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THE SITUATION ROOM

Alito Hearings Reach Emotional Fever Pitch;

Aired January 11, 2006 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.
Happening now, a wife's anguish after a long day of watching her husband being grilled. It's 7:00 pm here in Washington, where Samuel Alito's wife left his confirmation hearing in tears. On day three, the Supreme Court fight gets emotional.

Look who also vented during the hearings, Senator Kennedy and Specter trade angry words. We'll tell you what led to the sparring and whether it ended with scowls or smiles.

Also this hour, another heartbreaking revelation after the tragedy at the Sago mine in West Virginia. There's new evidence unfolding, right now, that the miners who died may have been a breath away from surviving.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

If senators were hoping for some drama in the final hours of the Alito hearings, they got it, but not the kind they might have been expecting. Alito's wife, Martha Ann, broke down in tears and had to leave the hearing room, in a showing that we've seen ever perhaps at a Supreme Court confirmation battle.

Surprisingly it happened during questioning by a Republican who supports Alito's nomination, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Listen to this and watch Mrs. Alito as she sits behind her husband.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Are you really a closet bigot?

JUDGE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I'm not any kind of a bigot.

GRAHAM: No, sir, you're not. You know why I believe that? Not just because you said it, but that's a good enough reason, because you seem to be a decent, honorable man.

I've got reams of quotes from people who have worked with you, African-American judges. I've lost my quotes. Did I check on bottom. I don't know where they're at, but glowing quotes about who you are, the way you've lived your life, law clerks, men and women, black and white. Your colleagues, who say that Sam Alito, whether I agree with him or not, is a really good man.

And you know why I believe you when you say that you disavow those quotes? Because the way you have lived your life and the way you and your wife are raising your children. Let me tell you this, guilt by association is going to drive good men and women away from wanting to sit where you're sitting. And we're going to go through this ourselves as congressmen and senators.

People are going to take the fact that we got a campaign donation from somebody who is found out to be a little different than we thought they were; and our political opponent is going to say, aha, I got you. And we're going to say, wait a minute. I didn't know that. I didn't take the money for that reason. You know what? I'm going to believe these senators and congressmen for the most part. That's the way we do our business. We meet people here every day.

We have photos taken with people, and sometimes you wish you didn't have your photo taken, but that doesn't mean that you're a bad person because of that association.

Judge Alito, I am sorry that you've had to go through this. I am sorry that your family has had to sit here and listen to this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was Rachel Brown, the assistant attorney general, sitting also behind Samuel Alito urging Mrs. Alito, perhaps, to take a break. She did go to a holding room outside the hearing.

There was another show of emotion earlier in the hearing. The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, openly sparred. It all started when Senator Kennedy asked the committee to subpoena records of a Princeton alumni group that's been a source of lots of controversy during the questioning. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: My request is that we go into the executive session for the sole purpose of voting on a subpoena for these records that are held over at the Library of Congress, that purpose and that purpose only. If I'm going to be denied that I would want to give notice to the chair that you're going to have it again and again and again, and we're going to have votes of this committee again and again and again until we have a resolution.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Senator Kennedy, I'm not concerned about your threats to have votes again and again and again. And I'm the chairman of this committee and I have heard your request and I will consider it. I'm not going to have you run this committee and decide when we're going to go into executive session.

We're in the middle of a round of hearings. This is the first time you have personally called it to my attention, and this is the first time that I have focused on it. And I will consider it in due course. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit more about both these surprising scenes in the hearing room. Our Congressional Correspondent Ed Henry, standing by.

Ed, first of all, Mrs. Alito leaving the room in tears. I know you've been doing a lot of checking. Give our viewers a sense of what happened.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's so fascinating, as you know, so much of this is political theater, scripted speeches on both sides, this was totally unscripted, obviously, and just raw emotion, so rare to see that at a hearing like this.

Secondly, what I found interesting is that Judge Alito, as you watch that, he was just taking it all in and had no idea what was going on behind him. In fact, I confirmed that later. I waited for him during a break. He came out through the back door of the committee room, headed to an office that Vice President Cheney keeps here on the Hill to go find his wife. He told me he had no idea what had happened. He went in, comforted her, and he came out. He was very stoic.

In fact, I spoke first to Mrs. Alito. She said I'm good now. And then Judge Alito said, quote, "We're not used to what we've been through, but she's fine."

But I can tell you, that Alito advisers and people close to the White House are not quite as stoic. They're furious. They are telling us they feel the Democrats were just hitting below the belt today, and that's why she got upset.

BLITZER: And on this other surprising development, this very testy exchange between Senator Kennedy and Senator Specter, normally they're very collegial in the U.S. Senate. It's a gentleman's club, if you will. How fast this resolved?

