us is the idea that you need a strong manufacturing and defense industrial base both for economic prosperity and national security.
And so this study was commissioned by the President over a year ago. The Defense Department did a great job on it and what we find -- the bad news is close to 300 vulnerabilities, including these four independencies you reference. The good news is we're attacking them quickly and immediately, but there are things like printed circuit boards, machine tools, critical materials like rare earth, very foreign dependent, mostly China, but a lot of other issues as well.
We have things called single points of failure. What does that mean? We only have one company that can build propeller shafts for our submarines, gun turrets, for our tanks, rocket fuel, for our missiles, space infrared detectors which we need for missile defense. So what we're going to do is attack this problem in a way which is both going to strengthen our defenses, but also create good paying manufacturing jobs for the men and women who work with their hands in America.
SMERCONISH: To use a boxing metaphor, I feel like you survived maybe one, the prelims with Mexico and with Canada, and now we're headed into the ring for the main event. But the upside and downside are both much greater in this next round. Would you agree?
NAVARRO: No, in the sense that the Mexico/Canada relationship is ultimately much more important economically. What we're trying to do -- the vision there is to turn North America back into the hemisphere global manufacturing power house. And the beauty of this deal is that all three countries won.
That isn't always the case when you reset a free trade agreement. But in this case the regional content rules coupled with the strong labor environmental provisions really bring back our auto and auto parts industry and other manufacturing industries.
So that -- this was a great victory for the president's leadership. He was criticized roundly for even trying this but guess what? It worked. With respect to the Chinese relationship, I think the other landmark thing that happened this week was Vice President Pence's speech where he effectively reset the U.S./China relationship following through on the December 2017 National Security Strategy with the president.
We just have to be clear eyed about this. China is a strategic competitor. It's an economic predator.
It steals our stuff every day as we sleep and as we speak. And we need to confront that and that's what this president is doing. Again, that takes courage and vision.
SMERCONISH: Does this president intend to follow through on his threat to tax every single import coming from China if they continue to retaliate against his tariffs?
NAVARRO: Well, let me ask you this question. Have you -- have you ever seen him back down from anything on trade where he says he's going to do it?
SMERCONISH: Not so far, I haven't. But as I point out --
NAVARRO: "So far." You know what --
SMERCONISH: -- I just -- I just think -- you know, what makes me --
NAVARRO: You know what's interesting about that -- yes, sure.
SMERCONISH: Listen, here's -- you referenced the vice president and I paid close attention to that speech on Thursday. I also paid close attention to the fact that two vessels came within 50 yards of one another. I'm trying to make the point that the stakes are much higher now vis-a-vis China than they were with Mexico and with Canada because of the national security implication. I should have said that earlier.
NAVARRO: Geo politically -- geo politically you're absolutely right. There's no question. Economically, do not underestimate the power of Mexico, Canada and the United States in this regional relationship.
It's going to be a great thing for the American worker. But, you know, the China issue. This is going to be a long standing issue. They -- you referenced the ships in the South China Sea, what was that about?
Well, China is building these artificial islands and just stacking them to the nines with all sort of missile defenses and things like that. And what's at stake is freedom of navigation through a central artery of the world where 2/3 of all trade flows and China basically wants to lock that down.
We say that's unacceptable. And that's we're doing the freedom of navigation controls.
They didn't -- we didn't collide with -- trying to collide with them, they tried to collide with us. Let's be clear about that.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Peter, quickly, finally, do you -- did you catch hell from the big guy when you publish in the failing "New York Times"?
SMERCONISH: OK. Well, you gave me the short answer. Thank you for that. I appreciate you being here.
NAVARRO: Love your show. Take care.
SMERCONISH: Let's check in on -- I don't know if the big guy will like that. What do you think, Catherine (ph)? Did Peter just jeopardize -- if he loves the show is that going to play OK back at 1600 Pennsylvania?
I'm just kidding. Let's check in on your tweet and Facebook comments. What do we got?
"Smerconish, the unemployment rate numbers under Obama were fake. Now they're believable under Trump."
I see. Joseph, there's no doubt. I remember -- I remember when the labor secretary used to come on my radio program every week with the -- with the new job numbers, Thomas Perez, now head of the DNC. And we would go over them and the response from the president was well, they're not reflective of those who were just now opting out of seeking employment.
Listen, let's agree on this. It's a good thing. Unemployment -- we are at full -- I heard Christine Romans say it this week -- on CNN this week, we're full employment.
