This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 29, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Now last week independent filmmaker James O'Keefe and three other men were arrested in the New Orleans office of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. And since that time a number of allegations have been made about what O'Keefe and others were doing that day.
And joining me now for an exclusive interview to give us his side of the story is the man who gained national attention with his undercover ACORN videos, James O'Keefe. He's back.
James, good to see you.
JAMES O'KEEFE, FILMMAKER: Good to see you, thanks.
HANNITY: All right. Let's start at the beginning, which is probably the best place to start. Tell us what happened.
O'KEEFE: Well, there were reports that Senator Landrieu's constituents were not able to get through to her. She said her lines were jammed for a few weeks after she received a few hundred million dollars in money in exchange for her vote in the health care bill.
So we wanted to get to the bottom of this because, while it make senses for your phone to be jammed for a day — for a day or two, it sounded like the fact that her constituents couldn't get through to her for a few weeks was troubling to us. So we wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on with her phones.
HANNITY: OK, so now — and I don't know all the facts so I want to make sure because you disputed a lot of claims in the media in your statement. So did you dress up as a telephone repairman or telephone repair people?
O'KEEFE: Yes, I mean, as far as that's concerned, I mean, investigative journalists have been using a lot of these tactics for years. I mean, NBC, "Dateline" —
HANNITY: Yes, but — all right. But did you dress up as a repair guy?
HANNITY: You did?
O'KEEFE: We did, yes.
HANNITY: All right. And your attitude is this is something that investigative journalists will do. That they will — like in, I guess, to catch a predator? Is that the —
O'KEEFE: Well, there's been NBC — ACORN actually did one with NBC — they went into a tax office in 2005 and they put a video camera in their sunglasses. And they celebrated it in their annual report. You also have "Dateline," you have "60 Minutes," you have "20/20." I mean these are things investigative journalism have been doing for years.
O'KEEFE: So — and the reports about the wiretapping, the bugging, that's just completely false.
HANNITY: I want to get to that but I want to — the U.S. attorney has charged you with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony. Do you know what the underlying felony is here?
O'KEEFE: I mean, I can't — as much as I would love to talk — I can't get into the legal stuff because, you know, there's an ongoing investigation. We're cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
HANNITY: Stop. You're cooperating?
HANNITY: With the U.S. —
O'KEEFE: This is an ongoing investigation so I can't into the — I can't comment further about it.
HANNITY: All right. And for the record, you're here, of your own volition, and you are here without your attorney, by our own choice?
HANNITY: All right. So, when you went into Landrieu's office, your intentions were what? What did you want to find out?
O'KEEFE: We wanted to get to the bottom of the fact — of the claim that she was not answering her phones or phones were jammed. We wanted to find out why her constituents couldn't get through to her. We wanted to verify the reports.
HANNITY: And what did you do the minute you got in the office? What were your methods?
O'KEEFE: We used the same tactics that investigative journalists have been using. We — in all the videos I do we — I pose as something I'm not to try to get to the bottom of the truth about — the truth about why they weren't answering their phones or their intention behind not answering the phones.
HANNITY: All right, now, did you think about it? Do you have any issues with the fact that this is a U.S. senator's office versus, for example, going into ACORN, and that as a U.S. senator, this is federal building, this is federal property, you're going near federal phones? Did that enter your mind prior to going into this office?
O'KEEFE: Well, I mean, generally speaking, it's the people's office. It's — these people are representatives of our country. And we deserve to find out — if they are accepting $300 million in money, we deserve to find out what's going on. Why the people of Louisiana couldn't get through to her.
HANNITY: I understand but did you — did you have any concern that she as a U.S. senator, and we're talking about the security of an elected official? That —
O'KEEFE: Yes, I mean, like I've said in my statement, I could have used a different approach to this investigation. And you know, I think going forward I'm going to try to be a little more thoughtful about how I approach these things.
O'KEEFE: For sure.
HANNITY: What you said is on reflection, I could have used a different approach, for the investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about the security of a federal building.
HANNITY: So in retrospect, are you saying that you wouldn't use this method in this case the same way the next time?
O'KEEFE: I think — while I continue to do sort of undercover videos I have to be a little more careful, a little more thoughtful. And I have to sort of investigative tools I use I'll have to, you know, think about it.
HANNITY: All right, now, did — one of the big questions, because if you look at, for example, the reporting on this.
