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DeLay Under Fire; Democrats Attack Bolton

Aired April 11, 2005 - 15:30   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. A lot of news to tell you about today, but before we get to that, a story that is developing on Capitol Hill, and that is a man, just a couple of hours ago, was discovered with two suitcases standing near the United States Capitol. Just moments ago, authorities blew up one of those suitcases after having taken the man away. Right now we're told they are planning to blow up the other suitcase, to explode it to see what is inside that. We're told those are HAZMAT officials there. You can see there in their -- the garb that they wear to protect themselves.
One of the suitcase, as we say, the one on the left was blown up, maybe about five, 10 minutes ago. And now they are attempting to rig, perhaps, the second suitcase, the one there you see on the right -- it's lying on the ground -- to rig that one to explode it to see what the contents are.

Again, this story has been -- we've been watching it throughout the afternoon it. It all began a little after noon Eastern Time, when the man was seen standing near the Capitol, the West Front of the Capitol. He was facing the Capitol building, and on either side of him -- there you see, these are pictures from earlier today, police forcibly knocked him to the ground and then carried him away.

And Bob Franken, who's with us watching all of, Bob, it's just been a matter of our not knowing very much is my understanding.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, what you have now, as you can see, is a person from the HAZMAT unit near the package. And we're told that there are two possibilities. We're being told this by police officers down where we are, I would say about quarter to a half-mile from the West Front of the Capitol. The two possibilities are that he is wiring it to blow it up. It looks like that he's doing something like that. The other one is that they've determined that there -- through their X-rays that there was nothing hazardous inside.

We do know that the one to our left, as we face the Capitol, was blown up by Capitol Police. That's normally after a decision is made that there's nothing lethal inside or dangerous that if exposed to the atmosphere could cause problems for the people who are around. And there are a lot of people around here, because this is the time of year that tourism is very heavy in Washington. The Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing, and a lot of people come very close distance to it.

Now you'll see that the police officer is dragging that suitcase away, indicating that it may not be a plan to blow it up, but rather they just decided that what was in the suitcase is just clothing and that type of thing. The other one, we were told, had some material inside, wires, the type of thing that may or may not have been suspicious. A lot of time, any of us who travels has electronic gear that can look sinister in the right context, and this would certainly be the right context.

Now, this area, by the way, is the area where the inauguration was held, the West Front of the Capitol, where the presidents of the United States are sworn in. And of course on January 20th, that's what we had here on that very same spot where all of this is going on right now.

And to review, Judy, a man shortly after noon stood there with two packages. Given all the high security that exists around this building, when there is any sort of suspicious package, they go into what amounts to a high alert, and in this --

WOODRUFF: I think we just lost Bob Franken. We caught a quick glimpse our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel. We didn't mean to do that. We were trying to hear what Bob was saying. Bob, are you still able to hear me right now? I don't know if Bob Franken is with us. Again, the story that we're watching at the Capitol did begin just a few hours ago when a man was found to be standing facing the West Front of the Capitol. He was standing with a roller-type suitcase on either side of him, and he was standing very still. And police noticed this, noticed the suitcases. It was suspicious.

And as we've shown you in the video you've seen, they rushed him, knocked him down, dragged him away, and they've been trying to get a better sense what's in those suitcases. They blew up one of them, and now HAZMAT officials seem to be doing something with the other suitcase.

Bob Franken, you're with us -- back with us again. How close can people get -- how close can the public get to the Capitol building?

FRANKEN: Well, right now, those people who are outside as we were are standing across the Reflecting Pool of the Capitol, so we're probably --

WOODRUFF: No, I mean typically.

FRANKEN: -- between a quarter and a half-mile away.

WOODRUFF: No, I mean typically how --

FRANKEN: Pardon?

WOODRUFF: Typically how close?

FRANKEN: Oh, you mean typically. Well, people, typically they walk up and around that. This is still called the People's House. And even with all the security, they walk inside the Capitol. There were some initial police calls that they had evacuated the building, which were exaggerated and most media avoided reporting that.

But what they did do is, the offices that face this West Front, which included Senate majority and minority leaders' offices and the speaker of the House offices, they did move the people out of those offices. And after the situation was over, there was a loudspeaker warning out that went to people in the Capitol that they could expect an explosion or explosions.

And this process of disposing with the packages is what's still going on now. You can see the HAZMAT officer who is kneeling by the packages. We are not able to tell from here exactly whether they plan to move that package, or whether they plan to let it have the same fate as the first one, which they blew up.

WOODRUFF: Have we lost you again, Bob?

