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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Claude Allen Speaks Out; Senate Troubles Deepen, Wendy's Chili Finger Planted

Aired April 22, 2005 - 15:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: The Senate showdown over the filibuster. Is Bill Frist trying to put the fear of God into the Democrats?

JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT: I think what is going on is unprecedented in the difficulty of getting judicial nominations confirmed.

ANNOUNCER: A new voice is heard in the battle over judges. Three Supreme Court justices do what they rarely do -- speak out in public and take opposing sides.

The battle over John Bolton. Is Colin Powell quietly playing a key role in the fight over his nomination? We'll tell you what the former secretary of State has to say.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, GUEST HOST: Thanks for joining us. I'm Carlos Watson. Judy Woodruff is off today.

In addition to politics, we're following several major stories this hour in which we expect major developments. First up, the expected guilty plea of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the U.S. in the conspiracy behind the 9/11 terror attacks. Moussaoui's hearing is scheduled to get underway right now in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia.

In an unexpected twist, CNN has learned that Moussaoui's attorneys plan to object to their client's decision to plead guilty. Our Bob Franken is at the courthouse monitoring developments. He'll join us soon live as the developments unfold.

Also on our radar screens this hour, fierce thunderstorms rumbling across the southeast, raising concerns about heavy rains, gusty winds and the potential for tornadoes. As we saw yesterday in the nation's mid section, conditions are favorable for tornadoes in some areas. Strong storms have been popping up across the southeast all afternoon. We'll check in with CNN meteorologist Orelon Sidney throughout the hour for the latest updates.

Here in Washington the talk continues to center on the looming Senate showdown over judicial filibusters. Adding heat to the debate, of course, is majority leader Bill Frist's decision to deliver a videotaped address this weekend to a rally of Christian conservatives. Event organizers have described the Democratic-led filibusters as being against quote, "people of faith" unquote. CNN congressional correspondent Joe Johns is with me live from Capitol Hill with the very latest -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Carlos, escalating the battle today, the vice president vowed to cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate, if necessary, to end the impasse over federal judges, which would also mean getting rid of the right of Democrats to filibuster judicial nominations, if necessary.

The vice president saying at the National Press Club a little while ago quote, "if the Senate majority decides to move forward and the issue is presented to me and my elected office as president of the Senate and presiding officer, I will support bringing those nominations to the floor for an up or down vote."

It got a quick reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who accused President Bush in fact, of going back on his word and quote "not being honest about offering to stay out of the Senate battle over judges."

The man who has the final say on whether to initiate the hostilities, of course, is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He was traveling in his home state of Tennessee with the president on Friday while blasting and getting blasted by opponents back in Washington who are accusing Frist of participating in an unfair religious attack.

Frist has agreed to participate in a so-called "Justice Sunday" simulcast sponsored by conservative Christian organizations, pushing for the president's judges. Some of the language, of course, in stark religious terms. A speech today by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democrat, on the issue of this televised performance over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: Partisans are these days seeking to rekindle the flames of bigotry for short term political gain. That's more than just wrong, it's despicable. To raise the specter of religious intolerance in order to try to turn our strong, independent federal courts into an arm of a political party is an outrage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: A number of religious groups held a conference call this morning, calling on Senator Frist to back out of his appearance on that program. Senator Frist's office tells CNN his appearance, in fact, has already been tape recorded for air on the program over the weekend. The aid said Frist is not saying he's responsible for or embracing everything some of these Christian conservative groups have been saying, he's simply out there promoting his view that the president's nominees should get an up or down vote. Much in the same way, his office says, as if a politician were going to a church to try to campaign for an elective issue. Carlos, back to you.

WATSON: Joe, religion and politics mixing again. Question to you on the timing: Do we have a sense of when Bill Frist, Senator Bill Frist, might bring these nominations forward to the Senate floor?

JOHNS: It really is not clear. There has been talk, of course, about next week having a transportation bill on the floor. So that raises a question as to whether the majority leader would like to bring up this issue or whether he'd like to try to get that transportation bill through the Senate before hostilities that could shut down much of the business of the Senate, Carlos.

WATSON: Later in the broadcast today, we'll hear a little bit from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Republican, who had thoughts about this debate as well.

The debate over President Bush's judicial nominees spilled over into a rare joint appearance by three Supreme Court justices last night at the National Archives. Justice Antonin Scalia, who was joined by colleagues Sandra Day O'Connor and Steven Breyer told the audience he's concerned by what he sees as an increasingly political role for the judiciary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCALIA: What has happened is, after about 50 or 60 years of an evolving constitution, the people have come to realize what is going on -- that the people they are selecting for the -- not just for the Supreme Court, but even for the courts of appeals, have enormous policy discretion. And I think that's what's going on. We have -- judges have become political entities much more than they ever were.

