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White House, Congress Face Off Over Subpoenas; Rescued Boy Scout Thanks Search Dog; Calories and Salt in Your Chinese Food

Aired March 21, 2007 - 13:00   ET


DON LEMON, CO-HOST: Hello. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kyra Phillips, who's in Iraq on assignment.

Coming up, will White House advisor Karl Rove testify on camera and under oath? The administration says no way. Democrats say the public has a right to know. The showdown between the White House and Capitol Hill.

You're live in the CNN newsroom.

LEMON: It is the top of the hour. You're looking live at pictures of the White House and Capitol Hill, where the drama over eight fired federal prosecutors is escalating very quickly.

President Bush and Congress are headed toward a showdown after a vote to force the top aides to testify about the purge, on the record and under oath. We're expecting reaction at the White House briefing in just a moment.

Well, you've heard President Bush promise to fight any attempts to subpoena his inner circle. But Democrats are unfazed.

CNN's congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, joins me now, live from Capitol Hill.

Hi, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. You're exactly right. In fact, the House Judiciary Committee this morning point blank defied the president, and they authorized the chairman of that committee to issue subpoenas if necessary for top Bush officials, including the president's senior political aide, Karl Rove, and others.

They say that this is leverage or backup because what they say is that the offer they got from the White House yesterday to have them come and talk to Congress but not testify in public, not testify under oath, and not have a transcript or a record of this, is unacceptable.


REP. JOHN CONYERS (D-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: What Fred Fielding said to us yesterday was so disconcerting and so off of the mark -- I mean, honestly, anyone who comes before the committee would have to be put under oath. Obviously, there would have to be a transcript. We don't do anything without a record.


BASH: Now, again, what that committee, the House Judiciary Committee, voted on, along party lines, is for that man there, the chairman, John Conyers, to have the authority to issue the subpoena but not necessarily to issue it. He promised that he wouldn't do it until he thought it was necessary.

Still, Republicans on the committee objected. They said it's simply too early to take this move.


REP. TOM FEENEY (R), FLORIDA: It seems this subpoena is very much premature. And while we have the power to do things to the other branches of government, it doesn't necessarily mean that we need to leave all mutual respect for our fellow branches in the dust.


BASH: Now, this is the same kind of vote we're going to see tomorrow morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I just came from a meeting of the Republicans on that committee. They were talking behind closed doors about just what -- just what they think could possibly be done next.

It appears they didn't come to some -- any consensus on that, Don. But the ranking Republican senator, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, he came out and talked to us and said, look, he really firmly believes that there should be a transcript, there should be something that records what Karl Rove and others say.

And that he is going to try to work with the lead Democrat on the committee to try to come up with some bipartisan counterproposal for the White House. He says it's too early to say -- see exactly what that would be, though -- Don.

LEMON: Congressional correspondent Dana Bash, thank you so much for that.

And with subpoenas in the pipeline and the White House resisting, a constitutional crisis may be looming. We'll talk about it with our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin at the bottom of the hour.

And again, we're monitoring that White House briefing. We'll go live to that when this topic comes up.

AUBERRY: Drinking out of a creek and sleeping in trees: Michael Auberry's survival techniques during the days and fairly cold nights he spent lost and alone in the North Carolina woods.

The 12-year-old Boy Scout was found yesterday, dazed, weak, and dehydrated, by a dog rescue team. He left the troop's camp site Saturday afternoon with his mess kit and two jackets. And his father says Michael was homesick because his best buddies couldn't make the trip.

Apparently, he planned to hitch a ride once he got to the road. But instead, he got lost.


KENT AUBERRY, MICHAEL'S FATHER: He said that he heard the helicopters, and he saw or heard people yelling for him. And he yelled back, but they didn't hear it.

He also said that he thought he heard people, and he was trying to investigate, and he found out it was the river or the creek. And if you were out there, the creek is -- in places is very loud, and you really can't hear left or right on either side.

I want to thank people for their prayers. Thank people who went out the look for him. And he wants to thank Gandalf especially, the dog we understand found him. Although he noted that Gandalf did eat the peanut butter crackers that he said he gave him.


KEILAR: Michael spent the night in the hospital, and his father says when his son is back on his feet, they're going to have another talk about hitchhiking.

Now back to Gandalf, the dog who undoubtedly -- undoubtedly has become one of Michael Auberry's best friends. He spotted the boy before anyone did. He caught his scent in the air. Misha Marshall, the rescuer at the end of Gandalf's leash, told CNN's Miles O'Brien what happened next.


MISHA MARSHALL, DOG TEAM SEARCHER: Gandalf was working up ahead of us, and Michael turned out to be upwind of us. So Gandalf picked up his scent and kind of worked us in to where Michael was. We came around a bend, and he was about 50 yards to our left, up a fairly steep incline.

MILES O'BRIEN, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": When Gandalf picks up on a scent, what does he do? Does he start barking? Does he run after him? Or does he jam (ph) on the leash? How do you do that?

MARSHALL: Their body language changes. They will turn their head in the direction that they're catching the scent. So he looked left about three times. So I knew he was interesting in something. So that kind of puts you on alert, and after that, he kind of took us in.

O'BRIEN: Misha, you're an accountant by day. You do this as a volunteer. So, too, many of those people in the woods were volunteers? Why do you do it?

