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What Will Senate Impeachment Trial Look Like?; Could Black Vote Secure The Nomination For Biden?; What Is Hillary Clinton Signaling About Her Future In Politics?; Who Is First Lady Melania Trump?; Peloton's Bad News Cycle. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 07, 2019 - 09:00   ET



CYNDI LAUPER, SINGER: Money changes everything.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: That's Cyndi Lauper, "Money Changes Everything." I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. employers added 266,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, matching September's 50-year low, but impeachment of President Donald Trump appears inevitable. So that leads to this week's survey question at Should the strength of the economy spare President Trump from being impeached? Go vote this hour. I'll give you the results in just a bit.

On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee will make a presentation to the House Judiciary Committee. Sometime soon, the Judiciary Committee will then vote on articles of impeachment. The full House will then do likewise and in all likelihood, Donald Trump will join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as American presidents who've been impeached, but that's not the same as removal from office.

For that to occur, a Senate trial must be held resulting in a two- thirds vote for conviction. Mention the word "trial" and most Americans probably think of what they can view in their local county courthouse or nearest federal courtroom. It implies a certain sameness with allowances for local customs, a standard layout, opposing lawyers, a judge following established rules of evidence making legal determinations based on statutory and common law and a jury following a prescribed burden of proof using its collective wisdom to determine the facts after a deliberative process behind closed doors.

That is not necessarily where we're headed. The Constitution says virtually nothing about the process says that the Senate will conduct a trial with the Chief Justice presiding and a two-thirds vote being necessary. There are written rules, fewer than 10 pages. They are remarkably vague on substance and haven't seen much change since President Johnson's impeachment in 1868.

So much remains to be worked out between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The less they can agree on in advance, the more it will place emphasis on the role of Chief Justice John Roberts. So what are some of the key trial issues that will need to be resolved? Joining me now is Hilary Hurd. She's pursuing a J.D. at Harvard Law School having obtained a master's degree at Cambridge, a master's degree at King's College, an undergraduate degree at UVA and in 2013, she was a Marshall scholar. She's a regular contributor for "Lawfare" where she co-authored this piece along with Benjamin Wittes. Hilary, thanks for being here. Must there actually be a trial?

HILARY HURD, J.D. CANDIDATE, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, 2013 MARSHALL SCHOLAR: Good morning, Michael. Thank you so much for having me. Yes, the Senate rules presume that a trial will occur. That said, it doesn't have to be a long trial with all of the bells and whistles attached and with just 51 votes, the Senate could move to adjourn at any point in the process.

SMERCONISH: These rules that already exist you describe as weirdly detailed and then you note where things turn substantive, they also turn vague. Explain.

HURD: So the rules on the one hand provide a specific set of stage directions about what different actors are supposed to say in the process from the oath they're supposed to give to the way they're supposed to write their subpoenas and also specific instructions about what time things are supposed to happen, sometimes 12:00, sometimes 1:30, sometimes 1:00. But on a lot of the major questions, you know, despite the rules' granularity, we don't have very much guidance, leaving a lot of it up to the Senate and the Chief Justice to decide.

SMERCONISH: What rules of evidence apply?

HURD: So the Senate rules don't really provide us much guidance on evidentiary questions. They do say, though, that it's up to the Chief Justice in the first instance to rule on any evidentiary question, but he doesn't have to. So the Chief Justice, if a question comes to him that he thinks is maybe too political for instance, he could decide to punt that question to the whole Senate body and in another case, if he did decide to rule on an evidentiary question, the Senate could very easily overrule the Chief Justice with just 51 votes if they wanted to. So in that way, it's very much the Senate's show.

SMERCONISH: In what circumstances -- by the way, this is great. I love that you're able to just run through each of these instances that are in my mind as an attorney wondering what the heck is about to unfold? What matters more, 51 votes in the circumstance that you just described or two-thirds, 67 votes, in other circumstances?

HURD: Right. Well, it really depends on what you're after. I mean, Democrats will need 67 votes to remove the president from office, but they'll only need 51 votes to introduce new witnesses and potentially expand the House record which could create some electoral discomfort for Republicans. That said, Republicans also only need 51 votes to adjourn the whole thing at any point in time.


