This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 15, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: I recently sat down for an exclusive interview with the former New York City police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. As you may remember, he withdrew his nomination for Homeland Security secretary after a background investigation revealed that his nanny and housekeeper was in this country illegally. And the allegations only seemed to explode from there.
Here's part one of our interview:
HANNITY: Commissioner, good to see you again. Welcome aboard.
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: Thanks, Sean.
HANNITY: You know, in all the years I've known you, and we've known each other a long time, and I've watched you up close and personal and what you did in New York. I think the country really was — that we were all introduced to you on 9/11.
I mean, I would think if we believe in redemption as a society, if somebody starts out rough and tumble side of life and they go into the armed services and they come out on the other side of that, that they've matured and — and they've gotten on the straight and narrow, I thought we'd celebrate that. But apparently not in your case, though.
KERIK: Well, you know, I think I've been celebrated a number of times. You know, I've had great positions, great appointments, all the way to the nomination for the secretary of homeland security. And you know, as I said on the day that I was nominated, it was the greatest honor of my lifetime.
But things happened. You know, I had a nanny that I had to deal with, a domestic servant. There was a lapse in taxes. But the bigger issue was she was in this country illegally, unbeknownst to me. And when that came to light, we had to deal with it. And my decision was to withdraw.
HANNITY: Here you get this call from the White House. Here you're head of the New York City Department of Corrections, you're New York City police commissioner and you get the call to be Secretary of Homeland Security. Walk us through that first phone call that — when you were first being considered.
KERIK: The first — first phone call wasn't even a phone call, it was an e-mail from the White House: "Call us in the morning." I did that. And then there was about a month of the vetting process.
You know, and I've listened to people criticize the president's staff about the vetting process. You know, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. The president has to do this secretly, quietly. They can't put the names out there that they're looking at, because once the press gets a hold of them, you know, everybody is trying to Monday morning quarterback. So they do as much as they can, as quietly as they can.
And at some point in time, you're called, as I was, to meet the president. And you're not going to see the president to have coffee. You're going to, you know, talk about the job. If you want the job, if you're interested, they sort of already know that interest.
With me, a lot of people didn't know that I initially declined.
HANNITY: Three days.
KERIK: Three days before. The day after Thanksgiving, I declined. But when the president calls and says that he really wants you to do something, you know, you sort of forget about the financial burden and all the headaches and the hardship that's going to come with it. And you say yes, and you just go do it.
HANNITY: All of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a controversy. There were some people, I think, didn't like you also because of your connection to Rudy. Rudy Guiliani...
KERIK: Well, you know what, Sean? You know, when you — when you reach this level of the political arena or the government arena, you have enemies. The New York City Police Department, I had 55,000 people that worked for me.
KERIK: New York City jail system, I had 13,000. When you go back and you look at all the sources of all the negativity that came out of a lot of the stuff that came out following my withdrawal, there were eight sources, nine, you know, they can create a headache.
You know, for me, I know what I've done. I know my successes. You know, in the New York City jail system, we reduced violence by 93 percent, overtime spending by 55 percent. Staff sick leave abuse by 44 percent. The New York City Police Department reduced crime at bigger numbers than any time in the history of the NYPD.
I'm pretty satisfied with my career.
HANNITY: All right. So the next thing you know, you're in this huge controversy, and here it was revealed you had a nanny that worked for you. She had a phony Social Security card. You didn't know about it?
HANNITY: You didn't know she was in here illegally?
KERIK: No, no.
HANNITY: Did — when you look back, you know, some people say, "All right. Well, you should have known." What do you say?
KERIK: You know, in some way — these days, I would know. I would do things differently. You know, I would have hired an agency to do sort of the dirty work.
KERIK: And I sort of joke about it now when I go out and I speak publicly. You know, and people say, well, you know, what happened? I say, well, all I can tell you, "If you have a nanny, pay your taxes. If you have a nanny, make sure you know who they are."
HANNITY: Were you paying her taxes?
HANNITY: So you were paying her taxes, but it was a phony number that she had given you?
KERIK: We were paying taxes. There was a — there was a brief tax lapse while we lived in New York with her, but that was rectified and we were fixing it. But the bigger problem was that she was here illegally.
HANNITY: All of a sudden, you see this is an issue and you resign pretty quickly. Did you connect — did you connect with the president at any point, at this point? You did? You spoke with him?
KERIK: Yes. We started looking at it on Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday afternoon, Thursday evening, late, there was a serious question about the legal status of this domestic. By Friday morning, we had confirmed that she was in the country illegally, and we had to make a decision.
And I think for me, on a personal note, I think the thing that made — made it a little easier for me to withdraw, you know, Rudy came up with a good idea. He says, you know, "Go back through the records of Zoe Baird (search) and Kimba Wood (search) and some of the others that were in this same problem. Let's look at some of the press articles. Let's look and see where their downfall was and what the problems were."
When I started reading some of the press involving, say Kimba Wood, who was a phenomenal prospect for attorney general, and is a phenomenal judge today, they killed this woman in the press over this. Killed her.
And I thought, "You know what? I'm not going through this. I'm not going to put my family through it. I'm not going to go through it. And I'm not going to put the president and the Department of Homeland Security (search) through it."
HANNITY: We'll have the second part of my exclusive interview with Bernard Kerik coming up tomorrow night.
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