When Is a Presidential Pardon Unpardonable?

Larry King Transcript - CNN - January 29, 2001

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WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You, the American people, have made our passage into the global information age an era of great American...

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LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, when is a presidential pardon unpardonable? Republicans want a House investigation into Bill Clinton's pardon of financier Marc Rich. We'll talk to the man who's pushing for that inquiry, Congressman Dan Burton in Indianapolis.

Then Senator Patrick Leahy says he will not vote for Attorney General-nominee John Ashcroft. He'll join us from Washington; opposing, Senator Jon Kyl. Plus, comments from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart in Washington, with presidential historian Richard Shenkman in Seattle.

Then we'll debate politics and religion with Chuck Colson, chairman of the Prison Fellowship Ministries and Barry Lynn, executive director Americans United for Separation of Church and State. All next, on LARRY KING LIVE,

KING: We begin with Congressman Dan Burton. He is the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, that makes him the majority chairman. The Republicans hold a majority in the House, and he is going to start an investigation into this whole Marc Rich uproar.

By the way, our attempts to receive a comment from former President Clinton, who pardoned Mr. Rich, were unsuccessful. What, in essence, are you looking for, Congressman Burton?

REP. DAN BURTON (R-IN), CHAIRMAN, GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Well, we want to find out what prompted President Clinton to pardon Mr. Rich. His wife gave well over a million dollars to the president's reelection campaigns and other campaigns, and she had a great influence on the president. He said he would never forget what she did.

Marc Rich was indicted on 50 counts. He was involved in all kinds of things, racketeering, tax evasion. He fled the country, and when he did, he took boxes and boxes and trunks of documents that were subpoenaed by the judges here. He was fined $20 million. And so, the man is an indicted person who fled the country, and he was on one of the six most important people that the FBI was looking for internationally, and for the president to pardon him has just caused all kinds of problems on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House.

KING: But where do you go with it, congressman, since the Constitution says he can pardon? As President Bush said today, he wouldn't have pardoned him, but he asked the Justice Department not to investigate, a pardon is a pardon.

BURTON: Well, I understand that, and President Bush is right to want to move on and keep the country moving in the right direction. I don't have any problem with that. But what I do have a problem with is this man being pardoned when on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans alike, thought the man ought to be brought to trial.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But I mean, what do you do with it? Supposing the whole Congress said it's terrible, and we should scream about it. What do you do with it? You can't unpardon him.

BURTON: What I want to do is I want to illuminate this issue for American people. You'll recall, Larry, not too long ago, 14 Puerto Rican terrorists were pardoned after they killed policemen in New York, after they had blown up people in a restaurant who were innocent bystanders, and they held up -- had the biggest armored car robbery in U.S. history and the president pardoned them and he never explained why.

Now we held hearings on that because we wanted American people to know that this was a wrong thing to do. And we also wanted them to question the president, and to try to make sure that things like that did not happen in future. We want to do the same thing with the Rich case because we believe that future presidents ought to think very, very hard before they pardon somebody with this kind of a problem.

And the other thing that I think is very, very important, is that it should go through the proper channels. The Justice Department and the pardoning group over at the Justice Department was never consulted about this. Jack Quinn, the former president's chief counsel, went directly to the president with this, which is highly unusual, and the president pardoned him. And we want to find out if anything unethical took place.

KING: Did you feel the same way about Caspar Weinberger, who was pardoned by President Bush also charged six counts, but never brought to trial?

BURTON: Well, I don't believe that Caspar Weinberger...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: There was no House hearings, though, and that involved international intrigue... BURTON: I understand Larry.

KING: .. and dealing with the enemy. Why no investigation there?

BURTON: I understand, Larry, but I don't believe Caspar Weinberger ever fled the country. I don't believe Caspar Weinberger ever tried to hide the facts from the American people. I don't think he took trunkloads of documents out of the country that were necessary for an investigation, and I don't believe he was ever fined.

You know, you're comparing apples with oranges. The fact of the matter is this man was involved with dealing with Iran when we had hostages over there. We had an embargo...

KING: I asked the question only -- I thought part of the reason for your anger is that this was a man who had never been convicted of anything, and they pardoned him before he was even convicted. So there's the Weinberger example. He wasn't convicted nor was Nixon. Nixon was not charged.

(CROSSTALK)

BURTON: I understand. I understand that as well.

KING: But he was pardoned.

BURTON: But when you compare what went on with Marc Rich, what he did. He was involved in racketeering. He was involved in tax evasion, the largest tax evasion case in U.S. history, $48 million. He was fined by Democrat judge $20 million because he wouldn't comply with subpoena requests from the judge, and then he fled the country for 17 years.

