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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Political Fundraising Trial Gets Underway; Senate Problems with Judicial Nominees Continue

Aired May 10, 2005 - 15:30   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: Hillary Clinton, campaign cash, and Hollywood: they all figure into a trial getting under way in Los Angeles.
An inspiration for "Law & Order," meet real-life D.A. Robert Morganthau, and the surprisingly tough case he needs to make for re- election.

ROBERT MORGANTHAU, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: There's a lot of unfinished business.

ANNOUNCER: Scandal in Spokane -- mayor, accused of using his power to hook up with men online, faces fresh allegations and a decision about his future.

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST "INSIDE POLITICS": Thank you for joining us.

Republicans who were hoping to stop Hillary Clinton's political career dead in its tracks may be looking to find ammunition in a California courtroom. That is where jury selection is beginning today in the trial of Senator Clinton's former finance director David Rosen. The charges against Rosen stem from a Hollywood fund-raiser almost five years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): August 2000, a real Hollywood happening: celebrities galore, at least one shady character, and the biggest stars in the political sky.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I really believe we are a better and stronger country than we were in 1992.

WOODRUFF: Now, that event a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, billed as a salute to her husband, is the focus of a criminal trial.

The senator herself isn't accused of any wrongdoing. She probably won't be anywhere near the Los Angeles courtroom, where her former fund-raising director David Rosen faces charges he underreported the cost of the soiree. According to prosecutors, Rosen reported that the gala cost just over $400,000, when in fact the tab was more than three times that. The difference, they say, amounted to an illegal contribution to Hillary Clinton.

CLINTON: ...those who have been behind the scenes, who made this salute to the president possible, I want to thank Stan Lee and Peter Paul.

WOODRUFF: Stan Lee, he of "Spiderman" fame, and his then- business partner, Peter Paul. Paul organized the party and later turned on David Rosen, accusing the fund-raiser of fudging the numbers. Rosen insists he relied on Paul for the financial information he then reported, and Clinton allies say Paul, a convicted felon, is just trying to curry favor with authorities investigating his own financial dealings.

The circumstances are somewhat confusing, but one fact bears repeating: Hillary Clinton has not been implicated in whatever happened, and she's not expected to testify in the case. That said, the Rosen trial has become fodder for some of the senator's political foes.

JOHN MERCURIO, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: This reminds people of Whitewater. It reminds people of the Lincoln bedroom, and it reminds people of sort of this sleazy side of the Clinton administration that she and the president are both trying to forget.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (on camera): We'll talk more about the Rosen trial and what it could or could not mean for Senator Clinton politically ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

On Capitol Hill, a partisan time bomb that has been ticking for some time could explode as early as next week. That's the word today in the long-threatened showdown over filibusters of judicial nominees. Let's get the latest flow from our congressional correspondent Joe Johns. Hi, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.

After all of the hype and all of the talk, we're beginning to hear calls for an end game on the issue of judicial nominations, particularly on the right. Senator George Allen, Republican of Virginia, saying just a little while ago that he thinks Republicans ought to go for it, that DeLay's only emboldening Democrats.

Meanwhile, some of the off-campus activist groups, if you will, including Concerned Women of America, indicating today that they are stepping up their calls to the Senate switchboard. Some indication, of course, that talk radio is beginning to get into the act. All of this putting more pressure on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to bring judicial nominations to the floor of the United States Senate either this week or next.

Just a little while ago at the capital, Frist talked about the schedule.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: ...and then we need to turn to 100 United States senators and move to the issue surrounding judges.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: Now, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the United States Senate, declined to say whether he, in fact, is also calling for an end game. However, he did say that if his offers for a negotiated solution are not acceptable, the Senate should go ahead and vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MINORITY LEADER: ...want to be clear, we're prepared for a vote on the nuclear option. Democrats will join responsible Republicans in a vote to uphold the Constitutional principle of checks and balances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: Whether Senator Frist has the votes to declare the so- called nuclear option in effect in the United States Senate, obviously, is the open question here on Capitol Hill. That question, of course, resides with a number of Republican moderates, some of whom are keeping their information close to the vest. The expectation is that vote, when and if it comes, could be very close -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Joe Johns. So, this is going right down to the wire?

