This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 28, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I look forward to giving the commissioners a chance to question both of us, and it will be an -- it will be a good opportunity for these people to help write a report that hopefully will help future presidents deal with terrorist threats to the country.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The 9/11 commission gets a shot at the top two tomorrow. President Bush and Vice President Cheney will make a rare joint appearance behind closed doors to discuss their actions leading up to the attacks on 9/11.

Will they get fair treatment from the commission, or are they in for some partisan finger pointing?

Joining us now, Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

Dick Durbin, Senator, how are you? Welcome to the program. Good to see you again.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Good to be with you.

HANNITY: One of the things the president is focused on is this presidential daily briefing. And when I read this briefing, it never corroborated that there was some specific threat. And it did mention that the FBI was conducting 70 field investigations related to what was in that memo. Is there anything, in your mind, that the president and vice president could have done, in what that memo said?

DURBIN: Well, it says it was historical, which is what I believe Dr. Condoleezza Rice said, I think is not quite accurate. It was about more than history. It really projected the possibility of a threat from al Qaeda in the United States.

Now, I've not heard anybody say, and you're not going to hear me say that there was clear evidence and we should have known September 11 was coming. But this was more of an historic document, and it was an important piece of information.

HANNITY: But it did say that the FBI -- if you're the president of the United States. You read the threat assessment and at the bottom it says, and by the way, we have 70 FBI field investigations looking into this matter right now, wouldn't it give a level of confidence? Because I'm thinking that would give me some confidence.

DURBIN: Of course it would, and I think any president reading that would assume that these agencies were doing what they were supposed to do.

But I think that this commissions is all about asking the hard questions that, frankly, President Clinton has faced and former Vice President Gore. And tomorrow our President Bush -- along with his insistence, I might add, Vice President Cheney at his side. They are going to have to answer these same questions.

HANNITY: One of the -- one of the criticisms the president and vice president and the Republicans are making against John Kerry is that he's weak on defense and he's weak on intelligence. In 1994, the after the first Trade Center attack, John Kerry proposed an amendment that would have cut intelligence budgets by $6 billion across the board.

At the time, not even Senator Kennedy could support it. And Dennis Deconcini, a Democrat, said, "We no longer seem immune from acts of terrorism for reasons he was opposed John Kerry.

Doesn't that show a remarkable lack of insight into the -- the dangers and the evils in the world to make such a massive cut proposal like that?

DURBIN: And do you recall when Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney suggested cutting over 500,000 troops, closing bases and, shutting down major weapons systems. Let's be very honest about this.

HANNITY: That's nice. Six billion dollars across the board for intelligence?

DURBIN: Excuse me.

HANNITY: Six billion dollars across the board for intelligence? You don't think that shows a certain naivete?

DURBIN: No, I certainly don't. You haven't really told all the circumstances. And the point I'm trying to make here is you have to put this in the context of amendments that are being offered, and for the debate that is taking place, for anyone to suggest that John Kerry is not going to be strong on national defense, they're overlooking not only his record as a United States senator but his record in serving this country. This man literally risked his life for this nation.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Senator Durbin, this is Alan Colmes. It's really shameful what they're doing to Kerry. And it's shameful. I feel his record is being misrepresented by many people.

He actually voted to increase intelligence military spending since 1998. He's done it by millions and millions of dollars. And the very same Republicans criticizing him themselves were for cutting the very things that Kerry cut back at the same time, because times change. Everybody admits it. I just find that extremely disingenuous, those particular attacks.

DURBIN: This has been an awful week when you consider what Karen Hughes said at the beginning of the week and Vice President Cheney, that embarrassing moment at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

This has been a very bad week, and the suggestion that somehow we should question John Kerry's military record and that he's not strong on defense, I hope that we can move on to issues that really are deserving in this election.

COLMES: I want to talk about the 9/11 commission and the fact that the president and vice president insisted on appearing together tomorrow. And I wonder if -- what that's all about. Are they afraid of contradictory testimony?

DURBIN: I don't understand it. I frankly can't understand why the vice president, as commander in chief, cannot sit there and answer the questions.

His insistence it's going to be done in private. There won't be any oath taken. It is not really testimony, just a visit and an appearance. They're not even going to record or transcribe what he says. They've gone to great lengths at the White House so that whatever he says cannot even be quoted at a later time.

And why does he need Vice President Cheney at his side? I would think that he could stand there and tell his side of the story without the vice president.

COLMES: And for historical purposes you would think there should be a transcript of this. I mean, this is historical. He's insisted no transcript. And, as you pointed out, not testifying under oath.

So I think the American people need to question, what -- why not? What is he afraid might be said that could come back and haunt him?

DURBIN: The White House has played this wrong from the beginning. They opposed the commission. They didn't support the extension. They didn't want the funding. They withheld documents. They didn't want Dr. Rice to testify. They originally said the president will only come in for an hour and only if Governor Keen and Congressman Hamilton asked questions.

They've just resisted every step of the way, as if there is something that they're trying to hold back. Frankly, they should be forthcoming. Let's find out what happened so we can avoid a future tragedy here in the United States.

COLMES: We just -- we showed a little clip of the president saying he's looking forward to testifying. I somehow don't know if he's looking forward to it.

Can you explain, though, why his ratings -- his approval ratings and in the polling, he's actually done very well in the last week, in spite of all the items you just brought up?

DURBIN: Well, I think quite honestly the American people haven't focused in on this election campaign quite as much as we do, those of us who are involved in reporting the political campaign, the U.S. Senator and House of Representatives.

But I think the American people will focus in. They think America need to focus in a new, strong direction, and I think that's going to move them toward a John Kerry candidacy.

HANNITY: Well, we're hoping against that, Senator, at least on my side. But thank you for being with.

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