Guests: Jay Barbree, Bill Nelson, Rush Holt, Jack Rice, Patrick Leahy, Tim Griffin, Jamal Simmons, E.J. Dionne
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans.
Live from 30 Rock in New York, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
He‘s back at it. Vice President Dick Cheney told the CIA to conceal a secret counterterrorism program from the Congress. A top Democrat says what Cheney did may be illegal. I say it‘s time for a special prosecutor.
And the party of “no” is using Sonia Sotomayor‘s confirmation hearing as basically an opportunity to attack the nominee and, of course, President Obama.
It‘s an ED SHOW exclusive. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy from Vermont, will join me here tonight on THE ED SHOW.
And new details about why Sarah Palin quit and about how her financial power is really what it‘s all about. Her PAC money is up there at $750,000 and just starting. I told you that‘s what she was going to do.
Plus, “Psycho Talk.”
We‘ve got a great panel coming up tonight.
But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
We now know why Dick Cheney has just been on the offensive for the last six months. Hey, it‘s a great defense.
Cheney knew there would be legal questions about their actions. He was trying to gin up public support, get the base all cranked up to say, hey, we had to do this to protect the country.
Well, a secret program run by the CIA, on direct orders by then Dick Cheney, the vice president of the United States, is now basically the eye of the storm. The Bush administration concealed information from body the House and Senate Intel Committees.
First of all, the American people have a right to know what‘s going on. Most of all, I think secret programs operating outside the government without congressional knowledge and oversight is against the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If somebody told the CIA not to inform the appropriate members of Congress on information they should be informed of, that‘s wrong. But that isn‘t—that isn‘t a reason to disassemble the CIA...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and make them a whipping child in the middle of the public opinion which undermines the morality of the whole agency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
This of course comes on the heels of a statement unproven, by the way, of Speaker Pelosi that the CIA lied to her about enhanced interrogation techniques. And this looks to me suspiciously like an attempt to provide political cover to her and others. To trot out the vice president and say, he‘s the one that‘s at fault, this is unfortunately—sounds like a new theme where they still want to blame the Bush/Cheney administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Their logic is unbelievable.
Folks, this is not about Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi hasn‘t concealed anything from anyone. She‘s the one that‘s been talking about full disclosure.
So, wait a minute, it‘s not about politics. This is about the checks and balances in our government. We can‘t let people in positions of power just run roughshod over the law and go do whatever they want to do with nobody knowing what the heck‘s going on.
Now, the Obama administration, I don‘t think they can ignore this.
This has got special prosecutor written all over it.
Now, everybody wants to move on. We all want to move on. But nobody wants to live in the past as well. OK?
But Americans, are we OK with this? What Dick Cheney did, withholding information from the Congress, and ordering those around him to do the same thing, basically is a secret government. That‘s what it is.
I think the Obama administration needs to get point dog on this and get after it. The Obama Justice Department, this is a great assignment. You need to get it in gear and get after the truth.
Joining me now is Senator Bill Nelson, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: How serious is this? The American people are out there saying, well, let‘s see, we had these guys in power, and then they went off and did whatever they wanted to do, and nobody in Congress could do anything about it, and we‘re supposed to be OK with that as American citizens.
What do you think?
NELSON: Ed, let me tell you where I agree with you and where I disagree with you.
First of all, I think you‘re absolutely right, this is a matter of checks and balances. The Congress by law should be informed of any new intelligence mission. And even though after the fact, looking back, this was never carried out, the fact is that it was set up and the Congress and the Intelligence Committee, especially the chairman and ranking member, should have been informed.
And that is an infraction of the law. And there ought to be an investigation, and there is in the House Intelligence Committee.
Where I disagree with you, Ed, is that this should not be a special prosecutor. It is the checks and balances. The part of the law that was broken down is the fact that the legislative branch of government was not informed. And we can do our own investigation.
SCHULTZ: Well, your own investigation, what does that mean? Does that mean that Dick Cheney‘s going to be called in, asked to raise his right hand and tell the whole truth about what‘s going on to these committees?
According to the published reports already out there, is that Cheney was the one that, in fact, said don‘t share this with the Congress. Now, that‘s not right and that‘s a violation. And so the investigation to get to the bottom of it, authenticate that if it‘s true, and then there will be remedies and there will be penalties.
SCHULTZ: OK. So, do you think that they broke the law? Based on what you know on the Intelligence Committee, you to the not knowing, do you believe that the Bush administration broke the law here that goes back to 1948, I believe?
