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Controversy Over Qatar Hosting World Cup; World Population Hits 8 Billion; "What's Going To Happen If Candidate Trump Gets Indicted?;" Must We Learn To Live With Mass Shootings? Book: "The Modern Male Is Struggling"; Controversy Over Qatar Hosting World Cup. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 26, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Must we learn to live with it? I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Americans celebrated Thanksgiving this week in the aftermath of two more mass shootings. Last Saturday in Colorado Springs, an attacker clad in body armor opened fire in an LGBTQ nightclub during a drag show and killed five people. Then on Tuesday in Virginia, a Walmart manager gunned down six coworkers. He purchased the gun legally that very morning.
So far this year, there have been more than 600 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That's based on a definition of four or more shot or killed, not including the shooter. On Thanksgiving Day, President Biden spoke at a firehouse on Nantucket, said that he would attempt to pass some form of gun control before a new Congress is seated in January.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea, the idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It's just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value. Zero. None. Not a single, solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I'm rooting for a success, but I'm pessimistic. In fact, I'm thinking we might as well get used to it. The sad truth is that mass shootings have become part of our American existence, and we lack the capability to make the fundamental change necessary to reduce them.
Instead, we've fallen into a typical pattern. It involves extending thoughts and prayers, followed by expression of hand wringing by some of our elected officials who really do want change.
Then comes a report focused on mental health by Second Amendment purists, maybe some limited debate. And then the news cycle moves on, only to be repeated soon thereafter when there's another mass shooting. So let's stop spinning our wheels and realize that this is the price
we pay for living in the United States, mostly because of the enshrinement of our gun culture as the Second Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court.
The Second Amendment reads as follows, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." I think it's pretty straightforward that those 27 words are not to be parsed and must be read as a complete thought.
Immediately, post-revolutionary war, the idea was that militias needed to keep and bear arms. Otherwise, it would simply have read, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. And where the days of well-regulated militias are long gone, so too should any unfettered right to keep and bear arms. Well, that's not how the Supreme Court saw it in the 2008 Heller case.
Justice Scalia wrote for a five to four majority and instead found that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess firearms unconnected to service in a state militia. Until the composition of the Supreme Court changes and the Heller decision is overturned, nothing big can be done about guns.
Theoretically, we could repeal and replace the Second Amendment, but that requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called for by two-thirds of the states. Then it has to be ratified by three quarters of the state legislatures or their conventions. That's not happening.
The last time the convention was -- the Constitution was amended was in 1992. It was the 27th Amendment having to do with whether Congress could vote for its own pay hike. Now, the Second Amendment is here to stay. And without an invitation from the Supreme Court to make change, Congress can only tinker at the margins.
Last June, President Biden signed into law what was said to be the most significant gun control bill in three decades. It was bipartisan legislation that enhanced background checks for gun buyers 18 to 21 years of age. It provided $750 million for mental health services, and it closed a loophole to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing firearms for five years. All worthy, but not enough to stop the madness.
According to a new study, the number of American adults who say they carried a loaded handgun with them daily, in 2019, it was 6 million people, double the number from just four years prior.
And even if Congress were not limited by Heller, it lacks the resolve, the courage to make monumental change. How do I know? Because of Sandy Hook. In 2012, a 20-year-old gunman killed 26- and seven-year-olds plus six adults, and still nothing of consequence changed.
And that was 13 years after Columbine, when two high school seniors murdered twelve classmates and one teacher. And now we have the more recent school tragedies at Parkland and Uvalde.
So no amount of carnage, even involving kids, will give politicians the willingness to address a uniquely American problem. We aren't inherently more violent than the rest of the planet. Nor do we have a monopoly on mental health problems here in the United States. And our kids are not the only ones who watch movies and play violent video games. No. What sets us apart is the access to an inventory of guns.
According to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, the professor at the University of Alabama, Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population, but own 42 percent of the world's guns.
From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American. Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people. Yemen has the world's second highest rate of gun ownership after the United States.
And no, the answer is not to arm even more people. The answer is not a good guy with a gun. Last year, I spoke here about analysis from Texas State University's Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center. They looked at 433 active shooter attacks in the United States from 2000 to 2021. The data they reviewed found that most attacks were already over before law enforcement arrived.
