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JOHN KING, USA
Times Square Terror Suspect Pleads Guilty; Shakedown and Government Secrets; Telethon to Help Gulf Coast Victims
Aired June 21, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks, Wolf and good evening. In a moment shakedown and government secrets, new developments in the political fallout over the BP oil spill including an influential new defense of the congressman who apologized to the CEO of BP and a new push here in Washington to make it easier for you to know how your money is being spent and just who might be gumming up the works here.
But we begin with two breaking stories that involve your safety and the legal landscape for terrorism investigations. In a New York courtroom today the Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty to all 10 of the counts in the indictment against him including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
And here in Washington the nation's highest court rejected a challenge by civil libertarian group and upheld the key provisions of the post 9/11 Patriot Act. By a 6-3 margin the Supreme Court said it is illegal to provide support to terrorist organizations even if the support in question involves legal and peaceful activities.
What do these developments tell us? Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leading conservative voice on law and order issues. And CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve joins us with the latest information on the Shahzad plea deal -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He pleaded guilty, Faisal Shahzad to 10 counts. He said he wanted to plead guilty to 100 counts. He told the court that he had gone to the Warizistan portion of Pakistan back in December with colleagues hoping to join the Taliban. The Taliban gave him money and then he used some of his own, he said to buy a truck and the ingredients for that bomb which he left in Times Square, he said that bomb had three parts to it.
He lit it, waited for a few minutes for to it go off -- it didn't -- he left the scene. He said he considered himself a Mujahideen, a Muslim soldier. He does not consider his actions to be a crime. His motivation he said was American actions overseas, specifically in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Somalia, in Yemen, unrepentant. In fact he appeared it sounds quite proud of his actions, John.
KING: And Jeanne, there's one of the rubs, if you will, because unrepentant, say he would like to plead 100 times and yet if you look at this document filed by the Justice Department it also says that he's cooperated that he answered all the questions. Many of the counts have mandatory minimum life sentences. Is there any doubt to how long this gentleman will be in jail?
MESERVE: Well it's hard to envision that he would not get life in prison. He did cooperate with authorities for several weeks before he had a lawyer. So there was no written plea deal in place. As you mentioned there are 10 counts against him, six of them carry a possible life sentence, two of them a mandatory life sentence. He has pleaded guilty to those charges seems to me he's facing life in jail, John.
KING: Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve -- Jeanne, thank you. And let's bring Senator Coburn into the conversation. Already I know I'll get complaints just for using the term, I said this gentleman. I was raised to have manners. I said this gentleman. When you do that with somebody like this who has said he pleads guilty to crimes like this you'll get some outrage from people. What does it tell you seven weeks from the incident to him pleading guilty now on all 10 counts. Is that a victory for the Justice Department or was this guy trying to make a statement?
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well I think it's probably both. We don't have to go through a trial. But it tells you the complexity of what we're dealing with in terms of the fanaticism of certain aspects of Islam. And you know this is just one of many who will be attempting this.
KING: Do you worry more about Faisal Shahzad's than you do about grand scale takes like 9/11 now?
COBURN: I think you have to worry about both but I think the individuals are much more difficult for us. We have a tremendous team that's both in homeland security and our intelligence communities and our border patrol. But it's still -- it's difficult at best and it's not going to be easy for a long time.
KING: There was some criticism from the right about the handling of this case in the early hours, the Miranda right question, then, of course, he wasn't in court for a long period of time. And the Justice Department said yes after a period of time we did read him his Miranda rights, but he's cooperated fully. Any sense now that this has turned out that maybe they got this one?
COBURN: With one caveat I would say is we need to make sure when we have individuals like him that are intelligence agencies are brought in because information in context is much more important than information out of context, and that has happened to us in the past where we didn't have good contacts for the information we were receiving. So hopefully we'll see a much more coordinated response in the future.
We'll see the Miranda change for these types of individuals which there's been some talk of that and probably appropriately so. I don't believe we owe a Miranda warning to any terrorist that's trying to kill innocent Americans, and this individual happened to be, I believe was a U.S. citizen as well. So, you know, we're in a fuzzy area of law, which we need to have some clarification on. KING: And another area of the law that has been challenged, it was a big development just hours before this plea in the federal court of New York, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold a provision of the Patriot Act that was challenged by groups that say if you want to give legal advice or organizing advice to a terrorist organization as long as I'm teaching you say how to communicate on the Internet or how to stage a peaceful protest that that should be legal as long as the advice you're giving, the help you're giving is legal.
