Guests: Kelly O‘Donnell, Silvestre Reyes, Vincent Cannistraro, Katrina vanden Heuvel, George Miller, Sen. Ben Cardin, Bill Press, Susan Molinari, Jack Rice, Matt Taibbi
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.
Well, Dick Cheney, back in the news, broke the law. Now the PR war has started with chairwoman Liz Cheney in charge of the PR. She‘s throwing sand in our eye saying the Democrats are dangerous to America.
Congressional hearings are on the way. We‘ll talk about it.
Sonia Sotomayor admits she made a bad choice of works eight years ago in a speech, but the Republicans just won‘t let it go. A top committee member will join us tonight on the program at the bottom of the hour.
And the House says yes, we can get health care done this year. They rolled out a historic plan today. President Obama gives it a thumbs up. Chairman George Miller‘s going to be joining me on the program coming up in the next hour.
Plus “Psycho Talk.” We‘ve got a place panel coming up.
But I want you to get your phone out, because we really want to know what you think about Cheney and what‘s unfolding. It‘s coming up.
But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
Well, I think this could be the tip of the iceberg, folks. Congressional hearings are on the way. Documents are being gathered. And the PR war has already started.
We do know tonight there will be House Intelligence Committee hearings concerning the secret CIA programs that Congress was never briefed on. Documents are being collected from the CIA and the past administration. The American people will find out if laws were broken and why the Congress was kept in the dark.
In the meantime, Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, has started this PR campaign. She did it here this morning on MSNBC. She claims daddy didn‘t do anything wrong and no laws were broken, while admitting she doesn‘t know anything about what he did or didn‘t do.
Try to follow this, folks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, “MORNING JOE”: Did your father prevent any information on anything from going to Congress? Did he authorize that, did he tell anyone to keep information from Congress?
LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY‘S DAUGHTER: Well, he—this is clearly a classified program, and he doesn‘t talk about classified programs and won‘t comment on it. So I want to be clear that I‘m not here to speak for him.
BRZEZINSKI: If guidelines or laws were broken, do you think that it should be looked into and that people should be prosecuted?
CHENEY: Laws were not broken.
BRZEZINSKI: If your father did not urge the CIA to withhold information from Congress, wouldn‘t this go away, if he could just come out and say that?
CHENEY: It really clearly looks like, you know, it‘s an effort to sort of filibuster here. You know, I think Speaker Pelosi knows that she made a mistake when she stood up in her press conference and suggested that the CIA has been lying to the Congress for years.
There is absolutely, you know, nothing at this point that I think, frankly, anybody could say that would get the Democrats off of this path of, we‘re going to politicize intelligence, we‘re going to have investigations, we‘re going to put the nation in a situation where the CIA is more focused on responding to congressional, political investigations than on defending the nation going forward. And that‘s dangerous. And the responsibility for that is going to be on the hands of the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You know, her answers almost qualify her for “The Gong Show.”
Folks, don‘t you have to have a lot of information to make an absolute statement that there were no laws broken?
Now, beyond that, she claims this is all about political cover for Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House? She‘s not under any political heat or any fire here.
Liz Cheney, in my opinion, is dazed and very confused. On one hand, she says she can‘t confirm her dad withheld information from the Congress, but she‘s sure no laws were broken.
Liz Cheney has zero credibility at this point. Once again, here we have a righty playing on the fears and the emotions of the American people, and who really doesn‘t know what to make of all of this.
Let me ask you this: Who doesn‘t want to take out al Qaeda leaders? Who doesn‘t want to fight terrorists? They‘re trying to make the case that the Democrats don‘t.
This is about alleged law-breaking and secret government operations, and that has the attention of a few Americans.
Joining me now is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes.
Mr. Reyes, good to have you with us tonight.
I want to know when these hearings are going to start. What wheels are in motion? I was told today by Jan Schakowsky, who sits on your committee, that you‘re already collecting documents from the CIA and the Bush administration.
Give us an update. What‘s going on here?
REP. SILVESTRE REYES (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, first of all, we haven‘t made a decision yet. We‘re in the early stages of gathering documentation.
We sent a letter to Director Panetta, who, by the way, has been very cooperative in this whole process. But this week, I intend to sit down and consult with the ranking member, Peter Hoekstra, from Michigan. And then we‘ll decide a way forward on this.
SCHULTZ: Do you think there will be hearings? I‘m getting somewhat mixed messages here. I heard from the congresswoman from Chicago that there will be hearings.
What‘s happening here?
REYES: Well, Ed, there‘s a lot of speculation about whether or not hearings will be held. The truth of the matter is, we have not made a decision yet. That decision I anticipate will be made sometime this week. It‘s still early in the process, and we‘re following the committee process.
