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SMERCONISH

Should Congresswoman Katie Hill Have Resigned?; Do Our Partisan Differences Now Extend To The Gridiron?; 168 Empty Chairs In Oklahoma City. Aired 9-10a

Aired November 2, 2019 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00]

(BEGIN MUSIC)

JASON ALDEAN, "FLY OVER STATES": They've never drove through Indiana,

Met the men who plowed that earth, Planted that seed, busted his ass for you and me...

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST (voice-over): "Flyover States" great song. Jason Aldean and a good reminder of where this impeachment issue will ultimately be decided. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia.

(END MUSIC)

So here's where I think we are. These are the nine things that you need to know about impeachment.

Number one, recent developments have only solidified the evidentiary case that Ukraine access to President Trump and military aid were both contingent upon Ukraine looking for dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.

Number two, the specific impeachment charge, therefore, is abuse of office, as laid out in Federalist 65, or the crime of extortion as summarized on my Sirius XM Radio program this week by Larry Kramer, the former Dean of the Stanford Law School, the current President of the Hewlitt Foundation.

(BEGIN AUDIO)

LARRY KRAMER, PRESIDENT OF HEWLITT FOUNDATION: All the language around quid pro quo is kind of softening and missing what's at the heart of this, an effort by the president to get something he wanted by withholding something of value that the country is supposed to give to another country that is one of our allies.

SMERCONISH: And you believe this is indeed what was envisioned by Federalist 65?

KRAMER: No question. No question. I mean if that's the case, it's the purest example of abuse of power.

(END AUDIO)

SMERCONISH: Point number three, the White House has yet to provide a substantive defense and may never do so.

Point four, so far, the White House defense has been to attack the process and smear the witnesses.

Point five, the lack of defense on substance may be sufficient. If Americans believe that the president was in the wrong, but that this is not worthy of impeachment. Senator Pat Toomey has said as much. He called the Ukraine call quote, not appropriate, but not impeachable. After noting that no president has been removed from office after having been impeached, Toomey said this -- that should tell us something about the gravity of this, the seriousness of this and why in my view it's a very high bar. There is I think latitude in our system to have errors of judgment and inappropriate actions remedied through the political process. It's called an election.

Point six, beware of the bubble. About those recent national polls showing support for impeachment, yes. Nationally in the latest poll, 49 percent want him impeached and removed; 47 percent oppose it. But according to other recent data, in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the majority of voters remain opposed to removing the president from office through impeachment.

Point seven, it's best for democrats, therefore, to expedite the process. So as not to bump up against Americans voting in 2020.

Point 8, in the vote to author authorize impeachment hearings, no republicans, despite 18 impending retirements and only 2 democrats broke ranks.

Therefore, nine, final point, this is going to be a partisan shit show, just in time for Christmas.

I want to know what you think. Go to my website, its smerkonish.com. Vote on this week's survey question, will the impeachment process remain partisan from start to finish?

So how is the impeachment inquiry playing out in where it really matters, crucial battleground states that could make or break President Trump's victory in 2020? Joining me now from Pennsylvania, the director of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll, Terry Madonna; Michigan Radio Program Director and Co-Host of "It's Just Politics," Zoe Clark and political reporter at the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," Mollie Beck.

Zoe, give me the view from Michigan.

ZOE CLARK, CO-HOST "ITS JUST POLITICS" AND PROGRAM DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN RADIO: Well we are different in these parts in these fly over country as you said. No. No. No. Look, voters here in Michigan are just as divided as the country feels; just as divided as some of the polling that you've said and that's why we were a swing state. So I think if you really want to look at Michigan sort of as a microcosm of the country, look to the eighth Congressional district, that's Alyssa Slotkin, a freshman democrat, won in 2018 a Congressional district that went for Trump in 2016. One of the six freshmen who signed onto the sort of now-infamous "Washington Post" op-ed saying why they were voting for an impeachment inquiry. The fact that she did that as a moderate democrat in the state of Michigan I think was telling.

SMERCONISH: In the latest data that I have for your state, 51-42; 51 percent say no, don't remove him for this, 42 percent saying yes.