FRANKEN: He's look inside now. He's looking inside now, Judy. Can you hear me?

WOODRUFF: Yes, I can hear you. We lost you momentarily. But we see him.

FRANKEN: Okay. Well, at any rate, he's looked -- okay, he's inside, as you can see. We're told that the original X-ray indicated that it was just clothing. It was just an honest-to-goodness travel bag, which, of course, is what these are designed to be. But they are obviously taking no chances. The HAZMAT officers don't take any chances, and certainly they don't when you're talking about activity outside the Capitol in the United States capitol -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Bob, they've exploded one of these suitcases. And what is going on now? Are they trying to get other one open? Is that what this is all about?

FRANKEN: They're looking at it. They're looking to see if their initial X-ray -- this is what we're able to put together, cobble together by talks with various police officers down here. But they seem to believe that what they're doing is ascertaining that what they saw in their X-rays, which in effect was nothing but clothing, is what was in the bag before they decide what to do about it.

The other bag, we're told, had some material with wires in it. Now, remember, we all travel with electronic gear these days, and oftentimes what they see in the bag is something that is totally innocuous, not dangerous. But they don't necessarily know that, hence the decision to blow it up after they determined that there's no indication there's any hazardous material inside the bag.

So it's a very methodical process, a very complicated process. The officer there now is just make sure that their initial analysis was right. And then they'll decide how to dispose of that bag.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken watching it all from some little distance from the Capitol, farther away than we're normally able to be. But we're going to continue to keep an eye on the situation, Bob is. And when something develops there that we think is worth reporting, we'll go right back to him.

So from what's going on outside the Capitol to what's going on inside the Capitol, it is apparently a little bit more difficult now for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to blame his political problems on partisan attacks by Democrats. Some Republicans are now speaking out about the ethics questions dogging DeLay and their possible effect on the party.

We begin with our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry. Ed, what are you learning?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, a top Republican aide told me today that it's clear that the Tom DeLay story has now turned into a full-scale feeding frenzy after Republican Congressman Chris Shays came out and said DeLay has become an embarrassment to his party and should step down as majority leader. The sense you get from Republicans is they're concerned about another shoe dropping.

But for now, these party officials insist they're not too nervous because they believe criticism from Chris Shays is not unexpected. He's a moderate Republican who has frequently clashed with GOP leaders. He's from a swing district in Connecticut, where he only won with 52 percent of the vote last November. So he's a target of Democrats. And in order to save his seat, he's under heavy pressure to distance himself from Tom DeLay. And he did just that on camera today.


REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: I'm not asking him to step down. You're asking me if I think he should? Yes, I think he should. That's just an honest answer to a question. But I'm not arguing and demanding that he step down. He's still the leader. But if I think -- but that's what I think. I think he should step down.


HENRY: Now, Shays was referring to the fact that Tom DeLay was rebuked by the House Ethic Committee three times last year, now is facing new allegation he may have violated House rules by allowing lobbyists to secretly pay for three overseas trips. But Republican officials note, Chris Shays is no fan of Tom DeLay. He's an obvious person to criticize the majority leader. And he himself, Chris Shays, is not a leader in the party, so officials are confident he will not provide cover for other Republican lawmakers to step forward and demand that DeLay step down.

As one party official told me, if a movement conservative breaks ranks, then it's a problem. One such conservative would be Senator Rick Santorum, who said yesterday on ABC's "This Week" program that DeLay has to come clean on this. He has to clear up all of this controversy. But Santorum did stop far short of calling on him to step down.


SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I think he has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it, and let the people then judge for themselves. But from everything I've heard, again, from his -- from the comments and responding to those, is everything he's done was according to the law.


Now, Mr. DeLay has said that these trips were paid for by a conservative non-profit. That's completely permissible by House rules, but in fact, allegations have surfaced that lobbyists, including Republican Jack Abramoff, who is now under federal investigation, secretly paid for the trips.

I can tell that you while DeLay has been saying he knows nothing about whether or not lobbyists paid for it, there's a report at "Newsweek" today saying that, in fact, Jack Abramoff is privately telling friends that DeLay knew everything and that they're -- that this possibility of Jack Abramoff could really dog Tom DeLay.

I spoke to a spokesman for Jack Abramoff's attorney just a short a while ago. He said they're not going to comment on this "Newsweek" report, but they're saying that the bottom line is that Jack Abramoff believes that this non-profit group did pay for the trips, and, in fact, this is a commonplace situation where non-profits pay the travel of members of Congress and leaders in both parties. And they say Jack Abramoff is being unfairly singled out.