MARSHALL: Absolutely. We do it for what happened yesterday. We -- we train quite a bit, all the people out there help find Michael. I was just one part of it.

And, you know, I can't express how much search and rescue volunteers help. And that's what -- we go out there with a positive attitude that we're going to find the person we're looking for.


KEILAR: Gandalf is just one of the specially trained canines with the South Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association. And because they scan the air for human scent, they're able to take a more direct route. They don't have to follow any trail. And of course, that can make it pretty interesting, to say the least, for the people who are holding the leashes.

LEMON: Congratulations to Gandalf.


LEMON: Nice job.

Let's head over to the breaking news desk. Our Fredericka Whitfield working the details on a developing story.

What do you have for us, Fred?


Well, only if there were a dog could help out in this situation. A rescue is under way in Reminderville, Ohio.

And the situation here where you can see all of the emergency workers converged. Well, apparently, a man who was working on this house somehow got enveloped into a lot of dirt and mud there. And now they have tried to create a trench there, as you can see, some of the emergency crews there descending to try to free that rescue worker.

We don't know exactly what kind of -- or the worker, I should say. We don't know what kind of work that worker was doing on the house or how he ended up in this hole of sorts, but they built this trench to try to dig around him to free him. We understand this person is about waist deep in mud and, hopefully, it will be a good outcome.

This has been going on for at least 30 minutes or so. We're losing that live picture, but of course, we'll continue to update you as we learn anything more about whether these rescuers can actually free this worker at the house and how they do so.

LEMON: You know what, Fredricka? That story, quick again. Is he just stuck in the mud? Is he stuck between the house and the mud? Do we know?

WHITFIELD: All of the above.

LEMON: All of the above?


LEMON: There you go.

WHITFIELD: Between the house and the dirt, and somehow he's stuck in this -- this mud. They've created sort of a trench around him to kind of widen this gap so that the rescue workers can get whatever kind of equipment as well as the personnel down there to get him.

But so far, the efforts have not been completely successful -- meaning he's still stuck in the mud there. But we don't believe that it's a life-threatening situation.

LEMON: All right, all right. Fredricka Whitfield, we'll check back with you. Good luck to him, of course.

We'll check back with the breaking news desk for the latest.

And again, we want to remind our viewers, we're waiting on a briefing at the White House. Everything to come out of these new, I guess, subpoenas or possible subpoenas being handed down to top officials in the Bush administration regarding what they knew about those fired attorneys general.

As soon as that White House briefing happens, we'll bring it to you live right here in the NEWSROOM.

Also ahead, counting their blessing and their days. U.S. soldiers on a dangerous nighttime mission in Iraq. Our John Keene joins them in the CNN NEWSROOM.

KEILAR: And do you love Chinese food? Well, too bad it doesn't love you back. Ahead here on the NEWSROOM, how can something with this many calories leave you hungry an hour later?


LEMON: Straight to the White House briefing and Tony Snow.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... communications from the White House to outside interests to the parties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, many lawmakers say they understand the under oath deal on this offer but not the transcripts, no transcript deal. I mean, the president said he doesn't want the testimony for top aides to be used to score political points. But if you have senators coming out and characterizing what was said behind closed doors, don't you get into a he said/she said kind of deal?

SNOW: A couple of things. First, keep in mind -- this is not a hearing, it's not a trial. It's an interview.

The second thing is that there are going to be plenty of members there who are going to be able to listen to what administration officials -- White House officials have to say. And there are going to be plenty of different ways for people to cross reference. The real question is, and what you've hinted at here a little bit, Brent, is a fundamental decision members of Congress are going to have to make: do you want to get at the truth or do you want to create a political spectacle? Those are the options that are laid out.

What we think is possible is that we've come up with what we think is an amicable and respectful way to enable the House and Senate in their oversight responsibilities to get access to everything they need to understand fully the process that led to a decision to replace eight U.S. attorneys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the final -- this is the final offer? This is it?

SNOW: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Tony, in the interest of getting at the truth, in the interest of accuracy, why not have an official, indisputable record of what was said? A transcript?

SNOW: Well, first, Jonathan, you're jumping way ahead. And I think let's lay out some of the things that go on. This is a decision that's made at the U.S. Department of Justice.

What we have said is all the key officials are available. Sworn testimony, the whole bit. Furthermore, the e-mail traffic is available. You also have available an exhaustive rendering of e-mail from the White House on the outside. And you have the fact basis there.

The question you need to ask is what do you gain -- what do you gain from the transcript, and the answer is, not much. Because...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was said, not a characterization of what was said but you know exactly what was said.

SNOW: Well, no. What you're trying to do is to create a presumption of a hearing or a trial. And what we're saying is this an attempt to get fact. These are, in fact, interviews. They will have specific fact questions.

I don't know how you make this -- let me finish the answer, and then I'll get to you.

You start with a decision made at the U.S. Department of Justice. This is where you've got the deliberations, the analysis, all of these things taking place. You have full access to everything there.

The question is, OK, do you have any further questions that may involve the White House? If so, then you also have external communications from the White House elsewhere. That ought to -- and if there are other specific questions of fact that have to deal with anything that's unresolved, you can ask.

And frankly, when it comes to a fact answer, people are going to be able to get it right, just as I think you get it right when you take notes based on a conversation with me for your reporting without the basis -- without a transcript.

Ed's next.