SMERCONISH: Hilary, you know that there's a lot of discussion as to whether Mick Mulvaney will testify, whether Rudy Giuliani will testify, whether John Bolton will testify. Can witnesses be compelled to testify like a standard trial?

HURD: Yes. The rules are pretty explicit that the Senate has the power to compel individuals to testify and it has a sergeant of arms authority could go and get them if need be. That said, the real question is whether you have 51 votes to agree on who those witnesses ultimately are and I imagine Republicans will have their own set of persons that they'd like to come to the Senate trial as well.

SMERCONISH: Well, to your point, Republicans are saying they'd like Hunter Biden to testify. Is that a likelihood?

HURD: I don't know if it's a likelihood. I mean, I know that that's a comment that Senator Lindsey Graham has made before and it does seem to me that there might be a strategy in essentially broadening the scope of the conversation -- the conversation to shift it away from the House record, but what will actually happen is anyone's guess at this point.

SMERCONISH: OK. Final issue. You know that we have a number of presidential candidates who will be presiding in the Senate -- they'll be sitting in the Senate I should say. Chief Justice Roberts will be presiding. What are they permitted to do or not do as this plays itself out?

HURD: So the rules provide that the Senate trial doors must be open, but they're supposed to be closed during the deliberation. So none of those presidential -- anyone visiting would be able to be part of the process while the doors are closed. That said, the members of the Senate who are running for office will be able to have a vote and also to ask questions of witnesses and to give public testimony about their thoughts on how the whole thing is proceeding.

SMERCONISH: I recommend your piece. It was really well written, has a lot of good data and thank you for being here.

HURD: Thank you so much, Michael.

SMERCONISH: That's Hilary Hurd. What are you thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. This comes, I think, from Twitter. "Smerconish, should the economy that he didn't create excuse crimes against the U.S.? This is a joke, right?"

Well, Debbie, there's a lot in there to unpack. I'll deal with the first part of it which is the economy he didn't create and I will ask you this. If the -- if the economy were in the dump right now, would you similarly be granting him a pass and saying well, he didn't create that economy? I don't think so. I'm just asking for some consistency here. If you're going to give him blame for the economy, I think you've also got to give him credit for the economy.

Your second point I totally understand, right? Because to say that he gets a pass because of a good economy would mean we're going to excuse any kind of bad conduct from a president moving forward. Keep the votes coming. Go to my website at This is the survey question. Should the strength of the economy spare President Trump from being impeached?

By the way, put up "The New York Times" front page today, Catherine, just so people see what I'm -- what I'm referencing. Yes. I mean, look at all the bar graphs and the line graphs. The point is they're all headed in the right direction.

In fact, the headline, "Trump Parries Impeachment With a Boom." I'm trying to make a statement about this odd juxtaposition between a seemingly strong economy at a time when the president who has presided over that economy, whether you give him credit or not, is about to be impeached.

Up ahead, Joe Biden has a secret weapon, he's incredible popularity among black voters. Will that alone win him the nomination? Can he sustain it?

And she's back. Everybody's buzzing about Hillary Clinton's candid, likable interview with Howard Stern. What, if anything, should we read into that appearance?




SMERCONISH: Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the front-runner among Democratic presidential candidates in national surveys, despite running behind opponents in the first two states where votes will actually be cast, Iowa and New Hampshire. But as pointed out in data accumulated by "The New York Times," the overwhelming majority of delegates will be awarded from areas more racially diverse than those first two states and Biden currently runs strong among voters of color.

Look at South Carolina which has a majority black Democratic electorate and historically has indicated where the rest of the South will go. A recent survey shows Biden commanding with 44 percent of South Carolina's black vote. Bernie Sanders trails him by 30 points. Mayor Pete is out of blue tarski (ph). He's got a 0.0 percent. So if Biden can retain his support among black voters, he'll have what "The Times" calls a structural advantage in the nomination fight which is even stronger than his lead in the national polls.

Joining me now to discuss is Don Peebles, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. He served on President Obama's National Finance Committee. Mr. Peebles, how deep do you think that support is that the former vice president has with voters of color?

DON PEEBLES, MEMBER, OBAMA NATIONAL FINANCE COMMITTEE: I think it's somewhat shallow. I mean, he's gaining back support primarily by association. Very similar to what Hillary Clinton enjoyed. She got support from the African American voting community based upon her marriage to Bill Clinton and being first lady and so on.

