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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Miers Withdraws; CIA Leak Investigation Nears Completion

Aired October 27, 2005 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, an extraordinary day for the White House. The president's embattled Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is out.
What will happen tomorrow? Will the CIA leak prosecutor have bad news for two major White House players?

We'll ask legendary reporter Bob Woodward, his remarkable access to the Bush White House has produced two best sellers; David Gergen, a former White House adviser to president's Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton; "Newsweek" investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff; Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina; and, Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut; and, in a little while, Judge Robert Bork a leading opponent of the Miers nomination knowing firsthand how ugly Supreme Court nominations can get. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

OK, let's get right to it, Bob Woodward. The White House says it's clear the Senators would not be satisfied until they gained internal documents concerning advice provided by her tenure at the White House. The president is not going to give them, so she's gone. Is that the reason?

BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST" AUTHOR: No, obviously it's a realization of the politically weak position the president is in now because of other problems and also I think they did some practice sessions with her.

She's not a constitutional scholar and you can't learn constitutional law overnight and I think they realized that she was going to be quizzed in a way at these hearings that just would not have looked good. It probably would have been embarrassing.

KING: Senator Graham, did the right wing get her?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the truth is the tipping point came today when they got a letter from Senator Specter and Leahy saying that if you come over we need to know about your role in Guantanamo Bay and the legal advice you gave on some pretty sensitive matters and I think that was a reasonable position for the Senate to take.

And, they didn't want to disclose some of these documents and at the end of the day her personal performance when it came to individual Senators was short of where it should have been. That got her more than anything else. KING: David Gergen, was she doomed from the get-go?

DAVID GERGEN, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER TO PRESIDENTS NIXON, FORD, REAGAN AND CLINTON: Those words were just on my mind, Larry. I think that -- we were here the first night, as you recall, and we talked about the fact that she had the thinnest credentials of anybody who has been nominated for the court in a long, long time.

And, of course, those credentials not only caused problems among people to the middle and the left but among conservatives it caused enormous problems because they didn't know what her judicial philosophy was.

So, I think she had no chance at all. I think she did gracefully withdraw. I feel sorry for her because I think it was unfair to put her into this position. I think the people made a mistake who selected her and it was a mistake to ask her to do this and she withdrew before what would have been really excruciating hearings. Good for her to do that but we should continue to respect her as a person because I do think this must have been horribly painful for her.

KING: Michael, ironic that now she goes back to helping pick the next nominee?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, "NEWSWEEK" INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Right and it's actually going to be a very difficult choice for the White House. You had two things going on that sunk her. One was the stature gap, particularly compared to the way, to John Roberts and how well he performed and his credentials.

But also you did have the conservative base of the president that was very much turned against her that didn't feel that she was a reliable vote for the issues they care about on the Supreme Court and they're emboldened by this. I think they will feel that now the president must return to his base and come up with a reliably conservative nominee and that, of course, can be -- is going to only inflame the Democrats.

KING: Senator Dodd, must he go to the base?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Not necessarily and let me just underscore David Gergen's points. I don't know Harriet Miers. I didn't meet her. I wasn't one of the Senators that had a meeting with her but I feel for her and I think she was at the outset badly treated by the White House. They should have vetted her far more carefully in terms of all the issues that you've already heard expressed here this evening.

But this was the far right who did her in. Let's not kid ourselves here. I think had it gone to a vote, gone through the committee. Lindsey can answer better than I since he sits on the committee. I suspect she probably would have had the votes of the committee, at least the Republicans on the committee.

But this was a -- she never got a chance to even make a case. This crowd did her in. If this had been Democrats they'd be screaming out it today. She was absolutely I think undercut terribly, the president was by people of his own party.

I think the president just might, particularly if he makes a choice in the next few days, I think he might just go back to that crowd and say "I gave you a choice that was actually going to be pretty good for you people. You didn't listen to me and I'm now going to go to Gonzales or someone else that may be even more questionable for some of the people on the right." That could very well happen in my view.

KING: Now, Bob, you're doing a book on this second term. Is this one of the things that's going to be surprisingly flawful (ph) about this president, if there's such a word as flawful, a man who makes...

WOODWARD: It's a new word, Larry.

KING: It's sort of Jewish like (INAUDIBLE), a goof, this kind of goof?

WOODWARD: It depends. You know politics is a game of recovery and if they come up with a good nomination she will be forgotten but I want to take a little bit of a contrarian view here.

