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State of the Union
Crisis in Israel; Interview With Texas Governor Rick Perry; Interview With Congressman Mike Rogers; Interview With Senator Angus King; Remembering Watergate
Aired August 03, 2014 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: The company turns prying eyes on the Senate, and Israel turns a deaf ear to critics.
Today: stopping Hamas, Israel's war plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will continue to operate, no matter how much time it will take and how much force it will take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: The latest from Jerusalem and Gaza.
Then, deep in the heart of Texas, the governor who wants to be president takes on the current one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: It is time to end our policy of calculated ambivalence and renew our commitment to a strong Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Rick Perry with us exclusively on the conflict in the Middle East and the immigration crisis at home.
Plus, the CIA fesses up. It spied on a Senate committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: You would never believe that an agency of government, particularly with the capabilities of the CIA, would carry out such actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Two lawmakers on committees that oversee the CIA, House Chairman Mike Rogers and Senator Angus King, on whether heads should roll.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Carl Bernstein and Dan Rather on the story 40 years ago.
This is STATE OF THE UNION.
Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley.
Israel says the soldier they feared was abducted is dead, and Palestinians say at least 10 civilians taking shelter at a U.N. school were killed by an Israeli rocket.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer is in Jerusalem. John Vause is in Gaza for us.
First to you, Wolf.
How close do Israeli officials believe they are to finishing their military mission, which I am assuming is destroying all those tunnels?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: They think, Candy, they're pretty close to destroying the tunnels that they're aware of. They obviously acknowledge there may be some other tunnels from Gaza going into Israel that they are not aware.
But those they have found so far, they think they're pretty much in the process of destroying those tunnels. They -- as far as the rockets and missiles -- and another, what, 35 rockets, missiles came into Israel today from Gaza -- they think Hamas still has maybe 3,000 or so left rocket launchers.
They think that Hamas has either used up or Israel has destroyed about 7,000. They think they had about 10,000 going into this. So, they still have their work cut out for them in going after those rockets and missiles. They're also going after Hamas military commanders right now.
They want to get the top leadership, if they can, so that's a specific part of the operation. And it looks to me, Candy, like there's no great desire on the part of the Israelis right now for a cease-fire. As you know, there's a Palestinian delegation in Cairo talking about a cease-fire.
The Israelis said Hamas had their chance five or six or seven times; they didn't take advantage of that. They now want to finish their job and they see there's an opportunity.
I am told that ground forces, Israeli ground forces, many of them have already redeployed. Many of them have already left Gaza. They're moving back to Israel. There are still some ground forces there, but it seems to be taking on a whole new phase right now in this operation. The Israelis say they have their work cut out for them.
And if you listen to the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, he's not mincing any words.
CROWLEY: And John Vause in Gaza for us, John, if Israel doesn't seem interested in any kind of cease-fire, Hamas doesn't seem deterred at all, even given the high number of civilian casualties that are occurring there. Is there any sign that Hamas is ready to pull back?
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Candy, it seems the more that they lose here, the more determined they are that it will be for some kind of reason.
Not only is Hamas not willing to give in, but it seems most people in Gaza are willing to keep this fight going. Last night, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made that speech, we went out. We saw Palestinians had gathered around televisions and satellite trucks which are running off generators because there's no electricity here.
They listened and they barely flinched. There was almost no reaction. They said, we have heard it all before.
And that's despite this incredible death toll here, more than 700, 800 people killed. There is a dire humanitarian situation here, but there seems to be genuine support for Hamas to continue to take this fight to Israel.
And it's important, though, to make the distinction here. There is the Hamas political wing and then there is the Hamas military wing. There is criticism of Hamas, the political party, especially the way they have run Gaza over the last couple of years.
But the resistance, as they call it, or the military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, they seem to be beyond reproach. There is a lot of support for them. In fact, every time Hamas continues to fire those missiles and they fire them not far from where we are, if you listen carefully, you can hear people cheering as they head off towards Israel.
CROWLEY: How -- so, no pause on either side at this point.
John Vause in Gaza for us, Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem, thank you both.
I want to bring in Texas Governor Rick Perry, who of late has been criticizing the Obama administration for its stance toward Israel.
Governor, you have talked about the president's policy of calculated ambivalence. Where does that manifest itself? What exactly are you talking about?
PERRY: Well, even, from my perspective, more than that from the secretary of state.