The Supreme Court said no. If you help a terrorist organization out of bounds, this was one Bush administration case that the Obama administration carried before the Supreme Court -- significant?
COBURN: And rightly so because it's all fungible. If they are not spending money on those types of activities they're going to be spending money trying to destroy us or kill and maim innocent Americans.
KING: And the solicitor general argued this case. She will be before your committee next week as the nominee for a Supreme Court seat. Is her handling of the case like this is that something that you would look at and reflect on her?
COBURN: Probably not. You know, I'm of the feeling that the Supreme Court hearings really don't help us that much. What really helps us is what they've said and done before. And what the significant outliers are in terms of what the Constitution says a Supreme Court justice ought to be about in terms of enforcing our laws, our Constitution and our treaties.
KING: I want to make a turn to political matters in a moment. We're going to talk about some issues that are critically important to you about government transparency. But I want to ask you first about this whole debate about the BP oil spill fallout.
A Republican on the House side, Joe Barton, last week was chastised roundly by his colleagues, threatened to lose his position as the ranking Republican on an important committee because he twice apologized to the BP CEO Tony Hayward and he called this new escrow fund the result of a shakedown by the White House. He also said it would be a slush fund. Well a lot of Republicans criticized him, but today Rush Limbaugh came out and said it is the Republican leadership that's got this one wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: And it was a shakedown pure and simple and somebody had the audacity to call it what it was and everybody is running for the hills. All you have to do is look at the polling data and the media coverage and find out what they're going to do. This is not an issue that Republicans want to go to the mattresses on regarding the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Rush right or is the Republican leadership in the House right?
COBURN: Oh, I don't know. I think it's the cynicism of our politics today. Nobody in either party wants to be vulnerable on any issue and where's the real leadership? You know what we lack is where is the clarity of purpose. Nobody disagrees that BP is going to be held accountable. The question is how and when and that's a small matter right now in terms of the problem that we have.
KING: Do you have any problem with the White House negotiating this deal?
COBURN: Well I'm not sure it's fair negotiations because you're dealing with one very strong party and one very weak party in terms of public relations. But you know basically holding them accountable is where we want to be and this is one way of doing it.
KING: Senator Coburn is going to stay with us. When we come back Senator Coburn is leading an effort on Capitol Hill for transparency. If the government is going to spend money he thinks lawmakers and you at home should have more time to study it. And if somebody wants to block a nomination, he says that shouldn't be secret. It should be right out in the open. He'll talk about that in just a moment.
KING: We're back to continue our conversation with Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Let's talk about secrets in this town. You're not a big fan of secrets in this town and one of the efforts you're trying to lead with an amendment to the pending financial reform legislation is to root out what you call the secret spending of Washington.
COBURN: You know John, 94 percent of everything the Senate passed, 93 in one Congress, 94 percent in this we passed without a vote without amendments. A lot of that is inconsequential, but there's a lot of consequential stuff that gets passed where the American people don't know it's passed.
There's no debate on it. There's no information. It's not listed. The costs of it aren't listed. Where the funds are going to come to pay for it aren't listed and I think that ought to be transparent for the American people. They ought to be able to see it.
They ought to have time to digest it. They ought to have time to try to influence us, their elected representatives and how we vote for that. And yet the vast majority of what we pass does not come to light in a way that would give the average American citizen input into that process.
KING: And in terms of getting that light you want, the sunlight, the transparency, the time and the rules that it all be posted, do you have the votes now? Financial reform is a pretty big issue to the White House? I know you don't agree with everything in the bill, but do you have the votes to get it?
COBURN: I have no idea. Don't know what's going to happen on it. But you know we're in a process now where the American people are really awakened to what Washington is doing because the time period is so critical in our history. Not just for us but for our kids and grandkids, especially our grandkids, the amount of debt and the obligations that we're going to be leaving them. The American people are keyed in.
And so they want to take a more active interest. And it should be there and be available to them so that they can make a decision about whether -- make a judgment about whether we were right or wrong. And they love reading some of these bills online. They love to see. They want to know what it's going to cost and they want to make a decision themselves on whether it's a priority or not.