Bush was onto something by trying to select somebody who was not a professional judge. We've got all of these people on the Supreme Court who sit around -- who came there from the federal appeals courts and on the federal appeals courts what you do all day is look at legal paper and talk to lawyers and there is nothing more divorced from the real world than legal paper and lawyers. It also tends to numb the mind.

Bush was trying to put somebody from the outer world here, somebody who had some connections to real problems, now all those difficulties have been highlighted here but I think that instinct of putting somebody with different human experience is exactly the right one.

And there have been great people on the Supreme Court. William O. Douglas, Rehnquist, Justice Powell, who did not come from the federal judiciary. It's not necessary.

KING: Do you think he might go again Lindsey to -- away from...

GRAHAM: I hope he picks another woman because he's not required to do so but it would be good to have diversity on the court and there are a lot of great women conservative lawyers and judges. And, you're absolutely right, Bob. I thought it was a calculated decision to pick someone who doesn't come from the judge monastery. It would be good for the court.

And, I hang out with the right wing far more than ya'll do and let me tell you, let me tell you when I went home last week nobody was saying Harriet Miers has got to go. What got her I think is the debate was real with the White House when we were asking and insisting on some sensitive stuff because we don't have the paper trail and quite honestly the meetings didn't go well.

KING: David, what effect on the who he chooses, what effect will tomorrow have assuming there are indictments tomorrow?

GERGEN: That's a really interesting question whether it's going to -- if in fact a lot of his people get taken out and we have no idea which was this is going to go, then I think he may have even more reason to go to his base to nominate a conservative to rally his base because he's going to be in deep, deep trouble if he loses Karl Rove and Scooter Libby together over this. If he doesn't, then he'll have more leeway but I think if he's in a deep hole, he may decide to go back to his base.

Whether he would then look for someone who does not have a lot of judicial experience, I think that's possible and one name that occurs to me if he'd do it is Senator Cornyn from Texas, who did serve on the Texas Supreme Court for a number of years but is also a U.S. Senator and would be, you know, a certifiable conservative that would please a lot of people and I think the Senate would give him a lot of deference.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll talk with Robert Bork, get the thoughts further of Michael Isikoff and Senator Dodd and then discuss the issue at hand what's going to happen tomorrow and why have there been no leaks about what's going to happen tomorrow? I came into Washington today and this is like assassination eve.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Judge Robert Bork, the former judge whose nomination to the Supreme Court by President Reagan was rejected by the Senate has been against Ms. Miers from the start. Were you surprised at the action today Judge Bork?

JUDGE ROBERT BORK, FORMER SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: A little bit. I thought maybe they would try to tough it out but I guess when they got word that she hadn't impressed the Senators on their one-on-one meetings and that it was doubtful they had the votes, I think that's when it turned.

KING: Do you think you and others on the right led this fight?

BORK: No, I don't think so. Well, we did complain about it considerably but the fact is the Democrats shouldn't be allowed to get away with the idea that it was only the conservatives who did her in.

There were lots of Democratic Senators who were saying very unpleasant things about her, so it's not a conservative triumph in any sense. It's a broad-based feeling that she didn't simply have the qualifications.

KING: And that was your reason?

BORK: Yes, it was. You know, she's undoubtedly a woman who has many talents and succeeded in many things but it was quite clear that she didn't have any particular familiarity with the Constitution or constitutional reasoning and that, of course, is the big game in the Supreme Court right now.

KING: Politics aside what makes a good Supreme Court judge?

BORK: A willingness to apply the Constitution according to the principles that are actually in it rather than what they call the evolving or the living Constitution, which simply means the judges begin to make it up.

If we have a -- you know my few favorites on the court are those same ones Bush named originally, that is Scalia and Thomas and we were all expecting a nomination of somebody in that mold and that's why the great sense of disappointment came when we didn't get that.

KING: Can you be a good Supreme Court justice and not agree with Scalia and Thomas? I'm trying to get do you want nine Scalias?

BORK: Yes. Now Scalia and I were on the court together, the Court of Appeals together and we agreed most of the time but we did differ now and then. You can have people who are trying to apply the original principles of the Constitution who may disagree from time to time about how they apply. It's not a mechanical process but I want somebody who is looking at the original meaning and not somebody who is making it up.

KING: Do you have a candidate in mind?

BORK: I have several but, you know, I suppose if I'd name them that would be the kiss of death but I don't mind giving them the kiss of death.

KING: Who do you -- what kind of person do you think he will nominate?

BORK: Pardon me? Well, I think the point that he has to rally his conservative base and therefore may nominate somebody acceptable to that base is a good point because he is sinking in the polls and I think it would do a lot of good for his poll numbers if he chose a tough, good candidate and went to the mat and argued in public about what kind of a Supreme Court justice should be appointed. I think that would be educational for the American public and I think it would show that he's a man of principle.