When -- when you have the president and his administration trying to second-guess Prime Minister Netanyahu, then I think you see what I'm making reference to, the idea that our best ally in the Middle East, the longest-serving democracy in that part of the world -- and there -- there's any air between us and Israel is -- is beyond me.
I don't understand why this administration would criticize Israel for trying to protect their citizens and their country from a group who have clearly stated that they will not be satisfied until Israel is wiped off the face of the earth. We need to be standing up with Israel, sending a strong message to those in the Middle East that would attack this democracy, that we are their ally, and they can count on us.
CROWLEY: Governor, we -- we have heard the president and Secretary Kerry talk about Israel's right to defend itself. They did express their worries about the large number of civilian casualties that seem to be taking place in Gaza.
And, yesterday, we heard Benjamin Netanyahu, the president -- I'm sorry -- the prime minister of Israel saying that he thinks the president and Kerry have been terrific.
So you don't believe that?
PERRY: No, I -- I think that there have been messages that have sent both publicly and privately that have not been strong in their support of Israel.
I think, when you look back at the rhetoric and the -- what they have done, I -- I don't think that they have been as strong with Israel as they should be. You know, and the fact is, you have Hamas that are using their children to protect their missiles, and I think Prime Minister Netanyahu was very for forthright, very specific when he said that Israel uses their missiles to protect their children.
And there is a very different perspective, if you will, and a very different result in those two people and their statements, and, frankly, in -- in the -- in the two organizations. It...
CROWLEY: Governor, you have long been a staunch supporter of Israel. But I wonder, if you will, when you look at the pictures that we're seeing, and we know that Netanyahu has expressed his regret for the civilian deaths, but when you look at the 1,700-plus Palestinian deaths in Gaza, the large majority of which are civilians, we are told, what is your thought about that? What is your reaction to that?
PERRY: War is a horrible thing.
There are individuals who lose their lives. But when we have a fairly good understanding that Hamas is actually using their citizens as shields, at that particular point in time, it loses a lot of the -- the power, if you will, from my perspective, is, when you use your civilians as a shield, that speaks volumes about who you are and what you believe in. When you look back at Hamas' statements about they will not be
satisfied until Israel is wiped off the face of the earth, then you start understanding the mentality a little bit better of a terrorist organization like Hamas.
CROWLEY: Let me turn you to the border crisis specifically that has been in the headlines recently for the unaccompanied minors that are crossing the Rio Grande largely to come into the United States.
The president has said, because Congress has not dealt with the immigration issue at all, that he feels he has to do this on his own. What we are led to believe by reports is that the president may, in fact, make some moves that would perhaps cut down on the number of deportations that are taking place now, for which he's been widely criticized by the Latino community, and that he may, in fact, give temporary status to those without documents that are currently in the U.S.
What do you think of both those things?
PERRY: Well, I think that is a side issue.
What we are substantially more concerned about in the state of Texas, and I will suggest to you across this country, are the 80 percent-plus of individuals who don't get talked about enough that are coming into the United States illegally, and committing substantial crimes.
Since September of '08, we have seen 203,000 individuals who have illegally come into the United States, into Texas, booked into Texas county jails.
And, Candy, these individuals are responsible for over 3,000 homicides and almost 8,000 sexual assaults. I wish the president would respect that desire of Texans and the citizens of this country to secure the border. That's the real issue here, and one that all too often gets deflected by the conversation about unaccompanied minor children, which that is a tragedy, the idea that parents are putting their kids or they're being forced to get on a train or a bus and travel 1,500 to 1,800 miles, where they're very exposed to being abused, both physically and otherwise.
But the fact, from my perspective as the governor of Texas, it's the reason that we are deploying 1,000 National Guard troops, so that the people of the state of Texas will feel that at least the leadership in the state of Texas is doing something to try to make their communities safer, and that is my goal.
PERRY: I intend to continue to be focused on that as we go forward.
CROWLEY: Governor, I have to point out that a number of fact- checkers have said that that 3,000-homicide figure is wildly off. But let me talk about the National Guard that you want to send.
And this is the state sending the National Guard. As I understand it, it's going to cost you $12 million, $13 million a month.
How long are you prepared to spend Texas money to keep the Guards at the border?
PERRY: We will continue to do what we have to do to keep our citizens safe.
And let me go back to those numbers. You know, what is the -- what are the number of -- I do stand by them, by the way, but what are the number of homicides that are acceptable to those individuals? How many sexual assaults do we have to have before the president of the United States and Washington, D.C., acts to keep our citizens safe?