And then like (ph) President Obama -- I mean, President Obama is giving support somewhat to Joe Biden. So Joe Biden's enjoying support based upon his association with President Obama and being his vice president and I think African-American voters are supporting him because of that.

SMERCONISH: Well, let's game it out. I mean, unless the no malarkey bus tour reversed the tide, the vice president does not seem poised to win, right now, the Iowa caucus and probably not the New Hampshire primary. Do you think that that will cause a reset and a potential momentum shift or do you think that the people of color currently supporting the vice president, former vice president will continue to do so?

PEEBLES: It depends on who wins Iowa. I think if anyone other than Booker or Deval Patrick win Iowa, I think the vice president is fine, Iowa becomes very much less relevant.


However, if Cory Booker were to win Iowa, I think that resets the table and he goes into South Carolina with a lot of momentum and I would not underestimate Cory Booker's campaign. He and Elizabeth Warren are considered the best two organized campaigns on the ground in Iowa and because it's a caucus state, organization is key and that was Obama's advantage.

Obama won Iowa and he proved to African-American voters that he was a legitimate candidate and then he overtook Hillary Clinton in South Carolina and then it was a two-way race for the nomination which obviously he won.

SMERCONISH: OK. So Deval Patrick or, as you point out, Cory Booker, if they should pull an upset. that could shift the tide. Mayor Pete has been running atop some of the surveys in Iowa. What if he wins? Will there be a revisiting of his candidacy by voters of color that could alter his zero point status in South Carolina?

PEEBLES: No, he doesn't have any legitimate reason ...


PEEBLES: ... to induce African-Americans to vote for him. I mean, because of his record in his own state. I mean, his record in his own state with African-American communities in terms of economic opportunities, contracting opportunities as well as police conduct. So I think he's got some issues there and it's a very small state and if he can't manage those issues in such a small state, I don't think anyone's going to give him credibility to run this country.

I don't think he's a viable candidate long-term because African- American voters are going to play such a critical role and other voters have many alternatives that are better qualified. I mean Vice President Biden is by far more qualified than Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Elizabeth Warren is much more qualified and has articulated a more contrasting vision. So it's Buttigieg who is very similar in a political spectrum to Joe Biden and the vice president is exceptionally well-qualified and I just can't imagine voters looking at Buttigieg as an alternative to Joe Biden.

SMERCONISH: Right, but in Iowa, apparently they are. Let's deal with the elephant in the room. You've talked about his record, you've not talked about his sexuality. Do you see that as a non-factor in the minds of voters of color?

PEEBLES: Yes, I think that -- I think that African-American voters, just like other Americans, are going to look for a candidate that articulates a very compelling vision for America and one that includes them and addresses the economic and wealth disparities that African- Americans confront every day. He has failed to have a meaningful discussion throughout all five debates, throughout his campaign in terms of an economic plan for African-American voters and it's for that reason that he's polling so low.

SMERCONISH: Final subject. By election night, Super Tuesday, I guess that's March 3rd, by the conclusion of that voting, nearly 40 percent of the delegates will have been selected. So this process which already feels like it's been going on for years is going to move very quickly early in 2020 and here's my point.

My point is that if someone can keep intact this voting bloc of folks of color, they will really put themselves on a path to securing that nomination. At this point, it looks like Joe Biden, but what's your thought relative to the quick pace that we're about to see?

PEEBLES: I think that the organization, the best organized campaigns are going to be in the mix by Super Tuesday. I think it'll ultimately be a four candidate race -- Warren, Sanders, Biden and most likely Booker and maybe Deval Patrick and Bloomberg can come into the mix.

With Mike Bloomberg's wealth, I think that he can be a major player. I don't think anybody gets 190 delegates. I think that, you know, just like in Obama-Clinton, ultimately someone's going to have to get out of the race or it will be a brokered convention with Biden leading the pack most likely, but I would not underestimate Warren or Sanders because they're challenging America about how capitalism works.

I mean, capitalism is the best system in the world, but our capitalistic democracy is based upon fairness and capitalism right now is not fair because it leaves so many people out, especially African- Americans. Look at wealth and economic disparity and African-Americans carry a disproportionate burden of poverty and that can't continue and other Americans now are feeling, you know, left out of our capitalistic system.

