Former Attorney General John Ashcroft on 'Your World'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," November 6, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: In the meantime, developing right now, border arrests are down because enforcement is up. Homeland Security touted the latest progress today. Still, a government report says about 21,000 illegals slipped through the border in the course of a year, and pretty soon they're all going to be getting licenses. But I digress. Maybe they should be applying for other things.

What does former Attorney General John Ashcroft think? He joins me right now.

Attorney General, it's very good to have you.

JOHN ASHCROFT, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm delighted to be with you, Neil.

CAVUTO: What do you make of this whole driver's license thing, first of all?

ASHCROFT: Well, I would have very serious reservations about granting an official document to individuals that would facilitate their illegality, make it easier for them to do virtually anything in our culture.

When I think about the way we identify ourselves as Americans, none of us carries his or her birth certificate. Each of us relies virtually exclusively on a driver's license.

CAVUTO: In other words, that license gets you on the plane. It gets you access to whatever you need.

ASHCROFT: Well, frankly, a well-known law enacted, some people refer to it as Motor Voter. Those who don't like it refer to it as "Auto Fraudo." But the whole point is the very most cherished right in a democracy is the right to participate in government. And, very frankly, our system has linked that right to automobile driving privileges and licenses.

But, virtually — there are so many things that are linked in that way that I think we ought to have very serious reservations about doing anything that enables or facilitates illegality. There is a principle that, if things make easier the maintenance of illegal situations, we ought to have real reservations about doing it.

CAVUTO: Now, do those real reservations extend to our safety? Is it a safety issue for you?

ASHCROFT: Well, you know, I don't know the data, but I know this, that there are plenty of people with driver's licenses whose insurance expires or they don't have insurance one way or another.

In my state, in order to — in my home state, in order to license a car, you have to have insurance. But to possess a driver's license, you merely have to pass a test.


ASHCROFT: There's no guarantee that a person, with driving even with a driver's license, has insurance. We would like to do what we can to...

CAVUTO: I cannot imagine a scenario, Attorney General, where someone — let's say they're illegal. They bang into you, God forbid, and they say, "It's OK, it's OK, I'm illegal, but I'm insured."


CAVUTO: But that's a whole 'nother issue.

While I have you here, sir — we're getting indications of it — Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, is going to reject the president's attorney general choice, and on and on we go. Many who even are quasi- endorsing him are saying, it's going to be a rocky final year.

What do you make of that?

ASHCROFT: Well, very frankly, I think Judge Mukasey is a well- qualified individual. I was pleased to see that the Senate committee, the Judiciary Committee, voted him out to be sent to the floor for confirmation. I believe he will be confirmed.


CAVUTO: ... it will be close?

ASHCROFT: He should be confirmed.

I think the rancor of partisanship in Washington, particularly on the Hill, is such now that even a person of this kind of high qualification and significant awareness of the law, who could serve in a very needed capacity — you know, the absence of leadership at the department is not healthy for justice in America.

Here's a person who has served notably his country, both in the public sector, in the private sector, who is a person of excellent credentials, now has the support of a majority of the members of the committee and is still being debated. He should be confirmed and quickly, so that the business of justice, which is at the core of what it means to have a free society, could be unimpeded.

And when partisanship and partisan politics overtakes that, as it has for a long time in regard to our Justice Department, I would hope the Congress would reverse this course and would quickly confirm the judge as the attorney general.

CAVUTO: All right, it looks like the judge is going to be sworn in when all is said and done, but he will have a bumpy, as all final years of a president are.

ASHCROFT: Well, you know...

CAVUTO: Now, what can he do in that environment, particularly coming after Gonzales and all the heat there?

ASHCROFT: Well, first of all, the attorney general's job is no walk in the park.


CAVUTO: Right.


CAVUTO: Really? You didn't generate many headlines. I'm surprised to hear that.


ASHCROFT: So, I think, you know, there's a sense, if you're not making somebody mad every day, you may not be doing your job there. But it is a very important job.

And I think he has the character and the qualifications to set an agenda. And, frankly, he needs to set an agenda that the administration and the American people would endorse, and then be careful not to be run by the Congress.

Very frankly, you have to decide what you need to do. We targeted reducing gun crime. We targeted reducing violent crime and reducing young people on drugs. And we were able to be successful in those things, in spite of the 9/11 challenges.

But you can't just be an inbox manager. If you wait for someone to throw this, that or the other at you, and you're just answering questions, you're on the Hill in partisan debates all the time or partisan fights...

CAVUTO: Well, maybe that's the fear, that this guy won't be.

ASHCROFT: Well, I think he will, and I hope he will.


ASHCROFT: And I know him. We're not unacquainted, and — although I certainly wouldn't have any involvement, unless he — but he's a person of great talent and can help America.


I would love to elaborate on this with you on FOX Business Network. Did I tell you we have a business network?


CAVUTO: And I know you're going to be my special guest tonight.


CAVUTO: We're milking this poor guy.


CAVUTO: The former attorney general of these United States, John Ashcroft, will be spending more time with me in about two hours. So, we're going to feed him for the next couple hours, keep him busy.

Thank you. Very good seeing you.

ASHCROFT: Pleasure to be with you, Neil. Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right.

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