That border is not secure. And we see it every day, not just in Texas, but I will suggest to you the other 47 contiguous states of individuals who are committing crimes against our citizens. It's time for us to secure that border.
CROWLEY: So, you are prepared, if I understand you, to keep the National Guard along the border, to help the current border guards in perpetuity? Is there the kind of money, is there the kind of support...
PERRY: What I'm prepared to do...
CROWLEY: ... in Texas for that?
PERRY: What I'm prepared to do is not just the National Guard, but our Department of Public Safety, our Texas Ranger Recon Teams, the Parks and Wildlife wardens that we have deployed there.
And then I will suggest to you there will be other individuals who come to assist in securing that border. That's what -- I think that's what the American people want. They'd like to see a president who leads this country and says, you know what, we do have a problem on our southern border. We're going to deal with it.
And the president refuses to lead on this, from my perspective.
CROWLEY: And, Governor, to those who say that you're calling up of the National Guard in Texas is a part of your road to become president and to run for president again, your response is?
PERRY: I'm the governor of the state of Texas. My citizens' safety is what is foremost here. And it hasn't got anything to do with anything other than those numbers of individuals who are coming across the border.
And when you think about the idea that some of them are from countries that have substantial terrorist ties, whether it's Pakistan or Afghanistan or Syria, we are at historic record highs with individuals being apprehended from those countries. We say it's time to secure the border. Hasn't got anything to do
with anything, other than the American citizens expect Washington to respect the Constitution and secure the border, one of the things that's actually enumerated in the Constitution. We'd like for them to do their duty.
CROWLEY: Governor Rick Perry, as always, I thank you for joining us. Appreciate your time.
PERRY: Thank you, Candy. You're welcome.
CROWLEY: Still ahead: The CIA director admits his agency spied on Congress. So, should the president put his man at the agency out in the cold? We will ask Senator Angus King. He's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Nothing could be further from the truth. When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been a tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: That is CIA Director John Brennan in March saying his agency did not spy on Intelligence Committee staffers.
Turns out, yes, they did.
With me now is Senator Angus King. He sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator King, thanks for being here.
The -- this whole thing started when your committee began to look at the Bush era anti-terrorism plan of the CIA, looking at what happened there, looking at, if torture was committed, did we send folks to other countries to have them tortured there, et cetera, et cetera?
So, the CIA, believing that you all had gotten ahold of documents you shouldn't have, hacks into the computer and essentially spies on your committee. And your reaction to that admission now?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Well, it's shocking. And it's particularly shocking because, if you go back to the clips in the spring, Candy, you will see John Brennan, the chief of the CIA, the director of the CIA, saying these was -- this was absurd and nobody should make these kind of irresponsible charges, and all those kinds of things.
And now the CIA's own inspector general has confirmed that they did just that, that they went into the computer system that was supposedly separated and within the control of the Senate committee, and essentially fished around.
They even created false identities to pretend to be Senate staff members going into the computers. It was -- it's not good. I mean, the more important thing is the report itself. But this certainly undermines the kind of trust that you got to have.
And here's the deal, Candy. When -- when we do oversight of these agencies, which, by the way, nobody else really watches -- we're the only one watching these guys -- we have got to be able to rely upon what they tell us. If we can't trust that what they're...
CROWLEY: So is an apology from John Brennan enough?
KING: ... the information they're giving us, how do you do oversight?
KING: I don't think...
CROWLEY: So, how do you do oversight?
KING: Yes, I don't think the -- I don't think an apology is enough, I mean, and particularly because this had happened several times before.
I think we have really got to have some serious discussions with John Brennan, find out what he knew about this when he was making those statements, and what he knew about it at the time.
I'm not calling for his resignation, but I'm pretty skeptical right now, because it really has undermined the trust between the committee. And if you go back to the report itself, Candy, one of the key findings of the report is, they weren't honest with us. They weren't honest with the Congress, they weren't honest with the president, the secretary of state.
They were misrepresenting this program and what it did and what -- how effective it was. And, you know, that -- that is -- this is serious stuff, again, because we're the only people that are overseeing this outfit. And if we can't trust what they're telling us, we got to talk seriously about what our other options are.
CROWLEY: Well, so what are your other options? Because you have a director that either didn't know what was going on in his agency as it relates to the hacking into the computer system, or he didn't tell the truth.