NELSON: The law is that the Congress has to be informed. That is correct.
SCHULTZ: Now, what would be the next step here? What would the Democrats have to do here, Senator? What has to happen?
NELSON: Well, you‘ve got an ongoing investigation in the House Intelligence Committee. I think that‘s entirely sufficient. They ought to be able to come up with what happened, lay it out, and then proceed from there.
SCHULTZ: Well, but Senator, you don‘t sound like you‘ve got a lot of passion for this to happen. There‘s a lot of Americans out there that want to know, what‘s the other foot that might drop here? What else were they doing that we didn‘t know about?
NELSON: Well, let me tell you my passion, Ed. My passion is that there are a lot of Americans out there that have got to be protected, and in no way can this impede the mission of the CIA as they are on a daily basis intercepting the information of the bad guys who are trying to continue to harm us.
So my passion is to let the CIA do its job legally and to uphold the rule of law. And if I don‘t shout and stomp like some people are calling for the vice president‘s head, I want to do this in the calm, deliberation under the rule of law.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
NELSON: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Bill Nelson from Florida with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.
Joining me now is Congressman Rush Holt, a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, what‘s your take on this? Is Dick Cheney just going to be able to do whatever he wants to do in the aftermath of this? Say that we‘re not safe, say that we‘re not doing the right policies, and then now we find out of course that there was almost a secret government that was going on here?
What do you make of this?
REP. RUSH HOLT (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, it‘s good to be with you, first of all, Ed.
It‘s not as if we‘re suddenly finding out that there were all sorts of transgressions going on. This has been dribbling out for years. And we learned just last week from the report of the inspectors general from various agencies that for the warrantless eavesdropping, the warrantless wiretapping, it was the vice president‘s office, the vice president himself and his chief counsel, who personally decided who in the country would be briefed on these secret activities. And it was not, by the way, the Congress.
And so, you know, you asked for passion. I mean, this really is serious. It gets at the heart of what a representative democracy is with a Bill of Rights.
This gets at the heart of the relationship between the government and the individual. And we need to reestablish that relationship along the lines that the founders intended.
And you know, there are a lot of people in this country who came here to flee other countries where they feared, you know, the knock on the door in the middle of the night. They feared that their profession, their livelihood, would be ruined by unsubstantiated suspicions. I mean, what we‘ve got here is the CIA deciding on their own, without any oversight, you know, what is appropriate international covert action?
SCHULTZ: Well, the next question...
HOLT: We have the NSA deciding on their own, who are the bad guys whose phones should be tapped?
SCHULTZ: But Congressman, doesn‘t it now sit at the doorsteps of the Obama administration to move forward with this? I mean, where‘s the attorney general? And I know this just came out over the weekend, but do you have some expectations that Mr. Holder is going to be aggressive with this most recent information?
HOLT: You know, all I know is what I read in the paper, and it says that he is now talking about an investigation wind his own circle. That‘s good. But this is something—you know if you‘re going to recapture the in essence of liberty, it means it has to come from all sides.
It has to come from the public. It has to come from the executive branch. It has to come from the congressional branch, as well as from the judiciary. We need, I think, a major, comprehensive investigation of what has gone on.
HOLT: You know, as I say, there are all these dribs and drabs that have come out over the years, whether it‘s...
SCHULTZ: And finally, I got you on that. And Rush, does this exonerate Nancy Pelosi?
HOLT: You know, everybody keeps bringing that up. This is not what goes on inside the beltway. This is the relationship between the government and the individual.
SCHULTZ: No doubt.
HOLT: You know, any of us who have served on these committees for any length of time can say, well, of course the CIA is into denial and deception. That‘s their business. And unfortunately, that hasn‘t stopped at Capitol Hill.
SCHULTZ: But they‘re not into going off and operating on their own, and doing whatever they want to do and having operations that elected officials don‘t know anything about on these select committees.
Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.
HOLT: They are, but they shouldn‘t be. Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Exactly. Thank you.
Congressman Rush Holt with us.
Let‘s go inside the CIA with a former CIA officer, Jack Rice.
Jack, good to have you on tonight.
Explain to our listeners, viewers tonight, what is the difference between operational and non-operational? I mean, you either have this program or you don‘t.
JACK RICE, FMR. CIA OFFICER: Yes. You know, you‘re absolutely right. And you know what, Ed? I‘m looking at this not just as a CIA officer, but also as a former prosecutor.
You think about this as an actionable step. If I‘m going to rob a bank, I don‘t have to be in the bank, steal the money, take it back to the House and count it before I‘ve committed a crime. Once you go down that path, once you take one step, you have begun this operation.
