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Inside Politics

President Clinton Orders Millions of Acres of Federal Land Protected From Development; President-elect Likely to Review Decision

Aired January 5, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET



WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Believe it or not, even today, there was some heat involved in this.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: In the winter of his term, President Clinton moves to protect national forests. Will he be undercut by his soon-to-be-successor?



ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY DESIGNATE: This administration, in its final days, has been a busy beaver. And we will review all regulations and executive orders upon coming into office on January 20.


WOODRUFF: We'll consider the environment when George W. Bush takes office and how it may contrast with the Clinton era.

Plus, the Senate approves a power-sharing deal between Republicans and Democrats. How much of their work will be 50-50?

ANNOUNCER: This is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff at CNN Center in Atlanta.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is on assignment.

Just 15 days before he leaves the White House, President Clinton is staying in character by working hard and stirring controversy. At issue today: new protection he's ordering for almost 60 million acres of national forest land.

CNN's Kelly Wallace has more on how Mr. Clinton is using his executive powers in his final days in office, despite objections by some Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the most sweeping environmental initiative of his presidency, Mr. Clinton announces new regulations protecting nearly one-third of national forest lands.

CLINTON: From the Appalachian Mountains to the Sierra Nevada, forest land in 39 states will be preserved in all its splendor, off- limits to road-building and logging that would destroy its timeless beauty.

WALLACE: Nearly 59 million acres, including all the roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest of Alaska. But Alaskan Senate Republicans pledge to get the plan overturned through the courts or through the Bush White House, accusing Mr. Clinton of bypassing Congress.

SEN. FRANK MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: The process has been totally flawed. You know, here you have a Congress that's supposed to weigh the merits, hold the public hearings, get the input from the people, and then make a decision based on that input.

WALLACE: The president has announced several new regulations over these final weeks, including measures to keep patients' medical records private, to protect workers from repetitive-stress injuries, and to fight air pollution with tougher diesel-emission standards. Political analysts say no other president has used his federal powers in such a sweeping way in his final days.

PAUL LIGHT, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Bill Clinton is on a record- setting pace at this point in terms of executive orders, proclamations, press activity. It's like he's having this final bacchanal of executive activity.

WALLACE: But White House officials say most of these executive actions have been in the works for more than a year.

JAKE SIEWERT, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's not about creating paper for the sake of having more paper. It's about what the rules will do and who they will protect.

WALLACE: And Mr. Clinton is not done yet. He still has five different monument proposals to consider, which would protect even more federal lands.


WALLACE: Clinton aides say no other president has ever overturned a monument designation, and that to undo some of these other new regulations, the incoming president would have to go through the entire rule-making process. Still, the Bush team is promising a review of everything Mr. Clinton has done -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, what do the people around the president say to critics who say this president is just trying to create a legacy here in the waning days of his presidency? WALLACE: Well, they say a couple of things. First, they say it's not as if Mr. Clinton decided to tackle environmental, labor and worker-safety standards just over the past few weeks. They say these projects have been under way over the past few years. They also say very clearly that Mr. Clinton has always said he hoped Congress would address many of his priorities, but that he has also said he would work up until his final day, using his executive powers to accomplish everything he wanted to do -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly Wallace at the White House, thanks very much.

Well, the Bush administration-in-waiting is not saying much publicly about Mr. Clinton's 11th-hour activity. But privately, there is some bristling, particularly about today's environmental move.

CNN's Major Garrett is covering the Bush transition.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What the outgoing president just gave environmentalists, the incoming president may take away. That's especially true of the executive order setting aside nearly 59 million acres of national forest.

FLEISCHER: This administration, in its final days, has been a busy beaver. And we will review all regulations and executive orders upon coming into office on January 20.

GARRETT: But can Bush overturn this forest move or any of Clinton's executive moves shielding public lands from development? Bush sources tell CNN they are already researching what they and Congress can do to turn back Clinton's environmental executive orders.

BONNER COHEN, LEXINGTON INSTITUTE: I think we may well see, in the weeks following his inauguration, executive orders dealing with the initiatives that President Clinton took in the final days of his office.

GARRETT: The Bush agenda gives equal priority to energy exploration and environmental protection. He wants to: open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling; increase federal leases for offshore oil and gas drilling; keep hydroelectric dams in the Northwest running, instead of shutting them down to protect endangered salmon; expand coal-mining and accelerate the use of so-called clean-coal technology to power electric plants; and encourage natural gas exploration throughout the Southwest.

BRENT BLACKWELDER, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: President-elect Bush has given every indication that, as soon as he gets into office, he's going to begin a very massive anti-environmental agenda.

GARRETT: Mr. Bush's supporters say the public will applaud lower-priced and more secure energy supplies.

COHEN: I think they will combine their efforts to deal with the energy shortage -- which is actually a crisis in California -- with more rational approaches to environmental issues.

(on camera): For six years, Republicans resisted Mr. Clinton's environmental agenda. So he went around them with executive orders. Mr. Bush's prefers congressional consensus. But he may find that just as elusive as his predecessor did, and executives orders just as inviting.

Major Garrett, CNN, Austin, Texas.


WOODRUFF: And now to an area of agreement on Capitol Hill. Within the last hour, the Senate approved a plan for running the divided chamber.

CNN's Chris Black reports on the deal and how the details were ironed out in the trenches.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With great reluctance, Senate Republicans have agreed to share power with Democrats, reflecting the new political reality of a Senate split straight down the middle.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: This resolution may haunt me. But it's fair. And it will allow us to go on with the people's business. SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: We cannot quantify bipartisanship. Bipartisanship is not a mathematical formula. It is a spirit. It is a way of working together that tolerates open debate.

BLACK: The agreement is unprecedented. Democrats and Republicans will have an equal number of seats on committees. But Republicans will retain the chairmanships. Either the Republican or Democratic leader can bring tied votes to the Senate floor. Most Republican chairman were against it, fearing gridlock and being stuck with the blame for failure.

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: I don't know whether we're going to be able to get the work of the American people done under a 50-50 arrangement. I hope and pray -- that is, as to committee structure -- I hope and pray that it will work.

SEN. PHIL GRAMM (R), TEXAS: My concern is that we may very well, in this process, be guaranteeing gridlock.

BLACK: Republicans said George W. Bush's call for a new tone in Washington helped set is the stage.

LOTT: This is the extension of what the president has been saying. He has said: Look, let's find a way to work together. Let's deal with the people's business. Let's be uniters, not dividers.

BLACK: The most senior Senate Democrat, a student of history, said the new president needed the cooperation of Democrats.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: If he is to see those programs succeed, he's going to have to have help.

