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Dennis Hastert Speaks Out Over Foley Scandal; Virginia Police Investigate School Bomb Threat; Criminal Charges Brought in Hewlett- Packard Spying Case
Aired October 05, 2006 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the buck stops here, says Dennis Hastert. But we all know that's not his quote.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
PHILLIPS: But not so for Hastert's -- not so for his career. The speaker of the House took responsibility today for what the Republican leadership did or didn't do about Mark Foley.
LEMON: But he still says he, Hastert, did nothing wrong, and is not resigning. We saw Hastert's news conference moments ago right here on CNN. We heard that live.
And, then, earlier, before that, the Ethics Committee, the House Ethics Committee, announced its own investigation on the Foley case. That was live as well. That investigation could mean dozens of subpoena of House members, officers, and staffers.
Let's head out now to CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She has been handling this all afternoon.
Definitely coming at us fast and furious, right?
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That has been the case for about a week now, Don, no?
Well, the -- the sort of headline that the speaker's office wants us to get out of this is the first thing that he said, which is that -- that he understands that, at the end of the day, he is the speaker of the House, and he takes full responsibility.
Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm sorry -- you know, when you talk about the page issue and what's happened in the Congress, I'm deeply sorry that this has happened.
And the bottom line is that we're taking responsibility, because, ultimately, as someone has said in Washington before, the buck stops here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the speaker making that statement near his -- in his district, just outside Chicago.
He also mentioned a couple of other things. Basically, he said that he does want to get to the bottom of -- of what happened, but -- and he has mentioned that the FBI is investigating. That is already something that is under way. The Ethics Committee is investigating, which we were briefed on earlier today. That already is under way.
And he also did have to answer some of the questions that have been raised, especially in the past day or so, by a former Republican aide that he actually warned the speaker's office about this more than two years ago, about the fact that Mark Foley had some inappropriate contact -- contact with pages.
Now, he was asked about those reports. Here is how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASTERT: I only know what I've seen in the press and what I've heard. There's no ultimate, real source of information, but that's what I've read. And that's what I've heard in the press.
And, so, I -- I -- the fact is, we have turned this whole thing over to the FBI for us to try to find out what happened. And that's what we want to do. And any member of Congress that is involved in this or any staffer needs to comply, and the results are -- will be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, the speaker sort of punting, if you will, this -- the issue to the FBI, and noting that they are investigating.
But, of course, there are still a lot of questions about his staff and what they do, when they knew it. His -- his chief of staff, in particular, who, apparently, was told about this, about Mark Foley's conduct, more than two years ago, he flatly denies that that is true.
Now, one of the other things that the speaker said is that they want to review -- he wants to review the page program. And he said that he is looking for the best person to head up that review. Didn't announce a name.
Now, earlier, we had told that the person that he was going to announce in this press conference, which was billed as a big announcement, was Louis Freeh -- Louis Freeh being the former FBI director.
Now, a House GOP leadership aide tells us that the reason the speaker didn't announce Louis Freeh is because he called the Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, and mentioned the idea to her, and that she said -- that she said, no, she wasn't going to go along with that. And the speaker wanted this to be bipartisan. And that is why he didn't say the name.
On the other side of this, we are hearing from a -- from a spokeswoman for Nancy Pelosi that that isn't the case, that she didn't say no. So, we're trying to get to the bottom of why exactly Louis Freeh's name wasn't mentioned, why he wasn't tapped.
The Republicans are saying that the Democrats said no. The Democrats are saying, we didn't say no.
We don't know the -- we don't know the real deal here, but we're certainly going to try to get to the bottom of it.
LEMON: Dana Bash, the speaker also saying, when it comes time, he -- he is going to run again, and he is not stepping down.
BASH: That's right.
LEMON: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: That is a big headline.
PHILLIPS: Well, the White House has walked a fine line in the Foley affair, but few occasions offer more opportunity for stumbles than the daily on-camera press briefing.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is a regular.
Suzanne, it got a little interesting today?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
I mean, this is really kind of classic case damage control 101. You hear White House officials emphasizing this is the executive branch. Across town is the legislative branch. They're the ones that are dealing with this scandal.