[09:05:00]

It probably is similar to what his approval and disapproval numbers are in your state. No?

CLARK: You're absolutely correct. And look, I mean for those of us who cover this, who day in, day out are reading the headlines, know that instant that someone tweets, sure, it all feels like someone should have a decision being made or know exactly what they think about impeachment. But for voters who have regular jobs in manufacturing or agriculture, two of the biggest economic drivers here in the state, impeachment is not the number one priority for them every single day. And so again, it is early days. We just saw the formal vote this past week. There have not even been these open hearings yet where we'll actually be able to see some of these transcripts.

So I think folks are cautious, right? The polls show they were interested in seeing an inquiry but are still concerned about the actual idea of impeachment or removal. I think probably for a lot of voters across the country, taking it slowly, better understanding the issues is where they're at and there isn't this fervor, like there is for those of us waiting to see what the next thing is that happens, right?

SMERCONISH: Molly, when I interview pundits, pollsters on my radio program and I ask them to prognosticate about 2020, often they'll say to me, well if you could only tell me what happens in Wisconsin, I could tell you who the next president will be. Give me the lay of the land in your great state.

MOLLY BECK, POLITICAL REPORTER, "MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL": Yes, so the issue of impeachment has, like Zoe said, split our state, too but that's relatively new. A few months ago in April there was a similar question posed in a poll here about impeachment and removal and I think only about 29 percent supported that idea at the time in April. So now we're seeing about you know, 49 percent don't want to impeach or remove and 46 do. So you're seeing a split state but that -- that also you know reveals a growing support for it as well.

SMERCONISH: Yes, the data that I have, and I'll put this on the screen, 51 percent say no, don't remove him from this; 44 percent say yes. That's in Wisconsin and that's according to the Marquette Law School Poll. That comports with the vibe that you're getting through your reporting?

BECK: Yes. Absolutely. There's less support for removing President Trump from office than there is for the impeachment inquiry. When I talk to voters here, there's a willingness to hear you know what happens in this inquiry and what they find out. There seems to be less enthusiasm for actually the idea of removing the president from office. But overall I also don't get the sense that the impeachment issue is top of mind for a lot of voters that I talk to here.

SMERCONISH: Terry Madonna, from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, give me the lay of the land.

TERRY MADONNA, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR POLITICS AND PUBLIC AFFIARS, FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE: Well Michael, the lay of the land in Franklin and Marshall College Poll just recently released, 57 percent of Pennsylvania voters do support the inquiry. But only 21 percent of republicans do; 85 percent of democrats do. As the other folks have indicated, there's huge, huge polarization with democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and republicans underwhelmingly supporting it.

In the "New York Times" the Siena College survey just released, only 45 percent of Pennsylvanians support impeachment and removal; 45 percent. Put another way, 52 percent say no. That's pretty consistent with the national polls that show you know, in the 52-58 percent range support for the inquiry. But the national average is about 47-48 percent that support impeachment and removal. So a poll here and a poll there gets over 50 percent on impeachment and removal. The Fox Poll recently, bottom line here is we are deeply divided.

I've been doing polls since 1991 in the state of Pennsylvania and I can say with complete candor, we have never seen the kind of deep divisions that exist in our country on a whole array of issues and certainly when you deal with President Trump they're huge. I want do make one other quick point. America and Pennsylvania and the battleground states have really become in many ways three Americas; small town and rural America, small town in rural

Pennsylvania, republican. Urban America, democratic. Urban America Pennsylvania, democratic. And then the battleground is really in the suburbs. That's why the democrats won the mid-term election last year because they swept the suburbs, giving them 40 seats in the federal House of Representatives; many of them from of course suburban America.

SMERCONISH: Zoe, give me your bottom-line take-away from the great state of Michigan. What do you most want us to know? Then I'll ask Molly and Terry that final question as well. You go first.

CLARK: Look, time will tell. I mean I know that sounds sort of like this, you know let's grab a magic 8-ball and wonder what's going to happen. But I think voters need a little bit more time for something that is so huge to our democracy, to better understand before they can really get behind again something that would be so historically monumental and I think they are listening. They are willing to hear the sides. And we need to lean in a little bit to the process that's going to happen over the next weeks and months to come.