If we think about this with the CIA, if they started laying out a list of people that they wanted to kill, if they started thinking about the funding and started to spend the funding, guess what? The action has already started. The operation has already started.
And you‘ve been asking both the senator and the congressman for some passion. How about this for passion? Let‘s see some subpoenas. Let‘s see some indictments. And if, in fact, Dick Cheney did what it is it appears that he did, let‘s see this man in a cage.
How‘s that for passion?
SCHULTZ: What does this do to the CIA? And I know that Cheney has got his allies over at the CIA, and they‘re thinking, you know, this is a bunch of hogwash, we had to do this to protect the country and everything else. But the country doesn‘t run that way. You can‘t go off on your own and do whatever you want to do.
Would this affect CIA morale at all?
RICE: You know what? This isn‘t about the CIA. And by the way, it‘s broader than that.
It‘s not about Republicans. It‘s not about Democrats. It‘s not about Nancy Pelosi.
This is about what the Constitution says. This is about what the 1947 National Security Act says.
If you commit a crime, you don‘t sit down and say, gosh, if I committed a crime, should we do something about it? No, no, no. If you committed a crime, then you decide how you‘re going to sentence that person.
In this case, it‘s David Addington and Vice President Cheney went to the CIA and said, “You will do this,” then these guys were guilty of a crime, and I want to say (ph) something.
SCHULTZ: And finally, does this put Leon Panetta in an untenable position in any way with people at the CIA? What do you think his position -- you know, having to go to Congress saying, look, this was going on, and you don‘t didn‘t know anything about it?
RICE: Frankly, it does not. In fact, Leon Panetta did exactly what it is he was supposed to do.
RICE: When he found that there was an obligation, he came forward. And, in fact, by the way, they reported that people within the CIA came to Panetta and said, “You need to know about this.”
So this says something about the CIA, too. If it was driven out of the White House, we better follow this all the way up. Finally. It‘s about time. Don‘t you think?
SCHULTZ: Jack Rice, good to have you on THE ED SHOW tonight. Thanks so much.
RICE: You bet.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor started her confirmation hearing today and the Republicans didn‘t pull their punches. I‘ll talk with Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy about that and what he thinks of Dick Cheney withholding information from the Congress.
That‘s next on THE ED SHOW right here on MSNBC.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor got under way in the Senate today. Righty talkers have openly accused the judge of being a racist. Republican senators didn‘t use the word “racist” today, but they kept up the same line of attack, raising questions about bias and empathy.
Republican Senator Jon Kyl—you‘ll recognize him from “Psycho Talk” he‘s extended his attack to the president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA: I respectfully submit that President Obama is simply outside the mainstream in his statements about how judges should decide cases. The question for this committee is whether Judge Sotomayor agrees with President Obama‘s theory of judging, or whether she will faithfully interpret the laws and Constitution and take seriously the oath of her prospective office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
For more, let me bring in my friend, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, with an exclusive interview tonight here on THE ED SHOW.
Senator, good to see you. I know it‘s been a long day and I know you‘ve spent a lot of time preparing for this.
How did the judge do today? How did it all go? The demeanor of your counterparts on the Republican side, what do you think?
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, the judge did very, very well, as I fully expected her to. And actually, as many Republicans have privately said, they expect her to.
I was kind of surprised at the quote that you just had from Senator Kyl. I mean, it‘s almost as though he feels that it‘s President Obama who‘s up for confirmation.
Actually, President Obama was up for his confirmation last fall. He ran against a senator from Senator Kyl‘s own state of Arizona. President Obama won. That confirmation‘s been done.
So let‘s not—let us go with the judge who‘s there. This is an extraordinarily good person. She was first nominated as a judge by George H. W. Bush, then subsequently another judgeship by President Clinton. She‘s had more experience on the federal bench than any nominee to the Supreme Court in almost 100 years.
SCHULTZ: Senator, how aggressive do you think the Republicans are going to be, and any major roadblocks that you might see going through this whole process? Is this going to be an easy confirmation?
LEAHY: Well, I don‘t think they‘re going to be as aggressive as some of the leaders in the party, one of whom called her the equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan, another Republican who called her bigoted. I think to their credit, most of the Republican senators have really shied away from those kind of comments.
They‘ll ask some tough questions. I‘ll make sure the hearing is a respectful one. The judge deserves respect, certainly with her background she does.