JOHNS: That's very possible, certainly is. A lot of people saying they would like to see this vote very much this week or next. Of course the question, if it doesn't come next week, what will happen? One conservative activitist told me, there will be a lot of attention paid to Capitol Hill from the hinder lands if they don't get a vote by next Friday.

WOODRUFF: Sounds like they're burning up the phone lines already. OK, Joe, thank you very much.

So, the political debate over the judiciary leads off today's "Political Bytes." Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner, who's chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, last night proposed the creation of an inspector general to oversee the federal courts. In a speech at Stanford University, Sensenbrenner said the official would act as a watch dog over how the courts spend their money, but would not affect judicial independence.

The Republican National Committee is blasting Democrats for what it calls the "being the party of no." The RNC plans to e-mail this ad to seven-and-a-half million supporters tomorrow. It features a montage of Democratic leaders stating their opposition to the president's judicial nominees and to his Social Security plans, among other issues. Senator John Kerry's political action committee is criticizing the president and Republicans in Congress. The group Friends of John Kerry purchased this ad in today's edition of "USA Today," asking readers to, quote, "make Washington stand up for the needs and values of America's families."

And, a legal victory today for Vice President Dick Cheney: a federal appeals court knocked down a lawsuit that tried to force the vice president to reveal details about the Energy Task Force he headed back in 2001. The Sierra Club and Judicial Watch had filed the lawsuit which claimed that energy industry officials effectively became members of the task force, while environmental groups were shut out. The recommendations for those meetings became the basis for the energy bill that now is in the Congress.

The filibuster fight we were just talking about could leave both political parties battered and bruise. Coming up, we'll talk strategy and scenarios with two important members of the judiciary committee, Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Patrick Leahy.

Also ahead, is the embattled mayor of Spokane, Washington, any closer to stepping down, as allegations keep surfacing about his sex life?

And later, a courthouse drama in New York, staring a "Law & Order"-kind of political character.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With me now talk more about the Senate's stand-off over judicial filibusters is Republican senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. He is a member and former chairman of the judiciary committee. Senator Hatch, good to see you.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: Good to see you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Your leader in the Senate, Bill Frist, says he's going to put a showdown together next week over this issue. Does he have the votes?

HATCH: I think he will. I don't think there's any question about it. He's trying everything in his power to try and resolve this matter, but the offers by the Democrats, I think, show how unprincipled they've been on this thing, because they're willing to throw a few people these people overboard and let a few come through. I mean, that's just pure bunk.

And one person insisting on throwing overboard is Janice Rogers Brown, sharecropper's daughter. 76 percent of the vote on the Supreme Court of the state of California, one of the truly great people in this country, and her problem is she's a conservative Republican.

WOODRUFF: Well, the Democrats say what they're trying to do is come up with a compromise that works for both sides, but you're saying that's not doable? HATCH: Well, that's -- what they've suggested so far just cannot be doable, in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of the majority leader. Just keep in mind, you know, they gripe about the way Clinton's judges were traded. Well, think about it. Reagan was the all-time confirmation champion. He got 382 judges through, but he had six years of Republicans in control of the Senate to help him.

Clinton got 377 through, just five less than Reagan, and he had only two years of a Democrat Senate to help him. The other six years I was pushing them through for him as fast as I could. And they griped because some were left over -- some are always left over. Democrats have left them over, Republicans have left them over. But when they get to the floor, what's wrong with giving them a vote up and down?

WOODRUFF: Well, you -- as you just said yourself, they are pointing out that when you were chairman the judiciary committee, they say something like 60 of Bill Clinton's judicial nominees were bottled up, and in fact, Harry Reid -- I'm going to quote what Senator Reid had to say. He said, "I can't imagine how Orrin Hatch can keep a straight face. I don't know how, within the framework of intellectual honesty, he can say the things he does." And he's referring to what he says is a double standard here.

HATCH: Well, I'm not going to comment about that, because that's ridiculous. The fact of the matter is, there have always been people left over. They double count the leftovers. And I have to say, think of those facts. Clinton almost got as many through with six years of a Republican Senate opposition as Reagan did, who had six years with Republican help. And they're griping? Come on!

