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The Situation Room

Capitol Lockdown Most Likely False Alarm; Immigration Wars Continue Between House and Senate; Judge In CIA Leak Case Orders "Time" Magazine To Turn Over Article Drafts; Treasury Secretary John Snow's Days In Bush Administration May Be Numbered; Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Fresh Off Meeting With Vicente Fox.

Aired May 26, 2006 - 16:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.
Happening now, aftershocks on Capitol Hill. A report of gunfire leads to a lockdown. It's 4:00 p.m. here in Washington. We have new details on how this emergency is playing out.

Also this hour, the attorney general is summoned by the Senate majority leader. Can they diffuse a constitutional showdown? We're following the fall-out from the raid on a Congressman's office.

And only in California, the governor's race mirrors the movies. Will the terminator prevail or will it be revenge of the nerds on election day?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John King. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This hour, the Capitol is open again and an all clear has been issued, but the investigation continues into a report that shots might have been fired. SWAT teams have been combing the Rayburn House Office Building, where the sound of gunfire apparently was heard inside a garage this morning. Parts of the Capitol were locked down, not once, but twice. Capitol Police saying they've been trying to err on the side of caution, knowing perhaps lives might be at risk.

Our Brian Todd has been tracking this story all day long, and joins us now with the latest information -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, just a short time ago, we were told by the Capitol Hill Police that the Rayburn House Office Building was open again for, in their words, "normal activities." So the all clear has been sounded. No injuries to report. No evidence of a shooting.

Just a short time ago, Capitol Hill Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said that they were investigating what they called a plausible explanation. Then she was asked what that explanation was. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SGT. KIMBERLY SCHNEIDER, CAPITOL HILL POLICE SPOKESWOMAN: There were some workers who were working in the area of the Rayburn garage in the elevator area. And in doing some routine duties, they made some sort of a noise that sounded like shots fired. So it was a valid call. Unfortunately, it was just routine duties being performed by some construction workers in the area.


TODD: So those routine duties that led to those noises in that report resulted in a lockdown of about five hours. Police and SWAT teams and emergency response vehicles were swarming the area. You see some scenes here from that time. We were all around that building on different sides. It was just -- it was a massive, massive response. They had tactical teams searching the building.

It took five hours of a lockdown because they were searching literally every room of this office building, as you know, John, is huge. It has several hundred rooms and they were going into each room. The members of the House and their staffs who were in the office building at the time were on lockdown, couldn't leave their offices.

There were special codes that the officers were using to get into the rooms. We can't tell you what those were, obviously, but they would use the protocols to get into each House office and search it, ask questions to the staffers, check I.D.s. Took several hours to do that.

In the very end, though, as you saw, good news we can report. No injuries, no evidence of shots being fired. And the plausible explanation, as you just heard from Capitol Hill Police spokeswoman Sergeant Kimberly Schneider that office workers -- that the construction workers were down in that garage area doing some routine maintenance and construction and they -- there was some kind of equipment that made that kind of a noise, therefore resulting in a pretty serious situation earlier.

KING: Brian Todd, thank you very much. Our thanks, as well, to our entire team on Capitol Hill -- reporters, producers, photojournalists. A nice job today in a very confusing situation. Apparently good news tonight, but we'll continue to keep track of this.

And the Internet is giving us some unprecedented access to the story, from a congressman who was locked inside the Rayburn building during the lockdown. Our Internet reporter Jacki Schechner is standing by with more.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: John, Georgia Republican Jack Kingston and his staff stuck inside the Rayburn office. They were updating his blog to keep people posted on what was going on inside that building during the incident. "Shots fired. Everyone in this office is safe."

You can see the posting there. They were putting on line the e- mails they were getting from Capitol Police throughout the day, warning them to move to the nearest interior office, away from the windows, and to stay there.

Other information showing up online, a press release talking about one of their staffers who was put into an ambulance during the incident, not having been shot or injured, but rather, shaken by the incident, making that very clear to us and anyone reading. And also now continuing to update, saying that their colleague has been released, is heading home and is OK -- John.

KING: Jacki Schechner, thank you very much.

And here is one reason Capitol Police take any report of gunfire quite seriously. Back on July 24th, 1998, a man with a history of mental illness shot and killed a Capitol police officer at the entrance to the Capitol building. That man then charged into an adjacent suite of offices and killed a second officer in a gun fight. The shooter was wounded and captured.

New developments today in a very different kind of emergency on Capitol Hill, this constitutional showdown over the raid of a Democratic Congressman's office. In a surprise move, the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist summoned the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to his office.