The bottom line, the White House has been trying to distance itself from this particular scandal. Again, we heard Tony Snow, the press secretary, saying that President Bush has not talked to Speaker Hastert or the Republican House leadership since this scandal erupted, that this is something -- that they had only learned of Foley's actions when it came out in the media, also, of course, saying that these e-mails, Foley's e-mails, were reprehensible -- the language certainly evolving since -- when Tony Snow first mentioned them as naughty e-mails -- now hearing much harsher language when it comes to that behavior.
And the third point they're making here is that they are sticking by Speaker Hastert, that they do support him. They do not believe he should step down from the speakership role, clearly trying to move forward here.
But what they are doing is that they are leaving the door open, however, that, if investigators find that Hastert or anybody else is involved in bad behavior, they have not endorsed Hastert's behavior.
So, I pressed that point at the press conference, saying, why is it or how is it that the White House can back Hastert's speakership with so many unanswered questions?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you have a situation where you say support or don't support, in absence of full information, we will stick with what we have got.
MALVEAUX: But why -- why not say: We don't know; we don't know whether or not he should stay in that leadership role because we don't have all the facts?
SNOW: Because we don't think that Danny Hastert's the kind of guy who says: "Man, that's great stuff. We're really glad Foley was doing that on the sly."
We think that -- that everybody who's -- decent people are -- were just absolutely sickened by this. And we hope that people are going to work together on Capitol Hill -- Democrats and Republicans -- to fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So, clearly, while the White House is trying to distance itself from the scandal, it definitely has a dog in this fight.
I mean, they have been invested for weeks and months now of trying to make sure that the Republicans maintain their majorities in the House and Senate, very important to do to make sure that President Bush can get anything done in the remaining two years.
You heard Tony Snow as well talk about, well, the president, the administration is focused on important issues, as if this wasn't an important issue -- clearly, an important issue in Washington, outside of Washington as well.
We heard similar language from Hastert as well, saying that, we want to move beyond this.
Obviously, they are trying to change the subject -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Suzanne Malveaux, thanks so much.
LEMON: Let's head straight to the newsroom now and Carol Lin with new details on this developing story -- Carol.
CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, CNN has just learned, through the daily Oklahoma newspaper, that a former House page has now hired a high-powered attorney.
It turns out it is Stephen Jones, who once represented Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. This is what we know so far. According to the daily "Oklahoman," a former House page now working on a gubernatorial campaign for Oklahoma Republican Congressman Ernest Istook has hired this attorney.
When this attorney was contacted by the newspaper as to specifically why he was hired, well, Stephen Jones simply replied: "Well, you have been reading the blogs. You know why he needs an attorney" -- so, no specific allegations, you know, allegations just yet.
But, according to the newspaper, this former page is a Californian. He was going to U.C. Berkeley at the time. And when he was a page, he would have been about 16 or 17 years old.
The newspaper, Don, did contact the -- the congressman that the -- the former page is now working for. And this congressman did make a point of saying that each of these victims deserve their privacy. And he said to every reporter: "I request, please have the decency to avoid making things worse for the victims. Just leave them alone."
So, it appears that perhaps the next wave in this story may be starting -- high-powered attorney hired by a former page.
LEMON: Well, OK. Thank you very much, Carol Lin, in the newsroom.
Well, you can't schedule a scandal? Or can you? With the Foley scandal breaking, when did suspicions -- when -- when it did, suspicions, insinuations, allegations are flying like autumn leaves. And it's every candidate for him or even herself.
Here is CNN's Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scarcely 72 hours after the resignation of Mark Foley, Democrats were already working the story into their campaign ads -- no surprise.
But what's more striking on the campaign trail is that some Republicans running for Congress were also using questions about Mark Foley to separate themselves from the House Republican leadership.
Last night, in Maryland's Senate race, the Republican taking an uncompromising stance, saying -- quote -- "We need to investigate every member who touched this matter. And, if they're found conduct unbecoming, then, they, too, should resign, before they're removed."
In a House debate in Iowa, the same warning from the Republican to the leadership.
QUESTION: Knowing what we know as of tonight, should Speaker Hastert resign?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need to investigate. And, if somebody had information of improper activity that threatened the safety of pages, young children working at the Capitol, then, yes.
JOHNS: On top of all that, a Kentucky congressman disinvited the speaker from a campaign appearance because of the investigation.
For Republicans, especially conservatives, who like campaigns to be run on higher ground, this kind of scandal is especially hard.
MANUEL MIRANDA, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: There's no doubt that Republicans are associated with moral values and legislation that reflects moral values. So, it's perfectly understandable that supporters of Republicans would hold them to a high standard.