They're always have been people who have been held up. And you'll hear them crying, moan and groan. But facts really aren't on their side. And frankly, there's no excuse for what they're doing here. We've -- this is the first time we've really had filibusters of majority bipartisan, majority-approved nominees, in the history of this country. It's the first time.

WOODRUFF: But Senator, they are saying there is clearly a double standard here. That whether you -- you know, whether you go purely by the numbers or not, they're saying Republicans are using a standard -- or are saying there shouldn't be a standard that you, yourselves, used years ago.

HATCH: Well, the fact of the matter is that we believe the standard ought to be the same as it's been for 214 years. And that is, when a nominee hits the floor, they deserve a vote up and down. What's wrong with that? And in this case, all 10 of these nominees that have been filibustered had bipartisan majority support. What's wrong with giving them a vote up and down? And by the way, for 214 years before President Bush became president, these nominees did get votes on the floor.

And I don't care what kind of phony baloney arguments they come up with, and they will. These business -- says that, oh, my goodness, people didn't make it out of committee. Well, that's been true whether the Democrats have controlled the committee, whether Republicans have controlled the committee. But think of the totality of how many of them got through.

WOODRUFF: Senator...

HATCH: I did everything I could to help President Clinton get his judges through. But what they're doing is filibustering and stopping people who have not only ABA approval, but bipartisan majority support and who would win on the floor.

WOODRUFF: So Senator...

HATCH: And they won't even give them a vote.

WOODRUFF: It doesn't affect your thinking at all, that the public opinion polls are showing people don't support this idea?

HATCH: Oh, now, wait a minute, wait a minute. You're quoting "The Washington Post," which skewed the questions so that they got a skewed answer. If you really answer...

WOODRUFF: Well, I'm actually quoting a -- what is described as a Hotline West Hill survey.

HATCH: Well, come on. You know who the real pollsters are. And the real pollsters will show you that people believe that these judgeship nominations get a vote up and down on the board...

WOODRUFF: All right.

HATCH: ... especially since they have bipartisan majority support.

WOODRUFF: OK. We hear you, Senator. And we thank you for joining us.

HATCH: Nice to be with you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: It's always good to talk to you, Senator. We appreciate it.

HATCH: You bet.

WOODRUFF: Coming up next, we'll get a Democrat's view of the filibuster stalemate. Are Senate leaders out of options, or is there still room for compromise? I'll ask the Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, Patrick Leahy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With me now to offer a Democrat's view of the judicial filibuster debate is Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. Senator Leahy, thanks for being with us.

Good to be with you. WOODRUFF: So, if Senator Frist calls this for a vote next week, the showdown we have been waiting for, who has the votes?

LEAHY: Oh, who knows? I think the thing is, though, why do this at all? It is amazing. I guess presidential politics does things to you, but it's amazing that any majority leader of either party would want to have as their big legacy in the Senate to leave the Senate a weaker place. One of the things that -- I have been frustrated at times and with matters that I have been interested and been filibustered, but I have learned over the years it usually brings you to compromise. In this case, the president's done very well. We kind of lose sight of the fact he's had 208 of his judges...

WOODRUFF: But that counts the district judges, doesn't it, Senator? When you just count the appellate judges it's 52, isn't that right?

LEAHY: He's had -- he's had about 80 percent of those confirmed. In fact, Senator Reid made a recommendation. You know, judges are judges. And most of the district -- most of the courts of appeals judges started off as district judges, a great stepping-stone.

But one of the interesting things that Senator Reid said -- OK, you can got one of these people you say you got to have -- the president's proposed a man who does have one problem. He practiced law illegally for four years, District Colombia (SIC) and a few years out in Utah. They proposed him for second most-important court in the land.

WOODRUFF: Who was that?

LEAHY: Mr. Griffith. But Senator Reid said, OK, we're not doing anything. There's a day or so go on (ph) the floor. Why don't we vote on him today?

WOODRUFF: Well, let me...

LEAHY: The Republicans wouldn't come to allow him to a vote, so it's a little bit of disingenuous. We've offered to have several of these judges come forward for a vote. They won't bring them forward to a vote. I don't know if they want to play number games because of that.