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But pressing on the point that these are not actually interviews. That's your word. The senators, like Senator Leahy, say they want testimony. Testimony, this is a transcript. This is not an interview.

You want it to be an interview. But it's up to the Congress. They're the ones investigating, and they say they want testimony, not interviews.

SNOW: Ed, what we're doing is we're trying to be accommodating to Congress by offering them extraordinary insight into a deliberative process.

You also know that everybody who goes there -- the president expects everybody who talks to Congress to tell the truth and so does the law. They know that it would be illegal not to tell them the truth.

So the question you've got to ask yourself is, is this pressure on transcripts and everything, is this really something where somebody thinks there's going to be a fact they're going to receive? The answer is no.

The question is whether you're trying to create a political spectacle rather than simply the basis of getting at the truth. This, I think, is an important and crucial distinction. Because again, I'm not sure -- I think we can say with confidence that they're going to get every fact they need to find out what's going on?

HENRY: Are you afraid that they'll be able to go through and find inconsistencies in testimony if there's a transcript?

SNOW: No. They'll be able to do it.

HENRY: OK. You keep saying the Justice Department, the response in these e-mails, the 3,000 pages, are unprecedented; they're very responsive. Why, then, is there this gap from mid-November to about December 4 right before the actual firings? Why is there a gap in the e-mail?

SNOW: I don't know. Why don't you ask them?

HENRY: The White House and the Justice Department...

SNOW: I'm not going to be the fact witness on Justice.

HENRY: You're the one representing that this has been very responsive.

SNOW: I'm led to believe -- and I've been led to believe that there's a good response for it. But I'm going to let you ask them, because they're going to have -- they're going to have the answer. HENRY: One e-mail from November 15 that says, from Mr. Sampson to Harriet Miers, I believe, "Who will determine whether this requires the president's attention?"

SNOW: Right.

HENRY: And then there's a gap in e-mails. Was there any -- you think perhaps any e-mails about the president in there? And did the president have to sign off on this? Because the question was...

SNOW: The president has no recollection of this ever being raised with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, have you read the e-mails? Have you been briefed on them?

SNOW: I've been briefed. I've not read all 3,000 pages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony, how would a transcript make it a political spectacle? And what about a transcript would be not in keeping with...

SNOW: Well, again, I think you voiced that temptation -- somebody sort of waving a piece of paper. Let me ask -- let me reverse the question: why would not an interview be conducive to getting at the facts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, because if then the facts were then discussed, then it would be one person's word against another.

SNOW: No, I don't think so. I think -- I think somebody asked a straight factual question. You're going to have witnesses from both parties and from both chambers, House and Senate. You're going to have Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate. You're going to have people there who are responsive.

And you know, if they don't think they've got it right, they can ask over and over and over until they get it precisely right. So I don't think that's a real concern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have a record of these facts.

SNOW: Well, again, the facts -- my guess is that there will be. People are certainly going to be open to discussing the facts that they hear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony -- the House and the Senate are both moving towards issuing subpoenas for these officials. If subpoenas are issued, is this offer withdrawn?

SNOW: Well, we're just going to have to wait and see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, no, the offer...

SNOW: The answer is if they issue -- yes, if they issue subpoenas, the offer is withdrawn. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then...

SNOW: Because that means that they will not have responded to the offer; they will have rejected the offer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And then, so basically if they issue subpoenas, there will be no interviews...

SNOW: I'm just telling you -- I'm telling you that the moment subpoenas are issued it means that they have rejected the offer.

Let me -- let me just issue a blanket statement right now, because there are going to be a lot of questions about what, if, and when. It is our hope that members of Congress -- there's an important distinction between authorizing subpoenas and issuing them.

And we hope members of Congress as they have an opportunity to think this through are going to realize that they've got a deal before them that enables them to find out what the truth is.

And we're doing this in a way that is -- not only preserves presidential prerogatives, but also creates an atmosphere that's going to be conducive to working together and to proceed in a manner that's dignified, thorough, and accurate.

So I am not going to get into the position of if subpoena what -- it's -- at this point, it is our hope that Congress, in fact, is going to accept what is a generous, reasonable offer to enable them to do their jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, is this a -- is it the White House's position that the only intransigence we see is the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue?

SNOW: We're not talking about intransigence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what it sounds like.

SNOW: I know what it sounds like. But we've had an offer that's been out for less than 24 hours. Let people think about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there much going on to work this out?

SNOW: I don't know who's picking up the phone at this juncture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the president specifically authorize you to say that the offer would be withdrawn if subpoenas...

SNOW: No. If I -- what I just said is, if the -- if subpoenas are issued, it means that they will have rejected the offer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not the same as the president withdrawing his offer?

SNOW: Well, again, the offer then becomes moot. They've knocked it off of the table. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not done. If there still room for some good-faith negotiation? The president's tone was this is reasonable, this is unprecedented and that he wants to work with Congress?

SNOW: To affect negotiations -- we have -- in other words, are we going to change our conditions? No.

But we also think that it probably is worth giving members of Congress a little bit of time to think this through, because -- because -- look, we have offered everything that gets them the access to all of the facts and the truth. If they don't accept the offer, it lifts the veil on some of the motivations, which means that people are less interested in the truth than creating a political spectacle.

And we think the American people, looking at this, are going to say, "Well, wait a minute. The White House is making everything available to them. They're going to have all the facts. Why isn't that good enough?"