But, look, this is an originalist view, and my colleagues probably don't agree with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: A very rare gathering of the three justices and very candid about their different positions.

The three justices also revealed a sharp difference of opinion over the use of international law as a factor in court decisions. Justice Scalia has been an outspoken critic of the idea, particularly in the Supreme Court's recent decision outlawing the death penalty for juvenile murderers. But Justice O'Connor struck a Shakespearian note, calling the issue quote "much ado about nothing."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, SUPREME COURT: It doesn't hurt to be aware of what other countries have done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's...

O'CONNOR: And it's not that we're basing the interpretation of our constitution on it. It doesn't hurt to know. And it's part of the concept of an evolving concept of decency.

SCALIA: I don't agree that it's much ado about nothing. The majority contradicted the views of a majority of those states that have the death penalty. And part of the argument the majority used was international treaties by countries that don't have juries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Checking the items in our Friday edition of "Political Bytes," retiring GOP Congressman Henry Hyde says he's not sure he would lead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton if he had to do it all over again. Hyde also gave an interesting answer when asked by Chicago's WLS-TV if the Clinton impeachment was somehow a political payback for the long ago impeachment proceedings against President Richard Millhouse Nixon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HENRY HYDE, (R) ILLINOIS: I can't say it wasn't, but I also thought that the Republican Party should stand for something. And if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: In an expected move, President Bush today nominated Marine general Pete Pace to succeed Air Force general Richard Myers as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Myers is set to retire later this year. Significantly, Pace, who's currently vice chairman of the joint chiefs, will become the first Marine to hold the chairman's post.

On his way to Texas for the weekend, Mr. Bush stopped in Tennessee to make remarks on Earth Day. Ironically, bad weather canceled his plans to speak in the Great Smoky Mountains. And instead, the president made a brief appearance at an airport near Knoxville.

And here in Washington today, the politically progressive ice cream maker Ben and Jerry's used Earth Day to unveil a giant baked Alaska outside the Capitol. The huge dessert, all 900 pounds of it, was created to highlight opposition to the proposed oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The House yesterday passed a bill that would allow such oil drilling.

From Social Security and energy to the budget and judges, President Bush has perhaps the most ambitious domestic policy agenda in almost 40 years. Up next, I'll talk to the man who's guiding the president on these matters. His first major national interview in his new role is straight ahead.

And later, Vermont's Jim Jeffords says he won't run for re- election, so do the Republicans have a chance to win back this crucial Senate seat? We'll get some "Inside Buzz" from our own Bob Novak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (WEATHER REPORT)

WATSON: Welcome back. I'm Carlos Watson sitting in for Judy Woodruff. Joining us now to talk about President Bush's ambitious domestic policy agenda, the new White House domestic policy adviser Claude Allen. Mr. Allen, thank you for joining us.

CLAUDE ALLEN, W.H. DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER: My privilege, Carlos. Thank you for having me today.

WATSON: Not at all. So let me jump right into Social Security, the biggest item on the president's agenda. Given all the trouble in the stock market over the last several months, has the White House re- thought its plans as it relates to private accounts and investing retirement money into the stock market?

ALLEN: Well, the president's been very consistent on this issue. In terms of Social Security, he believes that the American people need to know that the problems of Social Security are here and that we need to address it, and the American public has been very responsive to that message, now identifying Social Security as a major problem that must be addressed.

And so the president is focused on that, and will continue to focus on it, working with Congress to come up with a solution to it that has long term solvency, that continues the promise that those born before 1950 will continue to receive their benefits. But also, in allowing those who are young to have the opportunity to maximize their returns through personal retirement accounts. And that's an important component of it.

WATSON: But any new ideas as it relates to private accounts? I mean, we've seen Senator Robert Bennett of Utah. We've seen Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. We've seen a number of people kind of jump into the conversation. Any intriguing new ideas as it relates to what kind of private accounts might work?

ALLEN: Well, the president is very open to hearing from Congress on what they think might be some other options in terms of personal retirement accounts and making sure that those are personal and voluntary. But we're willing to work with Congress and looking forward to doing that.

What the president spent his time on is defining the problem, making sure that the American public knew that this is an issue that must be addressed and must be addressed now, not only for those current retirees, ensuring that they will continue to receive their benefits, but making sure that there's future opportunities for those who will get their benefits from Social Security, that they also have an opportunity to have an opportunity for personal retirement accounts and an investment in the future.

WATSON: Let me turn the page a little bit, actually, turn to the pump. Gas prices are up, $2.27, $2.28 on average. Does the president have a plan right now? Are there new ideas on the table for how to combat those high gas prices and any potential spillover effects? ALLEN: Well, first of all, the president is very aware of the impact that the gas prices are having on the American public, on families that need to not only get to and from work, but to provide opportunities for them and their families, their children. So first of all, we're empathetic with that and the burden that families are bearing right now.