WOODRUFF: Senator, we just heard Senator Orrin Hatch, your Republican colleague on the committee, say Democrats are really unprincipled here. He said, because what they've been willing to do is say, OK, even though we may disagree with these people, we'll let some of them pass, but we're not going to let others pass. In other words, he's saying there's just no principle involved.

LEAHY: Oh, heavenly day. I -- you know, it's interesting, I told Orrin the other day, he's amazing -- he can say such things with a straight face. This is the man who single-handedly blocked, by pocket filibusters on behalf of his caucus, 61 judges under President Clinton. We're talking about holding up the three or four of the most radical judges. You know, the Senate supposed to be about checks and balances. The two places in this country that have checks and balance, independent judiciary, and the U.S. Senate.

WOODRUFF: Well, Senator -- Senator Hatch was saying -- I mean, I wrote down. He said there have always been people left over and he said under President Clinton, he said, with a less favorable Congress, he got as many through as President Reagan did.

LEAHY: He had 61 that were left over, actually about 69 -- several pulled their names out. Left over? We had a brilliant Hispanic from California who was held up for five or six years. We had one woman who was blocked. They said they wanted to keep the seat open on the -- she wasn't qualify. She's now the dean of the Harvard Law School. He held these people for years and years and years and years.

WOODRUFF: Senator...

LEAHY: That's not being held over.

WOODRUFF: A quick last question: you're not worried Democrats end up looking like obstructionists here?

LEAHY: We're trying to have checks and balances. I think that they don't want to talk about the fact that the price of gasoline has gone up, the debt's gone up, the deficit's gone up, people are unemployed, the number of insured have gone up. Let's talk about three or four judges for a lifetime, highly-paid, highly-paid position. No. We're trying for checks and balances. We want an independent judiciary, and then we'd like to talk about some of the real issues affecting people in their pocketbooks here in this country.

WOODRUFF: Well, if there's any give here, we're not hearing it yet on either side.

LEAHY: Probably not.

WOODRUFF: All right. Senator Leahy, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

The trial of Hillary Clinton's former fund-raising director gets under way in Los Angeles. Will the California courtroom case hurt the political prospects for the senator from New York? The story when we return.

Plus, he spent 27 years in government service, the last few as the secretary of homeland security. But now, he's just a regular guy. We'll find out how Tom Ridge is adjusting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A little bit before 4:00 on the East Coast and as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I am joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hi, Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Thanks. We have stocks broadly lower. Let's take a look. Dow Jones dropping precipitously today, down 107. NASDAQ, 1 percent lower. They're telling us the biggest reason for those declines, traders say there's talk of a -- huge losses at a hedge fund.

In corporate news, Delta Airlines says its cash level is getting low. It could be forced into bankruptcy. The solution, it says, is cost-cutting. Last fall, Delta stayed out of bankruptcy after winning a billion dollars in worker concessions. Delta stock today dropped $3 a share.

United Airlines has been trying to emerge from bankruptcy for more than two years, and today that airline is in court with its unions. Its hoping to cut costs by unloading its employee pension on the government pension insurer. Now, if the court goes along, it would be the largest ever pension default and workers could lose up to a quarter of their total pension assets.

Pfizer's CEO is confident that the company's arthritis drug Bextra will return to the market. Pfizer will meet with the FDA to explain why it should. Now, Bextra was pulled from the shelves last month after it was linked to serious side effects.

Coming up on CNN, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," the controversy over CAFTA -- will a central America free-trade agreement increase intellectual piracy and further damage the U.S. high-tech industry?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCUS COURTNEY, WASHTECH: Microsoft support, as well as the high-tech industry support, for CAFTA, only erodes domestic jobs and does nothing to create fair trade policies to protect U.S. workers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PILGRIM: Also tonight, broken borders: a New York state supreme court judge today ruled the state cannot seize the driver's license of an illegal alien because that person doesn't have a Social Security card. We'll have a special report on that.

And then Congressman Christopher Shays joins us to discuss his own investigation into the United Nation's Oil-for-Food scandal.

We'll also meet a Georgia principal who managed to turn his middle school into a success story.

All that and more, 6:00 Eastern, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." But for now, back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Hi, Kitty. Thanks very much. We will be watching. And now back to INSIDE POLITICS.

