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FNC News Sunday - Transcript

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FNC News Sunday - Transcript
Sunday, April 17, 2005

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: John Bolton, President Bush's choice to be the next U.N. ambassador, came under heavy fire this week, not only for critical statements he's made about the U.N., but also for charges that he's a serial abuser who bullies coworkers who disagree with him.

Here to discuss the Bolton nomination is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar, who joins us from Columbus, Ohio; and the top Democrat on the committee, Senator Joe Biden, who's in Wilmington, Delaware.

And, gentlemen, welcome. Thank you both for talking with us.

U.S. SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR, R-IN: Good morning.

U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN, D-DE: Good morning.

WALLACE: Senator Biden, the word around Washington is the Democrats are trying to find more cases of this serial abuse, where John Bolton allegedly yelled at or tried to fire staffers who disagreed with him.

Have you come up with any other cases or witnesses, and are you going to ask for more hearings?

BIDEN: Yes, and maybe.

Yes, in that we have not - they've come to us. For example, a woman, a former AID worker in Kyrgyzstan wrote an open letter to the committee that we received, I guess, Thursday or Friday, saying that she'd been essentially harassed by John Bolton and said that, "He claimed I was under investigation for misuse of funds and likely to be facing jail time to undermine me," all the way from individuals with whom he has worked who've said that he's not treated them well.

But for me, that's an issue. But the main issue is: Did he try to, did he attempt to intimidate intelligence analysts who disagreed with him on critical intelligence data? That to me is the real issue.

WALLACE: And are you going to ask for more hearings?

BIDEN: Well, hopefully not, but we're waiting for Bolton's answers to find out whether or not he's giving us honest responses. I think his credibility's in question as well. He indicated he didn't attempt to get two analysts in the intelligence community fired or punitive action taken against them. Mr. Ford, who headed up the intelligence apparatus at the State Department, said, no, he did attempt to do that. So we've followed up with questions. I assume he's answering them now.

We're set to do this on Tuesday, and that'll be up to the chairman, but I am confident the chairman will look at anything that's credible between now and then and make that judgment.

WALLACE: Senator Lugar, you're the chairman. If Democrats come up with new evidence, will you consider new hearings? Or are you going to insist that, as scheduled, the committee vote on the Bolton nomination on Tuesday?

LUGAR: I'm going to ask the committee to meet at 2:15 on Tuesday afternoon and to vote. I certainly am open and always have tried to work with Joe Biden, and likewise he with me, because these are serious matters. We've tried to present a united face of America to the world. And I would simply say in this case, however, that I do not believe that the judgments of members of the committee, even if there are additional facts or persons coming forward, are likely to change.

Essentially, the case being made is: The president of the United States has nominated John Bolton because he believes there should be very substantial United Nations reform. He thinks Bolton is an agent of reform, has really the skills and the savvy and what have you, and maybe the combative nature, to bring about change.

Kofi Annan, the secretary general, is calling for a great change. Condoleezza Rice has said that John Bolton will be working for her and for the president, not vice versa, and they want him there.

Now, I think it's clear, from what we have heard, that John Bolton has disagreed sharply with analysts. Some would say he intimidated them and tried to get them fired. We've also heard that they were not fired - CIA or whoever the supervisors were fought back and protected these persons.

It is not a pleasant set of hearings we've had, but nevertheless members have conducted themselves professionally, and so have staff. And all of this information is available to senators, and will be for all the Senate, beyond the 18 of us, who I hope will vote on Tuesday.

WALLACE: You know, with all the talk about Bolton's behavior, what seems to have been lost is what at first we thought was going to be the big issue, which is his beliefs on foreign policy. The fact is, Mr. Bolton has made some very critical remarks over the years about the U.N.

Let's take a look at perhaps the most notorious of those statements. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON: There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world - and that's the United States - when it suits our interests, and when we can get others to go along.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Senator Lugar, there's a story out there. Let me ask you just directly about this. The story is that you said to the State Department, don't nominate John Bolton to be the deputy secretary of state, because he won't be confirmed. True or false?

LUGAR: That's false. I simply have never made such a statement.

Now, I would simply say that John Bolton, because of his very strong views on the U.N., appeared to me to be an unlikely candidate, but, at the same time, I'm impressed with the fact that John Bolton has affirmed very strongly that he does favor a strengthened U.N.

LUGAR: He thinks that's a very vital part of American foreign policy. He believes that his reform efforts working with the present secretary of state will get the job done.

So even though the speech that you've cited, and it's been cited really by interest groups even in the states of members of our committee, for or against this nomination, probably is not relevant to John Bolton's assertions now.

WALLACE: Senator Biden, what do you make of this argument that Bolton may be a skeptic? But you need a skeptic because there are big problems at U.N., as I think everybody would agree, and you need somebody to help clean it up.

