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Blagojevich Ready To Talk About Charges; Controversey Over Nuclear Tech Sales to Gulf State; Pro Amnesty Lobby Pushes For Open Borders

Aired December 17, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks Wolf. Tonight, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said he's dying to talk, as he put it, about charges he led a political corruption crime spree. What will the governor say about his links with the Obama transition team?
And tonight, outrage after the Bush administration says it's willing to sell nuclear technology to a Gulf Arab state with close ties to Iran.

And tonight, the pro-amnesty lobby determined to push its open borders agenda through this next Congress despite the out of control drug war in Mexico. All of that, all the day's news and much more tonight from an "independent" perspective straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, "News, Debate and Opinion" for Wednesday December 17. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Governor Blagojevich today declared he can't wait to talk about charges he tried to sell President-Elect Barack Obama's former seat in the Senate. The governor said he could talk publicly about that scandal within the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, there are reports the president-elect's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has been caught on tape discussing probable candidates for that vacant Senate seat.

The Obama transition team refuses to confirm or to deny those reports. Gary Tuchman has the story from Chicago. Gary, what are the governor and his attorney saying now?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, I tell you, if you thought Rod Blagojevich was going to quick quickly, like a guy like Eliot Spitzer, think again.

He's digging his heels in. He says he is going to fight. No visual evidence at all that this man is going to quit. Today, he went jogging on a balmy zero degree wind chill day in Chicago. Here is what he had to say to reporters.


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), ILLINOIS: I can't wait to begin to tell my side of the story and to address you guys, and most importantly, the people of Illinois. That's who I'm dying to talk to. There's time and place for everything. That day will soon be here. You might know more about that today, maybe, no later than tomorrow. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: He's dying and talk, and here is what we have learned today. His lawyers told us he's going to let his client talk, perhaps this Friday, two days from now, that is if the lawyer against is done testifying here at the state capitol building in Springfield before the House of Representative Impeachment Committee, and we learned a little bit about what the governor's story might be.

Today the lawyer talking to the House of Representatives was angry that he hasn't gotten to listen to the audiotape yet, but he did say he characterized what was on the tape as words that are dumb, inappropriate, jabbering, but he says no crime was ever committed. Now it's important to point out when you impeach and remove a governor in the State of Illinois, you don't have to prove a crime. It's a very general statute in the Illinois constitution. Basically, the governor is bad, if he is irresponsible, if he is a sleaze, you can get rid of him. Either way, the representatives talked to the lawyer and were wondering why he hasn't testified yet. We want to show you that question.

We want to point out though the video quality is poor because there was a problem with the Illinois State pool feed.


JACK FRANKS, (D) ILLINOIS STATE LEGISLATOR: Will you be bringing your client here to answer these questions that we have as a committee?

ED GENSON, BLAGOJEVICH'S ATTORNEY: Maybe I will and maybe I won't. But I have to find out what you're going to do at the end of your case, and I'll make that decision. My client ...

FRANKS: This is not a case, Mr. Genson.

GENSON: My client has a Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Is he going to exercise it? I haven't asked him.


TUCHMAN: The lawyer is very well known in the Illinois area, a very colorful guy. He's been around for 44 years practicing law. We do want to tell you the House of Representatives has to get a majority vote to impeach, then it goes to the Senate for a trial, that has to be a two thirds vote. The earliest this governor could be kicked out of office if he doesn't quit would be some time next month -- Lou?

DOBBS: And Gary, by most counts, Mr. Genson stood the little committee on its tail a bit talking about the fact they were quoting basically from the U.S. attorney's affidavit rather than dealing with direct evidence, that is those tapes, reportedly, of the governor speaking. It looks like they have got a very serious and worthy adversary in Mr. Genson.

TUCHMAN: He's a tough guy, but what they pointed out, the 21 representatives on the committee is that this is not a court of law. Very different rules apply. And they say we'll set the rules. You can testify, you can have your client testify, but we have the rules. If we want to impeach him, we don't have to show he's guilty of a crime. We have to show he's a lousy governor, basically.

DOBBS: Yeah. I think so. But about right now, it may be sort of setting in on many of them, Gary, that Chicago politics is about to be very, very -- well, let's say well scrutinized. Perhaps that will affect attitudes and demeanor. Thank you very much, Gary, appreciate. Gary Tuchman.

President-Elect Obama today refused to directly answer, at least, any questions about chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had contacts with Governor Blagojevich. And those conversations were caught on tape. Jessica Yellin has the story from Chicago about what the president- elect did say today. Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Lou. Barack Obama and his team insist they're stymied in this. They said they would like to say everything they know about the Blagojevich matter. They insist there's really no there there, but they say they can't tell us yet because of the prosecutor's request, and Obama himself says that's frustrating.