And so this is -- this is one of those calculations, as members of Congress will look at it, they ought to think carefully. Because we do have an opportunity to enable them to exercise their oversight thoroughly and with the level of access that is highly unusual in any White House. We're reaching out.

What we're trying to do is we have made not only a good-faith offer, but one that is going to give Democrats or Republicans, House and Senate a full opportunity to do their jobs and do it thoroughly. Jim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the record, this gap between mid-November and early December, is there a gap because there are no e-mails pertaining to this situation between them? Or are there more e-mails to come out?

SNOW: That I don't know. Like I said, that's why I think you need to go back and ask the Department of Justice. They've done the document production. We have not been in charge of it. I would refer questions to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to follow, did you say again to the record that the president has no recollection of ever being -- ever being asked about any of this?

SNOW: Yes, the removal -- yes, that is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any less formal settings, though, with the presidential advisors, will the White House, because they're not under oath, put any kind of restriction on what they tell the members of Congress?

SNOW: Again, what you're -- what you're doing is you're trying to ask process questions about something that hasn't happened.

Let me put it this way. But you say informal -- it's against the law, when you're talking to Congress, not to tell the truth. If there are matters that bear on conversations.

What we've also laid out are the kinds of conversations and the kinds of documents that will be made available. So, if somebody tries to ask a question that's out of bounds, one would presume that the person being asked would respond appropriately.

But I don't think at this point trying to game out what's going to get asked and what's going to get answered is -- I just don't have that kind of prophetic ability.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, Congress has held hearings from time immemorial. Presidents have even gone there and testified there. What would make this a political circus?

SNOW: Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are your terms.

SNOW: You do not believe that there would be a political circus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More so or less than any other time in its history?

SNOW: I think it would -- first, what you have just done is made a -- kind of a blanket -- presidents go to give State of the Union addresses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to testify.

SNOW: Well, let me put this way: what you're talking about is a situation -- let me step back.

The idea of allowing the confidentiality of White House communications to remain that way is rooted in a situation that's as old as the Constitution itself, which is a separation of powers.

And what we're talking about is a system that allows the president to preserve his prerogatives and at the same time create a dignified basis for moving forward.

And I'm just going to -- you know, it's interesting because, on the one hand I get questions, what are you going to say when somebody comes to the microphone and says this, and then the other question is how can you expect it to be a political circus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hearings have gone on for a long time. They've been televised on issues great and small. What makes this one more of a spectacle than the other?

SNOW: It don't think this makes it more of a spectacle. But I do think that this is a different kind -- what we've made is an extremely generous offer to make available for interviews key White House officials, documents from the White House to the Justice Department, to members of Congress, to interested outsiders.

And at the same time, you know -- keep in mind that this is a decision, and a decision process that was conducted out of the Department of Justice, and members are going to have a full opportunity to go through that.

Everybody seems to want to jump to a White House piece. That may not even be necessary, because -- because, in point of fact, there are going to be opportunities on the record and in front of cameras and everything else, to be talking -- well, I don't know about cameras. I don't know what they've negotiated.

But the fact is you're going to have the ability to have key officials from the Justice Department up there answering all the questions and providing all the documents.

So, I think if you take a look at some of the statements that have been made, there are attempts to single out people in the White House. It appears that there's more an effort to try to single out individuals rather than to isolate the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Asking about...

SNOW: I just gave you the answer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony, it looks like from both sides an impasse is in the making?

SNOW: Let me -- let me respond to that, and I'll let you finish the question. I'm not sure.

Again, I want you to understand the motivation here, which is that this is a very generous offer -- I've used the term several times, and it is. We think that Congress ought to be able to find out all the facts in this case.

And we have also come up with a proposal that we think not only gives them all the facts but also gives them access to all the key players so they can get every question answered to their satisfaction so that they can draw a full conclusion.

We have laid out an offer, the likes of which -- I don't think you've seen in quite a long time. And frankly, members of Congress need some time to think it through.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much time...

SNOW: I don't know. I don't know. I mean, you're just...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much time are you willing to give them?

SNOW: As long as -- look, again, this...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighteen months?

SNOW: Well, you know. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, again, as I said, it looks like an impasse in the making. Is the White House ready for this to be played out in court for a political public spectacle?

SNOW: Like I said, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to bite on questions about that haven't happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a bite. I mean...

SNOW: Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just said this would be moot if they don't take the offer. You said it would reject it, so what else is left but to go to court?

SNOW: We'll see -- again, that is a decision -- the decision on such things lies not with the White House but with Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the second part of that question -- was a crime committed? Yes, the reason why I say that, because court is an inevitability -- well, it's not an inevitability. It is one of those options dangled out there. And if you look back in history...

SNOW: I think that -- I think that goes into the...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you say yes or no, emphatically? Was a crime committed in these -- in these firings of eight U.S. attorneys?

SNOW: Let me just -- look, if you take a look at all the reporting on this, there is no evidence that anything improper has taken place, period.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony, that actually goes to a question I have. Presidential aides have testified in the past when there was evidence of impropriety. April mentioned Watergate.

This is a case in which the White House is asserting that there is no evidence of impropriety and that nothing was done wrong. So how do you face the American public and say, "We're telling you we didn't do anything wrong, but we won't let the top advisors to the president speak publicly about it"?

