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Scathing Report Released on Clinton Pardons; Native American Students Respond to Colorado School Mascot

Aired March 13, 2002 - 19:30   ET



BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's amazing to me. Now, I haven't seen the report. All I've seen is the news stories. But I can tell you, you know, I didn't do that.


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Tonight, as Republicans prepare to release a scathing report on the Clinton pardons, did the former president do anything wrong?

Then, why some are seeing red over a basketball team called the "Fightin' Whiteys."

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Robert Novak. In the crossfire, Republican Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia, member of the Government Reform Committee and Julian Epstein, former chief Democratic council to the House Judiciary Committee. And later, radio talk show host Victoria Jones and of the Salem Radio Network, Mike Gallagher.

PRESS: It's CROSSFIRE. Thanks for joining us.

Well, he's been out of office 14 months, but some people just can't stop talking about Bill Clinton, like chairman Dan Burton, who will release a report tomorrow on those messy last minute Clinton pardons. Burton's report, already leaked to "The L.A. Times" and "New York Times" and CNN, among others, accuses Clinton of encouraging half-brother Roger to offer pardons for sale. And it claims that many pardons, including that notorious one given fugitive Marc Rich, bypassed the standard Justice Department review and went directly to the Oval Office, again on Clinton's orders.

President Clinton today laughed off Burton's report as ridiculous. And so tonight, back to Pardongate. Did Clinton or any of his family break the law? Will Burton's report serve any purpose, other than giving Clinton-haters one more thing to chew on?


BOB NOVAK, CO-HOST: Julian Epstein, I know it's hard to discuss this, when we've already had Bill Clinton, who says, "I didn't do anything." You know, we can't -- we always believe what Bill Clinton says. But I'd just like to read you something from the report. And we'll put it up on the screen.

"President Clinton encouraged," this is according to the report, "President Clinton encouraged Roger Clinton," his brother, "to capitalize on their relationship. At the beginning of his second term, President Clinton instructed Roger to use his connections to the administration to gain financial advantage."

And the report goes on to say that Roger earned or acquired hundreds of thousands of dollars in representing these pardon seekers. That's a scandal, isn't it?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FMR. HOUSE JUDICIARY COUNSEL: Well, again, I think this just shows you -- "shows how amateurish this report is and it's really -- this is keystone cops all over again. The evidence that they show for President Clinton directing his brother to cash in on his presidency was like five times removed. It was a friend, of a friend, of a friend said that Roger Clinton told him that the president told him this.

I mean, this is the type of stuff that would make someone laugh in a court of law. The fact of the matter is, this report, Bob, is another cowardly, cheap shot against the president by a committee that has had a long history of making accusations that it couldn't back up. Remember, the principle thesis of this hearing was that there was a quid pro quo for the pardons, that these pardons were paid for with campaign donations.

If you notice that this accusation, the committee has entirely backed off of it. The U.S. Attorney is not looking at this. And it's time for principled Republicans. I think, and I think you're a principled Republican. I think Bob Barr's a principled Republican. I think it's time for principled Republicans to stand up and eat a little bit of crow here.

The accusations that were made against the Clinton administration have -- the committee is backing down from them now. The committee has fallen on its face, so what it does is it reverts to the secondary issues about Roger Clinton and these other matters, as basically a way of covering its own butt, and it's failed to produce evidence for its accusations.

NOVAK: I don't know if you've even seen the report, Julian.

EPSTEIN: I have.

NOVAK: I have gone through it. I think it's very shocking. And I knew that you were going to say, gee, they didn't have any justification for what they said. And the chairman was on this network just about two hours ago and let's listen to what he said.


REP. DAN BURTON (R-IN), GOVT. REFORM CHAIRMAN: All of it is documented. None of it is just made up. We have documentation for everything that's said in that report.


NOVAK: And I went through the report and there was documentation. It wasn't five times removed on the Roger Clinton accusation. It was a report from somebody who had talked to somebody who talked to Clinton. That's just once removed.

EPSTEIN: Somebody who talked to Roger Clinton.


EPSTEIN: Yes, and that's the evidence for the fact that the president said something to Roger, somebody who was never in the room?


EPSTEIN: Well, let me tell you, Bob, if that's the evidence with which the conservatives and the Republicans in this committee want to use to produce a piece of fact, that's why time after time after time -- it's not credible...