Let's listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: It's a little bit frustrating. There's been a lot of speculation in the press that I would love to correct immediately. We are abiding by the requests of the U.S. Attorney's office, but it's not going to be that long. By next week, you guys will have the answers to all your questions.


YELLIN: Now, when I asked an official about the reports that Rahm Emanuel himself was on tape recorded by the investigators, I was told that transition officials, that doesn't surprise anybody because it's well known that Blagojevich was under investigation and being recorded. They insist that all of this will be an old story by this time next week. It means that all the rest of us have to just wait and see and hold off on any judgments -- Lou?

DOBBS: It may be an old story by next week, but the reports today in Chicago that Rahm Emanuel had been at least in the report, 21 occasions recorded on 21 occasions in conversations with Blagojevich. Again, the U.S. attorney has made it clear that Rahm Emanuel is not a target of the investigation. But this is getting, as the saying goes, curiouser and curiouser.

You also have information, Jessica, tonight, on the president- elect's choice for chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Talk about a timely decision.

YELLIN: Right, in light of this Bruce Madoff story, a time of change at the SEC they think Mary Shapiro is the president-elect's choice to run it. She currently runs an organization called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. That's an oversight board, industry regulatory group that is nongovernmental and somebody who will be a fierce watch dog and turn the page on this chapter in the SEC's history.

DOBBS: It's an interesting page to turn since FINRA is being roundly criticized for its failure to act in the interest of investors and as a self-regulatory body, succeeding the old NASSDAQ along with the SEC. This has some potential to be interesting. Jessica, thank you so much. Jessica Yellin reporting from Chicago.

Well, new pressure tonight on the incoming Obama administration to spend an additional trillion dollars on a stimulus package. That's twice as much as the $600 billion package that had been proposed by Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats. Left-wing Democrats now are leading demands for a $1 trillion stimulus package. Some leading Republicans, among them, former White House Adviser economist Lawrence Lindsey, sorting a stimulus of up to a trillion dollars.

More evidence today of the impact of the recession on the auto industry. Chrysler announcing it would close all 30 of its plants for a month beginning this Friday. Chrysler blaming that shut down on a slump in sales and the credit crisis. Chrysler sales plummeting almost 50 percent in November compared with a year ago.

Ford announcing it will close 10 of its North American assembly plants for an additional week in January, giving workers a three-week hiatus. Ford also blaming of course the sharp decline in car sales. Workers at Ford and Chrysler will continue to receive much of their pay and benefits augmented by unemployment pay.

Well, the carmakers so far failed to win congressional support for the $14 million bailout of the industry, and a "recent" CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 61 percent of all Americans oppose any bailout in any form, of Detroit.

Well, in other economic news tonight, the oil exporter cartel OPEC today announced its biggest ever production cut, trying to stop the slump in oil prices. OPEC slashing its production by more than tw2 million barrels a day. OPEC has cut crude oil production over five percent in the recent month following a slide of more than $100 a barrel in crude oil prices since the peak of $147 a barrel back in July. The crude oil market not impressed by the OPEC move. Crude oil prices ended the day down. Down more than $3.50 a barrel. Closing just over $40 a barrel. That's the lowest price since July of 2004.

A leading member of the cartel, the United Arab Emirates wants to build a nuclear reactor that can be used to build nuclear material that can be exported overseas, and the Bush administration has decided to help. That's right. The Bush administration wants to send American nuclear technology to the United Arab Emirates to help them build a nuclear reactor even though the UAE has close ties with Iran. Some members of congress are furious. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM (voice-over): In his final days in office, President Bush is pushing a new nuclear deal with the United Arab Emirates. It would allow the sale of U.S. nuclear reactors and technology to the UAE. The UAE and the port of Dubai are just across the gulf from Iran. Some members of Congress say that's a problem. The UAE has been a transshipping hub for technology with military uses to Iran.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN, (D) FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: The United Arab Emirates including Dubai have had a rather poor record of controlling the exports, both of technology that can be used in the IEDs that are killing our service people in Iraq, and even more importantly, controlling items that can be used in the centrifuges turning in Iran.

PILGRIM: Some in Congress want this deal blocked the same way they blocked the sale and operation of six U.S. ports to a Dubai company two years ago saying Dubai's export controls were weak.