SCHULTZ: Now, your House Intelligence Committee, as other committees, have subpoena power when you hold these hearings. Would it be your intention to call Dick Cheney in and get him under oath and find out what was going on, and find out why your committee and over on the Senate side, why they were held in the dark?
REYES: Well, certainly, the first thing we have to do is make a decision to go forward. Second, we need to formulate a plan of the process that we‘re going to use to conduct these hearings. But it‘s premature to speculate at this point who we would want to talk to and whether or not we were going to be using subpoenas. I think I‘ll leave that speculation to others and just tell you that as soon as we follow the process of the committee, we‘ll make that decision and those decisions.
SCHULTZ: OK. Can you tell us, do you personally think there should be hearings?
REYES: I‘m going to reserve my opinion, because I‘m the chairman of the committee and I really need to follow the consultation process with the ranking members.
SCHULTZ: Well, I commend you, Chairman Reyes, because if this was all about politics, you would have just told me, absolutely, Ed, we‘ve got to have these hearings, we‘ve got to move forward. So you‘re telling our audience tonight that you are doing the due diligence before these hearings take place, and you‘re not ready to commit right now, but that‘s where this is all headed?
REYES: That‘s correct. We want to make sure we have the facts before we make those decisions.
SCHULTZ: All right. Chairman Reyes, good to have you with us tonight here on the program.
REYES: Nice to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: I think the American people can pretty much deduce where this is all going.
Joining me now is former CIA counterterrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro. He is a 27-year CIA veteran who has served in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. He was also the director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council under President Reagan.
And I want to make it very clear, Vincent, I‘m not asking you to come on here tonight to make any kind of political statement or take any kind of political position on this. I just want to talk about operations of a secret program.
Now, unless I‘m missing something, I thought we have these drones out there over Afghanistan that are taking out al Qaeda operatives all the time. We‘re taking shots at people all the time, are we not?
What constitutes a secret program?
VINCENT CANNISTRARO, FMR. CIA TERRORISM CHIEF: Of course. We‘re trying to kill al Qaeda leaders around the world, particularly in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. And that‘s been going on since 9/11, when President Bush declared war on the enemy that attacked us first.
So, when people talk about an assassination squad, it‘s misleading, because it‘s not assassination if it takes place within the context of a war scenario. So what we‘re talking about is, how do you get at the enemy target?
And if that‘s al Qaeda, can you drop them with a bomb? Yes. Can you shoot them with a gun? Yes. It‘s the same thing.
SCHULTZ: So what kind of program would be held in secret, in your opinion? Give us some options here.
CANNISTRARO: The program that was held in secret was not a program.
The problem was, it was peripheral planning that never took actuality.
In fact, went on at the Pentagon under Special Forces under Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and that operation was misbegotten and it had some very bad results. There were a couple of operations taking place by military Special Forces, going to places and going after terrorist targets.
In one case, the CIA was not told, the American ambassador in the country in particular was not told. And the person that was killed was the wrong person. So that showed...
SCHULTZ: Mr. Cannistraro, could you tell us, would it be possible that maybe American citizens might have been targeted in this program?
CANNISTRARO: No, I don‘t believe American targets were targeted by the program. As I said, the program never actually reached the point of being activated. So people weren‘t sent (ph).
SCHULTZ: Should the Congress have been briefed on it?
CANNISTRARO: Only when it reaches a certain level. Basically, if you‘re just talking about the possibility and speculating on it, but you haven‘t actualized the program, there‘s nothing to brief yet.
So were the drones briefed? Of course they were. Were actual operations briefed? Yes, they were.
Was a possible operation that didn‘t take place get briefed? At what level do you do it? What stage do you do it? In my judgment, it hadn‘t reached the first stage for briefing.
SCHULTZ: OK. Thank you, Vincent Cannistraro, tonight for joining us here on THE ED SHOW.
Joining me now is Katrina vanden Heuvel. She is the editor of “The Nation.”
Where do the American people stand on this? I think the American people want hearings and I think they want full disclosure.
Katrina, this is the type of the iceberg?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”: I think it is the tip of the iceberg.
Listen, I mean, if Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to deceive the Congress, this is an egregious violation of the law. He violated his oath of office.
The American people deserve a system that works. For eight years, Dick Cheney and his lawless lawyers battered our Constitution and checks and balances. Those sound like process words, but it‘s the core of our system.