The president has had an energy plan on the table for a number of years, and it's important now that Congress begin to look at that. That includes making sure that we aren't...

WATSON: But forgive me for one moment...

ALLEN: Sure.

WATSON: The president said himself this week -- he acknowledged that the energy plan would not lower gas prices. So are there other immediate short-term ideas that the president's considering, in terms of trying to get gas prices lower?

ALLEN: Well, it is important to recognize -- what the president also points out is that having some of the parts of the energy plan will have a long-term impact. For example, reducing our dependence on foreign oil by opening up Anwar to exploration for both oil and gas. While not in the short term, it certainly has a long-term benefit. And we are working for some short-term options, as well, and we're considering those and working with an administration, working with Congress to address those, as well.

WATSON: Mr. Allen, one last question. Are there any new ideas that we haven't heard yet about new arenas that you're looking at as the new domestic policy adviser?

ALLEN: Well, there's quite a few of these issues that we need addressed. Immigration is a major issue that Americans are concerned about and the president's policy there is to make sure one, that we secure our borders, that we take control of the borders, and not allow those coming into the country, who might want to do harm to the country, to enter.

At the same time, he recognizes the importance of allowing willing workers to be matched up with willing employers when Americans aren't willing to take those jobs, but also making sure that we do not grant amnesty to those who have come here illegally, but make sure that they do not get ahead of those who have waited patiently to come into this country legally. So that's another area we're focused on, as well.

WATSON: Claude Allen, the new White House domestic policy adviser. Thank you very much for joining us today.

ALLEN: Good to be with you. Thank you, again, Carlos.

WATSON: Good to see you.

Speaking of immigration, clearing the air, Senator John McCain wants to make one thing perfectly clear about his committee's investigation into the Indian gambling scandal. Bob Novak will have that and much more when he opens his reporter's notebook just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WATSON: CNN political analyst and Washington Wizards fan Bob Novak joins us now from the CROSSFIRE set at George Washington University with some inside buzz.

Bob, is there new news on the Republican presidential front for 2008?

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Carlos, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was back in town this week. He went to a Republican fund-raiser last night. But what wasn't on his public schedule was an unpublicized session with five Republican political gurus at the Caucus Room. That's an expensive restaurant that's frequented usually by lobbyists. And they were talking about the possibility, I am told, of Governor Romney running for president in '08 -- in '04 -- in '08, yes.

WATSON: The last Republican presidential nominee from Massachusetts was probably Calvin Coolidge way back back?

NOVAK: That's correct. One of my favorite presidents.

WATSON: We're going to turn to John McCain, who has led the immigration effort, as I'm told earlier. Is there new news on him and other Republicans?

NOVAK: Yes, Carlos. Senator McCain, in a private luncheon of Republican senators told them that his investigation of the Indian gambling scandal -- he is the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee -- was not an attempt to get back at any of his political adversaries.

He said that, because soon afterwards it was learned that his committee has subpoenaed two -- the organizations of two Republican activists who opposed McCain's presidential bid in the year 2000 -- that's Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist. And so he's trying to show that this isn't politics, this is his attempt to investigate a scandal.

WATSON: A lot of internal Republican squabbles these days.

Turning the page a little bit, what about up in Vermont? Is there perhaps some surprisingly good news for Vermont Republicans?

NOVAK: Yes, it could be a surprise. Jim Jeffords, surprisingly the independent -- he really votes with the Democrats -- a senator, bowed out. And it was assumed that the independent Congressman, House member Bernie Sanders, the only self evolved socialist in Congress, would be a cinch to be elected. But there's a lot of feeling that Vermonters would like them as their Congressman at large, but not as a senator. And the White House is putting a lot of pressure over Governor Jim Douglas to run. He would be a very strong candidate against Sanders.

And even if he doesn't run, lieutenant governor Brian Dubie also a Republican, is a possibility. So, there might be a very good race in Vermont with a chance of Republicans winning back that seat.

WATSON: Long live the northeastern Republicans, maybe. We'll see. We'll see.

Turning finally to 2006 Senate races, you say there's some interesting fund-raising news perhaps.

NOVAK: The ups and the downs. This week, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who has only token opposition, at the J.W. Marriott Hotel had a fund-raiser that brought in $540,000. That is a lot of money, Carlos, let me tell you. And at the same time, a report came out that Senator Lincoln Chaffee, Republican of Rhode Island, his first quarter fund- raising was only $139,000 for the whole quarter. That's pathetic for an incumbent.

And I wonder if, Since Senator Chaffee faces at least strong general election opposition from the Democrats and maybe a primary challenge, he better start raising some money, or he's going to be former Senator Chaffee.

WATSON: Wow. We're going to see a couple of interesting 2006 races.

So, saving the last and most important question, Washington Wizards, your favorite professional basketball team, made it to the playoffs after a long drought. They're playing the Chicago Bulls. Do the Wizards win it in six games or do they win in seven games?