JOHNS: But the counterattack they continue to search for is something that shows Democrats planned all this as an October surprise.
MIRANDA: Sure. You know, there's another side to this, of course, which is that this is a -- seems to be a fairly well- orchestrated war room tactic, to go after a congressman like this just short of an election. And, if Democrats were holding back information of this sort, they could also be held liable, under criminal law, for endangering the welfare of minors.
JOHNS: For the Democrats right now, some say the danger is the campaign ads. Democrat Patty Wetterling is running for the House in Minnesota.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: It shocks the conscience. Congressional leaders have admitted covering up the predatory behavior of a congressman who used the Internet to molest children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Unproven allegations, no evidence made public so far suggests a molestation charge. Nor has there been any admission of a cover-up. And even some Democratic strategists warn that, if the party is seen to be politicizing something this serious, it could backfire.
JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Democrats to start playing judge and jury and coming to legal conclusions or factual conclusions, before we know the facts, is, one, not the right thing to do from a legal point of view, a procedural point of view, but I think also not the right thing to do from a -- from a -- from a political point of view as well.
JOHNS: Call it a Foley effect. It has already started, though no one knows how much damage it will ultimately do to Republicans.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
LEMON: And Joe Johns, part of the best political team on television. Catch more of his reports on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," weeknights at 10:00 Eastern. And make sure you get your daily dose of political news from CNN's political news ticker. Just go to CNN.com/ticker.
PHILLIPS: Well, thousands of Virginia schoolchildren got the day off today because of a bomb threat.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us now from Culpeper, Virginia, with the latest -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, law enforcement and school officials tell us that all of the public schools here in Culpeper County have now been searched with canine detection teams, and they have found nothing.
They are now searching on to the private and church-based schools here in the county, all of this after a bomb threat last night. The first call came in at 11:31 to the sheriff's office.
And Sheriff Lee Hart tells CNN that there was more than one telephone call, and that there are some recordings. The caller spoke about bombs and schools, but he didn't specify a particular school. And, so, after a middle-of-the-night conferral with school officials, both public and private, a decision was made to close all the schools in the county.
The backdrop for all of this, of course, the recent school shootings in Colorado and Pennsylvania and in Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID COX, CULPEPER COUNTY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: We're mindful of -- of the tragedies that have happened across the country. And, certainly, we recognize that that has caused a lot of concern.
But I would have to say that, had these incidents not happened across the country, and we had the same information that we did prior to making this decision, the decision would still have been the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: All activities at schools here in Culpeper County have been canceled, including a back-to-school night at an elementary school tonight -- no decision yet on whether or not schools will be open tomorrow.
Sheriff Lee Hart tells CNN they do have leads in this investigation. They are being aggressively pursued.
We will get a press briefing in another half-hour, and hope to learn more -- Kyra, back to you.
PHILLIPS: Jeanne Meserve, thanks so much.
Well, it's never easy to keep a secret in Washington. And it's even harder if you happen to be gay -- coming up in the NEWSROOM: the high price of leading a double life.
LEMON: Four days after Mark Foley was out of Congress, out of the good graces of his former colleagues and constituents, he is out, self-identified as gay. While three current members of Congress are openly gay, politicians who try to conceal their sexual orientations can face some pretty heavy stress.
Sari Locker is a sexuality educator. And she joins us from Watertown, Massachusetts.
SARI LOCKER, SEXUALITY EDUCATOR: Hi.
LEMON: Sari, the big question is, of course, first of all, why come out now?
LOCKER: I don't know.
It -- it has been an interesting development over the last few days with Foley. But I do know that, years ago, there had been much discussion and speculation that Foley was gay. And he vehemently denied the accusations. And, in fact, he said that it was -- well, I'm paraphrasing -- but he said that it was disgusting that this was being discussed or was being asked him.
LOCKER: So, you know, it's up to -- to him at some point to reveal his decision in this process. And it is an individual process for everyone who does decide to come out, politician or not.
LEMON: Yes. And it -- the -- the timing, unfortunately, for the gay community, is that he came out, but there's -- there are also accusations, of course, that he -- that this situation may have led to possibly, you know, sexual relationships with -- with kids or younger people, someone who...
LEMON: ... may be 16 or 15 years old.
LEMON: And you cannot equate the two, obviously.
LOCKER: Yes. Thank you for saying that.