BLACK: For example, Republicans used to have twice the number of staff as Democrats on the Senate Health Education and Labor Committee. Now staff will be equal. With the new rules, Democrats may better shape legislation on education reform, health care and the minimum wage.


BLACK: The senators were effusive in congratulating one another for showing statesmanship to reach this deal. But all now agree that this new system will test the friendships and political skills of senators from both parties -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Chris, why were they able to work this out? There were clearly people who didn't think this was going to happen.

BLACK: Well, they unquestionably, a number of the chairman, Judy, went kicking and screaming. But I have to tell you, it was a very gradual process. You could feel the change day by day. One Democrat described it as like a grieving process. First there was denial. They had to accept the fact that they were no longer in the majority.

And one key point really came when they were all sworn in and when Tom Daschle was introduced as majority leader. For a lot of those Republican senators, for the first time, they realized: Oh, my God, it is 50-50. And so gradually they came around and understood they had to make a change. And the Democrats did -- stood firm and weren't going anywhere. So they inevitably had to do this.

WOODRUFF: Are you are saying, then, it really -- it was inevitable?

BLACK: It was inevitable, Judy, because otherwise there would have been a huge mess up here. I mean, they could have technically filibustered. Tom Daschle would have gone ahead with a resolution that pretty much did this on his own. And it would have passed, because of Al Gore's tie-breaking vote. It would have only, of course, been passed for two weeks.

But it would have put the Republicans in a very being bad position of being obstructionists, of being opposed to bipartisanship -- which is the watchword up here right now -- at the beginning of the Bush administration, something that really would have not been good for the new president.

WOODRUFF: Well, Chris, is it fair to say that Democrats now feel they owe the Republicans something, that they at least owe them some cooperation?

BLACK: I don't think they feel they owe them. I think they do feel that they want to make this work, that they will cooperate as much as they can. But you can't ignore the fact that there is a big philosophical divide between these two parties. They may agree on the issues. They strongly disagree on how to get there. But this new system, in a way, will force them to work out a lot of those differences. So a lot of Democrats are actually quite optimistic.

WOODRUFF: All right, Chris Black, a history-making day at the Capitol. Thanks very much.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: new positions of power for congressional Republicans -- Jonathan Karl on the committee changes in the House. Plus, term limits on the Hill: We will ask Jeff Greenfield why the issue may have lost steam.


WOODRUFF: As their Senate colleagues worked out issues of power- sharing, House Republicans were hosting a visit from the vice president-elect today.

Joining us now from Capitol Hill: our Jonathan Karl -- Jonathan, tell us, why was Dick Cheney on Capitol Hill?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dick Cheney had an extremely busy day on Capitol Hill, touching all of the ideological bases within the Republican Party. But he was also up there, Judy, picking up a very prized piece of political real estate.

There on the House side, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has given Dick Cheney office space on the House side of the Capitol, right off the House floor. This is some of the most prized office space in Washington. Of course, the vice president, as the president of the Senate, already has office space on the Senate side. Now, he also has a place to hang his hat on the House side. And the reason why this is important is because Dick Cheney is going to have a significant role in crafting legislation and helping legislation move through the House and Senate.

As one of the top aides to Speaker Dennis Hastert told me: We expect Dick Cheney to be here and helping shepherd key legislation through Congress, twisting arms when needed, talking to members. And that is exactly what he did today. He met -- he covered all the bases. He met with J.C. Watts, who is the only African-American Republican in the Congress. He met with Deborah Pryce, who is the top-ranking woman Republican in the House. He also met with the top conservative leader in the House, the leader of the Conservative Action Team -- it's called CAT -- John Shadegg.

Right after that meeting, he met with the moderates, the so- called "Tuesday group," who have some concerns about the size of George W. Bush's proposed tax cut -- so a very busy day for Dick Cheney on the Hill. And it was not only on the House side. He went over to the Senate side, had a one-on-one meeting with Trent Lott, met with Bob Byrd, the senior Democrat in the House -- so very busy day, because what Republicans are saying is that it is going to be Dick Cheney who is basically going to be spearheading that very tricky task of getting the Bush legislative agenda through the House and Senate. WOODRUFF: Jonathan, given the new committee chairmanships worked out on the House side, who are the new power brokers there?

KARL: Well, first and foremost, Judy, you have got to look to the Ways and Means Committee. And this post will now be held by Bill Thomas. Bill Thomas is somebody who people know as an expert on health care. He was on that Breaux-Thomas commission on Medicare. He has also got a reputation for independence and is considered a moderate -- also known, by the way, for his hot temper.

And it's interesting to note here that, although this is one of the most powerful, most important committee chairmanships, he was not initially the choice of the Republican leadership. They wanted the more senior member of that committee, Phil Crane, because they felt he would be more easy to control. But Thomas is somebody -- in the words of one top leadership aide on the Republican side -- I'm cleaning up his language a little bit -- he said: Look, Thomas is a jerk, but he's our jerk. And he's able to get legislation through.

He is going to be very important, because, on that Ways and Means Committee, he is going to be in charge of getting that tax cut through the House. Also, you've got, on this newly-created Financial Services Committee, Michael Oxley, yet again another person who was not the senior member of the committee. Passed over: Marge Roukema, who was the senior member of what used to be called the Banking Committee. Oxley is from Ohio.

He is known as a real guy that gets along. One -- you see the quote there -- one top leadership aide said: He is a good golfer. He's an even better fund-raiser. Oxley is a conservative who lobbied intensely for this post. He went -- he raised a lot of money for House members who would be voting on this. And he is going to be considered a major player. But he does leave some bruised egos. Marge Roukema, a moderate from New Jersey -- one of the top women in the House for Republicans -- was the senior member. And she is very upset about being passed over for that post.

And then, finally, another key power broker here is going to be on the Education Committee, which will be very important, because, of course, that's one of George W. Bush's top priorities. Getting that post was John Boehner. John Boehner is somebody who used to be in the House leadership, but was relegated to somewhat of the back benches after he played a role in a coup attempt against Newt Gingrich. Boehner then lost the leadership battle to J.C. Watts. He's been out of the leadership.

Republicans are seeing this now as the rehabilitation of John Boehner, somebody who was, at one point, seen as on the fast track, talked about as a possible future speaker of the House. Well, he was out on the back benches for a while. He is now back. This is will be a very important role -- somebody clearly to watch. And, of course, there are other chairmanships. But those are the ones, some of the key players. All three of those, Judy, are people who were not the senior members of the committee -- passed over -- winning battles against senior members of their committee to take the chairmanships. WOODRUFF: All right. But despite that, John, some of the old guard survived the upheaval. Henry Hyde lost his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, but he picked up another important job. Tell us about that.