But the bottom line is clearly we have not heard the last of the story yet -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, and I think there's going to be a lot more reporting now on exactly how many of these trips take place that are paid for in this manner. I think that's something all the news media is going to be interested in, including CNN. All right. Thank you, Ed.

In a few minutes, another critical take on Tom DeLay's ethical issues. From "Wall Street Journal" columnist John Fund. And we will hear from a DeLay defender, the House majority whip, Roy Blunt.

Now to another flash point on Capitol Hill, John Bolton's nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. As expected, Democrats have had some tough questions for Bolton, during his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.

CNN's Andrea Koppel has been covering the hearing -- Andrea?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, even before today's hearing, John Bolton has been known around town as a lightning rod of controversy. Today, if you wanted to sum up sum up the strategy of Democrats, it's to attack, attack, attack.

The two-prong strategy focuses on going after John Bolton, hammering away at what they allege is influence that he tried to keep analysts, intelligence analysts, at the State Department from moving forward with what they thought was going on with Cuba when he believed that Cuba was developing a program of weapons of mass destruction. And the allegations go on to say that he tried to get those analysts fired. The other part of this is to really present Bolton with, in his own words, what they see as Bolton's U.N.-bashing reputation. Barbara Boxer, senator from California, Democrat senator, actually engaged in a bit of show-and-tell when she played a 1994 videotape of one Bolton speech.


SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: You have nothing but disdain for the United Nations. Now, you can dance around it, you can run away from it, you can put perfume on it, but the bottom line is the bottom line.


KOPPEL: John Bolton went on to say that his comments back in 1994 were very much in keeping with that period of time. The Democrats were in power, and he said that what was need was U.S. leadership at the U.N.


JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. NOMINEE: The consistent theme of my writings is that for the U.N. to be effective it requires American leadership. I say it over and over again. I deeply believe it. My criticisms during the 1990s were in large measure because of what I'd thought was the lack of effective American leadership.


KOPPEL: Now Bolton's backers, one of whom is not speaking right now -- in fact, Barbara Boxer is speaking following up on a second round of questioning -- but a lot of his boosters had been saying that John Bolton is the perfect man for the time, at a period when the United Nations is itself undergoing a lot of soul-searching. The need for institutional reform, the U.N. oil-for-food scandal, that is still being investigated right now.

And that John Bolton is a tough-talking, experienced professional, is somebody who really will be able to hold the U.N.'s feet to the fire and put forward really what the U.N. and -- excuse me, what President Bush believes should be happening at the United Nations -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Andrea Koppel watching the Bolton hearings. Thank you, Andrea.

And we want to urge you to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

And we're going to have more on the Tom DeLay ethics controversy. Next, we'll speak to a conservative journalist who has some tough things to say, the editorial page of the "Wall Street Journal," about Tom DeLay.

Plus, we'll find out if House Majority Whip Roy Blunt has anything but good things to say about his leader.

Also ahead, when money, ethics and partisan politics collide. A history of controversy in the House.

And a Democratic lightning rod. Is there some confusion about what Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for?


WOODRUFF: Now back to the growing criticism of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. In a stinging editorial, the "Wall Street Journal" recently wrote, quote, "The problem is that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits." End quote.

I'm joined now by a columnist for the "Wall Street Journal." John Fond, what provoked that column?

JOHN FUND, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I did not write that editorial, but I have written on that a lot of the Republican revolutionaries of 1994 came to Washington to drain the swamp. And they've decided it makes a good hot tub. They've not followed their revolutionary zeal in cutting back government, and frankly, restoring Congress to the kind of bright luster that it should be. Sometimes business as usual with lobbyists and favors continues.

WOODRUFF: What about the ethical allegations that have been leveled, the stories that have surfaced recently about Majority Leader DeLay. Is that of that concern to you?

FUND: Yes, but also no, because, remember, this is a feeding frenzy, as your Ed Henry pointed out. And a feeding frenzy sometimes confuses the trivial with the substantive. And "The New Republic," which is a liberal magazine, this week says that, for example, some of the front page stories on Tom DeLay are a waste of ink about a whole lot of nothing.

So there are some legitimate questions here. And I'll make a flat prediction. I think the House Ethics Committee is probably going to look into this and it will probably be announced by the end of the month and I think that's inevitable. And that is a judicious way of handling these charges, rather than having them played out on television, where everything gets confused and the trivial gets mixed in with other stuff that is legitimate.

WOODRUFF: Well, how does what you're saying square with what Mr. DeLay is saying, that there's nothing here and this is a feeding frenzy to the left and there's nothing to it.