LEMON: But, in some people's minds, you, as someone who studies this, might some people equate this in their mind, because they are seeing, of course, him coming out, and then they are also seeing these sexually explicit e-mails and text messages?
But I think that the majority of Americans today know that being gay does not mean being interested in young people, or boys, in this case. So, I think that people should, if they don't already understand that.
Interestingly, you know, we were discussing that -- that it had -- there had been so much speculation for years that Foley was gay. Now, Jim Kolbe, who is a gay Republican in the House of Representatives, was also almost outed. But, instead, he decided to come out himself.
And he has not -- as far as, you know, I -- I have known, he has not found this to be a problem for him as his role in -- as -- in the House of Representatives. So...
LEMON: Well, Sari, let's -- let's talk about that...
LEMON: ... because, obviously, you have to weigh the consequences when you're in that situation, especially if you're in Congress and you're a Republican. How do you weigh those consequences? Because everybody wants -- most people, at least, want to have a viable career.
And, in some...
LEMON: ... career choices, some professions, it could be a liability -- in many professions.
LOCKER: That's right.
And, when it comes to politics, many politicians think that they are going to losing votes if they come out. But, today, that's not necessarily true. And, of course, out, gay Democrats, like Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, have gone to prove that -- of course, Barney Frank is very popular. And he has gone to prove that coming out does not mean that he's going to lose votes.
LEMON: You don't think that being Republican holds any more weight, maybe harder for someone who is a Republican member of Congress to live an openly gay lifestyle?
LOCKER: I think that it may be more difficult.
And I actually think a politician at any level who is a Republican may have a difficult time wanting to come out, because most people think that a gay Republican is an oxymoron, when, in fact, we're learning, more and more, that it might not be.
Now, I think that -- I was saying coming out is a very personal process. And when someone who is gay is worried that it will interfere with his or her career, that person often opts to try to not come out.
And, in terms of some politicians that we have heard about in the past -- Jim McGreevey, of course, comes to mind -- they might try to get into a heterosexual marriage, and deny that they are gay, and even to themselves, deny themselves these opportunities to be a genuine person, to express that aspect of their identity, even to themselves.
LEMON: Let's talk about -- let's talk about that again, weighing the consequences, of course.
Do you think...
LEMON: And I don't know if you can answer this. Do you think it's better to come out, to have people who are in high-profile professions, high-profile positions, like a congressman, do you think it's better for them to come out of the closet and be visible? Or should they weigh the options with their career, and maybe, you know, sort of a don't-ask/don't-tell policy might apply there?
LOCKER: I will tell you, psychologically speaking, it is going to be healthier for them to come out, so that they are accepting themselves, and so that they're living a life where they can feel comfortable and free.
But, honestly, when we talk about the political arena, so many times, when someone hears that someone in government is gay, that's the first thing that the person then thinks about.
So, we were talking about Jim Kolbe. Now, either -- someone who knows that he is gay might think he's a gay Republican in the House of Representatives, or they might just think about the actual issues that he stands up for. And they may -- well, what I'm trying to say is that someone -- once someone finds out that he's gay, they might have a difficult time seeing him for who he is as a full person.
LOCKER: So, there is a danger.
LEMON: Right. All right.
Sari Locker, thank you very much.
And, as we want to say...
LOCKER: Thank you.
LEMON: And I'm sure you...
LEMON: ... yes or no, none of this is an excuse for the type of behavior that Mark Foley exhibited.
LEMON: Thank you, Sari Locker.
LOCKER: That's right.
LEMON: Thank you very much for joining us here in the NEWSROOM.
LOCKER: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Well, moving on amid mourning -- as four young shooting victims go to their graves, the Amish community look for solace in faith and forgiveness.
We have got that story right here from the NEWSROOM.
LEMON: All right, let's go now to business news, where we have got a new development in the H.P. spying scandal.
PHILLIPS: Cheryl Casone at the New York Stock Exchange with the latest.
CHERYL CASONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kyra and Don.
CNN has confirmed that four of the defendants in the case, including H.P.'s former chairwoman, Patricia Dunn, and its former chief ethics lawyer, will voluntarily surrender to authorities -- Dunn expected to appear at a Santa Clara courthouse at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time to set her arraignment date.
Now, CNN has not yet made contact with the fifth defendant's lawyer. California's attorney general filed four criminal charges each against Dunn and four others yesterday in connection with H.P.'s investigation into boardroom leaks.
