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Special Report

Political Impact of Congressman's Pics

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER, D - N.Y.: To be clear, the picture was of me and I sent it. I'm deeply sor ry for the pain this has caused my wife Huma and our family and my constituents, my friends, supporters, and staff.

I don't see anything that I did that violated any rules of the House, I don't see anything that I did that certainly violated my oath of office to uphold the constitution.

< p> BRETT BAIER, ANCHOR: You definitively didn't send it but you can't definitively say whether it's you or not?

WEINER: I can definitively say that I did not send this. I can definitively say it looks a lot like a prank and a joke about my name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well, that interview was last Wednesday in Congressman Weiner's office. Today he had a tearful apology in which he said, at least 20 times, that he takes responsibility for sending not only the Twitter pic in question that we have been talking about, but also a number of other pictures and conversations online with some six women over the years, according to the congressman. He says he will not resign.

What about all of this? Let's bring in the panel, Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Fred, when you write political pieces you can't imagine something like today. I mean people would say that is too far a jump to make. But it happened.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It did happen and when you were interviewing him in there last week and he was lying to you, you certainly had an expression of disbelief on your face for good reason.

Ya know we have to look at this, remember what he did today was plan B. It was after denial didn't work. And so we went to contrition today. It's not clear whether that's gonna work or not. This is not over yet. We have -- there are photos that are out there, that are apparently X-rated, more explicit. There are e-mails we haven't seen the text of. And all of these things are gonna come out, I feel certain, because practically everything comes out these days now on the internet, one way or another.

BAIER: But he says, he didn't do anything illegal and he didn't violate his oath of office to the constituents.

BAIER: Ya know it used to be, maybe this is way back, a tradition where if you did something that was horribly inappropriate and wrong and was embarrassing to you and your family and the political party and even your country, you would resign as a matter of honor. Now, Congressman Weiner takes the position, well I didn't violate the law so I can stay. That's not quite the position that Republicans took of course with Chris Lee, as Larry Sabato pointed out when you interviewed him. Because he was told by Speaker Boehner, you be out of here by the end of the day. And he was.

BAIER: That's the New York congressman who resigned after the picture surfaced on Gawker. Juan, your thoughts?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I don't think he's gonna resign. I think the pressure's going to be terrible on him for the next few days. I think he took a terrible beating today and he stood in front of those microphones and answered all the questions. And says that he's now come clean. We don't know. Obviously, he doesn't have much credibility given the fact that he was lying last week.

But when you stop and think about, ya know, the precedent here, you think about Bill Clinton in the White House or you think about more recently the Chris Lee story or even people like Charlie Rangel, ya know, these are violations, they end up in the Ethics Committee. Charlie Rangel is still there. Vitter is still there on the Republican side.

BAIER: Well speaking of that -- sorry to interrupt. Nancy Pelosi has called for an ethics investigation, the House Democratic leader. And just moments ago, we have a statement from Congressman Weiner saying, quote, "I welcome and will fully cooperate with an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. I'm deeply sorry, to my family, staff and constituents."

WILLIAMS: Right, so he's gonna have to, I think, really respond in some way that stops the questions. Because that's the consequence here. If the democratic leadership, in just the way that Fred talked about how Speaker of the House Boehner had Lee resign, if he loses support from Nancy Pelosi and the like, well, then he is a goner.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think he is a goner, and it'll probably be, certainly in the long run, or in the medium run and maybe even in the short run. Because I think this story will continue. There will be a drip, drip, drip.

I think there is however, a lesson in what you mentioned, Juan, which is the Clinton precedent. And I think the message for the Republicans, there's this quote, I don't know if you had it about the National Republican Campaign Committee, sort of calling on the Democrats to look into this and to ask themselves why there was no suspicion. It is very tempting for the Republicans to jump on this, but they shouldn't. The only way to survive if you are a Clinton and the scandal he had, is if the perception emerges that the opposition, your opposition, is persecuting you, piling on, et cetera. Ya know, Clinton went through the same stages. He lied and then he did the contrition. And then the Republicans went ahead with the Starr report et cetera, and the mood, the perception changed, and Clinton ended up in a sense the winner politically. I think in the case of the congressman, it is clear that Democrats want to get rid of this. It will distract them. They are already upset about it distracting them over the Medicare issue. And the other example you mentioned, the Chris Lee example, where Republicans cut their losses so quickly, it's true, in the end that they lost the seat, but the scandal stopped because there wasn't even a congressman. He was gone before you even heard the scandal. For purely partisan politics the Democrats will be hurt the longer he survives.

BARNES: But the Ethics Committee investigation helps Democrats for this reason that they can say well, we amount talk about it because it's under investigation by the Ethics Committee.

KRAUTHAMMER: But whether or not a Democrat talks about it, it will be in the media, on the internet every day, nonetheless.

WILLIAMS: And it distracts from the Democratic message. So that' why I say I think it comes down to the leadership. Now at the moment, he's got the leadership. He has Pelosi saying that she advised him today and then calling for the ethics investigation. Now that gives Democrats some insulation. But it comes back to this idea, that if this becomes a constant distraction for more than the next week, then I'd say his chances are bad. But for the moment he can hang in there.

(CROSSTALK)

BAIER: Ya know, he says that he didn't think he used any congressional resources during whatever this was. Over these many communications. One woman says she called back and got the line at the office. The other thing is, this House Ethics manual. Quote, "Anything supported with official funds is an official resource, including congressional offices...These regulations generally ban solicitation, commercial activity, limit photography, restrict use of meeting rooms to congressionally related purposes, and impose various health and safety restraints." Ok, that's the specific quote. He called all of these reporters including me into his office and spent the day with this, what he says now is a lie. Is that tangential? Is that connection?

BARNES: No, it's not tangential. It's clear he violated that rule. But that's not a matter for -- of expulsion. That might be grounds for censure or reprimand or something, but they're not going to expel him because you interviewed him in his office which was paid for by the taxpayers and he was lying.

BAIER: You think it doesn't go away?

WILLIAMS: No, I don't think it goes away in the short. The question is how long it lasts. Now, by the way, his district has been trending Republican, you know. It's a very interesting district because it's Brooklyn and Queens. Lots of orthodox Jews, and they have been voting more Republican.

BAIER: Last word.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, the issue everybody understands, is not the misuse of a congressional office. It's like Al Capone and taxes and it is a bit like the criminalization of the John Edwards behavior. Which in a sense, almost elicits a backlash. People are saying, look, he was a terrible heal and all that. But you're trying to make it illegal by looking for a money violation on which you can hang this. I think it'll be the same in the Weiner case. I think the events speak for itself, and the Democrats, I think are really worried and hoping it will simply go away, which would mean he has to go away.

BAIER: Next up, the president considers how many troops to bring home from Afghanistan.

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