President Bush argued there was no security risk in the Dubai ports deal, and the State Department made that argument again in talking about the nuclear deal with the UAE.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The UAE is a good friend that we have worked very closely with the amount of number of different issues. And they have demonstrated they're a very responsible partner.

PILGRIM: The UAE has promised safeguards. Still, top nuclear policy experts say it makes no sense to give nuclear technology to the UAE while trying to prevent Iran from developing it.

Henry Sokolsi (ph) of the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center today said, "Once this thing gets signed it's a loaded gun. You can't renegotiate it."


PILGRIM (on camera): Now, President Bush can pass this deal unless congress prevents him. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Brad Sherman have introduced legislation to stop this deal and also require congressional approval for all future nuclear cooperation agreements -- Lou?

DOBBS: It seems to me that the Constitution of the United States would prevent exactly this kind of thing from happening. It's a failure of the Congress to enforce that Constitution and our courts. It would seem to me in addition to -- My compliments to the congressmen in doing this, in stopping it, but somebody ought to file suit here, because this should be decided once and for all. This is no way that this should be in the purview of the executive branch ever.

PILGRIM: Right. The way it works now, he submits it, the heads of state sign it and he submits it. Unless Congress acts in 90 days, it goes into effect. DOBBS: It's time for Congress to regain its constitutional power because amongst the many challenges we have in the country is the failure to preserve our fundamental system of checks and balances. This imperial presidency, well, it's completely disturbing when seeing what this lame duck president apparently thinks he can do against the will of the people and against the interest of the United States in the final days of his administration. Very troubling. Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

Time for our poll tonight: Should Congress stop the Bush administration's nuclear proliferation with the United Arab Emirates? We'd like to hear from you on this. Yes or no. Cast your votes at We'll have those results in the broadcast later.

One of the seven states in the United Arab Emirates is Dubai, and it's on the verge of economic collapse. Some say property prices in Dubai could plummet as much as 80 percent as a result of its tremendous indebtedness and our global economic slow-down. In recent years, Dubai became a symbol of wealth, extravagance, and excess and debt.

Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington -- Lisa?


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, excess. You think of Dubai, and immediately images of glitz, multimillion dollar condos and lots of oil money come to mind.

Just last month there was a $20 million star-studded affair to mark the opening of the $1.5 billion Atlantis Hotel complete with fireworks and Hollywood movie stars. But that veneer masks a deepening financial crisis hitting the United Arab Emirates and particularly Dubai. Oil prices have fallen more than 60 percent since July. The price of real estate, the economic pillar in Dubai, has strop dropped suddenly from 20 to 30 percent. And Dubai relied on easy financing to build many grandiose projects including the world's tallest building. Now there are demands for repayment. And as these facts (ph) fall together and you can see that Dubai is facing serious financial problems. Quite a reversal from just a few months ago.


HADY AMR, DIR. BROOKING DOHA CENTER: There was this frothiness, this euphoria, this investment enthusiasm just spreading around the Gulf this summer, this spring when oil prices were so high, and so now there's this dramatic revision of expectations.


SYLVESTER: Now, the government of Dubai recently released figures that places its debt at $80 billion and that's roughly the equivalent of its GDP -- Lou?

DOBBS: Amazing, and I think this broadcast, Lisa, has been effectively alone in reporting on the fact that all that Dubai has done has been through debt over the course of just about seven, eight years. It is a very, very shaky situation indeed. Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester.

The Treasury Department tonight declaring it's seizing a New York office tower, saying it's part of a scheme to send money to Iran for its nuclear program. The federal government saying the office tower is financed and controlled by a state-owned Iranian Bank, Bank Neli. The United States government says Bank Neli supports Iran's nuclear and ballistic programs and is financing along with its nuclear ambitions, Iran's Quds force. Officials said the Quds forces helped the insurgents in Iraq kill our troops.

Coming up next, the open borders lobby launching a new push to ram its pro amnesty agenda down the throats of the American people and the Congress.


DOBBS: Well, new evidence tonight of the Mexican drug cartels increasingly brazen tactics, and this occurred right on the border near Douglas, Arizona. All of it caught on tape by the U.S. Border Patrol. In the video, smugglers in one of two trucks, there you see them, use a ramp not to drive through a border fence but over it. Watch, this is amazing. This is -- talk about brazen.

And then the trucks were stopped by a spike strip that had been laid down. One of the drug smugglers then started shooting. Fortunately, they didn't hit any of our Border Patrol agents, and others began throwing the bails of pot they had aboard back across the border into Mexico. All of this as the Border Patrol was moving in. Then the men seeing the Border Patrol set fire to one truck and fled in another truck. Agents found a half ton of marijuana valued at a million dollars. No arrests were made.

