Do D.C.'s Police or Gary Condit Deserve More Respect?; Jim Jeffords' Party-Switching Anniversary is Here
Aired May 23, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE tonight: She's in all the headlines. They're doing all the talking. And he's keeping out of camera range. In the CROSSFIRE, D.C.'s police and Gary Condit's reputation. Does either one deserve a little more respect?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people have asked me, would you do it over again? My answer: Absolutely!
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ANNOUNCER: It's been a year since the Senate went to the Democrats.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I have no second thought and no regrets...
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ANNOUNCER: But has it also gone to the dogs?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought that the best thing to do would be bring in the bloodhounds.
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ANNOUNCER: Ahead on CROSSFIRE.
From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University here in Washington. D.C. police assure us they are hard at work trying to solve the mystery of Chandra Levy's death. A busload of D.C.'s finest were back at Washington's Rock Creek Park again today going over the area where Levy's skeleton was discovered. Sources tell us police also are looking into a possible connection with the assaults of two women in the park around the time Levy disappeared. A man was caught and convicted of those crimes.
Given that it took just over a year for D.C. police to discover Chandra Levy was dead, how long will it take to solve the mystery of how she died? In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Washington's deputy police chief, Terrance Gainer.
Mr. Gainer, welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: First, we salute you and the force for staying on this case, after the media and everybody else got off of it. But there is an attorney named Mark Geragos, who is representing Congressman Gary Condit. He had some rather pointed comments about the D.C. police. I want to read them to you and then ask you to respond.
He said: "It's certainly not a red-letter day for the D.C. police. If, as reported, she left with only her tennis shoes and her keys and was going jogging, wouldn't you look on the jogging trails? How do you miss somebody? It's mind-boggling."
Could you unboggle Mr. Geragos' mine, Chief?
TERRANCE GAINER, D.C. EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT POLICE CHIEF: Well, Rock Creek Park is a big place, some 1,700 acres, and we had a lot of people out there and searched it the best we could. The place where we found the remains is hilly, dense foliage and was not specifically where we put some of our recruits. So we regret that. If we had the retrospectoscope (ph), I wish we could have found the body 12 months ago, and we've got to move on from there.
BEGALA: Any chance that perhaps the body was placed there after the search? Last night, we had a former homicide detective on who suggested that maybe the best place to hide a body is a place that had already been searched? Is there any evidence at the crime scene that perhaps the remains have been moved?
GAINER: There is not enough to make that determination one way or the other. We are going to have to look at those theories. The body was not buried. It looks like it was laying on the floor of the forest there, and it was covered with what would accumulate over a year. But we're up there now and we'll be there for the next couple of days. We have some forensic pathologists taking the dirt away layer by layer to see if we can learn anything or make some of those determinations.
CARLSON: Now, Mr. Gainer, not to let you too easily off the hook here, the things you knew about Chandra Levy after she disappeared were these, the two salient facts, that she frequently jogged in Rock Creek Park and that the last known act she committed, the last thing she did that we knew about, I believe that you knew about, was she looked up a map of Rock Creek Park on her computer. So, the park was the obvious place to search.
And the fact is the D.C. police did search it, as you know, with 50 police recruits over a period of days, then went back, searched again, went back, searched again. Can you be a lot more specific about how you didn't find this body and a dog walker did?
GAINER: We actually spent some three weeks up there with recruits. But it is wrong to assume that she was a regular jogger in Rock Creek Park. That is not necessarily true. In fact, the information we have is that she did not often jog outdoors, that she used a treadmill more than Rock Creek.
But given the information we had from her computer, that was a natural place to look and we spent quite a bit of time. What we did was go to different groves and parking areas and paths, drawn concentric circles out of there and had our troops fan out from there to try to find it.
This particular place is very hilly. There is thick foliage there, and it looks like now, in comparing where we found her to where we searched before, we made have been as much as 125 yards east of her at one point and 125 yards west of her at another point.
CARLSON: Well, obviously you weren't -- you know, you didn't find her body. But in trying to explain that, Chief Gainer said yesterday, and this is a quote, that -- rather Chief Ramsey said yesterday she was found in a, quote, "remote area of Rock Creek Park."
I mean, convince our unconvinced viewers here that it is possible for 50 recruits over three weeks to miss finding a body in a park in the middle of a city, a densely populated city.
GAINER: Well, it's a densely populated park too. I think the misconception is this is a park like maybe Merrill (ph) Park across from the IMF World Bank building, where it's green park and benches. This is a thick forest that's 1,700 acres. And we gave it a good shot and regret to this day that we didn't find her. But we always knew that our biggest break would come if we found her, the body in the scene, and we're going work from there.
BEGALA: Let me ask you, you said that you're going to back over to the scene where the remains were found, even examining layer by layer. What do you hope to find by this second search of the area?
GAINER: Well, it could be any number of things that might lead to how she died. While the medical examiner and the forensic pathologist are working on the remains, we're going to look and see if there's any evidence of foul play, whether there is those infamous keys everybody looks for or jewelry or anything that may be left. I mean, at the moment, I don't know if she was shot. I don't know if it was a natural cause. But I'm going to look for metals and any debris that might be there. We'll gather what we can and then you have to analyze it after we get the information from the remains and then try to put the puzzle together.