And another story we have been following for you today, union workers at Goodyear Tire and Rubber have gone on strike this afternoon, after failing to reach a new labor pact. The work stoppage involves more than 15,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada at 16 plants. Their contract expired back in July, Kyra and Don -- so, that strike beginning today.
PHILLIPS: Well, in other news, it looks like residents of Florida, they are going to get some relief from high-prescription drug prices sooner than expected, right?
You know, we have been talking about this for a while, this prescription drug plan from Wal-Mart. Boy, it's really kicking into high gear. Wal-Mart says it is going to speed up its program to offer those cheap generic drugs to their customers beginning tomorrow -- the world's largest retailer going to offer $4 generic prescription drugs across the entire state of Florida.
That's four months earlier than we expected from the company. And Wal-Mart now says the plan is going to include 314 prescriptions. That's up from an earlier estimate of 291.
Now, that plan expected to be expanded beyond Florida in the coming weeks. Shares of Wal-Mart, however, are losing more than 2 percent on some weak sales numbers.
As for stocks overall, they have turned slightly higher -- right now, the Dow Jones industrials trading higher by 16 points, and the Nasdaq up a little bit more than a half-of-a-percent.
We are on track again for another record close, the third day in a row for that. Well, that's thanks in -- partly to a 6 percent jump in shares of Starbucks -- the coffee chain posting better-than- expected September sales. And they also set a new long-term goal of having 40,000 stores worldwide. That's 10,000 more than they had previously planned, guys.
So, if you're drinking coffee, more options for you out there...
CASONE: ... when it comes to Starbucks. They're really everywhere.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, Cheryl Casone.
Guess who is coming to dinner? The American secretary of state. She pops into a Baghdad -- into Baghdad unannounced, but it's no happy house call. She's got a serious message for Iraq leaders.
PHILLIPS: Plus, more on our top story -- the Foley scandal has House Speaker Dennis Hastert fighting for his political life. Can he hang on?
The latest ahead from the NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: A milestone today for NATO and the war on terror. NATO's flag now flies now over all of Afghanistan, instead of mainly in the west. A British general commands the allied presence there, 31,000 troops from 37 nations, more than a third of them from the U.S. It's almost five years to the day since U.S. forces entered Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from power. Another 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will stay under U.S. command while training Afghan forces and doing reconstruction. A surprise visit that really was not much of a surprise. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice at the end of a Middle East tour pops in unannounced on Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. Her stop, like that of any VIP, not announced for security reasons. Even so, Rice's landing in Baghdad had to be delayed half an hour because of mortar fire or maybe rockets near the airport.
Well here we go again. Is he alive or dead? But this time, the he is not Osama bin Laden. The man at the center of the speculation is Abu Ayyub al-Masri. He's a relatively new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. One Arabic language news network claims al-Masri and a few others were killed in a U.S. air strike. The U.S. says it's not true, and Iraqi government says it's not true. Still, they will test DNA examples from a man who was killed just to be sure.
PHILLIPS: Our top story today, House Speaker Dennis Hastert says the buck stops with him and he is staying put. Hastert told a news conference last hour that he takes responsibility for the way that the Mark Foley scandal has been handled or not handled. He also said he's not going to resign. Hastert says anyone who knows anything about the Foley case should tell investigators everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNIS HASTERT, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, (R-IL): I don't know who knew what when. We know that there are reports of people that knew it and kind of fed it out or leaked it to the press. You know, that's why we've asked for investigations. So let me just say that's why we've asked for an investigation to find who that is. If it's members of my staff or they didn't do the job, we will act appropriately. If it's somebody's staff, they ought to act appropriately as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Also today a House Ethics subcommittee approved four dozen subpoenas for evidence and testimony. The committee chairman says dozens of House members and staff could be subpoenaed.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert says his Republican critics are playing into the hands of Democrats and he insists he's not going to resign over the Foley scandal.
With me now from D.C., two conservatives with two different opinions on Hastert. Bay Buchanan leads American Cause. Ron Christie is a former adviser to President Bush. Great to see you both.
Bay, should Hastert stay or go?
BAY BUCHANAN, PRES. AMERICAN CAUSE: I believe he has to go. I think it's in the best interest of the party right now. I think what Americans have observed that our leadership, the leadership of the Republican party, when they recognized early on, either six months ago, 12 months ago, whenever it was, that children were at risk, they did not take appropriate action and that's too serious an error, too huge a blunder for we to accept. I believe that the parents of this country are going to demand that he step down and that the Republican party get new leadership and complete this investigation.