HANNITY: People almost immediately referred to this as Louisiana Watergate.
HANNITY: Because you were going near phones. Did you or did anybody with you have any equipment — electronic equipment of any kind — that could be perceived or used to tap into the senator's phones?
O'KEEFE: Well, let me be clear about this point. There is no bugging, there was no wiretapping, there was no interfering with phones. Not only was there no interfering with phones we never even thought about interfering with phones. It never even occurred to us.
So all that is completely false. A lot of these reporters just flat out, I think, slandered me. Immediately off the gun. They jumped the gun on the story. And we're still waiting for corrections from dozens of newspapers — mainstream media newspapers.
HANNITY: Will you sue them in the end if they don't make the corrections?
O'KEEFE: I'm not sure yet but it's journalism malpractice what they've done on this story. And it's inexcusable.
HANNITY: But I want to go back to the original question. Did you or any of the people that were involved with you, did they have any type of equipment that could be used to tap the phones?
O'KEEFE: There was no equipment whatsoever used to tap any phones or bug any phones or anything like that.
HANNITY: Yes, I know, but you didn't have it with you?
O'KEEFE: No equipment with us.
HANNITY: No equipment that could be perceived — because there was talk in one of the articles about some guy that was in another location that potentially would be able to hear what you were doing?
O'KEEFE: Yes. The reports are equipment being used to tap or bug are completely false.
HANNITY: All right. And when you — why did you go to the phone — there was a talk about — did you go to the phone bank or "let me check your main phone lines?" Like you picked up a phone at one point I read, and then another point you actually went to the main, I guess, where the main phone circuit is?
O'KEEFE: Yes, I mean, as much as I want to go into this, I just can comment any further. There's an investigation ongoing and you know I'm just going to have to leave at that
HANNITY: All right. But you did record the entire incident?
O'KEEFE: Yes. Yes.
HANNITY: All right. So what — so if people — if we were to show this video tonight.
HANNITY: What would people conclude?
O'KEEFE: That this is a huge misunderstanding, I think. You know, like in all my videos, like in my ACORN videos, I'm trying to get to the bottom of something. I'm trying to expose the truth.
I'm trying to get to the true intent about what these people think about their constituents. I'm trying to show the American people what are they concerned about their constituents. And that's what I was trying to do.
HANNITY: But what — I guess maybe another way to ask, what is on the videotapes of the incident that are — these videos tapes are now in the possession of.
O'KEEFE: The government.
HANNITY: The government. Is everything on there?
O'KEEFE: Our entire visit to the senator's office is.
HANNITY: The whole thing?
O'KEEFE: Actually there's two different cameras. One was on the helmet and one was on the cell phone. So there's two — there's tapes the government has them in possession and I'm willing — I want them to be released because they refute a lot of these claims being made by the media.
HANNITY: All right. We got to take a break. We're going to come back. We'll have more with James O'Keefe. More on this story and also what his plans are in terms of future, I guess, investigative reports. And what he might have — may have learned from this event.
HANNITY: And we continue now with more on my exclusive interview with independent filmmaker James O'Keefe.
All right, so them, you were arrested. Where were you arrested? How did that happen? And what happened from there?
Well, again, I can't — I want to but I — I probably shouldn't go into the details of everything because there's an ongoing investigation right now.
HANNITY: You can't even talk about where were you arrested? I mean I would assume that Mary Landrieu's office call the police. They came down. So it happened there, right?
O'KEEFE: Well, I spent the night in jail. Me and my three buddies, we spent the night in jail. You know, and the following day we went to an arraignment of some type. But yes, we were detained and eventually some time later we were charged the following day. And then, you know, where we spent on night in jail. And —
HANNITY: What was it like when you got arrested? What was jail like?
O'KEEFE: Jail was — the food was terrible.
O'KEEFE: The apple sauce was like water, and you know — I think it was a very uncomfortable experience for all of us.
HANNITY: Yes. Are you — do you have worries? I mean here you are — you came on this program. You wanted to tell your side.
HANNITY: I saw — I read your release. You know, and you did admit as we were talking about in the last segment, on reflection you'd have a different approach to the investigation.
HANNITY: So obviously this changed you a little bit?
