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President Trump's Most Lasting Legacy; Trump's Historical Impact On America's Courts; Has Impeachment Process Moved The Needle?; Thirteen-Year-Old Arrested In Barnard Student Killing; Hemp Farms Confusing Thieves And Police; Biden: U.K. Conservative Victory A Warning Shot For Democrats. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 14, 2019 - 09:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. President Trump's legacy was cemented this week. Yes, the House Judiciary Committee voted out articles of impeachment and it appears the president will be impeached by the full House next week, but that is not what I'm talking about.

Assuming the Senate acquits the president, he won't be removed from office and impeachment will certainly be a blemish on his record linking him forever to two predecessors, but if you want to talk about a more lasting impact on all of us it will be his record of judicial selection. Remember, appointments to the federal bench are for life and the milestone reached this week was the confirmation of the president's 50th appellate court pick.

On Wednesday, when media attention was consumed with the testimony of Justice Department IG Michael Horowitz before the Senate Judiciary Committee, it was Senate action on another matter that will have more lasting impact. Lawrence VanDyke was confirmed for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals marking President Trump's 50th successful appellate court appointment in just three years. In eight years, President Obama was able to confirm 55 circuit court or appellate judges. It is these courts, not the Supreme Court, that is the final word on a majority of federal matters.

Something else, President Trump's picks are, on average, 10 years younger than Obama's. They'll be making law for a lot longer than Donald Trump will be president regardless of what happens in 2020.

Here's another way to assess Trump's impact. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco is the largest of the 13 circuits in the country. It covers the western states of California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska and Montana. The population here? About 20 percent of the United States and the Ninth Circuit is historically famously liberal in its disposition.

It was the Ninth Circuit that in 2012 struck down California's same- sex marriage ban, ruled that the second amendment does not include an individual's right to bear arms and said that bans on assisted suicide are unconstitutional. You'll remember that it was also this court that once held that the Pledge of Allegiance under God language is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. There are 29 active seats on the Ninth Circuit. President Trump has now appointed 10 of them.

In "Vox," Ian Millhiser has calculated that at this point in the Obama presidency, Obama had appointed only 24 court of appeal judges, meaning that Trump is appointing appellate judges twice as fast as Obama. At a similar point in their presidencies, President George W. Bush had filled only 30 seats on the federal appellate bench, President Clinton 27, President George H. W. Bush 31, Ronald Reagan 23.

That pace is partly due to President Trump's disregard of the tradition of the so-called blue slip, a showing of deference to home state U.S. senators. VanDyke, by way of example, did not enjoy the support of either of Nevada's U.S. senators. All this not to mention the two picks President Trump has already made to the Supreme Court.

While some of his picks have been controversial, VanDyke for example was deemed unqualified by the American Bar Association despite his Harvard Law degree and passed as solicitor general from Montana and Nevada, most have received high marks for credentials. Many have clerked for the Supreme Court, they've been culled over the years by the Federalist Society in anticipation of a Republican president just like this and all of them have one thing in common -- a conservative, judicial philosophy.

Their impact will be felt for many years to come on matters of health care, equality, privacy, abortion, climate, guns, the list is endless and the way in which President Trump has carried out his duty to make judicial appointments, namely fulfilling a campaign pledge to appoint conservative jurists, is a big explanation as to why the impeachment facts have not moved the needle with the president's base.

I want to know what you think. Did I convince you? Go to my website at and answer this question. Which will have greater impact on President Trump's legacy, remaking the federal courts or impeachment?

Joining me now to discuss is Ian Millhiser. He's a senior correspondent at "Vox" where he wrote an excellent piece, "What Trump has done to the courts, explained." He also clerked for a judge on the Sixth Circuit and is the author of "Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted." Ian, talk to me about the pace.

[09:05:00] I referenced the blue slip tradition, but what accounts for President Trump's ability to get so much done?

IAN MILLHISER, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, VOX: Well, part of the answer is just that Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate into a factory that just kicks out judicial confirmations. There's more than 100 bills that have passed the House that the Senate has ignored. What McConnell's been doing is confirming judge after judge after judge.