BEGALA: How long before the medical examiner gives you something from the remains?
GAINER: It's uncertain. They're working as we speak. It could be days. It could be weeks. The fact that it wasn't obvious damage when you looked at it is telling. The fact that the medical examiner and very experienced archaeologist and pathologist are looking that it's not obvious tells me it's probably going to be some time and we're going to have to use some other scientific methods.
But I'm also encouraged by the fact that over the years, we now go back and look at things that are a thousand years old and make some determinations. So, there's no reason to believe that there's going to be a complete dry hole here.
CARLSON: Now, over the past year, the Metropolitan Police Department has said again and again Gary Condit is not a suspect, but you've talked about him like he is a suspect. Meanwhile, the federally-run U.S. Park Police have developed apparently other theories about who might have done this.
I want you to listen to Sergeant Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police. Here's his take on who might have committed this crime.
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SGT. SCOTT FEAR, U.S. PARK POLICE: Back in May of last year, 2001, a subject grabbed a woman from behind, a female jogger, and produced a knife. The female struggled very quickly and was able to get away. Later in July, a very similar thing happened. A female jogger, a subject grabbed the female from behind, a struggle ensued, the female quickly got away. And 45 minutes after that attack, the United States Park Police caught the subject and he was convicted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now this man's name is Ingomar Guendeje (ph). He's in jail now, as you know. And I'm wondering have you asked him to submit to a polygraph?
GAINER: We have not, but there's a couple of things we have to correct. I didn't say Condit was a suspect. I said he has not been a suspect. And I don't think the sergeant was saying that that individual is a suspect. But what he did say is there was other crimes in that park to what we have to look at.
Now, we had -- we were aware of the circumstances of that case. We looked at that case. We have talked with that individual. But now that we have found Ms. Levy in that park, we will go back and examine what he may have done or not done, and take a look at other people we've interviewed.
CARLSON: Well, first of all, Chief, with all due respect, we know what he has done, because he is in jail for it. He's in jail for grabbing... GAINER: I know what he has done vis-a-vis (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARLSON: Let me ask you this question. You spent -- the D.C. Police Department, in this very public way, mocked Congressman Gary Condit for not taking a police department approved polygraph examination, went on television and made fun of him for not doing that. Hurt his reputation in so doing.
You're telling me that Gary Condit, against whom there is no real evidence, there is no evidence Gary Condit ever grabbed anyone in a park, you pushed to take a polygraph examination. And yet, a guy who is sitting in jail right now for grabbing women in the same park where this body was found has not been pushed by you police department to take a polygraph. Is that what you're saying?
GAINER: Well, this is not yes or no and I'm not on the stand, so I wouldn't answer it with a yes or no. What we may do with the individual will be determined yet. Whether he needs to take a polygraph or not will be up to our detectives. That may be the case. But we looked...
CARLSON: But you have been focusing on a guy with no record versus this guy who is in prison.
GAINER: We haven't focused. He -- actually who is focused on him, frankly, is others other than the police. He was a person that we were very interested in because of the obvious connection to Chandra. And we looked at him as we've looked at other individuals, and we will continue to do that.
We haven't ruled anybody in and we haven't ruled anybody out. We still don't know the cause of death. But we're going to be very open- minded about this and see what the evidence brings us. Let's remember that for the past 12 months, we wondered where Chandra Levy is at. It has been less than 24 hours that we found her. So I think we need a little bit more time to conscientiously look at the evidence that may be produced from there and look at competing theories. Was she up there meeting someone that she knew? Was she grabbed by someone? Was she jogging up there? Those are all very legitimate questions for all of us to ask, and we will continue to ask those.
BEGALA: In fact, the reason why the media has been focusing on Congressman Condit is, first, because he is famous. He is a congressman. That's more newsworthy. And second, because he's behaved like a complete dirtbag, not cooperating with you and the police during this investigation for two long months, not even telling you that he was intimately involved with this girl. Do you have any need or desire in the foreseeable future to re-interview Congressman Condit?
GAINER: I think we're going to get as much information from our scene and the body we can, and compare that to what we know. And I suspect we will be going back and talking to a lot of people, which may include the congressman.
BEGALA: Chief Terrance Gainer, one of D.C.'s finest, thank you very much for taking the time to join us on a very, very busy time for you. Ladies and gentlemen, Chief Gainer. Give him a round of applause.
One person, you know, we have heard very little from in all of this is Congressman Gary Condit himself. But sources close to the California congressman say that he's hoping for some sort of exoneration or vindication from the latest developments. Should Condit now be cleared? That's our next item in the CROSSFIRE.
And later, Trent Lott's taste in music runs more toward barber- shop quartet. So why was he spotted this week leading a chorus of who "Let The Dogs Out?" We'll ask two senators to explain.