It‘s not Democratic or Republican, though the Bush/Cheney administration violated so many laws that it is the tip of the iceberg. We need, in my view, a 9/12 commission to go back and look at the systemic use of torture, to look at the warrantless wiretapping, which a recent inspector general‘s report, Ed, pointed out was ineffective.
So, if we‘re going to fix our system and ensure that the American people get some oversight by a Congress that needs to reassert itself, yes, I think the American people are on board. But it can‘t be perceived as politics. And it isn‘t. It‘s about restoring our Democratic system, which if it‘s falling apart is going to make us less safe.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of the comments that, oh, the Democrats are doing this because they want to give political cover to Nancy Pelosi? And I guess my response to that, and I want yours, obviously, is what would motivate Leon Panetta come out and tell the House and Senate Intel committees, by the way, there were programs going on that you didn‘t know about, just to cover something for Nancy Pelosi?
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, there‘s a long history of the CIA and then of the Bush/Cheney administration misleading Congress. What‘s the core of this is torture. And I believe that the Republicans and the legacy of—you know, you‘ve got the Cheney family tour out there. They‘re trying to distract and deflect from abuses of law.
And we need the facts, Ed. We need the facts. And that‘s why we need hearings.
In 1976, the Church Commission—people should go back and look at that—tried to fix a broken system. And that‘s what we have now. We need to rein in an executive, whoever it is, Republican or Democratic, and restore that system of checks and balances.
SCHULTZ: How much pressure do you think that the White House will get to make sure these hearings take place? I mean...
VANDEN HEUVEL: We need to bring the pressure, because, listen, there are—it would be great to see former military—they call them JAGs, the lawyers, those inside the CIA who understand that their system has been deformed and that the integrity of an intelligence system or a military, if it‘s politicized as it was so heavily under the Bush administration, makes us all less secure. But Americans deserve the truth.
It is not politics. It is about fixing a broken system. And it is as important as the 9/11 Commission. But we need to do it and get the information that we didn‘t get under 9/11 Commission.
For example, revelations, Ed. Four former intelligence officials have said that Dick Cheney ordered waterboarding to elicit false information from an Iraqi official to justify the Iraq/al Qaeda connection, which never existed. So the cancer is also the Iraq War, which the Bush administration you‘ll remember Joe Wilson—defamed Joe Wilson because they wanted to take down anyone who stood in their way, and the torture and all of this brutality.
SCHULTZ: And it goes to other policies as well—the energy policy. The secret meetings that took place in the summer of 2001, we still don‘t know what that was all about. Cooking the books on energy policy, I mean, we deserve to know...
VANDEN HEUVEL: We deserve accountability.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And I think the Obama administration came to office and said accountability. Do we want to be a country that has an executive leviathan ever wrapped in depending secrecy as Cheney gave us?
SCHULTZ: Well, this—if the House Intelligence Committee goes through with this, this would be the first real due diligence on the Bush administration.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And so crucial for our history and our country going forward.
SCHULTZ: No doubt. Thanks, Katrina.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Katrina vanden Heuvel of “The Nation.”
Tonight, get your phones out. I want to know what you think.
Will Dick Cheney face prosecution? Will Dick Cheney face prosecution?
Text “A” for yes, “B” for no on the number on your screen, 622639.
We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show tonight.
Much more on Dick Cheney later in the show. But next up, the House unveiled its health care bill today. Chairman George Miller joins me next on THE ED SHOW to tell us, OK, how the rich are going to pay for it.
Rich folks, you better watch your wallet.
It‘s coming up next on THE ED SHOW.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don‘t be fooled by folks trying to scare you saying we can‘t change the health care system. We have no choice but to change the health care system, because right now it‘s broken for too many Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That was President Obama on the road today speaking to folks in the great state of Michigan.
And House Democrats rolled out their health care bill today, and President Obama, as you heard, gave it a thumbs up. The president has put the pressure on Congress to get a health care bill to his desk this year.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured the president that the House was on track.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Inaction is not an option for us. And that is why we‘re still on schedule to do what we have planned, to vote on this legislation before we leave for the August recess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Ahead of the announcement, Speaker Pelosi said the bill won‘t be the final product. Leaders are willing to make changes to get Democrats like the Blue Dogs on board. Time is of the essence for the Democrats both in the House and the Senate.
Joining us now is one of the House leaders in this effort, Congressman George Miller of California. He is the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, who has worked countless hours on this, I know.
George, tell us, is this a good deal for the American people tonight?
REP. GEORGE MILLER (D), EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It‘s a very, very good deal for the American people. It‘s what they said they wanted during the campaign. It‘s what they asked the president to bring to the Congress.
