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Senate Under New Management

Aired June 6, 2001 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm honored to serve as majority leader, but I also recognize that the majority is slim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The Senate reopens under new management. We'll look at the day's ceremony and the political choices ahead.

One senator's legal troubles take a new turn, amid charges that he is a political target.

Plus, what's next for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh after a life-and-death court decision?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today our judicial system exercised its responsibility in a way that reinforces justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Now Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. If you didn't know what was happening, some of the significance of the day might have been lost in the stilted language of the Senate, its parliamentary procedures, and the fact that the chamber wasn't even filled. But you'd be hard-pressed to find an official in Washington who sees the transfer of Senate control to the Democrats as a mere formality.

CNN's Jonathan Karl begins our coverage of an event for the history books, and how it's already affecting the course of American politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A shift in power, without precedent in U.S. history.

DASCHLE: This indeed is a humbling moment for me. I'm honored to serve as majority leader, but I also recognize that the majority is slim.

(APPLAUSE)

KARL: But humility was not the order of the day over at Democratic Party headquarters, where triumphant Democrats saluted their newly-empowered leader.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Good morning! We are here to celebrate our new Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

(APPLAUSE)

KARL: At Daschle's first press conference as majority leader, he promised to reach out to Republicans, but also took pride in the title "partisan Democrat."

DASCHLE: I think being a partisan Democrat is what most people would expect you to be, in the best sense of the word, and that I have an agenda, a philosophy that I hope I can articulate reasonably effectively.

KARL: With the change in leadership, also a change in the Senate's ceremonial top job.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D-WV), PRESIDENT PRO TEM: So help me God, I do.

KARL: Senator Robert Byrd replaces Strom Thurmond as President pro tem, putting him three heartbeats away from the presidency, behind only the vice president and the speaker of the House.

Republican leader Trent Lott went into his new role as minority leader, warning Daschle that leading a Senate majority is a heavy burden, comparable, he said, to the weight of the world on Atlas's shoulders.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: This job will be tough. We're all going to try and make it bearable and easier for you, and, of course, I'm hoping someday the weight will come back where it was fated to be.

(LAUGHTER)

KARL: Jim Jeffords, the man who single-handedly put the Democrats in power, has been eagerly embraced by his new Democratic colleagues, but he was not on hand as Daschle was first recognized as majority leader. And on the very first vote under Democratic control, Jeffords showed he can be a thorn in the side of Democrats just as he frequently was of Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Jeffords?

SEN. JAMES JEFFORDS (I), VERMONT: No.

KARL: Jeffords was the only senator on the Democratic side of the aisle to vote against an education amendment offered by Paul Wellstone on student testing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: In about 10 minutes, Daschle will meet with the five Republicans appointed by Trent Lott to go over the reorganization resolution that will govern how the Senate's all-powerful committees are organized under Democratic leadership. Progress is reported from both sides on this matter, as Republicans appear to be moving away from their demand that there be a formal guarantee that nominations by the president that are rejected by committee would automatically be able to be voted on by the full Senate. Republicans moving away from that, recognizing they don't necessarily want to live under that kind of rule when a Democrat is back in the White House.

Now, Judy, until the resolution is agreed to, the Senate's 11 freshman, nine of whom are Democrats, will have no committee assignments at all.

WOODRUFF: Well, Jon, connected to the Senate but off the Senate floor, what have you learned about the dinner last night between President Bush and Senator John McCain?

KARL: Well, I can tell you, Judy, that they ate chicken fried steak, a Texas specialty, and that most of the dinner was a social occasion between the two men and their wives. Unlike the previous meeting at the White House between McCain and Bush, Vice President Cheney was not in attendance. McCain was quite upbeat about the meeting. They said that the one issue that they did talked about substantively was the question of a Patients' Bill of Rights, which will be the first item that the Democrats want to put on the agenda after education.

As a matter of fact, they reported some progress on that, at least some exchanging of ideas. And tomorrow Josh Bolten, who is the president's chief domestic policy adviser, is coming up to meet with McCain on the question of a Patients' Bill of Rights, McCain and his staff. Also at that meeting, we are told, will be John Edwards and Ted Kennedy, the two leading Democrats who have joined with McCain in pushing this issue. So that should be an interesting meeting.

It's something that hadn't happened. If you remember, Judy, it was just a short while ago that McCain was joking that he felt that his number had fallen outside of the White House Rolodex, that he had had no contact from the White House. Well, now not only dinner with the White House but tomorrow a meeting with the president's top domestic policy adviser.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jonathan Karl at the Capitol, and you'll be back a little bit later because you have an interview with the new Senate president pro item, Senator Robert Byrd. But for now, let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. Candy, what is your sense about all this talk about bipartisanship after the Senate switch? Is this real or is it for show?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Both?

CROWLEY: I mean, look, you've been around long enough to see -- not under these circumstances -- but to see the Senate change hands, to see the House change hands and then go back. And the first thing they always say is: "I'm going to be a bipartisan leader and I'm going to listen," and you know, the minority leader and the majority leader, and they all get along.

And it works well until they get to a major disagreement, and then the first thing out of anybody's mouth is: "Well, they're being partisan about this. They're playing party politics." So you're going to still see some of that.

WOODRUFF: So what is -- if that's the case, what's the practical effect of the Democratic takeover?

CROWLEY: It gives them a huge microphone. I mean, look at how much time we've spent with this, and just the changeover, since we heard what Senator Jeffords was going to do. And it gives them the committee chairmanships, which, as we've all talked about, they can control the agenda and they can decide what comes out. But they also can have those oversight hearings.

So let's say you're a Democrat and you're a chairman of a committee, and one of your political maneuverings is, as a Democrat, that you want to portray the president as tied to big oil. Well, then maybe you'd have hearings on: How come gasoline prices are so high? Maybe you'd have a hearing on whether to drill in ANWR, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So you can put those things on the front burner. We'll go. We'll put it on the television set, where print reporters will write about it. So it gets those issues out there. On -- in -- and it's hard to imagine that Senator Murkowski would have held hearings on ANWR, and you can expect the Democrats, and in fact, they've already said that they're going to hold just those hearings. Not that aren't reasons to hold those hearings, but they also are very effective political tools.

WOODRUFF: All right. Candy Crowley, and you're going to be covering a big part of it. Thanks very much.

And now let us talk to someone who has walked in Tom Daschle's shoes, at least to some degree. George Mitchell was the last Democrat to serve as Senate majority leader, and he joins us now.

Senator Mitchell, what do you think feels different in the Senate today with this switch?

GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FMR. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, of course it's an unusual process by which Democrats have regained majority control, It's gone back and forth several times in recent years, but never in quite this way, and during the middle of a session. But I think Tom Daschle will handle it well. He's aware that the votes haven't changed, it's still a very narrow majority. But I think he will do a good job and, as Candy just suggested, it gives the Democrats control of the agenda. The majority leader decides what bills come up. He doesn't have the dictatorial power, but he has significant power.

WOODRUFF: Well, how hard -- I guess what I'm asking, too, is how hard an adjustment is this? Is this just like waking up another day in the Senate? No real difference in terms of the way the place is operating?

MITCHELL: No, I don't think it's that casual. I think it is very significant, in terms of the control of the agenda, which I suggested, control of the committee chairmanships, and giving much greater authority to the majority. But in the end, you need 60 senators to do almost anything. And you have to reach across party lines to get at least some support from the other party, as the Republicans just successful did on the tax bill when they were in the majority.

WOODRUFF: Senator, Candy just talked about the microphone, the megaphone that the Democrats now have, the ability to call hearings. But in terms of policy, what do you think the Democrats will be able to get now, that they couldn't get before? Anything?

MITCHELL: Well, of course, immediately the senate is going to be debating and voting on a Patients' Bill of Rights. That would not have been the case had Republicans remained in control. Tom Daschle and the Democrats will decide the order in which the Senate will consider things, and that's also a huge negative power. Things that they don't want brought up, they won't bring up, Republicans will be able to offer them as amendments. But that's a much more difficult route.

So it's a significant change in that respect, because you decide what the agenda will be. There will be calls for bipartisanship. I think that they're genuine on both sides. But inevitably, in a competitive system, there are going to be issues on which the parties simply disagree. And then the control of the agenda by the Democrats takes on a huge significance.

WOODRUFF: How accommodating do the Democrats need to be -- have to be?

MITCHELL: Very, when you only have, essentially, a tie vote. And remember, Jim Jeffords did not become a Democrat. He became an independent. I know him very well. He is a man of real independence. No one is going to tell him what to do. The Republicans couldn't tell him what to do, the Democrats are not going to be able to tell him what to do. I think there's going to have to be an accommodation. This is still an almost an evenly-divided Senate and it's somewhat tougher in the majority. Trent Lott has referred to that on several occasions. It's harder to be cohesive when you are in the majority than when you are in the minority. But if anyone is well suited for this circumstance, I believe it's Tom Daschle. He is an outstanding leader and I think he's going to do a very effective job.

WOODRUFF: You said a moment ago you think he'll handle the transition well. What do you expect of him? Both of you have been described, for example, as being fierce Democratic partisans, but clearly there are differences between the two of you. What about his style? What should we expect?

MITCHELL: Well, let's be clear. Some Republicans believed that every Democratic leader is a fierce partisan and every Republican leader is a selfless patriot. And of course the reverse is true, so I don't think Tom will be deterred by such characterizations and I think most people will recognize them for the political comments that they are.

But I think he does have a good easy-going temperament. He is a likable person. Doesn't get too high when he wins a vote because he knows that he's not going to win them all. Doesn't get too low when he loses a vote because he know that it will turn on some other vote in the future. So, I think he has got just the right temperament in this closely-divided and tense situation.

WOODRUFF: What about President Bush from your perspective, Senator Mitchell, how does his approach need to change?

MITCHELL: Well, I think that he, of course, has scored a big victory on the tax bill already. I think he'll continue to push his agenda. And it's going to collide with the Democratic agenda inevitably. You see, I don't agree with this whole notion that bipartisanship means that you have to agree on everything.

It's more a sense of agreeing where you can and where you disagree to do so in a civil manner, to employ tactics that are appropriate to the situation, but don't result in the kind of personal attacks, the so-called criminalization of politics, that unfortunately has occurred so often in the past couple of decades.

And I think that the president also has a good easy-going personality and I think he and Tom should get along pretty well in a personal sense and able to find a good bit of common ground and where they do disagree, as inevitably they will, do so in a manner that is not personally destructive.

WOODRUFF: Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. A man who knows whereof he speaks. Thank you very much. We appreciate your being with us.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: A legal defeat for Timothy McVeigh moves the convicted bomber's execution one step closer. The latest from Denver, and I'll talk live with Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating. Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHCROFT: It's a justice which cannot be denied, and it is an appropriate ruling for which I am grateful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The attorney general speaks out about what he calls a guilty defendant and an innocent system. Also ahead: New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli says he did nothing illegal in his 1996 campaign, and he wants a special counsel to prove it.

Plus: The new mayor of Los Angeles, and the unusual political alliance that made him a winner. This is INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well many people are noting the unprecedented nature of the midsection transfer of power in the Senate. Our Bill Schneider got a sense sufficient deja vu as he followed the story from Los Angeles -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, you know, this moment feels a little bit like November 1994, when President Clinton lost his majority in Congress. That president had to figure out a different way to govern. Now is it the same now? In some ways, yes, but in some ways, no.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): For two years after Bill Clinton took office, the Democrats controlled everything -- the White House, the House, the Senate. They tried to govern from the left -- a tax hike, health care reform. In November 1994, the voters said "stop" and turned Congress over to the G.O.P. It was as if they took Clinton's mandate away.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Constitution gives me relevance. The power of our ideas gives me relevance. The record we have built up over the last two years and the things we're trying to do to implement it, give it relevance. The president is relevant here.

SCHNEIDER: When George W. Bush took office in January, Republicans controlled everything for the first time in almost 50 years. They tried to govern from the right and did achieve a major tax cut. Now, after just four months, the Republican regime has come to an end.

The difference is, there hasn't been any election. Not one seat has changed in Congress. What caused this earthquake? One senator's decision to leave the G.O.P. -- "a coup of one," Senate Republican leader Trent Lott calls it. Has President Bush lost his mandate as President Clinton did in 1994?

Clinton's job ratings declined to less than 40 percent by the fall of 1994. Bush's job ratings have declined a little bit, but they're still over 50 percent. After all, he's only had four months. Democrats believe the takeover of the Senate gives them an opening to push their own agenda.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: This Senate will be called upon to resolve fundamental questions about education, about energy, the environment, about choice, possibly about the future of the Supreme Court and many other issues.

SCHNEIDER: Remember when Newt Gingrich took over Congress in 1995? He assumed he had a big mandate. There was a decisive election, a contract with America. In fact, Gingrich's mandate wasn't as big as he thought and his party paid a price in 1996. What gives Democrats a mandate now? Jim Jeffords? No -- this argument.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: And I think it's time that President Bush realized that he doesn't have a mandate.

