All-Star Panel: Judgment day for former GOP rising star

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 6, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: People say that you are on a short list for possible VP. What do you think?

FORMER GOV. BOB MCDONNELL, R - VA: I'm saying I'm not looking for it or asking for it. We are sitting here in a capital designed by Thomas Jefferson, the second governor of Virginia. That's a pretty good gig to have.

I am a fallen human being. I have made mistakes in my life. I always tried to put the best interest of the people first as governor. But I have failed at times, and some of the judgments that I have made during the course of my governorship have hurt myself, my family, and my beloved people of Virginia, and for that I am deeply, deeply sorry.


BAIER: Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, once a rising star in the party now sentenced today to two years in federal prison and two years of supervised release after charges of public corruption. Some critics are saying this is getting lost in contrast.


JAY SEKULOW, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: You are talking about $120,000 worth of gifts which are not illegal under Virginia law.  But they've tried to make it into a bribery case. And then you get the reports that Reverend Sharpton has a $4.5 million tax liability and he is still operating his business. So you ask yourself, how could there be this kind of double standard?


BAIER: We're back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I'm a fan of Jay Sekulow. I'm not a fan of Al Sharpton. But that's an irrelevancy. If you want to make a comparison it should be to other governors, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Edwards, of Louisiana, governors who have been accused of corruption, were guilty of corruption.

Look, this is a real human tragedy. And I think that the judge actually got it kind of right. Ten years would have been an outrage. No jail, I think, given that a jury had found them guilty of felonies here would have been, I think, probably also in some ways unjust. Two years -- it's a tragedy in the fact that you have got these politicians who are hard scrabble guys who come up from nowhere and then they hang around without the rich -- with the rich, excuse me, donors, enablers, and they get the idea of entitlement. And it ends up in the tragedy we saw.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yeah, I think it's a real Greek tragedy. It's awful. You saw them talking to you. He was considered as a presidential prospect not only as a vice presidential prospect.

BAIER: That was 2012.

LIASSON: Yeah. I do think he has to serve some time. Generally judges are harder on public officials because they violated the public trust. And there are a lot of governors who have been to jail. Charles just mentioned some of them.

BAIER: And Blagojevich in Illinois.


LIASSON: Illinois has a long tradition. That's right. But he will serve some time.  I think the comparisons to Sharpton are ridiculous. The guy was tried by a jury of his peers and found guilty.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: So, I think there is a double standard. I think there's a pretty clear double standard. If you look at the allegations laid out by the New York Times against Al Sharpton, it's pretty clear that there was wrongdoing there, and the fact that he's not getting the kind of scrutiny that somebody like a Bob McDonnell does suggest to me that there is a double standard.

But beyond that I think it's also clear that what Bob McDonnell can't be minimized. That was a pretty clear quid pro quo here. And I will say this on McDonnell's behalf. The statements that he just gave, at least he's taking ownership of what he does. He calls himself a fallen man. He acknowledges that he made mistake in judgment. I think it's pretty clear that he did. But you've got a whole separate effort trying in effect, I think, to blame his wife for this. He's taking some ownership of what he did and I think he should.

BAIER: His wife's sentencing, by the way, is February 20th.

That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see who may have really stolen the show on day one of the 114th Congress.

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