NOVAK: You know what you're acting like? You're acting like a lawyer.

EPSTEIN: No, I know. What I think it is is I think that this is shifting sands. What happens is you can't produce evidence for the accusations. You shift to other attenuated things that are basically meaningless as a way of covering yourself that you couldn't produce evidence for the principle reasons for the hearings.

PRESS: Congressman...

REP. BOB BARR (R), GOVT. REFORM CMTE.: Bill, I know you're going to deal with the facts.

PRESS: Congressman Barr, it's been a whole week since you've been on CROSSFIRE bashing Bill Clinton. I just -- I don't know what took you so long to get back, but I want to pick...

BARR: I only come when I'm invited, Bill.

PRESS: And we love having you. I want to pick on this report that Bob and Julian have been talking about, and read you the quote from the report that makes it -- this is the most explosive charge, that Bill Clinton encouraged his brother, half-brother to go out and make money using trading on the president's name.

And here's what the report says, "Bill Clinton had instructed him that since this was the last term in office, Roger should find a way to make a living and use his relationship with the president to his advantage."

Now that's not Bill Clinton it says there. It's not Roger Clinton it says there. It's not George Lock, who's a former state senator in Arkansas who says that. It's an attorney for George Lock, who says that George Lock told him that Roger told him that Bill Clinton told him. This is pure hearsay. You know that, Bob Barr. And it's one source four times removed. And you will hang the former president on that?

BARR: Bill, you know, I could go through any report and pick out one instance that -- such as you're citing, where the evidence doesn't back up the point that the other side is making. But there is -- as Bob has said, and certainly you respect Bob and his research abilities, he went through that report as I have done. And time after time after time, there is very clear evidence what you have here, Bill, let me -- I know you'll find this shocking, you have a pattern of abuse of office that is not only typical of the Clinton administration, but endangers international security. You ever heard of a fellow named Harvey Wian?

PRESS: Endangers our national security?

BARR: Harvey Wian?

PRESS: Can we stick to this point here?

BARR: No, no, no. It is very much on point. When you have somebody like Marc Rich, okay, who would who has worked against our nation's national security interests, who has worked against the national security interests of other nations, who is pardoned for no apparent reason...

PRESS: Congressman, let me save you the rebut. I've never defended the Marc Rich pardon, but I want to come back to what Chairman Burton said on our air, that everything is documented.

BARR: And it is.

PRESS: That is a lie. This is not documented. Congressman...

BARR: There are instances there where people in Alabama very -- the talk...

PRESS: May I please repeat?

BARR: ...that talked with Clinton. Talked with him, Bill.

PRESS: Look, this is the most explosive charge of the whole report.

BARR: Maybe to you it is, maybe to you it is.

PRESS: Oh, no, I'm sorry. This is the headline. This is the one Dan Burton talked about on our air. He sent his document.

BARR: That's exactly...

PRESS: And I want to come back to the fact. I mean, if this were "The National Enquirer," okay, but this is a congressional committee, a committee of the United States Congress. And you would condemn a former president based on what one guy said, another guy said, another guy said, another guy said. Shame on you.

BARR: No, Bill. What I do is I condemn a former president for pardoning adversaries of our nation, people who have laundered $100 million for the cartel, putting them back on the street. That's what I condemn him for. And you ought to also.

NOVAK: Julian Epstein, I think the most serious charge is that Jack Quinn, the lobbyist, Democratic lobbyist, former chief of staff for Al Gore...

EPSTEIN: Went with Eric Holder.

NOVAK: Yes, and went to Eric Holder, the deputy Attorney General, and they colluded to keep this out of the normal track. Let me read again from the report. And we'll put it on the screen. "Jack Quinn...and Holder worked together to ensure that the Justice Department, especially the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, did not have an opportunity to express an opinion on the Rich pardon before it was granted."

That is a shocking charge. And I think it's undeniable, isn't it?

EPSTEIN: No, again, and I think this shows the amateur hour nature of this report. And again, I point out the fact, and I'm going to answer the question, I point out the fact that you and Mr. Barr keep avoiding the fact that this committee has fallen on its face and has not been able to back up its central accusation for holding these hearings, which is quid pro quo.

BARR: Well, part of the reason was, people were taking the Fifth Amendment.