Now, Trump had an unusual number of vacancies to fill and a big reason for that is because when Obama was president, McConnell turned the set into the opposite. He largely blockaded most of Obama's nominees, at least most of his appellate nominees, and so McConnell held a bunch of seats open while Obama was president and then the minute that Trump got in, he's just been kicking out confirmation after confirmation after confirmation because the Republican party views taking over the judiciary as a very high priority.

SMERCONISH: The Federalist Society role in this, the president has really made no bones about how he relies on them for the screening process.

MILLHISER: That's right. The Federalist Society is this organization that covers up and down the legal profession. So you have Harvard Law students who join the -- I mean, you have law students at all law schools who join the Federalist Society all the way up to Supreme Court justices. It's a very conservative organization. It identifies lawyers when they are law students.

It finds people who are very talented and who are very committed to a conservative ideology and then it basically forms a pipeline so that the smartest kids at Harvard get the best clerkships and they move up and up in their career until eventually they become federal judges or even justices.

SMERCONISH: Folks watching might be unsettled with the philosophical disposition of some of these jurists, but as you pointed out in your piece in "Vox," it's hard to quarrel with their credentials given how many of them have clerked, by way of example, as you have at your level or even for the Supreme Court.

MILLHISER: Right. Yes. I mean, if you look at the credentials of Trump's nominees, most of them have extraordinarily impressive resumes and I mean, if you're a Republican, you should be very happy with that. If they're -- if you're a Democrat, that should bother you more. I mean, if you don't like the agenda that these nominees are going to push, the fact that they're so smart means that they're going to push a very conservative agenda in a very competent and very systematic way. Democrats would be better off if Trump was just picking goons to fill these seats.

SMERCONISH: Ian, the Ninth Circuit as a lab for what you wrote about and what we are discussing. Please sum it up.

MILLHISER: Sure. So I mean, there were a number of vacancies that were held open on the Ninth Circuit and there are a number that have opened on the Ninth Circuit and McConnell has made sure that those seats get filled as fast -- as fast as they can and so what we're going to see -- I mean, as you said at the beginning, 10 of 29 seats on the Ninth Circuit are now controlled by Trump. As long as he's in office, more judges are going to keep retiring, judges unfortunately are going to die and so you're going to see this pace quicken and Trump's going to gain more and more control over more and more judgeships.

SMERCONISH: And I would just sort of tie together all of today's front page news under this bow and say I think herein lies an explanation as to why the base doesn't perhaps pay so much attention to the underlying facts of the impeachment probe. Instead, they're getting a heck of a lot that they wanted from Trump with regard to the remaking of the federal bench. MILLHISER: Yes. There's no question that this is a big deal for Republicans. I graduated from law school in 2006 and that wasn't that long ago. Back then, if you listened to the Federalist Society, if you listened to Republicans talk about judges, they talked about judicial restraint, they wanted the judiciary to do less and less and less.

Now when I listen to Republicans talk about the judiciary, they want it to do more and more and more, strike down Obamacare, you know, hobble the EPA, you know, immunize Trump from a lot of the investigations that are going on in the House and so what's going to happen is that the Judiciary is going to get more conservative, it's also going to claim more power to itself which means that even if a Democratic president is elected in 2020, the law is probably still going to move to the right because the courts are going to be pushing it in that direction.

SMERCONISH: Ian, that was excellent. Thank you.

MILLHISER: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: I say every four years on the radio and here on CNN, every four years, you know, here's the issue we should be spending more time discussing, the awesome responsibility of a president to single- handedly appoint members of the federal judiciary and the issue just never seems to get the level of attention that it warrants. What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page. I'll read some responses throughout the course of the program. Catherine, what do we have?

From Facebook, "This entire regime is nothing more than a power grab. Thanks for attempting to awaken America, Michael." I am trying to shine light on it. All the oxygen in the room has been taken out by impeachment. I'm not minimizing impeachment, but this, this is the legacy that will matter. One more if I've got time. Do I?

[09:10:00] "We won't know the answer to this yet because he has four more years to go. I would say the courts." Hey, Bill Caffrey, I'm saying that already the impact that he has had. Look, he is doubling the pace of President Obama with his selections and my guest just explained, you know, how the table was set for him by Mitch McConnell to be able to do so.