The drug wars raging along our border with Mexico is being ignored by many ethnocentric special interest groups because they support open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens and want to maintain current levels of illegal immigration.

The groups say amnesty will be adopted under the incoming Obama administration and they are pressing hard irrespective of the national interests or our immigration laws. Casey Wian has the report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Supporters of amnesty for illegal aliens are cheering as Inauguration Day approaches. They believe Barack Obama and his Cabinet will soon push for a massive legalization program.

OBAMA: I am strongly in favor of a comprehensive immigration approach.

WIAN: Pro amnesty groups such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and America's Voice this week announced plans to lobby for a legalization program. They cite Cabinet nominees Janet Napolitano and Bill Richardson as allies, but the amnesty advocates often ignore the border security component of comprehensive immigration reform which even presumed allies stress.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) COMMERCE SECRETARY NOMINEE: We have got to secure our borders. We have got to find those who knowingly hire illegal workers. But there has to be a legalization plan.

GOV. JANET NAPOLITANO, (D) HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY NOMINEE: I means enforcing our immigration law, enforcing at the border, but also in the interior of the country, particularly against employers who continue to higher illegal labor.

WIAN: Complicating their plans, the growing threat of illegal labor competing for American jobs amid the economic crisis. The Mexican government and the Federation for American Immigration Reform have both reported a growing number of illegal aliens have left the United States on their own. Remittances, money sent home by Mexicans living in the United States are down about two percent so far this year but are still expected to exceed $23 billion.

The soon to be Obama administration has been nearly silent on the issue the Justice Department this week called the biggest organized crime threat to the United States, Mexical drug cartels. Their victims include more than 7,000 Mexicans killed in the last two years in the drug war escalating along our southern border and more than 20 million American addicts and other users of illegal drugs.

JOSEPH CALIFANO, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think we have to address both supply and demand. On the supply side, we have to both reduce the drugs coming into this country with respect to the demand side, we need a major public education campaign.

WIAN: Nearly 9,000 Americans died from illegal drug abuse in 2005 according to the Centers for Disease Control. Despite billions of dollars in resources and a doubling of the size of the Border Patrol during the Bush administration, there's been only a small decrease in the supply of drugs coming across our southern border.


WIAN: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently talked about the likelihood of comprehensive reform passing next year, saying quote, "I don't expect much of a fight at all." Border security advocates say the fight against drug cartels for control of our nation's borders should come first -- Lou?

DOBBS: One would think, and Senator Reid, the Senate majority leader, as you say, also bragging about a conversation with John McCain a few weeks ago in which he said he and McCain had basically a deal. John McCain fancying himself something of a power broker on this issue. And the American people, we're going to find out just how much they want to have a voice in this society. It's really extraordinary. By the way, you mentioned America's Voice and you mentioned the Catholic Bishops. A lot of folks probably don't know what America's Voice really is. Why don't you tell us? WIAN: Well, it's a group that is advocating for what they call comprehensive immigration reform. What we on this broadcast call amnesty for illegal aliens, Lou.

DOBBS: And they're supported by the usual suspects? The business lobby, the ethnocentric lobbyists, the usual suspects?

WIAN: I believe so, Lou. I don't have in my head a complete list of who their supporters are, but I think you're right.

DOBBS: All right. Good. Sometimes I get lucky. All right. Thanks, Casey. Casey Wian.

Straight ahead here, internal battles threaten to tear apart the left wing advocacy group ACORN.

It apparently is on the verge of collapse. We'll have that report, next.


DOBBS: The radical left advocacy group ACORN under fire again tonight. The ACORN group is already in disgrace over its scandalous voter registration drives in more than a dozen states. Now ACORN faces internal battles that threaten to tear it apart. CNN's special investigations correspondent Drew Griffin with our report.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The problems became very political this fall when ACORN canvassers began showing up at election offices with these.





GRIFFIN: Thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms, causing havoc and calls for investigations in more than a dozen states. For the first time, many of us were learning the mainly low income housing advocacy group had a very real political arm.

The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, ACORN, is actually not one group but centered out of one building in New Orleans, nearly 200 different agencies, corporations, nonprofits, voter registration efforts, and yes, partisan political action committees.

In 2008, ACORN's voter registration drives reached into 21 states, but behind the scenes, a huge scandal was brewing. A million- dollar embezzlement hidden from ACORN's board of directors for eight years. KAREN INMAN, FIRED ACORN BOARD MEMBER: A million dollars is a lot of money.