What does full employment looks like. We are there. So I don't care who gets the credit and who gets the blame, I'm thrilled that virtually every American who wants a job right now can get one.
For today's survey question I'm asking you to respond. This is kind of interesting, right? Last night Bill Maher said something interesting about Dr. Ford's allegations. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, HBO HOST: It does seem like things have morphed -- morphed from listen to any woman who says she's been wronged, which is the right thing to do to automatically believe.
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN, FLORIDA: Here's the new --
MAHER: That's what's scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I want to know if you agree with what Bill Maher said last night. Go to my Web site at Smerconish.com and answer the survey question. There it is on your screen. Cast your ballot. At the end of the hour the result.
Still to come, I just sat down with former secretary of state John Kerry about the state of the country including the impact to the Kavanaugh confirmation and what his response is to Mike Pompeo's accusations that he's meddling in the Trump administration's dealings with Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Former secretaries of state, all of them, from either political party ought not to be engaged in actively undermining U.S. policy -- actively undermining U.S. policy as a former secretary of state is literally unheard of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: It's not often a former secretary of state gets publically criticized by a current one but that happened recently to John Kerry who was rebuke by both Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley for recently meeting several times with the Iranian foreign minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: What Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented. This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world's largest state sponsor of terror.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: What secretary Kerry did was not only disrespectful it was hurtful to America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I just sat down to discuss this and more with the former the senator and secretary of state at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Kerry just released a memoir. It's titled, "Every day Is Extra" tracing his path from diplomat son, to Vietnam veteran, five term senator, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and secretary of state.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Secretary, I've been reading your book while watching the Kavanaugh process play itself out. I think you wrote something that was prescient. You said, "I wondered why some of my colleagues even wanted to be there if they couldn't vote the way their hearts and minds told them."
Is that what we witnessed in the Friday vote? Is that what we're about to witness on Saturday?
JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it's possible. I don't know. I haven't -- I mean, I'm not inside the minds of some of those folks but it happens too often in the Senate these days that people are drilled into a corner by the ideological orthodox and there's push around the Senate these days. And people are terrified by threats of being primaried by one wing of the party or another.
I think it's unfortunate. It's not totally new but it's -- the intensity of it these days is something very different and very dangerous.
SMERCONISH: It's quite different though than the Senate in which you served. It looked like one individual, Joe Manchin, is voting with the other party. Nobody on either side. No independents.
KERRY: This is going to cost the Senate and it's going to cost the country. It has not been a process that most people in either side. I mean everybody feels offended.
And I think the principals, Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, have both been treated in a way that raises questions about the process. Mistakes have been made.
SMERCONISH: You're no longer -- you're no longer secretary of state yet you're crossing swords with this president, with the U.N. ambassador, with the current secretary of state. They don't want you involved.
In your view has --
KERRY: Well, I'm not involved. I'm speaking out as a citizen in America. If they don't want me to speak out, that's a different issue but I'm telling you I have not met with any Iranians since the president pulled out of the agreement, period. And I think it's important for people to focus on the real issues here which are is this the best policy for the United States to be pulling out of an agreement which we helped create, which was being kept and by pulling out I think loses the best option of all which would have been to use staying in for some period of time as leverage to get the Europeans, the Chinese and the Russians to work with us to hold Iran accountable on the missiles.
To do a better job in Yemen, to work on the issue of Hezbollah, which we don't like them supporting which is a terrorist organization. So we could have leveraged better outcomes, I think, but by just pulling out and angering everybody, I don't think it serves the best interests of our count can I am free to speak my mind with respect to that.
SMERCONISH: I get the impression you'll not stop doing so.
KERRY: Stop being an American citizen? No. SMERCONISH: You write in the book about your days, your early days as a prosecutor. Some might not remember that John Kerry began his career in Massachusetts as a prosecutor.
KERRY: Yes, I loved it. It's one of the best jobs I ever had. A great job.
SMERCONISH: Robert Mueller, a former classmate, you know where this question is going. I know you don't know what he has in terms of evidence. But you're a smart guy from the outside, looking in with your trained prosecutorial eye, do you think that there is a case to be made for conspiracy/collusion?
KERRY: Well, I think -- I mean literally without knowing what Bob Mueller has or what they're doing at this point in time I mean the fact that they have a meeting in the Trump Tower and emails are exchanges which express their love of receiving from Russians the materials calculated to hurt the other candidate they're running against is sort of pretty self evident, prima facie kind of collusion.
I mean, you meet with Russians. You say, I'm excited -- I love the idea of getting dirt on the other candidate from these people you go have a meeting.