SCHNEIDER: It's the argument that, given the excruciatingly close and disputed election results last year, President Bush and the Republicans never had a mandate to govern from the right. After the 1994 setback, Clinton got the message. He shifted gears. He stole the Republicans' issues.

CLINTON: Tonight, I present to the American people a plan for a balanced federal budget.

SCHNEIDER: And he stood up to the Republican Congress at the same time -- a neat trick.

CLINTON: And there are fundamental differences between Democrats and Republicans about how to balance the budget.

SCHNEIDER: Clinton seized the center, isolated Gingrich and got handsomely reelected. With a few deft moves on managed care reform and prescription drugs, President Bush could do the same thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: The problem is, Republicans don't feel as if they were repudiated by the voters. They feel as if they were stabbed in the back. Do they want to rethink their message, or do they really want revenge? Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, out in Los Angeles. Thanks.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

WOODRUFF: When we come back, we'll be talking with Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The same federal judge who presided over the criminal trial of Timothy McVeigh has denied his request for a stay of execution. Today's hearing in Denver followed the recent discovery of thousands of FBI documents, which were never turned over to the McVeigh defense team at trial.

For the latest on today's ruling, and the dwindling options left for McVeigh's attorneys, we join CNN's Susan Candiotti in Denver, Colorado. Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.

As predicted, Judge Matsch started court on time, was well prepared. Listened to arguments from both sides for about an hour 1/2, took a brief recess, and then issued his decision: no stay of execution for Timothy McVeigh.

The defense pleaded for more time to review all of those FBI records, not turned over before trial, and to look into suggestions that others besides Timothy McVeigh and convicted co-conspirator Terry Nichols were involved. The attorneys argued, quote, "a reason to moral judgment can have no integrity if the jury was denied information."

Judge Matsch was unconvinced. He said that while the FBI clearly broke the rules by failing to turn over all pretrial evidence, the judge found it no fraud on the court. No pattern to deceive. And he added that McVeigh himself admits that he is guilty, in his words, the possibility that others may have been involved "does not mitigate his guilt." He committed murder and mayhem. The defense stay denied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB NIGH, MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: Of course, we are extremely disappointed in the court's ruling today. We will file on Mr. McVeigh's behalf, an appeal to the United States court of appeals for the Tenth Circuit and it is to that issue that we must turn our immediate attention. We apologize that we will not be able to address further of your questions at this point. But as you are well aware, we have a lot of work to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: The government is satisfied McVeigh's execution Monday stands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN CONNELLY, PROSECUTOR: We are pleased with the court's ruling denying the stay of execution. Judge Matsch's ruling was a powerful and eloquent statement, not only about the law associated with this case, but about the tremendous harm and devastation caused by Timothy McVeigh.

Judge Matsch found that for anybody that sat through the evidence and heard the evidence at trial, there can be no doubt that Timothy McVeigh exploded a Ryder truck outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19th, 1995, killing 168 men, women, and children, and maiming and injuring scores more. We are gratified by Judge Matsch's ruling. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives were lost and were so grievously injured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: McVeigh's lawyers say they plan to file their appeal on Thursday, they would not share McVeigh's reaction. The judge saying, the execution should be carried out on Monday, calling Timothy McVeigh an instrument of death and destruction -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Susan Candiotti reporting from Denver.

Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered McVeigh's original execution date moved when those new FBI documents were first disclosed. A few hours ago at the Justice Department, Ashcroft commented on today's decision in Denver.

Joining me with the latest is CNN Justice correspondent, Kelli Arena -- Kelli?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, Attorney General John Ashcroft today hailed the court's decision denying the stay of execution for Timothy McVeigh. Ashcroft says that it's important to not only have a guilty defendant, but an innocent system, and he says today's decision confirms both.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe that we have satisfied the responsibility, completely and thoroughly, that the system operate fairly and innocently in dealing with the defendant who is unquestionably guilty. And the ruling of the court in Denver today is a ruling for justice. It's a justice which cannot be denied, and it is an appropriate ruling for which I am grateful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARENA: Ashcroft went on to say, there was never any doubt about McVeigh's guilt, prosecutors argued that most of the 4,000 pages of documents recently turned over to McVeigh's defense team were immaterial to McVeigh's conviction and death sentence. Justice lawyers are now busy preparing to go before the appeals court -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelli, we understand that separately from all of this, a study was released by the Department of Justice looking into bias in the administration of the death penalty?

ARENA: That's right, Judy. A new Justice Department study released today concluded that there is no racial or ethnic bias in administering the death penalty. This was a point of great contention and those call for a moratorium on the death penalty cite a disparity among minorities that are sentenced to death.

As a matter of fact, Attorney General John Ashcroft today said that black and Hispanic defendants were less likely at each stage of the department's review process to be subject to the death penalty then white defendants. That of course the conclusion of today's latest study. It is a study that I will tell you death penalty opponents dispute.

WOODRUFF: All right. Justice correspondent Kelli Arena, thanks.

Oklahoma's Governor Frank Keating was just beginning his first term in office when the Oklahoma City bombing took place. Governor Keating is here in Washington today and he joins me to talk about a couple of issues starting with the McVeigh decision.

Governor, was this the right ruling by Judge Matsch?

GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: It was the right ruling. And for the families and for Oklahoma, now there's finality, now the ultimate punishment will be imposed. Obviously, Judge Matsch indicated that there was negligence and sloppiness on the part of the FBI, but apparently, those 4,000 pages of documents had nothing in them that was exculpatory. Everything was cumulative, perhaps, pointing to earlier leads.

But nothing to suggest that McVeigh didn't do it with premeditation and therefore the sentence should be carried out. So right decision, and a painful decision and a right decision. But a painful decision.

WOODRUFF: You expect that McVeigh's attorneys will appeal.

KEATING: Certainly. And the 10th Circuit has obviously indicated that they will consider the appeal quickly and obviously for the sake of the families in as much as the executions is due a few days from now, hopefully that appeal will be resolved quickly.

WOODRUFF: Governor, how do you assess the FBI's performance in all of this?

KEATING: Well, the FBI is the greatest law enforcement organization in the world. As a former agent, it grieves me -- I think the individual FBI agent is first rate, highly professional and skilled.

But obviously there are systems breakdowns someplace. To have the largest, most sophisticated criminal investigation ever result in this kind of sloppiness is unexcusable, and I think certainly everyone would agree that the Bureau needs a top-to-the-bottom, bottom-to-the- top review of the systems to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

When 40 percent of the American people think that the FBI did this intentionally, either to hide its culpability or to harm McVeigh or the system, that's really sad. You have to have people who have faith in this the system. This doesn't encourage that faith.