SNOW: Because -- I thought it was a fact-finding mission and not a ratings-finding mission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congress wants testimony in public, and the Congress feels that it has been misled by the administration. How do you avoid the appearance of stonewalling if you don't send people up there to speak publicly?

SNOW: Well, I think -- well, that may be their argument. I hope it's not yours. Because you have done reporting on this and other people in the sense of seeing thousands of pages of e-mail responsive to a request produced, also the White House making available the communications with the Department of Justice. Again, it is a peculiar form of stonewalling when anybody in the decision loop and any documents generated in the process of the decision will be available to members of Congress.

And furthermore, members of Congress will be able to interview, to their satisfaction, the individuals who were involved.

They -- there is -- they're going to have access to all the facts. So I don't understand how that's stonewalling. It's just the opposite.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The public doesn't have access.

SNOW: The public is going to have access to everything but interviews with White House officials. And there will be representations of that.

They already have access to thousands of pages. They would have -- they will have access to testimony from members of the Department of Justice.

What you're trying to do is to link to conclusions about what may or may not be. I think, again, this is an extraordinarily generous offer on our part. And I think what you need to do is turn it back and ask members of Congress, what is it, exactly, what fact would you not have access to? What piece of data would you not have access to?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So is it the White House's position, then, that the public should be satisfied with the representations of members of Congress about what administration officials testify?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- saying that it will be second hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, on that very point, you have a transcript right here. There's a nod for every day at this briefing because you don't want us to run out and say Tony said this and someone else says, no, Tony said that. Why do you have a transcript of this briefing every day and you won't have a transcript of what Karl Rove is going to tell Congress.

SNOW: You happen to see the transcript of the conversation you and I had over in the corner the other day? Do you have a transcript of the conversation we had when you called me up and tried to get an answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not the point.

SNOW: The point here is what you're asking for is something that is more -- you're talking about hearings -- these are interviews. And these are fact-finding --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying they're interviews, Tony, that's your word.

SNOW: That's right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did members of Congress like Senator Leahy said he's been hearing half truths. He wants testimony, that's why he's talking about subpoenas. Not interviews, you're saying interviews, you keep saying that.

SNOW: Do you understand that an interview still carries with it a legal requirement for telling the truth and that the president -- but that's an important point. Because what you've said is a suggestion that somehow in an interview nobody would be compelled to tell the truth. They will. And further more the president fully expects them to do --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying, and also if you want -- again, why not a transcript. I don't understand it. If you let the American people see exactly what people say.

SNOW: Actually, I think the question to ask again -- and I'm going to turn it back around -- you have all this data with you and you're haggling over a transcript?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the actual testimony is one thing for people to have emails --

SNOW: Wait, wait, it's an interview. These are interviews. What you're trying to do is to create a courtroom atmosphere and that's exactly what we're trying to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not creating anything. The senators maybe - they're doing an investigation, talk to them. But, the bottom line is they want to hear from Karl Rove and other staffers.

SNOW: And they will, if they accept the offer, they will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want a transcript.

SNOW: Well again, the question is, do they want the truth? Do they think they're not going to be able to get it? And the answer is, of course they're going to get the truth, they're going to get the whole truth. And so, then you ask yourself, why exactly are we talking about this kind of confrontation? What's really at the heart of this? Let me ask you this -- do you think if we said, you know what, we need to get the -- we need to get the eternal deliberations of Senator Schumer. Who did he talk to? Who on the outside called him? What did his staff tell him? Who called the DSCC. Who decided to put up ads? We don't do that. What we're trying to do is to preserve, once again, the confidentiality of White House deliberations and at the same time provide all relevant facts for members of these committees. They're going to get it. So, it seems to me that again if truth is what you want, we've made the offer that allows them to get to it. Period.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony, does the offer include no taking from members of the committee if not a formal transcript, can they take notes?

SNOW: Yeah, yeah. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So isn't, depending on how good they are at that.

SNOW: Yes, they can get their readouts, that's fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said earlier that the president has no recollection of anyone bringing this issue up to him?

SNOW: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does anyone who now or previously worked at the White House have any recollection of bringing it up to him?

SNOW: Not that I'm aware of, but I don't think so. But this is one, John, where I think this is one of those things that members of Congress are going to want to explore and if they accept our offer, they'll be able to get an absolutely exhaustive investigation out of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Considering what you're going through right now, do you think it will be anything less of a spectacle -- any less of a spectacle to (INAUDIBLE)?

SNOW: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony -- [ inaudible ]

SNOW: I don't know about press briefings, but I think the process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least be on the same subject, we need to stay on the same subject.

SNOW: Thank you, April.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're very welcome.

SNOW: Goyle?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Different question.

SNOW: Actually she's right. Let's maintain continuity here. No, no, let's maintain continuity questioning because that is the precedent I have established.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you brought up the idea of political spectacles this morning, you suggested it was something Americans are tired of. What did you mean by saying that?

SNOW: I think Americans are tired of partisanship for partisanship's sake. What we're swaying is we want to cooperate with you. We want to cooperate. What we're doing is something highly unusual. We're making available to you documents that the president is not necessarily -- is not compelled to provide. We're going to make available to you staffers that the president is not compelled to provide. Why? Because we want you to be satisfied that you're getting all of the facts. The Department of Justice has preemptively made an offer, stepped out and said, we're right up front -- we're going to make available all of the key people and, in addition, we're going to make the documents available. So, I think, you know what Americans would like to see? They would like to see this town acting in a functional way where the first calculation is what's the truth? How do we do our jobs properly? Not, you know, how do we try to score a political point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are some examples of things that Americans are tired of that have come up in the past?