SMERCONISH: Molly, from Wisconsin, what do we most need to know? BECK: I think we need to watch what's going to happen in rural

Wisconsin, that President Trump had a 27-point swing in his direction in 2016 among rural voters in Wisconsin. And there's an issue of tariffs hitting the dairy industry here right now and we're seeing a lot of dairy farms close. So I think republicans and democrats are just watching what's happening in rural Wisconsin and how they also react to this impeachment inquiry. We'll see.

SMERCONISH: Terry Madonna, from the Keystone State. What do we most need to know?

MADONNA: Well I think we need to see how impeachment plays out it looks like he's going to be impeached in the House. There'll be a trial in the Senate. We'll have to see how that affects voters. Pennsylvania was won by President Trump in 2016 by 0.7 percent, put another way by 44,000 votes. The critical areas will be President Trump's support in the old mining and mill towns where the industries that once predominated America like coal, iron and steel, gave Donald Trump the victory in Pennsylvania.

And so we're going to have to see what the enthusiasm level is, remains with his base, as we go through this entire process. Then you have the economy. Right now the economy is good. But it doesn't seem to move democrats at all towards the president. What happens if the economy goes south? We could have a foreign policy crisis. We're 12 months away from the election -- a little more than 12 months. When it's all said and done, what will independent voters do? Can the president somehow someway move some independents in his direction?

SMERCONISH: Let me remind everybody, 137 million votes cast in 2016; 77,759 according to the Cook Political Report in your three states determined the outcome of the election. It was excellent. Thank you all.

BECK: Thank you.

CLARK: Thank you.

MADONNA: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me at Smerconish or go to my Facebook page and I'll read some throughout the course of the program. Catherine (ph) what do we have? From Facebook I think. Has Trump really done a bad job thus far? We seem to be rocking and rolling as a country. And John, did you see the commercial? You know he's tapping Alice Cooper. No more Mr. Nice Guy. I mean that's the pitch. The pitch that Pat Toomey made.

OK, maybe it was wrong, do you really want to throw him out for this? I think as we get closer and closer to people voting, the republican hand gets strengthened because they say let's settle it at the ballot box. Which is why I think Speaker Pelosi is trying to get this thing on a fast track.

Remember go to my website, smerkonish.com. Answer today's survey question, will the impeachment process remain partisan from start until finish. Up ahead, with impeachment all but certain to end up in a Senate trial, as per the Constitution, the person in charge will be Chief Justice John Roberts. How might he try to hold the line against partisan politics?

And Congresswoman Katie Hill resigned this week after allegations about an improper affair and the publication of intimate photos, should she have?

Plus the rampant partisan divide has now even infiltrated high school football. There's a marked difference in participation in the sport depending on whether your state is red or blue. How come?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00]

SMERCONISH: What will the seemingly inevitable Senate impeachment trial of President Trump look like? All it says in Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution is this -- the Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments, when sitting for that purpose they shall be on oath or affirmation, when the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present.

So, it's left to the Senate to set the ground rules and for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to preside over the case and rule on motions. Roberts, who has long championed the importance of the court's nonpartisan role, will be thrust into a situation very different from his day job -- a televised polarized political showdown.

Joining me now to discuss is Jeffrey Rosen. The president of the National Constitution Center, Professor at George Washington School Of Law and author of the new book, which drops on Tuesday, "Conversations With RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsberg On Life, Love, Liberty and Law." Jeffrey, the Constitution silent as to procedure. Do you think they will look to the Clinton impeachment process for guidance? And will it be a binding precedent? Meaning the way in which Clinton's impeachment was handled?

JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER AND AUTHOR: Yes, the Clinton impeachment is the best precedent although it's not binding because the Senate could change the rules. In the Clinton impeachment, Chief Justice Rehnquist viewed his role as ministerial. He quoted Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe." He said I did nothing in particular and did it very well. He ruled on a few objections. Senator Tom Harken objected when someone called the Senators jurors and Rehnquist agreed they sit on court they're not just jurors. He refused to exclude evidence and limitations on questioning by house managers. Beyond that he always consulted the Senate parliamentarian. He didn't want to be the guy who was making substantive rulings and Roberts, likewise, is likely to want to make his role as limited and Ministerial as possible.