RON CHRISTIE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, Kyra, I'm always one not to rush to judgment for being a lawyer and not knowing what all the facts are. Clearly, one thing that we do know is that former Representative Foley acted in a reprehensible fashion and I'm glad that he resigned his office immediately.
But I think what the American people demand of their leaders in Washington right now is a full accounting of the facts. and as the Speaker said, the buck does stop with him. He has empaneled the House Ethics Committee to look into these allegations very closely. But he's also sent a letter to Florida Governor Jeb Bush to ask the state of Florida to investigate, as well as the FBI and Justice Department.
PHILLIPS: But Ron, there was even a questionable e-mail that surfaced more than a year ago, around a year ago, where John Shimkus actually had to go tell Foley, stop this behavior. The question is why didn't anybody get suspicious or pay closer attention and monitor? That sure happens here in our place of work.
PHILLIPS: If is there suspicious activity, boy, they're on you.
CHRISTIE: Well, Kyra, let me answer this very carefully. What Representative Shimkus was approached by Member Rodney Alexander from Louisiana, who had said that a former page had been contacted by Mr. Foley for a picture and asked what he would like for his birthday. At that point, at this point in the investigation at least, there is no indication that there was anything salacious about that contact other than a picture had been requested. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback this at this point, but to suggest that we knew the full salacious detail of what Mr. Foley was doing, I think is irresponsible.
PHILLIPS: Bay, what do you think?
BUCHANAN: I'm just outraged. I think this town must become so much involved in their own political world that they have lost contact with the real world. I'm a parent of three young boys, they're no longer as young as I'd like to believe, but all parents that I've talked to -- I can guarantee you, that if one of my boys came to me and said a 52 year-old man in a powerful position, a known homosexual has been e-mailing me at home, mom, and has asked for my picture, that is warning sign.
We know right away what that is. That's a predator and our children are at harm. And that is when you take action immediately and you make certain that this fellow is no way gets in any more further contact with any children. And you make certain that you investigate to see if there has been a previous problem. So they did none of this. And do you know what else they did? They then, after they knew this, they knew he wanted to have a picture of a 16 year-old, they then encouraged him to run again. Mark Foley was thinking of not running for re-election. They went out there and encouraged this fellow, they knew had predator stamped all over him, to ask him to run again. That's a problem. What price victory is what I ask.
PHILLIPS: Ron, it leads to my next question. You sit back and you think, wow, is it really that big of a good ole boy network that, unless somebody comes forward or a journalist exposes some sort of secret, that what we're seeing is that power is everything, and you can get by with one of the worse things possible, and that is crimes against children.
You tend to wonder where's the moral compass and, at what point, can we finally sit back and not have this sort of stereotype that there are all of these secrets going on on the Hill and nothing being done to take care of it because of this culture?
CHRISTIE: Well, I share Bay's outrage, actually. I mean, as one who looks to protect children and those in the members of the House of Representatives have a moral obligation to make sure that people are protected. And if, in fact, there are members who had information or withheld information, they should be held accountable for those actions.
But my sense of outrage of the story, I have tell you, Kyra, comes from one simple fact. We don't know what all the facts are. It's easy to say, there's a culture of an old boy network, or people are hiding the facts. We don't know what the facts are.
My outrage is that the fact of the matter is there is a reporter from another network who had these e-mails apparently. I want to know when did this reporter get that information, who else had that information, and how long did they have it? Because those are hand- wringing and saying that Denny Hastert and those in the Republican leadership should be held accountable, well, I want to know who had the e-mails, and why didn't they go to the authorities and report this disgusting information?
BUCHANAN: I think the first -- Ron is right. We need to find out exactly who knew, when they knew it. And I believe Tom Cole of the Ethics Committee has every intention of doing that, find out if any of these other pages and the other people in office have been bothering them. All that has to be done.
But the key here is this is what we did know. We did know that the parents of a 16 year-old boy contacted a Congressman. And a number of Congressmen became aware that the 16 year-old felt uncomfortable. He thought it was sick that this other Congressman was asking for his picture. He was very unnerved by all this, and we did nothing.