WOODRUFF: You say a top-to-bottom review. What about an outside investigation or by the Department of Justice?

KEATING: Well, obviously the inspector general there will play a role. Obviously, the oversight committees in the Congress will play a role. But the reality is, the Bureau ultimately has to heal itself. It can't be in a siege mentality. It has to look at its own processes and systems to make sure that, if it handles a case with tens of thousands of interviews and hundreds of thousands of documents it doesn't misplace or lose them. But I don't think anything was insidious or evil. I think it was negligent, but negligence is inappropriate and inexcusable in an organization that's this big and has this large a budget and that is this sophisticated.

WOODRUFF: All right, Governor, I'm going to ask you stand by for just a moment, because we want to introduce the reason you're in town today, is to announced the creation of a bipartisan group that would support President Bush's judicial nominees. The group, called People for Common Sense Courts, is dedicated, quote, "to keeping partisan politics out of the judicial process." And earlier, the group unveiled this TV ad to promote the president's judicial picks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PEOPLE FOR COMMON SENSE COURTS AD)

NARRATOR: ... judges who will protect working families, support law enforcement and enforce existing laws instead of trying to write social policy from the bench. The judges President Bush supports are the judges American families need. Support the president's plan for common sense on our courts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Governor, what are you trying to accomplish with this initiative?

KEATING: Well, to have a fair hearing for these judges. The reality is that one out of eight federal district or circuit positions is vacant in America. And during the two terms of President Clinton, the two terms of President Reagan, about 380 judges were confirmed in both terms. Before 1986 -- unfortunately for post-1986 -- everything was handled in a rather bipartisan way. But after the Bork case, it became a nasty process, a very personal process.

And what we're trying to do in a bipartisan way -- today's announcement had professors of the law who were Democrats, a former appellate judge who was a Democratic, as well as I, a Republican -- is to say, listen, give these people a fair hearing, treat them judiciously on the basis of credentials, examine them in terms of their education and training, but don't sit there and refuse to give them a hearing or beat them up about one opinion on one issue of thousands or tens of thousands of issues they might have an opinion about.

So be fair, don't shut down the government.

WOODRUFF: Both sides equally guilty on this count since 1986, as you described?

KEATING: Well, I've got to say, as someone who has gone through the process, I was held at the gate, held at the alter, if you will, in 1992 by a lot of the very radical organizations on the left that were rolling out information that was completely false. Some of these organizations on the left with respect to these nominees have said it will be total warfare. This's inappropriate. This should be a bipartisan process. It's a photo-finish election in the Senate. Both Republicans and Democrats ought to let the president nominate those he wishes, give them a fair hearing.

If you want to reject them, reject them, but don't blue slip them and bottle them up.

WOODRUFF: But are you saying the Democrats are more guilty than the Republicans?

KEATING: Well, I'm not saying the Democrats. I'm saying there are radical organizations on the left...

WOODRUFF: The left...

KEATING: ... that have sworn eternal warfare to any conservative or center (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or centrist nominee, and I think that's most unfortunate, because the average American is basically conservative. And they want the court system to work. Justice delayed is justice denied if you don't get these people nominated and confirmed.

WOODRUFF: Now, one of the things that you've been working on, as I understand it, is coming up with a mechanism whereby if someone doesn't make it out of committee, one of President Bush's nominees doesn't make it out of a committee, that vote will automatically go to the Senate floor.

We had our Jon Karl, congressional correspondent, reporting a little bit, a little while ago that the senators, the Republican senators have now backed off somewhat on that. They're trying to work out, rather than trying to force this, they're trying to say let's come up with a gentlemen's agreement.

KEATING: Well, Judy, remember this: Every two years we have an election. Republicans and Democrats run every two years. There are elections for governors and presidents every -- every four years. The judiciary doesn't have that luxury. The judiciary has to have the political branches nominate and confirm their members.

So when they're -- one out of eight of their members aren't on the bench -- people need their business to be done. We can't get it done unless we get a bipartisan system. So to have a fair hearing in committee, to have a fair hearing on the floor -- an open public debate, that's wonderful, not just shut people down before they have a chance to breathe.

WOODRUFF: But why should Democrats give up the privilege that had previously been enjoyed by Republicans?

KEATING: Well, when you have a photo-finish Senate like this, you're going to have to work out in a bipartisan way the best way to do it. It can't be necessarily the way it was done in 1935 or 1985. The reality is Democrat presidents need to have their people heard from, Republicans as well.

WOODRUFF: All right, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating...

KEATING: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: ... we thank -- thank you very much. Good to see you in person.

KEATING: Nice to see you. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli today asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to oversee the criminal investigation of his 1996 election campaign. Torricelli's attorney made the request in a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Joining me now with the latest on the Torricelli investigation, CNN's Allan Dodds Frank.

First of all, Allan, what is the political strategy behind this request for a special prosecutor?

ALLAN DODDS FRANK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, in politics and sometimes in criminal defense, the best offense is a good defense. And what you do in a case like this is claim the Justice Department is politicizing the law and assert that this is all a politically motivated attack on a powerful fund-raiser for the Democratic Party, particularly given the state of the Senate right now.

Now, let me read what Ted Wells, the attorney for Senator Torricelli, wrote to Attorney General John Ashcroft

"We are concerned that the department's view of the law may now change because there is a new administration and it is expedient to investigate an outspoken Democratic senator in a climate of political uncertainty in the Senate."

Now, the letter went on to say that the Justice Department "leaking to the press has turned into a flood since the election."

Wells continues: "The practices now under investigation were commonly employed by dozens of senators without fear of prosecution. Indeed, there are media reports that your own 2000 Senate campaign employed some of these precise practices now under scrutiny."

Now, what Senator Torricelli's lawyer is trying to do is to suggest that this investigation by the Justice Department and the grand jury is primarily related to campaign fund raising. And the letter barely mentioned a gentleman named David Chang, who is a Korean businessman, who gave numerous gifts to Senator Torricelli and Senator Torricelli attempted to help him with business problems, including recovering $71 million that Mr. Chang says the North Korean government owes him for grain sales in 1995. And Senator Torricelli took the unusual step of visiting South Korea and North Korea with Mr. Chang. So, that is the bulk of the senator's legal problems, and by raising this notion that it's all political fund raising that the Justice Department is after and raising doubt about whether that law is enforceable, that's the tactic here.