So, at some point, I mean, as you know, a number of our colleagues, Republican and Democrat, have called for his resignation. What is the alternative here?
KING: Well, I think the bigger question is how do we do our oversight more effectively. And we may have to embed people in the agency or have a -- create
an office of oversight in the agency, because it's just essential. The American people are relying on us to watch what's going on. And there's a bigger question, of course, which is a relatively small committee with a small staff overseeing a $50 billion-a-year enterprise, the overall scope of the intelligence services.
And I think it's -- I think it's something we in the committee are going to have to discuss seriously. And we're going to have to have a really straightforward discussion with the White House.
CROWLEY: I want to play you something the president said at his news conference late this week, when he was talking about the torture report that is going to -- which has been called, which we hope to see at some point from you all, at least some redacted version of it, and talking about the behavior of the CIA.
And here is one of the things he said that caught my attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard, under enormous pressure, and are real patriots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So, Senator, it seems to me, before this report is released, the question will be sort of, so what?
If you have a package of documents that shows that the CIA lied to you all about what it was doing, that it did, in fact, torture people, under the definition that most people would see as torture, or your definition of it, what happens to this report, other than the, oh, well, now we know?
KING: Well, I think -- I hope it goes way beyond that. That's why I voted to declassify it.
I think -- I think it's an object lesson to future presidents, future intelligence agencies, future Congresses about how things can get off the rails, how things can go awry. And, by the way, I -- I wrote my own sort of supplemental views to the report.
When they become public, I said something similar to what the president said. These people were under tremendous pressure right after September 11. They didn't know what the future of the threats were. They thought there were going to be follow-on attacks.
And, also, the other piece is, we talk about the CIA did this. The CIA is thousands of people. They're -- they're really good people. I have met them around the world. They're doing dangerous jobs. They're patriotic.
And it bothers me that this whole thing is tarring the whole agency. It was a relatively small number of people. On the other hand, they should have come forward and said, OK, we made a mistake. We were under pressure. We made a mistake.
But they're still trying to justify it and argue it wasn't torture, which is nonsense, and say, well, it is unknowable whether it was effective and all of that kind of thing.
Let's just -- I think if they had stepped forward and said, we did some things we wish we hadn't under duress, we're not going to do that again...
CROWLEY: They could have saved themselves...
KING: ... I think we could put this behind us. But they -- they keep -- they keep trying to justify it, and it's unjustifiable.
CROWLEY: I have to quickly turn you to the border, simply because I know that you were down there for part of this weekend to take a look at this surge of unaccompanied minors that we have seen coming across the Rio Grande, basically, into Texas.
Did you see anything down there, talk to anyone down there that sort of framed your view of what Congress or the president ought to be doing?
KING: Yes, I did.
And I tried to look -- I tried to say, OK, where are the bottlenecks? What's -- what's holding all of this up? And the principal bottleneck, Candy, is in the judicial system, the immigration courts. The Border Patrol people are doing a great job dealing with these kids as they come across.
And, by the way, the numbers have fallen dramatically in the last four to six weeks. The huge numbers that were coming in, in May and June are way off. We don't know why that is. I asked a number of people. They thought everything from maybe the word's getting out in Central America this isn't going to work to just the hot weather in Texas and Mexico this time of year.
We don't know, but the numbers are way down. They're handling the kids well. But when they get to the process where they need to be determined whether or not they are legitimate refugees, that's where it breaks down, and we're talking years to make that...
CROWLEY: That's where it breaks down, because it takes a couple of years, right, right.
And that's -- that's inexcusable. I think, if I was going to recommend two things, it would be get the word out in Central America this isn't -- this isn't going to work. And, two, let's process these kids through this refugee determination process a lot faster.
That's going to take more judges, more courtrooms, more lawyers. But that's something we can do. I don't think it needs $3.7 billion. I think it can be done for a lot less.
The other thing to say is, these are great people down there working hard.
CROWLEY: I got to run.
Senator Angus King, thank you so much.
KING: Thank you. Thank you, Candy.
CROWLEY: Congressman Mike Rogers next on if the price we are paying for national security is too high.
CROWLEY: Joining me now from the other side of Capitol Hill, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for being here.
I want to first pick up with the CIA, its admission that it, in fact, did spy and hack into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which, as you know, is one of two committees that is supposed to be watching what the CIA is doing.