Our congressional correspondent Dana Bash has the inside story on that development -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, while most of Capitol Hill was focused on what you were just talking about, what was going on over in the Rayburn building, the attorney general came right here to the Capitol, went to meet with the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to talk about the constitutional showdown that had happened all week over the documents that were seized from Congressman William Jefferson's office.

Now, we're told the attorney general came here, according to a senior Frist aide, to essentially give the majority leader details about their position, why they, at the Justice Department, think that it was a good idea and a necessary thing to raid Congressman Jefferson's office, also to talk about some of the procedure and process in the future, going forward not just on the Jefferson case, but any time this could potentially happen again in the future.

Now, Senator Frist made his concerns known publicly from the beginning, but it was really, of course, the House speaker Dennis Hastert that has taken the lead on saying that he thinks that this was constitutionally wrong to raid a Congressman's office here on Capitol Hill.

And certainly, many Republicans back him on that, but we are hearing more and more from some Republicans, John, that they actually think that it -- that his position is a mistake. In fact, we are told that in a meeting yesterday with the rank and file Republicans, he got a bit of an earful from some who say that they're worried it looks like members of Congress are above the law. Now, we talked to Republican Senator David Vitter of Congressman Jefferson's home state of Louisiana, and he said what he thinks the American people are going to see in this.


SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: I tell you exactly how they're going to react, that Congress is protecting itself. Congress is hiding something. I think that is enormously destructive, particularly as we try to cope with these very real scandals that have been coming up in the last couple of years.


BASH: Now politically, I can tell you on conservative blogs, conservative radio and elsewhere, there does seem to be frustration aimed at the Republican leaders that what they think that they should have been doing is taking advantage of the fact that $90,000 was allegedly found in a Democratic Congressman's freezer. And instead, they had turned this story into an issue, a showdown between them and the Bush White House on a constitutional issue.

But I can tell you that from the House speaker's point of view, he says that he was doing his job, as given his position here in Congress. But I can also tell you that a spokesman for the speaker says they're ready to move on -- John.

KING: And I talked just a few minutes ago to White House Counsel Dan Bartlett about this issue. We'll hear his take on all of this, and the political toll, perhaps, on the president, in the next hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But I want to move on to another question. It's a very busy day on Capitol Hill. This, of course, the morning after the Senate passed its big sweeping immigration bill. That bill now goes over to the House. Quite a bit of pressure from the White House and the backers of the Senate bill on House conservatives. They say you must compromise. We need this bill in this election year. The president must sign it. Any indication on this day that House conservatives are ready to yield?

BASH: No, not at all. And I guess -- what we should probably do first is show our viewers, in general, what is in each of these bills, what passed the Senate and what passed the House late last year. First of all, the Senate increases border security. So does the House. The Senate does have a guest worker program. The House bill does not have a guest worker program. And this is the key, of course. The Senate bill offers a path to citizenship. The House has nothing of the sort. In fact, it makes illegal immigration essentially a felony.

Now to answer your question, the House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, who is the author of the House bill, had a press conference today. He said that the two sides are 180 degrees apart. He also said that -- he sort of chided the president about his position, of course saying that his position in support of a guest worker program, in his view, was amnesty.

He also seemed to mock the president's political director, deputy chief of staff, now Karl Rove. He has come not twice, but twice, to meet with House Republicans on the issue. Listen to what the chairman said about that.


REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: The president dispatched Karl Rove, guru in chief up there, at the Republican conference both this week and last week. And I didn't attend either of those conferences because I didn't want to be accused of putting my colleagues up to asking very pointed questions in a loud voice to the president's chief political adviser. That's what they did. And they jumped all over Rove. And they said the president is not where the American people are at.


BASH: Now the chairman also said that he is willing to engage in trying to find what he called an effective compromise. But he also stood firm, as he just heard, saying that he simply will not support anything that looks like what they passed here in the Senate. And even talking -- the chairman is obviously somebody who, it's fair to say, is a hard liner.

But, John, even talking to moderate Republicans in the House, they say the chances are at best 50/50 they can find compromise. I talked to one who said he does not see at this point where the middle ground is.

KING: Dana Bash for us on Capitol Hill. A very busy, busy day on Capitol Hill. Dana, thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you.

KING: And a new ruling today in the CIA leak case, and a partial victory for former vice presidential chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby. A federal judge is forcing "Time" magazine to turn over some draft versions of an article the judge says might help Libby's defense against perjury and other charges.

They judge also ruled that some reporters and other news organizations may have to surrender certain notes he deems relevant to Libby's case. A critical point here for the news media is another judge ruling that reporters do not have a right to refuse to provide notes or other information in a criminal case.

Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us now on the phone. Jeff, let's start with the first question. What does this mean -- a partial victory? What does this mean for the Libby defense team?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the Libby defense team -- Libby is accused of lying to the grand jury about what the reporters and he talked about in their conversations. What Libby is trying to do is get their notes to show he's not lying, the reporters are lying. So the notes are an attempt to discredit Matt Cooper, Judith Miller and Tim Russert who are going to be key witnesses against them.

KING: And in the sense of what it means for the news media, this ruling that there is no privilege. If you have notes or other documents that might be of use in a criminal case, you're like anybody else. What does it mean for our business?

TOOBIN: Well, it means that it is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for these news organizations and the individual reporters to refuse to comply. Judith Miller went to jail during the investigation of this case because courts held that she had no right to refuse.

The trial is likely to produce similar rulings, so the reporters are going to likely face the problem of either complying or go to jail like Miller did earlier.

KING: Now, we should make clear -- and Jeff, help our viewers understand the difference. This is not saying any of this will actually be introduced in trial. That trial is scheduled for January. The judge is having months and months of hearing essentially to clean things up, so that he can run a quick trial. He wants to decide first what is relevant, and what is not. How does that play out?

TOOBIN: Well, what it means is this litigation is just beginning. The issue of the reporters is so central to this case. They are such important witnesses that their notes, their thought processes, their other sources are going to be key parts of this trial.

And litigation over what they have to say and what documents they have to produce is going to continue up to and right through the trial. So this is a long way from over, and the media is likely only to have more problems as this case gets closer to trial.

KING: And, Jeff, in closing quickly, we are in the same circuit that made the decision that landed Judy Miller in jail, that she had no privilege. So I assume that if the news organizations wanted to appeal, they don't have much hope.

TOOBIN: The law is bad for journalists in the D.C. Circuit, and every time there are new decisions, it seems to get worse. So it's very unlikely that they are going to be able to resist, especially when it comes to documents. Confidential sources they may have some chance at, but documents seems like a total loser for the media at this point.

KING: Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff, thank you so much for helping put that into context.

And time now for "The Cafferty File." Our Jack Cafferty joining us from New York. Hey, Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Why should we be exempt? They're taking freedom away from everybody else in this country. We might as well be included, don't you think, John?

KING: I'm going to put my scripts in a FedEx envelope and send them right up to you.

CAFFERTY: OK. So before leaving town for the Memorial Day recess -- you know they don't get enough time off -- the Senate managed to pass what they are calling a comprehensive immigration bill. That's spelled A-M-N-E-S-T-Y. And it could very well be a long, uphill battle to get the House and Senate versions reconciled. In fact, my guess is it's not going to happen.

Some backers of the House version say the Senate is nothing more than amnesty. They are right. They plan on taking a tough line. As Republican Congressman Peter King in New York said, quote, "I would rather see no bill than a bad bill."

And it's also likely that President Bush will have to flex whatever political muscle he has left if he plans to get anything that he can sign in the way of an immigration reform bill.

Here's the question: When it comes to immigration reform, is a flawed bill better than no bill? E-mail us at, or go to

John, nice to see you on a Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend. Wolf and the Congress are off. You and I are working.

KING: We're stuck here. A-M-N-E-S-T-Y -- I bet you're pretty good at Scrabble.

CAFFERTY: Did I do all right?

KING: Pretty good at Scrabble, I bet. We'll be back to you in a little bit, Jack.

And if you want a sneak preview of Jack's questions, plus an early read on the day's political news and what is ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, sign up for our daily e-mail alert. Just go to

And coming up, he's the administration's top salesman when it comes to the economy, but is John Snow's time as treasury secretary nearing an end? We'll go live to the White House to find out.

General Michael Hayden flies to the Senate on his way to running the CIA, but one Republican did vote against him. We'll break it down.

And later, much more on the upcoming House-Senate battle over immigration. It's front and center in today's "Strategy Session."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: New signs today the Treasury Secretary John Snow's days in the Bush administration may be numbered. For months, Snow's future has been the subject of considerable speculation here in Washington.

Let's bring in our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux for the latest -- Suzanne

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it may actually be Snow that is numbering his own days. This is coming from administration officials, as well as Republican insiders all saying the same thing.

We've heard the speculation for months now but they are all saying that they believe a resignation and announcement of his resignation will happen and happen very quickly within weeks, if not days, that it is imminent. We know that Snow has reached out and has told White House officials about his intentions to resign.

We also know that he has not submitted a resignation letter to the president, nor has he discussed with him directly his intentions. President Bush was asked about this just last night.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, he has not talked to me about resignation. I think he's doing a fine job. After all, our economy is strong.