SNOW: I'm not going to get into that -- if you haven't heard about it, you haven't been reading your e-mail.


SNOW: I'm sorry, let me get Victoria and then I'll get back to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With regards to the oath, you said that they're obliged to tell the truth anyway. And regular Americans are obliged to tell the truth any way many times when they take oaths. What makes these people different? It seems almost as though that the elite and they don't have to take oaths whereas regular people have to take oaths.

SNOW: You're kidding me, no. I mean I didn't have to take an oath when I did an FBI interview. I don't think every time somebody is compelled to tell the truth they have to be sworn in and take an oath. Again, you know what you're doing is you're missing the major point here, which is we're making all the facts available. I'm sort of in a loss -- sure we are --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No you're not, you're not making internal deliberations available.

SNOW: Well that's right because that would be inappropriate. Internal deliberations -- let me put it this way, advice to the president would not be -- it's -- that is a long-standing precedent, people operating as advisors to the president. Those are communications that have long been kept confidential and again, that's rooted in the separation of powers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the scenario that the White House envisions that is these interviews take place. And should there be a dispute about the facts? How would they be resolved in a court of law if there is no transcript?

SNOW: Well wait a minute -- why are you talking about a court of law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we're talking about violation of oath to tell the truth. If there's some dispute about that --

SNOW: No, I meant look --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it ends up in the court --

SNOW: I think that's it -- that's just a grotesque leap, I'm not going to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to be clear on something, on the extraordinarily generous offer, which after Bush I'll be known as E-G- O -- you said that will be withdrawn if the subpoenas are in --

SNOW: No, what I say is what's going to happen is that the offer gets knocked off the table, because it means it's been rejected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that include the document production that would be off the table?

SNOW: Again, the offer is off the table. They've knocked it off of the table. It means --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) saying the offer if subpoenas are issued, the offer is withdrawn, this is what you said earlier.

SNOW: Well I'm just going to be - I think what happens is that the offer is mooted by the action of Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to withdraw it on your motion or are you just saying --

SNOW: No it means that the offer is gone. I mean once that's happened, the offer is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You still can negotiate --

SNOW: You know, what, if somebody says --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the offer will be withdrawn.

SNOW: No, the offer is no longer operative at that moment.

UINDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, back when President Clinton was citing executive privilege to keep internal deliberations in that White House from being talked about in Congress.

SNOW: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wrote now famously that taken to a couple of --

SNOW: I don't know that it was famous -- I didn't get that kind of coverage at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's become more famous. Is it making its way to the left-wing blogs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you spoke -- you wrote quite eloquently about this. You said taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable. We would have a constitutional right to a cover up. So why were you wrong then and right now.

SNOW: Because this is -- this is not entirely analogous situation. I just told you what we have in fact offered to make available to members of Congress. What we are doing is we are holding a part -- confidential communications between advisors and the president. And that is -- that is pretty standard practice in White Houses. But, again --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the Clinton administration --

SNOW: Well I'm not so sure. And I'll let others do the legal arguing on that. But the important point here is we're maintaining presidential prerogatives and at the same time, we're making available exhaustive -- we were offering basically to give them exhaustively communications that bear on this issue and also make the key players at least at the Justice Department and the people they said they want to hear from at the White House, they're all going to be available. That's not a cover up, that is, in fact, a very open offer to get all of the facts in to the hands of the people who presumably want to figure out what the facts are. Victoria again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Karl Rove have a private e-mail address at the RNC?

SNOW: You mean does --


SNOW: Oh, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, on the 3,000 pages that came out that you've been referring to from Justice a couple of nights ago. There appears to be no smoking gun showing that politics motivated the decision. But there also doesn't appear to be a smoking gun that these eight prosecutors overall were bad managers, that there were performance related problems. They don't seem to detail like really bad stuff about them as prosecutors. Does that make your original claim that this was all performance related inoperable?

SNOW: Justice -- I think these are precisely the kinds of questions that testimony from the Justice Department is designed to answer on Capitol Hill. And on Capitol Hill, they're going to have an opportunity to answer it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you've been saying these 3,000 pages were so responsive. Why not in those 3,000 pages, why are we not finding all kinds of, wow, these prosecutors really were bad, they didn't do their job?

SNOW: Well, I don't know. Again, what you're asking me to tell you, Ed, is what happened over at the Department of Justice. I think that's what Congress is rightly interested in and the president has made it clear and the attorney general has made it clear. They'll have an opportunity to get an answer to that and another question -- it's a great question but it's one that Congress will have an opportunity to get a full answer to. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, not to beat this dead horse, but you're saying that if the subpoenas are issued, the action will not be by the White House, you're saying the action will be the subpoenas --

SNOW: Yeah, but they've rejected our offer, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not your original quote which if they issue subpoenas, the offer is withdrawn.

SNOW: Well I think it moots the offer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, ready now for another subject?

SNOW: Do we have any others?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually two quick ones? The first one will be, Tony, the White House e-mails, are you saying that those will not be released until an agreement is reached?