BEGALA: Congressman Gary Condit is trying very hard to stay off camera these days, but he isn't staying entirely out of the picture. When Condit sees a TV crew, he turns and goes the other way. It happened here on some stairs.
Yesterday, Condit put out a statement of sympathy for the Levy family. And now, a source close to Condit says the discovery of Chandra Levy's body is seen by Condit's camp as a chance to get the congressman cleared of suspicions that he is somehow connected to Levy's disappearance and death. In the CROSSFIRE now, criminal defense attorney Bernie Grimm and former congressional counsel Jack Burkman. Gentlemen, welcome to CROSSFIRE.
CARLSON: Thanks for joining us. Now, Gary Condit, like fat people and cigarette smokers, is part of that very small group you're allowed to hate and make fun of. You heard Paul just refer to him as a dirtball. I'm not going to dispute that characterization, but I will say there is a lot of evidence he has been treated unfairly.
The wrap against him is he didn't cooperate with police. He didn't do all he could to help Chandra Levy. What's -- very quickly, I want to go through a partial list -- a very partial -- of the things he did do. He was interviewed four times by the police department. He allowed the police department to search his apartment. He gave a DNA sample. He took a polygraph examination. He went on Larry King to talk about it.
What more could this guy have done and, specifically, what difference would it have made in the end?
JACK BURKMAN, ATTORNEY: Well, he could have come on CROSSFIRE. but he lied...
CARLSON: Good point. I like that.
BURKMAN: Yes, he was interviewed five times. He lied every time. This guy's a pathological liar. I think -- I'll change my position from last summer. Last summer, I said he was guilty of obstruction of justice. My lawyer's gut tells me this guy is a killer. And you mark my words, this guy is a killer.
There is no logical explanation for Condit's conduct. Yes, he was interviewed five times. He probably lied four of the times. Why cover it up? The only -- Condit is not a professional criminal. The only thing the D.C. police were talking to him about was the Chandra murder, the Chandra disappearance. Why not come out the first time and tell everything? If there's any guilt, I don't understand the reluctance to talk. I mean, I know the defense counsel...
CARLSON: That's a great question.
BURKMAN: ... will say, everybody, you know, we want to keep them quiet. Don't talk. But that's in a case where you have a professional criminal who has a lot to hide. The other thing is...
CARLSON: Well, wait, hold on here. Or the former president. I mean, isn't this exactly what Clinton did? People said -- people said -- hold on, this is true...
BEGALA: Nobody died.
CARLSON: And I'm not saying anybody did. But I'm saying that isn't it plausible that here's a guy following the Clinton model, following the precedent set by the former president, has an affair with an intern, OK? He gets caught. He lies about it. Now, I'm not defending that behavior, but that doesn't make him a murderer, does it?
BURKMAN: No, it doesn't, but there are other things. And he is Clintonesque in his capacity to lie. He just wasn't as good as it.
I will tell you this. Motive means opportunity. Motive means opportunity. In this case, you have all three. You had clear means and opportunity, ongoing relationship. The motive is this guy went on television with Connie Chung. By that point, the whole country, the whole world knew of this affair.
So intense was his desire to keep it secret that even at that point, he lied. Can you imagine how burning was his desire, how burning his desire must have been to keep this secret before it broke? What does that tell you? That tells you there is a powerful motive. That tells you that this guy is not only a pathological liar, but he had a burning, intense motive to kill this girl.
BEGALA: Let me bring Bernie Grimm into this. Now, in your role as an ace criminal defense attorney, I know Condit is not your client, but bet you he's watching. And Billy Martin is an ace attorney...
BERNIE GRIMM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'll be in tomorrow.
BEGALA: Billy Martin is an attorney for the Levy family and he had, this summer, of how the family views Congressman Condit. I'll play it for you up here. Take a look, Bernie, and get you to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY MARTIN, LEVY FAMILY ATTORNEY: But we do have reason to believe that he knew a lot more about Chandra, her state of mine, what was going on in her life on April 30 or May 1.
Had he come forward sooner, Larry, the investigation would have been, we think, sped along. Is he a suspect in our mind? He is a suspect, as is everybody else who may have had contact with Chandra. Nobody is now eliminated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: He could have helped the investigation, couldn't he?
GRIMM: He could have helped the investigation. Billy Martin, great prosecutor, good friend of mine, top-class guy. If Condit comes forward sooner and says, listen, we had an intimate relationship, two and two and two, we get to six, maybe they find the body sooner at Klingle Mansion, it leads to trace evidence, forensic evidence and we're able to catch a killer who is probably not Condit. That's what he should have done. That would have been the decent thing to do.
But he's not a murderer. He's not a killer. This case is probably going to be closed out within a week by the forensic pathologist with no finding that it was a homicide at all. It's going to be virtually impossible to conclude this was a homicide.
BEGALA: I'm not ready to convict the guy yet, but why didn't he cooperate, set aside whether -- I have no idea whether he is a murderer. I've never even met the guy. But he's certainly had a moral obligation to cooperate when a woman he was having an affair with turns up missing.