There were 433 active shooters in two decades. 249 attacks ended before police arrived. In 185 of those, the attacker left the scene or committed suicide. That leaves 64 cases. 42 times, the individual was subdued by a bystander, think fight. In 22 cases, was shot by a bystander, just twelve of them citizens. In other words, only twelve of 249 that ended before police arrived were due to a good guy with a gun.
No, arming everyone isn't an answer. Now, I'm not advocating for surrender. If mass shootings are part of what we become, I don't think we stop trying. But maybe we need to sharpen our focus. Continue to grieve and mourn the dead, of course. And enhance security, harden targets like schools and workplaces and where we gather in large numbers.
Give law enforcement the Apple, Meta, Google level of technology that it needs to improve background checks that are accurate and instantaneous. Restrict as much weapon access as a post-Heller decision will permit and elect presidents who will appoint Supreme Court justices who don't think the Second Amendment reference to a well-regulated militia extends beyond militias.
All the while hoping that if Heller is overturned, Congress will have the courage to seize the moment. And at the same time and in the meantime, we lead our lives.
I want to know what you think. Go to my website at smerconish.com this hour and answer this week's poll question. "Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to bear arms outside of a militia?"
Up ahead, this year's World Cup being hosted by Qatar, a nation with a smaller population than Connecticut, it has brought world attention to its many discriminatory practices and human rights abuses, including deaths of migrants who built its new soccer stadiums. What will this mean for the sport and for the world?
Plus, men are in trouble. They account for almost three quarters of deaths of despair, think suicide or overdose. They have fewer friends than women. They're graduating from high school less. Their participation in the labor force is plummeting. So who speaks for the men?
SMERCONISH: Why are men and boys struggling and what should we do about it? The Atlantic magazine recently asked out of its readers and evoked a record number of responses. The discussion was inspired by statistics from the new book by my next guest, Richard Reeves.
"In the US., the 2020 decline in college enrollment was seven times greater for male than for female students. Among men with only a high school education, one in three is out of the labor force. For those who have a job, typical earnings are $881 a week, down from $1,017 a week in 1979. Mortality from drug overdose, suicide and alcohol- related illnesses, are almost three times higher among men than women."
Just a tip of the iceberg of the alarming findings in Reeves book, which is called, "Of Boys And Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling and Why It Matters and What to Do About it. Richard Reeves joins me now. He's a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he's the director of the Men and Boys Project.
So, Richard, have we had some mass psychological breakdown or is it something else?
RICHARD REEVES, AUTHOR, "OF BOYS AND MEN"/ SR. FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: No, I think this is a structural problem, Michael. We just talked about the changes in the labor market. We've seen a decline in traditionally male jobs in manufacturing and heavy industry that's hit working class men particularly hard. But also the education system is really now failing many of our boys.
We've seen girls and women succeeding in the education system, which is, of course, a wonderful thing, but they've blown way past boys and men. And actually, there are many aspects of the education system now that are not very male friendly. And the result of that is for many men to just be struggling in the family and in life in general. It's high time we paid serious attention to the problems of boys and men.
SMERCONISH: Is it all just a natural consequence of women entering the workforce and attaining rights that, frankly, they should have had a lot sooner? REEVES: I think part of it is just, you know, adjusting to a world of equality. And there's something to be said for the fact that it's difficult. If you were previously unfairly ahead, as many men were, then this is something of a recalibration. But the main reasons, I think, lie well beyond that. There's no reason to think that because women are in employment that men should be in employment less.
There's no reason to think that fathers matter any less just because women are in the workplace. Arguably, fathers matter even more now that we've changed the world so that women can work too. And so, it's not a zero-sum game. There's no evidence that the rise of women is responsible for the fall of men.
But we are seeing many men struggling even as many women are doing better in the labor market and in the world in general. And so, we can think two thoughts at once. We can think there's more to do for girls and women, but still, we should pay attention to some of these problems of boys and men.
SMERCONISH: Is this a problem unique to the United States?