GRIFFIN: According to this now fired ACORN board member, Karen Inman, the crime which she learned about in June was never reported to the authorities. She says partly to hide internal problems from donors and also to make sure the loss wouldn't become a quote, "political situation."

INMAN: The Republican Party would use it to tear us apart. That's exactly what they said.

GRIFFIN: ACORN she says, is instead tearing apart from the inside. She and other board members, she says, were fired after they went to court to force open the records of the embezzlement. Some no longer allowed even to step foot in an ACORN office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not allowed to let you in.

GRIFFIN: ACORN's chief organizer said many major donors, the group's economic lifeblood have withheld funding. The Catholic Church, which has given millions to ACORN over the last decade, has severed ties all together. The extent of the mess came to light in this confidential memo from ACORN's attorney Beth Kingsley back in June. A 14-page document warning ACORN's board about the lack of transparency and accountability in an organization she says "may be necessary to downsize."

The attorney also worried that ACORN's nonpartisan work could get mixed up with its political campaign work. The exact warning that ACORN quote, "lacks the protective walls needed to insure that various types of activity are kept sufficiently separate."

At ACORN's headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, CNN met with ACORN's chief organizer and four board members who have all been critical of CNN's reporting. They said the former board members had been removed because they went in a direction opposed by the rest of the board. And these board members denied the confidential memo from attorney Beth Kingsly painted a bleak picture. But I think you can't deny there's some turmoil going on.

BERTHA LEWIS, ACORN CHIEF ORGANIZER: You're misquoting from a confidential report given to the board saying, listen, here are things you're going to have to look at, to answer, just to make sure you are able to protect yourself.

GRIFFIN: ACORN has hired attorneys, accountants, and even a former anti-trust prosecutor from the Justice Department all trying to find out how an embezzlement was covered up and to untangle the accounting of nearly 200 businesses that operate under the ACORN umbrella, a task that the current ACORN board admits will be daunting.


GRIFFIN: ACORN insists this is not the end, that the group will reorganize and convince its funders to come back. Some already have we're told but Lou, a group of dissidents knocked out by ACORN says the group is corrupt, far too partisan, and the ACORN eight, as they're calling themselves, are going to sue to open the books and take a look.

DOBBS: A remarkable story, and telling as well is one picture. ACORN, local 100 of the SCIU. I mean this organization -- it's like a fungus. As you say, it spreads all over the country. It has associates whether it's with the Catholic Church, the service, employees' union, what is going on?

GRIFFIN: That's what ACORN eight wants to know and what I think other people should want to know. Everything is intermingled and the confidential report we looked at suggests that all of the funding is intermingled, too, which is the real problem.

DOBBS: And as far as we know, there's no extensive federal investigation under way at this point. There's been discussion, but no occurring. As you reported, ACORN receiving over $800,000 from the Obama administration, the primary campaign, for registration. I mean, this is going to be fascinating to watch it unfold.

GRIFFIN: Especially if, Lou, if a federal investigation takes place. So far, like you say, hands off.

DOBBS: It will be, I suppose, telling, to see what an Obama administration justice department does here. We'll have a clear early indication of how much change we're going to see in Washington, D.C. Drew Griffin, thank you very much as always. Appreciate it.

Up next, the Middle East could be on the verge of a dangerous nuclear arms race. What should the president-elect do? Stay with us.


DOBBS: Welcome back.

As we reported here earlier, President Bush is pushing for a deal that would give the United Arab Emirates American technology to support a nuclear reactor in these, the final days of his presidency. Joining me now from Washington, D.C., one of the country's leading experts on the Middle East and Iran, Ilan Berman, Ilan Berman vice president for policy of American Foreign Policy Council, also adjunct professor at the National Defense University. Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: This, first of all, is an extraordinary time for this president to be taking this measure in the waning days of his presidency. What first of all, if I may ask you if you have any sense of it, what is motivating him at this particular moment?

BERMAN: I think there are a couple things in play here. First of all, the Bush administration is looking, quite frankly, for a diplomatic win to put in the column. Over the last year, we have seen the collapse of a great deal of its Middle East policy. And strengthening ties to conservative Arab states that are friendly, that share the Bush administration's worries about countries like Iran is seen as a very important diplomatic priority.

DOBBS: It's a diplomatic priority I guess of some sort, but why hasn't this been a straightforward issue throughout his presidency? Why should it come to light now at a time, by the way, where the United Arab Emirates in total are in great financial distress. The Bush administration's great friend Dubai in particular is in great economic trouble. Why in the world would this president without the authorization of Congress, without a public discussion, do this unilateral?