KARL: Well, that's exactly right. Henry Hyde desperately wanted to hang on to the Judiciary Committee. He thought that he still had work to do. He told members of the leadership that he lost a year of legislating because of the impeachment battle. He said he still had work to do with the Judiciary. But he got a very soft landing: one of the most prestigious chairmanships. He gets the International Relations chairmanship.

He went for that. He had to actually apply for that post. This has been a fascinating process, Judy, because all of these guys, including Henry Hyde, had to actually go forward before this steering committee of Republicans and basically have a job interview and say what they would do as chairman. So, although Hyde wanted to stay on as Judiciary chairman, he did ask, as a fallback, to be named International Relations. And he got it.

WOODRUFF: And finally, Jon, what about for Ohio Republican Rob Portman: newly-created leadership position?

KARL: Yes, Portman is going to have a post that they're calling chairman of the Republican leadership. It's not entirely new. It used to be the post that was held by Bob Paxon. Newt Gingrich had appointed Paxon to that post. But then when Paxon led that coup attempt against Newt Gingrich, that post disappeared.

Now here you have Rob Portman, one of the most popular Republicans on the Hill, taking the post. Interesting thing here -- interesting little footnote -- Rob Portman getting this post: One of the most important aspects of it is, he will be seen as the principle liaison between the House Republicans and the White House -- one top leadership aide telling me that one reason why they gave this post to Portman is, first of all, he's got very close ties to Bush. He actually served in the elder Bush administration.

But, also, the Bush administration had been dangling job offers for him in the White House. And they wanted -- Dennis Hastert wanted to be sure he stayed there on Capitol Hill in the House, so offered him this newly-created -- or renewed position of chairman of the Republican leadership.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon Karl. For those who watch Congress closely, these are fascinating days. Thanks very much.

KARL: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Well, the turnover in House committee chairmanships yesterday was the result of a 1995 Republican promise to impose term limits on those positions.

Joining us now: CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield -- hi, Jeff.


WOODRUFF: At one time, Jeff, the idea of term limits for all House and Senate members was a powerful political issue. What about that?

GREENFIELD: Well, it absolutely was. In 1994, when the Republicans took over the Congress, many members had run on a promise of term limits, not just on themselves, but to try to impose term limits on the entire Congress. In 1995, before the Supreme Court struck this down, 23 states had try to imposed term limits on their own members of the House and Senate.

And a majority of the House actually endorsed a constitutional amendment imposing term limits. What happened, I think, was that the very election that brought these people into the Congress took a lot of the steam out of the movement. After all, the voters imposed term limits on a lot of powerful members of Congress by throwing them out. And, also, some of the term-limits initiative came from Republicans who were frustrated by the 40-year control of the House by Democrats.

Once the Republicans took over, understandably, the emotional intensity of that issue began to subside a little bit.

WOODRUFF: So the reality about members of Congress staying around forever really isn't?

GREENFIELD: Well, that was always a little bit of an exaggeration. I mean, there has been a lot of turnover in Congress, especially over the last 10 years. If you look at the last Congress, the 106th, 43 percent of the members of the House had served for six years or less. Only about 28 percent had served 12 years or more. And there are similar numbers in the Senate.

For all that we picture a Strom Thurmond -- who has been there since, it seems, the days of Abe Lincoln -- or Ted Kennedy -- who has been there for 38 years -- or Robert Byrd, most of the members do not serve that long. The real issue, in terms of encrusted power, has always been about these committee chairs, who sometimes have stayed on so long that they have assumed almost dictatorial power, able, by their own judgment, to bottle up legislation or to ram other legislation onto the floor, which is why I think the Republicans did a very smart thing in targeting the committee chairs rather than the rank-and-file.

WOODRUFF: And what about those members, Jeff, who campaigned on term limits? I mean, I am thinking in particular of Representative Marshall Sanford of South Carolina, who retired after six years.

GREENFIELD: Well, yes, Sanford, and I believe that Tillie Fowler and some of the others who came to Congress and said: I am only going to be there for six years -- left. But what's interesting, when you try to judge the power of this issue, is to look at someone like Congressman George Nethercutt of Washington state.

In 1994, he ousted Tom Foley -- the speaker of the house -- ousted him in his own district, by saying that Foley was around too long. And Nethercutt promised to stay there only six years. He changed his mind. The term-limits groups that had backed him six years ago reacted very angrily, challenged him. He got a very tough primary fight. But in November, Nethercutt was reelected with 57 percent of the vote.

There's one other thing to put on the table, I think. No matter how you feel about term limits, there is a sense in which it is anti- democratic -- small "d." I mean, right now, we have a 54-year-old president of the United States -- healthy. And even if the public wanted to keep him for a third term, they couldn't -- same thing with Mayor Giuliani of New York, or many governors around the states. So I think once the steam went out of the political movement because of the big turnover in the House, there were some second thoughts about that issue.

WOODRUFF: So are you are saying -- I mean, given Nethercutt and the other examples -- term limits not really an issue anymore?

GREENFIELD: Right now, it isn't. And another reason is that the Congress in the last six or seven years has done things that a lot of people thought it would never do: for instance, welfare reform. People used to think that the Congress was a bunch of big-spenders who would never get the federal budget into balance. Now, whether the Congress gets credit or not, the budget is not only in balance, it's in surplus.

Should we have another bad economic time and should we have massive federal deficits again, then I think you might see term limits come to the surface, because it taps into a deeply endemic American feeling that you just can't trust any politician.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield in New York, thanks very much. Have a good weekend.

GREENFIELD: Have a good weekend.

WOODRUFF: You, too.

There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come: easing the way on Capitol Hill -- Jeanne Meserve on the political efforts to make Senate confirmations go smoothly.



RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Like every new president, George W. Bush's road to the White House was paved with promises.


WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein on the difficulties of making good on those campaign pledges. And later: election reform of the television variety -- the latest on the television-network reviews of election- night mistakes.


WOODRUFF: We will have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

Police are on alert in parts of southern Texas after a possible sighting of a runaway gang of armed convicts. Two witnesses say they saw at least two of the seven convicts at a bank in San Marcos, northeast of San Antonio, yesterday. Today, the town's police chief said he fears the gang is planning something big. The gang has evaded capture for more than three weeks since escaping from prison and allegedly killing an Irving, Texas policeman. Authorities say the seven are loaded with weapons and stolen cash.

In Irving today, police released new sketches of the seven, including the two who may have been spotted yesterday, apparently trying to open a bank account.


