OTR Interviews

How President Obama is his own worst enemy in 'Fast and Furious'

Dick Morris: Pres. Obama's use of executive privilege in 'Fast and Furious' could wound presidency

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It's getting worse, the "Fast & Furious" scandal getting scalding hot, and now the glare of the spotlight moving from the Justice Department straight to the White House. President Obama invoking executive privilege, just minutes before a committee's contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder.

Dick Morris says that executive privilege claim could cost President Obama the election. Now why does he say that? Dick Morris, author of the new book, "Screwed," joins us.

Nice to see you, Dick.

DICK MORRIS, FORMER ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good to be here.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, why do you think the assertion of executive privilege is fatal for the president politically come November?

MORRIS: Well, fatal is going a little far. I think it's -- I think it hurts him and I think it's a big mistake on his part. Until he acted -- first of all nobody was covering this scandal, except us, Fox News. The rest of the media largely ignored it. Now they can't. Secondly, it's Obama assuming the scandal on himself. He is saying in effect, no, it isn't Holder who's concealing these documents, it's me, because executive privilege is the president telling the Cabinet officer, I am asserting my privilege, which is that I forbid you to hand these documents over because doing it would compromise essential communications between you and me.

So what Obama is basically doing when he asserts executive privilege is admitting that he played a role in the cover-up of the "Fast & Furious" scandal and does not want those documents released, or at least that he was in touch with them. That's something that moves the locust of the scandal from the Justice Department to the White House. Usually you want to move it the other way.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I used the word fatal, that is my word, and I overspoke. I certainly loosely speak with terms like that. But let's move ahead to next week. And let's assume that in advance of a vote by the entire House of Representatives, it is somehow resolved. Does that somehow change your view to American voters have rather short-term memory and that will then sort of at least put this aside and come November, everyone will be saying, "executive privilege, what?"

MORRIS: Well, I think it's probable that they will come to a conclusion. I used to say when I worked for Clinton and the counsel would assert privilege and would say -- they claim privilege and I would say in my best German accent, spare yourself hours of pain and suffering. They all turn over the documents in the end. And they all do.

But if he turns over the documents, there's obviously something there he doesn't want Issa to see. And this probably gives that scandal more and more legs and more and more visibility. But for the moment, it's political impact is within the context of next week's likely Supreme Court decision. If the court throws out Obamacare, he's going to be repudiated in one -- in the few day period by Congress will hold them in contempt, or a Committee will, and the court will throw out his signature piece of legislation.

It's not good for a president that's trying to convince the American people that his administration is succeeding.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Suppose they -- work out an agreement and get -- these documents get turned over, and suppose that there is nothing in the documents, but that the White House was merely asserting, an executive in fear that somehow the privilege will become water downed if it had no -- if the president didn't stand up for it. Then what?

MORRIS: No, no impact. But I don't think the president is four months before Election Day, assert executive to preserve the constitutional prerogative. They do it to preserve their kid.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what do you -- to think possibly could be in these documents?

MORRIS: Well, obviously, evidence that Obama was in touch with Holder and encourage him not to turn over documents. And encouraging him to -- or talking about how to shift blame to the "Fast & Furious" scandal. I think it's -- I that could be -- could be very damaging. And also, there is the same time the national security leak scandal is taking place, which leads directly to the president.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You hit me for using the term fatal loosely, let me hit you for the term using, obviously the president knew something about it. I don't frankly -- I don't think so. I think people assert privileges for all sorts of reason, other than obviously somebody, you know, did some wrong. So I hit you for that.

MORRIS: Only a lawyer would think that, Greta. But listen I -- I want to just mention something else.

VAN SUSTEREN: Actually lawyers look at the facts, as an aside, we do have a commitment to Fox. And so, you know, that's why I hit you on the "obviously."

MORRIS: OK. Today, Hillary is in Rio at the U.N. Environment Conference, giving away $2 billion of our money to the third world for climate change. And they are negotiating, and I mention this because I cover it in my book "Screwed," a global EPA that would have global rule-making mandatory authority over the member nations. And she is currently negotiating that agreement.

It's -- it's a very serious step. It would transfer jurisdiction over much of our environmental legislation on climate change and global warming and cap-and-trade and carbon, to the United Nations. Very scary.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what does that -- and what does that have to do with the executive privilege or --

MORRIS: Well, it has to do with what's going on in the world today. Hillary is there today, negotiating that. And I just thought that I'd like your viewers to know about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, the viewers they have now heard -- you say that and we'll check into that.

Anyway, Dick Thank you.

MORRIS: Thanks a lot.