GRIMM: If we're going to talk about moral obligations, maybe we ought to talk about the Catholic church. But that's another show.
BEGALA: Well, you know, I haven't defended that either. But this is a guy -- this is a woman who has disappeared.
GRIMM: There is a moral obligation, but it's human nature. I'm representing people, thousands of them, for over 19 years that haven't done the right things, made huge exercises in judgment. Some of them guilty, some of them not guilty. Should have come forward, didn't, it's over with, the body has been found.
BURKMAN: But, Bernie, it's more than just lying to the police. There is a lot more -- his whole behavior was enveloped with suspicion and mysterious things. His aide, Dayton (ph), drove him across the bridge to throw away this watchbox. I mean, all of this is bizarre. It's not just lying...
GRIMM: Jack, Jack...
CARLSON: OK. I agree with you that that's odd behavior. I agree with you that he's an odd guy. I agree with you he shouldn't have been sleeping with Chandra Levy. But against the facts that you have laid out, such as they are, and a lot of psychological speculation, you have the known facts, there is a guy in jail now for assaulting two women in Rock Creek Park.
Now, I don't know if you heard us ask the deputy chief of police here, have you made him submit to a polygraph examination, taken a DNA sample from him, interviewed him four times? No, no, no, no, no.
Bottom line: Gary Condit was the best thing that ever happened to the incompetent D.C. Police Department because it gave them something to hide behind.
BURKMAN: You have to remember, Condit had a tie to this girl. Condit was one of the last people Chandra Levy talked to. They had e- mail communication. There was every reason in the world for the D.C. police to communicate.
I tell you something else. I am rock certain, having as a commentator and broadcast myself from that area last summer, having watched all of the national media, having watching federal troops and National Guardsmen, everybody else scour those, I'm 99.9 percent certain that that body was not in that place last summer.
What does that -- Bernie and I were talking before the show. That indicates to me that this was the work of a sophisticated actor.
CARLSON: So, Gary Condit came in...
BURKMAN: No, but it's a month...
CARLSON: ... during the campaign?
BURKMAN: No, it's a growing circumstantial case. In other words, I'm saying I'm not ready to prosecute this case. I'm saying my gut says he's a killer. And that's my gut. I am not ready to take that to a jury. But what I'm saying is you have growing pieces of circumstantial evidence. Had the D.C. police -- when September 11 hit, Condit was off the news. The D.C. police were relieved. The television was over. They quit investigating.
BEGALA: Bernie, let me ask you about the conduct Jack referred to. He drove from Washington, D.C., over into Alexandria, Virginia to throw away a box that perhaps linked him to Ms. Levy. He stonewalled for months. He did lie about his relationship with her, delayed the investigation. Is this the conduct of an innocent man? And if so, how do you explain that to the jury of public opinion?
GRIMM: It's not the conduct of an innocent man. It's the conduct of a high-profile man trying to get re-elected making stupid, stupid judgments. It's human nature to say, my gosh, the police are coming to my house. I better clean it up, throw this out. He apparently lied about the relationship with Anne Marie Smith. On the verge of obstruction there. They're throwing away the thing...
BEGALA: But he didn't know that this was a flight attendant...
BURKMAN: He did more than that. He asked... CARLSON: Well, unfortunately, I'd love to get into the whole flight attendant angle, long one of my favorites, but we are out of time. Jack Burkman, Bernie Grimm, thank you both very much. We appreciate it.
Continuing our crime and punishment theme, stay tuned for the CROSSFIRE "Police Blotter" and the naked truth about prices that were so low, they were a crime.
Also coming up, a repeat winner for our "Quote of the Day." Attention, Saddam Hussein, if you're watching, and we suspect you are, you'll want to pay close attention to this item. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome to the most hard-boiled segment on television, our Thursday night "Police Blotter." Where public figures intersect with law enforcement, CROSSFIRE is there.
A New Jersey businessman was sentenced to prison yesterday for making illegal donations to Senator Robert Torricelli's 1996 election campaign. David Cheng (ph) will serve 18 months and one day behind bars. Before the bailiff took him Cheng, his lawyer had this to say about his client's old friend, Robert Torricelli. Quote: "Senator Torricelli repeatedly warned him that his life would be in danger if he cooperated with the government."
Cheng also alleges that Torricelli pressured him to leave the country, and went he wouldn't, bragged about his Mafia connections. At one point, Cheng says the senator tried to intimidate him into silence by bringing along a friend identified in news accounts as a prominent New Jersey waste disposal contractor. Senator Torricelli's office denies the charges. HBO, however, is said to be developing a new series based on them, described by one network executive as "Sopranos" meets "West Wing."
BEGALA: Torricelli was, of course, cleared in all of that.
But police in Turin, Italy have arrested a lady of the evening for charging her customers too little. The 24-year-old prostitute has cut her service fee from 35 euros to just five. It's about five bucks U.S. Italian authorities are charging the hooker with violating the country's competition laws by trying to force other callgirls, in turn, out of business. The news has caused quite a stir here in Washington, where 52 Congressmen have signed up to travel to Italy for a fact-finding mission.