BERMAN: Quite candidly think there's an elephant in the corner. That elephant is Iran. What we have seen over the last year has been a collapse of the Bush administration's coalition of the willing designed to contain Iran, to prevent Iran from going nuclear, at least to delay it. Since the release of the national intelligence estimate in December of 2007, we have seen that coalition fall apart. So what you have seen since then has been an acceleration of the trend by which Middle East states begin looking for counterweights to the counter bomb. The UAE is right there. It's a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. All six members have said that they're seeking a regional nuclear program. What this is in many ways is certainly a carrot to the UAE, and it also demonstrates the weakness of U.S./Middle East policy and policy towards Iran is spurring others to try to look for counterweights, and the Bush administration is scrambling to keep up.

DOBBS: First of all, this on its face, is a foreign treaty because it would be required to be such, is unconstitutional. And there's not been a challenge. The idea that Congress is not putting forward legislation to stop this, that there would be a negative veto, if you will, or negative approval that is the Congress, if it does not act and approve, is an absurdity. What is the thinking with the president in the final month of the administration has decided to indorse nuclear proliferation. Why isn't there outrage throughout Washington, D.C.?

BERMAN: This is a very interesting issue actually. In September of 2002, when the Bush administration put out its national security strategy, then center of that strategy wasn't counter terrorism. It was counter proliferation and non-proliferation. What we're seeing now is a walking back of the dog a little bit by which we're looking at countries like the UAE --

DOBBS: This dog is doing back flips if I may say Ilam given the Bush administration it's doing back flips, if I may say. It's not walking back.

BERMAN: Well, I think -- I think you said it slightly less diplomatically than I, but that's right. What we're seeing is a march back from that standard, the standard in the 2002 national security strategy, and we're looking at ways to mend diplomatic fences with countries we value. The UAE is one of them. And what we hit upon them, nuclear proliferation is one of the ways to do it.

DOBBS: It's incredible. Do you think this is going to stand in?

BERMAN: I think the president is going to get a lot of resistance from Congress. Particularly in his waning days in office and particularly because the real elephant in the corner is the fact that we're really being compelled to do this because of the weakness of our Iran policy. We're fixing the symptoms but we're not fixing the disease.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Ilam Berman. Good to have you with us.

BERMAN: My pleasure.

DOBBS: The president-elect's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, reportedly caught on tape talking about the senate seat that the president-elect vacated. What does it mean for the president-elect? Our political panel will tell us here next.


DOBBS: Well, joining me now, three of my favorite political analysts, all CNN contributors by the way. Republican strategist, Ed Rollins, who served as white house political director under President Reagan, chaired the Mike Huckabee presidential campaign; and syndicated columnist Miguel Perez, also journalism professor of Lehman College in New York; and Democratic strategist, Hank Sheinkopf.

Gentlemen let's start with what do you make of Rahm Emanuel being caught -- what is it, 21 times, on the Justice Department's taping machine?


DOBBS: Big deal, that's a lot of time to spend.

SHEINKOPF: He was a Congressman.

DOBBS: Hear me out. That's a lot of time to spend on a seat he has nothing to do with during a transition. Forget legalities.

SHEINKOPF: In his home state that he has an interest in. Talking to a guy whose Congressional seat he took when he became governor about something that could impact on the president of the United States. I would say that was important enough to worry about. I'd say holding on to the seat was important for the Democrats.

DOBBS: Do you think there was a chance they were going to lose it?

SHEINKOPF: I think in the world in which we live, anything can happen.

DOBBS: Well defended, Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. What do you think, Miguel?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It depends on the state. Obviously, I agree to some extent with Hank because I mean he is from Chicago. That was his seat.

DOBBS: We're talking about the senate seat.

PEREZ: I know, but the governor had his seat. He had the governor's seat.

DOBBS: Everybody has a seat.

PEREZ: They're all from the same Democratic political machine.

DOBBS: This isn't any better for the Obama -- as we keep talking about it, it doesn't get any better.

PEREZ: Lou, no wonder they have been so quiet about it. I mean and Rahm Emanuel hasn't said anything about it until now.

DOBBS: Not a man given to quietness. Why would he be quiet?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think because there's that many occasions. It's one thing if he had a meeting or two meetings and he basically said here is our list, we want Valerie Jared. She should do it. She's very legitimate but that number of conversations and what amazes me is certainly everything in Chicago is known by the political people. They knew this guy has been under investigation. I would be very, very cautious. I would go make the decision, and I think now that Rahm has told me, and that he was on tape or served on tape as many times, I think he has an obligation to get out there quick.

