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Sen. Orrin Hatch Fields Reporters' Questions on Ashcroft Hearings

Aired January 19, 2001 - 12:29 p.m. ET

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

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: And we're going to take you right to Capitol Hill. Sen. Orrin Hatch speaking there.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: ... speculate on, because I've had senators tell me, who many think are on the other side, that they're really wrestling with this. And I have -- I believe that they wrestle properly, they'll come down on the side of John Ashcroft, his integrity, his commitments that he made here, and the experience that he's had in 30 years -- almost 30 years of public life.

QUESTION: Do you think a vote that's close to party lines will hurt his ability to lead at the Justice Department?

HATCH: No, I think once he's confirmed, he'll be able to lead regardless, and he will be truly confirmed. So I don't place any -- I will say this: There are some senators who have talked to me that say that these outside groups are so vicious and they're putting on so much pressure that it's just -- it's almost offensive to them. And they're supportive of the outside groups, but they're apparently getting very, very strong and demanding that senators vote their way or they're going to come back and retaliate. Well, I think any senator who's worth his or her place in society ought to do what's right.

(CROSSTALK)

Forget the doggone outside groups. I tried -- we did it in Reno's case, I'll tell you that. I shut down the outside groups, and there were plenty of them who wanted to come in and do to her what some of these groups did to John Ashcroft.

QUESTION: Are they seeking a filibuster, these groups? Is that your understanding?

HATCH: Oh, I don't think so. I hope not.

QUESTION: What would happen if that took place? Or what's the possible...

HATCH: Well, we just have to face it, but I don't think that will. I -- we don't filibuster Cabinet-level officials, especially a former colleague. I mean, that would be tantamount to just outright warfare around here. I mean, anybody with brains knows that.

QUESTION: Will you hear from Ray (ph) after you've talked to him?

HATCH: If you want to I'll come out and chat with him, but I...

QUESTION: Senator, some Democrats are saying that what John Ashcroft...

MESERVE: And you've been listening to Sen. Orrin Hatch. The confirmation hearings on John Ashcroft are over. Hatch, of course, a member of that committee, saying he does think Ashcroft will win confirmation and that there will not be a filibuster -- Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: And several Democrats already saying that they plan to vote for Ashcroft for attorney general.

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