EPSTEIN: Secondly, there is no obligation of Jack Quinn to go to the Southern District of New York. The way things normally happen is in the pardon process, you go to the pardon office. The pardon office will then consult with the U.S. Attorney.

The reason that they didn't go to the pardon office in this instance, and the answer to your question, the reason why Eric Holder said go to the White House, is because they were taking a note out of the George Bush handbook when they pardoned Caspar Weinberger.

NOVAK: Oh, Julian.

EPSTEIN: The rule is on pardons, can I tell you why, before you shake your head? The rule is...

BARR: I'm surprised.

EPSTEIN: ...if nobody's been convicted and if nobody served jail time, the pardon office doesn't hear the case. The pardon office testified to that, but you wouldn't learn that from reading the report because the report omits that.

PRESS: Now here's what I find interesting, Congressman Barr. All this stuff is thrown out there, and yet congressman Burton said today, he's not going to answer to any criminal charges be pressed against the former president. So once again, all the wild charges and no follow-up. Why not? And isn't it because you know there's not enough evidence? All you've got is a pure political hatchet job? So you throw it out there, get the headline, smear the president and do nothing about it.

BARR: Bill, go back to Civics 101. It is not the job of Congress to prosecute. It is the job of the executive branch.

PRESS: Recommend, congressman. He doesn't even recommend that that's just what I said.

BARR: What we do is gather evidence and lay it before the American people. And the evidence in this case indates a shocking disregard for the judicial and our national security process.

NOVAK: We're out of time.

EPSTEIN: The committee has repeatedly recommended to the Justice Department. They thought -- they didn't in this case, which is more evidence that they backed down from the central charge.

NOVAK: Julian Epstein, thank you very much. Congressman Bob Barr, thank you.

Next on CROSSFIRE, the fighting whites, is that the proper answer to using Redskins, Braves and Indians as athletic nicknames?


NOVAK: CROSSFIRE, act 2. Native American students at Northern Colorado University in Greely, Colorado have struck back with an intramural basketball team called "the Fightin' Whities." The slogan on their jersey says "everything's going to be all white."

This white bashing is a rebuke to Eaton High School in Greely, being called "the fighting Reds." And beyond that, the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Florida State Seminoles, and even my University of Illinois, fighting Illini. Is it the beginning of the end for the Native American nicknames or will they endure?

We're talking to two radio talk show hosts: Victoria Jones here in Washington and Mike Gallagher in New York City.


PRESS: Mike Gallagher, welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

None of us here on this panel can honestly speak for how Native Americans feel about themselves and what names, you know, they accept as honorary and what names they accept as derogatory. But we know that they've named this one team "the fighting whites." And I'd like to read you what a gentleman out there at the University of Northern Colorado has said about it. A man by the name of Solomon Little Al. And here's what he explained their actions. "We disagree with Native American caricatures in sports logos, but when we raise the issue, people say, 'Oh, it's not derogatory, it's meant to honor you.' So we decided to show them how it feels."

And of course, they're having fun with this. I think it is very funny. But he is make the point that they should be the ones to tell us what is derogatory and what is not, correct? Not you and me?

MIKE GALLAGHER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I love it when a bone headed stunt like this blows up in the person's face. I mean, Solomon Little Owl must believe that there are no problems of alcoholism on Indian reservations, of violence, of suicide. I mean, you know, life on reservations isn't all that great. And there have been studies to prove that.

Solomon Little Owl must have a lot of time on his hands. Personally, I'm not the least bit offended by being called a fighting whitey. Are you, Bill? I'm not offended by that. I think it is great. So what this stunt proves -- what this proves is that it's not offensive. Call us the fighting whiteys. We'll have a team called the fighting reds and let them duke it out, and have a re-creation of Custer's last stand. Look how that turned out.

PRESS: Thank you. You make my point. I'm not offended, you're not offended, but let's let them tell us what offends them. Now you may not...


PRESS: No, let me finish. OK? Again, we can't speak for Native Americans. I've spoken to many in California and here in Washington who have told me that for them, the word Redskins is the equivalent of the "N" word. You and I won't use the "N" word on television. If they say it's that bad, why shove it in their face?

