Should Conservatives Support the Miers Nomination?

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This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 6, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: As Harriet Miers (search) continues to work the halls of the Senate, some conservatives continue to question the president's choice. Yesterday, a group of prominent conservatives met with White House representatives to question both Miers' legal philosophy and her legal credentials.

Joining us now to discuss his position on the Miers nomination and the other political news of the day, the author of "Winning the Future," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, welcome back.


COLMES: The president's argument now is, "Trust me." We couldn't trust him on Iraq, on nation-building, on WMDs. Now we have more allegations of whether Karl Rove (search) is involved in White House leaks. We couldn't trust him on a number of things. And now he says, "Trust me?" Isn't this why some conservatives aren't trusting him on Miers?

GINGRICH: Well, I don't know why some conservatives aren't trusting him on Miers. I don't think it has anything to do with the list you just gave. I think, you know, conservatives have spent many, many years trying to move the Supreme Court (search) back to a more traditional, cautious view of interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

They saw this as the great opportunity to appoint somebody who was an appeals court judge, who had a clear record of being a strong conservative, who had made key decision. And I think for conservatives this has been disappointing. There's no question about it.

On the other hand,George W. Bush (search) has been consistent throughout his career in his commitment to having a Supreme Court that was more willing to follow the U.S. Constitution and to avoid trying to make law on its own.

Now, he's worked with Harriet Miers for 11 years. And if, in that 11-year period, he's reached the conclusion that she faithfully represents his philosophy and that she will be the kind of Supreme Court justice he'll be proud of, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. He knows her personally. And these other folks who are complaining don't know her.

COLMES: Well, how are we to believe then, when he says, "We've never talked about Roe vs. Wade (search)." He's never asked her a question about where she stands on these kinds of issues. Given the fact that she's a personal lawyer and a crony, we're really to believe that he's never had those discussions with her, he doesn't know where she stands on those issues?

GINGRICH: Well, Alan, you would have described Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson as cronies of George Washington. I mean, the fact that somebody works closely doesn't make them a crony, in the sense you're describing. It makes them an associate. It makes them somebody who has served their country very ably. It makes them somebody who has worked very hard.

A crony is a person who lacks skills and lacks confidence...

COLMES: Not necessarily.

GINGRICH: ... and is there only for friendship.

COLMES: You could be a qualified crony. But do you agree with Trent Lott (search)? Trent Lott says he doesn't believe the president when he says she's the most qualified person in the country to fill this spot.

GINGRICH: Well, I don't agree with the president on that judgment. The president tends occasionally to be overly enthusiastic. But I do believe that the president is convinced that she will be a very solid conservative who will help Justice Roberts move the Supreme Court back towards a much more conservative philosophy.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Mr. Speaker, welcome back to the program.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

HANNITY: I don't have any doubt. And maybe Alan's right. Maybe we could really trust Bill Clinton who said, "I did not have sexual" — you know? We really had some trust in those years.


But I trust the president, if he believes he appointed an originalist like Thomas and Scalia. I believe he believes that. The only question I think a lot of conservatives are having is, why an unknown? Why not a known entity, a Luttig, a Janice Rogers Brown (search), a Priscilla Owens (search), that people could get behind and support, with a track record, a conservative track record that's worth defending?

GINGRICH: Well, again, the president didn't ask my advice or didn't ask George Will's advice, or any of the people who are complaining. If he had, I think they all would have said to him, "Pick somebody who has a well-known track record, who has obvious credentials." He didn't follow that.

This president is, as he often has, doing what he believes in. And I think, frankly, he doesn't worry too much about the commentators and the columnists. I'm convinced absolutely that he believes, whether it's right or wrong, he believes she'll turn out to be a very strong justice.

Now, a year from now, if he's right, then I think all of the conservatives will have to admit the president actually showed pretty good judgment. If he's wrong, I think he will have burned up an awful lot of faith that the conservative movement had invested in him over the last six years.

HANNITY: There is so much opposition at this point from the conservative movement. Even Bill Kristol (search) today suggesting she may want to consider stepping aside. Are you concerned that that might get some momentum?

GINGRICH: Well, it may get some momentum, but my point to my conservative friends would be, what's the point of all this? The president of the United States, who has a very deep record of personal loyalty, even when sometimes it's not earned, is not about to step aside for somebody who has spent 11 years of their life working with him.

He's not about to step aside for a fellow Texan who was president of the Texas Bar Association (search), who was a managing partner of one of the largest firms in Texas. He's not about to step aside because a group of people are unhappy with him. He's had people unhappy with him before.

So I don't quite understand the kind of frenzy that's built around this. Harriet Miers is going to go before the Senate, and we'll see how she sounds in the hearings.

COLMES: All right. We're going to continue with the speaker in just a moment, the former speaker of the House.

And coming up, one month after she went missing from her dorm room, the body of 17-year-old Taylor Behl has been found. We'll tell you if police are any closer to solving this mystery. A lot still to come on tonight's "Hannity & Colmes." Stay with us.



HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Sean Hannity reporting again tonight from Sacramento, California.

We continue with the former Speaker of the House and FOX News contributor, Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I see you're in Vermont again. And I just happened to notice your schedule, that you're going to New Hampshire tomorrow. Just as circumstances would have it once again. Would you like to comment on the obsession with Iowa and New Hampshire?

GINGRICH: No, no. We're going do a public meeting at the state capitol in Concord tomorrow at 12 p.m., talking about how to reform health care and how to reform Medicaid (search). I think it's a good thing to be talking with the citizens of Vermont today. I had the great time tonight at the University of Vermont.