MALVEAUX: Now, sources say he wants to make this announcement as quickly as possible. What are they talking about, the timetable here? Well, certainly it would be while he's in Washington, so after the holiday recess, after the Memorial Day weekend and before he leaves, possibly before leaves for Russia, St. Petersburg, the G-8 summit which happens sometime June 8. So there's a 10-day window where you may see this announcement actually take place.

A lot of speculation about who would be on the short list, particularly speculation about Don Evans, the former commerce secretary. We saw him with the president today leaving for Camp David for the weekend. Well, White House officials and others are downplaying that. They say don't make too much of that. They are good friends. Of course, they would want an insider but this is not the person that they have chosen.

Another name that keeps cropping up as a strong candidate is the president's former chief economic adviser, Stephen Friedman. But as you know, of course, John, it's not official until it's official. But we're all hoping there will be some sort of resolution in the next couple of weeks.

KING: I bet Secretary Snow would like this all cleared up once and for all as well.

Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux and, as you saw here earlier, Dana Bash, Brian Todd, all part of the best political team on television, CNN, America's campaign headquarters.

There has been a whirlwind of Senate confirmations, as members prepare to head home for Memorial Day recess. General Michael Hayden won approval today to be the next CIA director. The vote was 78-15. Only one Republican voted no, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter. He says he cast his vote in protest of the National Security Agency domestic spying program that Hayden once led.

Hayden was expected to take over this afternoon for outgoing CIA Chief Porter Goss. The outgoing director was, by most accounts, forced to resign earlier this month.

Also, today Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne overwhelmingly won confirmation as interior secretary. Until today Kempthorne's nomination had been bogged down by debate over oil drilling off Florida. Kempthorne replaces Gale Norton.

And White House aide Brett Kavanaugh won Senate confirmation as an appeals court judge after a three-year wait. The 57-36 vote represents a victory for President Bush's efforts to place a more conservative stamp on the nation's courts.

One more, acting FEMA Director David Paulison now has that job full-time. He got the Senate's OK today, one week before the official start of this year's hurricane season.

Our Zain Verjee joins us now with a closer look at other stories making news.

Hey Zain.


From a visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair today a call for support of Iraq's fledgling democracy, even from critics of the war there. During this morning's speech at Washington's Georgetown University, Blair said insurgents in Iraq want to kill democracy.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: They disagree with our way of life, our values and in particular that value of tolerance. They hate us but probably they hate those Muslims who believe in tolerance even more, as they are betraying the true faith. They have come to Iraq now because they see it as the battleground. The battle they are fighting is nothing to do with the liberation of Iraq, but its subjugation to that extremism.


VERJEE: Meanwhile in Iraq, it was a deadly day. Eight people were killed and dozens more were wounded as an explosion at an outdoor furniture market in central Baghdad. Three bodies were found just dumped in a northeastern Baghdad neighborhood. The victims were shot in the head, and there was evidence of torture.

Bombings elsewhere in Baghdad hurt 23 people. Another roadside bomb in Kirkuk killed a police officer and hurt four other civilians.

The collision of two tour buses in North Carolina has injured more than 20 people. The accident happened this morning on a stretch of Interstate 95 south of Raleigh. The state patrol says one bus slowed down to pullover because of mechanical trouble, but the trailing bus failed to do the same. Now the buses were driving high schoolers back to New Jersey from a graduation trip to Florida.

And new today, the Food and Drug Administration says it has approved a vaccine against shingles. The FDA says it gave the vaccine that is called Zostavax the go ahead for people age 60 and older. Shingles is a skin infection caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. It can cause some really painful debilitating nerve damage that can last for years -- John.

KING: Zain, we'll see you a bit later. Thank you very much.

And, as Zain just noted, President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair appeal for support for the mission in Iraq. Is their unified effort striking a chord?

Also ahead, the immigration debate. The Senate has passed its reform bill. Now the real battle begins. All coming up in our "Strategy Session" with J.C. Watts and Bill Press. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


KING: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm John King in Washington. Wolf is off today.

Today in our "Strategy Session," President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair face the press and defended the mission in Iraq. But did they do enough to quiet their critics? Was it the right thing to acknowledge the mistakes that have been made?

Joining us, Democratic analyst and radio talk show host Bill Press and CNN political analyst and former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts.

Congressman, I want to start with you because you're the Republican here in the "Strategy Session." The president came out last night and one of the first things he said to me anyway seemed much more aimed at those Republican incumbents who are telling the president, sir, I'm in trouble because people in my district are upset about Iraq. They are not sure this was worth it. Let's listen to the president.


BUSH: We did not find the weapons of mass destruction that we all believed were there, and that has raised questions about whether the sacrifice in Iraq has been worth it. Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing.