GALLAGHER: I remember when Eddie Murphy did a comedy routine years ago, and imitated white people in a movie theater. And he was saying, "Oh, look, Gladys, there's black people here. Pass the popcorn." And I laughed, along with the black members of the audience and the white members of the audience.

Again, we have real problems of racism and bigotry in America for these boneheads to come up with this stunt and think that's going to be offensive to white people. By proving that it's not offensive should prove to everybody that reds isn't offensive. The Redskins isn't offensive. These are school mascots, not the end of the world stuff, Bill.

NOVAK: Victoria Jones, it was meant to be offensive. They made the whites as a kind of silly little boys, white bred people, but there was no intention to have these Indian nicknames offensive. The Redskins, the logo is a noble warrior. The chief Seminole rides around on a horse at the Florida State games. I'm a proud alumnus of the University of Illinois. We have a tremendous war dance by Chief Allanderwick (ph). Isn't this part of the deep American tradition of respect for the fighting qualities of the Indians who gave the white people such a hard time on the battlefield?

VICTORIA JONES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Is that the only quality that we're going to respect? Because that's the only quality we ever hear about is about them being warriors and about them being fighters and chiefs and things like that.

No, it isn't a reflection. If it is, it's a bad reflection, because what it is is we're saying this is how America is. And we're defining America for the people, 95 percent of whom we've already exterminated. This fighting whites is ridiculous.

They didn't go far enough. They should have gone with the lynching whiteys and have them holding little nooses...

GALLAGHER: Oh, Victoria.

JONES: ...because that's offensive. Yes, Mike, that is offensive to you. Because that's what -- you have to get in deeper to get offended don't you? It's very hard to offend the white guy?

GALLAGHER: No, I'm not offended. It's laughable. You know what? The problem, Victoria, is maybe you've never seen a football game. I think you've probably seen a rugby match. It's competitive. It's aggressive. There's fighting going on.

JONES: You see, Mike, now you're being insulting to me.

GALLAGHER: Well, no, I'm pointing it out.


PRESS: One at a...

GALLAGHER: Well, you're offended at everything I guess.

PRESS: Even for talk show hosts, one at a time. Go ahead, Victoria.

JONES: Mike, you don't know how not to insult people.

GALLAGHER: I'm not insulting anybody.

JONES: You're a white guy, and that's what you knew. You've never been oppressed in your life. I know American football and I watch American football. So don't patronize me.

GALLAGHER: Good for you. So understand that it's aggressive. And Victoria, you're just a professional victim.

JONES: I do understand it's aggressive.

GALLAGHER: You're a professional victim. You always feel oppressed. JONES: Do I sound like a victim to you, Mike?

GALLAGHER: No, well, you say you're offended.

JONES: I don't sound like a victim to me.


PRESS: Time out. Go ahead, Bob.

NOVAK: Bill Press, as you twice I think said, you know, we don't know how the Native Americans feel. And his little intellectuals that he talks to in California...

PRESS: Well, they weren't intellectuals, Bob.

NOVAK: Now what I would like...

PRESS: Don't give me that.

GALLAGHER: You don't allow.

JONES: Quiet, Mike.

NOVAK: a "Sports Illustrated" poll of Native Americans. This is a scientific poll...

JONES: Right.

NOVAK: the March 4 issue. Should college and high school teams stop using Indian nicknames? This is only of Native Americans. 81 percent, no. 16 percent, yes. 3 percent, not sure. Then they asked, how about the pro teams, should they stop using Indian nicknames? 83 percent, no. 16 percent, yes. 1 percent not sure. In fact, they took the interviews with these Native Americans. They're proud of it. They're proud to be glorified as fighters and warriors. If Bill is sincere in saying let them speak for themselves, they're saying yes.

JONES: Well, I guess the Sports Illustrated poll on Native Americans is like a Cosmo poll on Yugoslavia policy, you know, or Afghanistan policy. What does Sports Illustrated they know about Native Americans? Nothing. So I wouldn't trust the polls to start with.

GALLAGHER: But you're the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right Victoria?

JONES: But second of all, again, we're trying to define what is right for another group. And I think that there are different types of offensiveness. To me, I don't think red is particularly offensive. But then I don't know. I think Redskin is offensive because it has do with scalping.