There was an article in "The New York Times," an editorial actually, calling the CIA basically a lawless culture, saying this is not a couple of -- moving personnel around. This is about changing that culture and changing the CIA at its core.
At its core, does the CIA need to change?
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Oh, boy, that is -- that's a fairly serious charge for an agency that is trying to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons, that's the one that allowed the president to go out and say that the INF treaty with the Russians was in violation and oh, by the way, they're trying to stop innocent Americans from getting slaughtered by terrorists all around the world. I would be cautious to say that they're rotten to the core. I think that's -- I think it's wrong on the face of it. Think of it they've had -- this is the third CIA director in my four years as chairman, number one, and the narrative of this I think is very, very important. I think the narrative is quite wrong. This notion that they hacked into congressional --
CROWLEY: Well, they thought the Senate committee had something they shouldn't have and were trying to figure out how they got it.
ROGERS: I think it was wrong.
ROGERS: Somebody needs to be held accountable.
CROWLEY: Who is somebody? That's -- should Brennan go?
ROGERS: Again, we're going through the review. Somebody made the decision to do it but remember these weren't Senate computers. These were CIA computers at the CIA. And so I think that you have to take that into consideration when you're walking through.
CROWLEY: We're kind of dancing on the head of a pin.
ROGERS: Well, no, in the sense that the -- it's a bit complicated but the story when briefed by the I.G. it makes you stop and pause and say, somebody needs to be held accountable. This is very serious but I don't think this is some conspiracy notion that they wanted to spy on either of our committees. Than would of course be intolerable, I think it would be a crime.
This says that somebody overstepped their bounds by trying to figure out what the coding was on who had access to CIA computers and CIA spaces, that's a little bit different than spying on congress, in my mind. Still a serious breach. It is a very serious breach of trust, but I don't think that this should be taken and extrapolated that every CIA officer out there is operating under this culture of lawlessness. As a matter of fact I argue they go the extra mile. They are absolutely concerned about making sure they follow the law especially when they're operating overseas and trying to do some really difficult work to keep America safe.
CROWLEY: In the end, though, they're responsible for the actions of their employees.
CROWLEY: I think that in some ways, as you've heard, there have been Democrats and Republicans calling for the resignation of John Brennan at the CIA.
Fairly or not, he's at the top, and the question here is, does the -- there's the NSA and all the things that it's been accused of doing, and sort of overstepping its bounds into the privacy of Americans. Now we have the CIA, and that they overstep their bounds, looking at the very committee that's supposed to be watching over the CIA and it gives you this impression that after 9/11 we just went way too far and that we have given up too much in exchange for the safety.
ROGERS: And that's why it's so important that the narrative be right, and it be based on the same set of facts. If we can all agree on the same set of facts we'll have an honest dialogue about what should the intelligence really look like and what should they be doing on behalf of the United States.
I think that it's tougher in the court of public opinion when the narrative is not based on data points. So if I listen to this debate without hearing the I.G. report, which I did this week, it sounds like they hacked into that into the Senate computers at the Senate offices, shocking. That's not what happened, and so it happened at the CIA with CIA computers. And what happened was, there was a difference in the setting that
allowed them to get certain information. The way they did it was, is, again, needs to be held accountable.
ROGERS: However, the narrative is different. So that's why if you're -- if we're going to go after the agencies we need the support of the American public, let's do it in a way that addresses the facts of what happened, so that we don't get into this diminishing their role around the world. We need them at the top of their game.
And I'll tell you there's some really bright and professional people who are engaged in this activity, who are turning around, hoping America is standing with them...
ROGERS: ...when they're risking their lives for their country.
CROWLEY: Quickly, I have to turn you to the border...
CROWLEY: ...because Governor Perry talked earlier about historic record highs of people from Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan, coming across the Mexican-Texas border.
Are there historic highs, is that true, and if so, is there any reason to believe that these are people who would do us harm, that these are, in fact, terrorist-bound folks?
ROGERS: Well, again, as the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, we noticed the very dangerous trend a few years ago when the Iranian Quds force, their external terrorist group, if you will, supported by the country of Iran, was planning an operation to use the southern border to infiltrate people into the United States to kill the Saudi ambassador.