And I will predict that in the end, she‘ll be confirmed. I‘m also willing to guarantee there will be Republicans who will vote for her, just as Republicans voted for her in the last two confirmations.
SCHULTZ: Senator, let me ask you about this most recent news story about Dick Cheney telling people around him to conceal information from the Congress, some things that the CIA was working on.
What do you want Attorney General Eric Holder to do at this point with this information? What are your expectations?
LEAHY: Well, I‘d like to point out what happened. And one of the reasons, as you know, I proposed an accountability commission, a bipartisan accountability commission, to go in and find out what everybody did, why they did it. But if somebody in government is telling others not to obey the law, or suggesting that at the highest levels people are above the law, that‘s wrong.
In our country, everybody has to obey the law. There‘s not an exception for a president or a vice president or a United States senator.
So I think that he‘ll look into it. But I also think—I‘ve heard the comments of Senator Feinstein, who‘s the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She is very, very good. And she‘s certainly going to bore into this.
SCHULTZ: So how troubled are you that this was going on and the Congress didn‘t know about it?
LEAHY: Well, if the vice president told the CIA not to inform the Congress, as they‘re required to by law, then he‘s telling them to break the law.
SCHULTZ: Is this the tip of the iceberg, Senator?
LEAHY: Well, it may well be. We do know, of course, from the reports, the published reports. And when this program was discovered or reported to Leon Panetta, the CIA director, he ordered it immediately stopped, especially when he found out that the Congress had never been informed.
SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you with us tonight.
LEAHY: Good to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Senator Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with us here on THE ED SHOW.
Coming up, Sarah Palin says she‘s not out of politics. Now, why would that surprise any of us? She‘s raising money. I told you that was going to happen.
But next on THE ED SHOW, it‘s “Psycho Talk.” A Republican lawmaker says a public option will kill you.
That‘s next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Oh, another dandy on THE ED SHOW. Time for “Psycho Talk” tonight.
Have you noticed in the Congress that these doctors come up with the craziest answers when it comes to health care. Well, we‘ve got one tonight
Dr. Paul Broun, the Republican congressman from Georgia.
That‘s right. The congressman took to the House floor on Friday to rail against health care reform. He doesn‘t want it. Specifically, Broun made some outrageous claims about our neighbors to the north and about a public option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA: And that‘s exactly what‘s going on in Canada and Great Britain today. They don‘t have the appreciation of life as we do in our society, evidently.
And Dr. Rowe (ph), a lot of people are going to die. This program of government option that‘s being touted as being this panacea, the savior of allowing people to have quality health care at an affordable price, is going to kill people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Ha, ha, ha. That‘s a good one. Pretty original—a public option is going to kill you.
Do you believe that?
Congressman, what are you talking about? What about the millions who are denied coverage because of a preexisting condition under the current system we have in this country? I would argue that‘s killing people.
How about the millions who put off going to the doctor or refilling prescriptions because they can‘t afford it? That‘s killing people.
Then we have the claim that Canada and Great Britain, oh, you know, they don‘t even care about their people over there. Media Matters points out that Canada and Great Britain, both those countries, have a lower infant mortality rate and a longer life expectancy than the United States. Sad but true.
Now, Congressman Broun, without a public option, Americans could be left without coverage, without critical care, and they could actually die.
To say a public option will kill people, my friend, that is “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. The Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to launch at 51 after the hour. We‘ll cover that live on MSNBC if it happens. There have been numerous delays, but it‘s expected to go here in about 20 minutes.
The president threw down the hammer on health care today. He spoke at a Rose Garden event to introduce his pick for the surgeon general position. Setting the record straight, President Obama said health care is going to get done this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone. We are going to get this done. Inaction is not an option.
And for those naysayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don‘t bet against us. We are going to make this thing happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I like it. The president met today with key lawmakers in the health care debate. In the meeting was Charlie Rangel, chairman of the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. He presented a plan Friday that would tax the wealthy to help pay for reform. Families making 350,000, a half a million and a million a year would get taxed rates between one and three percent on the increase.
Rangel expects his plan would bring in about 450 billion dollars in revenue over the next ten years. Some Democrats and even the secretary of the health and human services showed skepticism this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: The House Democrats are coming forward with a piece of legislation that includes a 550 billion dollar tax increase, with a surtax of about one percent that starts for individuals earning about 250,000 dollars a year, climbing to three percent for individuals earning a million dollars a year or more. Can Senate Democrats sign on to that?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I think we‘re going to have a different approach.