KING: Expect it to come soon?

BORK: I don't know about that. Sandra Day O'Connor...

KING: Thank you, Judge Bork. I'm sorry, what were you going to say?

BORK: I was going to say Sandra Day O'Connor agreed to stay on until her successor is confirmed. That may be a while yet so she may be staying longer than she thought.

KING: In fact, the National Review lead editorial said "Don't go." Thank you Judge Robert Bork, former judge.

What do you make of what he had to say Michael?

ISIKOFF: Well, it is actually a reminder that this is an enormously consequential selection because this is what's going to tip the balance of the courts. Sandra O'Connor was the swing vote on a court. Once Rehnquist resigned and Roberts took his place you have a split down the middle 4-4 court with O'Connor in the middle.

And so, whoever gets chosen is going to be the swing vote in the court and that raises the stakes on this one in a way that weren't there for the Roberts selection, so I think that makes both the interest groups on both sides more emboldened, more determined to fight this.

KING: You looking for a fight Senator Dodd?

DODD: No. I would think the president would be careful about looking for one here. I disagree with Judge Bork. I don't think he helps his politics. That's one of the criteria here and I'm sure it probably is at the White House. I think by going with a more moderate choice helps his politics. I think there's a misreading here.

Jack Danforth, who was certainly a very conservative member of the United States Senator when I served with him, said today in commenting about what's happened here that his fear is that the Republican Party has been taken over by the extreme right and I think that's a legitimate concern and worry and I think that the president seeks out that fight here.

There are a lot of Senators up, incumbents for reelection this year. This battle may not come until after January with a nominee. You're in a -- you're in a sort of a swing state here. You don't necessarily want this fight to have someone who appeals to Judge Bork and that wing of the Republican Party. That could be very damaging, so I'd be careful about that if I were you.

KING: And Danforth, Senator Graham, was the principal supporter of Thomas.

GRAHAM: Well, Scalia and Thomas are fine in my book but politics are intriguing. Roberts was probably the choice of the ages. I've never seen a more intellectually gifted person who happened to be a solid conservative and our numbers haven't moved an inch.

I would argue that our numbers are not tied to the Supreme Court choice but the nation's future is and if you want a fight we've got one in Afghanistan and Iraq. We've lost 2,000 young men and women over there. I want the Senate to give respect to the nominee. I expect a conservative.

But the politics of filibuster is bad for this country. It's bad for the Senate. It's bad for the presidency and I hope the president will pick who he believes in and we can't turn over the nominating process to the extreme to the right or the left because the law protects us all. KING: We'll take a break and when we come back we'll begin with Mr. Woodward. We'll go around the bend and ask what they think is going to happen tomorrow. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're in Washington where things are hopping and we're going to follow up again tomorrow night. We're going to lead this round with Bob Woodward as we turn to tomorrow.

But, Michael Isikoff whispered to me during the break that he has a key question he'd like to ask Mr. Woodward, so I don't know what this is about.

ISIKOFF: No, look, this is the biggest mystery in Washington, has been really for two years and now as we come down to the deadline of tomorrow the city is awash with rumors. There's a new one every 15 minutes and nobody really knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Nobody knows what Fitzgerald's got.

I talked to a source at the White House late this afternoon who told me that Bob is going to have a bombshell in tomorrow's paper identifying the Mr. X source who is behind the whole thing. So, I don't know, maybe this is Bob's opportunity.

KING: Come clean.

WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry. In fact, I mean this tells you something about the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best "New York Times" reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

WOODWARD: Finally, this went around that I was going to do it tonight or in the paper. Finally, Len Downie, who is the editor of the "Washington Post" called me and said, "I hear you have a bombshell. Would you let me in on it."

KING: So now the rumors are about you.

WOODWARD: And I said I'm sorry to disappoint you but I don't.

KING: What do you think will happen?

WOODWARD: But Michael's point is exactly right. There is deep mystery here. It only grows with time and people are speculating and there are -- there is so little that people really know.

Now there are a couple of things that I think are true. First of all this began not as somebody launching a smear campaign that it actually -- when the story comes out I'm quite confident we're going to find out that it started kind of as gossip, as chatter and that somebody learned that Joe Wilson's wife had worked at the CIA and helped him get this job going to Niger to see if there was an Iraq/Niger uranium deal.