Where that goes in the larger legal sense? Does it meet the standard of the law? Will all the sufficient qualifications be met? Are there more pieces of that? Is there exculpatory evidence?
I don't know the answers to those questions. So I'm not suggesting what Bob Mueller should do or what the legal outcome might be but there's no doubt in my mind that the Trump campaign was anxious to get information from anywhere and the president publically went out and said I hope the Russians hack the emails or released all the emails. You know, I think that nobody's fooled by the protest that you hear today.
SMERCONISH: So many of us -- final question. So many of us are consumed with the Kavanaugh nomination process and the Mueller probe, meanwhile the unemployment rate is at a 49-year low, 3.7 percent according to jobs data that came out on Friday morning.
Is that going to be the more significant issue to midterm voters?
KERRY: No, I don't believe so because I think that even as there is low unemployment figure, there's what you call underemployment. Many, many people who are working in jobs that there not as high paying as the jobs they had before. And the salaries of many people, even are in the jobs they are before are not going up sufficiently to meet the increases of cost and to empower people to be able to live the fullness of their aspirations and the American dream and, I think, that that's a problem.
The tax -- the tax bill really did enormous good for the big corporations for the people who could repatriate money from overseas, for the stock market, for billionaires. They're doing very well. The upper echelon of America is doing extremely well right now but people who are struggling in the middle and then the lower ends are still struggling to get ahead and they are still feeling the pain of some of the upset of what happened in 2008.
So I think that -- I don't think people are focused on that. I think they feel there's a certain chaos in our governance today. I think they feel Washington is not getting the job done still and there are an enormous number of really interesting candidates, Republican and Democrats alike, many of them veterans of Afghanistan or Iraq or people who are getting into -- in politics for the first time from business or elsewhere in professional lives who know that the system is broken and they want to try to fix it. And I think this midterm election is one of the most important course collection elections we've had in a long, long time in this country.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
KERRY: Thank you. Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Still to come your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. What do we have?
"Smerconish, aren't Kerry's actions a form of treason? Isn't this betraying the country? What gives him the right?"
Well, I don't think there's any violation of the Logan Act there, DSullivan. And as the secretary pointed out he's going to continue to be an American citizen but you just heard him say emphatically that since the president pulled or the Iranian agreement he hasn't met with any Iranian citizens.
By the way that book of his -- I would offer it credulously, very engaging, very interesting. The guy has led a Forest Gump-like existence.
You know, I didn't fully appreciate just how many significant events of modern history in which he has been a participant and had a front row seat. So I enjoyed our time together.
We're going to give you the final result of the survey question. "Do you agree with Bill Maher that the #MeToo movement has morphed from listen to any woman who says she's been wronged, that's the right thing to do, to automatically believe?"
Quickly go cast a ballot at Smerconish.com.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: It does seem like things have morphed -- morphed from listen to any woman who says she's been wronged, which is the right thing to do to automatically believe.
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN, FLORIDA: Here's the new --
MAHER: That's what's scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So I heard him say that last night. And I thought that is a great poll question. This is my prediction. I'm probably about to embarrass myself, not for the first time.
Question today. "Do you agree with Bill Maher that the #Me Too movement has more from listen to any woman who says she has been wronged, which is the right thing to do, to automatically believe?
Survey says, I am going to embarrass myself, 8,439 votes, I -- 55 percent agree with him. I thought in this audience 64 percent would say no. Is my siphoning right that that would lead to 36 percent who said yes?
Interesting. So mark carries the day 55 percent agree with Bill Maher that it has now morphed into a, you have got to automatically believe.
What do we have, Catherine? Very interesting result. Hit me with some of the results.
"Smerconish, Bill Maher -- absolutely right. Logic and nuance are completely lost in our tribal society and politics right now.
Raymond, I said it really disappointed me with the Senate Judiciary Committee how many were weighing in before Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford had shown up to testify.
People were saying I believe her, oh, I don't believe him or, you know, vice versa.
I'm like, hey, sit there, listen to the evidence. That's your job.
What else? I'm not going to predict anymore.
"Smerconish, if the standard should be along the lines of listen but don't automatically believe for women who claim sexual assault, then the same standard needs to apply to men who deny their actions in harassing or abusing women. Listen but don't automatically believe."
Here's the bottom line, I think. You have got to take these cases one at a time, evaluate the evidence and the credibility of everybody and not come up with some blanket this is what the prism will be because every one of them are different.
Thanks for watching. I really appreciate it. And we'll see you next week.