JANET NAPOLITANO, HHS SECRETARY: I think that it‘s one of the ideas that will be discussed in the long run.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Just to be precise, you‘re open to Charlie Rangel‘s proposal?
NAPOLITANO: I think everything is on the table and discussions are under way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That table. That table‘s awful big, isn‘t it? Joining us now is Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, “Washington Post” columnist E.J. Dionne, and also Republican strategist Tim Griffin with us tonight. Tim, I‘ll go to you first. It all comes down to the money, doesn‘t it? Sooner or later, the Democrats are going to have to figure out how they‘re going to pay for this. The president said he could get this done revenue-neutral, without increasing the numbers on the budget deficit and the overall long-term debt. You believe that?
TIM GRIFFIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I wouldn‘t bet on that, Ed. Here‘s the problem: we‘ve gone now from talking about the uninsured and health care policy to talking about money. And specifically what President Obama‘s got to deal with is the discussion of taxes.
First, we were going to have new taxes on sugary drinks. Well, that was—they passed by that. That wasn‘t going to cover enough people. It was going to hit a lot of people below what they call the wealthy line.
Now we‘ve moved on. We‘re just going to tax the wealthy. There are a couple of problems with that. First of all, they‘re the job-creators. In this particular instance, this tax is going to tax adjusted gross income. OK? So that‘s before deductions. What that does is that impacts a lot of small businesses.
SCHULTZ: These are proposals that they‘re throwing out there right now.
GRIFFIN: Sure, sure.
SCHULTZ: The fact is, the president‘s going to have to figure out this economically on how to pay for it. E.J. Dionne, isn‘t this a major hurdle in any kind of reform? The president‘s going to have to get the devil in the detail here.
E.J. DIONNE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: It is. Everybody wants health care. We want to pay as little as possible for it. That‘s true of us as consumers. It‘s true of us as taxpayers. I think the useful thing about what Charlie Rangel did is he put an idea out there and said to people, well, you Democrats or liberals won‘t pay for this thing. And he‘s showing you can, in fact, if you want to, raise an awful lot of money by simply taxing people at the very top, people over 350,000 dollars a year.
So that gives you a benchmark against which to judge some of the other proposals on the table.
DIONNE: But I think maybe the most important thing that happened today is that President Obama sat down with—at least he was scheduled to sit down with Senator Baucus and Senator Grassley. This whole train has slowed down to a crawl because Senators Baucus and Grassley still can‘t get a bill out of the Finance Committee.
DIONNE: The White House had hoped to be able to hang back until later in the process. I think this shows the president‘s decided he‘s got to weigh in early, and give those guys a little bit or maybe more than a little bit of a push.
SCHULTZ: I wonder if this isn‘t chipping away at public opinion right now. Jamal Simmons, we look at some of the numbers out there. You‘ve got the “USA Today”/Gallup poll out. Do you want major health care reform this year; 53 percent of the American people are saying yes and 33 percent of the American people are saying they‘re not going to get it done. They don‘t believe in it.
Also, they ask about supporting the taxing of the rich; 58 percent of the American people are in favor of that. Your thoughts? I thought the president sounded pretty strong on this today. He sounds pretty confident.
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He did sound strong. Remember, we‘ve been bouncing around this trillion dollar figure. A trillion dollars is the total costs. Some of that money‘s going to be cost shifting. We don‘t have to come up with an extra trillion dollars. We have to come up with something less than that.
I think you‘re right on, Ed; we‘re going to have to pay for this in some way. And I‘m almost at the point where I think we ought to have some “American Idol” style text messaging competition where they hire our company, Cherry Tree Mobile, and they go out and say, do you want to have a value-added tax? Do you want to tax sugary drinks? Or do you want to have a tax on the rich?
Let the American people choose. Sooner or later, we‘ve got to do something that‘s going to be unpopular to get this done.
SCHULTZ: Quickly, again around the horn, let‘s talk Sarah Palin. Tim, is she going to raise a lot of money? She‘s not off to a great start, but she‘s out raising money. She‘s not getting out of politics, surprise, surprise.
GRIFFIN: Sure, she‘s going to raise a lot money. The question she‘s now raised is who are these independents and Democrats she says she‘s going to help—she‘s going to campaign for? She says she‘s going to campaign for independents and Democrats who are for limited government, strong defense, low taxes. And I want to see where she finds these.
SCHULTZ: E.J., where‘s she going?
DIONNE: I think she‘s going on a talk show to compete directly up against you. She‘ll be on Fox. I think she‘s going on the speaking circuit. And I think she‘ll make a lot of money on her book.