KING: Worth it, is that what your friends are telling you that your friends are telling you that the president needs to do a better job convincing the American people, who are in a sour mood about this war, that it's tough, mistakes were made but it's worth it?

J.C. WATTS (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: John, I don't think anyone has ever said that the president has done enough. I think I have said all along he needs to do as much of that as he possibly can out there framing this issue with the American people.

And I think what members have to be concerned about is ask themselves a question, will it quiet the critics? John, it's not going to quiet the critics. The people who are against this war, they are against it for different reasons, and those who are chirping the loudest are against it for political reasons.

So the president has to make his case, as he and the prime minister did last night. I think he will continue to do that. And I think history will be very kind to what this president and the prime minister last night -- what they launched and what we're going to accomplish there.

KING: Analyze that, Bill, as a former state Democratic chairman of the state of California. The president obviously understands his Republicans want him to explain a little more, get out a little more. Is that effective?

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I thought it was -- No, I don't think it was. Let me come back to it.

I thought it was sad last night to see these two guys there because, by all rights, they should have been on their victory lap. I mean, they did this war. They got together three years ago. And here they are three years later, I think, two failed leaders still trying to sell a failed policy.

I mean, neither one of them could win reelection today. And probably Tony Blair less likely than George W. Bush. I don't think it's effective because I don't think it goes far enough. I mean, I thought it was refreshing and surprising actually to hear the president acknowledge so many mistakes even in his own language, right, and Abu Ghraib and mention that and say it was a big mistake.

But he will never go so far as to -- where I think the American people are today, which is it was a mistake to go there in the first place.

KING: There has to be a worry among Republicans who of course have the most at stake on the ballot this fall that it seems almost a deja vu moment. We had the first transitional government. We had the first referendum. You had another government come in and take charge.

The president and the prime minister both saying this time they think they got it right. They think they have a government that is going to provide stability. And yet they can't have conversations yet about bringing some troops home because this new government is so fragile it doesn't even have a defense minister.

WATTS: Well, but John, all along they have said when we get the Iraqi government to the point that they can stand up, they can defend themselves, they can defend the country that is when we will draw down. And I am thankful that they are saying that, and they are not going to make a political decision and say because we are getting political heat, we are going to draw down the troops.

They have had about 19,000 troops that's come home, from 151 down to 131. That's actually 20,000. And I think you will see those numbers continue to go down, as they create the infrastructure.

I think all of the things that you just noted, you know, a new government, democratically held elections, Saddam Hussein is not there anymore, I think that's why they remain optimistic that they are on the right track and that good things are happening. It's not going to be easy. If it was easy, we would have done this a long time ago. People understand it's going to be difficult...


KING: Right.

WATTS: ... but it is worth it.

PRESS: Quickly, John, I think they are missing an opportunity. By the way, I think most Democrats are, too, because most Democrats, I don't think, are where the American people are on this issue, which is to say the things that J.C. said.

Look, you have got a new government. You have got a new prime minister. You have got a new president. You're in charge. It's your country. We're bringing our troops home. We have won. We achieved our goal. Saddam Hussein is out of power, new government in Iraq. Let's bring the troops home.

KING: Let's move to a domestic issue, and a very divisive domestic issue, immigration.

The Senate passed its reform bill yesterday, a pretty big vote, 62-36, if I'm remembering it right. But a majority of the Republicans in the Senate voted against this bill. So, you can sense from House conservatives they don't feel any pressure to compromise.

I want you to listen to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner. Most Republicans in town say, the president needs this one. The president went on national TV. The president is struggling in the polls. He needs this one. The chairman sounds unimpressed.


REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: The president dispatched Karl Rove, guru in chief, up there to the Republican conference both this week and last week. And they jumped all over Rove. And they said, the president is not where the American people are at. The Senate is also not where the American people are at.


KING: J.C., you have been in that House Republican conference room. These are conservatives who believe this deeply, that what the president calls a guest-worker program is amnesty. They don't want to do it. He seems to have no reason to do it, no inclination to do it. The fact that a majority of Republicans in the Senate said no to this bill, any reason for a House conservative to suddenly start caving?

WATTS: Well, John, if you would ask me point blank, "Will we get a bill; will there be a bill?" I would say I doubt it, unless they deal with Jim Sensenbrenner.

I think Jim is very committed to this. I think conservatives are going to be committed to this. And I think, once you read the fine print -- you know, we're still trying to read all the fine print to see, hey, what does it do to Social Security. What does it do to, you know, local police force that may have to go round people up? What kind of pressure does it put on them?

There's a lot of fine print that needs to be read in this bill. Evidently, Jim Sensenbrenner has read it, and he has great concerns about it.