DOBBS: We need to point out here, I need to point out that Rahm Emanuel the U.S. attorney has made it very clear, he's not a target of the investigation. But, you know, at the same time, the Blagojevich scandal is taking interesting twists and turns here. I was talking with the Chicago journalist, one of my favorite columnists, Bob Green, today. He said based on this morning, the Supreme Court of Illinois saying we're not unseating the governor. You can take your ideas, Lisa Madigan, attorney general, and forget it. They did so without comment. That was my characterization of what they said. They said no way. This looks like Lieutenant Governor, Lisa Madigan, the daughter of the speaker of the house, it looks to me like there's a rush to judgment here unseemly or not, on the part of the Pauls of Illinois.

SHEINKOPF: Certainly not disinterested parties and certainly what they're trying to do is open to question. The last I looked, the constitution and the law as we know it says innocent until proving guilty as judged so by a jury, hold on, of one's peers, Lou, as you know and I'll go you one better. There's something wrong when grand jury testimony or grand jury information or wire taps taken by the government are leaked to the press and a guy can't get a fair trial. Now, I don't care whether the issue here is not guilt or innocence. The issue is how can I get a fair trial? By the way, if he resigns from that office, any lawyer would say it looks like you're guilty or you have something that you've done.

DOBBS: The reason I was bringing up Bob Green is he says straightforwardly Hank he says he thinks there's a good chance this man is not, a, resigning, and b, can't be convicted given what is in front of everyone.

SHEINKOPF: I apologize to you.

ROLLINS: If that happens, it does damage the process. This guy has not been an honest governor. Everything has been for sale in this administration. And I agree with you, Hank, on grand jury, what have you, but the transcripts were presented as part of the indictment. The U.S. attorney had to put that 79-page document -- yes, he did. How would he make his case? He made his case this way, and he -- I think it's legitimate you read any U.S. attorney when they indict someone, they put the documents in there to show they have a case.

SHEINKOPF: Bob Green said it to Lou Dobbs and I'd go by the both of them. It's going to be impossible for him to get a fair trial when the moment comes, and for him to leave office, any council would say it would appear to be an admission of guilt and it's not good.

ROLLINS: It's not good to have a guy like this for basically six years has been under investigation that everything is for sale. The process that you and I have spent our lives in, this gets damaged by a guy like this who pretends like it doesn't matter.

PEREZ: Are we worried about other people being involved?

DOBBS: Frankly, I'm not.

PEREZ: I would love to hear what it is he said today, he can't wait to tell his side of the story. I'm dying to hear his side of the story.

DOBBS: We're in the crazy position here of Rod Blagojevich, the governor, can't tell his side of the story because of the investigation. Barack Obama can't tell his side of the story because of the U.S. attorney. And the U.S. attorney has told his side of the story many people think far too early and therefore there can't be a successful prosecution. This is crazy, even by Illinois standards -- not Illinois, Chicago.

ROLLINS: This is a very respected U.S. attorney. He went through a very long process and really didn't get anybody in the Valerie Plame -- the case that he got was pretty darn weak.

DOBBS: Interestingly, we know that the "Chicago Tribune" has held on the story for at least two months before deciding to publish and giving up with frustration with his office. Therefore, some would suggest the motivation for Patrick Fitzgerald coming out with the charges was the public by the "Chicago Tribune." Whether that's the case or not, none the less, it was a remarkably patient paper waiting on the story. Let's turn to something -

Let's turn first before we go to the subject, I want to know what you think about Caroline Kennedy being anointed by David Paterson, we'll talk about that in a minute but at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS NO BULL." Campbell, what are you doing?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there Lou. In a few minutes, we're going to have breaking news, our coverage of today's pretty painful announcement about jobs and the car companies' bottom lines. We're digging into the stories behind Chrysler's late afternoon announcement it's going to close all 30 of its U.S. assembly plants for a month followed by Ford's announcement it's adding a week to the holiday shutdown of ten U.S. plants.

Also a little politics tonight Lou. Illinois's embattled governor is finally talking to reporters and so is a would-be politician who is usually very camera shy. We're going to hear what Caroline Kennedy had to say in a few minutes, Lou.

DOBBS: All right, Campbell. Thank you.

And we'll be right back with our panel, and we'll find out exactly when Caroline Kennedy is supposed to take office in the U.S. senate.


DOBBS: We're back with Ed Rollins, Miguel Perez, and Hank Sheinkopf.

Hank, Caroline Kennedy is campaigning for an appointment to senate. Is it a done deal?

