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CNN CROSSFIRE

Update On the Fatal Shooting Of NYC Councilmember James Davis; Former President Clinton Come To Defense Of President Bush?

Aired July 23, 2003 - 16:30   ET

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, Saddam's sons are out of the way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The former regime is gone and will not be coming back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: How will post-war Iraq be different?

And what about the post-war politics in Washington?

Plus, former President Clinton weighs in on those 16 words in President Bush's State of the Union.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a little different take on it, I think, than either side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Today, on CROSSFIRE.

Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. We'll get to politics and our debate in just a minute. But first we want to go live to New York for the latest on this afternoon's tragic shooting inside the council chambers at City Hall. CNN's Michael Okwu is at the scene on City Hall and joins us by phone. Michael?

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A stunning scene this afternoon. I can tell you that. Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as the New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly, coming before the cameras this afternoon to confirm that, in fact, a shooting had occurred earlier in the day at City Hall while a city council session was occurring.

There is one confirmed fatality, another person was wounded, both New York City officials. Not confirming the identity of those two victims, but Council president, C. Virginia Fields confirming that, in fact, a city council member, James Davis, was shot this afternoon and killed. Now, what we know is that Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that this is a terrible act. He said that the city will not rest until they find out who did this. He said that it strikes at the very essence of Democracy, given the location that this occurred.

Of course, the police commissioner also very passionate this afternoon, only saying that the shooter is a male, that he was wearing a blue blazer or a blue suit. There is a massive manhunt under way at this hour in lower Manhattan. We know that earlier this afternoon parts of the Brooklyn Bridge, or access to the Brooklyn Bridge as well as Manhattan Bridge which connect lower Manhattan to the Brooklyn Borough, had been closed down. Police helicopters flying overhead as well as a massive team of media here throughout the course of the afternoon.

Of course, one of the very big questions is, how did this happen? How, especially after 9/11, was a gunman able to get into City Hall, past the metal detectors, and be able to fire off a number of rounds and then get away. It is unclear at this point who that second victim is. Police are not confirming the identification nor the identity of that person. They say they will let us know more at an afternoon press conference.

I should tell you also, David Weprin, a city councilman, was at the scene when this happened, saying that he heard a large boom and then what he thought were 15 to 20 shots fired. He was told as other council members, as well, to hit the deck. They stayed down. He described what seemed to be a complete scene of chaos as some off-duty police officers, or plain clothed police officers, I should say, came into the building and actually started firing off some rounds themselves.

People not knowing who the good guy was and who the bad guy was, but eventually fleeing the building. We are told by the mayor that this is not, this is not, at least at this point, considered any kind of terrorism. That it is an isolated incident and he would like to have people in New York City go about their business as usual. Back to you.

NOVAK: Michael Okwu in New York, thank you. We'll check back with you a little later in the half hour for the latest developments, and we're standing by for Mayor Bloomberg's press conference. We will being it to you live when it happens. James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Well, Bob, let's now turn to Iraq with Saddam Hussein's sons are dead and gone, but the country is still a mess. Our soldiers are still getting killed. The Bush administration still misled us before the war, and still can't seem to get his story straight or his priorities straight. So where do we go from here? How about into the CROSSFIRE with Ohio Congresswoman and House Republican Conference Chair, Deborah Pryce; and New Jersey Congressman, Robert Menendez, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

NOVAK: Congressman Menendez, yesterday our military tracked down and killed the two sons of Saddam Hussein. Some Democrats don't seem very excited about it. Howard Dean, the front-runner for your party's nomination, the former governor for the people's Republic of Vermont, said it really didn't make much difference. How did you feel about the capture of the two Husseins?

CONGRESSMAN ROBERT MENENDEZ (D)-NEW JERSEY: Well, I'm very happy to see that they were captured, and in this case, ultimately they suffered death through a firefight. The reality is, is that we hope that that takes the sting out of Saddam's loyalists in Iraq. But the real question is, what intelligence are we using in Iraq, because in that case we're losing nearly a soldier a day.

We've lost 97 Americans since the war was supposedly declared over. And it's important to know, and we have serious questions about intelligence, how is that intelligence -- what type of intelligence are we getting? How are we using it, and how are we ultimately deploying it in defense of the troops of the United States who are there, because we may find ourselves losing more troops in peace than we did in conflict, and I don't think Americans are ready to support that.

NOVAK: Well, Congressman, you have the Democratic talking points down. You say, well, we got the sons, but it didn't make that much difference because...

(CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ: I didn't say. I said I hope it takes the sting out of Saddam's loyalist. But that is -- anyone who believes that that is the beginning of the end of our travail in Iraq, we certainly...

NOVAK: You don't have to repeat it, but the...

MENENDEZ: Then don't mischaracterize.

NOVAK: But -- I want to play something by a Democrat who's voice you may remember, who is a lot more enthusiastic about it than you are. Let's listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I hope it will give the Iraqi people some sense of reassurance, and I hope it will reduce the number of attacks on our men and women over there who are still working trying to pacify the situation. I think it has got to be, on balance, quite good news for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Said that on "LARRY KING" last night. He's a little more positive than you are, isn't he?

MENENDEZ: I think he said exactly the same thing I said. I am glad to see they were caught.

(CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ: I hope it takes the sting out of Saddam's loyalists, but tomorrow, god forbid, if we lose another soldier, and the next day, and the next day, it won't have been the type of victory that some have...

CARVILLE: I want to show some footage of the president and Mr. Rumsfeld and General Myers and Mr. Bremer, I think it is. Can we roll that, please.

There we go.

Now, they are in a -- they're obviously - it's a administration's accomplishment that they killed these two wretched, god awful people, and they're having a press conference. Do you know if any of these people called the families of the two soldiers that were killed after the Hussein boys, to express their appreciation and gratitude of the nation?

CONGRESSWOMAN DEBORAH PRYCE (R)-OHIO: I don't know that...

CARVILLE: Do you know if they ever called any soldier that is been killed over there?

PRYCE: Well, James, I don't know. I don't keep track of their phone logs. I don't know what goes on in the White House. But I am telling you, it was good news for America...

CARVILLE: Right.

PRYCE: ... it is great news for America. It is great news for Iraq even more than even America. And so, we're very happy that the intelligence led up to that, and that we were able to take them out.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I guess...

PRYCE: Hopefully we will get (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the daddy.

CARVILLE: ... Mr. Bremer said he never even read the plan that was put into place for the occupation of Iraq because apparently it was too pathetic. Were you confident when you voted for this war that this administration would give it a iota of thought to what would happen after the war?

PRYCE: Well, I am confident that they gave an iota of thought to it. But, what's more important is the killing of the Iraqis has stopped, the torture of the Iraqis has stopped, and we will get their electricity back on, and we will get their schools rebuilt, but those things take time, James. We're being, you know, attacked by a small band of guerillas.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Is it taking...

PRYCE: It does...

CARVILLE: How much?

PRYCE: You are darn right. I don't know -- it is going to take a lot of money, but the world community is starting to weigh in for us. We...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Congressman Menendez, you know, the questions you and like all the other Democrats are saying now that you want to go back to the intelligence that was used to go to war, whether what was true, and I want to give you what a Democrat that takes a lot more reasonable position than the people on the Hill say. I want you to have you listen it my new best friend, Bill Clinton. Listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is always opportunity for...

CLINTON: I don't know what was true, what was false. I thought the White House did the right thing in just saying, well, we probably shouldn't have said that. And I think we ought to focus on where we are and what the right thing to do for Iraq is now. That's what I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Why don't you follow the president's lead and say, let's do what's right and stop this petty anti-niggling at the president so you can try to get Dr. Dean in the White House?

MENENDEZ: Bob, you the greatest advocate of possible investigation that could have been leveled against Bill Clinton, now your greatest associate. The fact of the matter is that, that you know what's wrong, Bob? What's wrong, if your column is right, your column is right, that this administration outed a CIA operative because they didn't like the information that the wife -- the husband of that operative, our former ambassador, said that's fundamentally wrong.

NOVAK: It's against the law?

MENENDEZ: It's against the law.

CARVILLE: Is it against the law?

MENENDEZ: It is against the law.

CARVILLE: What are we going to tell the children? What are we going to tell the children of America that, I don't know, it's the law.

(CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ: So that we would put a CIA agent at risk because we don't like what their husband had to say. In addition to that... CARVILLE: What is it? A eggregious (ph) offence. An act to consensual sex, a breaking the law by outing the wife of a CIA agent, naming him and placing them in harm's way.

(CROSSTALK)

PRYCE: I don't think that happened now, James.

CARVILLE: ... investigating this - $70 million investigating an act of consensual sex. Why don't we get -- nail a person who leaked out to Bob Novak, which is against the laws of the United States.

PRYCE: Well, you have to ask Mr. Novak about that because I don't have any information about that. Go ahead and ask your colleague.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Ask me about it. I'll tell you something, it's so pathetic, Mr. Menendez, that you bring up something like that when we're having a serious discussion...