HENRY: I think what is really going on here, is that a lot of liberal interest groups are a little bit frustrated right now. They don't feel the Democrats have really scored very much. They were expecting potentially a filibuster that maybe the Democratic senators would lay the groundwork here, and really make a case against Judge Alito. Instead, they've seen Judge Alito really emerge unscathed.

So there was a lot of frustration. You saw that bubbling over. Kennedy was trying to get at him, but he really -- at the end of the day, Specter really sort of, you know, unfoiled the whole thing by sending some staffers over to get the documents Kennedy wanted, anyway. And Republicans say there's really not much there, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Ed Henry, thank you very much. We'll have much more on the Alito hearings coming up this hour, including my interview with Senator Joe Biden. We'll also speak with a top adviser to the president and the vice president and the White House. We'll move on to other news that we're watching right now. Including President Bush defending his Iraq policy for the second day running, and trying to limit the election-year fallout for fellow Republicans.

The president delivered his message on this day in Kentucky. He's back at the White House tonight. Let's go to our White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, Kentucky is important, because it's home to a significant congressional race. It really is a test case, if you will, to see if the Democratic national strategy is going to work. That is to put a disgruntled veteran up against a Republican incumbent.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know a lot of people want our troops to come home. I do, too. But I don't want them to come home without achieving the victory.

MALVEAUX (voice over): President Bush, same message, different venue.

BUSH: Whether you agree with me or not, they're not going to shake my will. We're doing the right thing.

MALVEAUX: That pitch is at the heart of Mr. Bush's strategy to sell the war on terror.

BUSH: You can ask me anything you want.

MALVEAUX: In a forum reminiscent of the 2004 campaign, Mr. Bush took questions from a friendly pre-screened audience in Louisville, Kentucky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can we get the positive things that are happening in Iraq -- how can we get everybody to know what's happening out there?

MALVEAUX: How the debate over the Iraq war will play in Congress' mid-term elections in November is still uncertain. The president is already lending his support to potentially vulnerable Republicans.

Louisville, Kentucky, is home to five-term Congresswoman Anne Northup. She is being challenged by a little-known political novice, Democrat Andrew Horne. Horne is a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, who served in the Persian Gulf and Iraq wars, who has become an outspoken critic of the president's Iraq policy.

LT. COL. ANDREW HORNE, (D) KENTUCKY CONG. CANDIDATE: Ignoring the advice of the military, not looking out for their constituents, those kind of issues. MALVEAUX: Democrats are hoping the public's discontent over Iraq will propel Horne into office.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, this is the kind of discontent we're talking about. The latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll showing that many Americans are pessimistic about Iraq's future; 75 percent say they do not believe that a stable government will emerge there without U.S. help within the next 12 months.

And then, also this poll showing that the majority of Americans, some 52 percent, still believe that going to war with Iraq essentially wasn't worth it -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Thank you, Suzanne.

Let's go to CNN's Zain Verjee now at the CNN Center in Atlanta for a closer look at some other stories making news.

Hi, Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. Police in San Francisco are holding a suspect they think planted a bomb at Starbucks bathroom on Monday. They say they recognized the man from a surveillance video. They believe he acted alone. Police diffused the bomb and they say it was powerful enough to kill, had it gone off.

"The Washington Post" reports that the former mayor of Washington, D.C. flunked a court-ordered drug test. "The Post" says Marion Barry tested positive for cocaine. Barry is now a member of the D.C. Council. Barry served four terms as mayor and six months in jail for cocaine use back in 1991. "The Post" says that after flunking the test, Barry entered drug treatment.

At the Las Vegas casino, once known as The Showboat, one last spectacular show. Look at this. This is 185 pounds of explosives that literally brought the house down in something like 18 seconds. The owners of the 50-year-old casino, known in its last days as The Castaways, haven't announced plans for the site. The company that demolished the building has also brought down several other casinos.

And, Wolf, in Shelbyville, Tennessee, a driver led police on a low-speed chase. He crossed double yellow line into oncoming traffic, and then he weaved in and out, and came back. He hit a utility pole as well.

It wasn't until police followed him home that they discovered they had been chasing a seven -- yes, a seven-year-old boy. Police say he's really lucky he wasn't killed. When they asked him why he did it, Wolf, he said I just wanted my driver's license nine years too early. Police thought they were chasing a drunk driver.

Back to you and the ever witty and charming Jack Cafferty.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Zain. That's an amazing story.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I have a question for Zain.

VERJEE: I have the answer. I have the answer. Go on.

CAFFERTY: Did your parents ever spank you when you were a kid?

VERJEE: Wolf, back to you.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: No, the question is not for Wolf. I don't care whether Wolf got spanked. I'm interested in whether you did.

