Exclusive! Bernard Kerik Talks with Sean

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 16, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Alan Colmes.

Coming up next, we'll go back to Aruba for exclusive information about the three young men under suspicion in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

First, yesterday we showed you part one of Sean's exclusive interview with former New York City police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. If you may remember, he accepted President Bush's nomination for homeland security secretary but later withdrew his nomination after it was revealed that his nanny and housekeeper was an illegal alien.

Here's part two.


HANNITY: Tell us about that meeting that you had, the initial meeting with the president.

BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: I went over to see him, walked into the Oval Office, just me, him, and one of his staff members. And he said, "Look, I need a secretary of Homeland Security. Tom Ridge is leaving, as you know." He says, "And are you interested?"

I said, "Yes, sir."

He says, "OK. You got the job."

HANNITY: You were there with the president. You really started to get to know him right after 9/11. You were there when he stood on that rubble and he said soon the world will hear from us?


HANNITY: And that's where you really began your relationship? Because you were friends with Rudy and still are.

KERIK: Rudy is one of my closest friends, I would say. But the president, I got to know him over the next several years quite well, I'd say. And I had an enormous — and I still do — I have an enormous admiration for this man.

HANNITY: Did he say that he was willing to support you, if you wanted to stay?

KERIK: Well, I think that was his message, you know? And also Andy Card told me earlier. He said, "you know, I will tell you I think the president is going to support you either way. If you want to go through with this or if you want to withdraw, you know, it's going to be up to you. But I think the president will be there for you."

HANNITY: I assume you thought that would be the end of the negative press, and then it became a whirlwind.

KERIK: Well, you know, Sean, under normal circumstances, I guess I would have. But Andy Card made a statement to me before I hung up with him that night. He said, you know, "There's a lot of people out there. He says, you know, people will come out from under rocks.”

HANNITY: And they did.

KERIK: Or something to that effect. Maybe not those same words. But I kind of — you know, I was pretty distraught, and I was upset and I was — you know I was sort of out of it at the time. And I guess I wasn't paying attention.


KERIK: But I paid attention when there were about 150 reporters on the end of my driveway.

HANNITY: They went after your personal life. They went after your work as commissioner. They even accused you at one point of, quote, "organized crime," which you spent your whole life fighting crime.

I mean that's got to hurt, every tabloid, front pages, New York, people knew you as a hero with 9/11. How hard was that?

KERIK: It was difficult. One of the things that bothered me the most was the organized crime stuff. You know the Daily News ran a headline story that I was connected to organized crime. I know today what I didn't know then, was that that reporter knew the story was false. So the reporter knew all of this when me wrote the story. That stuff is hurtful.

HANNITY: Rudy Giuliani is one of your closest friends. You guys were side-by-side on 9/11. He was one of the few people that knew that all this was going on. What advice did he offer at the time?

KERIK: He was there every step of the way, and every time something came up during this process, you know, I would call him and say, what about this and what about that? And it was his idea, you know, to go back and look through the press and try to make this decision, do you stay in the fight or not?

You know, what do we do about moving forward, do I call it now? Do I take a chance and go into Congress or the Senate and you're getting smeared? He was there every step of the way. He was one of my biggest sort of avenues of support.

HANNITY: Do you ever regret not staying in?

KERIK: In a way, yes, I do regret, you know, not staying in for the fight, because the real fight was about the domestic and the nanny and the legality of her being in the country.

You know, all of this other stuff, it will come and go. And as Brian Mulroney, who was the former prime minister of Canada, called me and he said, "Bern, in a year from now, two years from now you'll look back at this and laugh."

And I thought, I don't know if I'll ever look at it and laugh. But, you know, it will all be said and done.

On a personal note, I'm pretty happy with the withdrawal. You know, I'm having a good time with my family.

HANNITY: Is the system unfair, or is it fair? In other words this did happen. You didn't know about it at the time. But are we too quick to judge?

KERIK: Here's the way I look at it. There was a problem. It was a serious problem for me, because I would be the guy to oversee immigration. So that was a big issue. It wasn't like I was going for some other secretarial job under the president.

I think, you know — and naturally there's political things that go on in this process. But I would have to say I had tremendous support by Hillary Clinton, by Chuck Schumer, by Corzine, by Lautenberg. You know, were four Democratic senators in New York and Jersey

HANNITY: That's amazing because they all hate me.

KERIK: And I have — they were liking me at the time.

HANNITY: I'm kidding you.

KERIK: I think people still remember regardless of their political affiliation — I think people remembered and were appreciative of your strength during 9/11.

KERIK: You know what? I think every one of those people, they also know my career. It's not just about 9/11. Where I came from, being a detective in the NYPD, my Middle East time, my Iraq time. I think they were aware of that.

HANNITY: What about Chertoff? How do you feel about the job he's doing?

KERIK: I think he's a good man. I've known him for years. I think he is extremely qualified. I think he has a big job to do. And we'll see.

HANNITY: Is Rudy going to run for president and would you ever consider getting back in the arena if another opportunity came your way?

KERIK: Well, right now I'm liking the private sector. You know, I created my own country.

HANNITY: Now you're becoming a millionaire. I read it.

KERIK: Not as much as they say, but I'm working on it. Would I get back into government? I guess at the right time for the right people, I probably would.

Should Rudy run for president? I think he'd be one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen. But it's really up to him.

HANNITY: Do you think he would?

KERIK: Personally, I think he should. I don't know if he will.

HANNITY: Bernard Kerik, good to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

KERIK: Thank you. Thank you.

HANNITY: Thank you very much, my friend.


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