Palin on Hackers and Ariz. Immigration Law Controversy

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Today, protesters condemned the new law and took to the streets in Arizona. Critics say the law will lead to racial profiling. And just before the bill was signed, President Obama called it "misguided." But in other ominous news, across the border from Arizona in Mexico, deadly violence continues. Hours ago, in Juarez, Mexico, gunmen ambushed two police vehicles, reportedly killing six police officers and a 17-year-old girl. Stay with Fox News for all the latest on al of these breaking news stories.

And now former governor Sarah Palin joins us from Eugene, Oregon. Governor, good evening.


VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. And I understand that you've been on the road today, but you started your day in Tennessee, in a courtroom. You testified today.

PALIN: I did, testified in the e-mail hacking trial that -- that incident that had occurred on the VP campaign trial.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, under subpoena, I take it? The prosecutor called you up and said, We need you to come down here, you're part of the prosecution case and so we need you to testify?

PALIN: Absolutely. Bristol -- my daughter, Bristol, and I both were subpoenaed. We answered the subpoena, we got on the stand, told the truth. And it wasn't a real traumatic or dramatic thing to just be up there telling the truth and seeking some justice.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was it a bit awkward? You know, people, you know, always, especially their first experience, they have no idea what to expect. You get called to the witness stand. Did you feel nervous at all?

PALIN: You know, it's funny. I told Todd beforehand I never get nervous. I don't get nervous usually before a speech or anything. But this morning, I was a little bit nervous just because there was that unknown out there, never having been on the witness stand, not knowing what to expect, not having seen the courtroom even and the set-up of the courtroom before.

But right away, I felt at ease -- great attorneys, very nice people all around. Knoxville people were absolutely awesome to us and so hospitable that, right away, it was a comfortable thing to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were you grilled by the defense, or was the defense light on you? What was the approach to you when the defendant's lawyer cross-examined you?

PALIN: Perhaps there was an attempt to grill, but there wasn't a whole lot of grilling that could be accomplished because to me, the case is quite cut and dried. Did the college student hack into my e-mails or not? Did he disclose personal, private e-mails for the world to see or not? He did. He had already admitted he did, so this was the process to -- in seeking justice to find out what his punishment would be because, no, an illegal act like that, it's quite disruptive. It is -- it's -- there's a reason that it is illegal. And we'll see what the jury decides in the next couple of days.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, every time, when I was practicing law, someone would come in with some notoriety, there'd be sort of a giant crowd would end up in the courtroom and every seat would be filled. I'm curious, was there a crowd, knowing that the former candidate for the vice president of the Republican ticket was in the courthouse? Did you get a full courtroom?

PALIN: It was a full courtroom, again, a lot of nice people from there in Tennessee, and not a nerve-wracking thing to be in front of them, either, because it was really, you know, just a matter of being up there and telling the truth. So it wasn't an unpleasant experience.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Take me back to how you found out, going back on the campaign, when you found out that your account had been hacked. Who told you, and what were you told?

PALIN: I was in a Michigan hotel room with Todd and watching some news program. All of a sudden, here my e-mail address and all my contacts and family pictures and lots of e-mails started flashing across the screen. We turned up the volume, and the news report was that my personal, private e-mail account had been hacked, and this news show was exposing the contents of my e-mail account.

And then right about that time, one of the campaign managers entered the room with a Secret Service agent and said he had some bad news to share and confirmed what I suspected he would tell me. And that bad news was that, yes, the private e-mail account was hacked. The world was looking at the contents of mine, my family's e-mails, our contents, our contacts, and we needed to shut everything down immediately.

So there began a lot of disruption in the campaign, disruption in communications with my children, my family, the kids' caretakers. It wasn't -- that wasn't a pleasant few days there.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we combed everything about your background, everybody did, and everyone's still talking about you and finding time to find out all sorts of things (INAUDIBLE) I'm curious, though. E-mails seem rather private. Did you feel violated? Is it different from the other -- you know, we dig through everything of yours. Is it different to have you e-mail dug through?

PALIN: Yes, it certainly is, Greta, because these -- I was the recipient of personal, private e-mails, friends sharing personal thoughts and feelings with me, family members sharing with me via e-mail things that were never for public disclosure. And yes, this was the equivalent of somebody going into your home and rummaging through your letters or your mail in your mailbox, opening everything up, stealing it, and then go exposing it to the rest of the world.

Absolutely a violation, a violation in terms of those who also were trusting of me to hold onto their personal e-mails with confidence. I felt very, very bad for the other victims in this.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, in the courtroom today, you must have seen the defendant, right, looked across and saw him at some point?