CARLSON: How low can you go?
And from our criminal incompetence file, tonight this: Eric Davis (ph) emerged from a bank in Toledo, Ohio recently with a gun, a sack of cash and an urgent need to get away. He jumped into the first car he saw. Unfortunately for him, it was an unmarked police car. The two men inside were plain clothes police officers. Drive, said Davis. You're under arrest, said the cops. In addition to bank robbery, Davis, 31, is now charged with kidnapping. The Toledo police, meanwhile, declared it their most successful unintentional sting operation.
BEGALA: And what would "Police Blotter" be without an update from the FBI. In this case, it's criminals in the FBI. The "New York Times" reports that a current and a former FBI agent were charged by federal prosecutors yesterday with using confidential government information to manipulate stock prices and extort money from companies. The charges, which include obstruction of justice, racketeering, extortion and insider trading, came as a shock to the FBI. A bureau spokesman told the CROSSFIRE "Police Blotter," gee, and things were going so well for us on terrorism, the Wen Ho Lee case, Timothy McVeigh and the FBI crime lab.
Next in our CNN "News Alert," new details about the latest suicide bombing in Israel. It happened just about 30 minutes ago.
And on Capitol Hill today, the life of the party was the man who left the party when it went too far to the right. It's the anniversary of Senator Jim Jeffords' one-man declaration of independence.
And don't forget our CROSSFIRE "Quote of the Day." Our quote maker in chief is at it again.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Before flying to Russia today, President Bush was in Germany, speaking to the Germaniacs about the war on terrorism and doing a little saber rattling in the direct of Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush also responded to German pleas that America not go to war with Iraq. His reassurance to the Germans is our quote of the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...that I have no war plans on my desk, which is the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: On my desk or on Dick Cheney's desk. I will say -- let me say this. I'd like to bash Bush and I will continue to do so. Today, the United States struck at anti-aircraft facilities in the southern no-fly zone in Iraq that were painting our pilots with radar. It was the right thing to do. I'm proud of our president. I'm proud of our troops for defending those pilots. So I can say...
CARLSON: Well, and I'm glad. And that ought to be the red flag for me when you start agreeing. Of course, I agree with you in a broader sense that this administration's foreign policy is sound. And that's why the majority of Americans trust this administration over Democrats to execute foreign policy. But I think this was misleading, because I think the United States has to throw Saddam Hussein from power. We've said we will essentially. And obviously, superpowers cannot bluff. And I think we will end up doing it. And I think any attempt to sort of make nicer pan to the Europeans, a continent we saved from tyranny twice in one century, is wrong.
BEGALA: I do think the comment was a little, shall we say slick. I don't think we should go to war with Iraq until we have finished the war with al Qaeda. Al Qaeda's a very real and present danger. Saddam Hussein's a threat, but he's in a box right now. And I hope President Bush's fabled focus will return and he'll come back to fighting al Qaeda all over the world. He'll need the Germans help for that.
CARLSON: I don't think this focus has ever left. And no, of course, we don't need the German's help for that, nor do we need France or New Zealand, but I think we can probably do it just fine with the help of Gulf states, and our own soldiers. But the point is we will do it. And if the president was attempting to reassure the Germans, that's sad.
BEGALA: He needs -- you can't go into Frankfurt and Hamburg, where the al Qaeda is, without the help of Germans, unless we're going to start bombing Berlin again. And we've done that before.
CARLSON: I think the Germans have their own motives for rooting al Qaeda out of their own country. But onward.
President Bush may not be able to count on much help from the Germans, but he has a friend in Canada. And that friend is annoyed with Paul Begala. Just wait until fireback. And later, check out the source of the partisan baying on Capitol Hill. How obstructionists are the Senate Democrats, very obstructionist. Two key senators face off next.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We will be joined momentarily by our two senators, one Democrat, one Republican, to hash out the one-year anniversary of Jim Jeffords switch. They are voting right now. We tried to convince them that being one of each party, they would just cancel each other out, and they ought to stay and do cable TV with us, but they're going to vote. And they will be right back. In the meantime, we're going to move to fireback, where you get to fire back at us. And man, did you today.
Let's look at the e-mail first. Here's our first e-mail from Dave Henger in Newton, New Jersey. "Deepest sympathy to all of the levy family. We all need to let the investigation run its course. Let's not convict Condit in public as so many anchormen have already done." Dave Henger of the Gary Condit fan club in New Jersey.
CARLSON: You don't need to be a Gary Condit fan to see unfairness unfolding on TV, as it is now. OK, and next, Stacy Lundquist of West Windsor, Vermont writes in, "when a voter from Vermont voted for Republican Jim Jeffords in Vermont, how do you think they felt when they actually got independent Jim Jeffords in Vermont? And to boot, it swayed the entire Senate. It is like voting for one person and getting another. How can this be?" Great question, Stacy. I totally sympathize with you. On the other hand, got to wonder about someone who would vote for Jim Jeffords in the first place.