Hillary Clinton knows a thing or two about legal trials and tribulations and if she chose to, she could probably offer advice to her former finance director David Rosen, as jury selection begins in his trial in Los Angeles. Rosen is accused of underreporting the cost of a gala Hollywood fundraiser for Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign. Whatever the legal verdict, the trial could provide fodder for Senator Clinton's political opponents, as she seeks reelection next year or perhaps the White House in 2008.

We're joined now by J. Jioni Palmer of "Newsday." Thanks very much for being with us, Jioni.

J. JIONI PALMER, "NEWSDAY": Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: First of all, set the stage for us. Back in 2000, this fundraiser took place. The allegation is that this -- the money that was raised here was underreported. And -- by Mr. Rosen. How important a role was the money, at that point in her campaign?

PALMER: Well, actually, what's alleged is that the actual cost of the event...

WOODRUFF: That the cost, right.

PALMER: ... was underreported. And it's pretty technical, but trying to make it short and simple, by -- allegedly, if the money is underreported, then that allows more money -- I mean, the cost of the event is underreported, then that would allow under one particular rules that no longer exist, as a matter of fact, allow Senator Clinton's campaign in 2000 to use more hard money in New York.

WOODRUFF: And how important was that at that stage of her campaign?

PALMER: Well, I mean, it's a million dollars. The senator raised and spent $30 million. Her opponent raised, you know, $40 million. Some people, the -- for instance, Judicial Watch, the conservative legal group, which on Friday filed an ethics challenge against -- inquiry with the Senate against Senator Clinton, say that that is very important. Others, you know, say that it's a technical violation and that it's very unlikely that a candidate would be that involved with putting on an event.

WOODRUFF: They -- Judicial Watch is saying that Senator Clinton, in their words, "had to have known about this." Now, clearly they're coming at it from their perspective. That remains to be seen, obviously.

PALMER: That remains to be seen, and as you said in the -- when you opened up the show, the Justice Department has not said that Senator Clinton is at all a target of this investigation, or anything what not.

WOODRUFF: How vulnerable is she politically, though? Just the fact that this trial is going on? What's the likelihood that she could be affected by it?

PALMER: Well, when I talked to people in New York, Democrats, Republicans, Independent, pollsters, they say it's not likely that she is going to be affected at all. They think that -- they say that -- and this is across the board, that Hillary Clinton has done a very good job. I know as a reporter I did a press release from her office virtually every day about things that's she's doing in upstate New York. She's paid a lot of attention to upstate New York, which was won over a lot of people who are really skeptical about whether or not she could really play in that part.

I mean, in New York City and in the suburbs of New York City, most people thought that she would do fine. But, you know, pollster John Zogby (ph) had some very serious questions about whether or not she would do well in upstate New York, which is much more like the red states in the middle of the country than, you know, the blue cities that anchors it.

WOODRUFF: What would you say is the state of her Senate reelection campaign right now, overall? I mean, how strong a shape is she in?

PALMER: Well, I talk to New York Republicans in Washington and, you know, New York Republicans down here in Washington and New York Republicans back in the state, and they haven't been able to find a strong candidate. Governor Pataki has said that he's not interested in running. Former New York City mayor Giuliani has said that he's not interested in running. One attractive candidate is Westchester D.A., Jeanine Pirro, who...

WOODRUFF: A potential Republican candidate.

PALMER: Excuse me, yes, a potential Republican candidate. And interestingly enough, you know, she has had to deal with some sort of scandals throughout her past. Her husband has had legal problems and there's -- mobsters have appeared on tape saying that he's talked, he's discussed elements of their case. So on a certain level, the scandal, you know, quotient would be negated on both ends.

WOODRUFF: Well, we -- it's a story that we are watching and we'll continue to keep an eye on. J. Jioni Palmer. He's with "Newsday." Thank you very much. It's good to have you on the program.

PALMER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

So, Republicans and Democrats are bracing for a long-awaited Senate brawl to break out, perhaps as soon as next week. When it does, there will be a lot of talk about judicial nominees and filibusters. But our senior political analyst Bill Schneider reports there's actually something bigger at stake.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The filibuster fight isn't about these people. It's a dress rehearsal for an expected battle over these people. Supreme Court nominations can provoke the nastiest fights in American politics. Conservatives have not forgotten the bitter fight over Robert Bork, who was rejected in 1987.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Time and again, in his public record over more than a quarter of a century, Robert Bork has shown that he is hostile to the rule of law and the role of the courts in protecting individual liberty.