FUND: Well, some of it is a feeding frenzy. A lot of these groups that are -- put up these charges that "The New Republic" says are nothing are funded by George Soros (ph). On the other hand, it's clear there was some bad judgment. I think that there is some questions about these trips and some questions about the funding of them that should be answered.

That's probably best handled by an Ethics Committee that's divided evenly between the two parties. That's how we've handled previous things. And the Ethics Committee has been reconstituted, they should be given the chance to go back and look at all of this.

WOODRUFF: And so from now on, it's in the hands of the Ethics Committee, even though that committee's membership has been shaped by the leadership -- principally by Mr. DeLay?

FUND: Look, one aspect of this feeding frenzy is that people all over town are looking at everything. On these lobbying trips, for example, there are federal prosecutors looking at it, career people from the Justice Department. That's going to be taken care of. But regarding congressional rules, a lot of members have taken these kind of trips.

So I think the Ethics Committee needs to look at this and recognize, that look, Democrat Jim McDermott of Washington state went on these trips and he says he was misled. Those questions are best handled by the Ethics Committee and the federal prosecutors will look at everything else.

WOODRUFF: All right. John Fund with the "Wall Street Journal." Thank you very much.

And now we want to turn to someone who's going to comment on this story from a position of the leadership, and he is the Majority Whip Roy Blunt. He joins me now here in Washington.

You heard what John Fund is saying, that, yes, a lot of this is a feeding frenzy. But he also said that there are things that should be looked at by the Ethics Committee.

REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MAJORITY WHIP: I think Tom DeLay agrees totally with that. He's eager to go to the Ethics Committee and let them look at these things that have generally been previously cleared by them. All of them have been reported, so this is not something that -- some big revelation that somebody says there was a trip taken five years ago and then somebody else decides to look into who funded the organization that paid for that trip. Nor was Tom DeLay the only person, as John Fund mentioned, that ever took a trip with this group.

So a lot of this -- there was one story last week, Judy, I read the front page, the headline was terrible, I flipped through the paper, there is an entire page with charts and everything. And I took time then to read the story and actually there's no story there.

But if you were just a casual viewer of what was going on, you'd assume, boy, this guy must have really done something wrong. And that doesn't appear to be the case. And nobody is more eager than Tom DeLay to make it clear that that's not the case.

WOODRUFF: Well, Republican senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania -- no more loyal Republican than Senator Santorum -- is saying that Congressman DeLay needs to come forward and give some explanations, that there are at least some questions out there that have to be cleared up. Would you agree with that?

BLUNT: Well, we want to see this cleared up. I'm sure nobody wants to see it cleared up more than Tom DeLay. I think the best place to do that's the Ethics Committee. You mentioned a minute ago that Tom DeLay had helped shape that committee. I don't know that that's true. I know the speaker put our five members on. Certainly Tom DeLay had nothing to do wit the five members that the Democrats put on.

That's why that's the only committee in Congress that's equally divided. And if there's some clear reason to move forward after they get the information, after they hopefully talk to the majority leader, they'll move forward. Otherwise -- that's the way to resolve this.

WOODRUFF: What about Congressman Shays' comment that Tom DeLay -- he thinks Congressman DeLay should step down from the leadership?

BLUNT: Yes, I thought it was very interesting the way Chris said that. He said, well, really, I'm not asking him to do this, but you asked me my opinion, maybe what I said what I'd do if I was him. And he said that. Everybody has their own opinion. And I'm certainly not here to criticize Chris Shays, but when you answer a question, you've got to assume that the people that you answer the questions who are going to use that in the broadest context, which became -- somebody called for Tom DeLay to step down.

WOODRUFF: Let me quickly quote what another Republican congressman told our congressional producer Ted Barrett just a weeks ago. He said it is over once the drip, drip, drip starts. It's not going to end, don't know if it's now or in a year. At some point, the members are going take lead very quickly.

BLUNT: Well, the members -- Tom DeLay is an effective leader. The members understand that. I think they have a lot of appreciation for that. And right now they're sticking with him.

WOODRUFF: Roy Blunt, thank you very much. We appreciate you coming in. "INSIDE POLITICS" continues.


WOODRUFF: Comments by former Democratic hopeful John Kerry lead off our Monday political bytes. Referring to the November election in an event sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Senator Kerry said yesterday that too many people were denied their right to vote and in his words, quote, "too many who tried to vote were intimidated."