NOVAK: The Wizards win it in seven games at the United Center, defeating the Bulls on their home court.

You know, the last time the Wizards were in the playoffs, they played the Bulls, and they got beat in straight sets. But who was playing for the Bulls then? Do you remember?

WATSON: I can't remember, I think it was either Bob Novak or Michael Jordan.

NOVAK: It was Michael Jordan, yes.

WATSON: One or the other.

Hey, Bob, great to see you.

NOVAK: Thank you, Carlos.

WATSON: You can catch Bob in about half an hour on CROSSFIRE. And please tune in tomorrow on the "Novak Zone." Bob goes aboard the presidential yacht, the USS Sequoia, that's at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up, the bruising battle over John Bolton. And are there any winners in this ugly fight over the president's nominee for the ambassador to the United Nations? Our Bill Schneider takes a look.

Plus, it's the story that everyone is talking about. Remember the woman who claims she found part of a finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili? Well, now she's under arrest. Police are about to hold a news conference to explain why. And our cameras will bring you all of the action live just a few moments from now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WATSON: Are we richer or poorer today? As the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by our Kitty Pilgrim in New York with the Dobbs Report -- Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carlos, it's a lot better than it was a minute ago. They're coming back. Stocks were ending really, but they're giving back some of that and let's take a look.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

PILGRIM: Coming up on CNN, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, our special report on "Broken Borders." Immigration courts are a mess. And tonight, we take a look at what can be done to fix the problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA MARKS, NATIONAL ASSN. IMMIGRATION JUDGES: We have sourly outdated equipment, from the tape recorders that record these sessions, from the fact that we don't have live court interpreters so we have these taped transcripts. There's not enough money to transcribe them unless the case is appealed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PILGRIM: Also tonight, Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy plan to introduce legislation next week that would offer illegal aliens the opportunity to stay in the United States if they pay fines. We'll take a look at that idea.

And just how much are the illegal aliens costing U.S. hospitals. Rick Pollack of the American Hospital Association is our guest tonight. And he says we're at crisis point, because the hospitals can't keep losing money like that.

Plus, DaimlerChrysler considering opening a plant in China to make American cars? It could be an early stage of an important shift in the auto industry. Join us tonight, 6:00 PM Eastern for those stories, a lot more than that too.

Back to Carlos in Washington -- Carlos.

WATSON: Thanks, Kitty. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.

This just in to CNN, Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States in connection with the 9/11 attacks, has just pleaded guilty at the federal court hearing in Alexandria, Virginia. We're going to Bob Franken right now who's at the courthouse.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Carlos, as you just pointed out, in each of the charges, there are six of them. When the judge asked him, how do you plead? He said, guilty. Just Leonie Brinkema had explained to him that if he made these guilty, he gave up all rights of the appeal as far as the guilt phase was concerned.

This came after he very carefully read a five-page, 23-paragraph statement of fact. In which he admitted the facts which would be the basis for his guilty plea. Of course this ends -- apparently ending the tumultuous trial that had gone through all kinds of twists and turns ever since his arrest in connection with the September 11 attacks.

Next up now comes the question of whether he will get the death penalty. The proceeding is still going to. Under normal circumstances, a jury would be impaneled to decide whether in fact any of the four charges for which he has pleaded guilty of the six that have the death penalty, would result in death or life in prison. All of the charges carry at least life in prison.

But what has just occurred within the last couple of minutes is that Zacarias Moussaoui has pleaded guilty to all six charges leveled against him -- Carlos.

WATSON: Bob, have his attorneys filed any additional motions? I recall that recently they were trying to make the argument that he may not be mentally competent to make the guilty plea.

FRANKEN: Very interesting wording. The defense attorneys, who of course are dead set against his making this plea, filed a sealed motion today. We call a motion. It was actually entitled suggestions, concerning his mental incompetence.

This is what the heading of the motion said. Suggestions concerning his mental competence and the imposition of the death penalty. Not a motion, but suggestions.

WATSON: And the judge herself earlier Bob, actually had met personally with Moussaoui in order to evaluate his mental competency. Did she talk about that at all in offering up the ruling?

FRANKEN: She did not. But what she did talk about was the fact that at that hearing earlier this week, as today, there was no coercion. He was not in shackles. There was no stun belt on. She made it a point of saying, made it a point of repeating, that this was done on his own free will.

WATSON: Bob Franken, live in Alexandria, Virginia, thank you very much.

There's another story that we are keeping an eye on that we expect to get under way in just any moment. Police in San Jose, California, plan a news conference this hour to explain the arrest of the woman who claimed last month to have found part of a finger in her chili at a Wendy's restaurant. Anna Ayala was arrested last night in her home in Las Vegas on a warrant charging larceny. But the origin of the finger she claims to have found is still unknown. When that news conference begins, we'll bridge it to you live.