So, clearly our enemies and our adversaries understand that it is a weakness. We have seen a trend of countries that we are very concerned about, a rise in individuals being apprehended at the border. The scary part about that is those are just the ones that get apprehended. So, a porous southern border is now on the advertising list for those who want to do nefarious activities entering the United States. Everything from criminal activity, gangs, we've seen that surely, human trafficking, and now you see these groups who, we believe, are connected in some way with terrorist organizations at least having the understanding and now you see the apprehensions behind it, doesn't take a rocket science to figure out that they figured out it is a weakness in our national security.
CROWLEY: Where the holes are.
CROWLEY: Chairman Mike Rogers, thank you for coming.
ROGERS: Thanks for having me.
CROWLEY: Appreciate it.
And just when it looks like Republicans could rest back control of the Senate, House Republicans go off message. Our roundtable is up next.
CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, CNN "CROSSFIRE" Host, Newt Gingrich, Marc Lamont Hill of "HuffPost Live," Democratic strategist Erikka Knuti, and Republican strategist Ana Navarro.
OK, here's what caught my attention this week, written before House Republicans kind of imploded over what they would and would not do vis-a-vis the border crisis. There was a headline from "The Hill" newspaper, and it read, "don't screw this up, GOP senators tell House. Expecting election win, Republicans nervous of slip-ups."
A paragraph in there and a story written by Alexander Bolton said, "Senate Republicans have put subtle pressure on House members to avoid a messy fight over the border bill, impeachment or a government shutdown. Democrats have recently used the latter two gleefully for fundraising."
So, the question here is could House Republicans extract defeat from the jaws of what Senate Republicans thought would be a victory in the midterms?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I'm licking my chops right now, as this is happening. Over the last 48 hours, we've begun to see that already. Putting the most extreme immigration bill forward is one way of doing that. Continuing impeachment talk, continuing lawsuit talk is really, really important.
Now, Democrats have overstated the extent to which this is happening for fund-raising purposes, no doubt, but Republicans are giving us all the ammunition we need.
ERIKKA KNUTI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean the kind of, the missteps of 2010 and 2012 are I think are still looming for people, still kind of feeling the legitimate rape comment and things like that, and think that it can - that if you can just kind of keep people quiet then everything will be OK. And the reality is that the policies are what people have a problem with.
The majority of Americans want immigration reform to move forward, and the Republicans in the House aren't doing that. So, if you look at it, sure, there are slip-ups here and there, that Democrats are sending out the fund raising e-mails by the dozen it feels like by the hundreds sometimes, but really in reality, it's that policies that Americans want are not moving through Congress. ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The good news is we
have, as Republicans, much better candidates than we did two years ago. We have strong candidates for the Senate and also for House races.
The bad news is that this week, between the lawsuit that Democrats have ably conflated into impeachment, which is no such thing but that's what they turned it into and have turned it into a stunt to raise money, and this immigration spectacle that Republicans put on in the House at the end of the week, we've done, frankly, what President Obama hasn't been able to do, energize his base, energize deflated Latinos and energize the Democrat base.
CROWLEY: You agree with that?
NEWT GINGRICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No.
CROWLEY (ph): Do tell.
GINGRICH: First of all, this nonsense about the Senate, the two leading figures urging the House Republicans were senator sessions, who say senior member of the Judiciary Committee who deeply opposed the president's use of the executive order and Senator Cruz. So, if the senator leaders want to talk to somebody they ought to talk to sessions and Cruz.
NAVARRO: I think they tried and they failed several (ph) --
KNUTI: That's the problem though. The problem with the Republican leadership is the...
KNUTI: ...keep the Senate -
NAVARRO: ...you know, at the party literally.
KNUTI: But they can't keep the Senate out of their sandbox.
GINGRICH: Of course they can't and you never could.
Jack Kemp and I used to go to the Senate all the time on tax policy. It's a free society. You're allowed to do this but notice what's happening. You have the Kaiser Foundation report that Obamacare is weaker than are, ever, with a clear majority now opposed to the bill, you have a continuing weak economy which may worse. You have a situation in which the president's people are desperately looking for something.
They are lying about impeachment, which is not going to happen but it's raising money for them. The president I suspect is preparing an unconstitutional executive order which by the way his weakest area is immigration, and I suggest to you if he signs an executive order that legalizes 5 million people that the cost to them in the Senate will be horrendous, which is why two Democratic senators have already come out publicly and said, please don't do this.
HILL: I think you may be overstating. Again, the (INAUDIBLE) president is operating outside the boundaries of the constitution.
GINGRICH: You're kidding.
