Sessions Sounds Off on Oil Spill, Sestak Saga

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 27, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: We'll have more on the developing White House Joe Sestak job offer scandal in just a moment with the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Jeff Sessions, but first at today's presidential news conference, as expected, the oil spill came up early and often.

And after weeks and weeks of inaction the president repeatedly attempted to convince the nation that he was in control of this disaster. But this late in the game, are words enough? Well, if all the calls for help over the past several weeks reveal anything at all is that the people of the Gulf Coast are not looking for words. They want action.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: The American people should know that from the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You say that everything that could be done is being done. But there are those who say that's not true.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R-LA.: It is clear that we don't have the resources we need to protect our coast.

REP. STEVE SCALISE, R-LA.: We are tired of excuses, Mr. President. It's time to live up to your obligation under the law. Help us protect our marsh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no management in place to make this happen. We need a leader to step up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think our government is just as much to blame as anybody else.

OBAMA: We'll continue to do whatever is necessary to protect and restore the Gulf Coast.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: These people are crying. They're begging for something down here and it just looks like he's not involved in this. Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this thing and get this thing moving. We're about to die down here.

SEN. DAVID VITTER, R-LA.: Mr. President, we appreciate the clear commitment you made to act in a timely manner and do whatever it takes. But that commitment is now being broken.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The average American would be astonished, 35 days after this started to realize how bad a job the president of the United States has done.

JINDAL: We've been fighting this oil for over a month, requesting resources. Too often we find the response to be too little too late.

CARVILLE: Nothing happens. Zilch, nada, nothing.

OBAMA: I intend to use the full force of the federal government to protect our fellow citizens and the place where they live. I can assure you of that.


HANNITY: All right, as you can see, it's Democrats and Republicans alike who are calling on the president to act. And just hours ago Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu told Politico, quote, "The president has not been as visible as he should have been on this and he's going to pay a political price for it, unfortunately."

Here now with more on the oil spill lack of response and the Sestak scandal is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Senator, welcome back to the program. Thanks for being with us.


HANNITY: Well, I — you know, it's 38 days in. And one of the main questions I thought in the press conference as it relates to the oil spill is somebody said wait a minute, you say you're there from day one. Everybody in your administration says you are there from day one.

Where is the booms? Where's the equipment? Where's everything that Bobby Jindal and all the relief workers have been asking for? Is that accurate statement of the president?

SESSIONS: I think that there are lax. I think there's a slow start. And really with regard to protecting the marshes, protecting our environment, I think the government may be the only entity with the capability of coordinating that. I don't think you could realistically expect BP, who should pay for it all, to be the one to actually lead that effort.

HANNITY: You know that's the irony of all this. People saying to me, and writing me e-mails, well, Hannity, are you now saying that you want big government involved in — in this cleanup?

I'm like, this rig that they gave a seal of approval for safety on is in federal waters. Protecting, you know, the tourism industry and protecting the fisheries industry and protecting our coastline and our beaches, that to me seems to be — should have been a top priority from day one.

And the administration didn't respond. So is there going to be this political fallout that Mary Landrieu is talking about?

SESSIONS: Well, I do believe that people on the Gulf Coast that I've talked to and I trust are uneasy about the effectiveness of the government's response. Some are critical of it. And I do believe they'll have to answer to that.

There are certain things the government may be only capable of doing. And they need do what they have the ability to do to protect particularly those Louisiana marshes and wildlife.

HANNITY: Well, it's going to be a lot — it's going to be a lot more than Louisiana. This is going to swing if it gets caught up in that gulfstream. It's going to swing along the coast of Florida and all the way up the eastern seaboard here.

Is there anything that you in the Senate, that Congress, can do now to initiate or to motivate or to quicken the process of getting the support that BP is asking and these states are asking? Get these booms out there, get the workers out there? Is there anything you guys can do?

SESSIONS: You know, we may actually need to consider that, Sean. I don't know that there's legislation pending to actually try to direct this cleanup effort and the protective effort that we need to be operating.

But that well could happen if the administration isn't stepping it up and being more effective in what is required.

HANNITY: All right, but this president never mentioned the largest flood in Nashville in 500 years. To this day he's not mentioned this. He didn't speak publicly about this for eight long days.

Now there is a political aspect to this especially in light of the massive criticism that George W. Bush received in light of a two-day slow response to Katrina.

Do you think, in this case, that there's a political double standard by the news media and by the Democrats?

SESSIONS: Well, perhaps there is. Certainly some of the chief critics of President Bush are not criticizing President Obama. There's no doubt about that. I do think they were — showed a lack of sensitivity to the problems in Nashville and Tennessee. That was a huge disaster that they suffered.

And the president has to understand that is part of his job. Nobody is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. But I got to tell you, when people are hurting like they are in Tennessee and along the Gulf Coast the president does need to be engaged totally.

HANNITY: All right. I thought Major Garrett showed a lot of courage. He was the only reporter today at the press conference. It was the last question of the press conference, when he asked the president about Joe Sestak.

And that is, Sestak has repeatedly claimed that he was offered a job if he would get out of the Senate primary against Arlen Specter.

We have laws. You pass laws. Varying presidents sign them into law. Eighteen U.S. Code 600 says a federal official cannot promise employment, a job in the federal government in return for a political act. U.S. Code Section 18 210, 211 says you can't accept anything of value in turn for hiring.

Seems to me that Joe Sestak is claiming a felony was committed. What is your interpretation?

SESSIONS: Well, I think it's matter that's so clearly been raised both by Sestak and even by David Axelrod at the White House who said if this is true it's a serious legal violation.

It's time to be investigated. And not by the president's own lawyer. Not the White House lawyers. Really the White House lawyers, White House counsel are defense lawyers. They defend the president.

HANNITY: Does this sound —


HANNITY: Does this sound like a felony to you? Your reading of the U.S. Code?

SESSIONS: Well, Sean, you know, I'm a prosecutor. I've done that most of my professional life. And I don't comment on horseback, you know, about those — the nature of a charge.

The president is entitled to a fair treatment. He doesn't need something trumped up to try to hurt him.

HANNITY: All right.

SESSIONS: But this matter is so clear and it — it needs to be investigated by an independent —

HANNITY: Council?

SESSIONS: — investigator.

HANNITY: All right. Can you — is this a fair acknowledgement that Sestak is claiming that a felony occurred? Is that a fair interpretation? It's a little different.

SESSIONS: What he is saying raises the suggestion that a criminal offense might have occurred, yes.

HANNITY: All right.

SESSIONS: He raised it sufficiently to — I believe and several of my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee believe it needs an official investigation.

HANNITY: All right.

SESSIONS: Not the president's own team, but either an independent counsel or Department of Justice and public integrity professional.

HANNITY: All right, Senator, always good to see you. Thank you for your time tonight.

SESSIONS: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: Appreciate you being with us.

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