SCHNEIDER: Liberals have not forgotten the bitter fight over Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991.

CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I will not provide the rope for my own lynching or for further humiliation.

SCHNEIDER: Those fights were so intense, not just because of who Bork and Thomas were, but because of whom they were replacing on the court. Bork was named by President Reagan to replace Justice Lewis Powell, the court's swing vote. Thomas was named by the first President Bush to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall, a reliably liberal vote.

There were no big showdowns over President Clinton's Supreme Court nominees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: And I -- I'm sorry my colleagues aren't here to hear just a little bit of criticism. We do that to one another occasionally.

SCHNEIDER: Ginsburg replaced Byron White, a moderate named to the court by President Kennedy. Breyer replaced Harry Blackmun, a Nixon appointee who wrote the Roe v. Wade decision that gave constitutional protection to abortion rights. Neither tipped the ideological balance of the court. The real fight for Bush will come if and when a moderate justice retires, like Sandra Day O'Connor, the current swing vote, or John Paul Stevens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Stevens retires, there could be a greater opposition to a conservative nominee, because he would be seen as replacing a moderate conservative. Whereas if the chief justice retires, you could say that one conservative is being replaced for another.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: With so many Supreme Court decisions now being handed down by a five to four vote -- hey, remember Bush v. Gore in 2000? -- one new vote can shift the balance of the court and change the direction of the counttry.

WOODRUFF: But as you point out in your piece, it does, to a degree, depend on which vacancy occurs.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly right. Which vacancy it is.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

The mayor of the city of Spokane, Washington, has made an announcement, as scandal swirls around him. We'll have the latest on his future and the allegations against him.

Also ahead -- a legendary figure in New York legal and political circles. Has he finally met his match?

And later, blogging as a business and as an addiction. Online insights when we take you "Inside the Blogs."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The mayor of Spokane, Washington, Jim West, is taking a leave of absence from his job, blaming what he calls persecution and hysteria caused by a local newspaper's allegations. After West's announcement, the newspaper made new claims of impropriety, alleging that the mayor offered city jobs to two young men he met through a gay Internet chat room. Our Bruce Morton looks at the controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Spokane is in eastern Washington, about 200,000 people. It's mayor, Jim West, has over the years been anti-gay: would ban them from working in schools, for instance, let an anti-discrimination bill die when he was senate leader. But "The Spokesman Review" has been running stories announcing that he is gay. Two men, now convicted felons, charged West abused them on Boy Scout trips to places like Mount Rainier. West denied that.

MAJOR JIM WEST, SPOKANE, WASHINGTON: I categorically deny any allegations about incidents that supposedly occurred 24 years ago as alleged by two convicted felons, and about which I have no knowledge.

MORTON: There will be no investigation. The statute of limitations has run out. But the newspaper also hired a computer expert to pose an 18-year-old on a gay website, and reported West offered him an internship and other gifts, and a real gay man met West at the website, took a city job but quit, saying West pestered him for dates.

WEST: The newspaper also reported that I have visited a gay internet chat line and had relations with adult men. I don't deny that.

MORTON: Local reaction?

SANDY CRUSH, NORTHSIDE RESIDENT: I mean, I have a son that's in Boy Scouts and -- or in Cub Scouts. I just -- that worries me a little bit that, you know, if my son had ever been around him, I don't like that idea at all.

CAROL LYTLE, SOUTHSIDE RESIDENT: Everybody is innocent until proven guilty, and that's all I have to say.

MORTON: They are talking about a recal petition. Some want him to resign.

MATT FOREMAN, NAT'L GAY & LES. TASK FORCE: We strongly believe that Mayor West needs to resign immediately. It doesn't matter if he's gay, straight, bisexual or confused. What he did was wrong and appalling. The sexual abuse of young people is always wrong, and he needs to get out of office today.

MORTON: What he's doing is taking some time off.

WEST: I'm going to take a leave of a few weeks to gather my thoughts and prepare my defense of the false accusations leveled against me.