MENENDEZ: It is a serious discussion, Bob.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I mean, the idea, the idea they're leaking in Washington. Can you imagine that? They're leaking! What a shock.

(CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ: ... our intelligence assets at risk. Putting our intelligent assets at risk because you don't like it.

CARVILLE: Let me go, because we don't -- obviously -- let's talk about this Hadley thing. And you agree that now the White House is now in their fourth different story about this. We're now finding out that the president did actually...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... is an NSC official.

CARVILLE: .... obviously join Congressman Menendez supporting for a full congressional investigation into who knew what about this to who was out outing CIA...

PRYCE: I think we're getting to the bottom of it. Exactly who knew what. Hadley saying he did what he did.

CARVILLE: Should he testify in an open hearing?

PRYCE: There is no need for that, but I will tell you what...

(CROSSTALK) NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mr. Hadley is. He is a National Security Council Advisor who says that he did not pass on, he did not remember that the CIA had a negative finding on the uranium.

CARVILLE: I'm sorry, he got two -- Mr. Bartlet now says the president probably read it in his speech. They have changed his story four times. Could we just -- would you support getting these people on the Hill, in front of the American people, under oath, and finding out what they know?

PRYCE: Don't you think America has had it up to here with these 16 words, James? I mean, 16 words.

CARVILLE: I did not have sex with that woman. Mine, of course, was 10 words. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Why don't we have an investigation. Can we have an investigation?

PRYCE: You Democrats just have to conveniently...

CARVILLE: What are -- why are you trying to hide for these people?

PRYCE: ... you have conveniently reduced these 16 words to 10 words because in your ad. your paid political ads. $20,000 worth of paid political ads...

CARVILLE: Will you support a full investigation?

PRYCE: ... you conveniently reduce it by skipping the words, because British intelligence told us and the president just, you know, ...

CARVILLE: But would you support an investigation? Would you support an investigation?

PRYCE: ... we leave that off.

(CROSSTALK)

PRYCE: There's no need for taxpayers money...

CARVILLE: You won't support investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Congressman Menendez, again, my new best friend, the former President Clinton, was asked on "LARRY KING" last night, all this stuff about 16 words, 10 words. He was asked whether biological and chemical weapons in Iraq when he was president, just a short time ago. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: When I left office there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: That was from "LARRY KING LIVE" last night. I mean, he is saying that there was material then. That's what the issue is. It isn't the issue of this parsing words and clipping off like Joe McCarthy does, the front side of the...

(CROSSTALK)

PRYCE: ...that's exactly.

MENENDEZ: The bottom line is, this is about manipulating intelligence, propagandizing intelligence, creating intelligence that ultimately justifies your action. And no American should be ever sent into harm's way, except on intelligence that is verified and that establishes the basis, especially for this new doctrine of preemptive strikes.

NOVAK: We have to go, now, to Miles O'Brien at the CNN Center in Atlanta for an update in the New York City council shooting.

(INTERRUPTED FOR BREAKING NEWS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're awaiting for a press conference by New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, on the shooting today at City Hall. We will bring it to you live when it happens. Here at CROSSFIRE, we're talking about what's next in Iraq and what the U.S. military has taken out Saddam Hussein's sons. Our guests are Ohio Congresswoman and House Republican Conference Chair, Deborah Pryce; and New Jersey Congressman, Robert Menendez, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Congresswoman Pryce, with the multitude of lies that President Bush told in 2000, running for president, one of the biggest ones is that he was going to change the tone in Washington. Let me read to you today, what the chairman of your party, Mr. Gillespie, said. The Democrats, quote: "would put the hands of America's fate in the hands of the people who seek to destroy us." Unquote.

PRYCE: Who is he referring to?

CARVILLE: To the Democrats running for the president. What a Democrat, do you know, running for president that wants to put the hands of the people who seek and destroy us? What Democrat -- Democratic presidential candidate wants to destroy us?

PRYCE: I don't know...

CARVILLE: Let's name a name.

PRYCE: ... what Gillespie was referring to. I don't know the name...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You think that is changing the tone? Do you agree with Mr. Gillespie's remarks?

PRYCE: Well, that wasn't the president who said that. That was Mr. Gillespie...

CARVILLE: Who does Mr. Gillespie work for?

PRYCE: Mr. Gillespie works for the Republicans all across the country.

CARVILLE: Oh. So Mr. Bush, he couldn't fire him, obviously. President of the United States couldn't fire...

(CROSSTALK)

PRYCE: Oh, come on now...