He charged us with getting us a plan that would hold down costs, that would let people keep the plans. If they like what they have they can keep it to get rid of preexisting conditions that tear away insurance for so many American families exactly at the time they need it, and to make sure that never again would Americans be without health insurance.
SCHULTZ: And what kind of concessions, Chairman Miller, did you have to make to get the Blue Dogs on board? They‘ve been towing a tough line here. What did you have to do to appease them?
MILLER: Well, we‘ve had ongoing discussions not just with the Blue Dogs, but many in our caucus because of the unfairness and the manner in which Medicare now reimburses various hospitals and localities and doctors for medical procedures and practices that take place. And so we put in a provision to change that, to do a study, to make sure that we‘re taking into account modern medicine, that we‘re not still reimbursing people based upon the medicine of the 1960s and the 1970s, as opposed to what we now know can be done to drive down costs. Because the goal of the president was that we would drive down costs, we would slow down the increases that have been taking place and been crushing businesses and crushing families.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Well, you know, I‘m reading now that the Congressional Budget Office is saying tonight that this is going to cost just over $1 trillion, and it‘s going to leave 17 million Americans uninsured.
What about that?
MILLER: Well, it‘s going to—I think the CBO number is right around $1 trillion. That was the goal for this. Over half of that, over $500 billion, will be from internal savings of waste, fraud, abuse, and bad medical practices that are taking place every day, costing businesses and families a lot of money.
The other will be from revenues that will be raised in the Ways and Means Committee in the next few days. I think the Senate‘s looking at a similar type of approach.
And this is the cost of reform. But what this will do is slow down the growth in medical cost, it will slow it down for families, slow it down for businesses, make it more affordable, and make sure that everybody has - we think 97 percent of the American people will be covered by this plan, so they‘ll never again have to go without insurance.
SCHULTZ: All right. Let‘s talk about the money and where the American people are.
One poll out there, a “USA Today”/Gallup poll, paying for health care, require employees to pay, 61 percent of the American people want that. Fifty-eight percent say tax the wealthy and 52 percent say tax sugary soft drinks.
There will be a tax increase, will there not, Chairman Miller?
MILLER: There will be. There will be a tax increase. Revenues have to be provided because we‘re adding 50 million people to the system and we‘re making reforms within the system. So that‘s necessary.
SCHULTZ: So the rich folks are going to have to bite the bullet, the plus-$250,000 a year crowd. Is that right?
MILLER: I think it may be the people plus-$350,000 a year for an individual, and then again up at $500,000. So you‘re really talking about a tax on millionaire families.
SCHULTZ: And Congressman, when are we going to see action on this in the House? Is this on the fast track? This week, next week? What do you think?
MILLER: The Education and Labor Committee will start tomorrow. I believe the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means will start on Thursday. And we hope to be finished before the weekend, or during the weekend, if we have to stay to complete it.
SCHULTZ: OK. A giant step here today in health care coverage.
Thank you, Congressman Miller. Appreciate your time tonight.
MILLER: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk,” why Karl Rove thinks informing the Congress is dangerous.
It‘s next in “Psycho Talk.” He won‘t disappoint you.
SCHULTZ: Oh, welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
It‘s another edition of “Psycho Talk,” and we‘ve got the all-American turd blossom himself, right front and center tonight. Oh, that‘s right, Karl Rove. He‘s talking from the same playbook as Liz Cheney.
Rove appeared on Fox News, as he always does. He was asked about Dick Cheney allegedly ordered the CIA to keep Congress in the dark about a program to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives.
Rove came out with this dandy...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: The CIA briefed Congress to this, I guess in June, and Congress immediately leaks it. That itself is a violation I think of several statutes and indicative of why it is so dangerous to give Congress information. And so Congress is saying, we want you to brief us. We, the left wing in Congress, want you to brief us on ideas you have, not necessarily on programs...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Let‘s be clear. This was not an idea. This was a plan. “The Wall Street Journal” reports the CIA spent money on planning and possibly some training.
It‘s also the law. The law states that Congress has to be briefed on any activities within the CIA.
We‘re talking about concealing information from the Congress?
We‘ve seen what happens when there isn‘t proper oversight—waterboarding, torture, just to name a few.
My favorite comment through all of this has got to be, “It‘s dangerous to give Congress information.”
Now, I guess we should kind of understand what‘s going on here, because Rove continually ignored subpoenas to testify before Congress. I guess we should just trust people like Cheney with the knowledge of these programs.
I‘ll give you one thing, Rove. You are the authority when it comes to leaks.