WOODRUFF: Well, Allan, how are they going to handle the allegations themselves, that the senator did accept -- the allegation that he accepted these gifts illegally? What are they going to do to address this?

FRANK: Well, part of the defense by Ted Wells will be that David Chang, at least at the time the senator took the gifts, was a close personal friend and that they did not influence his conduct in office. Now, Mr. Wells is a veteran of this. He is one of the lawyers who helped Mike Espy, the former secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton administration, be acquitted of similar charges of $35,000 in gifts received from several food companies.

Now, in that case there wasn't as much of an argument if indeed it's made in court about the official conduct of Mr. Espy, specifically towards these companies. So, that would be a problem for the senator. But that's the tactic. Mr. Wells succeeded in convincing a jury to acquit on 30 counts and Mr. Espy was found innocent.

WOODRUFF: Why, Allan, use the approach of bringing up the attorney general's past campaign practices? What would the Torricelli team hope to gain there?

FRANK: Well, several things, Judy. First, if a special counsel is indeed appointed by the Justice Department, it could delay any possible prosecution of this case by months, if not longer. A new team of lawyers would probably have to go through all the evidence, maybe re-interview witnesses.

And I am not certain whether the Justice Department will in fact grant a special counsel unless the Torricelli campaign agreed to waive the statute of limitations, because some of the senator's acts and Mr. Chang's acts that are in question here occurred in 1996, and that would be a five-year statute of limitations.

In addition to selling doubt in the Justice Department, it raises a lot of doubt among the public, and who knows? If it ever came to picking a jury, it could have influence. Certainly, it would be the kind of argument that was made during the Espy trial, when Mr. Wells suggested this was a conspiracy to get the first black secretary of Agriculture out of office.

WOODRUFF: Realistically, Allan, how hard is it to indict a sitting United States senator?

FRANK: Prosecutors and the Justice Department are always extremely wary of indicting someone who is a sitting member of the Senate. In the last 200 years, there have been 10 senators indicted, and four acquitted in the 1900s. Total. Acquitted, three in the 1900s. And of those, only two in the second half the century: Senator Harrison Williams of New Jersey, who was caught in a FBI sting, and then Senator Durenberger, who was found guilty of misapplying his expense accounts. So, they are really reluctant, especially when campaign funds are involved, to be perceived as interfering with the political process.

And that of course is why Senator Torricelli and his legal team are adopting this tactic.

WOODRUFF: All right. Allan Dodds Frank, thanks very much, from New York. You can stay with CNN on the latest of the investigation on Senator Robert Torricelli. Allan Dodds Frank will have more at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE," right after INSIDE POLITICS.

A new day dawns in Los Angeles, voters pick a new mayor and a new direction. A look at what drove the voters' decision, ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In the wee hours of the morning, city attorney James Hahn claimed victory in the Los Angeles mayor's race. Hahn defeated a fellow Democrat, former state assembly speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, 54 percent to 46 percent.

As CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports, Hahn's victory means a big change at city hall.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day after the big election, James Hahn makes his first appearance as the newly elected mayor of Los Angeles.

JAMES HAHN (D), LOS ANGELES MAYOR-ELECT: I want to be a mayor for everybody. I want to make sure every neighborhood of this city feels like they have somebody at city hall who cares about them.

GUTIERREZ: It's the dawn of an old era at city hall, after eight years of Republican rule under Mayor Richard Riordan.

But this time was an interesting twist. Hahn, a liberal Democrat, won over white conservative voters. And at the same time, African-Americans. In fact, according to a "Los Angeles Times" poll, no other white candidate could have put together such a massive base of support from white conservatives and blacks alike.

But analysts say this ad attacks Villaraigosa for requesting a presidential pardon for a convicted drug dealer that may have hurt most. According to the "Times" poll, voters said the biggest reason for voting against Villaraigosa was that he lacked honesty and integrity. But Hahn had nothing but praise for Villaraigosa last night.

HAHN: I want to honor my opponent Antonio Villaraigosa, who brought such excitement and energy and ideas into this race.

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), L.A. MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Jim, congratulations. I look forward to working with you for the great city of Los Angeles.

GUTIERREZ: It was a case of the old guard versus the newcomer to local politics. Villaraigosa, the former speaker of the state's assembly had the weight of the cities Republican mayor, and the state Democratic governor and even the California Democratic Party behind him.

But it is Hahn, a career politician, with a family legacy behind him who secured his position in city hall.

Thelma Gutierrez, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: A different kind of politics, why campaigning as British prime minister may be tougher than running for U.S. President.

Just ahead, Ron Brownstein with some political snapshots from the British campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: On the eve of elections in Great Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair made an eleventh-hour appeal for voters to ignore the opinion polls predicting a sweep for his Labour Party. At stops across the country Blair appeals to patriotism, urging citizens to honor their ancestors by using the right to vote. Blair's Labour Party expected to carry the election. The prime minister will be paying a great deal of attention to the margin of victory. CNN political Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" has been on the campaign trail with Blair.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: From an American perspective, the most attractive aspect of British politics is its intimacy. There's none of the imperial pretension of an American presidential election. When Tony Blair rolls into a campaign event, even in the last days before the election, he's followed by only a few security guards and aides.

There isn't the phalanx of protection, the rope lines, the retinue of 20-somethings barking into cell phones that define American politics. The result is that people here don't put him on a pedestal that the American system implicitly encourages. When he showed up at a school earlier this week to make his case to young people, they felt no hesitation about cutting him off, challenging his answers, discounting his record. He really had to break a sweat to sell his ideas and his agenda.

Another big difference is the balance of power between the media and the candidates. In America, conservative critics of campaign finance reform say that if you limit the ability of parties and candidates to spend money, all you'll do is shift power to the media to set the terms of debate. The experience here suggests they're right. The campaigns and candidates are extremely limited in how much they can spend. And they can't buy any television advertising at all. That leaves them entirely dependent on the media to get out their message.

I return, the parties try to torture the media by limiting access to information. Labour treats Blair's campaign schedule as if it were a state secret. Even the reporters traveling on his campaign bus aren't notified where they're going until 10 or 15 minutes before they get there.

Given the strength of Blair's record in managing the economy, the conservatives here never had much of a chance, but they've taken a bad hand and made it worse. Throughout the campaign, they've focused on a series of issues: taxes, immigration, the Euro, with strong appeal to their base, but little attraction for the rest of the electorate. Meanwhile, they've ignored the elephant in the middle of the room. The dissatisfaction still exists after four years of Labour rule with the quality of basic public services, particularly the schools and health care system.