VERJEE: I speak no English.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: Well, the prime minister of England, Tony Blair, admitted today that he smacked his older children, but he stopped when it came to his youngest son. The comment came out during a TV interview with the BBC. Experts say that Blair's comments reflect the way the society has changed. They say there's a downward trend in parents hitting their kids.

His admission sparked a debate on both sides of the issue. One side says kids need to be protected against all forms of physical discipline. The other side defends a parent's right to hit their child, saying, we all learn with a little bit of pain.

That's why I come here every day. Here is the question. Is it ever appropriate to hit your child? E-mail us at caffertyfile@cnn.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. We'll be expecting a response from Zain Verjee in response to the question I asked her as well. And I'll read it to you a little later.

BLITZER: Thank you. We'll be anxious to hear it, Jack.

Zain was such a good kid, she didn't need spanked, or anything else.

Coming up, SCI/DNA, was an innocent man put to death right here in the United States? Virginia's governor going high tech to try to find out. We're on the case, as well.

Plus, inside the Sago mine. What really happened below ground in West Virginia? We have the story.

Plus, big business goes green. Find out how wind power is fueling a Fortune 500 company and could change the way you light up. All that, coming up.

You're here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN HATFIELD, PRES. & CEO, INT'L. COAL GROUP: Impacted some sort of a blockage, probably a piece of debris, that was in the middle of the track, that stopped that equipment from moving forward.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At that point, says Ben Hatfield, miners got off the vehicle, put on their oxygen masks, and tried to find another way out. A short time later, they barricaded themselves. But CNN is told by sources involved in the investigation, there was a separate oxygen tank near the miners that could have given them more air than the portable units they carried.

A company official wouldn't comment on that. And it's not clear how much oxygen was in that tank. People involved in the rescue efforts, and one miner who escaped tells CNN they understand why the trapped miners couldn't find the tank or fresh air that was nearby.

OWEN JONES, SURVIVED SAGO MINE BLAST: When I opened my eyes, you could not see nothing. Just dust. It was so dark, with your light looking down at the ground, you couldn't see the ground hardly.

TODD: CNN has already learned rescue teams deep inside the mine had to relay information using at least three two-way radios, which could explain the tragic communications breakdown.

Ben Hatfield says at certain points, it got even worse.

HATFIELD: They had fully extended their wireless communications system, the fateful evening when we found the barricade, even to the point they were having to shout from man to man what was ahead.

TODD: Hatfield also addressed newly released federal documents on previous safety violations at Sago, including buildups of coal dust, other combustible materials, other hazards near the area of the explosion. And one allegation that the company showed, quote, "a high degree of negligence for the safety of the miners".

Hatfield says his company is contesting some of those findings, has worked to correct many of the violations, and says federal officials wouldn't have let the mine stay open if they didn't think it was safe -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. What a story. Thank you very much, Brian, for that.

Still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM, did the state of Virginia execute an innocent man? More than a decade after his death, DNA evidence may now clear his name. We're on this story.

Plus, the nominee's wife in tears. We'll show you the questions that took an emotional toll on Samuel Alito's wife during the confirmation hearings. All that, and more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. In our "Strategy Session", more on the confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito. Amid all the testimony, there were tears and testy exchanges, as you saw at the top of this program.

One centered on Judge Alito's membership at a controversial Princeton alumni group. Just a short while ago, I talked about that to CNN Political Analyst Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist, and with Terry Jeffrey, editor of the conservative periodical, "Human Events".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Terry, you went to Princeton University around this time. First of all, were you a member of this organization?

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": No, I was not a member. Actually I graduated in 1981. So, it would have been nine years after Judge Alito. But no, I was not a member.

BLITZER: But that was four years before he listed Concerned Alumni of Princeton on his job application.

JEFFREY: First of all, Wolf, I don't want to accept Teddy Kennedy's characterization of what Concerned Alumni of Princeton was all about. I wouldn't take it on his word, I would want to look at what they actually have said. I'd want to see the quotes in context. Senator Kennedy had a little snippet from an article. I would want to see the whole article.

But I'll tell you what I think a lot of conservatives around the country right now are finding ludicrous. You have this guy who was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth. He probably wouldn't have been half what he has been in his life if it weren't for his family's wealth and connections.

He has gone after this Italian guy, from a hard-working family, on the east side of Trenton, who worked his way up through Princeton and Yale Law School. Not only that, this is a guy who could have gone out into private practice of law and made more than a million dollars a year, instead he has dedicated his entire life to public service.

At Princeton, we have a motto, they tell you the first day you get there as a freshman. Princeton and the nation serves. It comes from a speech that Woodrow Wilson gave at the sesquicentennial celebration at Princeton in 1896.

No one that I've seen as a Princeton alumnus, in public policy life has been more a person who dedicated his life to the nation's service than this judge, who could have gone, as I said, into private practice, and been a multi-millionaire -- every day of his life, after Yale Law School, dedicated to the pursuit of justice, in the law, for his country.

