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Feingold Likely to Vote for John Ashcroft

Aired January 30, 2001 - 4:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's turn now to Jonathan Karl, watching the proceedings in the Senate Judiciary Committee there.

Jonathan, I didn't hear Russ Feingold say how he would vote. Do you know?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, he did not get around to saying it, but, if you notice at the top of his remarks, he pointed out of couple of things he likes about Ashcroft's record, and he has been telling colleagues around the Hill here, publicly and privately, that he believes the president should have the widest latitude to appoint nominees that believe as the president believe.

So, Russ Feingold about to make it official, but has been leaning very strongly in favor of the John Ashcroft nomination, despite the fact that Senator Feingold is one of the more liberal members of the Senate. He is somebody who disagrees with Ashcroft on a great number of issues, disagrees with many of his Democrats on issues like the death penalty -- actually stands to the left of much of the Democratic Party, he is opposed to the death penalty.

But he believes that President Bush should have the right to put in as attorney general who he sees fit, and he believes that John Ashcroft should -- he has been leaning very strongly toward saying yes on John Ashcroft. Significant here -- this is the second time, if Feingold goes forward as expected, this will be the second time that he has stood up against the overwhelming weight of his party on an issue of great importance.

If you remember, Joie, during the Senate impeachment trial, Russ Feingold was the only Democrat that said they should have witnesses at the impeachment trial, something that caused a lot of controversy back then as well.

CHEN: CNN's Jonathan Karl for us in the Senate today, watching the Senate Judiciary Committee, as they debate the nomination of John Ashcroft. Thanks, John

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