Across the board, police. Democrats, lawyers, Republicans, all are very incensed about this. Daschle in the Senate is upset about it, the minority leader. You find that former Mayor Koch of New York; Robert Reich, who was in the administration with Bill Clinton; George Stephanopoulos, all of them say this was a terrible thing to do.

And the American people...

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KING: Do you know any...

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BURTON: The American people need to -- Larry, the American people need to know why, and Bill Clinton will not tell them why.

KING: Do you know anyone of prominence who favored this is?

BURTON: No, I don't. Now Jack Quinn, who was President Clinton's chief counsel at the White House and who had a lot of influence on Bill Clinton, circumvented the system by not going through the Justice Department, went directly to the president, and what we want to find out is what motivated the president to pardon this man.

If there was any kind of a selling of power or using the executive privilege beyond what it's supposed to be, then the American people need to know that. If that's not the case, fine. I wish Bill Clinton well in future, but the American people need to know what happened.

KING: So worst-case scenario, let's say there was some kind of payment, you're saying that possible criminal charges could evolve from this?

BURTON: If we find any kind of a collusion or any kind of selling of executive influence by former people at the White House or people that were in the White House, then that's a criminal offense. And if that took place, then we'd have to pursue that.

But I don't anticipate that happening. Our main goal is to get the facts out to the American people because they need to know why a man who did all these things that Mr. Rich did was pardoned by a president in his waning hours.

KING: You don't want to change Constitution, though, right? You agree with President Bush?

BURTON: Yes, I don't think that you need to change the Constitution. But what we need to do is let the current president, the presidents of future know that the procedure should be followed. The Justice Department should investigate these people before they're pardoned, and Congress should, if we think that somebody's overstepping the bounds, at least send a resolution of protest up there so that future presidents will think twice about this.

KING: Didn't Jack Quinn say he informed Eric Holder about it in November?

BURTON: Larry, he did mention it to Eric Holder, and Eric Holder, according to Quinn, said, well, I don't really have any big problem with it. But it did not go through the proper channels. Just mentioning it to Eric Holder was not sufficient. It should have gone through the entire process over there.

And the Justice Department, after looking at the pardoning issue, should have then let the president know what they thought. And I can tell you, the lawyers who were prosecuting this case in New York are incensed about it.

KING: I'm going to ask Congressman Burton, who has been a strong critic of the Clinton administration, what do you think why this happened? Denise Rich, after all, is the ex-wife of Marc Rich, and that was nasty divorce. She charged him with adultery. She accused him of many things that don't happen every day in family life. Why would that be part of this?

I want Congressman Burton's thoughts on why this all happened, and lots more coming from other panelists on other topics. Don't go away.

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SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: You're going to have to ask the president's transition office for a comment. I have no opinion. I had no opinion before. I had no opinion at the time. I have no opinion now. That's a constitutional authority given exclusively to the president, and, you know, I really don't have any opinion about it.

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KING: OK, Congressman Burton, we heard the former first lady say today that she had no opinion on it, it's the province of the president. What do you make of it? What do you think...

BURTON: Well, I think that the new senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is taking the right tack in saying that it was a decision made by the president. I don't know whether she had any involvement at all in that, but she says she doesn't and I'll take her at her word.

But regarding the former Mrs. Rich and what you asked before the break, I don't know what prompted her to write the letter she did, you know, requesting that Mr. Rich be pardoned. But I do know that she gave well over a million dollars, and the president said that he would never forget what she had done for him and for their party. And I think that probably had something to do with it.

But I think Jack Quinn and his closeness to the president probably had more to do with it

KING: Isn't it kind of -- do you regard it kind of strange that this gentleman gets a pardon and Webster Hubbell doesn't?

BURTON: Yes, that really does mystify me, because, you know, Webb Hubbell really went to the mat for the matter, and when we had those tapes from the prison -- very controversial ones, you'll recall -- you had Mr. Hubbell saying, "Well, I guess I'll have to roll over one more time."

And I think he was -- he was ready and willing to do that to protect his friend the president. And so for the president not to pardon him after this while pardoning Mr. Rich, it does kind of mystify me.

KING: And also Mr. Milken not pardoned with all the good works he's done since getting out.

BURTON: Yes, yes. I mean, if you're going to pardon a man like Mr. Rich -- Mr. Milken has done a lot of good things. I mean, it would seem that would be one that you'd take into consideration. And that's one of the reasons why we want to take a close look at this, because we want to see if there's more to it. KING: How about -- Quinn and others are saying this should have been -- I think the president when he said the merits of the case -- a civil matter, that it should have been brought, a civil suit, that the government can still bring against him, and that's what it should have been from the outset. What do you make of that?