REEVES: No. Most of the trends that you've just identified at the top of the segment are true out everywhere. So in every advanced economy, there are now more women with a college degree than men. In the U.S., it's 60-40 for women. The U.S. is unusual and that the economic position of men seems to be hit particularly hard. So most American men today earn less than most American men did in 1979.
That's a fairly extraordinary economic fact, and that's not true across the world. And so the economic changes seem to have hit American men harder than in other countries.
SMERCONISH: So, Richard, you've convinced me there's an issue, there's a problem here for men and for boys. And I read and gained great insight from the book. We just had a very contentious midterm election. I have no recollection of any candidate, Republican, Democratic, independent, championing the cause that you are raising. Why is that the case? Why does no one seem to speak to this issue who is a representative?
REEVES: I think many are afraid that if you raise the issues of boys and men, that would somehow mean that you're less concerned with the ongoing challenges facing girls and women. That's particularly true among Democrats, of course. I think that's a false choice.
I think that if I was the Democrats, I would have made a big deal of the fact that the infrastructure bill, for example, was going to create all the jobs it was creating. 70 percent would have gone to men, mostly working-class men of all colors, actually. But no mention was made of that because of this fear that it will somehow seem that you're less interested in women and girls.
And I think that for conservatives, they would much rather talk about issues like marriage, going back to the 50s, et cetera. And they want to talk about gender in a way that doesn't allow for the reality and the wonderful news of more gender equality. So for different reasons, we're really being failed on this front by our political leaders.
SMERCONISH: Among the subjects, among the solutions that you advance, redshirting, what's the short version of what that would be all about?
REEVES: Boys are fallen well behind girls in the education system at every level, and one reason for that is that boys brains mature later than girls. And again, this is not a surprise to anyone that has sons and daughters, knows boys and girls, has never been a boy or a girl, which is a 15, 16-year-old boy and girl. They're actually just -- they're not equivalent in terms of their brain development.
And so what that means is that girls are at something of an advantage just because they develop earlier, partly because they hit puberty earlier. So redshirting is a proposal whereby boys would start school a year later than girls in terms of their chronological age.
That would somewhat narrow the developmental gap and would actually create more of a level playing field in education than the one we have right now, simply because of these biological differences in the timing of brain development. Which means, as I said, that 16-year-old girls are about a year ahead of the typical 16-year-old boy.
SMERCONISH: And one final thought, if more women are pursuing a college education than men, that's going to have a significant impact on marriage and ultimately on mating, right? I mean, that trend is a long-term trend.
REEVES: It's a long-term trend. It might is the honest answer, Michael. We don't know yet what impact it will have on marriage. The key question is going to be the extent to which women are willing to marry men who are less educated than men. Already wives --
REEVES: -- are, on average, a bit more educating their husbands.
Will they be willing to do that? I think I might depend on the economic circumstances of the guy. Like a nurse --
REEVES: -- may well marry a plumber, but I think it needs to be -- needs to be played out. We'll see. It could have a negative impact. We just don't know yet.
SMERCONISH: Thank you for writing the book. Thank you for your willingness to come and discuss it. Really appreciate it.
REEVES: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Some of the social media reaction now that has just come in. Make sure you're hitting me up via Twitter and YouTube and Facebook. "When does the media acknowledge we have a boy/man problem in America with guns? Girls/women have access and they are not going out and murdering people. America's problem is men."
I wanted these two segments stacked and Katherine, my producer, agreed that I would deliver that comment. I'm glad you're linking the two. I agree. We have a problem with men. We have a problem with access to firearms and they overlap. That's why I delivered the commentary that I did and then wanted to make sure that Richard Reeves and I had this conversation.
It's just not being discussed, though, right, in these terms. Like, there's a problem with guys in this country. And I think that politicians are afraid that if you speak to the interests of men, you're going to be perceived or portrayed as misogynistic. Like, oh, you're concerned only about men. What's that all about?
I want to remind you, go to my website, it's smerconish.com this hour. Please answer this week's poll question, "Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to bear arms outside of a militia?"
Up ahead this month, the world population hit 8 billion for the first time, only twelve years after we hit 7 billion. But the predictions as to where this is headed may surprise you. Plus, fans attending this year's World Cup can't have alcoholic beer.