BEGALA: Well, this will be the focus when we get to senators here, but you know, folks back in Vermont, Stacy not withstanding, are very happy with their senator. And so am I. Jaime Mulen in Nova Scotia, Canada says, "I personally think Paul should stop putting down George Bush. He is the president, not you. If he had any warnings about 9/11, he would have done his best to stop everything that went on that tragic day -- He is a true leader!!! Go President Bush!!!" Jaime Mulen. Jaime, thanks a lot, four exclamation points for that one.
CARLSON: Jaime, I personally agree with you, too. OK, and on to Joni George of Huntsville, Alabama. "I am thoroughly sick of the FBI bashing that's going on for the 9/11 tragedy. The FBI obtained the information and delivered it. How can they be blamed for the failure of the White House to act on it?" I agree with you, Joni. I assume you mean the Clinton White House. And I think it's an excellent question.
BEGALA: In point of fact, on August 6, the CIA, Joni's close, on August 6, the CIA briefed the president about an al Qaeda plan to hijack airliners. We just learned that last week. They covered it up for eight months. We don't know what else they are covering up.
CARLSON: Oh yes, there are probably a lot -- it's a total conspiracy, Paul. You're not going to...
BEGALA: Why do they oppose an investigation?
CARLSON: You are not going to get far with that line of arguing, I can assure you.
BEGALA: Why did they oppose an investigation. I worked for Clinton. They wanted to investigate him.
CARLSON: Why did they just close the investigation?
BEGALA: Why did they oppose an investigation?
CARLSON: No, they don't oppose an investigation. They oppose the congressional investigation. It'd be partisan. There are going to be crackpot comments like that coming out of it.
BEGALA: Dick Cheney twice called Tom Daschle...
CARLSON: To the audience? Yes, sir?
LANCE: I'm Lance from Kelleo (ph), Virginia. And my question is to both of you. Are independent candidates like Jim Jeffords likely to add to the political paralysis in the Congress?
CARLSON: Well, actually, Jim Jeffords is not an independent. And neither is Bernie Sanders, also from Vermont. In the House, they're Democrats. And for whatever reason, they call themselves independent. And it would be more straightforward if they just went ahead and said, you know, I'm a Democrat now. No, I don't think they add to paralysis, because they have to. They're forced to by the structure, who line up with one side or the other. And they in do.
BEGALA: Yes, and actually -- and we'll get into this when the senators come, but they've got an awful lot done since Jeffords switched and the Democrats have taken over. We'll bring that up with the two senators when they come here.
CARLSON: That's the untrue part, but you'll find out.
BILL: Hi, I'm Bill from Sayesett (ph), New York. And this question is directed to Mr. Begala. How do you compare Gary Condit not being as forthcoming as he should have been during the Chandra Levy investigation with Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal?
BEGALA: Neither of them should have lied about having an affair, but only one of them had a dead girl in it. There's a huge difference. But no, do I defend Clinton lying about having a girlfriend? No. But when the girlfriend turns up missing, good Lord, you forget about everything else.
BEGALA: And it's a huge difference. And it's a low cheap shot. People like Tucker...
CARLSON: If I can just say, so instead, you know, nobody of course, accused Bill Clinton of murdering Monica Lewinsky, but the Clinton White House, directed by him...
CARLSON: Hold on. No, they didn't murder anybody, but they savaged her from day one. The day that story broke...
BEGALA: No, they didn't.
CARLSON: ...I spoke with someone at the White House who said, you know, she's a nut case, a stalker. Did you know that? So I think his behavior was far more appalling. Gary Condit is creep. He didn't kill this girl. And I think it's Democrats with displaced anger. They're mad at Bill Clinton, so they focus on Gary Condit because he's safe to attack. Because unlike Clinton, he's not powerful. That's my...
BEGALA: Paging Dr. Freud for this lecture on displacement.
CARLSON: It's true. Yes, sir?
MIKE: My name is Mike. I'm from Arlington, Virginia,. And my question is for the both of you. How might the finding of Miss Levy's body impact the Montiff/Cardozo race for Condit's seat?
CARLSON: Wow, I think Cardozo's in good shape anyway. I mean, he's polling far ahead. He's like -- really like Gary Condit was a pretty center Democrat, moderate, I guess is the term preferred. And I think he's going to win. BEGALA: Yes, the Democrats will hold that seat. But it's going to be an interesting race. That may be one of the ones the Republicans were counting on to hold the House.
CARLSON: I don't actually think they are, but they're going to hold the House nonetheless.
Next, Paul and I will direct our fire at Capitol Hill. It's been a year, can you believe it, since the Democrats took over the Senate. In a minute, two senators will look back at what might have been and what's coming next. We'll be right back.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We are coming to you live from the George Washington University here in beautiful downtown Washington.
Tomorrow marks a year since Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched from the Republican party to being an independent, allowing the Democrats to take control of the Senate. Today, my fellow Democrats were celebrating. Jeffords expressed no regrets and said he's grateful his switch brought more balance to America's national debate.