SCHULTZ: It‘s going to be tough sledding, because our numbers are getting better and better all the time. Jamal, how can anybody running for Congress turn away Sarah Palin with her star power?
SIMMONS: Well, nobody who wants to appeal to moderates and independents is really going to care that much about Sarah Palin. For Republicans who have got to get the core conservative base out, she‘s clearly the key.
But for Sarah Palin, I think that‘s just about the end of the road. She‘ll be a great person on the stump. She‘ll make a lot of money on the book tour, just like E.J. was saying. She‘ll make a lot of money doing speeches. I‘ll tell you, she will not be president in 2013.
SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, stay with us. We hope to come back to you. The Shuttle Endeavour, the launch is supposed to take place at 51 after the hour. We‘ll be covering that live here on MSNBC.
Coming up, Psycho Talk wasn‘t big enough for the ridiculous Republican attacks on Sonya Sotomayor today. I‘m taking them on in my play book. Stay with us. We‘re right back.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. In my playbook tonight, I want to talk about day one of Judge Sonya Sotomayor‘s confirmation hearings. We knew the righties were going to mount an attack. I was pretty surprised today at Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the committee, set the tone for the righties from the beginning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA: I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for, an individual nominated by any president who believes it is acceptable for a judge to allow their personal background, gender, prejudices, or sympathies to sway their decision.
Call it empathy. Call it prejudice. Call it sympathy. Whatever it is, it‘s not law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, senator, elections do have consequences. The good guys won the last time. Here‘s my favorite comment of the day, though. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: This wise Latino comment has been talked about a lot. But I can just tell you one thing. If I‘d said anything remotely like that, my career would have been over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Your career would have been over, Senator Graham? I don‘t think that‘s the case. The people of South Carolina get to vote whether you are in or out of office. And as we‘ve seen in recent weeks, the people of South Carolina are very understanding and very patient. Just look at the situation with the governor down there.
Today, basically, it was all scripted. You heard senators going back and forth, making their statements. Except you didn‘t hear much from Judge Sonya Sotomayor. She made a quick statement at the end. Tomorrow and Wednesday, it should get pretty interesting, with the Q&A getting under way.
We‘ll be following it right here on MSNBC. A quick reminder, the Shuttle Endeavour, the launch has just been scrubbed. It will not be happening tonight.
Coming up, Sarah Palin is raking in the dough. Her political action committee has raised nearly one million dollars so far in 2009. And from Alaska, that‘s a lot of money. Now, that‘s the kind of money that Republicans would like to get their hands on, especially in these lower House seats. Stay with us. Our panel will take it up next on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. NASA scrubbed the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It is the fifth time this crew has had failure to launch. Let‘s go to NBC‘s Jay Barbree at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The luck isn‘t with this crew on the ground anyway, Jay. Is it all about the weather?
JAY BARBREE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Sure isn‘t, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Is it all about the weather.
BARBREE: Yes, it is. No, no, they had some hydrogen gas leaks earlier last month with this mission. The first couple of times it had to do with that. They fixed the leaks. So now it‘s the weather each time they‘re coming down to.
Again, it‘s hard to launch anything, a small window in the summertime in Florida, especially in the late afternoon. If this was early morning, it would be a big difference. But they can‘t do it. They‘ve got to wait until the space station, Ed, is overhead, or coming overhead in the same orbital plane. Then they can fly up there and rendezvous and dock with it.
SCHULTZ: I understand they‘re going to try tomorrow evening, 6:25 Eastern time. This is rather taxing mentally on the crew, isn‘t it?
BARBREE: Oh, it sure is. They‘re going to try tomorrow. They‘re looking at it right now. Within 30 minutes, they‘re going to decide if they do try that window tomorrow, or wait another day. But the problem is, if they wait until Wednesday, they‘ll be getting into the time of a Russian cargo ship that‘s coming up to the International Space Station. So then they‘ll have to stand down until the end of the month.
So it‘s getting laughable. We‘ve been at this two months trying to get this launch off, Ed. And they need to fly eight more missions to the Space Station, and then they will retire the shuttle fleet. They‘re trying to do it by the end of next year. And I don‘t think they‘re going to make it. I think they‘re going to be going into 2011. They‘re trying to get the next rockets going.
Right now, NASA‘s in a drift. Nobody really knows where they‘re going. We‘re waiting on a review board that is taking a look at everything for President Obama. So everybody‘s just sitting here, trying to do what they‘ve got laid out for them. But it‘s kind of like, you know, a no man‘s world here.