BURTON: Well, this guy was involved in -- allegedly involved in and indicted for racketeering. He was involved for wire fraud. He was involved for income tax evasion, the largest income-tax evasion case in history, $48 million, and then he fled the country. So you know, it was a criminal case. Now, if we lower this to a civil case, he could take a couple of hundred million dollars out of petty cash and pay the fine. So this isn't going to be a problem for him.

This man is a multi, multibillionaire, and to just reduce it to money is not just.

The thing is, Larry, that really bothers me is we have apparently under this last administration one set of laws for everybody in the country -- me, you and everybody else -- and then for the rich and the famous and the people in the government, we had another set of standards, and I don't think that's right.

KING: One might question Israeli influence. Mr. Rich gives a lot of money in Israel. Mr. Barak tried to get it. Yet, Mr. Clinton did not pardon Jonathan Pollard.

BURTON: Yes, that was very interesting. Of course, Pollard was involved in a spy case, and I don't know that that's one -- and I won't make a determination on that. That's been ongoing for a long, long time. But I do say that I do believe that he was very philanthropic as far as Israel was concerned, and a lot of the leaders over there, I guess the head of the Mossad at one time and Mr. Barak were writing to the president and asking for a pardon. I can see why.

KING: Do you intend to call the former president?

BURTON: I don't intend to call Bill Clinton at this time. I mean, he's out of office, he's out of Washington, at least for the time being, and I wish him well.

KING: Wouldn't he, though, congressman be the key figure? If you want the answer, you have to go into his head.

BURTON: Well, the only reason you would want to talk to him is if there was some alternative reason or something where he might have been selling influence. And unless we come to some kind of a conclusion like that, there's no need to call Bill Clinton.

He does not have to explain why he pardoned as president of the United States anybody.

KING: When do the hearings start?

BURTON: My staff is working on that right now. We're working on a witness list. We're asking for documents. And as soon as I regain my subpoena authority next week, if we don't get those documents from Mr. Quinn and elsewhere, then we'll probably send out subpoenas. So I would imagine sometime in the next month.

KING: We'll be seeing a lot of you. Thanks so much, congressman.

BURTON: OK, Larry, nice talking to you.

KING: Always good having you with us: Congressman Dan Burton, the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

When we come back, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on Judiciary. He says he will vote against the nomination of John Ashcroft to be attorney general.

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SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Having reviewed the hearing record and the nominee's responses to written follow-up questions from the Judiciary Committee, I come today to announce and explain my opposition to the nomination of John Ashcroft to be the attorney general of the United States.

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KING: That was Senator Patrick Leahy today on the floor of the Senate. He's the ranking Democrat on Senate Judiciary. What, Senator Leahy, tipped the scales for you to go this route?

LEAHY: Well, it was a combination of all the things involved. I -- I went through the week of the hearings. I reviewed all the answers. I spent a great deal of time on this: in fact, probably more time than I have on any matter.

On the one side, I'm weighing the fact that like all other senators I know John Ashcroft, I like him. I admire his commitment to his family, his commitment to his religion. These are all very good things. I've worked closely with him on some legislation.

But then I look at the fact that this is an entirely different position than any other Cabinet position. If he was up for secretary of commerce or secretary of transportation, a number of others, he'd have 100 votes for it. But the attorney general is different than anybody else. The attorney general is not the president's lawyer. He is the lawyer for all Americans.

The president has a White House counsel, but the attorney general represents all of us -- Republicans, Democrats, rich, poor, black, white, liberal, conservative, whatever it might be. And I looked at the positions he was taken for 25 years, many of which seemed to change during the two days that he was testifying. But they are so -- have been so fervently held, been so directly outside of the mainstream on so many times that I could not consent to his nomination. You know, the Constitution says advise and consent, not advise and rubberstamp, and I just couldn't do that.

KING: Yet earlier today on INSIDE POLITICS, you said you would vote against him but wouldn't support a filibuster. If you don't think he should be attorney general, why not do everything active to stop it?

LEAHY: Well, I am doing everything active in this sense. I am going to put down and did in the Senate today a fairly extensive brief going back through his answers and page by page about my reasons against him. I have not lobbied other senators on this. Senator Lott, the Republican leader, announced before we had one second of hearings that all 50 Republican senators would vote for him along with, of course, Vice President Cheney. So it's obvious he had the votes to be -- to be confirmed.

Now, we had six years of a number of senators, including on occasion Senator Ashcroft, who would use the parliamentary procedures to stop President Clinton's nominations from even being allowed to have a vote. I don't believe in that. I think just because they did it to us is no reason for us to do it to them. And I think that every president ought to at least be allowed to have a vote up or down on their Cabinet nominations. And so, that's the position I took.

I called the White House this morning, told them that I was going to speak against Senator Ashcroft. In fact, I called Senator Ashcroft before I gave my speech. I said I would not filibuster nor would I support a filibuster, but I would state very strong reasons why I'd vote against him.