BLITZER: Well, he makes a good case for Samuel Alito's confirmation.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And dedicated to keeping blacks and women out of Princeton. Now, Terry didn't join that group. He's conservative. He's probably more conservative than Judge Alito. Why?

Because you don't want keep blacks and women out of your colleges, Terry!

(CROSS TALK)

BEGALA: It's a reactionary right-wing, white male organization that wanted to keep this elite private academy a private playground of elite white men.

And I think that it is an important issue. I thought, frankly, that the judge did not handle it well. First, he said he didn't remember. Then he said, it was about the ROTC, which is preposterous.

If I can step back from it, though, and get to the strategy of this, Wolf. I talked to a senior member of the committee, before these hearings began, about the strategy that the Democrats have here. And what this person told me is, they understand the very strong likelihood that they will lose. Republicans have the majority.

But what they want to do, if they can't win, show the country what Democrats stand for. That's an important thing. Half the voters in America are women. A sizable percentage are African-American and other racial minorities, and are being told there are some Republicans, like Judge Alito, who haven't always supported full, equal rights for them. And Democrats will fight for those equal rights. That's an important distinction.

BLITZER: Did this group, Concerned Alumni for Princeton, want to prevent women, prevent Princeton from being coeducational, prevent minorities from getting special treatment, to be admitted into Princeton?

JEFFREY: I kind of doubt that. I don't know the facts, Wolf. I would guess they would might been against affirmative action. I can't believe they would be against coeducation.

I did see a statement that someone sent me this morning, that was made by Judge Andrew Napolitano, who was a classmate of Judge Alito, a very good friend of his, who was actually an officer of Concerned Alumni of Princeton during the '70s. He said what they did do, in fact, was work very hard to get the ROTC returned to the campus at Princeton. Which is why Judge Alito says he suspects he may have been a member.

Let me address something Paul said. Paul said, if I understood you correctly, that Judge Alito is someone in favor of discrimination against blacks and women at Princeton.

BEGALA: That's not what I said.

JEFFREY: I haven't seen any evidence of that, period. Not only that, when it was brought up yesterday, I believe, by Senator Kennedy and Judge Alito made a great joke, that he had never gone to an all- male school until he got to Princeton, and when he got there, he appreciated how much he liked coeducation. I can tell you as a male who went to Princeton, when there were a lot more men than women, I think it was probably about 100 percent of the men in Princeton, when I was there, wished there were more girls.

BEGALA: That may well be. And this should be sorted out. I didn't go there. I went to the University of Texas. By the way, it took the United States Supreme Court to integrate my law school, in a case in 1948 of Sweatt vs. Painter.

So these questions of integration often come to the Supreme Court. It may well be that Concerned Alumni of Princeton was just kind about the football team and nice things, but the allegation is out there.

JEFFREY: But is that what Judge Alito is about?

(CROSS TALK)

BEGALA: The allegation ...

JEFFREY: You don't believe this stuff? Do you believe he is a racist? Do you believe Judge Alito is a racist?

BEGALA: The allegation is that the group is racist.

JEFFREY: Do you believe Judge Alito is a racist?

BEGALA: I don't know. I didn't go to Princeton. I had never heard of this group until a few weeks ago.

JEFFREY: Do you believe that Judge Alito is a racist?

BEGALA: I didn't go to Princeton. I don't know anything about this...

JEFFREY: Do you believe he believes in discrimination against women? I'm asking you about Judge Alito.

BEGALA: Here's what I believe. I believe he is incredibly slippery.

JEFFREY: In your heart, Paul, believe that that man is a racist? In your heart, Paul Begala, do you believe that Judge Alito is a racist?

BEGALA: I believe he's being evasive, Terry. I think he's not telling us...

JEFFREY: Do you, in your heart, believe ...

BEGALA: I have never met the guy. It's not for me to judge.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY: Have you seen any hard evidence ...

BLITZER: Let me ask, presumably, some of this might or might not be cleared up if, in fact, Chairman Specter allows the subpoenaing of these documents, William Rusher's four boxes at the Library of Congress, publisher of "The National Review". All of the history, all of the records, financial records, all the minutes of the meetings, and the articles of this group, CAP, Concerned Alumni of Princeton.

Should the committee subpoena those documents from the Library of Congress and let Democrats and Republicans go through them -- or is this simply a fishing expedition designed to look for something that may or may not be there?

JEFFREY: I think is a side issue. I think it's a fishing expedition. It shows how desperate the Democrats are. Wolf, in the last Supreme Court we had decisions decided on the commerce clauses, the takings clause and the established clause, tremendously controversial, divided the country. Democrats aren't asking him anything about that. Why? Because they know they're on the wrong side of the country on those issues.