KING: Should the Democrats have given -- they could have stopped this in the Senate. They are assuming maybe it will collapse in the House. But there are some Democrats who say: Don't take a chance this might reach the president. Stop it dead in the Senate.

PRESS: No, I think they want to solve the problem. I think it's a good bill, actually.

I have to -- I'm...


PRESS: I'm just laughing because I heard Karl Rove earlier in the week say that he thought he had Sensenbrenner on board with this legislation. I don't think he can count votes very well, but from what -- from what I just heard.

You know, just -- look, Sensenbrenner and Tancredo and J.D. Hayworth, they're the death squad waiting in the House to take on this legislation.

I have to agree with J.C. I doubt that there's going to be a bill. It depends on, I think, how much political capital the president has left and how much he's willing to spend to get his fellow Republicans in line behind the comprehensive bill. KING: Well, let me ask you, let's leave the legal issues to the lawyers. Let's talk politically about this search of Congressman Jefferson's office and the speaker's position that: Hey, wait a minute. You can't come and serve an FBI warrant on my building, because this is the legislative branch of government.

There's a constitutional argument, and a legitimate one. The lawyers will sort that out.

Politically, the guy sitting at home in Norman, Oklahoma, the guy sitting at home in somewhere California, what does think when he hears a member of Congress say, you can't come to my office and search -- serve a warrant?

WATTS: Well, John, that's a very good point.

I think the issue there is, is -- what we have to be careful, we all have to be careful that we're not saying that a member of Congress is above the law. If a member of Congress has drugs in his office, should we say that the police force shouldn't go in there, or the FBI couldn't go in there and search his or her office?

But the thing, John, that I kind of scratch my head and say, hmm, with all the evidence that they claim to have, why hadn't they arrested him? Why did they need...

PRESS: Well...

WATTS: ... to go in his office? So...


WATTS: ... that is kind of tricky.

PRESS: I think it comes down to this. And this is where I am on this issue.

I know that, if they had evidence that I, Bill Press, had committed a crime -- maybe I had given a bribe to a member of Congress -- they had a warrant, they would sure as hell search my office. So, why can't they search William Jefferson's office?




WATTS: I don't think is anybody saying they can't search it, but why...


KING: I have to call time-out. I have to call time-out.

(CROSSTALK) WATTS: Did they have to search it to make their case?


PRESS: ... got to get the evidence.

KING: I am calling time-out. We got to go.


KING: Go fire up the grills for the Memorial Day weekend. We will continue this next week some time.

And, up next, will the Terminator be terminated? Our Bill Schneider is in Los Angeles, watching Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democrats trying to defeat him.

And former Enron-boss-turned-convict Ken Lay -- is there a political angle to his legal loss?

Stay right here. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


KING: In California today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is fresh off his meeting with the Mexican president, Vicente Fox. Schwarzenegger is trying to chart his own course on immigration and other issues, as he wages a very tough battle for reelection.

Our senior political analyst -- political analyst -- excuse me -- Bill Schneider, is in Los Angeles, watching all this. And he joins us now.

Hey, Bill.


Well, the terminator is running for another term. The Democrats' job: Terminate the Terminator.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Democrats hope one of these two guys can terminate the Terminator, State Treasurer Phil Angelides.


SCHNEIDER: State Comptroller Steve Westly.

STEVE WESTLY (D), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think what most people want in leaders is clear convictions, a direction.

SCHNEIDER: They argue Schwarzenegger has broken his promises.

ANGELIDES: He came in with a promise to balance the budget, and he's borrowed billions.

SCHNEIDER: He's wavered.

WESTLY: In his first year, he was the moderate. In his second year, he was the right-wing conservative. Now he's running on the far left.

SCHNEIDER: In 2003, Democratic Governor Gray Davis broke his promises. He wavered. He took record amounts of special interest money. Schwarzenegger beat Davis because he promised to be different. And now:

WESTLY: The governor has taken more special interest money than Gray Davis ever dreamed.


WESTLY: He began to look like a traditional politician.

SCHNEIDER: A lot of voters see the two Democrats this year as typical politicians.

ANGELIDES: People want a real governor. They have had enough of the show.

SCHNEIDER: Do they have a secret weapon they can use to bring the mighty Terminator down? Yes. It's called President Bush, a deeply unpopular figure in California.

WESTLY: I think people will absolutely tie the two together.

ANGELIDES: He's going to be an anchor around Arnold Schwarzenegger's neck.