SHEINKOPF: I don't think so. Look this decision belonged to one person, Governor David Paterson. It's his to make, what she's trying to do with fine public relations help, trying to force the governor to make the decision.

DOBBS: She refused to take reporter questions. Even something as simple as have you ever been to Syracuse before today. What's the deal there?

SHEINKOPF: Big state, a lot of problems north of New York City where she has not spent a lot of time. People have been hurting for 20 years. 50 percent of all industrial jobs lost in this country in the mid 80s were lost in New York State. They haven't been working well. Life's been tough. They're going to want somebody who is going to fight for them and stand up and do it and she doesn't have the experience to do that.

DOBBS: Half the people in western New York and this is an amazing statistic, half the people in western New York are on government payroll or dole, one or the other. That's an extraordinary statistic.

ROLLINS: There's no jobs there. An extraordinary statement to begin with. We need someone who can be an advocate for New York, particularly upstate New York that certainly has very serious problems. The problem with this campaign is you go in quietly and you can say I want to be one of the quiet ones. Don't run a campaign. Take the Kennedy money. I don't care who the governor appoints, I'm going to run in two years when the seat's up but to basically go out, have the "New York Times" running multiple pages about how qualified she was --

DOBBS: That paper may be done.

ROLLINS: And every Kennedy accolade in the world from her cousin saying how extremely qualified she is. She's qualified under the constitution. She's 30 years old and a citizen of the state. Other than that, there's not a single thing she's done.

DOBBS: I still love what Congressman Gary Ackerman said I can't see what her qualifications are than the name identification. What do you think?

PEREZ: Hillary Clinton didn't know much of New York State when she became the senator. She was an out of towner. That's one point, but you know, look, I wonder how many calls Rahm Emanuel has made to David Paterson and whether Obama is involved. Remember, David Paterson is a supporter of Obama. Is Obama having any influence here because Kennedy supported Obama? It's all connected. The Chicago thing is moving east.

DOBBS: And Hank has already laid down the metric here. 21 conversations for an empty senate seat in Illinois, at least ten, maybe 11 in New York.

ROLLINS: The Kennedy's could buy a senate seat. They could buy a presidency.

SHEINKOPF: Remember Hillary Clinton had an extraordinary career before she got to New York as an advocate for education and children.

DOBBS: You're not sitting here defending Hillary Clinton.

SHEINKOPF: Well what I'm trying to do is let's get the Hillary Clinton thing off the table and talk about Caroline Kennedy.

DOBBS: She's off the table. She's on her way to secretary of state. What I find fascinating is 26 percent of New Yorkers want attorney general Andrew Cuomo. Only 20 percent want to see Kennedy. What's, if you will, the relationship there?

SHEINKOPF: Well, look, certainly Andrew Cuomo was married to a Kennedy, divorced. He would be terrific in the job, could help the governor get elected, could get elected himself, could raise the money and would be a great advocate for New York.

ROLLINS: And does know politics.

DOBBS: But the great news is you're talking about two political family brand names. Has it come to this in this country where you have to have a family brand name? Are we a dynastic society? Good luck to all of us.

PEREZ: The difference is Cuomo has earned his wings in the state of New York as a politician here.

SHEINKOPF: I'm an honest broker on this one. I was a consultant who took him out of the governor's race in 2002. You know that. I have tremendous respect for Andrew Cuomo. He's done a spectacular job as attorney general and he deserves a shot.

ROLLINS: I would argue after eight years of Bush, we ought to do away with the legacies and the people ought to basically run for office and get elected to the offices.

DOBBS: Those are the people. I mean, if we're dumb enough to keep doing this, god bless us. Thanks, guys.

Up next, the results of the pole and more of your thoughts. We're coming right back. Dynasty, I love that, dynasty.


DOBBS: Tonight's poll results: Ninety-four percent of you say Congress should stop the Bush's administration's nuclear proliferation with the United Arab Emirates.

Let's take a quick look at some of your thoughts.

Keith in California said: "Lou, I think all politicians need to pay attention to your daily poll. I do not think that the majority of people that vote in your polls are as dumb as these political leaders seem to think they are. Maybe this would be a better country if they did listen." I don't think there's any doubt of it personally.

And Julie in Georgia said: "What can we do to let President-Elect Obama know that something should be done about all the drugs that come from Mexico into the U.S.? This is a huge problem and enough is enough. I do enjoy your program, thank you, Lou."

And you're welcome. We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to and we thank you for being with us.

Good night from New York. Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS NO BULL" starts right now.