That kid understood that this was a predator. The parents understood that this was a problem. And the Congressmen, if they could react just like people in the real world, they would of understood, too, without question they had to take action. Independent of anything else, they had to stop Mark Foley, stop him cold in his tracks and make certain there's no other kids that he could harm. They failed news that regard.
PHILLIPS: Let me ask you -- and I'm just going to step away from the crime or the allegations that exist here, the pedophile aspect of this, OK?
And I just want to ask you guys a question about being openly gay on the Hill, being an openly gay Republican. Can that ever happen?
CHRISTIE: Of course, it can happen, Kyra. I've worked on the Hill for eight years.
PHILLIPS: Really, you can? You can be an openly gay Republican and feel comfortable about yourself, a party that's supposed to represent faith and family values and very much against gay marriage?
CHRISTIE: Wait a second. The Republican party has a very wide tent, the Republican party is very diverse by way of the number of people who come from a variety of ethnic, religious and different backgrounds. I spent eight years working on Capitol Hill. Representative Jim Kolbe from Arizona is a homosexual member, former member Gunderson.
Look, to suggest that somehow the Republican party, just because there might be people in their private life who carry on a different activities that I might necessarily agree with, or they might not necessarily agree with, doesn't suggest that the Republican party is homophobic or bashing. I think that's a dangerous line to tread across.
BUCHANAN: I think it's an outrageous assumption. I mean, people in their -- make their own decisions in the life and the party puts out its principles and its issues and they defend them. And if individuals feel attracted to that party for whatever reason, then we accept them. But we don't change. We should not change ourselves because of those in the party who may disagree with parts of our agenda.
But I will tell you, Kyra, one of the things that I find most upsetting is that several people have suggested that our leadership thought it might be gay bashing if they took action against Mark Foley. This is not about Mark Foley being a homosexual. It's the fact that Mark Foley, a known homosexual, was actually interested in a 16-year-old page and his picture, which tells me he's just not a homosexual, he is a predator, somebody interested in children.
That's where he crossed the line and that's when our speakers had to step up, whether they felt uncomfortable or not. We don't allow the kids to feel uncomfortable, we don't leave them out there alone. We take, as adults who are responsible, all the actions we have to protect them. And that's where our leaders failed us, and that's where I think our leaders must step down.
PHILLIPS: Bay, Ron, thank you so much.
CHRISTIE: Thanks, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: I know we'll be talking again, that's for sure. It's not going away any time soon.
LEMON: We have to move on now, and let's take a look at some of this video. Actually, these are live pictures. Story we've been covering here for about a week and a half now. Four young shooting victims go to their graves. The Amish community look for solace and faith and forgiveness. Live pictures of the funeral procession.
More on this story ahead, right here in the NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: A threatening call, plus an abundance of caution, equals canceled classes for thousands of students in northern Virginia. Police are searching every school in Culpeper County after possible explosives after someone called an emergency center and threatened to blow up the schools. They're more than halfway through, and so far haven't found anything suspicious.
LEMON: After the trauma, tradition brings much needed comfort to Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Today's successive funerals for four victims of the Amish schoolhouse shootings. Apart from a brief stretch of road between the girls' homes and the graveyard, road blocks and restricted air space are shielding mourners from the media.
One Amish bishop called Monday's murder spree, "our 9/11," but faith is already moving many to forgive. That includes Enos Miller. Two of his granddaughters are being buried today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anger towards the gunman's family?
ENOS MILLER, VICTIMS' GRANDFATHER: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you already forgiven?
MILLER: Yes, in my heart, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is that possible?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Through God's help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The Amish are also reaching out to the family of gunman Charles Roberts. One man says he hopes they stay in the area where they'll have friends and some support.
Four days after Charles Roberts stormed their one-room schoolhouse, five Amish girls are still hospitalized, three in critical condition, two in serious. At the request of the families, little information is being released. We do know the girls range in age from six to 13 years old and that a 12-year-old victim who was shot in the arm and leg is now able to communicate with her family.
A spokesperson for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia says the families are grateful for all of the support and ask for continued prayer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had five victims die thus far as a result of this attack, and I'm going to give you their names and their age.
First victim, Naomi, N-A-O-M-I, Rose Eversol, E-V-E-R-S-O-L, age seven.
Second victim, Anna, A-N-N-A, May, M-A-Y, Stoltzfus, S-T-O-L-T-Z- F-U-S, age 12.