But first, let's go to Rusty Dornin live, who is standing right outside of the news conference -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carlos, they did give us a statement about what this is all about. And it appears we're not any closer to finding out what really happened with that finger in the -- at the Wendy's incident that Mrs. Ayala claimed she had found her chili bowl.

Why they arrested her? They charged her with grand larceny and attempted grand larceny. And apparently it's another charge that came up during this investigation.

Apparently she misrepresented herself in the purchase of a home. And she built -- they claim that she milked a woman out of $11,000 of the woman's savings that the woman was evicted from her home with her children, and that is what they are charging Anna Ayala with. It doesn't have anything to do with the finger in the chili incident, although police are continuing to investigate this. And the reason they said it was in conjunction with this, is they uncovered it during the whole investigation.

They do say in this statement, however, that they don't believe that the finger anything to do with the preparation of chili at Wendy's, which is of course Wendy's spokespeople have been saying all along.

Wendy's concluded their internal yesterday saying there was no evidence at all that they were at fault or that any employee of Wendy's had absolutely anything to do with this.

So we thought we were going to find out a lot more answers than we did. But apparently Anna Ayala is also under investigation for grand theft -- Carlos.

WATSON: Rusty -- Rusty, it seems like we can't get enough of unusual legal cases in the Bay area!

DORNIN: And they're ongoing. I mean, you keep getting these twists and turns. I mean, this one in particular, Carlos, was one of those talk of the water cooler, stranger than fiction stories that, you know, could she have done it? Where did it come from? Who did it belong to? How are they going find out who this fingertip belonged to? Along the idea of CSI. How will they investigate this? And I think it was one of things that's ongoing.

And then her house was searched earlier this month. That, of course, got people very interested again. She dropped her lawsuit against Wendy's. Just claiming emotional distress that she didn't want to be involved in it anymore. So, apparently the news conference is under way right now where they're going to be talking about it. But apparently so far, we're not any closer of finding out who finger it was.

WATSON: And has Wendy's -- of course they have probably hired a large public relations firm, but are there any other unusual steps they have taken to kind of manage their brand and manage the publicity surrounding the issue?

DORNIN: Well they -- they -- well, let's go ahead and listen to the press conference here that's going under way with the San Jose Police Department.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ROB DAVIS, SAN JOSE POLICE: ...Rob Davis. I'm the chief of police here at San Jose. We are here today to update you on the status of our criminal investigation surrounding the incident that occurred on Tuesday evening, March 22 in which an Anna Ayala claimed that she bit into a human finger that was in a bowl of chili that she was eating in the local Wendy's restaurant.

I will begin by make some very brief comments, introductions and also giving some thanks to some organizations that have helped us in this case. And then I will give you additional details about the investigation.

First, I would like to offer my personal thanks to the following individuals and organizations without who's help we would not be able to get case resolved. First of all the staff at the Santa Clara County Medical Examiners Office and Corner's Office which is overseen by Sheriff Laurie Smith and also supervised by Captain Bob Dixon who is also joining us here today.

I would like to thank Dr. Martin Fenstersheib of the Santa Clara Department of Health, who is also present.

Some very, very special thanks to District Attorney George Kennedy and his assistant Karen Sununu.

Also, to Mr. Joseph Desmond, the local San Jose Wendy's franchisee, who is attending with us this morning -- or this afternoon.

And also Mr. Stephen J., Danny Lynch, Richard Bradon and Bill Irving, all corporate with the Wendy's Corporation.

I would also like to extend a very personal thank you to Sheriff Bill Young and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department who provided us the necessary assistance in Nevada to be able to solve this case.

I've come to know Bill Young personally as a result of our association to the Major City Chiefs Association. And I'm also grateful to the Major City Chiefs Association for allowing us the opportunity to be able to network and collaborate as we do that makes cases like this one much easier to resolve. So very much a thank you to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

I would also like to thank our mayor, Ron Gonzales, and our city manager Del Borgsdorf, who continue to provide this agency with the support and the resources that we need to be able to solve these kind of cases. We cannot become the safest big city in America, which we have been named year after year after year without the support of our local elected officials and the community, and we had that support in this case. And I want to thank the mayor and the city council for that.

Most of all, of course I would like to thank my own staff. I would like to personally recognize Deputy Chief Reuben Gazar (ph), Captain Dave Kinellar (ph), Lieutenant Stan Fallwetter (ph), and officers Morales -- Albert Morales, Christopher Wilson, Maureen Morenelli (ph), Sergeat Lou Fam (ph), Fred Mills and Jose Martinez, without whose assistance, obviously, this case would not been made.

I realize I am biased, but we have the finest detectives in the country. And they were on this case. And they made this case happen.