KING: Was he angry?

LEAHY: No. I think that -- and you know, of course, I'll let Senator Ashcroft speak for himself. He felt that I had treated him fairly. I believe I treated him fairly. He's told me that twice now. He was, of course, disappointed that I would not vote for him. But I think that both he and the White House were pleased that I would not start up a filibuster.

KING: When...

LEAHY: I don't think a filibuster is justified in this case. You know, the president -- I wish he had somebody who would be more of a uniting factor than a dividing factor. We see the polls where half the country has taken a position as for John Ashcroft, the other half is against John Ashcroft. We shouldn't have somebody to divide us in there. But he'll be -- he'll in all likelihood be confirmed, and I'll work with him.

I will tell him when I agree and I'll tell him when I disagree.

KING: When -- when do you think your committee will vote?

LEAHY: Well, the chairman of the committee is in Europe right now. When he comes back, we'll have a meeting: I think that's going to be sometime tomorrow afternoon. I mean, it's up to the Republicans to schedule that whenever they want. They can -- I believe they've scheduled a hearing for tomorrow afternoon. I agree with that. And then it will be up to Senator Lott to decide when he wants to have a vote on the Senate floor.

KING: Thank you as always, Senator Leahy. We'll be seeing lots of you in the years ahead, as always.

LEAHY: Well, good to be with you, Larry.

KING: Senator Patrick Leahy, a strong voice for his side of the aisle. Another strong voice will join us: Senator Jon Kyl, Republican from Arizona, a member of Judiciary. He'll give us the points for John Ashcroft. Don't go away.

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KING: We're now joined by Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, a member of Judiciary. Picking right up where we left off, when do you think this will go to the full Senate for a vote, senator?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Larry, we hope it will be toward the end of this week so that we can confirm John Ashcroft by the end of Thursday so that the president will have his attorney general in place.

KING: So you'd like him in place -- you'd like him to be Attorney General Ashcroft Friday morning.

KYL: Yes. There's a lot to be done, and obviously, there's been some delay in getting this administration in place. He will be the last Cabinet officer to take office. There's much to be done. I know they're anxious to get started.

KING: Do you expect a filibuster?

KYL: I don't think so. I think you heard Patrick Leahy, you heard the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle, both express a disinclination toward participating in the filibuster. The only person who's toyed with the idea that I'm aware of is Senator Kennedy, and he would be the one to ask.

KING: Did anything, Senator Kyl, about this give you pause? For example, when Ambassador Hormel said that he never met John Ashcroft and what could he have against him other than being gay? Did that give you pause at all?

KYL: Really nothing that came up in the hearing gave me pause. I have to admit that I'm a very good friend of John Ashcroft's. I support him very, very strongly. And so I may have looked at information differently than partisans on the other side.

Obviously, we tend to look at the same facts and reach different conclusions. But a president is ordinarily given wide latitude in his nominations, especially for Cabinet positions, and I think that a lot of people will give him that deference in this case. In the case of Mr. Hormel, I'm not sure he said he had never met John Ashcroft. He was the dean of students, as I recall, at the University of Chicago Law School, which John Ashcroft attended. John Ashcroft said that he was recruited there by Hormel. That's what deans of students do. He may not have remembered John Ashcroft. He may have made a greater impression on Ashcroft than vice versa.

But...

KING: So you know something -- you know something about the total record then, because he said the total record.

KYL: Well, I hope so. I sat through all of the hearings and looked at a lot of the questions, and yes, I know something about the total record. And at the end of the day, there are disagreements. But if I could just make one point, Larry. There's this suggestion that John Ashcroft has changed his views; because of his strongly held views, he wouldn't really be able to be the attorney general.

Remember that as legislators, as senators we're supposed to put out our ideas and debate them strongly, advocate them, and then at end of the day the law either -- bill either passes or it doesn't. But as attorney general, you have a different obligation, as Pat Leahy said. You're the attorney, you're the attorney for the people. It's a different role. And I don't think there's anything at all inconsistent with a person taking strong advocacy positions as a legislator, as John Ashcroft did, and then saying, now that's behind me, now my job is to be the attorney general, and I will uphold the law. And if there's anything that I think people believe about John Ashcroft, it is that when he puts his hand on the Bible and says "I will uphold the Constitution and the law," he is a man of his word, he'll do so.

KING: And you have no doubt about that?

KYL: I have absolutely no doubt about that. Moreover, he's one of the most qualified people ever nominated for the position of attorney general. He's very smart. He has a great academic record, and is the only person ever nominated to both be his state's attorney general, his state's governor and to serve his state in the United States Senate.

A pretty impressive record.