The conservatives here never produced the equivalent of George W. Bush's compassionate conservatism, a conservative agenda for reforming basic public services. As a result, they've ceded the field to Labour, for finishing their campaign with a promise to put schools and hospitals first in a second term. When you add it all up you get a rather remarkable result -- Labour is the party in power, the public is still largely dissatisfied with quality of schools and hospitals, but when you ask voters which party can do a better job of solving the problem, Labour holds a 35 point lead.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This election matters. Come out and vote. Make your voice heard and make sure that the British people elect a government that will carry on working for the hardworking families of this nation.

Blair is heading for a big victory tomorrow. But it looks like what might be called a conditional landslide. Voters aren't at all ready to return the conservatives to power, and they generally accept Blair's argument that he's made a start toward improving the things they care most about, especially in education. But everyone around Blair recognizes that the bar is likely to be set higher next time, that voters are going to demand more tangible improvement in the schools, and the hospitals if they're going to reward Labour with the lasting majority that Blair seeks.

(voice-over): Even tomorrow, the big threat to Blair may not be a late turn toward the Tories so much as a low turnout that raises questions about how enthusiastically voters are returning his government to power. To some extent, Blair is running against himself and turnout will be the critical measure of how he performs in that race.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: That was CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein reporting from London.

Adapting to a new environment: Is the Senate switch cause for concern in the energy industry? And are energy lobbyists putting their money on the right party? Brooks Jackson considers the issues, ahead in the next 30 minutes of INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. On his first full day as Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Tom Daschle seems intent on offering up olive branches. His latest: An announcement that Republicans and Democrats will continue to share the duty of presiding over the chamber as they did when it was divided evenly.

Daschle's takeover of the job Republican Trent Lott held just yesterday became official on the Senate floor amid handshakes and promises of bipartisanship. Given the Democrats' one-seat advantage, now that Senator Jim Jeffords is no longer a Republican, Daschle told members they must work together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD, MAJORITY LEADER: At a time when Americans are evenly divided about their choice of leaders, they are united in their demand for action. Polarized positions are an indulgence, an indulgence that the Senate cannot afford and our nation will not tolerate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Daschle's predecessor echoed that spirit of cooperation despite his recent remarks questioning the Democrats' moral authority to take over the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: We commit and pledge our best efforts to finding a way to make it work and to pass important legislation to address these issues that are needed by the American people. It's not about personalities. I still believe that government is about ideas and about issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The transfer of Senate control from Republicans to Democrats also marked a comeback of sorts for Robert Byrd of West Virginia. He once again holds the job of president pro tem, which he held when Democrats lost control of the Senate back in 1994.

And now, let's go to Capitol Hill, where CNN's Jonathan Karl is with Senator Byrd -- Jonathan.

KARL: Well, Judy, not only did Senator Byrd return to the post of president pro tem of the U.S. Senate. He also returned to the post of chairman of the most powerful, perhaps the most powerful committee, the Appropriations Committee.

Senator Byrd joins us now. Senator, congratulations.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D-WV), CHAIRMAN, APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: Thank you.

KARL: I wanted to ask, I understand you just got back a short while ago with a meeting with new Majority Leader Tom Daschle. You're one of the few people who's served twice as majority leader. What was your advice to Senator Daschle?

BYRD: Well, I didn't necessarily give advice. I wasn't asked for advice. We talked about the problems that will confront us, and we talked particularly about the appropriations bills, the work that lies ahead of us.

We have 13 appropriations bills that we have to pass before we go out this year. We also have the supplemental coming along. And I just went over the schedule with the -- with the majority leader and indicated that I would be holding a meeting with my subcommittee chairmen tomorrow. And we're going to try to work together, we're going to try to report the bills to the -- to the calendar as quickly as possible, and that we were going to do the supplemental also quickly and try to have our work done on it before the next break.

KARL: Now, what about -- we're coming at this obviously after the passage of the tax cut. You had said this tax cut was going to take away money from the appropriations process.

BYRD: No question about it.

KARL: How much do you feel you're going to be restricted?

BYRD: Too much. We're going to be -- it's going to be very difficult to make ends meet and also to meet the priorities of the nation. We won't be able to do that. We'll have continuing problems all the way down the line.

KARL: You're going to have make choices, and you had suggested when that tax cut passed, when the initial budget resolution passed, that those Democrats that voted for that, made that tax cut possible, you know, you said, don't come to the watering well, don't come to the Appropriations Committee, there's not going to be money.

Are going to follow through on that?

BYRD: Well, that was -- that was not meant to be a threat. That was simply a statement of reality. We won't have the money.

KARL: Now, as we negotiate this reorganization resolution, Senator Lott, Senator Daschle are working out, one of the concerns that Republicans have is that they want to get some assurance that their nominees, the presidential nominees will get a fair hearing. Don't they have a point given what some Democrats have said, especially on judicial nominations, about how they will use any means necessary to block conservative judges? BYRD: Well, you know, the United States Senate was not established yesterday. We've been in business for a long time, and we have rules and we have practices, and we'll follow those. And those rules are time-tested. And with good will and working together, things will work out all right.

It's not the first time we've had those problems. We'll -- we'll deal with those problems. We don't have to change any rules to meet a situation like that.

KARL: Are you going to be an ally of the president's on this in terms of conservative judges? You've said you want a conservative judiciary. Are you going to be willing to fight your own party on some of these?

BYRD: I'm an ally of the American people. I always look at nominations, whether they're Republican or Democratic, I look at the person and I vote accordingly. I have voted against my own party's president. I have voted with the other party's president. I will continue to do that from time to time.

I will judge each case on its own...

KARL: Well, you are...

BYRD: ... bottom.

KARL: You are the author of the history of the U.S. Senate, and I want to thank you very much for joining us on this historic day.

BYRD: I thank you very much.

KARL: Thank you.

BYRD: Thank you.

KARL: Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jonathan Karl with Senator Robert Byrd. And tomorrow, we want to tell you on INSIDE POLITICS joining us will be Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, who is the Republican head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee.

Well, many Democrats tried to contain their glee today while some Republicans tried not to show their disappointment. But the change in the Senate was visible in a number of ways, on the floor and behind the scenes.

Here is our congressional correspondent Kate Snow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DASCHLE: Just another day at the office.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, not quite.

DASCHLE: I yield the floor.

SNOW: It's not every day Senator Tom Daschle gets a standing ovation and a whole lot of handshakes. Up above, beyond the camera's view, the public gallery was packed, but on the floor, a little more than a third of all the senators were on hand for the big moment.