KING: And another thing that is done in secret often is holding up nominees. If Tom Coburn is nominated for something or judge is nominated -- somebody is nominated for a judgeship in the Senate because of these rules that go back generations you can secretly go to the leadership and say I put a hold on that nomination. No one ever has to know. There's been a lot of (INAUDIBLE) recent years. This is the executive calendar of the Senate for today and there are a whole host of people in the back who have been nominated for various government jobs who have been reported (ph) out by a committee who are just sitting in this calendar because people have put holds.
COBURN: Well there's 60 of them that are sitting that they don't have a hold or they won't allow them to go through because Mr. Becker (ph) failed his first cloture vote and they want him. He's a negotiating platform.
COBURN: So other than those 60 there are -- I'd make two differential points on that. If they are a judge for a lifetime appointment, there's no problem withholding them and really studying and make sure you want -- you know what you're going to do when you vote for them. On others if they are qualified and there's not a large problem with philosophy or intent, there's nothing wrong with publishing your holds and I do.
KING: To publish -- I want let you listen to one of your colleagues, Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri disagrees with you on many issues. She's left or center, you're right or center (ph), but she says on this one she has found common ground with you because whatever your objection she says put it out and plain for people to see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: You know, even though Tom Coburn can be very frustrating to the Senate sometimes, he uses the rules to their full advantage to advocate the positions that he believes in. I respect him for that. But he doesn't need to do it in secret. He's doing it out in the open. I may disagree with him but I admire and respect him for doing it out in the open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: She says she has the signatures now including yours to get this done, to get a new rule that you can't do this in secret. Why do people do it in secret?
COBURN: Well first of all, there's a lot of reasons. If it's not -- if it's a nominee, for example, if it's a federal judge, maybe you haven't made your mind up yet but you don't want to commit one way or the other. If you're forced to hold it, one of the things that's going to happen is a lot of judges aren't going to be held because you don't want to take the heat for holding somebody.
You know the whole idea would be to have an informed decision making process on your vote. The one area I have concerns with Claire's bill is on bills. You know if a bill comes out of a committee that I'm not on and all of a sudden it's getting hot lined to be passed and I say wait a minute, I want to check this out, well I can't get it checked out in 48 hours. So, what I'm going to do is put my name out there and I do all the time.
I've been beat up by every special interest group you can imagine. But it causes unnecessary pain for people in the Senate who are wanting to make a good decision and consequently if they hold it and it's published then they are going to be defending themselves while they are really just trying to ask some questions. So there are positives and negatives to the whole system. On nominations other than judges I don't think there's any reason by standing up and saying that -- or even on judges. I do. If I'm going to hold them I stand up and say I'm holding them and here's -- while I figure it out or here's what I have a problem with.
KING: Let me ask you before you go the president had a celebration of Father's Day over at the White House today and he also issued a proclamation about Father's Day. I want to read some of it. Some it will be like baseball and apple pie, but some of it is the first time a sitting president has said this.
"Nurturing families come in many forms and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step-father, a grandfather or a caring guardian." He's the first sitting president to say two fathers in such a proclamation. Do you have any problem with that?
COBURN: Well I'm sure two fathers could probably add some benefit. I think they could add some negative as well. The key point is not the controversy about what he said, is we have hundreds of programs today because the family has broken down and I just visited this afternoon with a gentleman from Oklahoma who won the national award for the best big brother/big sister. And what we're seeing is we're having to try to fill the social programs the need for families because our families are disintegrating.
And so we need to go back and not treat the symptoms. We need to start treating the disease. And all these problems are because we have policies that are undermining family formation and family sticking together. And so I would address the real issue is not the controversy in what he said but how real the problem is in terms of keeping families together.
KING: Senator Coburn we appreciate --
COBURN: Good to be with you, John.
KING: We'll have you back another time. And a lot more to come in the program tonight -- let me walk over to the "Magic Wall" and give you a look. When we come back we'll go "Wall-to-Wall" because tomorrow there will be, shall we says, let's run-off, some set races that were unsettled in the primaries have run-offs, in South Carolina, North Carolina, Utah. Interesting and consequential race as we'll run them down for you.