As examples, Kerry went on to say, quote, "Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote." End quote. A spokeswoman at the Republican National Committee described Kerry's comments as, quote, "baseless allegations."

The first West Virginia Republican has stepped forward to challenge longtime Democratic Senator Robert Byrd next year. State party treasurer Hiram Lewis (ph) has entered the GOP primary. He lost a close race for attorney general last November. The Republican party has targeted Byrd, who is now in his eighth term in the Senate.

A year before he faces a possible re-election race, there are mixed results for New York governor George Pataki in a pair of new polls. A Siena College survey gives Pataki a 50 percent favorable rating, while 39 percent say they disapprove of the job Pataki's doing. A month ago, Siena found 50 percent disapproved of Pataki's job performance.

Marist College, however, asked a similar question in a new poll. In this poll, only 34 percent describe Pataki's performance as excellent or good, while 64 percent called it fair or poor. Both polls also found that Pataki still trails Democratic attorney general Eliot Spitzer by double digit margins, and hypothetical one-on-one match-ups.

Well, just as Hillary Clinton can get Republicans' blood boiling, Tom DeLay is a frequent target of derision by Democrats. Coming up, we'll find out what bloggers on both sides of the controversy are saying, now that at least one Republican says DeLay should step down.

And two prominent senators, George Allen and Christopher Dodd, will spar over the question should John Bolton represent the United States at the United Nations? Stay with us.


WOODRUFF: It's just after 4:00 in the East, and as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with the Dobbs Report. Hi, Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, stocks are slightly lower. Let's take a look. The Dow Jones Industrials are losing about 11 points right now. We have the Nasdaq slightly lower.

Big story: Shares of Ford fell to their lowest level in nearly two years. Ford said late Friday that it was slashing this year's forecast and won't meet goals for next year either. Those high gas prices are hurting sales of Ford's very profitable SUVs. And we are seeing gains in the oil prices again today.

Now, oil had been moving lower for five straight sessions. That was on talk of OPEC increasing supply. But today, oil rose to just below $54 a barrel.

Warren Buffett faced questioning from securities regulators today about an industry-wide insurance scandal. A deal between a unit of his company and insurer AIG has become the focus of the investigation. Buffett claimed he was aware of the deal between the two companies, but he knew very few details. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said yesterday that Buffett is not a target of the investigation.

And AIG's former chief executive, Hank Greenberg, is scheduled to appear before the same group tomorrow. He's not expected to say much. Greenberg's attorney tells CNN that his client will exercise his Fifth Amendment rights.

Coming up on CNN, 6 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," Broken Borders. Mexican consulates are helping illegal immigrants get special IDs to live and work in this country.


REP. ELTON GALLEGLY (R), CALIFORNIA: In my opinion, there shouldn't even be this document that would be recognized, whether it's valid or not, because the only folks that have any need for this document to start with are individuals that don't have a legal right to be in the country to begin with.

PILGRIM: Also tonight, we'll head to the Mexican border for a special look at the civilian group, The Minutemen, now patrolling there.

Plus a former INS agent tells us why technology and not manpower is crucial in securing our border.

And, assault on the middle class. For the first time in 14 years, pay raises are lagging behind price increases. We'll have a special report on that.

That and more, tonight 6:00 Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." But for now, back to Judy Woodruff.



ANNOUNCER: Unsettling times in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Prime Minister Sharon turns to President Bush for support.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I strongly support his courageous initiative to disengage from Gaza and part of the West Bank.

ANNOUNCER: "A DeLayed Reaction." This is hardly the first time a "leader in political peril" saga has played out in the house.

Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. President bush's meeting today with Ariel Sharon was originally designed to give the Israeli leader support as he moves ahead with a controversial plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip. But Mr. Bush felt the need to publicly put some pressure on Mr. Sharon, as well.

Our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, is with the president in Crawford, Texas. Hi, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, as you know, in the world of Mideast peace, particularly for a U.S. president, it is oftentimes just as important -- it's important for him to be good cop as bad cop. And you mentioned that the reason why the U.S. officials and Israeli officials wanted to have this high-profile meeting here in Texas is to talk about the upcoming pull-out from the Gaza Strip and some of the West Bank. But the president did also make very clear that he told Prime Minister Sharon in private, as he said in public, that any expansion of settlements that currently exist would not be acceptable.


PRESIDENT BUSH: I told the prime minister of my concern that Israel not undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudice final-status negotiations.