DASCHLE: There is another person who deserves special recognition, and that is Senator Jeffords.

SNOW: Independent Jim Jeffords, the man who made the moment possible, was notably absent. In a much smaller room, in a Senate office building, a different kind of changeover: three Judiciary Committee staffers who worked for Democrat Patrick Leahy are literally swapping desks with three people who worked for Republican Orrin Hatch.

Leahy, the incoming chairman, and Hatch, the outgoing chairman, switched places too. Other committees are going through the same routine. Democrats on the appropriations panel moving to new digs.

But while dozens of people will shift positions, most won't lose them. The signs will change. Senator Don Nickles went from assistant majority leader to assistant Republican leader.

In some ways, though, life in the Senate is unchanged. Senator Ted Kennedy walking the grounds with his dog, Splash. Senator Jon Kyl bounding up the stairs. Smiles even on Republican faces.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Take back the Senate!

SNOW: Outside the marble halls, the change was, well, hardly noticed.

(on camera): There's a historic event happening in the Senate today. Do you know what it is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's Republicans are dominant now and there are 49...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats.

SNOW (voice-over): the man of the moment didn't show his face much until midafternoon. A quick photo with visiting middle-school students. Senator Jeffords says he skipped the morning session because he didn't want to be a distraction. But everywhere he goes now there's a crowd.

SNOW (on camera): At a dinner for Senate Democrats Tuesday night, Jeffords, who used to be part of a Republican quartet known as the Singing Senators, was serenaded by his new colleagues. The song they sang from the musical "Oliver," "Consider Yourself at Home."

Kate Snow, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: I wish we could have heard that, Kate. Thanks.

An update now on energy politics in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. I should say still GOP-controlled. Republicans today killed a bill designed to ease the electricity crunch in California after failing to reach an agreement with Democrats. Congressional sources say Democrats insisted the measure include price caps, which are opposed by many Republicans, including President Bush.

And next on INSIDE POLITICS, commemorating the 57th anniversary of D-Day: a $13 million monument to remember those who died in history's largest military invasion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The new Democratic chairs of Senate committees are just beginning to settle into their jobs. One of the starkest changes at the top is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Joe Biden has taken over for conservative Republican Jesse Helms.

Senator Biden of Delaware joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Senator, before I ask you anything else, I have to ask you about the news that is moving on the wires on both the Associated Press and Reuters and that is that the Bush administration has decided to resume contact, limited contacts, with North Korea, after early in the administration, saying that they wouldn't do that. What's this all about?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I think that it's very good news, Judy. I hope that it's a consequence of Secretary Powell's influence. I spoke with Powell about an hour 1/2 ago, and it isn't particularly limited contact. It indicated that there a wide range of subjects that they were prepared to discuss, including development of long-range missiles, the verifiability of a possible agreement, including the possibility of aid to the North Koreans and lifting embargoes in return for verifiable agreements relating to material, as well as long-range missile production, as well as the sale with missile technology.

So, it's essentially picking up where the Clinton administration left off. After the review, they believed that it was worth pursuing it.

WOODRUFF: Senator, when the administration announced earlier on, that they were shutting down these contacts with North Korea, that was read to be a real change in direction on the part of this administration. A much harder line across the board. Does this change now, your perception of the administration's overall foreign policy?

BIDEN: Well, not yet, Judy. But it seems to me that the -- Secretary Powell might not like what I am about to say and it may not be accurate -- but it seems as though the Powell School is beginning to prevail on a very important subject.

As you recall, at the time that the president announced that he was not going to move forward and quote, "be naive," as he said it, right with him at the moment was the president of South Korea, Kim Dae-Jung, who was a Nobel laureate 6 1/2 years or so in prison, who is the author of the "Sunshine Policy With the North."

And at that very day, you may recall, you had Chairman Powell on tape on your show and others tapes saying, well, really, what I said yesterday about it being worth while to pursue these agreements is not inconsistent to what the president said -- translated to me was, there was a real donnybrook within the transition. And if there was a genuine review that brought them to the position that Secretary Powell had taken in the first instance, or if there was a realization that the response of our allies as well as members of the Congress in both parties was somewhat stunned.

I don't know what the reason, but they're in the right course, and I hope for the right reason, and I believe that they are, so I am very, very hopeful. And I hope that this is a beginning, the beginning of a more of a policy of engagement, rather than this sort of unilateral announcement as to whether or not the United States is going from the Kyoto Treaty to negotiating with North Korea.

WOODRUFF: Quickly, Senator, any early sense what the North Koreans or the South Koreans would be saying in reaction?

BIDEN: Well, what with the South Koreans are saying in the reaction and Secretary Powell told me we consulted with them, as well as Japan, as well as our allies, they are very happy with this. They have been encouraged all along.

Now please don't misunderstand me. This is not -- I am not suggesting, nor is the administration, to impose some Pollyannish notion that we're going to go to the good ole North Koreans, who want peace, harmony, and brotherhood. This will be hard-headed negotiations but serious negotiations.

I take Secretary Powell at his word, when he said this is not one of these deals where it's being set up for failure, where they're setting up the standard of verification so high it that can't be met, where they are trying to change -- for example, it mentioned four things: well, I won't go into them.

But I think it's serious, I think it's a very positive move, and we will see if the North Koreans really wish to deal.

WOODRUFF: Well, I just would point out at this point, tomorrow, I will be interviewing the Korean -- South Korean Foreign Minister Hung Sung Sue, so the timing of this is very important.

Let's move on to the broader question. You are moving into the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, will there be an entirely different tone now from that committee?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, ironically, although Senator Helms and I strongly disagree in substance, I think that it was the marvel to most of the press that we got along very harmoniously in terms of our staffs, in terms of our working relationship on the committee, and none of that will change.

But will change is, there are a lot of things that I would like to focus on. I think we should have a national debate and dialogue on national missile defense. I think we should be discussing this administration's policy toward North Korea. I think we should be discussing this policy toward China. Expansion of NATO. The Balkans, et cetera...

WOODRUFF: Are you saying that things were not being debated or discussed before?

BIDEN: Well, let me ask you a rhetorical question. Did you cover any hearing or hear any discussion out of the Foreign Relations Committee, on any of those subjects? The answer is no, you haven't. And there will. You will now.

Now it will not -- there is no ax to grind. But I will be calling the administration witnesses as well as experts from Dr. Henry Kissinger to Secretary Albright to others, to come and discuss with us, what our policy should be. What we think or where we are going right and where we are going wrong.