Then we'll preview something that's coming up later tonight, a CNN special, a two hour "LARRY KING TELETHON", "Disaster in the Gulf", how you can help restore the environment, do other things to help citizens who maybe need a helping hand right now because of the BP oil spill.
And on our "Radar" tonight Governor Sarah Palin tweets Rahm, "u lie". You know who's she's talking about. We'll explain why and also the controversy about the president, right now should he be scheduling tee time?
KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight a preview, three states hold run-off elections tomorrow. They've already had their primaries or their conventions but they need now to pick candidates for the general election. Let's start way out in the west -- Utah Senate. Remember Bob Bennett; he was the Republican incumbent. Well he will not be the Republican nominee. Tomorrow's election is to pick a Republican nominee.
Mike Lee is an attorney; he's a Republican businessman and Tim Bridgewater another Republican, a little tug-of-war between some Tea Party elements out in this state; it's a fascinating one to watch the conservative grass roots and the state Republican Party the detention (ph). We'll keep track of this one. As we go through the days ahead the Republican who wins that nomination favored to win the Republican seat from Utah, the senator, the incumbent he's already out.
In North Carolina it's a Democratic contest; a former state senator, Cal Cunningham against the Secretary of State Elaine Marshall; this for the right to run against Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. The Republican will be heavily favored in November, but tomorrow North Carolina Democrats pick their candidate in that race. Much of the attention though has been on the state of South Carolina. A number of interesting races here, number one the gubernatorial race.
Lots of allegations of character conflict in the light here. State Rep Nikki Haley, she is the conservative, she's mostly the tea party favorite. She is running for governor of the Republican nomination. Congressman Gresham Barrett has been here in Washington, now he wants to be the governor in this state. We'll get back to this race in just a minute. Show you some of the colorful ads -- that's one of them there.
There's also the first congressional district the Republicans need to pick a candidate there, councilman Paul Thurmond running against State Rep Tim Scott, a lot of interest in this race. You could have an African-American Republican candidate for that congressional seat. That's' part of a trend this year, something we'll be watching as we go on.
And one more House race here, Bob Inglis is a Republican incumbent. He could lose tomorrow; he would become be the latest incumbent to fall in this anti-incumbent year. If that's the case, prosecutor Trey Gowdy is his opponent, another one to watch tomorrow night when the results come in. Again, most of the attention has been on the governor's race, allegations that Nikki Haley, that conservative candidate, had extramarital affairs.
She publicly denied that. It became a huge controversy in the state and still is. And you will hear it even though not directly in the final ads by Gresham Barrett. Let me pull this one up. We'll give you a taste of this. He doesn't say it in specifics, but listen to the character reference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what's your plan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cap spending, scrap the tax code and create jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Military man who makes tough decisions, a Christian family man who wants the best. Gresham, you make me want to vote for you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd be honored.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You get the character reference there. Let's move that off that. Here's a Nikki Haley ad for the final days where she also indirectly rebuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We said yes to South Carolina not just being Republican, but becoming conservative and reminding elected officials who it is that they work for. I'm a woman that understands through the grace of God with him all things are possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Nikki Haley's family is seeing that and all great races, all high stakes. We'll track them tomorrow. They'll tell us a lot about anti-incumbent sentiment, the power of the Tea Party and in South Carolina the direction in a tug-of-war for the Republican Party there.
When we come back a preview of a very special CNN event tonight, Larry King will host a two hour telethon. We'll touch base with Larry, Soledad O'Brien and Anderson Cooper. CNN tried to do its part not only to cover this story, but to help the people, the wildlife, the environment (INAUDIBLE) help, those who need a helping hand. We'll have a preview in just a moment.
KING: We've been covering the gulf oil spill for more than eight weeks now. This is your night to do something special for the victims of the BP spill. Starting at the top of the hour, CNN presents a "LARRY KING LIVE" telethon, "Disaster in the Gulf", how you can help. And our full team is helping us with this. Larry King will lead the program from Los Angeles; Soledad O'Brien is in (INAUDIBLE) Louisiana; and Anderson Cooper who's been covering this story on the ground from day one is in New Orleans.
Larry, let's start with why we decided this was so important for you to do this and what will be the goal?
LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": Well, we decided it's important John, because we know about bureaucracy and we know that BP has pledged money and the government is helping. But we also know that moves very slow. And that's very hard to tell people who can't buy groceries and are out of work, wait a while, it will come soon, fill out this form.