And so it needs to be rebalanced and Warren and Sanders are clearly articulating a plan to rebalance it. So I would not overlook them either and I think African-American voters will take a second look at them as well.

SMERCONISH: Here's what we could agree on, it's got a very fluid nature to it.


It's got a very unsettled nature to it and a lot's going to happen. Don Peebles, thank you. We appreciate you being here.

PEEBLES: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. I think this comes from Facebook. "Why are we still collecting data by race? People vote, not their color." Sean, I think that's an overly simplistic analysis. Catherine, can you put back on the screen that "Times" graphic so I can answer this fellow a little bit more specifically?

"The New York Times" had bar graphs that showed -- I've got my hard copy right here -- that showed just how distinct Iowa and New Hampshire are from the rest of the country, you know, being so overwhelmingly white and then all of a sudden -- there it is -- things change. When you get to Nevada, look at the diminished green. When you get to South Carolina, look at the diminished green.

It's because you've got so many more people of color who are voting and right now, Joe Biden is doing so well among voters of color that that fact alone, if he can hang on to that support, could secure him the nomination. That's the observation and frankly I'd be derelict if, as, you know, a political observer, if I ignored it.

I hope you're answering the survey question at Should the strength of the economy spare President Trump from being impeached? By the way, I can tell you who thinks so. That would be President Trump because he tweeted on this subject. Look at that. "Stock markets up record numbers. For this year alone, DOW, 18.65 percent, S&P, 24.36 percent, Nasdaq Composite, 29.17." Quote, quoting James Carville, "It's the economy, stupid." I wonder if he's voting on today's survey question.

Up ahead, right after the "Grab them by the P" tape leaked, Melania Trump responded by wearing a Gucci pussy bow. Coincidence? Just one of the many fascinating mysteries about the first lady who we still don't know all that well after three years in office. I'll discuss with her unauthorized biographer.

And another first lady and former secretary of state and presidential candidate made waves with a long, wide-ranging interview with Howard Stern. What, if anything, should we read into that appearance?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to run again?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is -- that is 100 percent. So in a few days, I'm not going to open my newspaper ...

CLINTON: Well, you know, I never say never to anything.




SMERCONISH: Is Hillary Clinton finished for good or laying the groundwork to run again or be drafted for president? She sat for a wide-ranging two and a half hour interview with Howard Stern, which many, including myself, thinks she should have done in 2016 to help her see more accessible and human. One of the many tidbits was discussing her experience attending her rival's inauguration.


CLINTON: Then he started on that speech which was so bizarre and that's when I got really worried. A president is supposed to try to reach out to people who weren't for ...


CLINTON: ... him or her. You're supposed to say OK, I'm going to be the president of everyone. I didn't hear any of that and then that carnage in the street and the dark, dystopian vision. I was sitting there like just, wow, couldn't believe it. And George W. Bush says to me well, that was some weird shit.



SMERCONISH: So is she letting it all out now because she doesn't care anymore or because she'd like to get back in? Joining me now to discuss is Patti Solis Doyle who was campaign manager for Hillary Clinton in 2008. Patti, I can't tell you how many times in the last few days people have said to me where was that Hillary in the last cycle or in the 2008 cycle? Your reaction to that is what?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER, 2008: Well, it's frustrating for me, Michael, just because, you know, I worked for Hillary Clinton for almost 20 years and that's the Hillary that I know. She's a -- she's a person. She's a real person with humor and compassion and fears and frustrations and the fact that that never really came out in either cycle, 2008 or 2016, is frustrating because, you know, that Hillary is really likable.

SMERCONISH: So you remind me, I called Lanny Davis after the interview aired and we had both listened to it and Lanny was always the one saying to me, well, you just don't know her, you just don't know her. Is it the fault of Hillary for never allowing us to get to know her or, respectfully, people around her who kept her all buttoned up?

DOYLE: Is that a shot at me, Michael? Look, it's ...

SMERCONISH: Not a shot. It's just a question.

DOYLE: Right. It's really hard to run for public office, as you know, and especially when you have 30 years of public service behind you. People for the most part have already made up their mind because of those 30 years.