HILL: Absolutely not. I mean, again, I have (INAUDIBLE) I had it with President Obama. You can't - you can't legalize 5 million people, you can't legalize illegal people but what you can do is deportation set priorities, set enforcement priorities. The president is trying to expand the priorities or shift those priorities.
NAVARRO: I think this was completely a political trap...
GINGRICH: Yes. Of course.
NAVARRO: ...by the White House.
I don't think they intended to do sweeping executive action like they've been threatening. I think what they wanted was to get the Republicans flailing their arms screaming holy murder, setting their hair on fire, which they have done through this border bill and the attached one that they passed as well. And that way it takes the attention and it takes the pressure off of President Obama. He goes from being the deporter-in-chief, which he has been to Latinos to know all of a sudden, well maybe, you know, we compare him to Republicans he's not that bad.
KNUTI: The problem is people thinking that the end game is a message or fund raising. . The end game should be legislation and the fact --
CROWLEY: But aren't both sides guilty of that? The end game is always we need to win in the midterms.
GINGRICH: I think - I think both sides are now going to be committed for the next 90 days to win the election. I think the Democrats have a much weaker hand and candidly, if the end game was legislation you'd have to replace Senator Reid who successfully blocked 390 bills that came out of the House. So, you know, I think that we are where we are.
The Republicans are going to go into the fall campaign on simple things like the pipeline, which is a 68 percent issue, fixing Obamacare, which is about a 68 percent issue, a whole series of things, controlling the border which by the way is the number one concern of the American people. You say immigration, not true in Latino community, everywhere else in America controlling the border is the number one issue.
Obama is going to continue to slide I think. The world is going to continue to get worse, and all of that, if I were a Democrat, would make me very nervous.
NAVARRO: You're absolutely right. You know the Senate -- the Senate also didn't pass legislation. If the end game is legislation, the Senate did not pass the legislation on the border bill yet. Their dysfunctionality for some reason is less visible than the GOP's on the House side and we got to get that under control.
KNUTI: It doesn't help when you put a bill to the floor and suddenly don't have the votes and have to pull it back. I mean, people forget also that this was the first time that the Republican House leadership team was actually out in play.
You know, Cantor stepped down. You have new people there, you have a new whip, you have a new majority leader and their ability to kind of do their jobs and get their act together and their failure to do that was on display. I mean, so it does make good theater, does make a good show.
GINGRICH: In the last 24 hours, in the legislative process -- having been speaker, in the legislative process, when you're going through something that's contentious, they had a great week on the highway bill, they had a fabulous week on veteran's administration reform including reforms no Democrat would have voted for a year ago. So, there are serious things happening (ph)...
NAVARRO: This bill -- this bill to go, you know, after Dhaka (ph), after deferred enforcement for the dreamers. Frankly I call it dumbbolic, dumb symbolism. You and I know it's for naught. You and I know that it's not going to be law ever. And so it's sending symbolism, it really is sending a message to Latinos that it's just so uncounterproductive for Republicans.
NAVARRO: We keep digging ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole.
HILL: That's why I say our hand is not as weak as you suggested as you're speaking to because it's (ph) no matter how much you get a highway bill and no matter how much get a veterans bill, a cruel and cynical deportation proposal --
KNUTI: Which people cheered for, they cheered all about supporting it.
NAVARRO: They were cheering because they were going home.
HILL: That's probably (INAUDIBLE) -
KNUTI (ph): Even more childish.
HILL: It is childish but a message bill against immigrants as you go on a five-week vacation is bad (INAUDIBLE) that makes you feel a lot more comfortable about what's going to happen --
GINGRICH: You can represent the people who don't want the border controlled. We'll represent the people who want the border controlled. We will win that vote by about two and a half - KNUTI: The border is more controlled that (ph) people get credit
for. I mean, these kids are turning themselves over to border patrol. We're catching people.
NAVARRO: When you're seeing kids go through the border and turn themselves in, it's very hard to make the argument that the border is secure.
NAVARRO: It just becomes the images don't help you with that argument.
HILL: Welcome to border agents, and turning themselves in. That is ultimate border security.
NAVARRO: The, you know, the bottom line is that the bill they tried to pass in the House on border security, forget the dreamer aspect, was actually a good bill. It was a short bill for a short time but it was a good bill and it was a self-inflicted wound by some Republicans to not allow that bill to pass.