DAVID TULL, IRVING, TEXAS POLICE: What we have got here is a representation. Again, we feel these are very accurate. There are some things that are a little bit different from the original pictures, particularly, like, on the Patrick Murphy. When you compare the photos we had, he's obviously hollowed out and lost some weight, so there's a thinner representation here, little bit of hair difference. One particular -- if you'll notice on Joseph Garcia, just to clarify, this is not an error. That's been described to me as a mole of some sort, a type of skin infliction there.

Larry Harper, you see some smudging around the lip. What that is has been described to me as some type of infection. I don't know if it's a cold sore or whatever, but apparently it's rather vivid. If it's -- may come and go. I don't know about that. But at this time, that's the way we represent him is with that. It's not highlighted that much on there unless you get real close to that, bit that's a very definite identifier.


WOODRUFF: Hundreds of lawmen are involved in a massive manhunt, and that includes agents of the FBI. In addition to the possible sighting in southern Texas, authorities say they have gotten tips placing the gang in Durango, Colorado; southern Oklahoma and Louisiana.

An eight-year low in job creation combined with manufacturing lay-offs to hold unemployment steady last month. The U.S. Labor Department reports December unemployment was 4 percent, the same as November. Private sector job gains were the lowest since 1992, and half the rate for the first six months of the year.

And it was a down day in the stock market. CNN's Jan Hopkins has the end of the week report from New York.

Hello, Jan. JAN HOPKINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Judy. Let's take a look at what happened today on Wall Street because it was quite a sharp sell-off. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 250 points. That's almost a 2 1/2 percent decline today. For the week, the Dow down 1 percent.

The Nasdaq losing 159 points today to close at 2407. That was a 6 percent decline today for the Nasdaq, 2 1/2 percent decline for the week, and you'll remember that in the middle of the week, the market rallied on a cut in interest rates. So, for the week as a whole, the market lowered -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jan, what is your understanding of what happened, and why this -- why it's doing this today?

HOPKINS: Well, really what's happening is investors are focusing on the same thing that they did in the beginning of the week, and that's the slow economy, and company earnings reports that aren't as rosy as Wall Street has expected. More companies warned again today. That was enough to spark the sell-off -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jan Hopkins in New York. Thanks very much.

A British doctor serving time for killing 15 patients is now implicated in 300 suspicious deaths over 24 years. Harold Shipman is said to be considered one of Britain's most prolific serial killers. He was convicted of deliberately injecting 15 healthy women with heroin during routine exams. An audit of Shipman's records shows the doctor had a high number of suspicious deaths, especially among elderly women. It suggests a pattern of death in the early afternoon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Shipman maintains his innocence.

There is much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. When we return, Bush's Cabinet nominees taking steps to ease their confirmation hearings. Will it work for those already under fire?

And Ron Brownstein on the campaign promises the president-elect may have the hardest time keeping.


WOODRUFF: President-Elect George W. Bush's nominee for the attorney general may face an even tougher confirmation battle than expected. A spokesman for Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy says Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White may be asked to testify at John Ashcroft's confirmation hearing.

You may recall, the former Missouri senator's opposition helped to derail White's nomination to the federal bench two years ago. Ashcroft accused the African-American judge of being soft on the death penalty. Critics say that Ashcroft's motive had the racial overtones, although the supporters have defended his record on diversity.

Ashcroft is not the only Cabinet nominee who may be in for a battle on Capitol Hill as our Jeanne Meserve reports.


GOV. CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN (R-NJ), EPA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINEE: Thank you. I look forward to the opportunity.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Capitol Hill Friday, Christie Whitman politicking to ease her confirmation to be head of the Environmental Protection Agency. These personal courtesy calls just part of the Bush strategy for making sure the nominees are not derailed, even the inflammatory ones like John Ashcroft for attorney general.


MESERVE: Linda Chavez for Labor.


MESERVE: And Interior pick, Gale Norton.

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: With the three controversial nominees, they require much more elaborate campaigns of counter- organization and mobilization of the interest group environment.

MESERVE: Overseeing the confirmation operation, Dick Cheney.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got teams set up to work with each of our nominees so they've got the staff they need to go through the confirmation process.

MESERVE: Leading the effort for John Ashcroft, for instance, long-time Republican lobbyist Fred McClure. Donald Rumsfeld is paired with lobbyist Tom Korologos, another Washington operative. While the Capitol insiders work the system, others work on public opinion.

BUSH: Well, the main strategy is to let each candidate stand up and speak on their own, to talk about their vision, to talk about their heart.

MESERVE: While the president-elect extols his nominees' virtues, his staff attacks the labor, environmental, civil rights, and abortion rights groups already arrayed in opposition. Some are portrayed as exploiting confrontation to raise money and rally their troops.

FLEISCHER: That's wrong. That is reflective of so much of the divisiveness in Washington.

MESERVE: The Bush team has reached out, sometimes across party lines, to find surrogates to help make the case for nominees. Former Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley was even enlisted on behalf of Defense nominee Donald Rumsfeld. One conservative group didn't need to be asked.

GREG MUELLER, ISSUES MANAGEMENT CENTER: Somebody's got to stand up and punch back, and hit these folks back who are trying to run a character assassination against good people.

MESERVE: Mueller's group on its own initiative is launching radio ads in defense of some of the more controversial nominees.


NARRATOR: Our new president-elect hasn't even taken the oath of office and some people are already making trouble.


MESERVE (on camera): Despite the girding for battle on both sides, it's worth noting that at this point not one senator has come out and announced a firm intention to vote against a Bush nominee.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Capitol Hill.


WOODRUFF: During the race for the White House, both Bush and Al Gore made a lot of campaign promises. But now, President-Elect Bush will be expected to deliver. Considering how closely divided the new Congress is, that may be easier said than done.

Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" looks at some promises that may prove to be especially troublesome for the new president.


RON BROWNSTEIN, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": If New Year's resolutions were easy to keep, there wouldn't be so many Weight Watcher ads in the newspaper every week. Everyone starts with the best intentions. It's just that making resolutions is a lot easier than keeping them.

(voice-over): It's no different for politicians. Like every new president, George W. Bush's road to the White House was paved with promises. Here is the look at the top five that Bush may find tough to keep:

School vouchers. Bush says that low-income parents whose kids attend failing public schools should receive vouchers to transfer their children to private schools if they choose. But almost all Democrats oppose vouchers, as do many moderate Republicans who fear they'll drain money from the public schools. Bush's bargaining power was weakened in November, when voters in California and Michigan rejected pro-voucher ballot initiatives.

Social security: It was one of Bush's boldest campaign proposals; a fundamental restructuring of Social Security to allow workers to invest part of their payroll tax in the stock market.


