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CNN Inside Politics - Transcript

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CNN Inside Politics - Transcript
Tuesday, July 12, 2005


KING: Joe Johns for us outside the Supreme Court on a steamy day. Thank you very much, Joe.

And now let's bring in one of those Democrats the president is consulting and a Democrat who will be front and center during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee member Joe Biden. Senator Biden, is this true consultation?

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I haven't heard from anyone. It doesn't mean there's not consultation. But no one in the White House has contacted me or anyone on my staff. But I'm not complaining about that, I'm just pointing out that I haven't been contacted. Although I'm confident they're based on today's meeting, as others have been.

KING: You've thought from time to time about running for president yourself. I think you're thinking about it at the moment. If you were the president of the United States, would you share names with the opposition party on Capitol Hill, or would you just talk in broad parameters about what you're looking for?

BIDEN: I would share the name. I have significant experience in this. I spent a considerable amount of time with President Reagan. He shared names with me when I was chairman of the committee. A matter of fact, he submitted to me about ten names and asked my opinion. I gave him my frank assessment and in the presence of his then Chief of Staff Howard Baker, as to what prospects each of those nominees would have. The result of that was Tony Kennedy, the Supreme Court justice from California.

The same process occurred after the fact, actually with Bush I, President Bush. I -- the same process incurred in great detail with President Clinton and sitting down with the then Republican chairman -- I was the ranking member at the time of the Judiciary Committee -- Senator Hatch. It's the wisest way to go when there's a split government. And it's -- I would hope the president would do that.

KING: Talk about the make-up of the court. Sandra Day O'Connor was the only member of this court who had experience in elective office. She served in the Arizona State Senate. Should the president look outside the box, pick somebody who knows how to cut deals, a politician, essentially, and put them on this court?

BIDEN: Well, it's not so much cutting deals as someone who knows life experience. We have enough academics on the court. If you go back and look over the history of the court, the history of the court has been peopled by significant political figures and men and women who have had experience outside academia. And it is the life of the law. And that is that life's experience. And I -- whether it's Justice Powell, who was a great lawyer who had been head of the ABA, or whether it was Hugo Black, who had been a United States senator. The exception is what we have now. The exception is, essentially, all academics.

KING: Senator, I want to ask you a question on a different issue. Innocent until proven guilty, is what they teach you in law school.

BIDEN: That's right.

KING: Karl Rove says he did nothing wrong and that this investigation will prove that out. Until this investigation is done, is it appropriate for Democrats to be saying he should resign, he should be fired, he should have security clearance taken away?

BIDEN: If Karl Rove leaked not the name, but the identity of a CIA agent, and knowingly did that, I know he saw -- I understand, I'm not expert in this, but I don't know exactly what he said. But what I've read from the newspaper accounts, he indicated that he said that the former ambassador's wife was a member of the CIA. That is a distinction without a difference. The fact that he didn't give her name, but identified the ambassador's wife, it's not -- doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who that is.

If that occurred, at a minimum, that was incredibly bad judgment, warranting him being asked to leave. The question in my mind is, is there a criminal case here? I'd let the grand jury make that decision because you have to knowingly -- you have to knowingly release that information, knowing that the person's name should not be released. I don't know enough to make that judgment.

KING: And lastly, Senator, we're almost out of time, but the John Bolton nomination for the United Nations ambassadorship. Has that just fallen off the planet? Any conversations about trying to cut a deal or are you looking for a recess appointment from this president?

BIDEN: I don't know what the president is going to do. I haven't heard a word in the last three weeks from anyone in the administration relative to John Bolton or the information that the Senate has requested and is entitled to. So I have no notion what's going on.

KING: Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, senior Democrat...

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

KING: .. out of Delaware. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you, sir.


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