We're going to make it easy. We're working with three different organizations, United Way, which is going to help people, The Nature Conservancy, which is going to reestablish concepts for the wildlife that has been so tortured in this and the National Wildlife Federation as well. So when people call and we did a similar telethon back in January for Haiti, this is very different. Haiti was a natural disaster.
This is a manmade disaster, so it's harder for people to explore it when they deal with the fact that other people are going to pay. But this takes care of people now. This is how you can help now. The numbers are up already, by the way. It is 800-491-Gulf -- 800-491- GULF. You can start calling in now.
You can say I want to give to The Conservancy; I want to give to the Wildlife Federation or United Way. Any one of the three or all three every little bit will help. It will be a two hour telethon starting immediately following JOHN KING, USA right after this program. It's the top of the hour. Please tune in and please help because you're helping people now.
KING: Stand by one sec, Larry. I want to come back to you at the end. But now I want to go down on the ground where all this help will be directed. Let's start with Soledad O'Brien who you can see is standing on the dock there in (INAUDIBLE). Soledad, these are people who want to work but at the moment especially if you own a boat like that you're told, no, it's against the law.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the uncertainty is just killing them. Some will go out tomorrow morning to help out BP but they are so frustrated sitting around. It's been interesting right here this is the center of African-American and Native American and also Vietnamese fishermen and women. Some of them tracing their roots back to the late 1700's right here and they feel like they have been overlooked.
Big problem for them is in order to try to help the coastline one of the things they are doing is bringing in fresh water, flooding fresh water from the river through the brackish (ph) area, which is where they fish. As you know the fresh water combined with the brackish (ph) water kills off the oysters, kills off the shrimp, so they are kind of stuck either way. The oil doesn't come up to the coastline that's one goal, but it kills their livelihood, so the boats here, they're not moving probably until tomorrow morning, some of these bigger boats, they can go out and help in the spill.
KING: Anderson you've been out there since the beginning. The president has visited now four times to the region, three times to Louisiana. There's a difference when I was down there in the sense that Katrina was such a human tragedy, you could see it the pain, the suffering, the death. And there was an outpouring of support and people volunteered. This one is different and to Larry's point BP has promised to put up this money. Is there a sense in the region that a, we'll be forgotten and people thinking some big company is cutting us a check so don't worry about us?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well I think that people here believe that other people think that maybe around the country or around the world but the truth is there are a lot of folks who have been waiting for weeks and weeks and weeks for some sort of token payment from BP, some of them have received little bit of money but nowhere near enough to cover the expenses they have, to cover the mortgages they have, to cover the notes they have on their fishing vessels. Even those lucky few who are working for BP are finding it hard to make ends meet. It's not, you know, they are not making near the kind of money they were making before. There's been a rise in calls to help lines, the United Way is helping. That's one of the charities that Larry is trying to benefit tonight. There's a lot of immediate needs that are frankly just kind of not being met at this point and that's what some of these organizations are trying to do.
KING: Larry, in closing, I don't know how you need my more help. You have Anderson Cooper and Soledad O'Brien, two stars on stage and screen but you also have quite a bit more help out there. A lot of people are fans of some of the celebrities you have coming by. Give them a bit of a preview.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: We got a great line up of celebrities. We got three different areas going, the social sweep to handle the twitterers. We've got the L.A. phone banks and New York phone banks. We have Ron Artest of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers, Jenny McCarthy, Chelsea Handler, Jalyn Rose, former NBA star, Ted Danson, Victoria Principal. We have a whole host of people, the Trump family is aboard. All cooperating so that we can help people who are in the position of not being able to help themselves. The number is 800-491- GULF. Two hours.
KING: Anderson, Soledad, Larry thank you and everybody out there please this is a chance. Maybe you can only give $5 or $10. It's a chance to help somebody who needs your help at a critical time. Help CNN with this special project. Thanks again Anderson, Soledad and Larry. That's 1-800-491-GULF. The phones are open now. If you're about to run out the door to do something you can help before you go out. Watch the program tonight.
Today's most important person you don't know is the top lobbyist from one of the most powerful organizations in the country and he's on target for a huge victory.