BASH: Now here is what is at issue: It is a settlement -- the largest settlement on the West Bank. It's called Maale Adumim. And there is a plan, an Israeli plan to expand that, perhaps to connect it to Jerusalem. Now, Palestinians say that is a ruse to try to lock them out of their land and any kind of final-status agreements and perhaps lock them away from the part of Jerusalem that they're looking for. And as you heard the president, he made clear that he thinks that is not helpful.

Ariel Sharon today said that he is interested in what he called "continguity" between that settlement and Jerusalem, but he also suggested that in the end, in final-status talks, it might be something he'll have to give up.


ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER ARIEL SHARON: Regarding the unauthorized outposts, I wish to reiterate that Israel is a society governed by the rule of law. As such, I will fulfill my commitment to you, Mr. President, to remove unauthorized outposts.


BASH: Now as you mentioned, Judy, the big focus here has been on trying to get attention to what will happen in just a little more than three months, and that is for Israelis to pull out about 9,000 of their own -- of Gaza Strip settlements, about 21 there, four in the West Bank. That has been the subject of some wrenching and emotional political debate that is likely just starting inside Israel. Some of Ariel Sharon's own supporters from within his own party say that that is something that is unacceptable and are vowing to fight it, even putting Mr. Sharon in a position to suggest that perhaps there could be a situation that looks like civil war.

Now, Sharon tried to downplay that today, but it was very clear from him that this is something that he needs help with. And that was what the president's message was today. It was, although the two countries essentially decided to do this unilaterally, they are now calling on the newly elected Palestinian president to help out as much as possible with this disengagement plan.


WOODRUFF: All right, Dana Bash at the president's ranch in Texas following it all. Dana, thank you very much.

Meanwhile back here in Washington, Republicans are assessing the fall-out, now that one of their own says House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should step down. Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut says the controversy over DeLay's ethical conduct is a problem for their party.


REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: It's been harmful to Congress. I think it's been harmful to the Republican Conference, a conference that ran on the highest ethical standards. And I think it's also harmful for Republicans who are up for reelection. And I can't say it any better than that.


WOODRUFF: The Senate's number-three Republican, Rick Santorum, hasn't gone as far as Shays, but he is urging DeLay to come forward and answer questions about his conduct, including overseas travel and campaign payments to family members.

DeLay's spokesman says he looks forward to doing just that to dispel what he calls, "fiction and innuendo" launched by house Democrats.

Ethical questions, charges of partisan mudslinging, a House leader on the ropes. If it all sounds familiar, there's good reason, as our national correspondent, Bruce Morton, explains.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ethically troubled congressional leaders? It goes way back. Take Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright. Republican Newt Gingrich complained to the House Ethics Committee, which eventually charged Wright with 69 ethics violations, including getting 50 percent royalties on a book he sold to lobbyists in bulk.

Wright didn't like it.

FORMER REP. JIM WRIGHT, (D), TEXAS: All of us in both political parties must resolve to bring this period of mindless cannibalism to an end. There's been enough of it.

MORTON: But he knew what he had to do.

WRIGHT: I will resign as speaker of the House.

MORTON: But then Gingrich, whose proposed Contract with America helped Republicans take control of the House after 40 years in the minority, became speaker himself and ran into his own ethical troubles -- a book deal and controversy over how a course he taught was financed.

He accepted a reprimand, paid a $300,000 fine, but then Bill Clinton outmaneuvered him. The country blamed Congress not the president for shutting down the government, and the Republicans lost five seats in the 1998 elections.

Colleagues blamed Gingrich, and he resigned.

Bob Livingston, who was to succeed him, acknowledged he had been unfaithful to his wife, and declined the speakership. Enter Dennis Hastert.

There's a pattern: ethics charges not always proven that somehow snowball. A parallel for Tom DeLay?

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: I think DeLay's problems are like previously problems, whether it's Jim Wright or Newt Gingrich, in that they are -- there's some news out there, but there is a sense that the controversy is building and that support is weakening and that ultimately this -- his party rallying behind him, will give way pretty quickly.

MORTON: It's early yet. DeLay isn't as well known as Wright or Gingrich, but...

ROTHENBERG: I don't think it's a matter if Congressman DeLay is going to be leaving the House, I think it's a matter of when. Now, it may not be in a matter of days. It may take a couple weeks or a few months, but I think a road is pretty clear.

MORTON: Maybe. These things are tricky sometimes. We'll give Jim Wright the last word.

WRIGHT: I'm convinced that I'm right. Maybe I'm wrong.


Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce.

Well, you don't have to look far to find another source of political conflict here in Washington. Up next, two senators clash over the president's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. I'll talk with Republican George Allen and Democrat Christopher Dodd.