Up ahead, the brutal slaying of an 18-year-old Barnard freshman shocked New York City and also shocking the ages of the alleged attackers who are said to be as young as 13. What should the justice system do in cases like this?

And is President Trump's impeachment a major marker in American history or just partisan bickering? How are those outside the Beltway reacting?

Remember, I want to know what you think. Go to my website at Answer today's survey question. Which will have greater impact on President Trump's legacy, remaking federal courts or impeachment?


SMERCONISH: As you know, the House Judiciary Committee voted this week to advance two articles of impeachment against President Trump. For some, this is monumental, just the fourth time in American history a president will face articles of impeachment. To others, it's not even a subject of discussion. So how is it playing in the swing states?

[09:15:02] Joining me now to discuss is Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll. Dr. Franklin, you were just in the field. What did you find?

CHARLES FRANKLIN, DIRECTOR, MARQUETTE LAW SCHOOL POLL: We found that, first of all, the public testimony did not move opinion and secondly, 40 percent support impeachment and removal from office, 52 percent oppose. Before the testimony, it was 40 percent to 53 percent. So it hardly budged as a result of the testimony.

SMERCONISH: In other words, and I understand it's a -- it's a game of inches, but support for impeachment in the state of Wisconsin actually declined the further we got into the testimony.

FRANKLIN: That's right. The first wave of surveys in October before any of the public testimony was done was 44 percent in favor, 51 opposed. So that inched down 4 percent and support inched up a point or two in opposition. Most of that was driven by Republicans coalescing completely behind the president and Democrats are a little bit less in favor. Ninety percent of Republicans are opposed, 80 percent of Democrats are in favor. It's not a big gap, but it's a little bit and Independents are a bit more opposed then in favor.

SMERCONISH: Look, I know you're a numbers guy, but I also know that you got a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan. So tell me what you think is going on here. What is it about the playing out of the testimony that didn't strike people in Wisconsin?

FRANKLIN: I think that people absorbed the message that reinforced their view. The evidence is pretty strong that people who thought the president was culpable ahead of time are supporting impeachment, those who believe the president and are disinclined especially to accept messages from the other party dismiss the pro impeachment evidence and stick by the president.

This is something we've been seeing throughout the last few years of people selectively paying attention to the information they prefer and want to believe and acting on that and being very hard to move them with new information.

SMERCONISH: My own -- I agree with what you just said and my own thought on this, for what it's worth, is that folks are out working, you know, and raising kids and so forth. Unlike me, they don't have the time, it's my job to do so, to commit to watching every aspect of it and so they probably then get their information from their usual outlets which have a decidedly different presentation and then they accept that belief system.

FRANKLIN: I think there's a lot to that and of course we get to select the sources of news that we want to choose and there's some gaps between the different sources. The other thing that we see is about a third are paying close attention, about a third some attention and about a third little or no attention.

Those paying a lot of attention have moved a little more in accepting the evidence of what Trump did in withholding aid and pressuring Ukraine, but those who are paying little attention, about a third of the electorate, half say they don't know what he did with respect to Ukraine.

SMERCONISH: I want to quickly put up on the screen the head-to-head competition because you also looked at 2020. My takeaway was it almost matters not who's in the lead and who's behind. It's all within the margin of error. Is that fair?

FRANKLIN: I think that's exactly right. We included Cory Booker who has not broken out into the top tier of Democratic people. He trails Trump by 1 percent, exactly the same as Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg trail Trump by one percent. That's a good example that Democrats are focused on defeating the president and at this point at least, when it's Trump versus a Democrat, we get almost identical numbers. Biden does 1 point better -- 1 point better than Trump does, but the others are at 1 or, in Bernie Sanders case, 2 points down.

SMERCONISH: And to the uninitiated who would say, well, why make such a big deal over Wisconsin, my response would be to say tell me who wins Wisconsin in November of 2020 and I'll tell you who most likely is the next president of the United States. You get the final word.

FRANKLIN: That's the critical point. Three of the last five presidential races here have been decided by less than 1 percentage point and in 2016, if you gave Clinton Michigan and Pennsylvania, but Trump still won Wisconsin, Trump still won the electoral college.

SMERCONISH: Nicely done. Thank you, Dr. Franklin.