SMERCONISH: Chief Justice John Roberts, of course, famously said that there are no Obama judges. There are not Trump judges but he can't be immune from the way this thing is shaping up as a partisan exercise. Do you think he relishes this opportunity? Do you think he loathes the thought? What do you think is running through his mind as he looks forward?

ROSEN: I'm sure he doesn't relish it. As you say he's so committed to nonpartisanship. But he will take seriously the fact that this is one of only three requirements in the Constitution for impeachment. The other being a two-thirds conviction and the fact that everyone is under oath. I think he will want to conduct himself in a way that is as dignified and neutral as possible. He'll want everyone to feel that each ruling is either compelled by the Senate rules. He'll want to defer to the Senator as much as possible because he views this ultimately as a political proceeding as the Constitution specifies. So it will be a ceremonial role that will give the event dignity and weight, but he will not want to have any substantive role at all in swaying the results one way or the other.

SMERCONISH: Jeffrey, if for any reason he cannot serve in that role, my understanding is that it would fall to Clarence Thomas. That could be interesting on a whole host of levels, not the least of which is, I think he would probably have to speak.

ROSEN: You know, Justice Thomas would preside over the Supreme Court. If Chief Justice Roberts had to be over at the Senate at the same time because Justice Thomas is the most senior justice and he would have to speak, just as John Paul Stevens presided when Chief Justice Rehnquist was sick. If Chief Justice Roberts were unable to appear at the Senate it's not clear whether another justice could preside. The Constitution does say the chief justice must preside. It's probable or possible that the trial could not take place unless Chief Justice Roberts actually were part of it.

SMERCONISH: One final point, the Constitution relative to remedy of an impeachment process is limited to removal. I mean that's what's at stake, right? It's simply, I make it sound simple, it's not, but it's just the removal of the president and not any other punishment that could follow.

ROSEN: No, there is one other punishment, the Constitution specifies and that's disqualification to hold any other office or trust or profit under these United States. And I understand that according to Senate rules, conviction and removal from office requires two thirds, but the disqualification can require a simple majority. So in the historic event for the first time in history that the Senate were to remove a president from office, they could then have a separate vote about whether or not to disqualify him from running again for president.

SMERCONISH: Can you imagine? By the way that's why I have you here to set me straight on Constitutional interpretation. Thank you, good luck with the RBG book which drops on Tuesday.

ROSEN: Thank you so much. Great to talk as always.

SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. This comes from Twitter. Smerkonish, how about the House impeaches and does not send to Senate. Instead they refer to the American people for trial at the ballot box in 2020?

Well there is absolutely zero chance that will be the outcome. If they impeach as a matter of right it will go to the Senate. They could censure, right? Presumably they could stop short of an impeachment vote. But this thing seems like it's on its own track now to head by hook or by crook to the Senate.

I want to remind you, are you voting on my survey question at smerkonish.com. because I think it's a winner. Will the impeachment process -- I ask this because nobody -- OK, two democrats stepped out from their party, no republicans. But it was a strict party line vote on Thursday. Is that the way it's going to end? Meaning will the impeachment process remain partisan from start to finish? Go vote, results at the end of the hour.

Still to come, when it comes to politics, you've often heard me talk about people putting on their partisan jerseys? Well it turns out that the political divide is also affecting kids' participation in school football. I'll explain.

And Congresswoman Katie Hill resigned this week due to allegations about improper relationships and the leaking of some explicit photos. Was she wrong to step down?

[09:25:00]

BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO'S "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Donald Trump, he's the clean one. Everything about him reads clean, doesn't it? He's not going anywhere. But a democrat resigned this week, Katie Hill. They were pretty graphic pictures of her kissing women and smoking a bong, nude.