Also ahead -- see Hillary Clinton run. To hear at least one Democrat tell it, she has the White House in the bag.

And when we go "Inside the Blogs," online pundits spotlight a story they say the mainstream media missed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers the nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, I'm joined from Capitol Hill by two members of that committee, Democrat Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Republican George Allen of Virginia. Gentlemen, thank you for talking to us.

Senator Dodd, to you first, we heard John Bolton tell your committee this morning, he said he views the United Nations as an important component of U.S. diplomacy. Why wouldn't -- why is he a problem, then?

SEN. CHRISTOPER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, there's a history here of numerous statements made by Mr. Bolton that express real reservations about the institution. And one question I think George -- Joe Biden asked the right question. Given all of his negative statements about the U.N. , why would he even want the job?

But that -- he apparently wants the job and the president wants to send him up. I don't think that's his problem. And obviously, some of us have problems with his substantive views. The real issue for many of us here is not over substantive issues. We understand people are going to have differences. The president obviously agrees with his views or he wouldn't have appointed him.

The issue really central for us is over intelligence analysts and whether or not Mr. Bolton, according to at least seven different witnesses, claimed on at least two occasions he tried to have analysts, intelligence analysts fired because they came out with statements that disagreed with what Mr. Bolton believed the intelligence view should be. That is a condemning fact in my view. And if that's true and these witnesses claim it to be true, then I don't think he ought to be confirmed.

WOODRUFF: Is that a disqualifier for you, Senator Allen?

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: No, it's not. They're off on a tangent and a detour and I think that's all very interesting to understand the process of speechwriting. Ultimately, what John Bolton said at a Heritage Foundation speech was what was recommended. It had to do with biological weapons capabilities of Cuba and who they might be sharing those capabilities with.

The ultimate question here is his record of performance. He has a great record of performance on the proliferation, security initiative, getting 60 nations to work with us to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Work to reduce the nuclear warheads that the Russians have by two thirds. And also able to get the United Nations to repeal a very odious resolution which likened Zionism to racism.

I think he's actually -- the fact that he's criticized the United Nations is good. They need criticism. They need scrutiny, they need accountability. And I think that will help the United Nations' credibility, as well as give us some comfort as taxpayers. WOODRUFF: Senator Dodd, Senator Allen is saying that issue that's bothering you about the intelligence analyst, allegedly trying to get them fired, he's saying that's just a side issue here.

DODD: Well, I can only imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, how my friends on the Republican side would be reacting. It's central. We all saw it happen when the Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Stations, and based on faulty intelligence, caused the United Nations and others to have a very different view of the direction we should be heading in.

Nothing could be more important than the credibility of our intelligence gathering. And if policy setters have a history of browbeating intelligence analysts, including threatening their jobs as witnesses will say, then I think that person is disqualified. It is a very important point. You can't be doing that today. We need to have intelligence we can rely on, that our allies can rely on. We can't have people in positions of authority, like the U.N. ambassador, where they have a history of brow-beating intelligence analysts. That's just wrong.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Senator Allen, you still don't think that's a significant issue. And do you think he's going to be confirmed?

ALLEN: Yes, I think he will be confirmed. More importantly, this whole issue of scrutiny of intelligence information these days, after the evidence we had and relied upon before going into military action in Iraq, all of us, on both sides, are going to scrutinize it more carefully.

And on this particular point, he actually used the language that they had requested him to use, as far as the description of the quality and nature of the Cuban biological weapons capabilities and which rogue states they were sharing it with. So I think on all counts, I think he's very credible, has the experience and will advocate strongly the interest of the United States and also our taxpayers.

WOODRUFF: All right. Senator Allen thinks he will be confirmed. Senator Dodd, do you think, in a word, yes or no, he will be confirmed?

DODD: Well, he may very well be. But I think it's a great mistake. This -- the message we send here then is it's OK to threaten people. Forget about the substantive information. If he threatened people because they disagreed with him and their jobs were on the line, what message does that he send to younger analysts coming along?

And if you get rewarded for doing it, what message does that send to future about the credibility of evidence when we have administrative officials arguing for certain policies that our intelligence community disagrees with? It's dangerous. He ought not to be confirmed.

WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it there. Senator Dodd, Senator Allen, it's very good to see you both. We appreciate it. Thank you.

When we come back, it looks like she's off and running. But what exactly is Senator Hillary Clinton running for? Find out next on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: A weekend trip to the nation's heart land demonstrated what polls have shown for sometime now: when it comes to Democratic party audiences, few party figures have the star power of Senator Hillary Clinton. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has more on the senator and what appears to be an emerging political theme.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): There seems to be some confusion about what Hillary Clinton is running for.

