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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 6, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, 'ON THE RECORD' GUEST-HOST: Joining us, former attorney general and current Belmont Law School dean, Alberto Gonzales.
Thank you for being with us. A lot of legal issues, and as a former prosecutor myself, I find it really disturbing at a profound level that there has just been such disrespect for the law, for the procedures that have been set in place, so much so you have got both sides crying foul.
ALBERTO GONZALES, DEAN, BELMONT LAW SCHOOL/FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, clearly, the president did not comply with this 30-day notice requirement. And I think members of Congress should be outraged, quite frankly, without a clear explanation from the administration as to the reasons why.
You know, but there is a legitimate question, from my perspective, as to whether or not 30-day notice requirement is constitutional --
GUILFOYLE: Why is that?
GONZALES: -- as applied to the Commander-in-Chief. Because, here you have got a Commander-in-Chief who has to deal with one of his soldiers who has been captured. And I think the argument from the White House is going to be that any kind of restriction that limits his ability to negotiate for the release of -- safe release of one of his soldiers unconstitutionally infringes upon his Commander-in-Chief authority. Now, Congress, on the other hand, has a very strong argument as well. Because this was included, this provision was included in a spending bill, the defense spending bill. Of course, under the Constitution, the authority to control spending is -- lies with Congress. We have got sort of a constitutional clash here between the two factions of government. It remains to be seen how that dispute is going to get resolved.
GUILFOYLE: But why is it that there was such urgency, such a pressing need? The facts we have, even from Senator Dianne Feinstein, that his life, his health was not at risk. That was the excuse that they used to circumvent the law and not regard and respect the 30-day notification requirement? Where is the justification? Why was the president compelled as Commander-in-Chief to free five dangerous jihadists in exchange for someone who is a deserter, probably, in a nice way to put it?
GONZALES: Well, of course, this deserter was still an American citizen, still part of our Army. And we do have a long standing policy that we're not going to leave someone behind. Whether or not this a good deal, you know, obviously, the evidence seems to indicate that it wasn't a very good deal. But that remains to be seen. So there's still a lot of unanswered questions. There is no question about that. But, we have to wonder whether or not this was a right outcome.
But as to whether or not there was a dire need to act so quickly, without having access to the classified information that our government has, it's hard for me to answer that question. However, I will say this. Claims that perhaps Bergdahl was likely to be killed in the immediate future seemed kind of strange to me, because is he a very valuable commodity for the Taliban. This is someone they would want to maintain to be alive because, as we saw, they received great value for his life, which were these five Taliban leaders. The notion, in fact, that he was going to be killed, to me, sounds like a strange claim.
GUILFOYLE: No, it doesn't make sense. It flies in the face of the evidence of what we have seen thus far. Nevertheless, this administration took it upon themselves to make this a trade and establish, in my opinion, a very dangerous precedent, one that puts the lives of troops that serve overseas very much at risk because the reward has been great for the terrorist in this point.
Attorney General, thank you for your time this evening.