(APPLAUSE)

Exactly. She was a representative of California. That's pretty representative.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Should California Congresswoman Katie Hill have resigned? Hill a 32-year-old freshman, who was the first member of the House who publicly identifies as bisexual stepped down this week after a conservative blog and the "Daily Mail" released intimate photos of her alleging she and her husband had a relationship with an unnamed female campaign staffer. Hill blames her husband of nine years, with whom she is currently in divorce proceedings. Her resignation came after the House Committee on Ethics announced it was opening an investigation into allegations of a separate relationship with a Congressional staffer, which she has denied. In Hill's final floor speech Thursday, she cited a double standard.

[09:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KATIE HILL (D-CA): The forces of revenge by a bitter, jealous man, cyber exploitation and sexual shaming that target our gender and a large segment of society that fears and hates powerful women have combined to push a young woman out of power and say that she doesn't belong here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Film maker Michael Moore then tweeted, "Dear Speaker Pelosi: Do not accept the resignation from Representative Katie Hill. She is a crime victim. She has been viciously abused by her soon-to- be ex-husband. If you allow a man who uses revenge porn to succeed here, you and the rest of Congress are his collaborators. This is 2019."

"Washington Post" columnist Monica Hesse joins me now. She wrote this piece, "What actually mattered in the Katie Hill scandal -- and what didn't."

Monica, thanks for being here. You say she was pushed out for all the wrong reasons. Explain.

MONICA HESSE, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Thanks for having me.

I think that when I say that, we need to be, we need to be careful and considerate in the way that we talk about this. Because there could have been correct reasons for her to be pushed out. She admitted to an affair with a campaign staffer, which while not violating House rules is really troubling. And it really gets to the core of issues we talk about when we think about power dynamics and when we think about consent.

But what we ended up talking about were words like throuple and naked hair brushing and scandalous affair and naked photos. And when we're talking about those issues we're not actually talking about the things that matter. We're just making this into a salacious gossip column.

SMERCONISH: From your column, as a matter of fact -- quote -- "Here are some phrases that are pertinent to parsing out the ethics of Katie Hill's behavior: Power dynamics, Improper relationship, Potential special favors? Potential misuse of campaign funds? Official congressional rules related to lawmaker/staffer relationships. Here are some phrases that are not pertinent: Throuple, Wifesharing, Bikini line, Naked hairbrushing, Lesbian affair."

You think that everybody's judgment got clouded by some of those elements that were put online and could not separate out. What's really the narrow issue for which she should be judged in this context?

HESSE: The narrow issue is whether we feel that it's possible for a member of Congress to have a consensual relationship with a campaign staffer. Congressional rules don't prohibit relationships with campaign staffers, but they do prohibit relationships with congressional staffers. So I think that when we talk about Katie Hill, the question that you need to ask yourself is not how do I feel about the fact that she took naked photos. The question that you have to ask yourself is -- how do I feel about the fact that while she was running for Congress she had an affair with a campaign staffer?

SMERCONISH: It would have been arguably hypocritical if Democrats had seen it differently and I'm speaking now of the alleged relationship with the congressional staffer. Because on its face they would say if it had been a Republican, that's per se, sexual harassment.

HESSE: I think that what is really frustrating to a lot of people and where we get into a lot of, but he did this, but she did this is that we look at other examples that are similar that have not resulted in resignations. We look at Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter who has used -- been alleged to use campaign funds to support various extra marital affairs and hasn't resigned.

So, I think that there's a temptation to say it's not fair, he did, she didn't. He didn't, she did. But I don't think that those kind of comparisons are actually useful. We need to get to a place where we're having conversations about the issues that actually matter and we're judging people on what they do, not based on what other people did or didn't get away with.

SMERCONISH: Monica Hesse, thank you for that.

HESSE: Thanks for having me.

SMERCONISH: More social media reaction. Your tweets and Facebook comments. This comes from Twitter, I think.

"Yes she should have but not because it's fair but because Dems put it out there that everyone should resign or quit who has the perception of any malfeasance -- so here we are."

Miranda, I was making a slightly different, but similar point at the end with my guest when I said I think that the standard that was established in #MeToo necessitated to the extent she had a relationship with a campaign staffer. I'm not talking about the bong and the nakedness. Which I frankly think is an irrelevancy to the issue that was confronted in this circumstance. But people tend to see them all together.