And, there's a lot of innocent actions in all of this but what has happened this prosecutor, I mean I used to call Mike Isikoff when he worked at the "Washington Post" the junkyard dog. Well this is a junkyard dog prosecutor and he goes everywhere and asks every question and turns over rocks and rocks under rocks and so forth.

KING: And doesn't leak.

WOODWARD: And it doesn't leak and I think it's quite possible that though probably unlikely that he will say, you know, there was no malice or criminal intent at the start of this. Some people kind of had convenient memories before the grand jury. Technically they might be able to be charged with perjury.

But I don't see an underlying crime here and the absence of the underlying crime may cause somebody who is a really thoughtful prosecutor to say, you know, maybe this is not one to go to the court with.

KING: You're saying this is a maybe.

WOODWARD: A maybe, only a maybe.

KING: David Gergen?

GERGEN: I don't know, Larry, either. To me the most important question is whether Karl Rove will be indicted. He's the president's right arm, as we all know, and the president is in a deep hole and it's very hard to climb out of a hole without your right arm. And so, I think that's what we need to know.

I saw Karl Rove by chance today in Washington and he seemed very chipper, focused, remarkably, I thought gutsy but he certainly conveyed the idea that he didn't know. He had no idea which way this was going to go.

After that if it's only Scooter Libby I think the White House politically escapes with a lot less damage if Karl Rove is not indicted and if it's only Scooter Libby.

If it were Scooter Libby, plus two or three others in the vice president's office that's going to cause a lot of problems for the White House because it's going to surround the vice president with lots and lots of questions for the remainder of the term and that is very damaging. So, I think we've got a range of possibilities. And Bob Woodward is absolutely right. There may be no indictments.

KING: Senator Graham what do you hear?

GRAHAM: It's not a good time for my president or my party and I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow but we'll get through it. Losing Karl Rove, if that happens, would be a blow to this president because Karl Rove is an instrumental figure in the success of the president. I think Bob is very much right. If it was who is Joe Wilson and why is he saying these things is a different story than let's go get Joe Wilson and destroy his life. I think it will be perceived as different.

And let me tell you this. If it's a violation of the Espionage Act everybody at this table is in trouble because the rules of the game have changed in this town because we talk a lot to each other off the record, on the record and background.

If it's a technical violation of the law that would I don't think serve the country well. If it's perjury, well then, you know, I've been pretty consistent. You can't do that.

KING: Senator Dodd?

DODD: Well, I don't know that it's going to meet the standards of complying with any of the criteria under the '82 law. That law is not well crafted in my view. It was a -- you could drive a Mack truck through it on the intent issue and so I'm not sure that the prosecutor is going to be able to -- I think Bob may be right, it may be hard legally.

But I don't think this was idle stuff. I mean there's a pattern of behavior here going back in those days. There's people like Richard Clarke and others. The administration took it very seriously. This wasn't some U.N. arms inspector.

This was a highly respected diplomat who was chosen to go over to determine whether or not there was any program between Niger and Iraq on nuclear weapons. He could, if he was credible he could blow a hole in the very argument the administration was making on why we ought to go to war. This is about Iraq.

It's not just a question -- this isn't about Joe Wilson (INAUDIBLE). That's a minor side to it. It's almost like Frank Wilson on the Watergate story, Bob. Frank Wilson is a minor figure in all of this.

WOODWARD: Frank Willis.

DODD: Willis.

WOODWARD: Yes.

DODD: The policeman who found the tapes on the door.

WOODWARD: Right.

DODD: I'm not suggesting Joe Wilson is quite in that category but close to it. But for the Iraq story this story is a minor section B story in Washington. The Iraq story is the story. That's what was going on here.

WOODWARD: I agree but there is some factual problems here. When Wilson went to Niger before all this blew up, in fact before there was a war, he came back and reported and Michael and others who have read the Senate Intelligence Committee on this know his report was very ambiguous.

In fact, most of the analysts at the CIA said that Wilson's findings when he went to Niger supported the conclusion that there was some deal with Iraq. Now that's, I mean the Democrats -- the Democrats and the Republicans all signed that report. That is a fact. And, you know, there are other facts and speculation.

DODD: That report didn't go into all of that. The report was about other issues. I mean...

WOODWARD: No, but it did. I've got it in my pocket. I'll read it if you want.

DODD: (INAUDIBLE) the mood here was to sell this and we now know because it was false. The information was false and to suggest that there weren't weapons of mass destruction on the nuclear program there was going to be a major blow to that argument. It's a very important issue.

KING: You walk around with this in your pocket?

WOODWARD: Yes, yes, I do because I knew I might be challenged.

