This partial transcript of Fox News Sunday, August 26, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.
BRIT HUME, HOST: Reaction to Congressman Gary Condit's interview from his fellow Democrats was strongly negative. Here is what House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt said on Friday:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: I think not being candid and straightforward was disturbing and wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Joining us now from New York is a senior member of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Charles Rangel.
Also here with...
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Good morning.
HUME: Good morning.
Also here with questions, our panel: Bill Kristol, Ceci Connolly and Juan Williams.
Congressman, just to start off, let me get your sense of how you feel about the interview and the whole state of play here. Do you agree with Dick Gephardt that the congressman's performance the other night was unfortunate?
RANGEL: It was unfortunate. But after listening to attorney Robinson, Condit didn't do too badly after all. It's awkward, it's embarrassing. But I am concerned with the direction in which this is going. Constitutionally, it is not for us to have to like our fellow members, and the fact that we believe that they haven't been forthcoming doesn't mean that we can run them out of the Congress.
There's a process that we have to abide, and I guess I'm extremely sensitive to this because I followed the late Adam Clayton Powell. And the whole Congress was saying that we should get rid of him, and instead they got rid of him. And it was immoral, it was illegal, it was unconstitutional.
HUME: Well, let's talk a bit more about this case, if we can.
Let's go back to the Robinson interview and what he was saying and what Anne Marie Smith has said. Do you accept as an explanation for his denial, Congressman Condit's denial that he had a relationship with this woman? It's pretty clear this was a sexual relationship, or at least it was sexual.
Does it -- is this a satisfactory explanation to you that, because the congressman didn't consider it a relationship, that he should -- that that affidavit he tried to get her to sign was true?
RANGEL: I don't think we have a luxury to be going into whether he had a sexual relationship with anyone.
HUME: Well, then now -- but wait a minute. But, Congressman, look, he clearly asked this woman to say something under oath that she believed and indeed felt she knew to be false. Now, that's getting beyond -- and we're not talking about details of particulars of what happened on what day in any bedroom. We're talking about the broad question of whether a member of Congress should be soliciting from anyone an affidavit that seems on its face to be false.
RANGEL: You know, it's getting so bad that you reporters just talk with each other, and then, after that, you said, "it's clearly a fact that." You know, there is clearly no facts available to us at all. There's not even an indication of what, if any, relationship he had with the missing lady, which is basically what we should be involved with.
The only thing that we're discussing today are just leaks that we've heard either from the D.C. Police Department or from reporters who are leaking it. You can't tell me right now any fact that you know that really proves any wrongdoing by Congressman Condit.
But of course we might as well jump on in and take some shots at him, since, after his television appearance, he clearly embarrassed himself and the Congress.
JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Now, Congressman Rangel, exactly what is it possible for the Congress to do when you have a member who has brought such disrepute to the Congress itself? Can the House Ethics Committee take any action? And what about his seat on -- in terms of the House Intelligence Committee? Is it possible, now that he's put himself in position to be blackmailed?
RANGEL: Well, there's no question that serving on a committee is not a constitutional right. And so the Speaker, who believes that personally he's been disappointed because of his relationship with Condit -- who, I might add, has not been a Democratic Party poster boy at all -- they can do what they want about his committee assignment.
But when it comes to the Ethics Committee, even though the Congress sets its own standards as to the membership's conduct, you have to have some evidence of wrongdoing. And with the exception of newspaper clips and leaks, again, I keep saying, what is it that Condit has said or done that would allow us to go to the Ethics Committee and say that he should be kicked out of Congress?
WILLIAMS: Well, wait, so you're saying then, when the D.C. police finally designate him as a suspect, would that then raise the bar sufficiently high for the Ethics Committee to take action?
RANGEL: As a former prosecutor, it would seem to me that, if we're talking about a missing person and a possible crime, that they should have Condit, the staff and everybody else in front of the grand jury. They should have them under oath.
They should be investigating this and other facts to determine what happened to the missing woman. Whether he had an inappropriate relationship with a stewardess or anyone else, to me, is not relevant to the case except as it relates to an ongoing investigation. I mean, Connie Chung has done more in terms of finding out what went on than it seems like the D.C. Police Department has.