And any team captain wearing an anti-discrimination armband gets a yellow card. Just two of the costs of having Qatar host the biggest global soccer tournament. Does this shine a light on Qatar's human rights violations or permit them to be ignored?
SMERCONISH: Friday, the U.S. battled England to a 0-0 draw in soccer's World Cup competition. Two of the world's greatest democracies playing in Qatar, a country that is not won. Last week, FIFA, the sport's governing body, announced that no alcohol would be sold at the stadiums.
And then on Monday, captains from seven countries were warned that they would receive yellow cards if they wore armbands, promoting inclusion and opposing discrimination.
Qatar, a tiny golf nation with a population smaller than that of Connecticut, had little footballing history when it won the rights to host the sport's biggest event. Is the World Cup being played in Qatar good for the sport or good for the world?
Qatar invested billions in preparation for the tournament. Seven new stadiums, new hotels, and expansion to the country's airport, rail networks, highways.
Since migrants account for some 90 percent of Qatar's total workforce, according to Amnesty International, this raised the issue of Qatar's poor record around the welfare of migrant workers. Human rights organizations have found that since 2010, many migrant workers have faced delayed or unpaid wages, forced labor, long hours in hot weather, employer intimidation, and the inability to leave their jobs because of the country's sponsorship system.
In response to Western critics, the FIFA President delivered an hour long tirade, including this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIANNI INFANTINO, PRESIDENT, FIFA: We have told many, many lessons from some Europeans, from the Western world. I think for what we, Europeans, have been doing in the last 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So is the fact that the games are being played there a useful way to shine a light on Qatar and raise awareness of its problematic situation regarding human rights, or does holding it there excuse all of that?
Joining me now is Sally Jenkins, Sports Columnist for The Washington Post, who published this piece about the controversy, "The beautiful game is fine. Suitcases full of cash are better." Maybe I should refer to you as Soprani Ilbambino. I appreciated the parody. What was the point that you were making?
SALLY JENKINS, SPORTS COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, the point is, you have to mock and shame these people, you know, over their incredibly bold acts of sports washing is the term for it.
Which is you go to a country with a terrible human rights record and you whitewash all of their offenses against humanity by holding a sporting event that, you know, millions upon millions of people want to see, and then you normalize their behavior by doing that.
SMERCONISH: One of the comments that was appended to your piece from a Washington Post reader said that it's appropriate that we should shine a light on their discriminatory practices toward the LGBTQ community. And then Sally had said this, and in three and a half years, the world should shine a light on the gun culture of the United States.
JENKINS: Well, certainly, I mean, look, the host country gets a lot of clique lights coming into your country when the FIFA, the world soccer governing body, or the International Olympic Committee, make these deals in the first place. The host country started contract, and the host country agrees to abide by certain human rights conditions.
Invariably, these authoritarian countries break those agreements. They break their contracts, they break their agreements. The United States will have signed similar agreements. As far as I know, we don't break our agreements, OK? We uphold the basic human rights tenants in those contracts and in those agreements.
SMERCONISH: There will be something special come Tuesday watching the United States and Iran settle some of our differences on a soccer pitch.
JENKINS: Well, I mean -- look, there's no conflating -- conflating a sports event with, you know, deaths in Iran is simply not the right thing to do here. We're not going to settle anything really important on the soccer pitch. What we are going to do though is expose Iran to worldwide conversation about their human rights record and what's going on back home. The fact of the matter is that one of their most famous players was arrested the other day simply for calling into question, you know, the crackdown on young people going on in Iran.
SMERCONISH: Qatar says, this is hypocrisy, that the European Union has no trouble buying natural gas from that nation but now when it's the time of the World Cup, all of a sudden, they want to call out these things that they already knew existed?
JENKINS: Well, look, if Qatar doesn't want these things called out don't host an international sporting event and bring in the entire western world's press corps. That's the easiest way for Qatar to deal with this is don't bid on these events. Once you do, this is the sort of thing that's going to come to your town, as the host, to come to your cities and come to your country as host. And so, you know, my advice to them would be, handle it.