FRANKLIN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Make sure you're going to the website and answering this week's survey question. You know how I'm voting. Which will have greater impact on President Trump's legacy, remaking of the federal courts or impeachment?

Up ahead, New York City grieving the 18-year-old Barnard freshman who was brutally stabbed to death in a robbery on her way back to campus.

[09:20:04] A suspect arrested in the case, 13-years-old and the others involved said to be only 14. What should we do with juvenile killers?


SMERCONISH: What do we do with juveniles who kill? New York City was shell-shocked by the senseless stabbing death of Tessa Majors, an 18- year-old Barnard freshman from Virginia during a robbery in a park near campus early Thursday evening and now a 13-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the crime. He was found with a knife and admitted to being involved in the attempted robbery and stabbing. Police have recommended charges of second-degree murder, first degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon.

His Legal Aid Society attorney told "The New York Times" that the police had no evidence beyond the boy's statement and that he had never previously been arrested, quote, "There is no allegation my client touched the complainant in this case. He was merely present when this took place."

Under New York state law, minors charged with intentional murder can be tried as adults, but per "The Times," the 13-year-old will be prosecuted in family court because he's facing a charge of felony murder, meaning he's not accused of the stabbing, but of taking part in the robbery during which Ms. Majors was killed. The 13-year-old's statement led police to other suspects, one of them a 14-year-old who's now been detained. A third suspect is still being sought.

[09:25:03] Joining me now is Jody Kent Lavy, executive director for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. Ms. Kent Lavy, there was a quote on your website that I want to put on the screen, some background actually that I'll read and then hopefully you'll explain.

"The United States," you write or your website writes, "Treats children, particularly youth of color, who come into conflict with the law in intensely cruel and inhuman ways, disregarding their human rights and differences from adults. This is evidenced most starkly by the fact that the United States is the only country that sentences children to die in prison by imposing life without parole sentences on individuals under 18. Imposition of the sentence varies significantly based on geography, quality of legal representation, the child's economic status and race."

Apply some of that thinking to what we now know of this case.

JODY KENT LAVY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CAMPAIGN FOR THE FAIR SENTENCING OF YOUTH: Sure. Well, first I just want to start by saying that my heart really goes out to the Majors family. As a mom myself, I can only imagine what her parents are going through right now. It really is just any mom's worst nightmare and I think there's a lot we don't know yet about this case.

What we do know, though, is that young people can and do commit serious crimes and they need to be held accountable for those crimes and it needs to be done in an age-appropriate way that takes into account their unique characteristics as children and that's what the juvenile system is set up to do.

SMERCONISH: I totally accept and agree with you saying, look, there's a heck of a lot we don't know, but what does accountability look like for a 13-year-old or 14-year-old hypothetically who takes a life?

KENT LAVY: Sure. Well, you know, the juvenile system was set up with an acknowledgment that kids are fundamentally different from adults and that they have a unique capacity for rehabilitation.

So the focus of the juvenile system is to remove a child from society, to acknowledge the harm they have caused, to remove them from their family, from their community, from their friends, from all that is in the community to support them and remove them to a place where they can get rehabilitated, they can understand what they did wrong, understand the consequences and mature so that they can come home and eventually be freed as productive members of society.

The adult system, on the other hand, is intended for adults. We can't take a label of adulthood and slap it on a child when they commit harm. We can't ignore everything that we know about young people when they commit harm and throw them into an adult system that is really unfit for children.

I think it's really important to unpack what it looks like for a child to be thrown into the adult system when we think about what kinds of sentences, you know, a child could face, you know, and the reality is that kids going into the adult system are often disproportionately victimized because of their vulnerability, they are often housed in solitary confinement, you know, for their protection oftentimes for years.

And this is what we're talking about when we talk about throwing them in the adult system or giving them an extreme sentence as opposed to, you know, the very real punishment that is putting them into a juvenile system that is focused on where they are developmentally and meeting their needs and ensuring that when they come home, they are productive members of society, no longer pose a risk.

SMERCONISH: The Supreme Court of the United States took -- folks should know this -- took the death penalty off the table in 2005 for juvenile offenders. You correct me if I'm wrong. Then in 2010, using the same logic, struck down the penalty of life without parole for non-homicide crimes that were convicted by juveniles.