WOODRUFF: What are your priorities at this point? Or, are you in a position where you really have to be reacting to what the administration is doing?

BIDEN: Both, Judy. I will have to react, obviously, because presidents conduct foreign policy and we basically react to them. We are not a legislative committee as you well know, in the sense that we pass a law and say, Mr. President, you must do this with the country X, Y, or Z.

But the second piece though is, in the same nature that William Fulbright used the Foreign Relations Committee as a national forum for a debate at that time on Vietnam and other issues, we will use the Foreign Relations Committee for a serious vehicle to discuss national missile policy, as well as policy towards Russia and China, and other matters including the Middle East, which we haven't even had a hearing on in -- in I don't know, a long time.

WOODRUFF: If national missile defense were to come up for a vote in whatever form right now in the Senate, what would happen?

BIDEN: It would depend, Judy, whether or not there had been -- we had agreement with our allies and with the Soviet Union -- excuse me, Russia, about amending the ABM Treaty. If it came up in the context of a unilateral withdrawal of the ABM Treaty, I think that the president would have great difficulty selling whatever missile technology program that he had in mind.

There are -- so, it really depends, Judy on the form in which it comes up. And the president has articulated the need for national missile defense, but he has recommended three proposals, all of which require different architecture: protect our friends, protect against accidental launch, and protect against a rogue state. All require fundamentally different technical requirements.

WOODRUFF: All right, Senator Joe Biden of the Foreign Relations Committee. Thank you for joining us.

BIDEN: Thanks for having me. Bye-bye.

WOODRUFF: The news Democratic chairman of another committee, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Joe Lieberman announced today that he will hold a hearing on energy on June the 20th. Specifically, Lieberman said that he wanted to look into whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been properly executing its duties to provide, quote, "fair and reasonable electric rates." Will the Senate power shift affect energy politics in other ways?

Our Brooks Jackson has been sounding out some lobbyists.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the big energy issues -- coal, nuclear power, even oil drilling -- energy lobbyists expect to see surprisingly little change from the partisan changeover.

J. BENNET JOHNSTON, JOHNSTON & ASSOCIATES: I think it will not make much difference.

JACKSON: In fact, the new Democratic chairman of the Senate Energy And Natural Resources Committee says he disagrees with very little in President Bush's energy plan.

SEN. JEFF BINGAMAN (D), NEW MEXICO: The one specific thing he calls for, which I disagree with, is he believes that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be open for drilling and exploration.

JACKSON: And lobbyists say that idea was dead even before the changeover.

JOHN KANE, NUCLEAR ENERGY INSTITUTE: There was almost no chance of it passing under the Republicans, and even less chance under the Democrats.

JACKSON: Furthermore, Bingaman says he favors drilling in other parts of Alaska, and also in Florida waters off the Gulf of Mexico. As for nuclear power...

(on camera): You guys in the nuclear industry must be shaking in your boots, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, exactly not. We're very encouraged by things we're seeing in the Senate.

JACKSON: Bingaman is a sponsor of legislation sought by the nuclear industry including extension of a law limiting the industry's legal liability in case of nuclear accident. Bingaman is a friend also of the coal industry. In fact, he's one of 11 Democratic sponsors of a Senate bill to provide big tax subsidies to build new coal-burning electric plants using the latest antipollution technology. So what is the difference?

BINGAMAN: Well, I think that there will be a couple of things that I think will be somewhat different. I think that we will put a greater emphasis on conservation.

JACKSON: But not necessarily tougher fuel efficiency standards for gas-guzzling SUV's, which some auto-state Democrats oppose. Democrats do intend to push federal regulators to impose some government restraint on wholesale electric rates in California, but don't look for legislated price controls.

BINGAMAN: We don't have the expertise to be setting rates, and we should not be trying.

JACKSON: Energy lobbyists have a lot more invested in Republican senators -- $6 million in campaign donations in the last election versus only two million to Democrats. And some energy lobbyists say they fear election politics could cause them trouble.

JACK GERARD, NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION: Unfortunately, if some make a judgment that this is a political wedge issue, it may, in fact, delay the consideration of a national energy policy as they begin to play politics with energy.

JACKSON (on camera): But several industry lobbyists say the politics of energy is changing in their direction, public opinion favoring more power plants, more drilling. And these lobbyists sat the new Senate leadership reads those polls, too.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Just ahead, public commemorations on the anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We have a story just in from Los Angeles, a major new decision against the tobacco industry. A jury has awarded $3 billion to a lifelong smoker, deciding that Philip Morris is responsible for his incurable lung cancer. The jury found against the tobacco giant on all six counts of fraud, negligence and making a defective product. The 56-year-old plaintiff had sought up to $10 billion in damages. His attorney argued that his client was a victim of a decade long tobacco industry campaign to promote smoking as quote, "cool" while concealing its serious dangers. There is more INSIDE POLITICS coming up. But first, let's go to Lou Dobbs for a preview of what's ahead at the bottom of the hour on "MONEYLINE."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The allied invasion of Normandy was the largest military invasion force in history. Today in Virginia President Bush helped to dedicate the national D-day memorial in a small town that felt the pain of war more than most. Here is CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Bedford, Virginia after years and tears, a dedication. The president of the United States laid a wreath and spoke about what the world gained and lost on D-day.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Free societies in Europe can be traced to the first footprints on the first beach on June 6, 1944. What was lost on D-day we can never measure. And never forget.

JOHN MARSH, FMR. SEC. OF THE ARMY: Memories are best kept by those who loved the greatest and by those who lost the most.

MORTON: That resonated in Bedford where 35 soldiers in Able Company in the 116th infantry regiment hit Omaha Beach. And 21 of the 35 died. But this was a day for celebrating memories, for honoring heroes, not for grief. And the old men who were on the beaches that day were proud.

JOHN SURNIAK, D-DAY VETERAN: I would like to see all these young people come and see the place so they would realize what we went through.

WILLIE HARRIS, D-DAY VETERAN: Well, I think that it's a little late but its one of the grandest things that happened in the future Army of the United States.

PRESTON FITZBERGER, D-DAY VETERAN: I have been looking forward to see this completed. And it's a great pleasure, privilege to come here and see it.

MORTON: They had a good crowd and a good mix. The old men remembering, the young learning, about a war and a world they may have known little about. At the end, the Navy band played Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" and the crowd applauded these very uncommon men.

BUSH: Whatever it is about America that has given us such citizens, it is the greatest quality we have and may it never leave us.

MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Bedford, Virginia. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Uncommon men, indeed. That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I am Judy Woodruff. LOU DOBBS' MONEYLINE is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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