SCHNEIDER: The latest poll pitting Angelides against Schwarzenegger, a dead heat. Westly against Schwarzenegger, a dead heat. A policy wonk could bring down the Terminator, sweet retribution for what Schwarzenegger did to Davis in 2003. Nerds rule. You might call this election the revenge of the nerds. So,


SCHNEIDER: far, neither Democratic has caught fire with the voters. The latest primary poll shows Angelides 35, Westly 32, within the margin of the error, with a third of Democrats still undecided -- John.

KING: And still a long way to go, Bill, but we will focus on the revenge of the nerds, or at least possible revenge of the nerds. It's Friday. Give us the "Political Play of the Week."

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, four-and-a-half years of investigations, dozens of lawyers and FBI agents, and, this week, the big payoff, guilty verdicts in the Enron criminal case, 10 counts against Ken Lay, 19 counts against Jeffrey Skilling. Our judgment, a "Political Play of the Week" for the U.S. Department of Justice. The defense argued that mistakes were made. But the government said that Lay and Skilling, the two defendants, masterminded a conspiracy to inflate profits, hide losses, and spin the company's image.

The Justice Department issued a statement, saying -- quote -- "The message of today's verdict is simple. Our criminal laws will be enforced just as vigorously against corporate executives as against street criminals."

Now, that may not sound too reassuring, but seeing Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling led away in cuffs communicates a powerful message to corporate executives.

And, by the way, John, the head of the Justice Department's criminal division that initiated the case was a fellow named Michael Chertoff. You know who he is. He's the homeland security secretary today -- John.

KING: Bill Schneider.

And given the dustup the Justice Department is in back here in Washington, I'm sure they will be happy to accept the prize.



KING: Bill, have a great weekend. And thank you.

And coming up, the constitutional clash between Congress and the executive branch. Now they're feuding over a raid on Capitol Hill. But what have they fought about before? White House Counselor Dan Bartlett will weigh in on the separation of powers and whether they have been violated. He will join us in the next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM.


KING: As we have been reporting, there are new developments in a constitutional showdown between the executive branch and Congress. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist summoned the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, to his office earlier today. They are on the opposite sides of a new battle stemming from an FBI raid on a congressman's office.

But this sort of thing has happened before.

Here's our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: John, why would congressional Republicans be so outraged over the FBI's search of a Democratic congressman's office? Because it is another chapter in a struggle that goes way beyond partisan politics and raises a question that goes all the way back to this nation's beginnings: Where does the balance of power lie between the president and the Congress?

(voice-over): There's something about the Oval Office that encourages the flexing of presidential muscle. Thomas Jefferson had long argued strongly for limiting executive power. But, as president, he engineered the Louisiana Purchase without consulting Congress.

Andrew Jackson clashed repeatedly with Congress over issues like the establishment of a national bank. He was even censored by the Senate for highhandedness.

And Abe Lincoln, during the Civil War, gave Congress no say in his decision to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.




GREENFIELD: Indeed, it is hard to find any president who hasn't stirred the anger of the legislative branch for overreaching powers.

Congress killed FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court in the 1930s. In the '50s, only the strong opposition of President Eisenhower kept Congress from passing the Bricker amendment to limit the president's treaty-making power.

And wartime, which always brings major assertions of presidential power, also brings congressional reaction. In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Act, supposedly limiting a president's power to commit troops for an extended period of time.

In the 1980s...




GREENFIELD: President Reagan's decision to use funds from arms sales to Iran to support the Contras in Nicaragua triggered congressional investigations.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I authorized the National Security Agency to intercept...

GREENFIELD: More recently, after the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration, led by Vice President Cheney, has asserted broad presidential powers to detain enemy combatants, to order warrantless wiretaps on international calls, and to issue its own interpretation of laws.

When Bush signed a law banning torture late last year, he reserved the right to bypass that law under some circumstances.

(on camera): The FBI raid on a congressman's office does raise the specter of a White House that, theoretically, might use such a tactic to intimidate a dissenting legislator.

On the other hand, as some commentators and late-night comedians have noticed, the most vocal bipartisan complaint about presidential power has come in an instance where a member of Congress is suspected of clearly criminal behavior -- John.


KING: Thank you, Jeff.

And up next, sensitive information on millions of veterans at risk. We will get an update on the theft of data from the Veterans Administration.

And, later, your take on immigration reform. Is a flawed bill better than no bill? Jack Cafferty is reading your e-mails.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


KING: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from the Associated Press, pictures you're likely to see in your newspaper tomorrow.

In Beirut, Lebanese troops secure an area after a parked car explodes, killing a leading member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and his brother. The group is blaming Israeli intelligence for the killing, but no official word yet on who is to blame.

In Belgium, tens of thousands of people marched slowly through the capital to protest racial violence. An African woman and the white toddler she was caring for were gunned down on the street two weeks ago. The young man charged in those killings has ties to the far-right anti-immigrant party.