O'KEEFE: Well, I think that me and my colleagues, what our goal is to get to the truth. And to expose corruption. And that's my mission in life. And that's what I'm going to continue to do. I still stand behind the fact that investigative journalists have been doing this for years, "Dateline," CBS, "60 Minutes, they built their career on this so I — that's tradition I'm following and sort of a new age journalism.
HANNITY: There really is a lot of similarities to ACORN, but I think the one big difference that I see is that this is a senator's office, this is federal building, these are phones. There are very strict laws about wiretapping and so on and so forth. What I read.
O'KEEFE: There was no wiretapping.
HANNITY: Yes, but I said there are strict laws about it. So when I read the initial reports, and as you point out they claim that if you had that equipment with you I think that's — that's going to be — the fact that you videotaped it.
HANNITY: You know, certainly going to confirm or contradict what you are saying here. But that's the big difference, though, in this case? Isn't it? That this is a senator's office? By your own admission you see the difference?
O'KEEFE: Yes, I mean, I understand and I'm going to sort of think — reflect on this and think about going forward. I'm going to have to sort of adjust maybe a little bit the investigative tools I use to do these types of investigations. I understand that, yes.
HANNITY: What are the lawyers in this case — for one of the people involved in this said.
HANNITY: You're dealing with kids. I don't think they that thought this through that far. Another one said that, did not intend to break the law when he entered the office posing as a telephone worker.
HANNITY: Do you see any law — without getting into the specifics here of your case, do you see any law that is valid? I mean they did charge you but that doesn't mean you're going to be found guilty. Do you see any law might be in question?
O'KEEFE: I mean, I don't think — I don't think at any time I broke the law. I — and when I spent the night in jail I was trying to figure out what I possibly did wrong. We had a plane to catch the following morning. So had no idea — you know, I really did not think we broke any laws and I was just completely — you know, I think this is sort of a misunderstanding.
HANNITY: All right. So some the reports I went over and I looked at the reporting of this, Louisiana Watergate. That there was a gag order on you, not true?
O'KEEFE: That's false.
HANNITY: That you broke into the office?
O'KEEFE: How do you break into a public office? That was false.
HANNITY: That was open?
HANNITY: OK. At the time. Were you any time asked to leave?
O'KEEFE: No. No.
HANNITY: You weren't. And you didn't answer the question about whether or not you went into the telephone main control area.
O'KEEFE: Yes, like I just can't get that detailed, because there's an investigation, but you know the truth will come out in the end.
HANNITY: So there has been some retractions by the media. And are you now calling on the rest of the media that you feel has wrongly reported this because they didn't have any of facts and they ran with this and they try to politicize it.
Do you think that was because of your ACORN work, number one? And —
O'KEEFE: I'm probably willing to bet that it was. I called it journalism malpractice. They jumped the gun. They tried to destroy me with all types of fabrications, willingly fabricating things about gag orders, breaking in, wiretapping nonsense.
None of that was in the affidavit. None of that was in any complaint. So these people need to print corrections immediately.
HANNITY: Were at any point were you held without the opportunity to get an attorney?
O'KEEFE: I mean I — I just don't want to get into that honestly.
HANNITY: You don't.
O'KEEFE: I just don't. Yes.
HANNITY: But your answer is — but you say you're cooperating with the attorneys?
O'KEEFE: Yes, we're — we have no complaints about the way the U.S. attorney is handling this case.
HANNITY: None at all?
O'KEEFE: I have no complaints.
HANNITY: Do you have any complaints about your arrest?
O'KEEFE: I have no complains about the way the U.S. attorney is handling this and we are cooperating with them.
HANNITY: But there were reports that you might have been denied an attorney or a phone call.
O'KEEFE: That may come out. We might want to talk about that some point in the future but right now, you know, I don't want to talk about that yet.
HANNITY: Last question. So what's the future for James O'Keefe? Is this your destiny? Are you going to take a break or.
O'KEEFE: I am not taking a break. Right now we're hitting the ground running on more projects. We're not stopping. Our goal is to expose truth, expose corruption, until it's gone, and that's it.
HANNITY: And I would say that Mary Landrieu, with $300 million of taxpayer money for a vote, is a pretty interesting corrupt story in itself, isn't it?
O'KEEFE: It's unbelievable.
HANNITY: All right, James O'Keefe. We really appreciate you being here. Thank you for spending time.
HANNITY: Thanks very much.
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