ISIKOFF: Actually, we don't know exactly what Joe Wilson said when he came back because he didn't actually write a written report. You know it was an oral debriefing so you have CIA analysts who might have interpreted it in different ways.

But, the point -- there's a lot here we don't know but there's some that we've learned in recent weeks that does suggest that they really were out to get Wilson or criticize him or tear him down a bit.

If you read Judy Miller's account of her conversations with Scooter Libby, she talks about how angry Libby was about what Wilson was saying publicly and perhaps for understandable reasons. He was challenging the nuclear claim made by the vice president, which was central to the argument, the case for war, the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud.

That was the dramatic metaphor that helped the administration sell the war in Iraq and here was, you know the first internal critic or somebody who had been working for the CIA to come out and challenge that. And so there was a pushback. Whether it rose to the level of criminality we simply don't know. The evidence is (INAUDIBLE).

KING: I got to get a break in. We'll pick right up with more. We'll also include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back in Washington. Let's remeet the panel.

Bob Woodward, editor and Pulitzer prize winning journalist of the "Washington Post." He's number one New York Times best-selling author as well. And most recent book "The Secret Man."

David Gergen in Boston. The White House adviser to several presidents. Editor-at-large, "U.S. News and World Report."

In Washington, Michael Isikoff, the famed investigative journalist for "Newsweek."

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, member of Judiciary Committee.

And Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, ranking member of Rules and Administration Committee on a member of Foreign Relations.

Poll just in, we polled 512 adult, CNN, USA Today and Gallup poll about Harriet Miers' removal. 42 percent, pleased, 35 percent disappointed, 23 percent with no opinion.

Back to the conversation. We'll be taking your calls in a little white. Senator Graham?

GRAHAM: Well, I'm at 35 percent is disappointed. I thought she was a great role model for women lawyers. But back to the last topic. One, I've enjoyed the show. Let's don't rewrite history. The fact is that every intelligence agency in the world thought he had a program of weapons of mass destruction in various degrees, and they were all apparently wrong.

But the Joe Wilson article was not why we went to war. His attack on the Niger yellow cake. I really do believe people were trying to rebut the idea he was sent there by the vice president and maybe this thing got out of hand.

KING: Bob, is the war turning? Are people turning -- is this about the war?

WOODWARD: Yes, yes, it is. And I've been able to travel a little bit. And I'm trying to do a book on the Bush second term. And I think it's going to be a multivolume of work. Because...

KING: Changing daily.

WOODWARD: There is much here. But one thing's very clear, emotionally, the war in Iraq is at the center of where the country is. Not Valerie Plame, not the Supreme Court, because you go out into the country and the senators know this, and there are people everywhere who have family member, sons, daughters, who were there, some -- and people are on edge about this. And let's face it, the defining decision that George W. Bush made as president is to start that war.

KING: Senator Dodd, you were just in Iraq.

DODD: I was. And it's -- first of all, great respect about from the young pilots to the E1s, E2s, they're terrific. The senior officials are very impressed with our senior military commanders there. But I think there's a lot of work to be done here. This is not going well. You had a situation the other day where people got lost for five minutes. It wasn't a planned assault on them. They were brutally murdered by people in the street.

We're not as welcomed in Iraq as some people want to believe. They've got a huge division between the Shi'as and the Sunnis. We've got some really serious questions. The cost has been phenomenal. We're hollowing out our military. The National Guard in this country is desperately lacking in equipment because of the expenditure.

This -- we need a course correction here. Ought to be some discussion about it. We had the secretary of state appear for the first time since her confirmation hearing since February before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. There is no oversight going on at all here. In fact, very few of my Republican colleagues in the Foreign Relations even showed up for the hearing. Which is an indication to me that they are uneasy about this as well.

KING: And you are saying that will not change no matter what happens tomorrow?

DODD: Well, it could. Again, I think again here, because what's going on here is when you end up with Washington, whether it's in the House or the Senate or the White House, preoccupied with itself, because of its own internal problems. Then matters like Harriet Miers, Iraq, health care, energy costs all take a secondary position, because you're preoccupied whether or not you're going to survive. And I think there's a preoccupation in the House, and the Senate and the White House with their all individual futures and all these other issues seems to be sitting in limbo right now. That's dangerous from the country.

KING: Davis, if people are going to be indicted tomorrow, do you think they will know tonight? Is sometimes warning given, told by the prosecutor

GERGEN: Absolutely. Yes, letters should have gone out. They should know more tonight than they do this afternoon. And certainly the judge -- I guess we all know tomorrow.