CARVILLE: He doesn't have any control over him. Does -- is there any -- is there is anybody in your party take responsibility for anything?

PRYCE: The Democrats have done their best to destroy the president's credibility over a 16-word blip in the State of the Union which has just been so aggrandized and exaggerated for the last week running, that it's incredible to me that...

CARVILLE: Nothing but one of 100 lies.

NOVAK: Congressman Menendez, you were one of the Democrats, many Democrats in the minority of the House that voting against authorizing the president to take military action against Saddam Hussein. If you had prevailed, the United States would not have taken military action against Saddam Hussein. He would still be ruling Iraq. Would you have preferred that?

MENENDEZ: The fact of the matter is, what we had said is, let's give us that opportunity for a multilateral approach. When you go it alone, you pay all the consequences alone, both in lives and in treasury, as well as you create an international order in which you say, hey, I don't care about the rest of the world, I'm willing to go it alone. That has enormous consequences. Preemptive policies...

NOVAK: Congressman...

MENENDEZ: ... which is what this was all about, has enormous consequences in the world. So when another country tells us that we want to preemptively strike, then that is an enormous consequence to us as well.

NOVAK: Congressman, you're a sophisticated person, you know that the French would not have gone in. You know the Russians would not have gone in. (CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ: It's not about the French or the Russians, it's about the world community. If you want to go it alone, be the Lone Ranger, then you're going to lose an enormous number of American lives.

NOVAK: Can I ask the question, please, sir. You know very well if the president had not gone in, Saddam Hussein would still be in -- just a minute. Wait. Let me ask the question.

MENENDEZ: Saddam Hussein is a terrible actor, and yes, it's great that he left the world stage, but how we go into preemptive strikes. The intelligence would be incredibly enforced. What was the threat to the United States?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Let me ask you a question, Congresswoman. Would you favor going to the U.N. to get the resolution that would be necessary to get other countries to participate in this peacekeeping and to bear some of the financial and human costs that will be there?

PRYCE: There is absolutely nothing wrong with the U.N. helping us out now. They are willing to.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It would take a resolution -- a U.N. resolution, and would you let other countries participate in the rebuilding and would you accept command -- U.N. command of the rebuilding of Iraq?

PRYCE: I would allow them to help. I certainly wouldn't accept U.N. command. They have done nothing up to this point. Let's get -- we did it, let's stay in charge.

CARVILLE: We stay in charge. To hell with the French.

(CROSSTALK)

PRYCE: We stay in charge...

CARVILLE: And we don't take any of their troop or money -- I say, boy they are going to take that.

NOVAK: Congressman Menendez, Thank you very much. Congresswoman Pryce, thank you very much...

PRYCE: Thank you.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

NOVAK: It's time for our ask the audience question. Take out your voting devices right now and tell us whether you think Democrats president -- criticism of President Bush on Iraq is fair or unfair. Press one if you're with Mr. Carville and think the Democrats are being fair. Press two if you think the unrelenting, miserable attacks about the president's handling of Iraq are just unfair. We'll have the results after the break.

And we're waiting for New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to address the media on today's shootings at City Hall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Okay. It's "Fireback". Here is the answer to the audience question. The audience is split down the middle whether it's fair or unfair. Look at this. All the Democrats think it was fair savaging the president, and all the Republicans think it's unfair. Surprise, surprise.

CARVILLE: There you go. There you go. One thing about it, Bob, you didn't ask the question in a very loaded manner, did you? There you go. In our "Fireback" -- Here we go. "Maybe catching Saddam Hussein's sons is the president's idea of finding the weapons of mass destruction, but thankfully, most Americans know better." Barbara Talbert, Fort Washington, Maryland.

Actually I thought it would be all right, Barbara, but these were two really wretched people, and frankly the world is a better place if they are not here.

NOVAK: We got a "Fireback" from a member of the 101st Airborne. Danielle Bishop. And Specialist Bishop writes: "I am part of the 101st Airborne Division and have just returned from Iraq. I feel that President Bush is coming under a lot of unnecessary scrutiny regarding the war. I am proud to have been part of the force that took Saddam out of power and freed the people of Iraq from his regime." Way to go, Danielle.

CARVILLE: One thing I notice, Danielle is not still stuck in Iraq, either.

NOVAK: Next...

CARVILLE: But the Third Infantry Division (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

NOVAK: OK, no audience questions?

CARVILLE: From the left, I am James Carville. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: On the right, I am Robert Novak. And it is time for another edition of CROSSFIRE. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

Davis; Former President Clinton Come To Defense Of President Bush?>


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