And again once more, tune in at the top of the hour, 8:00 eastern for a special two hour "LARRY KING LIVE" telethon, disaster in the gulf. How you can help.
KING: Today's most important person you don't know is the National Rifle Association top gun when it comes to lobbying Congress. Chris Cox well you might say he just hit the bull's eye. Today the white house signaled support for the disclose act. It requires business and other organizations to tell you when they pay for political commercials and disclose the names of their top donors. But not the NRA. It's exempt from some of those new rules being worked on in Congress. Cox who grew up hunting and fishing in west Tennessee and became the NRA's top lobbyist in 2002 opposed the bill until the exemption showed up. Now the NRA is holding its fire and the bill may pass the house this week. Let's talk about this and other issues with Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress and Republican Adolfo Franco and our CNN contributor Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of redstate.com. He joins from Atlanta. Here progressives were furious about this. In Washington speak it's called a carve out. You have a bill that says everybody is covered and then people come in and negotiate a carve out until the NRA is not covered. Good thing, bad thing?
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Well I think it drops the legislation when you have carve outs like this and I think one of the things they are dealing with now is the fact that all these carve outs are coming out and it's really making the bill less popular on the hill and elsewhere.
KING: I thought this was going to end that Washington would be different.
TANDEN: Well he signed the healthcare legislation as well. Sometimes there's a big challenge between getting legislation passed and making it through the process and doing it in a way that sustains popularity. He signed the health care legislation. Ultimately we're successful. But there were a bunch of deals that were important to get the bill through but ultimately to ensure it was not as popular as it started out to be. KING: Is this good government versus bad government or is it not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?
ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's good government. It's the people being heard. I think carve outs are good. They are done all time. I disagree. I think now the bill really does --
KING: I see that bumper sticker that says carve outs are good.
FRANCO: I really believe that as a consequence -- the bill now has a possibility of being passed. I don't think it's horrible at all. I think it's actually the way the government works. It's the way the reality of Washington.
ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: A bad bill passing has gone up.
FRANCO: People can vote against it if they want to vote against it. The point is if there's support for it --
KING: Eric, what's wrong with this bill?
ERICKSON: Well, the NRA through the center right coalition under the bus for this. They got a carve out and the way it's written, the sierra club doesn't go with it, Planned Parenthood, only the NRA works, no other second amendment group follows under this, no first amendment group and the NRA's excuse is we only care about the second amendment. We have a first amendment piece of legislation.
FRANCO: It's not the NRA. It's also Americans that are members of the NRA. It's also Americans that believe in gun rights. It's also Americans that have had through the NRA and through their own expression they're voice heard in Washington, D.C. The Sierra Club has that kind of clout. Have at it.
ERICKSON: It gives the NRA a monopoly on this issue.
TANDEN: It doesn't say we have carve out for one special interest. I have to say that.
KING: It's interesting they are cutting a deal with the Democratic Congress. That's interesting. We'll chalk this one up as a disagreement in the room on this one.
Let's move on to some stories on my radar tonight. Fremont, Nebraska is a small town, 25,000 residents, about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, a long way from the border but voters there today are voting in a special election on the hot button issue of illegal immigration. The ordinance if approved, this proposed ordinance would prohibit businesses from hiring illegal immigrants and stop land lords from renting to them. The issue has divided the city to the point where if you are renting you will have to get a renter's license and the police will have to check it out to make sure you have legal status.
TANDEN: I think this is another example of how our immigration laws are out of whack. The fact that special cities are doing these kinds of things it shows really what we need is comprehensive national reform because it doesn't make sense for to us have 50 state rules or 5,000 cities doing different things. It really makes sense for us to have comprehensive immigration reform. I hope we get that sometime soon.
FRANCO: Well I mean there are a couple things. What's very clear is that our borders are secure. This is about illegal immigration. These are about illegals being in the country. So I think states, Arizona is starting and now municipalities are taking matters in their own hands because you're right. There is not comprehensive reform. It's very clear that unless we get control of the border first I think there's reluctance of the American people to believe that much will be done. They think they'll do something for people here illegally but they won't really address the necessities of the border. So I think tat border security coming first is an absolute necessity. Senator McCain has a ten-point plan and I think that's a nice start.
TANDEN: Then you should be applauding the Obama administration.