KING: Thank you, Senator Jon Kyl, always good seeing you, Republican from Arizona, predicting that the committee will vote and the full Senate will vote, and Ashcroft will be approved by Friday morning.

When we come back we'll meet a panel to discuss that and the Marc Rich pardon and other things. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) H. CLINTON: If you look on yearly basis over the eight years, we received gifts valued at about the same amount that the Bushed received in four years, you know, on a yearly basis. And, you know, we followed all the rules. I'm not going to get into any more details. We complied with everything that presidents and their families are expect to comply with and there really isn't anything to add to that.

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KING: Senator Hillary Clinton commenting on gifts they received, she and the president, as they left the White House.

We welcome now to LARRY KING LIVE Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas; Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary; Richard Shenkman, famed presidential historian. He's in Seattle.

Let's start with Senator Hutchison. Before we talk about the gifts, what do you make of the Marc Rich pardon?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, Larry, I think it's very disappointing. Certainly, the president has the right to pardon, but you know, I was looking in "The Federalist Papers" about what was the reasoning of the people who wrote our Constitution about giving the president that right, and I don't think they envisioned anything like pardoning petty thieves or people who have done something against country. They were looking at righting an injustice in a rebellion or in some kind of major patriotic way. So, I think...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So, do you want that change it, then? You want to change the...

HUTCHISON: Well, it's a constitutional provision, but I would just hope that future presidents wouldn't abuse the right.

KING: Joe Lockhart, I know you're not here to defend Marc Rich. You are not his attorney, but the process, how does that work? You've been part of it, haven't you? You've seen pardon requests come in.

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think, certainly, all presidents do this. Particularly, it's become a tradition at the end of a term to take some of the more difficult cases, and get the pardons out. And generally, presidents use this process in a case where they feel there is a strong case that the justice system hasn't worked well for all parties, both the prosecutors and the defendant.

You know, I think this one, we can really have a debate on the merits of this one. Unfortunately, we have sunk down like so many times with Congressman Burton into innuendo, unsustainable changes. I think reasonable people can take both views on this particular pardon.

But when you start getting into things like the Justice Department was went around, that this is about political contributions and start once defend going at the president's motives, then you get into the sort of the politics of the past. And you know, it's my hope that, you know, the president has talked about -- the new president talked about setting a new tone here.

We can set a new tone here. He can get on the phone. He can tell Congressman Burton to knock it off. It's never helped the Republicans to do this or we can continue to play the politics the way we always do. And, you know, unfortunately it looks like we know we're going to get more of the same. It's like a bad movie.

KING: Richard Shenkman, historian, famed presidential historian, as I asked Congressman Burton, where can the hearings go? They're not going to call Clinton. They're not going to change the Constitution. So it's an exercise in what?

RICHARD SHENKMAN, HISTORIAN: Well, Congress has the power to investigate, and sometimes it's exercise that power well, educating the American public through legislative hearings, and other times it's abused it, as McCarthy did in the '50s and some people think Burton did earlier during the whole impeachment drama.

In case, we'll have to see. There is nothing really that can be done about this, although there are two court rulings, in 1925 and 1974, where the Supreme Court said that under certain circumstances, it's possible that you could have a review of a presidential pardon. But not likely in that case.

KING: A review that leads to removing the pardon? Has that ever happened?

SHENKMAN: Well, not removing the pardon, but there was suggestion, for instance, by Chief Justice Burger in '74 that a condition placed on a pardon if it didn't follow due process, that that condition could be subject to court review.

KING: This pardon has a condition, right? He cannot claim statute of limitations if they sue him civilly.

SHENKMAN: That's right, and that's something that possibly could be adjudicated.

KING: I see. Senator Hutchison, about the gifts. Does that bother you or does Senator Clinton have a point, they all get gifts?

HUTCHISON: Well, you know, Larry, I think -- I just think people have to use good judgment and I think, probably there was nothing illegal. I have heard no claim that there was anything illegal. I think there as been a call into question whether it's good judgment to take some of the things in the amount of some of gifts and I just think people have to make own decisions.

KING: Joe Lockhart, what do you make of it?

LOCKHART: Well, I think, unfortunately, we've got a little bit of politics as usual in this town. If you look back over history, you'll find that former President Bush and his family took roughly the same amount of gifts over four years as with President Clinton and his family over eight years. It's about at the same level, almost exactly.

When President Reagan left office, some of his friends got together and bought him a house. Now, I don't remember people begrudging that at the time. But we live in a new environment in Washington now. We've got people yelling at each other all the time, and I think it does call into question, as I said earlier, this sort of new call for civility.

And I think if you couple this with what Congressman Burton wants to do and, you know, it really does, for me, call into question whether this new administration wants a more civil or whether they want, you know, sort on their own terms.