KENT LAVY: That's right and since then, the Supreme Court has gone further and struck down life without parole for the vast majority of children. You know, I think it's important to recognize that we're the only country in the world that does this to children. A sentence of life without parole is really defining a child based on the worst thing that they've ever done and this is really a moral question for us.

You know, what do we do with a child when they commit harm? Do we disregard everything we know about where they are developmentally and throw them into the adult system or condemn them to -- condemn them to die in prison or do we recognize that there are characteristics about them, there are factors about where they are developmentally that we need to take into account and we take those things seriously and factor them in when we hold them accountable.

SMERCONISH: I don't have the answer. I mean, this is one of those stories I really find it difficult to read from start to finish in all the coverage. It's just so heartbreaking on so many levels, not the least of which is for the decedent, the Barnard student who's gone.

KENT LAVY: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: Thank you for being here to shed some light on the difficulties now that the system will face.

KENT LAVY: Sure. Thanks for having me.


SMERCONISH: Still to come, Joe Biden is warning that Boris Johnson's victory in the U.K. this week shows the dangers of leaning too far to the left. He even says Johnson's resemblance to President Trump will make people think more likely that Trump can win reelection. Is he correct?

Plus, why did this farm have to post signs reading "not marijuana" because their crop recently legalized hemp looks and smells and even tests like its cannabis cousin. I'll talk to a woman who runs a hemp farm about how she has to educate thieves and law enforcement.


SMERCONISH: This is the first year of a legal hemp harvest after President Trump signed legislation legalizing its cultivation and turning the oversight of the crop over to the states, but it's causing a lot of headaches for farmers, because it's hard to tell the difference between hemp and pot. Both are cannabis plants. They look and smell alike but hemp has a far lower concentration of THC.

Growing hemp had been criminalized since 1970, but now there has been an explosion of products using the hemp extract CBD in therapeutic creams, bath bombs, pharmaceuticals, even dog treats. Because of the crop's similarity to marijuana, however, farmers find themselves having to take strong measures to protect their crops from both trespassers and from law enforcement. My next guest was forced to post this warning sign on her land.


Not marijuana. Will not get you high. Iris Rogers joins me now. She's the founder and CEO of Homestead Hemp. She grows hemp on her family farm Old Homestead in upstate New York. Ms. Rogers, Iris, tell me about Asher, your dog in that photograph. Because the fact that you need Asher says a lot about the problem.

IRIS ROGERS, FOUNDER AND CEO, HOMESTEAD HEMP: Yes, it does. Yes. Asher is a blue heeler. He's a great dog. He's our new alarm system really.

We were robbed last year in about $1,500 worth of plans were stolen. These two men came in the middle of the night and just chopped down plants in the pouring rain on our property. And it's really scary that and we can't put up a fence around the entire property so Asher now is our new alarm system. Just great.

SMERCONISH: And your thought, I guess, is that the thieves thought they were stealing weed, meaning something with a higher concentration of THC?

ROGERS: Yes, even though we had the signs up, I think just -- there's a lot of education that's not really out there yet. And so I think these two men were stealing with the idea that it was marijuana and even though it wouldn't get you high, but that's -- they didn't really recognize it as that and they still stole the plants. So --

SMERCONISH: Iris, to your trained eye, if I were to show you hemp and show you marijuana, could you distinguish the difference? If you smell them while they were being grown, would you know the difference? If I were to dry and burn them, would you know the difference?

ROGERS: No, I don't think so. I definitely can't. There are experts that can, but they look and smell the same. They both have THC in them, even though hemp has a trace amount of THC, they still smell the same.

SMERCONISH: So what do you do then to protect yourself? Forget the thieves for a moment, how about law enforcement? Because it puts cops in a really tough position trying to distinguish one from the other.

ROGERS: Yes, law enforcement is really tricky. I was really lucky. And in my community my law enforcement is so wonderful. And we really were proactive about the situation.

We figured we were going to get robbed from, so we worked together with our local law enforcement to let them know exactly what we were doing, where we were doing it and what we figured would happen. And so when it did happen, they were ready. And they understood.

They figured it probably came from our farm but they tested our plants right there on the spot and I said it did test positive for marijuana. And I said, right, but it's not telling you exactly how much is in there. And this is a major problem because this is happening across the country, where farmers are having their hemp transported, and then law enforcement is busting it like it's marijuana.