BUSH: The idea works very simply. A younger worker can take some portion of his or her payroll tax and put it into a fund that invests in stocks and bonds.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWNSTEIN: With more and more Americans investing in mutual funds and 401(k)s, the idea of private investment accounts may grow more popular over time. But in a Senate divided 50-50 between the parties, the votes aren't there for it today. Only four Democrats supported the idea last year, and three of them have left the Senate.

Missile defense: Talking tough on national defense last year, Bush promised to quickly build and deploy a national missile defense program, and he said he wouldn't be stopped by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile, or ABM, Treaty between the U.S. and Russia, which bars the deployment of such a system.


BUSH: It is important for us to change the ABM Treaty with Russia, either change it or withdraw from it in order to make sure we have adequate and effective and reliable theater-based antiballistic missile system not only...


TIM RUSSERT, HOST, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": If the Russians say no, how long would you give them before you pulled out of that?

BUSH: Reasonable. Reasonable is not years or a year.

RUSSERT: Months?

BUSH: Yes, sir.


BROWNSTEIN: With the current missile defense system failing to hit the target in two of the three tests the Pentagon has run so far, it will be hard for Bush to win broad support for a crash deployment program.

Tax cuts: Few of Bush's campaign proposals were more controversial than his call for a $1.3 trillion tax cut. But with the economy wavering and the federal budget surplus estimates soaring, he's got a good shot at winning approval of a substantial tax reduction this year.

The question will be, which taxes, and whose taxes, are cut? Bush wants an across-the-board cut in income tax rates, including a big cut in the top rate for the wealthiest taxpayers, from 39.6 percent down to 33 percent.


BUSH: The federal government in peacetime has no business taking more than 33 percent of anyone's paycheck.


BROWNSTEIN: But cutting the top rate so much after a decade in which the families at the top have done well enough to trade in the Cadillac for the Mercedes, is a deal breaker for Democrats.

Finally, bipartisanship: Beyond all of his policy promises, Bush centered his campaign on a sweeping pledge to reach beyond party lines and soothe the partisan hostilities in Washington.


BUSH: I will set a different tone in Washington, D.C.


BROWNSTEIN: Bush has a strong record of working effectively with Democrats in Texas, but almost everything that's happened since Election Day has been a reminder of how hard it will be to continue that success in Washington. Democrats are already complaining that Bush hasn't shown more bipartisanship in constructing his Cabinet or outlining his agenda.

Civil rights groups are gearing up to oppose John Ashcroft as attorney general. Environmentalists are waving the red flag over Interior Secretary-nominee Gale Norton. The AFL-CIO is digging in against Labor Secretary-designate Linda Chavez.

On the other side, conservatives are warning Bush against too many compromises with Democrats.

(on camera): So, in the end, if Bush wants to make good on his hard promises, nothing will test him more than his pledge to build real bipartisan cooperation in a capital that's grown addicted to conflict.

This is Ron Brownstein for INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: And up next, Howard Kurtz on the on-going reviews of election night coverage.


WOODRUFF: This week, CBS and NBC News announced plans to change the way they handle election night coverage. NBC officials determined there is a need for significant improvement after conducting reviews of their coverage and the Voter News Service, which provides the exit polls and tabulates results for the television networks. CBS also announced a series of changes from not calling a state until all the polls in that state have closed to fuller disclosure of how projections of winning are made.

Well, joining us now to talk more about those reports, Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." Howard, specifically looking at CBS and the report that came out yesterday, what are they saying went wrong on election night?

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, Judy, these are very nice reports with very nice little recommendations, but it's not unlike showing up at a massive, devastating flood and saying we need a few more sandbags here.

I mean, CBS, like the other networks -- and there have been a couple of reports of this nature -- are saying that perhaps we shouldn't announce the way that Dan Rather did that if we call the state you can take it to the bank. They're saying we ought to couch this in more tentative language because as we all learned on November 7th in the case of Florida in particular, these calls can go wrong.

That's a good step, but I think in the excitement of election night we're -- when a network does call a state, however it couches or qualifies the language, we're still going to see that map turn from red to blue in the particular state and when somebody gets to the magic number of 270, what is an anchor going to say? We kind of, sort of think that George Bush has been reelected, but we're not quite sure?

WOODRUFF: Howard, for those who are involved in election coverage, we know about the Voter News Service, the fact that all of the networks were relying on one source, but explain to the viewers why it is that everybody made these mistakes?

KURTZ: Well, each network is responsible editorially for making these calls and these projections and it's kind of interesting to see everybody pointing the finger at Voter News Service, which did, it must be admitted, a terrible job. I mean, for example, twice as many votes came in after 2:00 in the morning in Florida as Voter News Service had expected and twice as many absentee ballots. So this was not a near miss in Florida.

But the truth is the Voter News Service is a creation of the networks. It's largely owned by the networks. It was done to save money so that each network wouldn't have to go through the trouble of doing its own exit polls and its own tabulations, and I think unless the networks want to spend significantly more money, and I don't think many of them do, they're going to be saddled with something like Voter News Service, relying on that data to make these all-important projections.

WOODRUFF: What are CBS and NBC saying that they are going to do differently, and I'm going to -- in just a moment, I'm going to read a statement from CNN, because in fact, we are still in the middle of an independent review of what happened here...

KURTZ: Right.

WOODRUFF: But and in terms of CBS and NBC, what are they saying they'd like to do differently?

KURTZ: Well, I think they're going to be more cautious about their calls. They're going to have higher lever decision-makers involved in calling a state, and I think, too, they are promising something that probably should have been done 10 years ago, which is, we won't call a state until all of the polls have closed in that particular state.

The networks kind of gave themselves a loophole the last time this issue came up by talking about calling a state when a majority of the polls were closed. Well, they got caught in Florida because people were still voting in the panhandle section of the state, which is the Central Time Zone even while the networks -- some of the networks were calling Florida for Gore.

So, I think that's long overdue. So, some of these are good improvements, but they aren't going to necessarily avert the huge embarrassment that the networks faced if they are going to put their prestige and credibility on the line based on these kinds of numbers and projections.

WOODRUFF: But Howard, they're still talking about making calls before all of the polls in country have closed, correct?

KURTZ: Right, well network executives tell me that, you know, if we're going to call states individually, anybody at home can do the math and see when one candidate gets to 270, but it does create a situation, which has happened before, notably in 1980, when President Carter conceded early, where you're declaring who the next president is while lots of people haven't gone to the polls yet in the Western states. Sometimes that depresses turnout, or at least many people believe that it does, and there's nothing in any of these reports or recommendations that's going to avert that particular problem.