So it's very difficult and by nature -- you know, admittedly, Hillary Clinton is a private person by nature. It's hard for her to open up in public. She's not like her husband. She's not like Barack Obama. She doesn't have that sort of gene in her as a -- as politicians that they are or the orators that they are.

But when you have -- like I said, when you have 30 years of public service and being in the public eye, most people have already made up their mind. And you said at the onset, you know, if she had done that interview with Howard Stern in 2016, you know, we may be in a different place now.

But I would -- I would imagine that if she had done that interview in 2016 with Howard Stern, the questions would have been much different. The questions would have been about her e-mails, they would have been about what Trump was saying about her, they would have been -- it would have been a different interview back then.

SMERCONISH: In 2008, if she said to you or you said to her we have this invitation from Howard Stern, what would have been Patti Solis Doyle's recommendation as to whether to accept it? I mean, me, I'd love to see that kind of conversation unfold. I wish that you would have given it consideration, but as a campaign manager, truthfully, what would you have said?

DOYLE: I think if I had to be completely honest, I would have said, just because of his reputation back then in 2008, probably not.


But we did -- we did push for venues like "Saturday Night Live" and "The View" and other venues that were much softer. But, again, even in 2008, the questions weren't about her former boyfriends or her mom. They were about the war -- her vote on the war in Iraq. They were about other things.

So it was, you know, certainly -- I will be willing to take a lot of responsibility for not putting her -- for not having in a situation with her more personal side coming out but I think the media also needs to take a hit on that as well. They really weren't interested in that. They were more interested in the topics of the day, and the topics of the campaign.

SMERCONISH: Final thought. I keep replaying in my mind 2016, which is not the cycle where were calling the shots. And I think if you want to reach high school educated white guys in states like mine of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, you know the list. I can't think of a better venue to go than Howard.

SOLIS DOYLE: I agree, in retrospect. I completely agree and I wasn't calling shots in 2016, but it was a different environment and as I said, would have, could have, should have, but there were a lot of other intervening outside things that happened in 2016 and we can go on and on about them, whether it was the Russian interference or not campaigning in Wisconsin or the Comey letter. I don't know if you can really say that one interview would have made the difference. But -- you know -- that's all I really have to say. I don't know if you can say one interview would have made the difference.

SMERCONISH: Final -- final --


SMERCONISH: Final question, quickly I buried the lead. What do you read into this? Does she want back in?

SOLIS DOYLE: No. I -- first of all, I think it's too late for her to come in to a presidential race right now. Just tactically, mechanically. You know? Her -- she's already missed the deadlines on getting her name on the ballot in certain states. She is not Michael Bloomberg. While she's very well off, she does not have billions of dollars to still fund a presidential campaign. So it will be difficult to raise money now but -- look, she has a lot to say.

She is a former first lady, she is a former Senate, she's a former secretary of state, and by the way, also the last person who ran against Trump. So I think listening to her and to her advice is very important. Not just for the country but for the people who are running now. So I -- you know, more power to her. I want her out there all the time, if she can be.

SMERCONISH: Patti, thanks. Bye for now.

SOLIS DOYLE: Bye-bye, thanks.

SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments. What do we have? From Facebook, I think.

Hillary is prepping herself to get back in. Guaranteed! She's strategic by going on Stern to show her "human" side. It's obvious and -- she's a great actress.

I don't know actress, Kelly Ann. Watch it on the app, as I did. Don't just listen to it. Watch it.

I don't think you're going to believe she's acting for 2.5 hours. I think what you get in the interview is the real Hillary, and very likable.

I want to remind you to answer the survey question at my Web site,

"Should the strength of the economy spare President Trump from being impeached?"

By the way, let me show you what Republican voters think. OK? Republican voters. Can we put that up on the screen? Here's what issue they find most important. So, I know how they answer this. Fifty percent say it's the economy. Fifteen percent say it's impeachment.

Now, Democrats by contrast -- can we put that up? Here's how the Ds look at it. Interestingly. Health care number one. Climate change, way up there. Impeachment and economy, very, very close to one another.

Still to come, how could one commercial drive down the value of a company 1.5 billion dollars. That's what happened this week to the fitness company Peloton when Twitter lambasted this ad as sexist and worse. I've got a different take.