SMERCONISH: With regard to the beautiful game itself, should we be celebrating a tie with England?
JENKINS: Certainly. That was a big deal for a very young United States team that, mind you, has not had a whole lot of recent World Cup success. In some people's minds, you know, England was a favorite to go very, very deep in the tournament. And so, if this young American team was staying on the pitch toe to toe with them that's a very healthy sign. Now, there's a -- there's a lot left to go here. You know, we'll see how they can advance.
SMERCONISH: Sally, thank you. Appreciate your time.
JENKINS: My pleasure.
SMERCONISH: Checking in on your social media reaction, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. What do we have?
Every media outlet chooses to ignore the human rights violations of the whole region. The money that can be made there far outweighs any slavery and abuses that does occur.
John, you make a valid point. Does it also apply to those of us who watch? I mean, the media is putting it on because there's a market to provide that entertainment. How about somebody like me who watched the entire match yesterday? I guess I'm deserving of some of that blame and maybe you are as well.
I want to remind you, answer this week's poll question at Smerconish.com. When you're there register for the daily newsletter. It's free and you'll love it. Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to bear arms outside of a militia? Up next, there are now 8 billion people on Earth. According to a U.N. report it was only 2 billion less than a hundred years ago. What does this mean for the world's resources and where is it all heading?
SMERCONISH: For the first time the world's population just reached 8 billion. That's according to estimates from the United Nations. This is only 12 years after passing the 7 billion mark. Less than a century ago, the total was only 2 billion.
Although the number of humans has grown rapidly, that growth is slowing and within a few decades, the population of Earth will actually begin to shrink. The U.N. projects that it will peak at around 10.4 billion people in the 2080s and remain at that level until 2100. Most of the 2.4 billion people added to that peak will be born in sub-Saharan Africa marking a shift away from China and India.
Joining me now to discuss is Jack Goldstone, professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. Professor, the growth is mostly in the poorest parts of the planet. How will they be able to support those folks?
JACK GOLDSTONE, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Good morning, Michael. You're absolutely right, the overall 8 billion number doesn't tell us that much. What we really need to know is how many people are living in particular areas and whether they have the resources to support them in a sustainable way.
Most of the population growth is coming in the poorest countries and particularly in Africa. The good news is, we're just at the point where we're developing the kind of clean energy technologies in solar, wind and geothermal, that will help that additional billion, maybe 2 billion people, become productive without further damaging the Earth's atmosphere. Now, you can be an optimist or a pessimist, but I'm hoping that if we encourage all of our neighbors and friends to do the right thing, we have good reason for optimism.
SMERCONISH: OK. But if I'm a pessimist, because I'm naturally a cynic, I say those are already areas that are among the worst afflicted with climate change. It's like a double whammy. More people now and more the burden of climate change.
GOLDSTONE: That's absolutely true. And when we think about global population, it connects everything. It connects us by immigration. It connects us by the impact on climate and resources. And so, we all have to work together.
I was happy to see at the big national meeting that rich countries have pledged tens of billions of dollars to help those poor countries get on the path toward a clean energy future. Right now, the poor countries of the world really contribute very little to climate change. Most of the climate change that's been done was by the rich countries who brought us to the 8 billion point, hasn't been done by the countries that are about to add another 1 billion or 2 billion.
So in a sense, I think it is our responsibility to help those countries get on a clean energy track and join the developed world by becoming more prosperous but without doing more damage. And, then, of course, we ourselves have to cut back our emissions and I think we can do so. But it's going to take some will power.
SMERCONISH: Here's another consideration looking down the road. If jobs don't follow that population growth, it's going to create an immigration issue for the western world in particular the United States, right? If you're born in sub-Saharan Africa and there's no work there, you're going to want to get to the promise land of the United States, and the United States already is, you know, rife with this immigration debate that we have never been able to solve.
GOLDSTONE: That's right, immigration is going to be sensitive, and it's going to be even more sensitive if we get a large number of climate refugees coming outside of sub-Saharan Africa. The way to help deal with our own immigration issue is to reduce the need for countries -- I'm sorry -- for people in other countries to move.