WOODRUFF: All right, Howard Kurtz, CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and "The "Washington Post." Thanks a lot.

KURTZ: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And as I suggested, there was a statement that was released today by CNN. I'm going to read that to you now, and I'm quoting: "CNN does not have any comment on the CBS report. However, as we previously stated, in the days immediately following the election, CNN initiated an independent review of all procedures involved in reporting the results of the presidential election.

"On November 21st, we appointed an independent advisory panel to help us with this process. The panel continues to review CNN and Voter News Service election night operations, and has been interviewing officials from both organizations." And continuing the statement, CNN says it plans to release that report later in January.

The House and Senate will join to formally count the electoral votes tomorrow, and Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings says that he will object to Florida's slate of Republican electors, and the objection will be rejected since Hastings was not able to secure the objection of one senator, which is required by the Constitution.

And one more piece of unfinished business from the presidential election: CNN's Charles Bierbauer reports the Supreme Court has cleared its docket of all outstanding cases related to the disputed result in Florida. The high court today denied a further appeal in three cases that were still pending.

Well, we will be back after this short break.


WOODRUFF: Mary Matalin will change roles tonight on CNN's "CROSSFIRE," going from co-host to guest. Matalin is leaving the show after being named today as a counselor to Vice President-Elect Dick Cheney. She will join hosts Bill Press and Bob Novak tonight in a final appearance, at least for now. That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

Stay with us, as INSIDE POLITICS continues. At the top of the hour, we will look at the Bush team's hopes for deploying a missile defense shield, and why they may not work.

And might a pardon for President Clinton be the post-script to the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Should George W. Bush even consider it?


WOODRUFF: The commander-in-chief's final days: Are Republicans anxious about his orders? We'll zero in on a military goal for the incoming president: Will he get a missile defense shield?

Also ahead...


GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon.


WOODRUFF: If Bush is hearkening back to the Ford era, might he also pardon his predecessor? And our Bill Schneider finds a British parallel in the U.S. "Political Play of the Week."


ANNOUNCER: This is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff at CNN center in Atlanta.


Well, President Clinton has been so busy lately that he jokingly told some supporters that his final days in office may feel like another four years -- that is, if he can stay awake. Among his last- minute efforts today: He announced new federal regulations to protect almost 1/3 of the National Forest System.

We'll try to bring you that sound of what the president had to say -- here it is.


CLINTON: We will protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine forest land for future generations. That is an area greater in size than all our national parks combined. From the Appalachian Mountains to the Sierra Nevada, forest land in 39 states will be preserved in all its splendor, off limits to road building and logging that would destroy its timeless beauty.


WOODRUFF: This is the latest example of Mr. Clinton using his executive powers to leave his mark before George W. Bush takes over as president.

CNN's White House correspondent Kelly Wallace joins us again, now.

Kelly, this environmental move is somewhat controversial. What is the reaction on Capitol Hill with the incoming Bush administration?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right, Judy. Congressional Republicans are not happy at all about it; in particular, those from Alaska. Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pledges to try to overturn this plan either in the courts or on Capitol Hill, or with the Bush White House.

He charges that President Clinton bypassed Congress to go ahead and take this executive action. Now, as for the Bush team, it is not criticizing the president publicly, but it is promising to review everything he has done when it comes to executive orders and new federal rules. And also Bush sources are telling my colleague Major Garrett that they are currently looking into whether or not it would be possible to undo any of these executive actions and, in particular, monument designations in Utah and elsewhere -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: What would it take for the Bush team to overturn these new regulations?

WALLACE: Well, first the White House is saying that no president has ever overturned a monument designation. So the message from the White House today is it would be a very politically -- the White House believes -- unpopular move for President-elect Bush to go ahead and overturn any monument designation.

Now, as for the rule, though, that was announced today, covering forest land: basically, the President-elect would have to go through the entire rule-making process to undo that. That would mean coming up with a proposed rule, convening public hearing, soliciting public comment.

Again, it could be a politically unpopular move, as well -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, is there anything comparable to this? Has any other president used his federal power so much in the last days of his presidency?

WALLACE: Well, historians are saying, not exactly. They do say the former President Jimmy Carter also announced a number of rules in his final days.

But historians are saying no other president has really announced such sweeping changes when it comes to the environment, worker rights and labor rights and other issues. So they are saying that this president is using his federal powers more in his final days than, really, any of his predecessors -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right; Kelly Wallace at the White House. Thanks very much.

Well, Mr. Clinton also focused today on Middle East peacemaking and a new report urging that the comprehensive Missile Defense Treaty be ratified by the Congress. The president's late efforts on international matters, also, are raising some eyebrows.

Let's turn to CNN national security correspondent David Ensor.

David, first, are the Republicans concerned about any last minute moves by the president on the international front?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, publicly, of course, the president-elect has said there's only one president at a time, and Mr. Clinton's in charge and I'm not going to comment on what he's doing.

But privately Republicans on Capitol Hill and some in the Bush camp are holding their breath a bit, they say, as this president seems to be going out on a very activist flavor. He's trying to bring peace to the Middle East in the last 15 days in office. They breathed a sigh of relief when they heard he wasn't going to travel to North Korea; they felt that that was -- that would have been a step they should not take so close to leaving office, opening up a possible new relationship there. They're glad he isn't doing that.

They're worried about possible retaliation for the Cole attack -- would it be done right, would it be done correctly? They hope so. Obviously they would like to see peace in the Middle East, but not if it's half-cooked and it gives them problems once they're in office.

Today there was an announcement that Mr. Clinton is reorganizing the way the U.S. government deals with counterintelligence issues. Republicans on Capitol Hill support the changes, but they were uneasy about the thought that he might appoint his own new counterintelligence czar and try to stick the new administration with that. Well, the White House made clear that they are not going to do that -- he is not going to do that. There was a breath -- a sigh of relief about that.

But a good deal of uneasiness; they are holding their breath as we approach January 20 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right; David Ensor, thanks very much, we appreciate it.

On Monday, President-elect Bush and his national security team will meet in Austin with leaders of the House and Senate committees that deal with defense issues. They plan to talk about ways to modernize and strengthen the military. One subject that may come up: efforts to deploy a missile defense shield. CNN's Jamie McIntyre has been looking into that program, and into whether it will be on a fast-track with Donald Rumsfeld now heading the Pentagon.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Donald Rumsfeld arrived at the Pentagon for his first transition meeting with Defense Secretary William Cohen, he was shown pictures of himself from his last stint as Pentagon chief back in the '70s.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Can you make me look that young now?

MCINTYRE: Based on his long track record, missile shield backers are confident Rumsfeld will be a forceful advocate for the rapid deployment of a national system.