CROWLEY: Ana Navarro, Marc Lamont Hill, Newt Gingrich, Erikka Knuti, thank you all very much. Appreciate it.
The scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, 40 years later. Carl Bernstein and Dan Rather on the Watergate legacy.
CROWLEY: This week marks 40 years since President Richard Nixon resigned from office rather than face impeachment over a scandal known as Watergate.
In 1974 Carl Bernstein worked for the "Washington Post." Dan Rather for "CBS News" covering the story of their lives. I spoke with both earlier and asked if their perspective on things has changed over time.
DAN RATHER, FORMER ANCHOR, CBS EVENING NEWS: Well, of course over 40 years what hasn't changed? But the fundamental things, no, not changed. The fundamental things being what Watergate, what we call, "Watergate," in shorthand for a widespread criminal conspiracy that was vetted in part by the president of the United States himself out of the Oval Office. That's one thing. Second thing is that we're committed to the idea and the ideal in this country that no person, not even a president of the United States, is above the law.
CROWLEY: I think Dan is on to something there because I think the word "gate" sort of has now been used to sort of trivialize almost anything. So, in turn is trivialized what happened. This was not just about one man. I mean, in the end that's who we talk about which is Richard Nixon. This was a widespread conspiracy. CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, this
was about a criminal presidency led by a criminal president. And what the Watergate conspiracy was is something that began in the first days of the Nixon presidency when he authorized all kinds of illegal activities by the same people who years later broke into the Watergate.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "Well, it's a tough thing, Bob, for you, for John, the rest, but goddammit, I'm never gonna discuss this son of a bitch (ph) Watergate thing again. Never, never, never, never."
BERNSTEIN: This was a criminal presidency that just rotted.
CROWLEY: When you look back at that famous exchange between you and President Nixon, explain that to me sort of in situ. What was happening at that point?
RATHER: Now, what had happened, the president kept trying to get the country to believe his narrative, but a special prosecutor was beginning to close in on him with the facts. So, when I rose to ask him a question, the question was going to be, how do you reconcile the facts presented by the special prosecutor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RATHER: Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather with "CBS News". Are you running for something?
No, sir, Mr. President. Are you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RATHER: Everybody remembers that. Nobody remembers the question which, by the way, as it was his want, he ducked and dodged away.
BERNSTEIN: There's one aspect to this, and your question is a great one, that it was Republicans who ultimately came to realize that Richard Nixon was a criminal president and had to leave office.
BERNSTEIN: Barry Goldwater, the great conservative, led a delegation of Republican senators and congressmen to the White House and sat across from Richard Nixon, who had been the subject of an impeachment vote by the House Judiciary Committee, was about to be impeached by the full House, and trial in the Senate was looming.
And Nixon looked at Goldwater and said, Barry, how many votes do I have in the Senate? And thinking Goldwater would tell him, you can win, Mr. President. And Goldwater looked at him and said, I don't know, Mr. President, but you don't have my vote and you cannot win.
And that was the real turning point when Nixon said to himself, I have to leave office.
CROWLEY: But still it seemed to me it was so shocking when you learned he really was going to resign. It seemed almost impossible. Do you remember that moment?
RATHER: I remember it vividly, Candy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RATHER: For the longest time I - I think (INAUDIBLE) through the whole press core, we didn't want to believe that the president himself was involved. We kept thinking, it will stop short of the presidency, but the facts - and let's be clear that what Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward did was they were primarily the generators of the critical facts that brought us to the point where it became increasingly obvious that at the very least the president was lying. That's a tough word but there's no other word for it, but it wasn't until late spring when I said to myself, Dan, let's don't kid yourself. You know what the facts shout here.
CROWLEY: Could a cover-up of this magnitude and going to this level happen again today?
RATHER: An unequivocal yes. Let us hope and pray it doesn't happen. Could it happen? Yes. In some ways -- in some important ways it might be more possible to do it today than it was in the 1960s and '70s.
CROWLEY: Dan Rather, still hard at work. Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to us. Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame (ph) (INAUDIBLE) but now you've just completed a book, "Woman in Charge" about (ph) Hillary Clinton.
BERNSTEIN: "The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton."
CROWLEY: We will be looking for that. Thank you both so much. I appreciate it.
RATHER: You're welcome.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
CROWLEY: We'll be right back.
CROWLEY: Thanks for watching State of the Union. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. "Fareed Zakaria GPS" starts right now.