They're looking at anything they can cast on this man of great integrity and character. The ABA, by the way, examined these issues, said this was a man of the highest character. The Democrats --

(CROSS TALK)

BLITZER: We're going to go back, but go ahead, I'll give you the last word.

BEGALA: Well, here is the problem. The judge has not been giving straight answers. If he were to say, as say Senator Brownback does, and other principle Republicans as Terry Jeffrey does, on the abortion case, for example. I think Roe is wrong and should be overturned. There are millions of Americans who believe that. But he won't give us a straight answer on what is the most fundamental and controversial issue. He's not going to give us a straight answer on the commerce clause either. That's why they get into this personal stuff, like whether his alumni group was racist or not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And later, after that interview, Senator Specter announced they would go and get those documents from the Library of Congress. Senate staffers are now looking over them, right now.

Just ahead, more on the Samuel Alito nomination, confirmation hearings, driven to tears, questions of racism driving Judge Alito's wife out of the hearing room, in tears. Were senators out of bounds?

Senator Joe Biden is in THE SITUATION ROOM; he's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Samuel Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann, are gearing up for yet another day in the Senate hearing room tomorrow. The Supreme Court nominee was grilled extensively once again today about a wide range of topics. Mrs. Alito found some of it very painful to listen to and her response was painful for many Americans to watch. She began crying while her husband was being questioned by a Republican who supports his nomination, and, finally, she had to walk out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R, S.C.), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Are you really a closet bigot?

JUDGE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I'm not any kind of a bigot.

GRAHAM: No, sir, you're not. And you know why I believe that? Not because you just said it, but that's a good enough reason, because you seem to be a decent, honorable man. I've got reams of quotes from people who have worked with you, African-American judges, I've lost my quotes. I don't know where they're at, but glowing quotes about who you are, the way you've lived your life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're happy to report that, afterwards, after she went out to a holding room, briefly Mrs. Alito returned to the hearing room, composed and smiling. Mrs. Alito's emotional reaction, though, after a long day of questioning, wasn't lost on several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I spoke earlier with the leading Democrat on the panel, Joe Biden of Delaware.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Happy to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: You see -- I don't know if you heard that Mrs. Alito had to leave the hearing room during the course of questioning from Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, when he was citing all the criticisms, at one point saying, you are not a bigot, are you?

And the tears were simply coming down her cheek. And -- and, eventually, she simply had to get up and walk out and go into a holding room. She clearly couldn't take it anymore. That's a very poignant, sad moment.

BIDEN: Yes. No, I think it is.

You know, Wolf, you have been covering these hearings a lot, and I have been engaged in them over the many years. And, you know, there's got to be a better way here to give the American people their opportunity to find out what a nominee thinks, because they are entitled to know what they think.

This has sort become such a -- I have a feeling, if Alito was inclined to -- you know, or whether they told him go ahead and say what you think, I don't think anybody thinks he's a bigot. I think most people think that he -- and I didn't hear anybody say that, by the way. Nobody in the committee called him a bigot.

But I -- you know, people are trying to figure out, why would you say, you know, in a job application -- tell me what organization you belong to that would give me some insight into what you think, and he lists this outfit that was roundly criticized for a 12-year period.

My guess is, he probably did that because it helped the job application. He thought it would appeal to people who were, you know, the people who were going to hire him. But I don't know. But this -- this -- this situation doesn't allow him to just look at the senator and say, "Senator, you know, on reflection, I probably shouldn't have listed it. I, quite frankly, thought it would help me get the job because of the people who were doing the hiring, but you know what? I didn't know what they were doing. If I had known all that was going on, I wouldn't have been there."

But, instead, you know, he gives explanations which sort of stretch credulity. I mean, mean it's kind of hard. You know, you've been watching it.

BLITZER: But he says he doesn't remember anything about it, doesn't -- he assumes he was a member, since he listed it, but he has no recollection whatsoever, may have something to do with ROTC being banned from the Princeton campus early on, although, by then, it had come back. Are you suggesting -- you don't believe him, do you?

BIDEN: Well, no. I mean, look, it is kind of hard -- this is one of the brightest guys you are going to meet. This is a guy who really knows his way around. This is a guy who, as a member of the Princeton alumni, was getting letters from the president of the university disavowing this organization, as every alumni member did.

This is a guy who's getting letters from the guys who wrote this magazine called "The Prospect." This is an outfit that Bill Bradley disassociated himself early in the '70s. This is an outfit that Dr. Frist, the majority leader of the Senate, disassociated himself.

This is an outfit I was aware of. I was -- I went to the University of Delaware. I went to Syracuse Law School. But everybody knew that there was this debate at Princeton about everything from eating clubs to admission of women and how many women, et cetera.