After all, in July 1998, it was Rumsfeld's commission warning that potential U.S. adversaries could develop long-range missiles much sooner than CIA estimates. Rumsfeld's prediction proved prescient a month later when North Korea tested a three-stage Taepo Dong-2.

SEN. BOB SMITH (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: He knows that our missile defense systems are essential, both theater-wide and national missile defense, to protect our homeland and our troops and our allies.

MCINTYRE: Some Republicans in Congress complained the Clinton administration only half-heartedly pursued an antimissile system. But missile defense opponents argued flawed technology, not lack of resolve, is what hold back the multibillion-dollar program.

So far there have been three attempts to hit a missile with a missile, and the last two failed.

DARYL KIMBALL, COALITION TO REDUCE NUCLEAR DANGERS: Secretary Rumsfeld can't change the fact that national missile defense will cost over $100 billion, the technology is simply not ready -- especially the sophisticated technologies that President-elect Bush talked about during the campaign.

MCINTYRE: Candidate Bush talked about building a better shield, perhaps adding ship-based and space-based components to the 100 ground-based interceptors in the Clinton plan. But that would likely delay deployment, according to Pentagon officials, because those technologies are even less developed.

And then there is the opposition from America's NATO allies in Europe, who fear the missile shield would mean the end of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty with the Russia.

JOHN HAMRE, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: You can tell the Russians that you are just not going to abide by the ABM Treaty any longer. But the real constraint was that it's our allies who really see the ABM Treaty as a very fundamental aspect to stable relations between the United States and Russia; and they, frankly, like that stable relationship the way it is.

MCINTYRE (on camera): While promising to deploy missile defenses as soon as possible, the Bush administration faces the same daunting technological and diplomatic obstacles that bedeviled the Clinton administration. And Pentagon officials say they've learned the hard way that overcoming those obstacles is easier said than done.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


WOODRUFF: Just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: should a pardon for President Clinton be on the Bush agenda? We'll look at the politics and the possibilities.

Plus, a display of team spirit earns a political play of the week.


WOODRUFF: President Clinton is set to leave office, of course, on January 20. And sometime after that date, the independent counsel is expected to make a decision about whether to indict the president on charges stemming from the Monica Lewinsky grand jury investigation. So far there has been no date set, if there is to be such an announcement.

Joining us now to talk about whether President Clinton should be pardoned, Charles Krauthammer, columnist for "The Washington Post" and Terry Jeffrey, editor of the weekly conservative newspaper, "Human Events."

Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": Thanks for having me.


WOODRUFF: Charles Krauthammer, you are hardly an admirer of Bill Clinton, and yet today you were saying in your column that George W. Bush should pardon him; why?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think he should; but let me just say that I said that in the context of President Bush being decisive and doing three things on the day of his inaugural.

First, open the avenue that runs in front of the White House that President Clinton shut out of fear after the Oklahoma City bombing. Secondly, abrogate the treaty that Jamie McIntyre just referred to that prevents us from building a defense shield. And third; at the same time, on the same afternoon, to pardon his predecessor.

I think doing all three at once would show him to be decisive, to be bold, to be fearless and, I think, to establish himself as a figure in his own right, particularly after the difficulties he had after Election Day -- establishing himself as a strong and decisive president.

WOODRUFF: But if, given all the investigations, Charles Krauthammer; given everything the independent counsel has been through here, why should this president be pardoned?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, first of all, I think it would be a good way to show magnanimity. Secondly, I think it's a way for conservatives, who have always opposed having a special prosecutor on principle -- conservatives, for instance, who supported Antonin Scalia, who dissented in the 1988 Supreme Court decision on this, and who called it an outrage.

We have always opposed this, particularly when it was against Republicans. I think we ought to, on principle, maintain that opposition and to say, it was always an outrage having a special prosecutor and we ought not support its work now.

And lastly, to establish a tradition that was established by President Ford, which is to say that we don't pursue ex-presidents in the courts after their term. That, people do in the less civilized precincts of the world. It shouldn't be done in the United States.

WOODRUFF: Well, Terry Jeffrey, let's take those one at a time.

First of all, your colleague Charles Krauthammer is saying Republicans should show some magnanimity here.

JEFFREY: Well, I think there's no problem with saying magnanimity, provided that it's called for. But this is one area, Judy, where I actually agree with Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat from California.

Back during the impeachment trial -- in fact, at the end of the impeachment trial, Dianne Feinstein was promoting a censure resolution. Let me just read you two sentences from that censure resolution. She said: "Whereas William Jefferson Clinton, president of the United States, gave false or misleading testimony and his actions have had the effect of impeding discovery of evidence in judicial proceedings" -- then she said: "Whereas William Jefferson Clinton remains subject to criminal actions in a court of law like any other citizen."

What Dianne Feinstein was saying is, yes, the president made false statements under oath and he impeded a court proceeding. But the president, like everybody else, is subject to the law of the land and is subject to possible criminal prosecution.

So I think the question of whether or not President Clinton is actually indicted should be left up to the independent counsel, who has been investigating this. And he should use the same standards of prosecutorial discretion that have been used with normal citizens in the same circumstances.

WOODRUFF: Charles Krauthammer, given that, how, again, can you argue for a pardon? KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think it's rather easy to do. I think the Democrats were entirely disingenuous when, during impeachment they said, well, this is not a political offense. It shouldn't be a subject of impeachment, it ought to be left to the courts.

They really were trying to find a dodge as a way to the acquit the president at impeachment. It was a question of impeachment; it was a question of politics.

When a president is brought up on charges, we have a constitutional mechanism: impeachment. Either he is acquitted or not; he was, it's over. We shouldn't be pursuing our presidents in the courts.

Look, Nixon was guilty, or at least had been accused of far more serious offenses, and I wholeheartedly agreed with the pardon of Nixon. It ought to be a principle that we don't pursue our presidents in the courts after they leave office.

JEFFREY: Judy -- there's not another question here, Judy; and it's not just the questions that are before Robert Ray. There are questions involving the Chinagate scandal that were never fully investigated by this Justice Department. I have here a memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh dated December 8, 1998. He sent it to Larry Parkinson, who is the general counsel to the FBI to memorialize a meeting he had just had with Janet Reno where he suggested to Janet Reno that an independent counsel investigation should go ahead with the president.

And let me just...

WOODRUFF: But what about, let me just ask you...

JEFFREY: Wait Judy...

WOODRUFF: ... what about Charles' point just then that the precedent set by Gerald Ford, that one president should not be hounding or pursuing the mistakes of his predecessor?