Now a few comments. Clearly this has been a very unusual case from the very beginning. What started as a public health investigation by the Santa Clara County Health Department, the State Department of Health Services and the Santa Clara County Medical Examiners Office that we were also monitoring, subsequently turned into a criminal investigation when we received information that cast suspicion on the validity of Anna Ayala's claims.

Thus, the case became what could be best as described as a CSI- type investigation which included both the forensic examination of fingertip tissue as well as sum excellent gumshoe detective work.

Indeed, we even had the state authorities conducting what we are calling a -- excuse me, let me rephrase that -- they conducted what we called an ingredient trace-back investigation to determine if the finger involved in this case may have actually been introduced into the chili somewhere in the production or preparation processes. So the state was also conducting that type of exam.

Now as your press release note, Anna Ayman was arrested last night at 8:15 p.m. at her Las Vegas residence on a $500,000 arrest warrant for one count of grand theft and one count of attempted grand theft. The attempted grand theft is related to the Wendy's incident, while the grand theft pertains to an unrelated incident involving and unlawful home-purchase transaction.

Indeed, what we have found is thus far, our evidence suggests that the truest victims in this case are indeed the Wendy's owner, operators and employees here in San Jose, who have suffered financially throughout this investigation. An interesting note is that the employees at this local Wendy's restaurant are some of the most loyal and long-tenured employees of any Wendy's franchise in the entire count row.

I want to personally thank Wendy's, their local franchisees and their employees for the immense amount of cooperation we received throughout every step of this investigation, and especially their willingness to offer the $100, 000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case. In fact, personally I believe that Dave Thomas would be very proud of his organization for the way that they worked with local law enforcement.

I would also like to point out that the reward in this case still exists. It still stands. This is an ongoing investigation, and we believe that there still may be people in California, in Nevada -- and Nevada and elsewhere that may have additional information in this case. So Wendy's is still offering that $100,000 reward.

Now, we will take a few questions in just a moment, but before I do that, I would like to invite Mr. Joseph Desmond, the local franchisee, to make a few comments. Mr. Desmond.

JOSEPH DESMOND, WENDY'S FRANCHISEE: Thank you, sir. I should like to express my sincere and my heartfelt thanks to the professional San Jose Police Department and also to the Las Vegas Police Department. Their diligence caused the culmination of this nightmare, and we think that it's over now. And we're just thrilled by it.

It is 31 days. And believe me, it's been really tough. When I heard of it, I just couldn't believe that it could happen, because we have many, many guards against anything like this happening in our business. Columbus really puts a lot of help out there for us, and nothing like this could really happen. Believe me.

My thanks also go out to all the little people who are hurt in our stores. They lost a lot of wages because we've had to cut back because our business has been down so badly. I'd also like to thank Richard Braden, our senior vice president, and Stephen Jay, our marketing manager. I'd also like to thank the cooperation of our franchisor. Columbus, Ohio's Jack Schuessler, the CEO, Tom Mueller and Denny Lynch, a senior vice president.

And I also thank God. Sincerely.

Thank you, all, for coming. And please come back to Wendy's, because we do serve wonderful hamburgers and sandwiches and everything else.

Thank you.

WATSON: We just heard a press conference with the San Jose chief of police, Rob Davis, as well as the owner of a Wendy's franchise. Appears to be some resolution in the case involving the missing finger. Our Rusty Dornin is on the scene. Rusty?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carlos, there's still a lot of questions to be answered. I mean, they're claiming that they've disproven these statements by Anna Ayala regarding how the finger got into the chili. Obviously they're suspecting that she did it. They have charged her with attempted grand larceny. They're also saying they have uncovered, as a result of this investigation, another charge against her, where they're claiming she bilked a woman out of her $11,000 in her life savings, and the woman and her family were evicted from their homes.

They are saying that the tests are still undergoing on the fingertip itself to determine where it came from, and they're really appealing to people in California and Nevada, which is where Anna Ayala is from, for more information to find out exactly where this fingertip came from. So, they are -- they do believe at this point that she definitely -- it was something that she had staged, but they're not quite sure how it happened or where it came from. Carlos?

WATSON: Rusty, thank you very much.

Now, turning to a very different story, we're going back to our meteorologist in the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta, Orelon Sidney. Orelon?

SIDNEY: Thanks a lot. We did have a tornado warning here for central Illinois. We have weather spotters who have spotted a tornado near the town of Macon, about 12 miles south of Decatur moving east at 20 miles an hour. Other locations that could be impacted in this are Mount Zion. Here is the area of the tornado warning. Peoria here. Springfield here. So it's just off to the east of Springfield, again, moving off to the east at 20 miles an hour.

There is tornado indicated by a trained spotters, so apparently a tornado is on the ground at that location. Again, a tornado warning is in effect until 3:45 Central Time, so just about another half hour. Tornado again reported near Macon, or 12 miles south of Decatur moving east at about 20 miles an hour.