And even if they have the legal paperwork and the documentation, they're still not believing it. And there's no test that can tell you radio I got there on the spot how much is in it. So we're kind of combating each other. We need to be working together and we need to come up with a solution that's going to be able to protect farmers, consumers and law enforcement so we're not all clashing together at the same time.

SMERCONISH: I had some truckers called my SiriusXM radio program just yesterday and said they had exactly that happen. They were lawfully transporting hemp. Law enforcement pulled them over, smelled, thought they were making like one of the all-time big drug bust, and then it had to get sorted out and it took awhile to unravel. Final word --

ROGERS: Right --

SMERCONISH: How is Asher?

ROGERS: Yes. He's great. He's really, really good. He's kind of bored right now, because there's no plant on the field so -- but yes, I mean, it's a huge problem. I mean, truckers who are transporting hemp like they should not be getting arrested. They have nothing to do with that, they're just the transportation people. It's a mess. It really needs to be resolved.

SMERCONISH: All right. Good luck with your crop, and thank you for being here.

ROGERS: Thank you so much.

SMERCONISH: I want to remind you to answer the survey question at I addressed this in my opening commentary. I hope you caught it.

Which will have greater impact on President Trump's legacy? Remaking the federal courts or impeachment? For what it's worth, mine is a federal court argument end vote.

Up ahead, why did England go all in for Boris Johnson? Joe Biden says it's because Johnson's opposition went too far left. Is that correct? Some think Johnson was also helped by this campaign ad -- I have to tell you I think this is arguably the best campaign ad I have ever seen, based on the movie "Love Actually."




SMERCONISH: Joe Biden says the surprise conservative landslide in the U.K. should serve as a warning shot for 2020 Democrats. In react to Prime Boris Johnson's conservative party crushing Jeremy Corbyn's left wing labour party Biden said -- quote -- "Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left." And then he added, "You're also going to see people saying, my God, Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical and emotional clone of the president is able to win."

Joining me now Andrew Gillum, former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida. You remember he lost the 2018 Florida governor's race by less than half a percentage point. Mayor, I don't know if you are a "Love Actually" fan, but let me just show you the way that commercial -- let me show you that commercial ends. Because I think it was genius, and then you can critique it. Go ahead.



CHORUS (singing): Sleep in heavenly peace.


Sleep in heavenly peace.


SMERCONISH: What do you think, Mayor? As a practitioners of the art yourself, damn good commercial, right?

GILLUM: Yes, I tell you. First of all, good morning, Michael. And I have to admit in full transparency I am a fan of "Love Actually" and I agree. I mean, I think this commercial really pointed out even more than I think some of the conclusions that are being drawn by a lot of people in the U.S. around the outcome of those elections that -- in Boris Johnson's case, he kept the message simple, it was direct, it was understandable.

On the left you had a divergence of candidates, where the message was mixed all in between, not a lot of consistency. Even the head of the Labour Party was afraid to really come down and say where he was on the issue of Brexit. And I think that was confusing to those who were anti-Brexit folks.

And so, I would have to say that it probably had a lot more to do with the consistency and strength of the message. And that ad obviously a pretty brilliant in and of itself that contributed to the kind of outcome that we saw in the British elections.

SMERCONISH: Look, I'm no expert, although I do try to follow it. But I certainly remember that Brexit was June of 2016, Trump's election was November of 2016. In retrospect, people said, man, that seems like a wake-up call of sorts. Do you think too much is being made of the application of Boris Johnson's victory on Thursday or I should say the conservative party and what it might mean for Trump?

GILLUM: Well, I mean -- so let's just put the facts in here which are Boris Johnson avoided Trump like the plague just recently during Trump's visit to Europe. Wouldn't even take public pictures with him, was also seen amongst a group of foreign leaders literally laughing at the president.

Donald Trump remained for him a scourge in Britain just as he does for about half the country here in the United States. And so I do think we ought to be cautious as to how much we sort of compare the two of these and use this as a prelude to what would happen in November.