KING: All right, in a moment, we'll play you just a quick clip before I ask Richard Shenkman -- we'll got that in a minute, of Nancy Reagan. I'll explain it to you. But Richard Shenkman, are gifts standard fare?

SHENKMAN: Sure. Presidents receive gifts. To receive a gift of this size $190,000 in gifts all at one shot, that's going to attract public attention. And Bill Clinton blundered, in my opinion. That was bad politics. Maybe it's not ethically bad, but it reinforces some of the negative impressions people have about him and it's not a good note to go out on.

KING: So, combined with the Rich pardon, he doesn't leave the room gracefully is what you're saying?

SHENKMAN: Yes, well, the Rich pardon and some of the other people who were pardoned has reinforced this idea that Bill Clinton is a little bit on the sleazy side. Now, if you're like Bush who has a reputation as a man of good character, the Bush senior, then you can maybe get away with pardoning people like Caspar Weinberger and Iran- Contra and nobody's going to really think too much about it.

But with Bill Clinton pardoning a guy like Marc Rich, it leads to doubt. The only good thing here for Bill Clinton is that every time Burton gets on TV and slams him, that usually makes Bill Clinton's ratings go up.

KING: We taped an interview yesterday with former first lady Nancy Reagan. It will air in its entirety on the night of February 6th, when we celebrate Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday. But we did ask about the subject in question. We'll show you a little clip of that as we go to break.

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NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY: Our money was in blind trust and we had to buy a house and we didn't know how much money we had. So, the friends bought it and then we repaid them with interest.

KING: Without willing to put any discomfort on anyone else, do you think you got a bad wrap on gifts? REAGAN: A little bit.

KING: Well, you wrote about it in your own book. I mean, you took a lot of hits for things that are now every day. You every feel funny when you see things like that.

REAGAN: A little.

KING: So, it was always the intent to pay back the house and the house is paid back...

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: Always.

KING: ... with interest.

REAGAN: With interest.

KING: I'll bet you most people thought that was a lifetime gift.

REAGAN: They probably did.

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KING: Senator Hutchison, a couple of other quick things dealing with John Ashcroft. Senator Kyl just said he's going to be approved and maybe confirmed by Friday. Do you have any doubts?

HUTCHISON: I have no doubts. I think he will be and I think it will be Thursday.

KING: Nothing said in the statements by Ambassador Hormel or the judge that didn't get the position disturbed you?

HUTCHISON: Larry, I think that John Ashcroft's record in the Senate -- I think Jon Kyl said it very well. His record in the Senate was a different role from what he will do as attorney general. I think he has said and I think it will be very clear that he's going to abide by the laws of this country, and he's going to enforce those laws. So, I have no doubt that he will do that.

KING: Joe Lockhart, what do you make of all this?

LOCKHART: Well, I think pretty clear that he will be confirmed although this was a very divisive pick, I think. I was involved in the Ronnie White nomination, and I think what Senator Ashcroft did there was just pure politics and it, unfortunately, kept a very qualified man from becoming a judge.

I was involved with Ambassador Hormel, and I think his comment there were very divisive and hurtful, and I think the comments he's made about homosexuals in the workplace are out of the mainstream and divisive. But he's the president's pick, and the president does have wide latitude and I think that should be recognized on both sides of the aisle. I think there'll be a lot of Democrats who vote against this for the reasons that I share with then, but I think there will be some Democrats who vote with it and I think it's our hope that can he put aside his personal feelings and make sure he enforces the laws of this country.

KING: The Judge White thing had to do with a political difference back when he was governor?

LOCKHART: Well, you know, what he said at the time was that Judge White was pro-criminal. I think most people who were watching that knew that then-Governor Carnahan had been involved in a death penalty case where after a pleading from the pope he had commuted a sentence, and Senator Ashcroft saw that as an advantage to sort of get political advantage and sort of paint White and Carnahan as too soft on crime. And unfortunately, there was a human being involved, and he played politics with a very qualified and upstanding member of the court, and I think he paid a heavy prize politically for that because it backfired.

KING: Richard Shenkman, is it true? Is John Tower the only senator ever rejected for a Cabinet post by the Senate?

SHENKMAN: Oh, no, he's just the last one. Eisenhower had a Cabinet appointee who was rejected. There have been something close to a dozen...

KING: Senators, senators.

SHENKMAN: Right. And you mean -- oh, you mean senators?

KING: Yes, my question is -- I think Tower is the only senator the Senate ever rejected.

SHENKMAN: Now, that may be true. That may be true.

KING: So, isn't it almost impossible...

SHENKMAN: I have to go back and check the record books.

KING: Isn't it impossible for a -- it's almost impossible for a senator not to get job?