SNOW: Let's -- let's -- I like the tone of the question for this reason -- we're still hoping that we get a resolution so that the House and Senate accept this offer and then everybody can go about the business of finding out what the truth is. I'm not in the process of playing what-if.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not in the process of releasing the e- mails either right?

SNOW: Not at this juncture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK second, the 3,000 e-mails that you've characterized them as very generous and all that. In your briefing, I don't know if you were told, but I made my way through about half of them and they're -- probably half of it is just repetitious documents, transcripts.

SNOW: Well I think what you see there are e-mail chains. And quite often when people attach e-mails, which you're talking about in repetitious -- if you're going to provide that information, you can't say, well, you know I'll just give you the top piece of the e-mail. So what they've done is they've given you the e-mail chain which starts with one and then two and then three and then four. So in that sense, absolutely it's repetitious. But again, the effort was made at the Department of Justice to figure out what's responsive to the request. I apologize if some of it's boring. E-mail sometimes has that quality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony, with this ever growing story, I mean originally it started out with voter fraud. Is that still the impetus for all of this?

SNOW: It started with voter fraud? What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh you don't know what happened?

SNOW: No, there have been a number of concerns that were expressed at the Department of Justice and that is going to be the subject of hearings on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no -- but did it start with the investigation with the fact that voter fraud was not investigated fully by many of the prosecutors?

SNOW: No, what you're referring to is a single case -- this kind of forensics is precisely the sort of thing that the Congress will have an opportunity to investigate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, finally, two questions -- one, I think is -- is the president being informed or briefed or is he concerned about the massive protests going on in Pakistan against the (INAUDIBLE) or the fighting of lawyers and chief justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan? It's a big concern over there.

SNOW: I don't know precisely how the briefing goes, but I certainly know that the National Security Council is aware. Again, it is not our custom guile to read out intelligence briefings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secondly, as far as this AG Gonzalez and the FBI or the Justice Department and further keeping the homeland secure since 9/11 but also --

LEMON: All right, you're listening to the briefing from the White House. Tony Snow there, sticking to the topic, saying that they're doing everything to get to the truth here, allowing key members of the Bush administration to be interviewed by Congress and by committees. They're trying to get to the bottom of exactly what happened with those eight fired attorneys general. We're going to have more on this coming up in just a minute. Our Ed Henry will join us from the White House at the top of the hour as soon as that briefing is over. In the meantime, we'll move on here.

He doesn't use a stethoscope, but he's still worried about earth's vital signs.


AL GORE: The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor.


LEMON: The passion of Al Gore -- now playing on Capitol Hill, but will he run for president? That's the question. We'll try to get some answers straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

KEILAR: And more on this developing story, the flames you are seeing just a moment ago, a grass fire in Florida. We'll have details straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: All right, developing story, Fredricka Whitfield told you at the top of the hour about a trench rescue, she has some new information. What do you have? FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Right, well good news, they freed the 51-year-old man who was stuck in the mud right up against this house that he had been doing some work on. You see the team of rescue workers there. They kind of created -- widened the trench around him to be able to reach him. Somehow they did. We don't have the exact details of what the secrets were to, you know, unlocking him from the grips of that mud, but they were able to get him and they have been transporting him to a nearby medical facility where they're going to check him out. 51-year-old worker who was stuck there in the mud while doing some work on that house in Reminder Ville, Ohio now free. Don?

LEMON: Happy about that and I'm sure he's happy as well. All right Fredricka Whitfield, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much for that.

In the meantime, we're going to take you to another developing story, this one happening in Florida. We showed you these pictures just before the break. A fire in Miami Dade - it's in South Miami, Miami Dade Fire and Rescue working to put out this grass fire. Pretty big fire going there. It's located at Southwest 108th Avenue and 236th Street in South Miami. So far, they say so far, if that changes we'll let you know -- but so far no structures appear to be threatened at this point. But new video in of a humongous fire happening in South Miami. CNN NEWSROOM will stay on top of this and bring you the very latest. Brianna?

KEILAR: Saving the planet has taken up much of Al Gore's time and energy since he left Washington. And today it takes him back to Washington. Gore is testifying to House and Senate committees about global warming. He gets under way again here in about 90 minutes. This morning, he pressed for reducing so-called greenhouse gasses. Gore said as far as he's concerned, there's no longer any debate over the causes of global warming.


GORE: The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem. If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action. The planet has a fever.


KEILAR: Quite an analogy there. Our congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel is following Gore's visit. She joins us now from Capitol Hill. Hi Andrea?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brianna. Well as you said, one hearing down and one to go on what the former vice president himself called an emotional occasion coming back here to Capitol Hill. Remember, before he was vice president, he spent 16 years as a lawmaker up here serving in both the House and the Senate. In fact, some of his former colleagues -- Democrats, one in particular, Ed Markey of Massachusetts -- said he was a prophet because 30 years ago, Al Gore was one of the only -- one of a handful of lawmakers who was actually warning people about global warming and about climate change. What he brought in addition to the knowledge in his head, Brianna, were boxes and boxes full of what he said were about a half a million letters from Americans writing to Congress trying to get their attention to bring their -- their attention to the cause of climate change.


GORE: This is building. It's building in both parties. The faith communities, the evangelical communities, the business leaders. Ten of the CEOs of the biggest corporations in America just the day before the state of the union address last month. Most of them in their personal lives have been supporters of President Bush. That's irrelevant to this issue. They had a press conference the day before the state of the union address calling on you to act.