This location is under a severe thunderstorm watch. Remember that severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible this afternoon and this evening. If a tornado warning is issued, that means that a tornado has either been sighted or is indicated by weather radar.

We will certainly keep you informed if we hear any reports of damage from this particular storm.

Carlos?

WATSON: Orelon, thank you. There are more twists and turns in the bruising fight over the nomination of John Bolton to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. We've got that straight ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WATSON: We have an update in the Zacarias Moussaoui case. We told you just a few moments ago that he had pleaded guilty to six different charges. We'll now go to our Bob Franken, who's in Alexandria, Virginia, with the very latest. Bob? Bob?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have just gotten more information, more information about the proceedings going on inside. As we reported a few moments ago, Zacarias Moussaoui has pleaded guilty to all six charges leveled against him. However, he has told the judge that he intends to resist the death penalty. I will not apply for death, he says. I will fight every inch of the death penalty.

Then he goes on to deny that he specifically was involved in the conspiracy for the September 11th attacks, but says that he was involved in, "a broader conspiracy," to use his words, "to use planes as weapons," he said. Going on and we're quoting him now, "Eventually he would be trained to strike the White House with a 747." That is the comment from Zacarias Moussaoui in the court, that followed his agreeing to plead guilty to six counts of -- leveled against him, including four that carry the death penalty.

As I said, he is considering a fight, will fight against the death penalty. It would be up to the judge in all probability to convene a jury to consider that. Four of the charges to which he has pleaded guilty include the death penalty. Then he goes on to say, that while he wasn't involved directly in the September 11th conspiracy planning, he was part of a broader conspiracy that, in his understanding, would result in a plane, a jumbo jet being flown into the White House.

Bob Franken, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.

WATSON: Here in Washington, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has agreed to vote on the president's nomination of John Bolton to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on May the 12th. Among the latest development, CNN has confirmed that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had, in fact, discussed Bolton's nomination with two GOP senators who called him to discuss the issue -- Nebraska's Chuck Hagel and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee.

The "New York Times" reports that Powell praised Boston on some matters, but he also made it clear that he has concerns about Bolton on several fronts, including his past treatment of subordinates.

Meantime, Vice President Cheney today had strong praise for Bolton, and he defended Bolton's much discussed temperament.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's done a superb job throughout a diminished career in public service. And I'd think he'd make a great ambassador to the U.N. I have looked at all of the charges that have been made. I don't think any of them stand up to the scrutiny. And if being occasionally tough and aggressive and abrasive were a problem, then a lot of members in the United States Senate wouldn't qualify.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Words to remember. The debate over John Bolton this week led to one of Washington's favorite phenomenon, an elected official who breaks ranks with his political party.

Our CNN political analyst Bill Schneider joins me now with more.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Carlos, a senator who goes to a Congressional hearing and changes his mind. That's not just unheard of, it's "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was all set to vote on President Bush's nomination of John Bolton to be U.N. ambassador Tuesday, when suddenly another voice was heard.

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R), OHIO: I've heard enough today that I don't feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton.

SCHNEIDER: That sent shock waves through Washington. Senator Voinovich wasn't supposed to be a wavering Republican -- what happened? The committee heard testimony about Bolton's allegedly abusive personal behavior. That didn't sit well with Voinovich.

VOINOVICH: I think ones interpersonal skills, and their relationship with their fellow man, is a very important ingredient anyone that works for me.

SCHNEIDER: With a little more time, Democrats think maybe they can defeat the Bolton nomination.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: We would find out whether there was contemporaneous collaboration. We haven't started that yet.

SCHNEIDER: The White House noted that Voinovich had missed most of the confirmation hearings. They promised to bring the senator up to speed.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are more than happy to answer any questions that he has. And we are in touch with him about those matters.

SCHNEIDER: This is not the first time Senator Voinovich has given the White House trouble. In 2003, he resisted President Bush's tax cuts until he could be reassured that the cost could be contained. That earned him a tax from conservatives. And guess what, they're attacking Voinovich again in this radio ad playing in Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like Senator Voinovich has become a traitor to the Republican Party.

SCHNEIDER: We don't know if Voinovich will end up opposing Bolton's nomination, but what he did this week was something rarely done in Washington.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: As long as I've been in politics and the city council back my home town, I've never seen -- someone make a decision on the spur of the moment. And with good -- with some justification, that Senator Voinovich did. It was refreshing I think.

SCHNEIDER: And we think it was the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: Should Senator Voinovich be worried -- not particularly. You know, he just got reelected to a second term in Ohio last year with 64 percent of the vote!

WATSON: Not bad.

SCHNEIDER: Pretty good.

WATSON: Our Kelli Arena was inside the Zacarias Moussaoui case and actually has new developments.

We'll turn to Kelli Arena right now.

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Carlos. Just got out, as you said.