SCHULTZ: Jay, thanks for your help tonight. It‘s of course the fifth delay so far for the Endeavour. They‘re going to try to do it, as Jay said, tomorrow night.
In my op-ed earlier tonight, I talked about how Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to withhold counterterrorism information from Congress. So you know what I think; it‘s illegal and we need a special prosecutor. That‘s probably not going to happen. They‘re going to have to have some other steps before that. But I think we need to get to the bottom of all of this.
Let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Jamal Simmons, E.J. Dionne, and Tim Griffin. Jamal, let‘s go with you first. How dogmatic, should I say, should the Obama administration be to get to the bottom of this? Are they weighing public opinion on this? Are they really going to seek out the truth?
SIMMONS: I used to be against some kind of investigation into this. But it‘s becoming clear now there‘s so much more here than we even thought we knew. As Donald Rumsfeld would have said, it‘s the unknown unknowns that are gnawing at the lining of my belly here. What I want to see is the government try to figure out, through some sort of means—and maybe Eric Holder will do it—what Dick Cheney did when he was in office, what secret programs existed, what we have to stop, and what we have to apologize for. And let‘s move on as a country and live up to the values we all hold.
SCHULTZ: E.J., what defense would Dick Cheney have at this point to the Intelligence Committees who have a legal right to know what the heck is going on? Are we back to, hey, we got to keep the country safe and only we could know in the Oval Office, and that‘s it?
DIONNE: Are you telling me I have to come up with a defense here for Dick Cheney, Ed? I think that—you know, I think their argument would probably be something like, this thing was really sensitive and we couldn‘t trust them. But that‘s just not what the law allows them to do.
I think it would be simple enough for Congress itself at least to figure out, did vice president—then Vice President Cheney tell the CIA not to tell Congress about this? Because that is a serious problem. And as you mentioned earlier, it goes back to the whole controversy over Pelosi. It really does begin to look like, in those years, the CIA wasn‘t leveling with Congress on everything.
And it‘s important that Congress be informed.
SCHULTZ: Tim Griffin, how do you defend this?
GRIFFIN: Well, clearly, the law needs to be followed. I don‘t think there‘s any question there. I think part of the question here is, what are the rest of the facts? We don‘t know everything in this case.
But there is a political component. And that is, the administration‘s got to be careful not to get the bad guys mixed up. I mean, they have to remember that the programs, the policies that were in place were to combat al Qaeda. Now we have a situation where people are outraged that there was a plan to capture and kill al Qaeda leaders.
SIMMONS: Now, that‘s not the outrage. The outrage is that the vice president, perhaps, or someone at the CIA, decided not to level with Congress about what they were up to. You can go after al Qaeda, just tell the people who are supposed to be minding the store what you‘re doing.
GRIFFIN: As I said—as I said, the law should be followed. And there are a lot of facts to be known on that. One of the first things that came out today was that Panetta was canceling this program. And there was outrage that this existed.
SCHULTZ: Well, that is true—
SIMMONS: It‘s illegal—
SCHULTZ: Go ahead, E.J.
DIONNE: What I was going to say is, if there‘s solidarity in this country across political lines on any issue, it‘s that we agree on the need to go after al Qaeda. And I think the problem with some of the things the last administration did, particularly when it treated Democrats in Congress and the Congress in general as untrustworthy, is it helped break down some of the solidarity that we had in the war on terror.
So I think it was counterproductive for the very purpose that our Republican friend here says we should pursue.
SCHULTZ: Well, I find that very interesting. I want to talk about this political component that Tim just mentioned. This is Liz Cheney giving an interview to the “Washington Times.” This is what I call her spin on it. Let‘s hear it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF DICK CHENEY: It gets more and more appalling sort of every day. It looks to me like you had about six or so Democrats up on the Hill decide that they were going to politicize this intelligence. I think they‘re very worried about Speaker Pelosi. They got the idea, it looks like, that somehow this briefing by Panetta was something they could use to try to provide some cover, I suppose, for the speaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Tim Griffin, do you believe that? Do you believe that Leon Panetta came in and said, hey, they‘ve been running a program that nobody knows about in the Congress, because we‘ve got to give cover to Nancy Pelosi? Isn‘t that somewhat outrageous?
GRIFFIN: I do not believe that he specifically said that. But I do believe there‘s a political component here.
SCHULTZ: What would it be?