KOPPEL: Now, just a few weeks ago, before the vice president, former vice president arrived here on Capitol Hill, he was standing right there on the red carpet where a few hours later he received two Oscars for a documentary that he had done on the climate change issue. But the question that a lot of folks were asking him there and that they're asking him today, Brianna, is whether or not his new celebrity and the attention it's focused on him could cause him or bring him to throw his hat in the ring again in '08.

KEILAR: Well, we'll certainly be waiting for that, Andrea. And thank you, Andrea Koppel live for us from Capitol Hill. Coming up here in the next hour, Al Gore testifying before the full Senate environment and public works committee. We're going to hear what he says to them next hour. Don?

LEMON: All right, do you love Chinese food? Well, too bad -- it doesn't like you back.


LEMON: Ahead in the NEWSROOM. How can something with this many calories leave you hungry? Just about an hour later -- sometimes not even that long. Details in the CNN NEWSROOM.


KEILAR: Well, they've already ruined movie popcorn, fettuccine Alfredo and really all manner of fast food for us, but now the folks at the Center for Science and the Public Interest are taking out Chinese food. Now we might think of it as pretty healthy, but CNN's Greg Hunter found there can be a lot of bad stuff lurking in that Lo Mein.


GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chicken in black bean sauce, one of the saltiest dishes on the menu. BONNIE LEIBMAN, CHIEF NUTRITIONIST, CSPI: It has 3,800 milligrams of sodium. You should get no more than 2,000 in an entire day.

HUNTER: That's equal to 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Chicken Chow Fun is another high sodium dish, which is also loaded with 1200 calories.

LEIBMAN: And again, a teaspoon and a half of sodium. It's like going to Subway, getting a chicken sandwich and then getting four bags of salt and vinegar potato chips.

HUNTER: This equals this.

LEIBMAN: That's right.

HUNTER: In fat and salt.

LEIBMAN: That's right.

HUNTER: Vegetables are better than meat. But there's trouble there too.

All right, now we have the vegetables and these both look pretty good, eggplant and green beans?

LEIBMAN: You can't assume that vegetables are low in calories. This eggplant and garlic sauce, 1,000 calories without rice.

HUNTER: Oh I can see -- look at that, is that oil?

LEIBMAN: That's oil and it's also got a lot of salt in it.

HUNTER: Some Chinese appetizers are filled with salt and fat. But there are ways to avoid them. So let's empower some people with some healthy choices. Vegetables, noodles?

LEIBMAN: Vegetables are better.

HUNTER: Stir fry, deep fry?

LEIBMAN: Go with the stir fry and vegetables.

HUNTER: Big, small?

LEIBMAN: Small is better.

HUNTER: Also order more brown rice instead of white. It's more nutritious. And if you really want soy sauce, use the low sodium kind, usually with the green top. That will cut the sauce almost in half. One Chinese American community leader says, unlike most Chinese take out, authentic Chinese food is actually low in fat and salt. Customers just have to choose wisely.

WELLINGTON CHEN, CHINATOWN PARTNERSHIP LOCAL DEV. CORP.: We all know the right thing to do, whether we do it or not is another issue. I think and ultimately it's the consumer making the choices.

HUNTER: Greg Hunter, CNN, Gaithersburg, Maryland.


LEMON: Boy, does it look good though. OK, some of the nutritionist tips were pretty much common sense, but what else can we do other than skip Chinese altogether? Our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here with some advice on that. And really, this is sort of the main culprit too. The egg roll versus the spring roll.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Egg roll versus spring roll. You don't have to give up Chinese food, you just have to make some better choices. So here is a great illustration.

LEMON: So what's the difference, this is a spring roll, right?

COHEN: Spring roll, egg roll. This has 200 calories, this has 100 calories. This has 400 milligrams of sodium, this has 100 milligrams of -- 300 milligrams of sodium. So it's a 100 milligram difference. So the choice is pretty clear.

LEMON: Is it how it's prepared? Is because spring roll has a different wrapping? This looks more bubbly, by the way I'm a fan of spring roll.

COHEN: Oh well that's good, there you go.

LEMON: Is it the wrapping it's put in or what it's fried in?

COHEN: It's two things, it's the wrapping and it's the size. This wrapping is more caloric, it's heavier, and this is smaller. So you get fewer calories that way and less sodium that way. What you want to think about when you're thinking about sodium, is that you should think in terms of milligrams per day. For example, Americans -- most adults, are supposed to have about 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. But, your average Chinese meal, as Greg just told us, is 3,000 milligrams per day. So right there in one meal, you're having more sodium than you're supposed to have in the entire day. Now, the culprit here, even though you see that salt shaker, the culprit in our diets usually isn't the salt that you put on at the table. It's salt that's in the food that we get at restaurants or it's salt that's in processed food. That's where the real culprit is. That's where you have to be careful.

LEMON: No matter if it's Chinese food or whatever, just watch it with the salt and the oils and it depends on again what you fry it in and what you cook it in. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you, we'll have information on our Web site, Thanks so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

KEILAR: Coming up, the latest Fed announcement on interest rates. We will take a look at the big board here as we go to break. And then our Susan Lisovicz and Ali Velshi both standing by for us in the NEWSROOM for that fed announcement here in just a few minutes. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


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