ERICKSON: The other issue here is we're having a municipality pass a law to make it illegal to hire people who are here illegally. That's kind of nonsensical and yes we need some sort of comprehensive federal rule governing this but the comprehensive immigration reform, why can't we just secure the border. We have the statement from Jon Kyl over the weekend saying the president told him he's not going to secure the border without a comprehensive plan because Republicans may not go along with the rest. Why is border security being held hostage for everything else?
FRANCO: I don't think border security is being held hostage. I think people have come to the conclusion after 20 or 30 years talking about border security that people aren't really serious about border security. They are talking about rights for illegal immigrants that are in the United States but they're not doing anything about the border. That matter gets worse and worse. Until that's addressed initially, I don't think comprehensive immigration reform is possible.
KING: If comprehensive immigration reform is so important to you, your organization has a lot of influence among Democrats who last time I checked control the House by nearly an 80 vote margin, control the Senate with a pretty healthy majority. The president has said this was a priority. But they could bring it up for a vote.
TANDEN: We believe they should. But, you know, they have been actually busy passing legislation. We have financial regulation, financial regulatory reform that's incredibly important. We have a health care bill. Obviously health care and immigration is an important issue and they should pass it. I just would remind my colleagues that the president has sent more troops to the border and I hope they applaud what he's done.
FRANCO: He sent more troops to the border after Arizona passed the law. Come on. Let's be honest. He's been around, president of the United States for a year and a half. He could have proposed something. Certainly had the majority of the Congress when he wanted to pass health care.
ERICKSON: The fact of the matter is I think both sides enjoy this issue politically. They both have a vested interest in doing nothing. Republicans can say it's Democrats, Democrats can say it's Republicans and it excites both of their bases.
KING: All right let's move on to another one. This one is fascinating. This will be talked about in the coming days. A new Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal, he's the top U.S. military leader in Afghanistan, paints a troubling picture of his relationship with the commander in chief, President Obama. McChrystal quote "First encountered Obama a week after he took office. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked uncomfortable and intimidated by the roomful of military brass. Their first one on one meeting took place in the oval office four months later. It was a 10 minute photo op says an adviser to McChrystal. Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy whose going to run his (EXPLETIVE) war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed." If there are tensions between General McChrystal and the president of the United States at this incredibly sensitive time in Afghanistan that's troubling.
TANDEN: Well I think it's a little troubling that General McChrystal was seemingly criticizing or his people were criticizing the commander in chief. I mean basically what's happening here is the president has followed McChrystal's strategy. He had meeting after meeting after meeting. It was a relatively public process. A lot of ideas were put out there and, you know, the president made a decision and McChrystal is leading the way. I'm concerned that what's happening here is there's blame shifting instead of focusing on getting the job done. There's a lot of worry about what's happening in Afghanistan.
FRANCO: I have a lot of respect for General McChrystal but if these reports are true I agree. There's only one commander in chief and that's the president of the United States.
KING: McChrystal voted for him.
FRANCO: Whether he voted for him or against him, 60 years ago Douglas McCarthy made Harry Truman wait on an airplane in the pacific and Harry Truman say, by god he can do that to Harry Truman but he can't do that to the president of the United States. If these report are true there's only one commander in chief, one voice and that should be very clear to everyone. It shouldn't be up for debate.
ERICKSON: Well, you know, I would say on this to a degree the president gets what he deserves on this issue because he hasn't listened to him. The chiefs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are very upset with the white house. I warned about this a month ago on Red State and got beat up for it but the Pentagon is ready to go to war with the white house. Yes I agree it's bad. We have civilian rule, he's the commander in chief. At the same time the white house has been blame shifting to the pentagon on a lot of issues. They never consulted the joint chief of staff on don't ask don't tell accept for the commander. They've got real problems now with the Pentagon doing to the white house what the white house has done to them.
FRANCO: You know Erick's absolutely right about that. I actually support General McChrystal and I know what you're getting at but I have to tell you something and I didn't vote for Barack Obama, maybe General McChrystal did but I didn't vote for Barack Obama but he's our president, and if he wants to change the policies, if he wants to change the direction of the war, the uniformed armed services have to follow suit.