JEFFREY: Well I don't think anybody should be hounded or pursued, but just let me make a point of fact, here. I want people to understand what it is that Louis Freeh suggested to Janet Reno -- should be investigated.

Again, December 8, 1998 memo, I have it right here; he says that a pattern -- a title 18, section 371 conspiracy referral should go to an independent counsel involving a pattern of potential criminal activities. And one of the things he said would be in that pattern of potential criminal activities -- and this is a direct quote from Louis Freeh -- "a conspiracy by the PRC" -- that's the People's Republic of China -- "to bribe high-ranking US political figures."

WOODRUFF: Charles...

JEFFREY: The FBI director suggested an investigation of possible bribery by the government of communist China of high-ranking US officials. That investigation never went forward because Janet Reno spiked it.

President Clinton should not be preemptively pardoned of any potential criminal activity relevant to what Louis Freeh was talking about in this December 8, 1998 memo...

WOODRUFF: Charles Krauthammer, are you including this material that Terry Jeffrey is bringing up in your statement?

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, this president has been investigated up and down, left and right. I disagree with the way a lot of those investigations were handled. I think a lot of them were botched; but that is in the past. It is a bad tradition, it's bad Constitution, it's bad legality to go after a president; and also, it's bad politics.

President Clinton, every time he's been attacked or prosecuted -- or tried to be impeached by the Republicans, his popularity soared and the reputation -- popularity of the Republicans has declined. We have a new president, a new era. If he wants to show himself to be magnanimous...

JEFFREY: Judy...

KRAUTHAMMER: ... and to gain support, I think it would be a wise thing to do; to pardon the president and to say it's over.

JEFFREY: Judy...

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to have to leave it at -- Terry Jeffrey, unless you've got one word, we're going to have to leave it there.

JEFFREY: Well, there's a serious national security issue here, Judy...

WOODRUFF: It's going to have to be short.

JEFFREY: OK, certainly; a question -- another question Louis Freeh raised...

WOODRUFF: No, we can't. I'm sorry, we just don't have time to get into another one.

But thank you both...

JEFFREY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: ... we appreciate you joining us, Terry Jeffrey, Charles Krauthammer; thank both, it's good to see you.

When we return, Bill Schneider's political play of the week, coming to you direct from the land of British royalty.


WOODRUFF: Well, the inaugural plans are underway, and so are the designs for the first-lady-to-be's January the 20th wardrobe, and we're all interested. Laura Bush will wear a blue suit -- this one -- when her husband is sworn in. And for that night's inaugural ball, Mrs. Bush will wear a gown in patriotic red made of Chantilly lace and hand beaded with, what we are told, is a conservative neckline and long sleeves. Both of these were designed by Michael Faircloth (ph) of Dallas. Can't wait to see them.

Speaking of pomp and circumstance of inaugurations, our Bill Schneider is in England, a country with a long history of both formal bashes and fierce political battles.

Well, here he is now from London with his "Political Play of the Week."


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Cabinet government? That's something they do here in Britain. American government is usually more of a one-man show.

Well, President-elect Bush appears to be trying to revive the idea of a management team. Sounds like good business, but it's also good politics for this new president. Good enough for the "Political play of the Week."

(voice-over): Remember all the turbulence over Bill Clinton's Cabinet choices eight years ago? The slow process? The fumbling effort to find a female attorney general?

President-elect Bush has been determined to present a different image.

BUSH: I hope the American people realize that a good executive is one that understands how to recruit people and how to delegate; how to align authority and responsibility, how to hold people accountable for results, and how to build a team of people.

SCHNEIDER: Bush took only a few weeks to put his Cabinet team together, making the point that he is ready to govern, even after a bitterly disputed election.

Critics say Bush's Cabinet is so full of retreads, it should be called "Back to the Future." In fact, Bush has cleverly used his Cabinet picks to compensate for his political weaknesses; like the fact that a lot of Bush's vote came from white men.

How's this for diversity? Bush's 15-member cabinet includes four women, two African-Americans, two Hispanics, an Asian-American, and an Arab-American. Conservatives won't say so, but the Bush cabinet makes a compelling case for affirmative action: If you take the trouble to look, you can find qualified people from diverse backgrounds.

BUSH: Linda's a well-known writer. She is a mother and a grandmother. She understands Washington well; after all, at one time in her career she was a Democrat staffer. SCHNEIDER: Bush also needs to expand his base geographically, so he named three Cabinet officers from California, and four others from important Democratic states.

Abraham is from Michigan; Chavez from Maryland; Whitman and Thompson, governors of New Jersey and Wisconsin, neither of which has voted for a Republican at the top of the ticket since the 1980s. There's even a Cuban-American from Florida.

Conservatives gave his father a hard time, so George W. has given several of them prominence in his Cabinet; like Gale Norton at Interior, who balances the more moderate Christie Whitman on the environment.

The biggest confirmation battle is likely to be over Bush's provocative choice of John Ashcroft for attorney general. But Ashcroft's a senator, and senators rarely reject one of their own.

There's one political crony; he'll be at commerce, where political cronies often end up.

Oh, and finally this week, a Democrat. Not just any Democrat.

NORMAN MINETA, COMMERCE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I have been honored to serve in President Clinton's Cabinet as secretary of commerce. I am a Democrat, with both a small "d" and a large one.

SCHNEIDER: Bush has had a sheltered experience in the private sector, so he's got former corporate chieftains at Defense, Treasury, Commerce and Transportation. Bush lacks Washington experience, so he's got a Cabinet full of it: seven former federal officials, three former members of Congress. Bush has limited on-the-ground policy experience, so he's got three former governors, and the manager of a fast-growing Florida county, and a superintendent of the Houston school system.

What does it say about Bush, that he's picked such a high-powered Cabinet?

BUSH: First, it says I'm not afraid to surround myself with strong and competent people.

SCHNEIDER: Particularly when they're strong in areas he's not.

The Bush team is in place. Time for a team cheer? No; time for "The Political Play of the Week."

(on camera): A strong Cabinet can run roughshod over a weak leader. That's something the British know well, and the new American president will learn.

Bill Schneider, CNN, London.


WOODRUFF: Snazzy scarf. And a bit of a clarification here: Bill was counting the Environmental Protection Agency post among the Cabinet positions. Well, actually, President-elect Bush has said that he will keep the EPA director as a Cabinet-level position, although, technically, it is not part of the official Cabinet.

Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go on-line all the time at CNN's, AOL keyword CNN.

And these weekend programming notes: Senator John McCain will be talking about his campaign finance reform proposal Sunday on "LATE EDITION"; that's at noon Eastern. Also among Wolf Blitzer's guests Sunday: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

I'm Judy Woodruff. The "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR" is next.



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