After pleading guilty to all six counts against him, as you, were all expecting something to happen, and it did. Mr. Moussaoui said that he would fight, not apply for death, but fight with every inch against the death penalty. He said he was not meant to be part of the September 11th plot, but meant to take part in an activity after. That part we've heard, but he went on to explain further this time, and said that he was training to learn how to fly a commercial airliner, to crash it into the White House. He said that his goal was to free Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, otherwise known as the "Blind Sheik," who is serving life in prison for basically inspiring the first World Trade Center bombing. So, he said that if the U.S. government would not negotiate for the release of the "Blind Sheik" that he was to fly a jetliner into the White House.

He also brought up the fact that he has not been allowed access to al Qaeda detainees, name namely, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Ramsey bin al-Shaed, who are in U.S. custody. He has argued all along that those men can clear him of any involvement in the September 11th attacks. He says that he wants to make that an issue during the sentencing phase of this trial. Now that he's guilty, that's over with. But he wants to bring that up, and say that he should -- that his lawyers should never have agreed to have accept any substitution, but those people themselves and the right to cross-examine them. So this -- this will go on for some time. This is not going to be clean cut in the sentencing phase whatsoever.

Back to you, Carlos.

WATSON: Kelli, thank you.

Turning back to another major story here in the U.S., another tornado was just hit the ground -- this one in Alabama.

We're joined by our Orelon Sidney down in the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta.

ORELON SIDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Carlos, thanks a lot.

This is actually a Doppler indicated tornado. We do not have confirmation that a tornado is actually on the ground with this one. But Weather Service Doppler Radar is indicating a severe thunderstorm, possible -- capable of producing a tornado, eight miles northwest of White Hall, 14 miles east of Selma. This is in Alabama, moving east at 40 miles and hour.

Tornado warning is in effect for Autauga and Lowndes County in south central Alabama until 4:15. They're a couple of very, very strong cells.

Remember, if you were with us earlier. There was some discreet cells that I was talking about, that I'm always concerned about with these time situations. And here they are, several cells here of individual type thunderstorms. This one is the one that is of most concern now. Here of course, is Selma, Montgomery is off to the east and this storm is moving generally eastward at about 40 miles an hour. It's kind of classic tornado signature with this one.

There is no confirmation that a tornado is on the ground. However, there is indication on Doppler Radar that this tornado or this thunderstorm is possible -- could possibly produce a tornado. Once again that tornado warning expires at 5:15 for Lowndes County. You need to be, certainly, advised of this situation. Keep your eyes out especially in Montgomery as this storm heads in your direction -- Carlos.

WATSON: Orelon, thank you. We'll keep watching that story. And obviously, Orelon will be back if we have additional information.

Returning to politics, bloggers on the left and on the right are weighing in on John Bolton's nomination.

We now check in with our two blogger, CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jackie Schechner, our blog reporter -- Jackie.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi, Carlos. Not bloggers, blog reporters. And I will tell you that there's a lot of chatter about Bolton on those blogs. Even though there's been a delay in the vote on him, there's been no break in the conversation. The latest being spurred by reports that former Secretary of State Colin Powell is now weighing in in private telephone conversations.

We start with Philip's Rants, Powell the key to blocking Bolton, he says. There are a lot of people coming forward bashing Bolton, but Powell is the only one with enough juice to spike the nomination.

Speaking of spiked juice, martinirepublic.com. Alex (ph) posting, "Colin Powell has doubts too ... in private." Saying, "It would be nice if Powell could make a public expression of his concerns to help cut through the Rovian spin coming from the White House. And if you still have integrity after the sliming of four years in the Bush foreign policy apparatus, Mr. Powell, don't be afraid to use it and show it."

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Conservatives online are using this time to come to the nominee's rescue. Redstate.org here, a conservative site, has launched a new blog today, confirmbolton.com. It's a group blog, lots of prominent conservatives weighing in there. The first thing they said, this morning or last night, who doesn't like John Bolton? North Korea and Barbara Boxer don't like John Bolton -- for much the same reasons it seems. With enemies like that, Bolton looks like a man we ought to stand up for.

Rich Lowery (ph) over at the Corner. The Corner is the group blog at "The National Review Online" magazine, a conservative magazine. He's Bolton, Bolton, all Bolton all the time. Weighing in and digging into some of the accusations against the nominee.

SCHECHNER: There is some funny stuff, to just round out your Friday and take you into the weekend, regarding Bolton. "Mustache, schmustache," over at newshounds.us "Bolton vows to use mustache to scare America's foes. `America needs something scary to frighten our enemies,' said Mr. Bolton. `As God is my witness, I believe that my mustache is that scary thing.'" So, just a little comedy to take you into your weekend and while we wait to see whether or not John Bolton is confirmed -- Carlos.

WATSON: Our star blog reporters -- lots of information in the blogosphere this weekend as well, given what will happen in Kentucky. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Carlos Watson. CROSSFIRE starts right now.

END

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