Are you surprised the Republicans don't share his enthusiasm? I'm not. Yesterday, Trent Lott and company brought in bloodhounds, saying they were searching for judicial nominees in House approved bills now lost in the Senate, perhaps even those Enron documents that the White House won't produce for Senator Lieberman's committee.
Joining us now to talk about the great divide in the Senate are California Democrat Barbara Boxer and New Hampshire Republican Bob Smith.
Senators both, thank you for joining us.
CARLSON: Senator Boxer, thanks for joining us. Now I know Democrats are very pleased it's your year anniversary since Senator Jeffords switched. Nobody is more pleased than Senator Jeffords. As evidence, I read to you an interview, part of it, that he did with "The New York Times" magazine last week. Here's the question. I'll tell you the answer. Question, "some of the right have likened you to Judas. Is there a biblican figure that you identify with?"
To which Senator Jeffords said, "Yes, Jesus." So I mean, doesn't this sort of prove the Republicans' point that it was not about ideology. It was all about him, his narcissism. Jesus? I mean come on, the guy needs help.
SEN BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: You should get a little grip on there. I mean, the bottom line is what happened was the very first thing after Jeffords joined us, is that we passed the patients' bill of rights. Then we passed an education bill. We are moving election reform, campaign finance reform. And then with Tom Daschle at helm, we were really worked closely with the Bush administration and passed the homeland security, anti-terrorism. It's been a very good, I think productive time since Jim made the switch. He did it out of conscience. He felt that the Republicans up here in the Senate were not in the mainstream. And I'm very happy to call him a friend and a colleague.
BEGALA: Senator Smith, let me read you a brief list, if I may Senator Smith, a brief list of some of the -- in addition to the ones that Senator Boxer mentioned of legislations that have passed since the Democrats took control. Much of this you supported as well. It's not necessarily partisan legislation. The post 9/11 emergency funding, airline security, the resolution of use of force in Afghanistan, bioterrorism preparedness, the U.S.A. Patriot Act, port and maritime security, border security, patients bill of rights, education reform, McCain/Feingold campaign reform, election reform, the Farm bill, airline bill. I could go on and on. Is this obstructionism, senator?
SEN BOB SMITH (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, you could go on and on, but there's a lot of things that aren't happening. For example, missile defense is not happening. That's been slowed, down cut by almost $1 billion. Welfare reform has not been extended. The welfare reform that passed under President Clinton, the Democrats would like to go back to, you know, the old way where we didn't have work, where people had to work for it.
We also, all the -- a lot of judges, probably 30 appeals court judges, are being bottled up now in judiciary. I could go on and on, too. So you know, look, Jeffords made a switch. It cost every Republican his or her chairmanship. And it changed the direction of the Senate. And it changed the president's agenda. It makes it difficult to pass the president's agenda now.
CARLSON: Now Senator Boxer, I don't think it's just Republicans who are unhappy with what came out of Senator Jeffords' switch. There's a fascinating pew poll that came out this week. And here's part of what it said. It said, 80 percent of Republicans in the United States approve of their party's leadership. By contrast, only 64 percent of Democrats approve of their party's leadership.
It also said that only 51 percent of Democrats thought that the Democratic party was doing a good job on domestic issues. There's a -- really a crisis between the party and its voters, isn't that right?
BOXER: No. And you know, I have to say, I don't know who that person talked to, but I can tell you as I go around the country and in my home state of California, people are really glad we're being a check and balance on this president. For example, he wanted to back off on the arsenic issue. And we said, no, we have to make sure there's not too much arsenic in the water.
This president said we ought to look at not testing poor kids for lead in their blood, which causes all kinds of disabilities and problems. We were a check and a balance. When it came to loans for higher education, we were a check and a balance. So I think, as we go around the country, what I see, anyway, is that people want us in there as a check and balance. They want us to be strong, working with the president on the anti-terrorism issue.
But when it comes to domestic policy, this president is really out to lunch. We know there's 100 things he's done to hurt the environment. We've got them all on a list we're going to show tomorrow at a press conference. That's one week...
CARLSON: Oh, I can't wait, senator. I'll be there. Your list of things he's done to wreck the environment.
BEGALA: Senator Smith, if I could bring up another part of this check and balance.
SMITH: Yes, you're not going to let me give my response, are you?
BEGALA: Senator, I want to ask you the question before you give me the answer, with all due respect, sir. And that is this, part of the check and balances oversight. Senator Joseph Lieberman, who enjoys bipartisan respect, has issued subpoenas through his committee to the White House, which is saying that apparently it's going to fight these subpoenas, so that they don't have to turn over documents related to the White House relationship with Enron.
We already know from documents that have been released that Ken Lay was over there, probably spent more time in the White House than George W. Bush did. Don't we need to know what's going on in our own executive branch?
SMITH: Well, of course. And we needed to know what was going on in the previous executive branch, too. And we didn't get it.
BEGALA: Oh, and we investigated them until the cows came home, senator, yes. I was there.