PRESS: All right, Mike, now look, Mike, this is not the first time we've debated this issue, the first time it's come up. There are over 600 either school teams or professional teams in this country that have changed their names because they were told they were offensive.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Miami, Ohio, they're the Red Hawks. They used to be the Redskins. St. John's, they're the Red Storm. They used to be the Red Men.


PRESS: Stanford today are the Cardinals. They used to be the Indians. So what's the big deal? Over 600 have done it. You know, why just insist on keeping a few of these around?

GALLAGHER: Bill, they've done it because they are intimidated by bleeding heart politically correct people like Victoria. They're afraid of them. They're afraid of boycotts. They're afraid of bad publicity and I love...

PRESS: No, maybe they did it, Mike, because they don't want to offend other Americans. What's wrong with that?

GALLAGHER: They don't want to offend -- well, the Americans they don't want to offend are, again, bleeding heart whiners who think that they have to bury the torch.

NOVAK: We're almost out of time.

JONES: It's fascinating to me how Mike Gallagher is not a whiner, but I am when I make a different point.

GALLAGHER: I'm right.

JONES: Let's talk about the Frito Bandito. Let's talk about black samba. Let's talk about the Moody Bitches for female basketball.

NOVAK: How about the fighting Irish of Notre Dame?

GALLAGHER: Yes, how about the Leprechauns?

JONES: The fighting Irish? How about the drunken Irish? That's insulting, isn't it?

NOVAK: No, do away with the fighting. Nobody talks about drunken (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

JONES: No, of course, they don't.

NOVAK: How about the fighting Irish?


NOVAK: Are you against the fighting Irish?

JONES: No, I'm against the drunken Irish. That's what I'm against.

GALLAGHER: A name like Gallagher, I'm not offended by leprechaun. Go Irish.

PRESS: All right, you know what?

JONES: It's not about leprechauns.

PRESS: You know, what? It's time for this, OK?

JONES: All right.

PRESS: Thank you, guys. You need these. Mike Gallagher, thank you up in New York. Victoria, thank you.

And I'll put these on, because when we come back, Bob and I are going to put on our boxing gloves, honest, but we're not the only ones. Would you believe Tonya Harding and Paula Jones? You got a ring side seat. Next.


NOVAK: Final round on CROSSFIRE. The wonderful world of boxing. Round 1, the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission has voted unanimously to grant Mike Tyson a boxing, not a wrestling, license to challenge heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis in the nation's capital, just a few blocks from here.

Mike has served prison time for rape, engaged in biting instead of punching, and is banned from Las Vegas. But that's really not an unusual profile for Washington.


PRESS: I don't know, Bob. Just when Washington's starting to get our reputation back, you know, we invite a guy here, a rapist, and make him a hero. Not even Las Vegas would take him.

NOVAK: Well, boxers are not very nice people anyway. They have to be vicious. But you know, that is the only guy who can fill a stadium and fill the Pay-per-View. And I'm going to be right at that plate that night. I can't wait to see it. And if you're a good boy, I'll take you along.

PRESS: Watch out, Bob. He might bite your ear.

All right, Round 2 now. Yes, no matter how weird that Tyson fight proves to be, it won't be the weirdest. That prize goes to our round 2 winner, tonight's bout between Tonya Harding and Paula Jones. Yes, you heard it right. Tonya Harding and Paula Jones, who climb into the ring on Fox's "celebrity boxing" tonight, a show better known as boxing by has-beens.

For Harding, this is the most publicity she's received since assaulting her boyfriend with a hubcap. For Jones, this is the most exposure she's had since baring her all in the pages of "Penthouse." For Paula, it's a long way from a hotel in Little Rock, all downhill.

NOVAK: This is also a not miss event for me, Bill and I'm sure you.

PRESS: You're going to watch it tonight, Bob?

NOVAK: Of course. It's better than "West Wing." And I would say this, that I'll put my money on Tonya. She beats up men. I think she could handle you without any trouble. And Paula is going to be watching that new nose.


NOVAK: She doesn't want to get into a plastic surgery mess.

PRESS: I just remembered, this is Paula Jones who said the only thing she was concerned about was telling the truth. Oh, yeah. I don't believe her then. I don't believe her now. From the left, I'm Bill Press. Good-night for CROSSFIRE. See you tomorrow night.

NOVAK: You got to make it political. From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next for another edition of CROSSFIRE.


American Students Respond to Colorado School Mascot>



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