And, in Poland, cardinals weather the rain at an open-air mass led by Pope Benedict XVI -- Poland, of course, the home country of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

And, in Annapolis, Maryland, members of the class of 2006 celebrate their graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy.

And that's today's "Hot Shots," pictures worth 1,000 words.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is working quickly to investigate the theft of personal data involving more than 26 million veterans and why it took so long to reveal that it happened.

We're getting some new developments. Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, has the latest -- Abbi. ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: John, this is a document that has just been sent out to about 20,000 Veterans Affairs employees.

It's detailing some new information security measures that the agency is now putting in place, in the light of this security breach, detailing training that all employees have to go through by the end of June, and also asking for an inventory that is -- should be done by all team leaders and managers of just who in their teams has access to this sensitive kind of data.

This is just part of what, internally, the agency is doing to investigate and review what happened. For veterans, they have set up all week these Web pages of information, also, a phone line that has been operational since Monday. It's now got over 120,000 calls, all getting through to the people at that phone line. In addition, there's been a reward set up by the federal government, $50,000 for information leading to the return of that sensitive data.

And we should say that what Veterans Affairs is telling us is, there's still no evidence that any of that information has been used for illegal purposes -- John.

KING: Abbi, thank you very much.

And the new "American Idol" is on our "Political Radar" again today. "Idol" winner Taylor Hicks has fans in high places, including, apparently, the State Department. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tells "Time" magazine she is an "Idol" fan and was rooting for Hicks.

A fellow native of Birmingham, Alabama, Rice says she is going to send Hicks a letter of congratulations.

On this subject, Rice is at odds with the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. CNN's Larry King asked Secretary Rumsfeld if he watched "American Idol." His response, "Heck no." "Idol" winner Taylor Hicks and runner-up, Katharine McPhee, will be guests on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight, with -- also with them, guest host Ryan Seacrest.

And, still to come, he's at the center of one of the hottest debates on Capitol Hill. He's the powerful head of a House committee, with constituents at immigration ground zero. I go one on one with Representative Duncan Hunter of California. That's coming up in our next hour.

But, straight ahead, Jack Cafferty's question of the hour: Is a flawed immigration bill better than no bill at all? Your e-mails when we come back.



KING: Quick housekeeping note.

Heading into the break, we were talking about our interview upcoming with Congressman Duncan Hunter of California. We showed you the wrong picture. We showed you the picture of White House Counselor Dan Bartlett. Both of these gentlemen will be our guests in the next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM -- Dan Bartlett from the White House, Duncan Hunter from California.

Now our Jack Cafferty is back with "The Cafferty File."

Hey, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You know, these things don't happen when Wolf is doing the show.


CAFFERTY: The question is: When it comes to immigration reform, is a flawed bill better than no bill?

V.J. in Houston writes: "The Senate's current version of immigration reform is akin to pure, unadulterated 'bovine excrement.' The current law is not broken, as is commonly sold by various talking heads. It is simply not enforced."

Dave in Modesto, California: "The U.S. Senate is what is flawed. Whenever they start using a word like 'comprehensive,' it means they don't have a clue."

Burt in Sun Lakes, Arizona: "I would prefer no bill at all. Until the government starts enforcing the laws already on the books, what good does it do it to enact new legislation?"

H. in Martinez, Florida (sic): "Do we ever get anything from them that isn't flawed or downright ridiculous? It's all political posturing anyway. I will be very surprised if we get even a 'flawed' bill out of all this rhetoric."

Darrell writes from Seattle: "No bill is better than this unenforceable piece of dung. How about enforcing the laws currently on the books? Amnesty is not the answer, unless, of course, you're beholden to the cheap labor corporate campaign donors."

And Nick in Columbia, South Carolina: "A-M-N-E-S-T-Y? Jack, if a flawed bill makes it through the House, I'm to C-A-N-A-D-A."

This weekend, on "IN THE MONEY" -- we invite you to watch our little program -- we will look at the fallout from the Enron verdicts. And Memorial Day, what it is supposed to mean vs. what it has come to mean.

"IN THE MONEY" airs Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00 here on CNN. And we invite you to check it out -- John.


KING: What is your take, Jack? The Enron verdicts send a chilling signal to corporate America, or isolated case? CAFFERTY: As long as they're out walking around, I don't think there's any message. They should have marched them out of the courtroom in chains and thrown them in jail and let them start serving their time. If they overturn it on appeal, let them out then.

KING: Always hard to figure out what Jack Cafferty really thinks.


KING: We will see you a bit later.

If you can protect me here, make sure those missteps don't happen again.

CAFFERTY: Trying to help you.

KING: Well, thank you much.