So, it's kind of hard to believe that there was just -- that he would list it and not have any knowledge about anything that it had to do with.

BLITZER: A quick question, because we're almost out of time. Are you almost done -- are you almost ready to decide whether or not there should be a filibuster?

BIDEN: Oh, I think that -- I think that's not likely. But I'm sure there are a lot of people making that decision, but, as far as I'm concerned, it seems to me to me that that -- I don't think that's likely, is my guess.

BLITZER: Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

BIDEN: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Now let's get a different perspective, now. We'll speak with a top Bush administration official who's been with the Alitos on Capitol Hill all day today -- all week, in fact. I'm joined by Steve Schmidt, counsel to the vice president, Dick Cheney. What was it like when Mrs. Alito left that hearing room? She obviously was in tears.

STEVE SCHMIDT, COUNSELOR TO THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Wolf, it's great to be with you. Both of them are such terrific people. It's been such a privilege to get to know them well during this process, and I think she had an emotional reaction.

I think what you saw was this moment of decency by Lindsey Graham where he apologized to the Alito family, on behalf of the committee for them having to sit there all day and having inferred, I think, pretty directly that Judge Alito's a bigot when, of course, he's not. And he spent his whole life in the pursuit of justice, has promoted minorities and women throughout his career.

And she had an emotional reaction to it and she left the room. And of course came back in a few minutes. Judge Alito escorted her into the room. They were holding hands. I thought it was great to see. And I think -- what I suspect is that the American people who saw this hearing today are going to be troubled by some of the tactics of the Democrats, who I think didn't focus on law, didn't want to have an uplifting debate, but made a decision to try to attack Judge Alito and tear him down in the most unfair way.

BLITZER: Steve, what about the argument, though, that Biden and other Democrats are making that it's simply not credible that he could forget about his involvement in this organization being such a brilliant man as he is.

SCHMIDT: I think some of the Republicans have made the point about beating a dead horse here. He's answered this question, literally, dozens of times during the course of -- during the course of the hearing. It was a group that he was never active in. One of the things, if I can correct the record, Wolf, whether ROTC was going to be kicked off Princeton again, was a big issue in the 1980s.

And Judge Alito has said over and over again, it was an issue that wrangled him. He served in the United States Army, was a commissioned officer, he was an ROTC graduate. He said many times that, "I joined the organization, I must have, I listed it on my application. I don't recall ever being active or ever doing anything with them. And if I joined, the reason would be it seems to me, is because of this ROTC issue."

I think it's perfectly credible and understandable. But one of the things that when you watch this hearing, and Senator Biden talked about a process that's breaking down. When you see Mrs. Alito leave the room the way she did, you wonder if it's going to dissuade good men and women, both Democrats and Republicans, from wanting to go through this process, to serve their nation.

And that's a dangerous place to get to be. We don't want to do that. And I hope tomorrow, the hearings can be more like they were on the first day where the judge answered hundreds of questions on substantive issues and we didn't see the smearing that we saw today.

BLITZER: Steve Schmidt is counselor to the vice president, he's been helping Judge Alito get through this confirmation process. Steve, thank you very much for joining us.

SCHMIDT: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And up next, more than a decade after his execution, was a Virginia man convicted of rape and murder, actually innocent? We're on the case of this true crime story and the DNA test that may finally resolve it.

Plus, a million little lies? A best-selling author is accused of pulling a fast one on Oprah and his publisher. We have the story. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Really an amazing story coming up. More than a decade after the execution, the state of Virginia will soon learn whether it put an innocent man to death. DNA tests are pending that could clear Roger Coleman's name once and for all. CNN's Randi Kaye is joining us from the capitol in Richmond, she has more. Randi, tell our viewers what's going on.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a very important test. If it goes Roger Coleman's way, if the DNA does not match, this would be the first time that a man who has been executed is exonerated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROGER COLEMAN, EXECUTED IN 1992: I will fight to prove I'm innocent until I'm either free or dead.

KAYE (voice over): That was Roger Keith Coleman back in 1992, not long before he was executed for raping and murdering his 19 year old sister in law. Coleman became the key suspect overnight. He had been convicted before, of attempted sexual assault.

(on camera): Over the last now almost 25 years, have you ever wondered if possibly Roger Coleman was innocent?

TOM SCOTT, FORMER PROSECUTOR: No, I haven't wondered that.

KAYE (voice over): Prosecutor Tom Scott recalls inconsistencies in Coleman's story. He said Coleman failed to mention a stop at a friend's house, which would have kept him out later and closer to the victim's time of death.

Virginia author, John Tucker, wrote a book about the Coleman case.

KAYE (on camera): What makes you believe that Roger Coleman did not kill Wanda McCoy?