GRIFFIN: I think the problem is the gleefulness that you see when something like this comes up. Instead of giving someone the benefit of the doubt until the facts are completely out, as we should do—
SCHULTZ: Well, there‘s a fact here, Tim. You have the acting director right now—the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, coming up saying, look, this program‘s been going on, and you didn‘t know anything about it if you‘re on the House and Senate Intel Committee. That is against the law. That is a fact that I think would get a curious hunting dog on the trail.
GRIFFIN: If there are facts that should have been disclosed to the House and/or the Senate, and they were not disclosed, under the law, then clearly that‘s an issue. But I think there‘s so much here that is not discloseable, because it is confidential and classified—
SCHULTZ: Even to the Intel Committees?
GRIFFIN: I‘m talking about in the public domain right now.
GRIFFIN: It‘s hard to reach a substantive conclusion at this point.
SCHULTZ: All right.
GRIFFIN: Again, I think it‘s the gleefulness at which many people are demonstrating their—after this came out.
SCHULTZ: Well, I don‘t know if it‘s gleeful or not, but I know the American people aren‘t too happy about the fact that there was a secret program going on that people who were supposed to know, in on the know, were not briefed on it at all. E.J., what do you make of Liz Cheney‘s comment there, politicizing it the way she did?
DIONNE: You know, Tim used the word gleeful. A, I don‘t think anybody‘s gleeful. B, the person who‘s least gleeful is Leon Panetta, because he is trying to do two things at once, and it‘s really tough. He wants to lead the CIA. He wants President Obama to have credibility with the CIA. He wants to get us to a new place.
So they really don‘t want to be dragged into these old controversies. But he‘s also a former member of Congress. And he knows that Congress is supposed to be briefed on this. And he believes in briefing Congress on this. So I think the notion that Leon Panetta, with his responsibilities at the CIA, is somehow cooking something up for Nancy Pelosi, that flies in the face of who he is and how he behaved when this controversy started in the first place.
SCHULTZ: I want to ask you about the confirmation hearings of Sonya Sotomayor. How aggressive do you anticipate the Republicans to get? Today was kind of a shot over the bow. Who knows if it will go any further than what it did today. Most people are thinking there aren‘t going to be any major roadblocks here. What do you think?
SIMMONS: I don‘t think we‘re going to have major roadblocks. But clearly the Republicans have laid down that they are going to come after her. You know, she‘s not an umpire. She‘s supposed to be calling balls and strikes. You know, that‘s not really what we pick Supreme Court justices for. We want a Supreme Court justice that‘s going to sit with eight other people and actually look at the law and figure out how to apply it.
As one of the senators said today, they‘ll be judged on whether or not they help expand freedom or did they narrow freedom for Americans? We want to make sure, as Democrats and I think as most Americans, that we have a judge who‘s going to be fair in the application of the law when citizens come before that bench.
SCHULTZ: Tim Griffin, how aggressive should the Republicans be?
GRIFFIN: Well, I think there are legitimate questions that should be raised. And some of those were raised today. And they don‘t go to necessarily whether she‘s too liberal, whether she‘s a moderate. They go to the issue of impartiality. And those have appropriately been raised and it‘s going to be interesting to hear her responses, because at the end of the day, you could talk about whether the court‘s going to expand freedom or shrink freedom. The court‘s supposed to interpret the law.
Sometimes an interpretation of the law is not one that expands freedom. So you can‘t get lofty political and policy principles confused with interpreting the law as it is written.
SCHULTZ: E.J., what‘s going to be her biggest hurdle, you think?
DIONNE: I don‘t think she has a big hurdle. I don‘t think the Republicans think they can stop her. And I think that Republicans are really divided. I think some of them, playing to the base, really want to go after her on the Ricci case, on affirmative action, on this whole empathy thing. I still think people like empathy more than they dislike it.
And you know, they‘re going to try to paint her as some sort of radical, which she isn‘t. Her record is quite—she‘s a moderate liberal at most.
SCHULTZ: All right.
DIONNE: So I think other Republicans are just scared to death of alienating Latinos more than they‘ve already alienated them. So I think she‘s going to end up with a lot of Republican votes.
SCHULTZ: Of course the questions will start tomorrow. We‘ll have more on it tomorrow night on THE ED SHOW. We‘re told at this hour that NASA has just announced that the Space Shuttle Endeavour, the next attempt to get it into outer space and the launch will be on Wednesday.
That‘s THE ED SHOW tonight. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out WeGotEd.com. Next town hall meeting coming up this Sunday night, Madison, Wisconsin, 7:00 at the Barrymore Theater. “HARDBALL” starts right now on MSNBC.
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