SEN. MARK DAYTON (D), MINNESOTA: So, it is my fervent hope -- and again, this is unauthorized -- that I have the privilege to introduce to all of you tonight the great senator from the state of Minnesota and the next great president of the United States of America, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SCHNEIDER: Well, she is a national figure and she is running for re-election next year, from New York. She has been working hard to establish a centrist image. She has supported the Iraq war and used her membership on the Senate Armed Services Committee to improve her defense credentials. Lately, she's been sounding moderate on values.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: That abortion in many ways represents a sad even tragic choice to many, many women.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans are having none of it. The New York state GOP has started a national fund-raising effort called "Stop Hillary Now," in which, according to the Associated Press, the state party chairman denounces what he calls her "devious attempt to remake herself." An expert was asked, can they stop her?

BILL CLINTON, FMR UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: You know, if you got a job and you're doing it, only you can stop yourself.

SCHNEIDER: Senator Clinton can raise money for both sides. On Saturday, she spoke to a Democratic fund raiser in Minnesota.

H. CLINTON: We are headed to a brave new world of extremism and we need to make clear we're not going there now or ever.

SCHNEIDER: Sounds pretty harsh, but the senator's message was that Republicans have moved outside the mainstream.

H. CLINTON: They are working to push our government and society further to the right, further away from the mainstream values most of us share.

SCHNEIDER: The mainstream is where she wants to be. H. CLINTON: So I will continue to work at every opportunity I can with Democrats and Republicans to build common sense majorities to meet the challenges of our time.

SCHNEIDER: Particularly on economic issues.

H. CLINTON: Now if they truly want to follow Bill Clinton's lead maybe they should create 23 million new jobs, reduce poverty, eliminate the deficit and pay down the national debt.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): Strongly partisan on economics, centrist on values and defense. You know, it sounds like a campaign theme we have heard before: the economy, stupid!

WOODRUFF: Hm, where did we hear that?

SCHNEIDER: A long time ago.

WOODRUFF: Can't even remember that, the last decade.

Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Well, we don't know about Hillary Clinton but Tom DeLay and his critics are today a popular topic inside the blogs. Up next we'll also find out what story bloggers claim was overlooked by the mainstream media.


WOODRUFF: Time now to find out which of the day's stories have people talking online. Standing by to take us inside the blogs are CNN blog reporters Cal Chamberlain and Jacki Schechner. Hi, Jacki.


Tom DeLay back on the blogs - no surprise after the statement that came out over the weekend from Chris Shayss (ph) and Rick Santorum.

We start today with Ben over there saying, "Republicans turning on boss Tom." It says, "Forget for a moment that both of these guys --" referencing Santorum and Shayss " -- live in relatively moderate districts and are probably getting call after call about DeLay. It's just nice to see a crack appear in the Republican's iron curtain of party unity."

Now, over on the other side -- this is GM's Corner -- this is George Roper, who describes himself as "leaning toward the conservative tide." He says, "No delay on the war on DeLay." Now he comes down on Shays -- first of all, the mainstream media and assorted lefties saying that they are at war -- then, comes down on Shayss, saying that the main-stream media needs its Republican allies or it won't seem to be a bipartisan effort in coming down on DeLay and saying that Shayss is more interested in being liked than in standing up to the mainstream media.

CAL CHAMBERLAIN, CNN BLOG REPORTER: So, over the progressive blog digest at He's got a wrap-up of all the DeLay news from today, and he's got a bunch of links to a bunch of different blogs talking about it, and one of the blogs he's talking about, it's talking points memo, Josh Marshal's blog. He was wondering just at a minimum he's saying -- "blogs about Representative Chris Shays's comments in the 'Greenwich Times' article yesterday -- " and he says that, "At a minimum Shays's political survival is closely tied to defining himself by his opposition to to DeLay and the ultras in the House GOP caucus."

SCHECHNER: Now, we had other news over the weekend. Real quickly, I wanted to show a photo blog from Iraq. There were some big protests over the weekend. You don't get to see a lot of this.

CHAMBERLAIN: The end-the-occupation protest in block, and they were calling for a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal, and it's just funny because there was an article in today's "New York Times" about the time table, and...

SCHECHNER: So, we'll go ahead and take a look at that. It's bellaciao...


SCHECHNER: org -- so, Judy, send it back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right. We always learn something when we watch the blogs. Cal and Jacki, thank you both.

SCHECHNER: No problem.


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