Plus, was Melania Trump against her husband running for president? I'll post this and other questions for the first lady's unauthorized biographer.



SMERCONISH: Sixteen years ago a book on punctuation with a title subject to interpretation became an international best-seller. It was called "Eats, Shoots and Leaves." Or was it supposed to be "Eats Shoots and Leaves." They call that syntactic ambiguity and I was thinking about that construction this week when a new book was released about the first lady. It's called "Free, Melania." Hmm. What does that mean?

Joining me, its author, CNN reporter Kate Bennett, the only reporter in the White House press corps whose sole focus is to cover the first lady, the east wing and the Trump family. Kate, I am hung up on the comma. What does the title of the book imply?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It implies -- so I would say it "Free Melania." It implies she is quite free. It's describing how I believe she is and lives within the Trump administration. The hash tag FreeMelania came out when she first came on the scene, everybody thought she was miserable and sending out bad signals from the White House to save her.

I think the opposite is true. Three years in she's enjoying herself. She has a lot of autonomy, a lot of independence. She can do and say whatever she wants. So she is "Free Melania."

SMERCONISH: She is a woman of mystery. Three years in the White House and I don't feel like we really have a clear picture of her. That is up until release of your book. Does she cultivate that deliberately?

BENNETT: I think it's a handful of things. One is she's very uncompromising about who she is and what she wants to do. And that's -- again, that's good and bad. I mean, it sort of lowered the bar for what's expected or anticipated from a first lady and in a way it sort of raised the bar for first ladies who don't have to -- they're never seen as individuals.

They're sort of dragged along a lot of the time or expected to do this or expected to do that. So, it's a bit of a tricky game but I certainly think she's savvy enough to understand how she's, I guess, marketing herself to the public in a way with the mystery. [09:40:08]

Listen, we felt like we knew Michelle Obama. We could go to Soul Cycle with her and do carpool karaoke's. Imagine Melania Trump doing push-ups on Jimmy Fallon. It just doesn't compute. So this is still a first lady that we're learning about which is why I wrote the book.

SMERCONISH: The "grab them by the P" tape comes out and the next time that we see her she is in a Gucci pussy-bow. What was that about? What was she trying to convey in that instance?

BENNETT: I have long believed there are no Melania Trump coincidences, right? So, I think, there was a reason she wore that. It's subtle. I'm not even sure if she thought people would pick up on it because it is sort of a strange term but it is a very legitimate fashion term.

You know, I mean, was she signaling the women who were against her husband for what he did and said on those "Access Hollywood" tapes or was she supporting her husband by saying this doesn't bother me. I'm going to wear a pussy bow blouse.

I think she leaves open that area, that ambiguity in that way people have that question mark about her. And she speaks through her visual cues and doesn't -- she never came out and said I wore this because -- she leaves it up to us to interpret it.

SMERCONISH: It all began with that escalator ride. You say that people have misunderstood, misinterpreted her desire to be in this, meaning she wanted him to run. She wanted to be a part of it. Explain.

BENNETT: I mean, you know, I write in the book that this escalator ride which looks like she's going down maybe to the shoe department at Saks or Neiman or something. It certainly doesn't feel like they're kicking -- she wants to be there to kick it off but she did. And I think people have to remember they've been together for 20 years now. She listened and sounding board each and every time there was a presidential election and he said, I'm going to run. I should run. I'm going to run. This is the year.

And she finally -- she said, listen, you're getting older. This is going to happen you're going to win if you run, run already. And she was very supportive. I think for Melania Trump she sort of moves through life as she so chooses. So this is just a finite chapter.

She's not a seasoned political spouse. So we don't get that energy from her. But at the same time she's taking -- she's taking this moment and making the best of it for her. She's mostly protecting her son. And she's tried to get by living in really the biggest fishbowl.

SMERCONISH: OK. Finally, you say it's "Free Melania" as opposed to, "Free Melania!

BENNETT: It's "Eats, Shoots, Run." No.


BENNETT: It's "Free Melania."

SMERCONISH: You know, that was all about a panda. Right? You know that was all about a panda and whether he was eating shoots and leaves or eating, shooting and leaving.


SMERCONISH: Anyway, congratulations. Thank you.

BENNETT: Thanks so much.