But Larry, I want to come back to this. I think if there are indictments, it's going to have an enormous impact on the war. Because if there are indictments it will not only be people have close to the president, the vice president of the United States, but they will raise questions about whether -- criminal acts were perpetrated to help get the country into war.

In other words, were -- were dissenters quelched by criminal means in the leadup to you war? And this is going to revive all of those arguments. And we're going to have trials of people inside of White House of who said what to whom in the build-up to the war. It's going to put the whole build-up of the war on trial.

And so I think this has enormous ramifications for trying to maintain public support for a war.

WOODWARD: I think factually, David, I'm sorry. I don't know how this is about the build-up to the war, the Valerie Plame-Wilson issue.

GERGEN: You don't think they're going after -- Bob?

WOODWARD: Yes.

GERGEN: This may have started as gossip. And I totally agree with that. But I also believe that Michael Isikoff is right, whatever started out as gossip turned out to be an effort to discredit Joe Wilson over that article in the "New York Times" and other things he was saying.

WOODWARD: That's right. And after the war was launched.

GERGEN: Right.

WOODWARD: So it's not about the build-up, I don't think.

GERGEN: But it goes back into the arguments that were used to get us into war with. And just to pursue that, I see no evidence that Karl Rove broke any law in what we know so far. I just don't see it. But whether he committed perjury or not, if it opens a floodgate to a trial about the war itself, in effect, and a lot people put on the stand who have to testify, that is a real mess to have on your hands in the midst of trying to maintain support in a delicate time of war.

WOODWARD: Oh, clearly, clearly.

KING: Michael Isikoff, do you have a thought on this little dispute?

ISIKOFF: Well, just to underscore that we don't know exactly what evidence Pat Fitzgerald has. I think if you look at what the available -- the evidence we know for certain, it's hard to know exactly what the criminal case is.

You know, Intelligence Identities Protection Act, it requires a knowledge that she was a covert agent and then a deliberate attempt to leak it to somebody, to out her. We don't know. There's not enough evidence to conclude that happened.

In which case you could say he's not going to bring a case at all except that except that Patrick Fitzgerald is a serious prosecutor. He knows what's a criminal case, and what's not a criminal case. And he's been at this for two years. He's dragged Karl Rove before the grand jury four times. He put Judy Miller jail for 85 days. It's hard for me to imagine that a seasoned prosecutor would do that if he didn't believe that underlying it all, there was a serious federal crime. And if it turns out he doesn't have it, I think he's got a lot of explaining to do.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll be right back, include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: More of the same tomorrow night, no matter what happens. I think everybody's back tomorrow.

Elk River, Minnesota, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I'd like to ask for an explanations, with President Bush down in the polls now, why doesn't he take this opportunity to reach out to the majority of people in mainstream America, instead of trying to repeatedly appeal to this far right base? Thank you.

KING: Have a thought on that, Bob?

WOODWARD: I guess in terms of a Supreme Court nominee, he may do that. Who knows. I mean, there is -- no one has really any clue on that. I think this closed very fast for the White House in the last couple of days, where Harriet Miers withdrew. So they're back at square one.

KING: Who is mainstream America?

GRAHAM: Mainstream America is the people you like, and the people you don't like are not mainstream America. But, what did Clinton do when he had two picks...

DODD: People who like you, that's the main thing.

GRAHAM: That's right. My good buddy over here, he's in the mainstream.

What did Clinton do when he had two picks? The picked the general counsel of the ACLU. She got 96 votes. He picked a former Democratic staffer in Justice Breyer. He got 87, 88 votes. What did we do? We picked Scalia. He got 98 votes. Roberts, maybe the best of the bunch, got 78. What's going on in America is the special interest groups are beginning to erode the independence of the Senate.

So when he picks, I hope he will fulfill his campaign promise, which was, I am going to send a solid, strict constructionist to the court. He did it with Roberts. Expect it again, because we're not going to nullify an election here.

KING: Have you changed your mind about Judy Miller?

WOODWARD: About Judy Miller and what? I mean, she...

KING: You defended her strongly on this show?

WOODWARD: Yeah, because I thought she was defending the principle. She's being criticized. Her newspaper's turned against her. I'm for the underdog, so she's really the underdog, and I think we are going to find out. There are so many facts in all of this we don't know that it will go up and down.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Is it possible that Harriet Miers' withdrawal could benefit President Bush? Because if officials in the White House are indicted and the case goes to trial, the president may have to answer some tough questions, and he may need the council of Ms. Miers?

KING: What do you -- interesting point. Counsel is counsel.