Another thing that I would point out is, here in the United States we know that in 2016, 4 million fewer people voted in the presidential elections. And if a Democrat is going to win, and I sure as heck hope we do, we're going to have to do a very, very, very persuasive job at not only bringing those voters back into the fold, but ensuring that we can pull together our base.

Our common threat remains the same, regardless of whether you are in Bernie Sanders' camp or the Joe Biden camp and that is defeating Donald Trump. We can't have the a same mistake that we saw happen, I think, in Great Britain, where you had the opposition split so widely, that it was very, very different to come up with a consistent and clear message that the left, the right, the middle could all unify around. SMERCONISH: But, Mayor, I don't if I could find the midlands on a map of the U.K. but I keep reading about the people who live in the midlands, and they sound alike like the folks who live in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, who have similarities in terms of they voted for Boris Johnson. And here in the States they voted for Donald Trump. These folks in formerly manufacturing meccas who are buying into the idea that it can all happen again for them.

GILLUM: Yes. I mean, what I hope that those folks at least here in the United States will conclude is that under Donald Trump he has actually exacerbated their problems and not made it easier. Those same jobs that evaded them in 2016 and in the lead-up to it still evade them today. Donald Trump sold them a bill of bads, and the Democratic nominee and the Democratic Party has to point out those differences that their lives are not better off in that instance.

But I would also say, Michael, we got to do a better job of reaching back to those voters who showed up for us in 2012, showed up for us in 2018, and then they decided not to participate in the 2016 elections at the level that we needed them to do. I'll give you one example here in Florida we had more Democrats vote in 2018 in the Democratic and the election of governor, than Democrats who showed up and voted in 2016. That's a problem. We can't repeat that problem come 2020.

SMERCONISH: I love the scene where the kid is running through the airport in search of his love interest. And she's getting on the flight. You remember, he's the drummer and she's the singer, and then he finds her at the end of the movie.


SMERCONISH: It was unbelievable.

GILLUM: Yes. I'm glad that we turned into a "Love Actually" admiration party this morning.

SMERCONISH: Nice to see you, Mayor. Thank you.


GILLUM: You as well, Michael. Wish you happy holidays.

SMERCONISH: You too. Merry Christmas.

Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. What do we got? From Facebook, I think.

The lesson of Boris Johnson's election to the Democratic Party is plain and simple. Don't pander to the far left or you will absolutely hand the election over to Donald Trump.

Joe, that seemed to be what Joe Biden's -- a different Joe -- Joe Biden was arguing. Obviously if that's the correct interpretation, it's to the detriment of Elizabeth Warren, and even more so Bernie. Wouldn't you say?

Coming up, the final results to the survey question at

Which will have the greater impact on President Trump's legacy? Remaking federal courts or impeachment? Go vote.


SMERCONISH: Well, let's see if you found me persuasive -- persuasive. There we go.

Here's how you responded to the survey question at

Which will have greater impact on President Trump's legacy, remaking the federal courts, that's where I voted, or impeachment?

Survey says, woofah (ph), oh, wow, 60-40. You know what? I get suspicious, even though I seem to have won the argument when it's a round number like that. But 8,197 of you cast you ballots. That is the right answer.

Fifty appellate court appointments in three years for President Trump as compared to Barack Obama getting 55 done in eight.


I mean at that rate, another year or another five years, wow, the federal courts will be totally remade.

What do we have, Catherine (ph), from social media? Persuasive. Persuasive.

Just like your biased Republican journalism, why not mention how Moscow Mitch blocked everything Obama did especially with the judges! You trump lackey.

Hey, my guest brought out the fact when I had asked about the pace how is he able to get all this done so quickly, he said it's because Mitch McConnell threw up a roadblock. I guess you weren't listening to that part.

Quickly, one more. What else?

I think the whole impeachment process will back fire on the Democrats and will serve to bolster Trump's position. He will likely be re- elected which means he'll probably appoint a third member to the Supreme Court. Talk about a judicial legacy!

Jerry Springer, really? That Jerry Springer? OK. Everybody talks about the Supreme Court. I'm telling you where the rubber meets the road, the appellate court system. Pay more attention to that.

Join me for my "American Life in Columns" tour. Early in 2020 I'll be in Pittsburgh, Manchester, St. Louis and Raleigh.

Thanks for watching. See you next week.