That‘s “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor faced her first round of questioning in the Senate today. The Republicans did exactly what I expected. They kept harping on her about a comment about being a wise Latina woman, a comment she made in a speech back in 2001. But the judge stayed cool under fire and gave a classy, reasonable response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
SEN. JON KYL ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: People have read these speeches and have concluded that you believe that gender and ethnicity are an appropriate way for judges to make decisions in cases.
SOTOMAYOR: The words I chose, taking the rhetorical flourish, is a bad idea. If you look at my history on the bench, you will know that I do not believe that any ethnic, gender, or race group has an advantage in sound judging. You noted that my speech actually said that. And I also believe that every person, regardless of their background and life experiences, can be good and wise judges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell. Kelly, that, of course, I thought made a lot of news today. And a lot of folks commenting on that. But also the questions of temperament came up later on this afternoon. How do the supporters of the judge feel she fared through all of that?
KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Ed. There are certainly two very different ways of looking at the day‘s events. Supporters of Judge Sonya Sotomayor feel they didn‘t lay a glove on her. That was a phrase from one senior administration official. Meaning the Republicans did not draw the blood that perhaps they had hoped to.
Also, I think widely viewed that she composed herself well. She was prepared. It was a grueling day by anyone‘s standards. I think anyone can feel a sense of sympathy for her to be under those hot lights and facing tough questions all day long.
It was difficult in that there were repeated questions about the remarks, the wise Latina remarks, that have gotten so much attention. She did use that kind of idea several times over several speeches in over a period of ten years. And Republicans were chipping away, trying to find out if she believed that that could influence what you would do on the bench.
She tried, in a number of cases, to say she could separate to be what she believed to be the richness of experience from the rule of law.
She also distanced herself from President Obama, who had said he wanted a judge with empathy. Empathy was never a word Sonya Sotomayor used. That was the president‘s word. She said she disagreed, that she didn‘t believe what was in a judge‘s heart, which was another phrase President Obama had used when he was a senator—she didn‘t believe that was appropriate in looking at cases.
So she had a rigorous day. It‘s always intended to be that when you have a confirmation hearing. More of it coming up tomorrow. But when Democratic senators were questioning her, she had a little bit more breathing room, because, of course, they were pointing out a number of the things that they believe are more flattering and more enlightening about her record on the bench. Ed?
SCHULTZ: And this, of course, Kelly, is a big story across the country with independents and really conservatives. And that is the Second Amendment. How do supporters of the judge feel like she fared through that early this morning?
O‘DONNELL: Well, that was a contentious point. She, according to those who back her, say that she handled it well. She was very clear about following the law. And that is one of those issues that really is a dividing line, one of the cultural touchstones in the country.
So is abortion. She was asked about that in the sense that she was asked about the right to privacy, which is often code getting you to the subject of abortion. She said she believes the Constitution does provide a right to privacy, and that Roe versus Wade is settled law. That‘s an answer very similar to what Justices Alito and Roberts also said a few years ago, when they were appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee too.
So on some of those key issues that are often really the crux of a confirmation hearing, those made fewer headlines than the issues about ethnicity, ethnic pride, and personal experiences, and how those might overlap into making decisions. That was really the emphasis today. And Sonya Sotomayor had to say it many times. And in fact, Ed, she got down to really simple language, saying it fell flat, it was a big mistake, really simple words to try to retract what she had called an attempt to inspire young people, especially young attorneys, in those speeches several years ago.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Kelly O‘Donnell. Thanks for joining us tonight here on THE ED SHOW. NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell with us.
Joining me now is Senator Ben Cardin, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Well, day one is down to the questioning, senator. How do you think Judge Sonya Sotomayor—how do you think she fared today?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Ed, I think she did very well. She answered all the questions rather thoroughly. It‘s interesting that they are picking on a statement she made in the speech, and they can‘t find anything in the cases that she decided to quibble with. In fact, it was Senator Graham who pointed out that her decisions fall within the mainstream. And I think that‘s what we ultimately will judge her, is by her record.
SCHULTZ: Were you surprised that Senator Graham brought up the point made by anonymous sources about her temperament? How did you view that moment?
CARDIN: Well, he quoted from an almanac that lawyers respond to. But that almanac also had very favorable things to say about Judge Sotomayor. So she is known as being a well-prepared judge that questions who attorneys that are before her, who is engaged in the cases to make sure there‘s thorough debate and discussion. That‘s the characteristics that you want on the bench.
Then we looked at the way that she handled herself before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee today. It‘s that type of demeanor that I think will serve her well on the Supreme Court of the United States.
SCHULTZ: You think the Republicans are being easy on her? Or—I mean, it just seems like this whole process the last couple of days has been so newsless, if that‘s—I know that‘s not even a word. But there just hasn‘t been any real big developments through all of this. So it brings me to the question, is this slam dunk?