ISIKOFF: Well, I mean, Harriet Miers was his personal attorney before he was elected president. He's obviously relied a great deal on her advice while he's president. But, look, the president has a lot of legal advisers he can turn to in a situation like this. So I don't know that anyone would be indispensable.

KING: David Gergen, you've worked in four White Houses, right?

GERGEN: Right.

WOODWARD: So far.

KING: OK. Before they call you tomorrow...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: What is going on tonight on Pennsylvania Avenue?

GERGEN: Oh, golly. It's gut-check time there, Larry. This is the time -- you just don't know what's going to happen. The worst feeling in the White House is when your fate is in the hands of someone else, especially someone who you think may be out to get you. You know, if you think this is a junkyard prosecutor who's going to leave no stone unturned, that spreads fear in the White House.

Because what this White House in particular likes to do is to be in control. They like -- their discipline comes from a desire to control. That can sometimes get you into trouble if you go too far. You can discredit somebody, perhaps go over the line of the law. We will have to wait and see.

But I can tell you what brought down Richard Nixon in part, was an excessive desire to control the environment. Bob Woodward knows this better than anybody else. And the Nixon people, and I'm sure the Bush people, just hate it, they hate it when you're in a situation when your political fate, and maybe even your personal fate, is beyond your control. It's just a very uncomfortable position.

KING: Are they all talking to each other?

WOODWARD: I don't know. I think they have to worry about a new conspiracy. So that forces them to not talk to each other in many cases. And I think there are a lot of people passing in the halls of the White House, not speaking to each other, not because -- but because they're angry.

KING: That must be strange, Michael?

ISIKOFF: Sure. And I think that you can argue that the president was -- may have been ill-served by the legal advice he got early on, to treat this exactly that way, don't ask any questions, so we can't be accused of conspiring. But as a result, he didn't do what he could have done from the very beginning, which says, this is a distraction, I want to know exactly what happened right now. If somebody did something wrong, I will fire them, or punish them. You know, come in, tell me exactly what you did. They were so fearful that, if they did that, that they could be accused somehow of covering up or of conspiring, that they let it drag -- that it has dragged on for two years, and now we're at D-Day, one day away from, you know, a decision made by Pat Fitzgerald that is going to determine their fate.

KING: When we come back, I will ask our distinguished panel, why does something always happen in the second term? Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. All right, Lindsey Graham, what happens in second terms?

GRAHAM: I don't know. Never been...

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: I don't know. Just sometimes, things just don't go as well as they should.

What's happened here is we're defined by the war. Tomorrow will be a dramatic, traumatic day maybe for individuals. But the country will survive. But the Republican Party's fate is tied to the outcome of this war. And if you want to get Republicans excited about Republicans being in charge in Washington, Larry -- Supreme Court picks are important, but controlling spending, that's what I hear everywhere. So I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.

KING: Senator Dodd, why do second terms go awry?

DODD: Term limits for president, in my view. They let down their guard. They relax. They're never going to face the electorate again. I don't have to be worried about necessarily listening to people as carefully as I should. People begin to think about what they are going to do a few months from now.

I think that same intensity that a White House staff and a president brings to the first term drops on election night. And I think that pattern is shown over and over again in the White Houses. I think term limits to presidents, which I've always opposed. I think it's ridiculous as an idea. We haven't had anymore than Roosevelt who did two terms. It was Republicans who insisted on term limiting the presidents back in the early 1950s, early 1950s. I think that's the major reason why, they get too relaxed.

KING: Bob Woodward?

WOODWARD: I think a lot of people are tired. And I think they have good reason to be tired to the point of exhaustion. And Senator Graham's quite right, I mean the war is not only out in the country, it's in the White House. It's in the national security counsel. The president knows this is his decision. It is on his head. And the negative turn of events has taken its toll.

And also I agree with David Gergen on one thing, that a lot of this Plame investigation, CIA leak investigation, has to do with control. This White House loves to control everything. And before it was a criminal investigation, it was kind of just a standard media problem.

And Michael Isikoff's right, it was about criticizing, tearing down somebody. And then you get before a grand jury. And it's like Clinton. There's something you did that maybe is embarrassing, but not illegal. So you conveniently don't remember it. And that leads to all of the potential perjury problems.

ISIKOFF: I would say that it's worth remembering that each of the major second-term scandals, Watergate, Iran/Contra, Clinton had its roots in the first term. They all begin in the first term. They all just get discovered in second term, and that's when the chickens come home to roost.

KING: And David, do you have a thought?

GERGEN: Well, I think burnout is a big, big issue. Jimmy Becker was Reagan's first chief of staff, in my judgment the best chief of staff in the last few decades. I always believed his job and several others were burn out after a couple of years, four years was absolutely the limit. And so fresh blood is -- I think this White House would have benefited from more flesh blood.