I want to remind you to answer the survey question at my Web site this hour, "Will the impeachment process remain partisan from start to finish?" Go vote at Smerconish.com.

Still to come, what does politics have to do with participation rates in high school football? When you break down the numbers, turns out they are more connected than you might think.

[09:35:02]

Could comments like this have something to do with it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Concussion. Oh, oh. Got a little ding in the head? No, no, you can't play for rest of the season.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Do our partisan differences now extend to the gridiron? "Sports Illustrated" broke down the latest numbers and found that football participation rates can tell us something about politics in America. The National Federation of State High School Associations released its annual report in August and found participation in 11- player football dropped to its lowest point in almost 20 years. But, "Sports Illustrated" noted that football participation is up significantly in four states -- Alabama, 45 percent, Louisiana, 56 percent, Oklahoma, 15, Utah, 9.

Those states all supported Donald Trump by at least 18-point margins over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Of the places that went to Clinton, only Nevada and Washington, D.C. have seen football participation rates rise since 2008-09. In fact participation is down only 6.1 percent in states that were red in 2016. It's down 15.7 percent in blue states.

With me now is former Harvard football player, former professional wrestler Dr. Chris Nowinski, who is now the CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

[09:40:02]

Chris, what do you make of the data?

CHRIS NOWINSKI, FORMER PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER, CEO, CONCUSSION LEGACY FOUNDATION: Well, it is very interesting data. And when you do -- I love that clip of President Trump belittling concussions and I think back to a few years ago, you know, President Obama had us all down to the White House to talk about how serious concussions are. And then also said he wouldn't let his son play football.

So, right now the data feels like a red state/blue state issue. You can also look at the fact that there are laws on -- that are being proposed in blue states to ban youth tackle football in California and New York and Illinois and Massachusetts. So there is -- there is something to this argument that's very interesting.

SMERCONISH: You testified this week in one of those states. You testified in New York. What is it that you most wanted to hear those -- you most wanted those decision-makers to hear?

NOWINSKI: One of the important things we do talk about football. I don't have a problem with high school football as a former player myself. But the data that we're seeing on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, this brain disease that we use to see only in boxers is very alarming. Our team at Boston University recently studied the brains of 266 former football players and found their odds of developing CTE go up 30 percent per year they play. That's a huge number. And so, looking at this from a how do we prevent this disease going forward, the most logical way is to say shorten the number of years. And that would be a ban on youth tackle football. The only way to really make sure that future football players have much less of a risk of developing CTE.

SMERCONISH: The way you explain it is reminiscent of smoking.

NOWINSKI: Exactly right. It's a perfect analogy that decades ago we sort of understood that something you do when you're younger can affect you when you're older. And the actual statistical link between smoking and lung cancer is actually not as strong as the link between years of playing football and developing CTE. And that's something that we should actually stop and think about.

In the 1950s we had sort of overwhelming data that smoking dramatically increased your risk of developing lung cancer, but we didn't really make policy change for decades and a lot of people have died because of that. And so we're hoping that the world sort of looks at this data and says, maybe this is our opportunity to stop CTE from affecting so many former football players and make a real policy change today, rather than waiting for decades for tell us the answers that we already know.

SMERCONISH: So, if I were to give you the pen in your hand to write the law given your experience and knowledge of the subject what would be the age, below which you would say no youth tackle?

NOWINSKI: I think there's consensus among researchers here that probably 12 is a smart way to start. You know there's debate about middle school. But we have to realize these are developing brains and so getting hit in the head over and over and over again is never a good idea. And if you hit your own child in the head 300 times every fall, you would go to jail.

So the idea that you can put a helmet on them and let other kids hit them is something that we should really reconsider. And it is interesting that this is becoming political. But I will tell you there is, another way to look at that data that we haven't talked about yet and that is the fact that if you look at the three states that are really up the most, Alabama, Louisiana and Oklahoma, those are big college football states. And it's where college --

SMERCONISH: Right.