Right now in our southern border, a lot of people are worried about folks from Central America, Guatemala and Honduras coming. But those people essentially were given little choice. They're in a grip of a terrible drought caused by climate change. Their population growth has been high, much higher than Mexico's. And so, the combination of population growth and climate change is driving immigration already.
Now for the future, whether or not we'll see large waves of immigration really depend on whether the countries of Africa can build the resources, the resilience, the economies, to cope with the climate change that's already under way. In a way, what that's telling us is we need to invest in the developing countries of Africa. Help them educate their youth, train for jobs, build their economy because that's the best investment for our own economic growth and to minimize the pressures of immigration.
SMERCONISH: Professor, stick around for a second. Social media, we can respond to it together. Catherine, you put it up and I'll read it aloud so that the professor can hear me.
SMERCONISH: We are struggling with the problems created by 8 billion. Imagine how much worse things will be at 9 billion in 15 years, and 10 billion before 2075.
Professor Goldstone, you say what to that?
GOLDSTONE: I say, you have to remember that despite the fact that we reached 8 billion with incredible speed, our economies have kept up by almost every measure. Calories available, life expectancy, the health of newborn infants, all around the world, we are actually doing better than we were when the global population was only 5 or 6 billion. We've learned how to be more efficient in our use of water in growing crops. What we haven't learned to do is, first of all, share the wealth which is going to be critical to some degree if we're going to all to get to a happy destination together. And we haven't really learned to wean ourselves off of some of our older technologies that are still doing damage.
And, of course, it's not a question of 8 billion people. Twenty thousand people taking down trees in the Amazon can do an awful lot of damage that affects everyone else. So, we really need to think about where people are having the biggest impact and where we can provide the most help in managing the resources that we all have to share.
SMERCONISH: Professor, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
GOLDSTONE: Glad to be here, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Please make sure that you're voting at Smerconish.com on this week's poll question. Can't wait to see the outcome of this at the end of the hour. Does the Second Amendment guarantee of an individual right to bear arms outside of a militia? Does it extend the outside of a militia? I worded it better there than I just read it.
Still to come, newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith has promised that he will pursue the DOJ cases against former President Trump to -- quote -- "whatever outcome the facts and the laws dictate." That's easier said than done. I'll explain.
SMERCONISH: Now that Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel, what impact might that have on a possible indictment of former President Trump? In the wake of Trump's declared candidacy for 2024 last week, Garland tapped Jack Smith to take over both the probe in the numerous White House records with classified markings found at Mar-a-Lago, after Trump left office, and the investigation into the efforts to interfere with the lawful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election.
Smith is registered to vote as an independent, served during the Obama administration as chief of the Justice Department's unit that investigates public corruption. Since 2018, he's been prosecuting war crimes in the Hague, stemming from the conflict in Kosovo. So, what does it mean for Trump's legal future?
Joining me now is Renato Mariotti, former federal prosecutor, host of the podcast "On Topic" and legal affairs columnist for "Politico Magazine" where his most recent piece is "This Is What's Going to Happen If Candidate Trump Gets Indicted." Renato, who makes the decision as to whether he does get indicted? Is it Jack Smith now or is it Merrick Garland?
RENATO MARIOTTI, LEGAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, POLITICO MAGAZINE: Well, Jack Smith makes the initial decision, and then Merrick Garland decides whether he agrees with them or not. If he doesn't agree with them, then he has to let Congress know which is a little different than the typical decision made by the attorney general. It's more transparent.
SMERCONISH: Doesn't this remove the nuance of considering the implication of indicting a former president now running for president? In other words, when you -- when you sort of, I don't know, contract this out to Jack Smith, Jack Smith is looking at it simply was there a violation of law and can I prove it, not the bigger picture issues?
MARIOTTI: I think it's fair to say that Jack Smith is less likely to put as much weight on those concerns as Merrick Garland.
Merrick Garland was a judge for 22 years, you know, somebody who has spent much of his career looking at both sides, very careful and deliberate, versus a prosecutor -- a career prosecutor, right? Somebody who has been focus on making cases. That said, obviously, you know, the former special counsel Robert Mueller, I think, very famously gave a lot of deference and, you know, showed a lot of restraint towards the former president. So, we'll see what Mr. Smith ends up doing.