CECI CONNOLLY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Congressman, we saw the House Democratic leader, Richard Gephardt, had some very strong words after the Thursday night interview about Congressman Condit -- his level of disappointment, the fact that he had hoped that the congressman would be a little more forthcoming and candid, especially with his constituents.
Can you give us a feel for the rest of the Democratic caucus in the House? How much of a political problem is this, even in the sense that it's a distraction from the issues that you'd rather be focusing on?
RANGEL: It's embarrassing -- a member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, you can't attend any affair without someone asking, what do you think really happened with the Condit investigation. But the truth of the matter is that there's nothing that we can do in the Congress.
I think what the leader was talking about was that he has to discuss this with his colleagues. Unless there is something to take before the Ethics Committee, I don't see how we can do anything.
This doesn't mean, however, that he's not in hot water with his family, his constituents. The Democratic Party may put a candidate up against him, as you reported earlier. It could very well be. They can cut his district in such a way in reapportionment that it would not be feasible for him to run. A Republican could run against him. But I don't see what we can do in the House of Representatives.
HUME: Well, certainly the Ethics Committee is empowered to take action against any member who has brought to the Congress or the House into dishonor...
RANGEL: What would the charges be? What would the charges be?
HUME: Is it not one of the charges that can be brought, bringing the House into dishonor and disrepute?
RANGEL: Oh, that's so broad, Brit.
Even we have to have some level of fairness. I mean, what will we say that he did? That he gave a bum performance on television?
HUME: Hold on just a second. Let's talk for just a moment here about his performance in dealing with the authorities. I am sure, Congressman, that you feel that Congressman Condit should, under the circumstances of a missing persons case, be absolutely open and candid with the police. Let's listen to what the District of Columbia police chief, having heard the Connie Chung interview, said about how he answered questions with the police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. POLICE CHIEF: One could say that he answered every question that Connie Chung asked him. He answered every question that we asked him. Now, it's up to the others to decide whether or not that's forthcoming and that you got any more out of that conversation after the interview that you did before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Now, there's the D.C. police chief. The implication of his remarks is clear: that he was no more forthcoming in his interviews with the authorities than he was in his interview with Connie Chung, in which he repeatedly refused to answer a range of questions.
Is that, in your judgment, acceptable conduct?
RANGEL: This would hardly be a clip that I would be prepared to bring before the Ethics Committee. What the police chief said was that he was not completely satisfied with his own interrogation of Congressman Condit. But at the end of the day, he says that Condit is not a suspect.
So what are the charges against Condit in the Ethics Committee? What do we charge him with, a bad television performance? I would have been run out of Congress a long time ago if that was the criteria.
HUME: Oh, no. You'd win awards in that department, Congressman.
HUME: That's why we're always glad to have you.
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Mr. Rangel, let me ask you about, not the Ethics Committee, but the Ways and Means Committee, which you're the ranking Democrat on.
You voted against the Bush tax cut. You and your colleagues have been saying the Bush tax cut threatens the Social Security system. Are you going to seek to repeal some or all of the Bush tax cut?
RANGEL: Well, I do believe than when it gets to the higher income-tax bracket, it could be the administration that will have to decide now that its support of this irresponsible tax cut for the wealthiest of Americans as to whether they're ready to forfeit the monies that was there earlier for education, for prescription drugs, for defense and for a patients' bill of rights.
As the president said, hard decisions are going to have to be made, but his campaign promises have already been broken.
KRISTOL: But you're, sir, a prominent member of Congress. Are you going to try to save Social Security by getting rid of some of this tax cut this year or next year?
RANGEL: I've already tried, Bill, so you won't have a hard time trying to get any insight on me.
Yes, when it comes to the top 1 percent, most of these tax cuts don't become effective until the second half of the 10-year period. And I do believe that we have a decision to make, whether we should allow that to happen or whether we should take care of the problems that we have today with Social Security, Medicare, education and health care generally.
KRISTOL: Thank you, Mr. Rangel.
HUME: Congressman Charlie Rangel, always a pleasure to have you. Thank you very much.
RANGEL: Good to be here. Have a good day.
HUME: You, too.
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