SMITH: Welcome to campaign 2002. You know, the partisan attacks are coming. We know that. We expect it. They're good at it. With all due respect, Senator Boxer and her colleagues, they're very good at politics. But you know, we got a country to run. We have things to do. President Bush has done an outstanding job. And he's been a great leader during all of this terrible crisis. And it's a shame, he's taking these cheap shots, but that's the way it is. We expect it, and we're ready for it.
BOXER: Well, you know, it's not a cheap shot. If I could say, it's not a cheap shot to stand up and say to the people who ran the Enron Corporation and who left all of these employees flat with no pensions, and no jobs, and all the shareholders in the country broke, and pension plans broke, and insider trading. You know, we need to know whether there was any undue influence on this administration.
CARLSON: OK, Senator Boxer, not to cut you off, but let me -- really quickly, I want to ask you...
BOXER: Well, you did, but that's okay.
CARLSON: I beg your pardon. (APPLAUSE)
But I enjoyed it, you'll be happy to know. But let me ask you a question about principle here. Democrats complain, I think you were among them, about the outcome of the Florida recount. And the insinuation always was this guy, the president, wasn't really elected. Well, here, you have a situation with Senator Jeffords in which he really wasn't elected as a Democrat or an independent, but as a Republican. Didn't he subvert democracy by switching?
BOXER: Well, you know, you didn't say that about Ben Nighthorse Campbell, when he became a Republican from a Democrat.
CARLSON: No, I'm asking about Jeffords.
BOXER: You didn't say it about Richard Shelby. They didn't face the voters until the next election. So this is the way it's really done around here. But the bottom line is, Jim Jeffords is beloved in his state. He's an independent now. He walked away from a party that lost touch with the mainstream, went to the extreme. And I'm very proud that he votes with our caucus.
CARLSON: OK. And speaking of voting, I know you all have to go back and do that.
BOXER: We do.
CARLSON: Senator Boxer, Senator Smith, we sure appreciated having you. Thank you very much.
BOXER: Thank you.
CARLSON: And next, when CROSSFIRE returns, I get to fire back at Paul. You don't want to miss it. So don't go away. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The senators have gone back to vote. Choosing democracy over television. But Paul Begala and I are not finished.
And I'd like you to answer this question, Paul. You who gets up every night here on CROSSFIRE, red in the face mad about, as you say, this president, who you don't believe was actually elected to be president, chosen by the Supreme Court, you say. And you're not mad about what Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont did, lying to the voters, being elected, seriously, being as a Republican, receiving money from the National Republican party and then switching. That doesn't make you mad?
BEGALA: He didn't leave the Republican party. The Republican party left him. He stayed with the party through the Reagan revolution...
CARLSON: Oh, give me a break. BEGALA: He stayed with it through the Gingrich revolution.
CARLSON: You know...
BEGALA: But Bush took him so far to the right. And by the way...
CARLSON: That's a lie, as you know.
BEGALA: Jim Jeffords say this quaint tradition in Vermont. The guy who gets the most votes gets to be the senator.
CARLSON: No, no, but you're not addressing...
BEGALA: Apparently Bush doesn't honor that tradition here in America. He came in second. That's the difference.
CARLSON: Paul, can you just address my question without demagoguing just for one second?
BEGALA: It's not demagoguery.
CARLSON: Are you bothered by the fact that the guy runs the Republican, was the co-chair of Bush's campaign in Vermont, and then turns around, after the voters put him in office as a Republican, and betrays their wishes?
BEGALA: Not in the slightest. Nor did I raise any of these concerns when Dick Shelby, a good Republican now...
CARLSON: Oh. They all do it argument?
BEGALA: It's -- this is always how it's been done, as Senator Boxer said. You know...
CARLSON: That is no defense.
BEGALA: It is the savage attacks on Tom Daschle that have come ever since the Democrats came into the majority. Vice President Cheney.
CARLSON: There haven't been savage attacks.
BEGALA: Leading the charge. And Tom Daschle -- yes. I want to show you, Tom Daschle yesterday gave Cheney a talking to. Here's what Daschle had to say.
CARLSON: Savage attack. I'll tell you who has a savage attack.
BEGALA: Here's what Daschle had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN TOM DASCHLE (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Despite what some in the administration have suggested, silence in the face of security lapses is not patriotism. If anything, it is the opposite. And the consequences of such silence can be devastating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: Tom Daschle served this country in uniform when Dick Cheney was getting drafted from...
CARLSON: Give me a break.
BEGALA: Tom Daschle was serving in the Senate when Dick Cheney was making money selling equipment to Iran, Iraq and Libya. Dick Cheney needs to not lecture Tom Daschle about patriotism.
CARLSON: Actually, Paul, once -- take a deep breath. Let me just put it this way. 19 percent, this is a new pew poll, 19 percent of Americans believe the Democratic party has a better foreign policy plan, more trustworthy in foreign policy than Republicans. 19 percent. People understand...
BEGALA: You didn't answer my question. Why is Cheney lecturing anybody about patriotism?
CARLSON: He is not lecturing anybody about patriotism.
BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good-night from CROSSFIRE.
CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for yet more CROSSFIRE. We'll be here.
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Jeffords' Party-Switching Anniversary is Here>