MORTON: The mayor is probably fatally damaged. The newspaper -- was it fair to use an internet sting to bring down a hypocritical politician?

Bruce Morton, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce.

Well, Manhattan voters have a choice: the voice of experience or a fresh approach. Up next, the long-time D.A. says he's ready for another term, but he's facing a strong challenge from a former employee. The politics of law and order when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Voters in New York's borough of Manhattan face a choice in the upcoming Democratic primary for district attorney. The veteran officeholder, or the aggressive challenger, who says it's time for a changing of the guard. Today, former New York governor Mario Cuomo made his choice: he's backing the incumbent, Robert Morganthau. With more on the race, here's CNN's Adaora Udoji.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 85-year-old Robert Morganthau is the only district attorney many Manhattanites have ever known.

BETSY GOTBAUM, NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE: This man has been the premier D.A. in this country.

UDOJI: He has won eight elections since 1974 and supporters want him to have four more years.

MORGANTHAU: I'm in good health and I'll continue to serve as long as my health is good.

UDOJI: Morganthau is a World War II veteran from a prominent New York family. His father, President Franklin Roosevelt's treasury secretary. Now he's running at a time when violent crime is down, taking credit for putting away thousands of criminals, though he suffered high profile losses: hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, acquitted on gun charges. Dennis Kozlowski (ph), a hung jury in the Tyco fraud case. MORGANTHAU: It was a lot of unfinished business, and the most important is terrorism, and I think we have the ability and the know- how to combat financing of terrorist organizations.

UDOJI: Morganthau is such an institution he inspired the original district attorney on television's "Law & Order," the show that's made these steps at the Manhattan courthouse famous. But while district attorneys have changed on "Law & Order," no one has been able to unseat Morganthau for 30 years. He now faces who many see as his toughest rival yet: Leslie Crocker Snyder, one of his former prosecutors, also a former tough-on-crime judge, on the bench 20 years -- so tough, drug dealers put her face on heroin packets stamped 25- to-life.

MARY JO WHITE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Her experience for the job of district attorney is unparalleled. She was an accomplished prosecutor for nearly a decade in the office she will head.

UDOJI: Snyder was the first woman to prosecute homicides in Manhattan, and created the country's first sex crimes unit.

Why should we vote for you?

LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, MANHATTAN D.A. CANDIDATE: Bob Morganthau has been for 30 years, and the institution of the district attorney's office is stale. I've got a lot of new ideas. I want to have a new focus. I've always been tough on violent crime, but I'm a reformer.

UDOJI: She's 63, and never mentions Morganthau's age, but the message is clear.

SNYDER: I believe that I can bring new life to that important office.

UDOJI: Do you think there's going to be too much time spent on your age in this coming election?

ROBERT MORGANTHAU, MANHATTAN D.A.: Not by me. I'm not going to hold her youth and inexperience against her.

Reporter: That's a view and a choice New Yorkers face in the fall.

Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: In other career news, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge say he is still settling into civilian life. And apparently he still can't get the famous color-coded alert system he instituted out of his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: After 27 years in public service, I made some adjustments myself. I'm getting used to driving again. I do have -- I found the first couple weeks a bit challenging to get through the traffic light. You know they're color- coded. (Laughter.) I love green. Green is good. Yellow, yellow is a little bit more challenging. You got to be careful, be cautious, be alert, be aware, be vigilant. And red, my first impulse was to call the president, but you don't want to do that. (Laughter.)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: He's got a sense of humor. Ridge and other members of the nation's first Homeland Security team met today in Washington to share their reflections.

We will check the blogs for the latest commentary on the filibuster fight coming up next. Plus our blog reporters explore how bloggers stay in business. The money side of blogging, when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A head's up on a story that CNN has been following, and that is in the small town of Zion, Illinois, very close to Chicago, the two bodies of young girls found yesterday. Police in Zion are going to be holding a news conference a little over an hour from now, at 5:30 Eastern, where they will be talking to reporters and giving the latest on the information they have been able to uncover. Again, police in Zion, Illinois, a news conference in just about an hour from now.