Right now, they've got a bunker mentality, frankly. And I think they a little in denial of facing reality. They have got to get over that to move on.

But the other thing -- and Michael Isikoff is right, in this particular case, also paying a price for some decision-making about the Iraq war way back in the first term, especially on trying to secure the peace. In fact, the failure to put more troops early on has come back it haunt them in the second term.

KING: We'll take a break, and come back with some more moments. And get another call or two this. I'll be in New York tomorrow, but most of this panel if not all will reassemble and we'll discuss the events of tomorrow. Today, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That's the White House right now. The lights are on. And I get the impression that some people are up.

Charleston, West Virginia. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I would like to ask your esteemed panel, if even if indictments are not brought tomorrow, should there still be a discussion about whether or not we should have gone to war based on the intelligence, about the Saddam having nuclear weapons?

KING: Senator Dodd, should the discussion continue? DODD: Well, I think it's worth while. Obviously it's important to go back and examine those issues. I think most of us believe we ought to be trying to figure out how to this thing to closure and achieve the desired results. We all want this to work. I think most people do. They would love to see Iraq get on its feet, become stable so our troops can come home. And that's the important part of this debate, where do we go from here?

And that's a troublesome issue, because the answer the president gives is, we'll stand down when they stand up. We're going stay there, however long that takes. That's not a very good answer to the American public. Not that they are looking for a date certain. But they want a better answer that than that. That kind of commitment over many, many years to come.

We're spending $6 billion every month. We've lost 2000 troops, another 14,000 have permanent scars and injuries as a result of this conflict. They need a better answer for why their children, fathers, daughters suffered the way they have and will continue, than just stand there as long as they can stay on their own. That debate has to occur.

KING: And now the impossible question. Start with Mr. Gergen, what's going to happen tomorrow?

GERGEN: What's going to -- I don't know. I think we're -- I think it's anywhere from 0 to 5 indictments.

KING: 0 to 5?

GERGEN: 0 to 5.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: A little latitude there.

GERGEN: Plus or minus four.

KING: With that answer, you cannot be wrong.

GERGEN: I hope not. Who the hell knows?

WOODWARD: I think one of the things that's fact that hasn't come out is we talk about...

KING: Uh-oh, here it comes!

WOODWARD: No, no. And this is not even a firecracker, but it's true. They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment.

So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldridge James or Bob Hanson, big spies. This didn't cause damage. KING: You're saying tomorrow nothing?

WOODWARD: I don't know. I mean, I don't think anyone knows, even Gergen could be wrong.

GERGEN: Only the shadow knows.

KING: Michael?

ISIKOFF: I don't know either. I do think that Fitzgerald will...

KING: You're a distinguished panel, know something.

ISIKOFF: I think Fitzgerald's going to announce something tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow afternoon, yes.

KING: Not in the morning?

ISIKOFF: Yes, afternoon. And he'll do it himself. You know...

KING: It'll be his announcement.

Senator Graham?

GRAHAM: I don't know who's involved or what they will be charged with, but if it's a technical violation of the espionage act, then the culture of this town has changed. I hope it's not that.

KING: Senator Dodd?

DODD: I think at least one. I think at least one indictment. Possibly two, but at least one. I agree with Michael. I don't think went through all of this. I think -- conviction's going to be hard, but I think there's enough there to -- that warrant's go forward. So I think we're going to have at least one.

KING: Where will the announcement be made?

ISIKOFF: I don't know. We're waiting.

KING: He's in Chicago, right?

ISIKOFF: He said -- or his office said he's going to make it here in Washington. And that's the first thing. I'm going to be wanting to find out tomorrow morning.

WOODWARD: I mean, he's covered it. He most likely is right but I think -- and you know, again, these are human beings. And what distresses me, is you know, so and so might be indicted, so and so is facing...

(CROSSTALK)

DODD: This president's father said, look, this is the most hideous form of treason. Trying -- damage control to mention publicly to a reporter the name of an overt or covert agent is terrible business.

WOODWARD: And it is not yet proven. I think Michael would agree...

(CROSSTALK)

DODD: They did it. Whether or not they were legally criminal...

KING: No time.

Thank you all very much.

And we'll reassemble. Tomorrow, I'll be in New York, but most of the panel -- I think the panel will be back. And one or two additions.

And right now, let's check with New York. Anderson Cooper has another night off, so once again our prince Aaron Brown, the host of "NEWSNIGHT," carries on -- Mr. Brown.

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