JOHN TUCKER, AUTHOR, "MAY GOD HAVE MERCY": There are witnesses who saw Mr. Coleman that evening by himself, and the most important one saw him at about 10:30. And if he was at that place at 10:30, he could not have committed the crime.

KAYE (voice over): Still, prosecutors won their case, even without sophisticated DNA technology available today.

SCOTT: We know that Coleman had O type blood on his jean pants leg that he had on, on the night of the homicide. We know that the victim had O type blood. We know that Coleman had B type blood. We know that the rapist had B type blood.

KAYE (voice over): But Virginia Governor Mark Warner has ordered new DNA testing to compare Coleman's jeans to a vaginal swab taken from the victim.

GOVERNOR MARK WARNER, (D) VIRGINIA: I'm not a forensic scientist, but I do have faith in our crime lab. I have faith in the experts.

KAYE: DNA fingerprinting today is far more refined. Experts say results are so absolute, only an identical twin could have the same profile. And it takes less genetic material to perform the tests than ever before.

(on camera): If the DNA test comes back indicating that it is not Roger Coleman's DNA, did the state of Virginia execute an innocent man?

SCOTT: There certainly are some that would argue that. It doesn't automatically exclude him. It just excludes him from being the rapist.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: Now, we are getting these results. We expect to be getting them, at least, as early as tomorrow morning, the results of those DNA tests. I have to tell you, Wolf, in speaking with the prosecutor he's a bit concerned about the integrity of the DNA sample and how it has held up over the past 25 years or so.

I did speak with a DNA expert who has told me that the sample has been stored at a very low temperature, which would slow the deterioration of that sample quite a bit. Once again, we'll be following this. We'll have the very latest for you on it coming up on tonight at 10:00 eastern on ANDERSON COOPER 360. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you, Randi. Excellent report. It's payback time for religious broadcaster, Pat Robertson. As you may remember, he suggested the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was a punishment from God for withdrawing from Gaza. Israel is firing back by cutting Robertson out of a multi- million dollar business venture in Israel. Let's go to Mary Snow. She has more details. Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Robertson was a key figure in that business venture, but now Israeli officials are saying they no longer want to do business with him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice over): It was to be Pat Robertson's piece of The Holy Land, a $50 million joint venture with the state of Israel to build a Christian heritage center near the Sea Of Galilee, but Israel's tourism ministry has reconsidered. Robertson has been cut out of the deal.

The ministry's decision is directly linked to Robertson's comments suggesting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke because he was dividing God's land.

RAMI LEVY, ISRAEL MINISTRY OF TOURISM: From our perspective, such a statement made for a person that is lying in a hospital is outrageous.

SNOW: Robertson headed the group of evangelicals planning the center. In a statement, his spokeswoman said, quote, "We do not respond to media reports on our relationship with other governments and we have not talked to the Israelis on this topic." But other evangelical leaders are talking.

The president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals, the Reverend Ted Haggard, says the controversy, quote, "Is a blow to evangelical-Israeli relations and the situation is unfortunate."

Israel says with millions of evangelical Christian visitors every year, it plans to press on with the project, just not with Robertson.

LEVY: Same joint venture, just the players are going to be changed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (on camera): Israeli officials say they only reached an agreement on the just venture months ago. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Mary. Sharon's doctors, by the way, said he's doing a little bit better, but he is by no means yet out of danger. We're watching his health together with you.

Up next, a million little lies, a best-selling writer accused of fraud. Find out how he allegedly pulled a fast one on Oprah's Book Club and readers around the world. We have the story. Plus, big business goes green. Find out how wind power is fueling a Fortune 500 company and could change the way you light up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Oprah Book Club author, James Frey, has a million little problems. The Smoking Gun web site has the author in its cross hairs. It says his best-selling memoir, "A Million Little Pieces" is full of fabrications and falsehoods. Our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner has all the buzz online. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, a day after The Smoking Gun came out with allegations, James Frey is fighting back himself on his Web site, bigjimindustries.com. He says he stands by his book and he's not dignify this with any further response. What is he doing is speaking out on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight, right here on CNN, that's 9:00 Eastern Standard Time.

A lot of people talking about that. And not just the millions of people who read the book through Oprah's Book Club. By the way, all the information is still on Oprah's Web site at Oprah.com. There's also the millions of people who are now talking about the book and planning on buying it. At Amazon.com, it was No. 1 in books today, it was No. 1 in books yesterday.

Also at Barnes & Noble, both online at barnesandnoble.com and in the stores, it is the No. 1 book. I spoke to them today, they say they have not seen a decline in sales, not one bit. Also Frey himself responding to news reports that Random House is offering refunds. Wolf, I spoke to them, they say that also is not true.

BLITZER: And Larry King has the exclusive tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Larry King will interview James Frey. Thanks very much, Jacki, for that.