SMERCONISH: Cool. Tweets and Facebook comments. What do we have?

From Twitter -- doesn't want to be freed. She chose and supports this toxic man as a husband and must now live the consequences.

You know, there's another interesting aspect of Kate's book which is that the stand by her man mantra that -- was that Dolly Parton? I mean, that part of the way in which Melania leads her life Kate contributes to her Slovenia Catholic upbringing of taking the good and the bad with the spouse. Just found that interesting. I obviously enjoyed the book.

I want to remind you to answer the survey question at

"Should the strength of the economy spare President Trump from being impeached?"

Now, here's another voice on this. Catherine (ph) put up Jim Jordan. He has a tweet on this. Yes.

Speaker Pelosi is counting impeachment votes. Well, here's what President Trump is counting. And then rattles off all the economic data that he thinks is more important. So I wonder what you are thinking. Go to my Web site, cast a ballot on the survey question. Results soon.

Still to come, it may have cost a billion and a half dollars, but this week on Twitter the fitness company Peloton out-trended impeachment all because of an ad that people found to be offensive. Me? I guess I'm a sexist and misogynist and I will explain.



SMERCONISH: I have a Christmas confession. I am sexist and misogynistic at least according to Peloton haters. As you've heard Peloton, the maker of high-end at-home exercise equipment, is faces backlash over a new holiday television ad titled "The Gift That Gives Back" featuring a husband gifting his wife the bike for Christmas, and her videos chronicling her usage and then it ends with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A year ago I didn't realize how much this would change me. Thank you.


SMERCONISH: Twitter exploded with criticism saying that the ad smacks of sexism and classism like, "Peloton -- because maybe your partner thinks you're fat on the inside." Or, "Nothing says maybe you should lose a few pounds like gifting your already rail thin life partner a Peloton." Or, to own a Peloton are you also required to own an $8 million oceanfront home or a New York City loft like everyone in the commercials? And, "I've seen hostage videos that look more comfortable." Others they made parody videos.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. My first ride. I'm a little bit nervous and rightly so because my husband got me (EXPLETIVE DELETED) workout bike for Christmas and that's rude. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five days in a row. Are you surprised? I am.


SMERCONISH: Peloton had to turn off comments on its own post.

Meanwhile, this week the stock it dropped 15 percent. The value of the company plummeted $1.5 billion. So where do I come in?

Well, last year for Christmas I gave my SiriusXM radio producer, her name is T.C., gift certificates to four of her favorite workout hunts. Solidcore, Soul, CycleBar and Flywheel. And some swag. I think I had her a t-shirt. Was I telling her she needed to slim down and get into shape?


No. I know that working out is her passion and figured she'd appreciate the thought that went in my visiting those four locations and getting the gift cards. Guess what? She did.

Hopefully people will come to their senses and get over their absurd outrage. Can't we all use the gift of health?

Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments and we'll give you the final results of the survey question. Go to right now and answer this.

"Should the strength of the economy spare President Trump from being impeached?"


SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question at

"Should the strength of the economy spare President Trump from being impeached?"

Survey says -- here are the results. Whoa! Ninety-six percent. Four said yes. I think the four percent is within the margin of error. And look at it, that is with 15,000 -- let's call it 500 votes cast.

Here's some of what came in via social media at this hour. What do we have?

In what regard does a questionable booming economy absolve someone of crimes? Your survey is ridiculous and pathetic. But do you like the survey question, Francesa? 15,000 people voted and 96 percent of them agree with you.


What else has come in?

The economy is doing well because of President Trump policies. Impeachment will bring the U.S. economy down. Stop impeachment.

Look, what I was getting at with the survey question is the odd juxtaposition of what's going on on front pages all across the country. Robust job numbers have just come out driving the unemployment rate down to a 50-year low. The economy by many measurements is doing extremely well at a time when it seems almost a certainty the House of Representatives is going to vote to impeach the president. It's all relevant. It's all related.

What else came in?

Smerconish, Clinton was impeached during a booming economy too. And was not convicted by the Senate, which is my real point. It seems a foregone conclusion of what will happen both in the House and in the Senate, and then Americans will be voting.

Join me for my "American Life in Columns" tour next in Pittsburgh, Manchester, St. Louis and Raleigh.

Thank you for watching. See you next week.