SHENKMAN: Sure, because there's senatorial deference, courtesy. You've got one body trying to accommodate one of its own members. It's a reflection on the United States Senate if they reject one of their own members for a Cabinet choice. So, it's something they're only going to do pretty reluctantly.

KING: So, what do you think of the appointment -- have there been squabbles like this over attorney generals in the past?

SHENKMAN: Oh, attorney generals have been lightening rods. You just have to go back to Robert Kennedy in the Kennedy administration; Ramsey Clark in the Lyndon Johnson administration; Reno throughout the whole eight years of Bill Clinton's administration. And it's because attorney generals have so much power.

You know, we're always suspicious of power, so we always worry about who it is that's going to be handing it. They have something like, you know, thousands and thousands of lawyers, and the attorney general is in charge of these folks. And for the last century and a half since the Justice Departments was created just before the Civil War, you've had this big department in charge of one person and the president doesn't really get into the details.

So, we're very, very careful about who we appoint attorney general. It's not like in the days of Washington when the attorney general was a part-time position and didn't even live in the capital city.

KING: Thank you all very much. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, always good to see you, one of our reporters at the inaugural. Joe Lockhart, one of the best press secretaries ever to serve the White House, and Richard Shenkman, the famed presidential historian.

When we come back, we're going to talk about the new executive order creating an office of faith-based and community initiatives. It's getting a lot of talk today.

Tomorrow night, we're going to talk with Reverend Jim Baker and his son, who's written a book about him. And on Wednesday night, Patricia Hearst, the only -- this is her first and exclusive appearance since receiving her pardon. We'll be right back with Chuck Colson and Barry Lynn.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we see social needs in America, my administration will look first to faith- based programs and community groups which have proven their power to save and change lives. We will not fund the religious activities of any group, but when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was President Bush speaking today. Joining us now, Chuck Colson, chairman of the Prison Fellowship Ministries, a nationwide organization that helps prisoners nationwide. He was special counsel to President Nixon. And Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Church and State.

Chuck, I know you're a very, very strong believer. Do you have any problem with this as it affects church and state?

CHUCK COLSON, PRISON FELLOWSHIP MINISTRIES: No, Larry, because we have been running a prison in Texas that Governor Bush started three years ago, it's been a huge success. We've had 80 inmates come out of that prison, and only three are back in custody, which is a less than 5 percent recidivism rate. So, it works. We're running one in Iowa, running one in Kansas, and we know what can be done when you really harness the power of faith to deal with a change in the human heart.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But you're getting state or federal funds to promote a faith?

COLSON: No, in Texas, we don't get any funds. We do it completely with private funds. In Kansas and Iowa, we're getting some state funds to assist us because we take care of all the programing for the inmates. So when they have computer training, for example, the state my provide us some expenses for that.

KING: I see.

COLSON: But this has been going on long time. There's nothing new about this. For 100 years, the Salvation Army has been doing it. The Catholic Charities have been doing it. We've been doing it a number of years.

What was exciting at the White House this morning was you got a president of the United States ho really believes in this, who really wants to get the faith-based institutions back in the business of helping the neighbors and neighborhoods and he's really excited. He's really determined to make this happen.

KING: Barry Lynn, what bothers you about it?

BARRY LYNN, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: Well, a great deal because I think this has a fundamental misunderstanding of both the United States Constitution and, in fact, the nature of the church. President Bush today said we're not going to be funding the religion, here.

KING: Right.

LYNN: But the truth is, you know, for those of us who have done ministry, when we're ministering, you can't separate out from consideration the faith component, the spiritual component whenever you happen to be handling a dollar that was given to you by Uncle Sam. I don't think you can't draw those distinctions.

The other problem, this country has been faring very well, 2,000 different religious in this country, because we've kept a decent distance between the institutions of government and religion. Today, we find an office to be kind of a conglomerate of the two, all merged together sitting in the White House.

I think this is in the long run going to be a great challenge not just to the constitutional principle, but a genuine poison pill to the churches that might be tempted to take this money. It's going to change the integrity and the very nature of the programs that Chuck and others have set up, and I think it will be a very bad deal with the devil to take money under this program.

KING: So, Barry, even though it may accomplish good, you think the ends don't justify the means.

LYNN: Well, I think, first of all, we don't really know what the best way is to deal with some of these intractable social problems. We've got to do long-range studies, peer-reviewed studies to figure out if faith matters when it comes to solving these problems. But the image I have in mind of this program is one where you take a class of needy people, Larry, say people who are drug dependent, dump them on the church steps one day, the next day the government comes and dumps a bag of money there, and then you kind of pray that they get together and work. That's just no way to run a program for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

KING: Chuck.

