This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," November 1, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The Senate has reopened after going into a surprised closed-door session called by Democrats. Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist (search) called it a "stunt" and is charging the Democrats hijacked the Senate. The meeting focused on pre-war intelligence in Iraq but it also included discussion about the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, Lewis Libby (search), which actually turns out to be about the same thing.
Joining us now to talk about the politics of all this is Virginia Sen. George Allen and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson.
So Sen. Nelson, if you don't mind, I'll go to your first. What is it that Democrats want here? It sounds like they want another audit of what led us to war.
SEN. BEN NELSON, D-NEB: I don't know if it's another audit. I think what they were pushing for on the floor Tuesday was the release of the report by Senators Roberts and Rockefeller that may come out in the very near future here. I think some people feel that there was a dragging of the feet, that it was not moving as fast as it should and I hope we don't let all the distraction of the tactic get in the way of what this is all about, which is looking at the report and sort out some of the questions that the American people are asking and we all should be asking.
GIBSON: Sen. Allen, is that what this is? Are we going to have another Senate investigation of what led up to the war with the aim of blaming somebody?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN, R-VA: I think if the Democrat leaders were really serious about improving our coordination and counterterrorism or counterintelligence gathering, they wouldn't have used such an absurd political stunt in such a fit. What this is is a sucker punch, unsuspecting, wasting hours and hours on the Senate floor. And this is the big story and let me give you the big picture here.
I think the Democrats are hoping that Karl Rove (search) would have been indicted. This was all a game plan set up and they were going to go through these histrionics. They are disappointed that Karl Rove was not indicted. The obviously want to go after 'Scooter' Libby but they want to make this a political effort rather than any serious leadership, which is what the American people deserve and improving our intelligence gathering as well as coordination of counterintelligence in the midst of this War on Terror (search), where I think the American people want unity of purpose as opposed to political gamesmanship
GIBSON: Sen. Nelson, is somebody smelling Dick Cheney's blood and trying to close in on him?
NELSON: Not that I am aware of. I don't think anybody is going to that. To me, contrary to what my good friend and colleague from Virginia was saying, was that I thought this was all about getting a report out that's a bipartisan report as soon as we can.
And hopefully that is going to be able to be out maybe around December 14, excuse me, November 14, as soon as it can get compiled. I don't think this is about Karl Rove. I don't think it's about Vice President Cheney. Obviously, we are coming upon the political season and election year next year. So there probably will be some of that.
But my sense is that from the discussions on the floor, it was how do you get the report out and when does it come out and how can it be a bipartisan report. That's what I hope this is all about.
GIBSON: Sen. Allen, am I supposed to believe — I'm always supposed to believe Senator Nelson — but I am supposed to believe this is all some backstage rigmarole about how soon a pile of paper is going to be released to the public?
ALLEN: Sen. Nelson and I have been friends a long time, from the days we were governors together, and I don't want to assign any political stunts to him, but I think their leadership, if they really wanted to get a report out on November 14, there are other ways to get that done, rather than this fiasco that has been created and wasting the whole afternoon, rather than worrying about passing a budget with deficit reduction, which is the people's business.
We go into this political gimmickry and gamesmanship. So I think there are much better ways to have effectuated that goal than what was done here, but I do think it's mostly partisanship, it's political grandstanding. I'm not saying Sen. Nelson here was involved in it, but clearly the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate sucker punched our leader. They now have an agreement and whatever this procedural approach will be. This is not what the American people care about. It's just inside the Beltway, inside the Senate.
GIBSON: We shall see. We are going to dig down into the bottom to make sure we stay on top of this. Sen. Allen, Sen. Nelson, thanks to both of you.
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