Third victim, Marian Fisher. M-A-R-I-A-N F-I-S-H-E-R, age 13.
Fourth victim, Mary Liz Miller. M-A-R-Y L-I-Z M-I-L-L-E-R, age eight.
Fifth victim, Lina Miller. L-I-N-A M-I-L-L-E-R, age seven.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Straight to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with a developing story involving North Korea. Barbara, what's the latest?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, just a short while ago, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stopped on the steps of the Pentagon to talk to the press corps ad hoc. It was not planned. He spoke to the press corps for about 10-to-12 minutes about the subject of North Korea and the fact that he stopped to talk to us is, frankly, the most important thing here.
That means Secretary Rumsfeld wanted to talk about North Korea, about the North Korean statement that they will conduct a nuclear test and he weighed in very strongly on the notion that the international community must get a cohesive effort going to ensure that North Korea, through diplomatic means, does not conduct such a test.
But right off the top, the secretary was very clear about just how close the U.S. government and particularly the U.S. intelligence community is watching this unfolding development.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think I need to be in the speculation business. The intelligence community is gathering what information they're able to gather. At some point, we'll know if it is words or actually a test and it will speak for itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Kyra, the secretary went on to say that one of his major concerns about all of this is, of course, the issue of proliferation. North Korea, well-known in the international community to be quite willing to sell its missiles, its arms, its technology around the world to states that the U.S. certainly does not want to see have that technology.
And the secretary said to one reporter you put your finger on it, proliferation. The concern is if they conduct a nuclear test, who will North Korea then sell that nuclear technology to? But the secretary also wrapping it up by saying he does feel that if and when a test were to occur, he believes the U.S. intelligence community will know that piece of critical information very quickly, that U.S. sensors and other intelligence assets, such as satellites, will be able to determine if the North Koreans conduct such a test -- Kyra?
PHILLIPS: All right Barbara, thanks.
LEMON: The president gave one of his programs a gold star today with the Washington elementary and middle school as a stage. Mr. Bush pushed Congress to renew his No Child Left Behind Act next year. He said it has resulted in better math and reading test scores.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is an achievement gap in America that is not good for the future of this country. Some kids can read at grade level and some can't and that is unsatisfactory.
I know it's unsatisfactory for the educators who are here. It's unsatisfactory if you're a parent and it's unsatisfactory for the president. You can't have a hopeful America if certain kids can read at grade level and other can't and we don't address the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But No Child Left Behind doesn't get a passing grade from everyone. Critics saying test scores were rising faster before the act took effect. They also say the program has been underfunded by $40 billion.
PHILLIPS: Fighting firearms with firearms, an explosive idea in a state reeling from a deadly school shooting. Sean Ryan of CNN affiliate WKOW reports from Madison, Wisconsin.
FRANK LASEE, WISCONSIN STATE HOUSE: These things happen. Unfortunately for some reason, some people do things like this.
SEAN RYAN, WKOW CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): State representative Frank Lasee say the recent school shootings in reason enough for school administrators to have guns.
LASEE: If we have teachers and other school people who are willing, able, well-trained, I think it would increase safety.
RYAN: He says principals, teachers, even janitors should have the option of carrying a gun. But others are not convinced.
SPENCER BLACK, WISCONSIN STATE HOUSE: Every so often, a truly bad idea comes along from legislators and this is one of them.
RYAN: Democratic Representative Spencer Black, a former school teacher himself, is vehemently against the proposed legislation.
BLACK: In a situation like that, a kid who is bent on violence, if he thinks the principal is armed, is going to shoot first and ask questions later.
RYAN: As for here in the Madison school district, the idea just wouldn't fly.
LUIS YUDICE, MADISON SCHOOL DISTRICT: Everything that is done by the school has to have the support of our community and I don't believe that our community would support the district turning the schools into garrisons or military bases.
BLACK: As terrible as school shootings are, this is not the answer. This would be likely to increase violence in the schools, not decrease it.
LASEE: It isn't the silver bullet to solve all of our problems, but I believe it is part of the mix of what we should be allowing our schools to do in order to protect our children.
PHILLIPS: Thanks again to Sean Ryan of CNN affiliate WKOW for that report.
LEMON: All right, well a look at the action on Wall Street straight ahead. You're in the NEWSROOM.
LEMON: She's cracking up.
PHILLIPS: Oh, goodness, gracious. Ali Velshi, help me out here.
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