NOWINSKI: -- football is king. And so the other -- another proposal that's been out there is what we're seeing here is really not political. But really more that high school football players see that as achievable goal.

I mean, if I grew up in Alabama, I would want to go play football for Alabama.

SMERCONISH: Sure. NOWINSKI: And so it might be a success of those programs that's drawing people in. But that high school football discussion really -- I like to push it over to the youth discussion, because we want football to have a bright future we can't be letting 5-year-olds get hit in the head this much.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Chris Nowinski, thank you so much for that.

NOWINSKI: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: From social media, Twitter and Facebook. I think this is from Facebook. What do we have, Catherine (ph)?

"So people who are likely to have more concussions vote red? Just joking -- sort of."

Look, I think, Susan, what he said at the end makes a great point. The states that Dr. Nowinski just identified, those red states where football is king? I have to think about this and I may be mistaken. But they're really not NFL states, right? Alabama -- I mean, they're college states, that's what seems to be driving the interest in all of this.

Still to come, 168 empty chairs sit outdoors in Oklahoma City. Each a tribute to a person killed in the 1995 bombing, the worst domestic terrorist act in American history. I'll tell you the story about one of the chairs in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:48:41]

SMERCONISH: On Monday, I'll be in Oklahoma City at the National Memorial and Museum. The survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing, the worst case of domestic terror in our nation's history, regard Monday as day one, the first of a 168-day countdown to April 19, 2020, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the bombing. One day for each citizen who died, 19 of whom were children.

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted in the attack. The two former army buddies were motivated by retribution for the events in Waco, Texas, when federal agents stormed the compounding of Branch Davidians led by David Koresh. That occurred two years prior to Oklahoma on the same day, April 19. McVeigh died by lethal injection in 2001. Nichols is serving life in prison.

A third man, Michael Fortier was sentenced for 12 years for failing to warn authorities about the bombing plans. After appearing as a prosecution witness, he served 10 years and was released and entered the witness protection program.

I've never been to the memorial. Many have warned me to be prepared for an overwhelming emotional experience. I will see the 168 empty chairs made of glass, bronze and stone, each inscribed with the name of one of those killed on April 19, 1995.

[09:50:00]

I was invited by Sara Sweet, who lost her father, Steven Williams, a claims representative for the Social Security administration. As she said to me in a note, he will always be 42. Younger than me now.

In 2016, she left this shirt on the memorial chair that celebrates his life. He was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and one of Sara's fondest memories was watching games with her dad.

Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments and we'll give you the result of the survey question from Smerconish.com. Go vote if you have yet to do so.

This impeachment process, is it going to remain partisan from start to finish?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Hey, time to see how you responded to the survey question at Smerconish.com.

"Will the impeachment process remain partisan from start to finish?"

That's the survey question. Survey says that more than 9,000 voted and it's a 75-25. Seventy-five percent say it will. That's sad. Twenty-five percent say it won't.

It reminded me -- there it is, 75-25, 9,699. It reminds me thus far of the confirmation process for now Justice Kavanaugh. When I sat and watched the hearings and I thought to myself there's a complicated underlying fact pattern here.

[09:55:03]

How can all Republicans see it one way and all Democrats see it the other? And I asked the similar question about this with Ukraine's situation.

Here's some of your reaction during the course of the program. What do we have, Catherine (ph)?

Smerconish, impeachment timing pivotal and the Dems can't get it done now. Cut their losses and win the 2020 elections.

Goodfella, it's complicated. I don't see how the House can fulfill its responsibility before the end of the year. Then it goes to the Senate. The holidays will be a blur. And people start voting in Iowa on February 3rd. The point is, and this is a political observation, I think Americans will be voting before this has yet run its course and that's not good for Ds.

One more if we've got time quickly.

My prediction, any Republican senator who thinks Trump has a clear chance of winning a second term will not vote for removal including Romney. Charlie, what a shame that people talk so much about Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and now Mitt Romney. Where's the other independent thinking?

Join me for my "American Life in Columns" tour. Norman, Oklahoma, tomorrow night. Erie, Pennsylvania, on November 12. Sold out in St. Louis on Presidents' Day.

See you next week.