SMERCONISH: The Mar-a-Lago case is straightforward, is it not? He had documents. They weren't his. He knew they weren't his. They were requested to be returned and he didn't.
Like that shouldn't take long to wrap up. Do you agree?
MARIOTTI: I think that's right compared to the other cases. In other words, I think it's important for viewers to understand that even though the former president has had all sorts of legal troubles over the years and there has been some criminal investigations, I do think that the documents case is far more straightforward than any case that former President Trump has ever faced before, which is a real problem for him. It's much easier to prove.
It will still take some time, I think, because there are some important considerations when you are dealing with classified documents. They need to make sure that the documents that they use in the trial are ones that they feel comfortable with the world finding out the contents of and so on. But I do think it's pretty straightforward.
SMERCONISH: Is there any reason to await the completion of the investigation into January 6th if they have already wrapped up the investigation and can make a recommendation about the Mar-a-Lago documents?
MARIOTTI: I wouldn't. I would go ahead and charge the Mar-a-Lago documents and press forward. I mean, there are arguments as to why you might wouldn't to wait. But I think the far better move given the circumstances is to charge the Mar-a-Lago case. I am skeptical that the January 6th investigation will result in charges against former President Trump. SMERCONISH: And a quick final question. What legal impact would an indictment have on his candidacy, if any?
MARIOTTI: It would have no legal impact. Whether it has a political impact is up to the people watching this program and millions of others.
SMERCONISH: Renato Mariotti, thank you. Appreciate it as always.
MARIOTTI: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: More social media reaction. From the world of Twitter, what do we have?
I doubt an indictment will slow him down. It might, however, seriously restrict the GOP's access to funds from high-level donors not wanting to get connected to a criminal.
Well, Maurice, maybe it opens up the opportunity for Ron DeSantis or one of the other would-be opponents to Donald Trump. I think his last point was a really interesting point in terms of they can wrap up the Mar-a-Lago piece of this soon. The legal significance of a potential indictment is nil. I mean, it won't slow him down at all unless the voters decide so.
Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and YouTube and Facebook comments. Can't wait to see the result. Have you voted yet at Smerconish.com? This is this week's poll question. Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual's right to bear arms outside of a militia? Go vote.
SMERCONISH: Hey, there is the result of this week's poll question at Smerconish.com. Wow. Thirty-one thousand and change voted. Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to bear arms outside of a militia?
Seventy-six percent, I'm going to say of us, because I was in that category, say no. Of course, the Heller decision said the right is unconnected to any service in a militia. And I think that was the wrong outcome.
Some of the social media reaction that came in during the course of this week's program. What do we have?
A few hundred shootings is trivial price to pay for freedom. What if a crazy president tried a coup and then wanted to arrest everyone who disagreed? Wouldn't you want armed citizens?
No, I wouldn't. That argument doesn't wash with me. And a few -- I mean, the threat of mass killing is not just the people who were killed, it's the impact that it has on all of our society. And what's frustrating is it's the wrong legal outcome from the Supreme Court of the United States. That Heller decision is a bad outcome. I tried to explain that in the opening part of the program, and we have got a weak Congress that's afraid to confront the gun lobby.
But you have heard all this before. And that's why at the end of the commentary I said, I guess, we are just going to have to learn to live with it. What else came in in terms of social media?
The four most ignored words of the Second Amendment, a well regulated militia.
Well, wait a minute. Can I put up on the screen, Catherine, the 27 words of the Second Amendment? Do we have it? I want to make a real quick point. Good. Thank you. There it is.
"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Just leave that up on the screen for one second. If I were in the room when this was being crafted and if the idea was to have nothing at all to do with the militia, right? Wouldn't you just -- you'd strike that. If you wanted simply people to have the right to keep and bear arms, you would get rid of the first half of the sentence and you would say, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
But that's not what they did. They kept it all together. A well- regulated militia. OK? So, it's pretty damn clear to me that this is militia speak. And if you are not living in an era of a militia then you don't have that unfettered right. That's the conclusion.
Hope you had a great thanksgiving. Thank you for watching. I will see you back here next Saturday.