There's a change in the wind for the Whole Foods -- Whole Foods Market. They're switching power sources. Now, I want you to listen to what Ali Velshi has with us. He's got "The Bottom Line." Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: As long as you don't call me wind bag or full of hot air. As you know, Wolf, I'm a big fan of alternative energy. And now one of my favorite sources of energy, wind power, is getting a big boost. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI (voice-over): Whole Foods is going, with the wind. For the first time, a Fortune 500 company is going to get all of its store and office energy, energy for every refrigerator, cash register and office light, from the wind.

MICHAEL BESANCON, WHOLE FOODS MARKET: Among our core values at Whole Foods Market are community and environment. And our customers and our team members expect that we would -- we walk our talk.

VELSHI: Wind energy comes from windmills, but that doesn't mean you'll be seeing giant pinwheels in Whole Foods parking lots. The national food chain is buying more than 458,000 megawatt hours worth of energy credits from Renewable Choice Energy, a wind power broker.

For every watt of electricity Whole Foods uses, it guarantees that what's put back into the energy grid to replace it, comes from wind power, not coal or natural gas.

BESANCON: The impact of this purchase is equal to taking 60,000 cars off the road or equivalent to planning 90,000 acres of trees, which would be equivalent to planting trees over the entire city of Detroit.

VELSHI: Whole Foods won't say how much of a premium it's paying to use wind, but wind energy credits, which are available for home use in all 50 states, typically cost about $15 more per month than your average electricity bill.

(on camera): Think about it like this. We paid about $1.30 for this roll of regular paper towel. We paid an extra dollar for this one. It's fully recycled. They both do the same thing, this one's just a little better for the environment. The EPA says green power use in corporate America is up 1,000 percent over the past five years.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: Now, just to give you an idea of the companies that are involved in this, Whole Foods at the top now, Johnson & Johnson, DuPont, Starbucks, IBM. The biggest user of wind power is the U.S. air force. And while a whole bunch of crunchy granola types might shop at the company, the CEO of the company isn't one of those. He is a libertarian, he is anti-union, he's also a vegan. But as far as he's concerned, he's not leaving it to government to go green, he's doing it himself. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Ali. Very interesting. Thanks very much, Ali Velshi reporting for us.

Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour. That means Paula Zahn is standing by. Paula?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and if anybody is watching their clock, that's about five minutes from now, Wolf. Thanks so much. Tonight, we are just beginning to understand how close 12 doomed coal miners came to cheating death.

In addition to that, I'll have an exclusive interview on a scandal that's been brewing in the Catholic Church with a bishop who has just revealed that he, in fact, was abused himself as a young man. He has kept that a secret for 60 years now. And the interesting twist in all this story is how this is putting him at odds with other bishops in the church. And tonight for the first time, he will talk about exactly what was done to him and how he's lived with this secret for so many years.

BLITZER: We'll be watching, Paula, thank you very much. Paula Zahn coming up in a few minutes. Still ahead, Tony Blair has admitted smacking his kids. Is it appropriate? Jack Cafferty has your e-mail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's go right to Jack in New York. Jack?

CAFFERTY: Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that he smacked his older children, but he stopped the practice when it came to his youngest son. So, the question we're kicking around here tonight, is it ever appropriate to hit your child?

Toni in South Carolina writes: Never, never, never. Spanking is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of child abuse.

Ken writes: Yes, my two children were born in 1967, 1969. I spanked both of them when they needed it until about age 10. I'm glad I did. They are glad I did and I'm sure society is better for it.

L. writes: It depends on what you're going to have to spank them with. I should have had a few whacks when I was young. It's harder to discipline one's self as we get older.

Mary in San Jose, California: As a little kid, I would have preferred a little swat on the backside to the emotional abuse that I received.

Sue writes from Oregon: It is appropriate within reason. Perhaps I should not have spanked my boys as hard as I did. Sincerely, Mrs. George Herbert Walker Bush.

Molly in Clinton, New Jersey: Sure. Don't they need to learn how to exert power through violence? It's a great global lesson.

And finally, this: I think spanking is a wonderful way to discipline children. My mother did it to me and I turned out fine. Signed, Inmate No. 707-80J38.

BLITZER: He should have gotten whacked a few times, probably. Did your parents ever spank you, Jack?

CAFFERTY: You bet.

BLITZER: You deserved it, though. Right?

CAFFERTY: And look how I turned out.

BLITZER: Look at how you turned out.

CAFFERTY: I absolutely deserved it. I was caught smoking when I was 13. My dad smacked me in the mouth, said, "You'd better quit." I didn't have a cigarette for five more years. So, I don't know if it was right or not, but it worked.

BLITZER: All right, Jack, see you tomorrow. We'll be on the air. Tomorrow morning, a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. We go on at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, more of the Alito hearings. Paula Zahn getting ready right now. Paula?

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