HANNITY: I've got a poll I want to put up on the screen for people here. I'm sure it's not exactly where you would want it to be. But you are in the 7 percent range, which I think is pretty good. You know, and this would be in the 2008 primary. There you have it. Rudy, 26 percent; McCain, 23 percent; Condi 18, and look and who came in ahead of Mitt Romney (search) and others? You.

GINGRICH: Well, I've got a lot of friends around the country. I've been out talking about ideas for a long time.

HANNITY: All right.

GINGRICH: So we're going to keep talking about ideas. And as we talked about the other day, you know, you guys ought to come out and spend some time with me in some of these places.

HANNITY: I will. I want to talk about Louis Freeh's (search) comments. Now we had both Al Gore (search) and, for example, Bill Clinton (search) saying that the Iraq war was a quagmire, that we may not win it. I couldn't believe Al Gore, basically out there saying, "I believe America's democracy is facing a great danger."

I want to talk about it in this context. Louis Freeh writes a book. And in this book, he writes, among other thing, that Bill Clinton's skeletons were just waiting to bust out. He was full of them.

He tells the story about after the bomb of the Khobar Towers (search), he wanted to go to Saudi Arabia, and he wanted to interview some of the people that were being held there. He asked Bill Clinton to help. Bill Clinton wouldn't ask for that opportunity but he did ask for a donation to the Clinton library. Your thoughts?

GINGRICH: Well, if Louis Freeh, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (search), is prepared to swear under oath that he knows, and he claims that he knows, that President Clinton, while serving as president, was asking foreign leaders for money, you have to ask, first of all, what other leaders was he asking for money? And second, this has to be a criminal offense of the first order.

How can you have an American president asking for money from foreign leaders? And the fact that it's the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If he's prepared to swear that this is true and if he actually has sources, and as the FBI director, he may well have had sources.

I think this is one of the most disturbing revelations we've ever had about an American president, because it would indicate a total absence of judgment that really, I think, puts the nation in substantial danger.

HANNITY: He writes in this book, "The problem with Bill Clinton, the scandal, the rumored scandals, the incubating scandals, the dying ones, they never ended. Whatever moral compass the president was consulting was leading in the wrong direction. His closets were full of skeletons — skeletons just waiting to burst out."

We now see almost on daily basis Bill Clinton undermining George W. Bush any way he can. We need to have a full and complete investigation into whether or not the obsession with his scandal and his peccadilloes here literally put us in a more vulnerable position as it led up to 9/11 (search). Is that a fair question?

GINGRICH: Well, let me go back and repeat what I said a minute ago, because this is so profound. If the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is prepared to swear that the president of the United States, Bill Clinton, while in office, was asking for money from a foreign leader, I think that is a criminal offense of the first order and threatens the very nature of the American system.

Second, I never have understood why the 9/11 Commission (search) refused to look at the stunning, unbelievable failures of the Clinton years just in terms of learning, not in terms of scapegoating, but why was Khobar Towers not pursued better? Why was the bombing of the USS Cole (search) in Yemen not pursued better?

COLMES: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, the USS Cole wasn't pursued by agreement that he was going out of the office. It was November of 2000, and he wanted to give the next administration the opportunity to fully do it.

But look, I'm getting an idea. Let's overturn the 22nd Amendment (search). Let's elect him again, and you guy can try to impeach him again for all this stuff.

GINGRICH: Alan, that's a cute line. But let me ask you this. If it turns out to be true that a sitting president of the United States was asking a foreign leader for money, doesn't that kind of bother you, no matter who he was?

COLMES: You know what bothers me more? Whether or not a member of the White House leaked the identity of a CIA agent. And now we have Karl Rove, who's going to be testifying once again. And is he doing so to cover his posterior? And what do you make of that, the fact that Karl Rove may once again be testifying, trying to, what, avoid a possible indictment?

GINGRICH: Look, I think that Karl Rove should testify as the president has instructed, and so should any other member of the White House who's asked to by the U.S. attorney who's looking into this. But I want to go back for a second, Alan. Because I can't quite believe you're trying to compare these two.

COLMES: Well, absolutely. I think it's absolutely much more dangerous to have a White House leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent. You know, you want — you guys get hung up on Bill Clinton.

And also, we saw a security breach at the White House just today as we found out that a member of the FBI possibly was in the White House for three years and leaked classified information. I find that a lot more disturbing.

GINGRICH: Well look, I think that's very disturbing, as it was disturbing when it turned out the head of the FBI for years, the head of the counter spy agency, was himself a Soviet spy. I agree with that part.

I just find it — I know you to be partisan and all that.

COLMES: I don't have to. That's honestly how I feel. I'm not saying this because you think I'm trying to be partisan to protect Bill Clinton. I think we have more serious breaches, possibly, in the White House right now that are much more dangerous to this country than what you're talking about, what Clinton may have done eight or nine years ago.

GINGRICH: So OK, you think it's acceptable for an American president to ask for money from a foreign government?

COLMES: No, I don't think it's acceptable. But you're comparing two different things. And I'm saying that the kind of breeches we are now discussing, I think, are much more dangerous to this country than the allegations that are not proven about what Bill Clinton may have done five or six years ago.

GINGRICH: Look, if it turns out that somebody inside the White House was leaking secrets to the enemy and in fact was an enemy agent, they should go to jail.

HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, see what I have to put up with every night? Thanks for being with us.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you guys.

HANNITY: Appreciate you being here.

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