PALIN: Glanced over there, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. He's -- you know, he's -- I realize that you feel invaded by what he's done, if, in fact, he did do this, if, in fact, he's guilty of this. But was there any sort of sense -- he's only 22 years old. Was there any sort of thought, like, well, he did wrong in your view, but did you have any sort of empathy or sympathy for him?

PALIN: Well, what the e-mail hacker did, per his admittance later on, was, I'm trying to find things in a campaign to derail a presidential election. And you know, that's pretty major. That's like back in the day, literally physically breaking into a campaign office to find something to discredit or humiliate a candidate so that they could derail a candidacy. This is what the equivalent to this case is.

As for -- if you're leading into question about the level of punishment that is appropriate, of course, that's in the judge's hands. That's not for me to decide. But you know, it's not a proper thing. It's not a decent thing, fair or ethical or a legal thing to get into a candidate or anybody else's personal, private e-mail or snail mail and try to find something on the person and disclose it without their permission.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't in any way dispute the seriousness of it and how horrible people feel, violated, and maybe it's a little bit of the defense attorney in me, is that first you commit the crime and you either get convicted or you admitted to it, and then you got to figure out the punishment, and you look at different things in punishment, you know, and you look at the severity of the crime, and derailing a presidential campaign, or trying to, is certainly serious. Invading someone's privacy is certainly serious.

But his age -- he's -- you know, 22 is a lot different than 32, but it's a lot different than 16. And I was just sort of thinking, you know, what it's like for you sitting -- or you know, 15 feet away from him in a courtroom, what it felt like to you.

PALIN: Well, you know, Greta, one thought that did go through my mind was, how wise are his attorneys to allow this kid get as far as he did in this trial without pleading to something? And -- because he had already admitted that, yes, he was the hacker -- and then being able to move on with his life. Instead, you know, they dragged it out this far in front of a jury for the jury to decide his guilt or innocence.

And it makes me wonder if he had very smart attorneys around him bringing it to this point where he's facing, you know, some pretty -- some pretty serious consequences when perhaps, at the very beginning, this could have all been resolved, had his attorneys advised him to just -- you know, just 'fess up, tell the truth and take some more, relatively speaking, minimal punishment early on, and then he could move on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it is indeed a serious crime, and it is an incredible invasion of one's privacy and everybody you communicate with because it's not just the original target but everybody else. And perhaps this will send a message to anybody out there. It's not a prank, it's a crime. So let me move on to one other issue -- go ahead?

PALIN: I was just going to say, you know, the ripple effect I hope people would keep in mind. If they're ever tempted to steal somebody's mail and then distribute it, the ripple effect, those who were senders of the e-mail, all of their contact information, their e-mail addresses, their phone numbers -- all of that had to be changed, their businesses, their personal addresses -- everything had to be changed. It was quite, quite disruptive for many, many people. There was a negative ripple effect.

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed, and I hope everybody gets the message out there that it is a crime and they will -- people will get prosecuted for it.

All right, now to the other question. (INAUDIBLE) big picture of Governor Jan Brewer down in Arizona has been -- she's got a big immigration issue on her hands, illegal immigration issue. And -- and I'm wondering -- it's, like, how tough is it as a governor to try to get the federal government to help you out of a jam? Now, they finally have passed a bill. They've now got the attention of the federal government. But it has taken this far to have the federal government say, Look, we're going to -- we're going to try to do something about illegal immigration. But what's the difficulty for a governor?

PALIN: Well, in this day and age, when it doesn't seem there are a lot of federalists in the federal government understanding 10th Amendment rights and a state's rights, it is quite difficult to have that good communication and working relationship between the feds and the state government in order to best serve the people whom you are to be serving. So more power to Jan Brewer for deciding that she was taking on an issue. And it is a states' rights issue, and she was going to decide with her lawmakers what they could do to tackle this huge issue of some immigration problems.

As a governor, you know, I faced the same thing, when I was governor as Alaska and had to sue the federal government over abuse of the Endangered Species Act -- that was under President Bush -- and then having to butt heads with President Obama over the stimulus funds, when I vetoed some of the stimulus funds that came to our state, and then my veto of those funds was overridden by the legislature.

But there is -- there is always that good, healthy kind of conflict between the state and the federal government, but a state governor has got to make sure that they are remembering who they are serving. It's the people who hired them, their state's voters, and they do what's best for the people who did hire them. Sometimes that is in conflict with the federal government.

But Jan Brewer, I think, in doing the right thing for her constituents and standing up for her state, and now it's a matter of working with the feds to kind of mesh what the mission is that they are on to make sure that this immigration reform that she wants to work on, that due respect is given to the state in this case.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's a very important issue, and I think now the state of Arizona finally has the attention of the federal government. And so we'll see what happens as they -- as the days and weeks go on. Thank you, Governor.

PALIN: Thank you.

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