CARDIN: Well, I think the Judiciary Committee has handled itself very professionally, both the Democrats and the Republicans. I think they‘ve reflected the—what the process should be about. And that is asking their questions. There have been tough questions asked. There‘s no question about it. I think there‘s been some serious questions raised.
But I agree with you. When you look at her background, she has the most experience in any nominee in 100 years. She has trial court experience. She has appellate court experience. She‘s a state prosecutor --
SCHULTZ: You just said it‘s a slam dunk, I thought you‘d say that.
CARDIN: Well, I think she‘s going to be confirmed. Absent something coming out of these hearings, what Senator Graham said, absent a meltdown, she‘ll be confirmed. I think she‘ll be confirmed.
SCHULTZ: Senator Ben Cardin, thanks for joining us tonight. For more, let‘s turn to our panel, Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Jack Rice, former CIA officer, and Susan Molinari, former congresswoman and Republican strategist.
Susan, let‘s start with you tonight. Are the Republicans going easy on the judge? What do you think?
SUSAN MOLINARI, FMR. CONGRESSWOMAN: I think the Republicans—excuse my voice tonight, Ed. I‘m just getting over a cold. I think the Republicans are doing what the Republicans set out to do, which is—you know, look, this is a woman who has a great story to tell. She has a great record. She has, by and large, made decisions in the mainstream. She has said some things that have caused some question, particularly in light of the recent reversal the New Haven, Connecticut reverse discrimination suit.
So I think there may be—I think they‘re being respectful. I think they‘re asking the questions that need to be asked. I think you‘re right, I think it‘s a slam dunk.
SCHULTZ: OK. Bill Press, if there was a kitchen sink in this, I think it was thrown today. Talking about her temperament and then harping on this comment of eight years ago. If they‘ve got to go back eight years on a personal comment, which she called a Youtube moment. If you look at the Youtube, you know, you come to a conclusion. If you look at the whole speech, it‘s something else. Is the worst over?
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, absolutely. First of all, I‘ve got to say; I think if you‘re looking for somebody with judicial temperament, boy did we see it on display today. I mean, I don‘t know—
Ed, I know you pretty well. You and I would have been in their face.
SCHULTZ: I‘d have been over the desk. There‘s no doubt about that.
PRESS: I would have been punching them out. She was calm. She was thoughtful. She was collected. She was respectful.
And I disagree with some of the other comments that have been made. I thought the Republicans today came across as mean, as nasty, as ugly, and personal attacks on Sonya Sotomayor.
They did not hurt her, but I think they hurt themselves today. They never talked about the cases, except the one New Haven case. It was all about lines in speeches that she had given. What have they been doing? I thought they were studying her cases for the last few weeks.
MOLINARI: Excuse me, Bill Press. That is something that Senator Obama raised when he was in the United States Senate, when he looked at judicial activism. He went back, I think it was in Justice Robert‘s case, and said, looking back at your former speeches, it seems that perhaps your judicial activism philosophy does not agree. They were just copying President Obama.
PRESS: Susan, she‘s had 3,000 decisions, 3,000 cases. They never talked about that.
MOLINARI: You know what, Bill—
SCHULTZ: Let me get Jack Rice in here. Jack, I think you come from a profession where keeping your cool is pretty important. Did she pass the test today?
JACK RICE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes. I‘m with you, actually. I‘m kind of shocked she didn‘t jump up off the table and land on half the people on the bench. It‘s shocking here.
I really think that the Republicans are making a mistake here. They‘re going to lose this fight. They know they‘re going to lose this fight. This is clearly about one thing. It‘s about scoring political points right now. If what they‘re doing is pandering to rush Limbaugh, then Sessions may have won. But if he‘s trying to convince the rest of America that he‘s actually mainstream, he may have a very serious problem.
SCHULTZ: Well, let‘s get the response from the panel tonight of the comment that Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said today about a ruling. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: You voted not to reconsider the prior case. You voted to stay with the decision of the circuit. And in fact, your vote was the key vote. Had you voted with Judge Cabranes, himself of Puerto Rican ancestry had you voted with him, you could have changed that case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Bill Press, because Judge Cabranes is a Puerto Rican, what does that have to do with anything?
PRESS: Let me say something, Ed. I want to be careful here. Jeff Sessions is the last one who should be talking to a Latina about racism, or even raising it. To put the southern white senator who called the NAACP un-American, right, one time. I mean, come on.
SCHULTZ: Jack Rice, your response to that comment?