Well, we revisit the battle over judicial filibusters and what people are saying about them on line. Joining me, CNN Political Producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter. Hi, Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi, Judy. We got lots of stuff we want to talk about today, so we're just going to touch on the filibuster stuff really briefly. They are still talking about the filibuster, the nuclear option showdown, on the blogs. We found this cool little site, solodialogue.com, where John is posting the latest filibuster news with laser-like focus on the issue, he says. He's got a round-up of some mainstream media articles and then also some blogs talking about it. But lots of opinion and speculation at this point, and not much more than that blog-wise.

So what we want to do is talk about something that's no longer speculation, and that's what Ariana Huffington's big old blog is going to be like. Danieldressner.com -- Daniel Dressner is an assistant poly-sci professor at the University of Chicago, wondering where is all the instant analysis. That's what the blogs are good at, giving instant feedback and opinions and thought. Wondering partly, maybe nobody really cares, and that's why they're not talking about it that much. But they are. They've all got opinions. And he's got a link to one of the heavily linked articles today -- nikkifinke@laweekly (ph). Very scathing. The big quote everyone's pulling is, her blog, Ariana's blog, "is such a bomb that it's the box office equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate rolled into one." ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: At buzzmachine.com, Jeff Jarvis (ph) is point out that the Huffington post is trying to make some money. "In a smart business move, Ariana is syndicating the famed blog via Tribune Media Services," linking there to an Editor & Publisher story saying that the syndicated version will be like a "best of" version of the site.

Now the Huffington post not the only blog out there trying to make some money. Turning blogs into business is something we've mentioned before. Roger L. Simon (ph) is a conservative blogger. He got together with a couple of other big bloggers, widely read bloggers to try and get a consortium of blogs together in what he's going to be calling pajamasmedia.com. He wants -- he's got currently about 250 blogs altogether. He wants to get corporate advertisers to put their ads onto this group of blogs all at once.

SCHECHNER: Someone joining up with Roger L. Simon (ph) as part of Pajamas Media is bunkermulligan.net, saying that he signed on "not to make money, but as a way to associate with the cream of the blogosphere. Blogs aren't money machines," he says. "They are a voice for those of us who can't gain access to a microphone or pages in time or people, like the celebrities on Ariana's blog."

Then goes on to talk about Ariana's blog a little bit, saying, "I don't think someone like here will be happy with the amount of money she might earn. Her annual income for the blog probably won't pay for a single trip to her hair-stylist."

TATTON: And there are other simpler ways of making money for your blog. Ask your readers for cold, hard cash. That's what's happening in the last 24 hours over at treyjackson.typepad.com (ph). Trey Jackson (ph) is a video blogger. When he does his video blogging, it requires a lot of bandwidth, which is expensive. So he's asking his readers to chip in. What he says last night: "If you have ideas, input or suggestions that you feel will keep this site operating in the format to which you've become accustomed, please email me." You can also go up here, make a donation and support the site straightaway.

So that's one blog that needs money to stay afloat. Another blog that is asking for money to expand is Talking Points Memo. This is the site of -- widely read liberal site of Josh Marshall (ph). He's expanding the site to have a companion site called tpmcafe.com. You can see it over here, coming soon. You can contribute to that site. He's been doing a fundraiser. It's probably going quite well, because just recently, he's been asking for staff to help keep that site going.

SCHECHNER: And finally today, we just want to make sure that if you're going ask for money for your blog, make sure you're not feeding an addiction. That's a question being asked over bloggersblog.com, which is an off-shoot of Writers Write, a Dallas New Media company. They link to a Knight-Ridder article that talks to some bloggers about blogging and the feeling that maybe they're a little obsessed or this is an addiction. And this, interestingly enough, on the heels of andrewsullivan.com -- a big blogger; been doing it for about five years -- said he was going to take some time off to pursue other things, and then at 3:20 this morning, he posts the following: A Self-Intervention. "It's time to come clean," he says. He tried to cut down. He's changed his hours and his patterns. "But my name is Andrew," he says, "and I'm a blogoholic."

So, Judy, one of those Internet addictions that we may be having to take a look at at some point.

WOODRUFF: And I guess you could say we've even got our own little addiction going here too.

SCHECHNER: I'm addicted.

WOODRUFF: It's not a bad thing. Okay, thanks to you both, Jacki and Abbi. And we'll see you tomorrow.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Tuesday. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

END

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