COLSON: We've been working for years to perfect this system. It does work. The faith-based solutions to drug problems, ask Joe Califano, who says he has never, with all the work he has done over the last several years, he has never run into a person whose life has been changed, they're off of drugs where religion wasn't the factor.

LYNN: Well, that's the point, Chuck.

COLSON: It makes no sense to throw religion out of it.

LYNN: No, we don't want to do that. But the point is -- and I believe George Bush had a profound personal experience with Billy Graham that changed his life. Personal changes of heart I understand, and he can believe in fact that they are required in order to solve social problems. The one step he can't take, which he did today, is to suggest that all of America's taxpayers have to support these conversion experiences. And I don't see, Chuck, how you can separate religion from this money.

COLSON: It's not a conversion experience. All that President Bush is doing today is exactly what the Supreme Court in Bowen (ph) versus Kendrick (ph) said is constitutional. It makes perfect good common sense. It meets all of the constitutional tests. This is a pure red herring to say that this is not constitutional.

LYNN: No, it's not -- sir, it's not a red herring.

KING: Let me get a break, guys. Hold it. Let me get a break. We'll come right back with Chuck Colson and Barry Lynn. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Now, Barry Lynn, Chuck says it's a red herring. All right, let's say Christ is mentioned in one of the get-togethers. But if a person comes off drugs, so what.

LYNN: Well, I think the "so what" is that we historically have always said churches or most of us believe churches do great work and community ministries do great work, but that doesn't mean that the federal government ought to subsidize it. For example, we don't have a set-aside program where we give 2 percent of the federal budget to the Protestants and 3 percent to the Catholics and 4 percent to somebody else. And if we can't do that for the church, then we certainly can't do it for the ministries of those churches, even when they are in fact doing some good work.

And I think the fundamental difference between this and Catholic Charities, among other things, is that Catholic Charities does not discriminate. When it hires someone to manage a program, it doesn't discriminate on the basis of religion. Under this plan, it is permissible to go and say, no Jews need apply for these jobs because we only hire Bible-believing Christians. And that's an affront to civil rights principles by any standard.

KING: Now, Chuck -- Chuck, isn't that an important point? If you were to deny someone because they were atheist or -- to help you, then that destroys the concept of tax supporting?

COLSON: The reason the government comes to us and says, "Will you provide this service instead of a secular agency?" -- where, by the way, in the prisons the secular agencies have failed to the tune of 70 percent recidivism. So they come to us, and they say, you can do it and get 5 percent recidivism, but we want to tell you who you have to hire. They obviously can't do that.

What they're buying from us is the ability to take these men, bring them into a culture, teach them how to live, and put them out the other side where they're back, as we are seeing in Texas, with their families, with mentors, with jobs, and serving the public interest.

(CROSSTALK)

But we -- but Jewish groups and mosques today were all -- Muslims were represented at today's meetings, and they wouldn't ask a -- someone to come into a synagogue and have an atheist or a Christian work in that synagogue. It makes no sense. But everybody -- everybody...

LYNN: But that's...

(CROSSTALK)

... that's not with public money. That's with private funds, and it makes a huge difference.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Hold it, hold it, guys. Hold it, guys. I've got to end things. But we're going to have -- we're going to do a whole night on this and there will be lots of discussion. I'm sure it's going to wind up in the courts.

Always good seeing Chuck Colson and Barry Lynn.

LYNN: Thank you.

COLSON: A pleasure, Larry.

KING: Spirited for their points of view.

A couple of years back, Bob Dole appeared on this program, and in the green room, he mentioned that he had been in a trial for the testing of Viagra, and I said, "You want to talk about it on the air?" And he said, "Sure."

That night changed his life. It certainly changed the life of many Americans and changed the focus on that drug.

How big did it get? This was on the Super Bowl last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COMMERCIAL)

BOB DOLE, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, I'm Bob Dole, and I've always spoken to you frankly no matter what the subject. That's why I'm eager to tell you about a product that put real joy back in my life. It helps me feel youthful, and vigorous, and most importantly vital again.

What is this amazing product? My faithful little blue friend, an ice cold Pepsi Cola.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Are the revitalizing effects of Pepsi Cola right for you? Check with your local convenience store counter clerk and start living again.

DOLE: I feel like a kid again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It started here. Hey, don't forget to log onto my Web site and send us an e-mail, cnn.com/larryking. I'd love to hear from you.

We've got a good Web site. We keep you informed every day about guests coming up, like the Bakker family tomorrow night. We also let you know who follows us. It's "CNN TONIGHT," and Leon Harris is sitting in for Bill Hemmer. So stay tuned for Leon. See you tomorrow night with the Bakers, and Wednesday night Patricia Hearst.

Thanks for joining us and good night.


See Also:
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  • Senate Race/FALN Clemency