This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 12, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: In Tuesday's political smackdown, we go back to the Karl Rove (search) controversy. Does America care about this tale of rover and the spy? And, if so, could the White House be teed up to take a hit?
We're joined by former Texas Congressman Martin Frost, a Democrat, and Republican strategist Terry Holt, a former senior adviser to the Republican National Committee.
Terry, you first.
GIBSON: Are you guys on that side ready to get bruised if Karl Rove turns out to be the leaker and it's illegal and he gets in big trouble?
TERRY HOLT, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Quaking in our boots, John. Quaking in our boots.
You know, the Democrats aren't angry that Karl Rove talked to Matt Cooper (search). They are angry because he beats them like a drum during every campaign that he's ever been in against them. I think Mr. Frost could tell you that Karl Rove is a very savvy, very effective campaign guy. He knows how to beat Democrats. And I think that is why he's the target.
GIBSON: But, Terry, are you saying that they are after him not because he illegally exposed the identity of a CIA covert agent?
HOLT: There's no illegality here. They are after him because they see a partisan opening, a partisan opportunity. I guess I would point to who is out there attacking him in the last couple of days, John Kerry. Obviously, John Kerry has got an ax to grind against Karl Rove.
GIBSON: Chuck Schumer.
HOLT: Schumer. And then you have got Henry "I need to have a hearing" Waxman, who has never met a potential hearing.
GIBSON: Martin Frost.
MARTIN FROST, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I would like to get a word in edgewise here.
GIBSON: Yes. Let me get Martin in here.
Martin Frost, first of all, do you think that this story has political traction? Do you think America cares?
FROST: Oh, I think it does.
Look, what you're talking about is the deceitful, petty nature of what someone in Rove's position did. He used the identity of Wilson's wife to try and discredit Wilson and also harmed her career, because now she'll never be able to go out and be a covert agent again. She'll never be able to go out in the field.
GIBSON: Yes, but, Mr. Frost...
FROST: And what — let me finish, John.
People at high positions in the White House shouldn't be doing things like this. Now, you and I are old enough, we remember. Some of your viewers may not remember that the chief of staff of President Eisenhower had to quit for doing something less than this.
GIBSON: OK, but, Mr. Frost, before Terry jumps all over you, let me just interject this. When somebody sends someone out to make what amounts to a partisan assessment of whether the president should make a decision to go to war, shouldn't we know who that is? And if it's the guy's wife who is at the CIA...
FROST: But, John...
GIBSON: ... should she be entitled to a cover of secrecy?
FROST: Let's be very clear here. There's no indication that she actually sent him out. There were people higher in the CIA who made that decision.
GIBSON: His name never would have come up.
FROST: She didn't have the authority to...
GIBSON: His name never would have come up.
FROST: She didn't have the authority to send him out.
FROST: This is a petty attack by someone...
GIBSON: OK, Terry.
FROST: ... who should not be engaged in these kind of petty attacks against a government official.
GIBSON: Terry, you don't support a petty — let's just say Mr. Frost is right. You don't support a petty attack, do you?
HOLT: No, certainly not.
But, at the time, Joe Wilson (search) was saying a lot of things that proved to be factually incorrect. In fact, the only person who is lying in this whole thing is Joe Wilson. The assertions that he made in newspaper interviews and during hearings and so forth were proven untrue by various investigations.
FROST: Oh, come on. Come on, Terry.
FROST: There were no weapons of mass destruction.
HOLT: Mr. Frost, please, please.
FROST: There was no yellow cake in Niger.
FROST: What he said was not false.
GIBSON: I've got the report of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the U.S. intelligence community's pre-war intelligence assessments on Iraq, a bipartisan committee, that says that Wilson was wrong — they looked at the same information and said Wilson was wrong.
And Karl Rove apparently talked to Matt Cooper to say, beware. This guy is not telling the truth.
I don't know why that is inappropriate. But, look, this is a hard law to break. There's only been one other person who was ever convicted of it. And anybody who doesn't think that Mr. Rove doesn't understand the law and understand his job is fooling himself.
GIBSON: Last word, Mr. Frost.
GIBSON: Are you going to get Karl Rove with this?
FROST: There are some other issues. There's obstruction of justice and perjury. He's been called before the grand jury three times. He might not have broken this particular statute, because he might not have intentionally disclosed the name of an undercover agent.
FROST: But he's not out of the woods yet.
GIBSON: Congressman Martin Frost and Republican strategist Terry Holt, thanks you guys. Appreciate you both coming on. We'll see how this shakes out.
HOLT: Thanks, John.
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