RICE: Without question, I think Jeff Sessions should keep his head down and try not to get it blown off.
SCHULTZ: Susan, is that a defendable comment? That comment about—should I say Puerto Rican ancestry?
MOLINARI: I‘m not really sure where he was going with that. I think it‘s a legitimate question to ask about this decision. But the ancestry of anyone making that decision isn‘t really pertinent.
SCHULTZ: Susan, we‘re all rooting for you tonight with the problems you‘ve got with your voice.
MOLINARI: It‘s probably a good night to have laryngitis.
SCHULTZ: That‘s right. I tell you, having lived in the coal country for 30 years, I can give you a quick medical tip at no charge. How about some tea and honey later tonight. That will help you out a lot.
Panel, stay with us. We‘re going to be coming back.
Coming up, I‘m starting to think that we didn‘t learn anything from the financial crisis. A bailed-out bank is back in the black with your tax dollars and taking almost as much risk as it did during the Bush era. That‘s in my playbook coming up. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, we‘re talking about Goldman Sachs. Boy did they hit it right. Goldman made a lot of money the last quarter, more than any analyst expected that they would make. We‘re talking billions, 3.4 billion to be exact.
Now you know where I stand on all of this. There‘s nothing wrong with making money. I mean, it‘s a good thing. We need companies to make money to keep the economy going. Here‘s my concern, that‘s the risk. Goldman‘s quarterly report shows it‘s taking more risk. It was risky practices that got us into this economic crisis and this mess in the first place.
Joining me now is contributing editor of “Rolling Stone,” Matt Taibbi. He has a story in the current edition Goldman Sachs titled “The Inside Great American Bubble Machine.”
How do they manage this? Good to have you with us. You‘ve been on this all along. How do they manage this?
MATT TAIBBI, “THE ROLLING STONE”: Well, this is really just a big government subsidy, really. Even apart from the money Goldman got—the billions they got through the AIG bailout. When Goldman converted to a bank holding status last year, that made them eligible to issue about 28 billion dollars in government-backed debt. Basically, the government gave Goldman a ton of cheap money, and they lent it back out to the economy at higher rates, And that‘s why they‘re making all this money. It‘s really just a handout from the government.
SCHULTZ: Matt, this is the double standard that we‘ve been talking about on this program. Why is it—and this is kind of out of the realm of the story. But why is it that the government is so quick to play with our tax dollars on Wall Street, yet they‘re so tight with the dollar when it comes to giving money to small businesses?
TAIBBI: Yes, I mean, that‘s the problem. I mean, this was the political decision we all made last fall. We gave all these banks, not just Goldman, a ton of money. And ostensibly so that they would kick start the economy and create jobs. But instead, as we‘ve seen, they just decided to keep it and turn it into bonuses. That‘s where we are right now.
SCHULTZ: OK. But doesn‘t this give some on Wall Street ammunition to come back to the Congress and say, see? We‘re honest brokers and honest players. You gave us a break, we cleaned it up. We don‘t need any oversight. Where‘s that going?
TAIBBI: Well, I mean, it‘s absurd. They‘re just making money on a straight subsidy right now. They‘re going to try to claim that they‘re free and clear because they paid back the Tarp money. But the Tarp money was only a tiny slice of the government patronage that they‘re getting. These massive profits are money that we gave them. It‘s not money that they earned. It‘s important to keep that in mind.
SCHULTZ: Matt, good to have you on. Thanks for that clarification tonight.
Coming up, Dick Cheney‘s daughter is back out defending him. Liz Cheney tells the Democrats to quit picking on her dad. She can‘t stop herself from beating up Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats. Our panel will weigh in on that next right here on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. The Cheney road show is back on TV. This time Liz out defending her dad. He says she‘s sure Dick Cheney didn‘t tell the CIA to withhold information from Congress. I don‘t buy that for a minute.
For more, let‘s bring in our panel of Jack Rice, Bill Press, Susan Molinari tonight. I‘ve got to play this sound bite. She, in my opinion, is trying to hoodwink the country, saying that the Democrats are dangerous when it comes to national security. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF FMR. VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The American people need to understand the very serious and grave damage this is doing to our intelligence ability. IT is dangerous. We‘ve been there before. It didn‘t work. And it makes the country less safe. I think the American people really do have a serious question to ask and are beginning to wonder, are the Democrats up to handling national security issues?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Bill Press, your response to that?
PRESS: First of all, I have to say, I admire any daughter that defends her dad. But I think Dick Cheney should stop hiding behind his daughter. Look, here‘s what‘s dangerous: what‘s dangerous is engaging in torture, which is an illegal act. What‘s dangerous is engaging in warrantless wiretapping, which is an illegal act. What‘s dangerous is keeping Congress in the dark about an assassination attempt of al Qaeda leaders.