BIDEN: Look, I just want someone credible at the U.N. I want someone that can make our case at the U.N. I'm less concerned about reform of the U.N. than the role of the United States within the U.N. and the United States not being able to be marginalized within the U.N.

And I think that John Bolton's lack of credibility on intelligence matters, John Bolton's strong and in some areas very respected ideological view of foreign policy intelligence are admirable, but they're not admirable for someone running a Cabinet- level position, one of the largest embassies in the world, which is the, essentially, the embassy of the United States at the U.N.

And, as Dick pointed out, these analysts who he attempted to get moved or fired or punished, they're still there because some one intervened. Who's going to intervene now?

Colin Powell actually under sworn testimony - we were told that Colin Powell felt so strongly about the abuse of one of the analysts and the chilling effect it would have on actual intelligence, that he went down to INR, that's the intelligence apparatus within the State Department and said, "Gentleman," and he named this particular analyst by name, supported him and said, basically: Don't be intimidated.

Now, look, when the secretary of state feels obliged to do that, and now we're going to move this man to the position where - what happens when our ambassador has to stand up and make the case on intelligence relating to Iraq and North Korea? Do you think John Bolton is going to be believed? And do you think it matters? I think it matters a great deal whether or not (inaudible) they have credibility as we move into these most dangerous moments with Korea and with Iran...

WALLACE: Gentlemen, I want to move, if I can, away from the Bolton nomination to what may be the biggest fight in the Senate over the next few weeks, and that is the argument about the Democratic filibuster of judicial nominees.
Senator Lugar, how do you feel about changing the rules so that filibusters can be cut off with 51 votes instead of 60?

LUGAR: I've stated again and again to journalists that I'm undecided. I've stated that categorically because I still believe there are may be voices of reason in the Senate who are able to counsel together and to understand that filibusters on occasion are very important to support the rights of minorities so that there is not simply an overwhelming surge.

Now, I think there is clearly a distinction in my mind between the legislative calendar when we're dealing with bills and that sort of thing and the executive calendar when we're dealing with nominations of the president of the United States for judge or ambassador or for members of his Cabinet.

We're talking right now specifically about judges, and I'm not sympathetic to the thought that nominees of the president can be simply indefinitely put aside.

I appreciate since the election of 2000, when we had a 50-50 Senate, this has been a rough time and suggestions may be on the part of both parties filibustering almost any agenda they didn't like have led to some degree of gridlock.

And I think it would be an unacceptable if we got into gridlock and we did no business for the people simply because of judges issue.

When push comes to shove, however, I would not take a stand against my party's view that we should have up-or-down votes on judges and that this is a part of the filibuster thing that really needs to be settled and set aside.

I'm just hopeful we can do so through negotiation rather than through that kind of showdown that really disables the Senate.

WALLACE: But when you say that you would not take a stand against the party, that sounds like you will vote if push comes to shove for the so-called nuclear option.

LUGAR: Yes, ultimately if Democrats are totally unreasonable and there is no negotiation and there is no room whatever, that would be my vote.

WALLACE: OK. Senator Biden, one last question for you. Majority Leader Frist says he's going to take part in a broadcast next Sunday. A flier for the program - and we have it up here on the screen - shows a young man with a gavel in one hand and a bible in the other, and it says that it will condemn the filibuster as being used against people of faith.

Now Senator Frist has said that he's not going to talk about religion. He's going to talk about the legislative issue. But are you concerned about his appearing in that broadcast?

BIDEN: I'm concerned for him. Look, he's a smart guy. This is simply, simply not fair and is demagoguery.

The fight over these judges is about whether or not they think the Congress can do something about the Clean Air Act or they can do something about family medical leave, whether they can do something about - this is a fundamental fight.

It has nothing to do with the Bible. I'm a practicing Catholic. I got accused of voting against a particular nominee from Alabama because he was a Catholic. Give me a break. I'm voting against someone in Alabama who's a Catholic because I'm a Catholic? I mean this is pure, dangerous demagoguery.

WALLACE: But, sir, there are some religious issues, whether it's abortion, whether it's separation of church and state.
BIDEN: But, Chris, they have not come up. Only one of the 10 nominees even tangentially had an issue raised about the parental leave - the parental notification on abortion. That is every other one has to do with whether or not the United States Congress can, in fact, enforce the Age Discrimination Act against a state that discriminates, whether the Congress can enforce the Clean Air Act, whether the Congress can - and so on.

This is nothing. Not one of those cases, not one - and by the way we went ahead and did 150 of these judges and we only took issue with nine of the judges who had these radical views relative to the role of the state. This is a states' rights argument going back to 1860.

WALLACE: Senator Biden, Senator Lugar, we're going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you both for joining us today and talking about a variety of issues. I hope to see you both again soon.

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

LUGAR: Thank you.

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