Ed, I‘ve got no problem with trying to assassinate as Qaeda leaders. I thought that‘s what we were all about. But they‘ve got a legal obligation to inform the Congress of everything they‘re doing. They did not, under orders from Dick Cheney.
SCHULTZ: Susan Molinari, this appears to be coming right out of the old playbook, attack where you‘re weak. What do you make of her actions and how aggressive she‘s been, not only talking about Pelosi but lumping the Democrats in as far as security is concerned?
MOLINARI: Well, look, in full disclosure, Liz Cheney is a friend of mine, And I think she‘s a terrific woman and actually will make a great candidate someday, and hopefully someday soon. I think Liz Cheney is just doing what she thinks is right in terms of being an influencer and an opinion maker.
I think this whole thing—you want to have a debate—to Bill Press‘ point, even Bill Press agrees with the opinions. We heard it from Chairman Reyes today. I think the Democrats are going to get into some very dangerous territory if they decide they want to take up the issue as to whether assassins should be trying to kill people who are trying to kill Americans—
SCHULTZ: Jack Rice?
PRESS: That‘s not the issue.
RICE: I totally agree.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s go to Jack Rice on this. Jack, what do you see as the issue on this?
RICE: Without question, this is not the question of whether or not we should be assassinating al Qaeda. It never was. This is about what the law said. It‘s 1947 National Security Act. It‘s very specific. It says that if you‘re going to conduct an operation, you need to be transparent with Congress. You must brief them. And if the vice president thinks that he‘s the smartest guy in the room, I‘m sorry, that‘s not good enough.
If we don‘t like that, fine. Let‘s change that law. But as it is right now, it does exist.
By the way, one last piece here. Congressman Hoekstra said that more than a million dollars was spent on this operation. Those were his words, not mine. If these were just a half dozen guys drinking cappuccinos and never doing anything beyond the planning stages, that‘s a lot of drinking.
SCHULTZ: That is a lot of drinking. Clearly, they had something in mind to do something. But the key here is, Susan, how do you defend the Bush administration if they‘re breaking the law and not informing Congress? Here you‘ve got CIA director Leon Panetta going over there, telling the House and Senate intel folks, you know, there‘s a program that‘s been in place and you haven‘t known about it. How are they supposed to respond to that?
MOLINARI: Look, I do believe that if it is, in fact, a real thriving program, there is an obligation to tell the United States Congress. I cannot—but we also heard from your former guest, the chief of counter-terrorism, that it looked like—and we don‘t know at this point how aggressive this plan was in place, and what they did with that money. So I guess I would just suggest that before we accuse people in the CIA, men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day, of breaking the law, that maybe we just wait a few days to let more information come out.
PRESS: Susan, I want to pick up on that. That‘s exactly why we need Congressional hearings, to get to the bottom of this.
SCHULTZ: Do you think we‘ll have the hearings, Bill?
PRESS: Absolutely, we‘re going to have the hearings. I‘m surprised the chairman didn‘t announce it today. There‘s a must—these hearings must take place. I‘ll say something else. The Justice Department should start its own criminal investigation. Get off the dime.
SCHULTZ: Jack, would hearings hurt the morale at the CIA?
RICE: No. The bottom line here is transparency‘s what‘s important. This isn‘t about what the agency was trying to do or planning to do. This has to do potentially with what the vice president told them to do. The fact that they‘re tools of a criminal conspiracy, potentially, is something they should want to have cleared up as much as anybody else.
Heck, if this was a criminal allegation, you don‘t think Liz Cheney would want her father cleared of the allegation? You‘d imagine she‘d be the first one saying, let‘s prove he didn‘t do it. Let‘s prove that he was innocent. Well, let‘s prove it.
MOLINARI: You know what, I agree with that. Let‘s prove that this administration did all that they possibly could to keep American citizens as safe as possible. I think that‘s a great—I‘m all for it.
SCHULTZ: It‘s the first discussion of many. Susan, Jack and Bill, thanks for joining us tonight. Appreciate it so much.
At the top of the show, I asked you for your opinion. Will Dick Cheney ever face prosecution? Here‘s what you said; 63 percent said yes, 37 percent of our viewers tonight text in no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com, or check out WeGotEd.com. We‘re going to be in Madison, Wisconsin this Sunday 7:00 to 9:00. Hope you can join us. We‘ll be in Portland, Oregon on July 31st for another town hall. More on our website at WeGotEd.com. “HARDBALL” starts right now on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.