KING: Quick time-out. We have to move on. One of the reasons we have to move on is because we're determined to bring you into the conversation. Each week we ask you make your case on an important topic. This time around we want you to look ahead to next week's Supreme Court showdown. What would you ask Elena Kagan if you got a chance to ask a question during her confirmation hearing? Record your question, post it at CNN.com/Johnkingusa. We'll play the best video on Friday.
When we come back, a border skirmish breaks out between the white house and a top senator. You just heard a bit of it. More after the break.
And you just heard how the president is taking heat over a round of golf this weekend. Later on the program, Pete on the street looks at the newest sport in town, bashing recreation during a time of crisis.
KING: If you are just joining us, here's the breaking news you need to know right now. Telling the court "I want to plead guilty 100 times," Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad today pleaded guilty to all ten counts he faced.
This evening the federal government dramatically expanded the area in the Gulf of Mexico that's closed to fishing. Almost 87,000 square miles or 36% of the federal waters in the gulf are now off limits.
BP received the third bill from the federal government, $51.4 million, for cleanup costs related to the deepwater horizon oil spill.
All right. Monday night play-by-play. Still will us Neera Tanden and Adolfo Franco. Rush Limbaugh on the radio today. The big debate in town last week, Joe Barton, the Republican Congressman says I'm sorry. I apologize twice to the BP CEO Tony Hayward. Republicans threaten to take away his ranking membership on a very powerful committee because he said the white house shook down BP. It was a slush fund he said. Republican leadership wanted no part of that. Rush says --
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: Now we got Joe Barton who is saying essentially you extort. The only two guys who would stand and vocalize what the rest of them are thinking. Everybody -- everybody criticizing Barton is thinking the same thing. Let Joe Barton get eaten by the Democrat lizards on this. We'll protect ourselves. KING: Not the first time Rush has made clear he's not really fans of the Republican leadership.
TANDEN: Uh-huh. I appreciate Rush Limbaugh telling us the facts, which is that the Republicans actually support this view, which is BP is the victim and the government is at fault. And we have a central disagreement between the parties around this. One is the Republicans who think getting in the way of --
KING: He did say -- he did say on the show, Rush said on the show I'm not going to be a show for BP. They are responsible. They are accountable. They should pay. His question was should the government be involved in negotiating this payment fund, the escrow fund.
TANDEN: Who should be involved? BP --
KING: He said there are laws.
TANDEN: Right. Exactly, the courts. What are the courts? The courts of the federal government, too. What's interesting to me is like the hatred of Barack Obama and the federal government is greater than the concern of -- for the victims of BP. This is what government is there for to ensure that people are protected from corporations. And you see in this instance. You see it in the Republican study committee attacking this as a Chicago shakedown. There's a pattern here. And it's great that we have people who are actually telling the truth about what their views are so people can have a choice. Who is the victim here? BP or the people?
FRANCO: Well, obviously, the victim are the American people. I don't know how the Republican Party cannot make it any clearer than that. Joe Barton spoke. That was Joe Barton speaking. And as you reported, John, that the reaction was very swift from the party leadership. They were going to take away his ranking standing on the committee which means the top Republican on the committee. But I think it's very clear the Republican Party position is that BP is responsible, that the -- that Joe Barton's comments were inappropriate. Senator McConnell himself said it yesterday on the television programs that were aired. Mr. Boehner, the minority leader in the house, has made it very clear. That's Mr. Barton's point of view, although he's apologized for it. So I don't think you can characterize that as a Republican point of view. There is one point, though, that should be made here. And I think Rush Limbaugh was trying to make it. Possibly the process could have been more transparent at the white house. And it wouldn't have led to this unfortunate inarticulate comment. Have the attorney general there. Have other people present.
TANDEN: I would take you at just Joe Barton except the fact is that there are 100 members of the Republican Study Committee. They put out a statement saying this was Chicago shakedown. They criticize the president for doing what the American people want which is to hold BP responsible and ensure that they pay claims. This is what they see a shakedown, paying claims to the American people. Why is that a horrible thing to do? FRANCO: They should play claims. There should be a transparent process.
KING: Before I let you go, I want you to listen to an interesting moment. We have a president of the United States, he was hosting a father's day event today and he was quite personal about his own upbringing because he didn't know his father from when he was a young boy on. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I say all this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life. He left my family when I was 2 years old. And while I was lucky to have a wonderful mother and loving grandparents who poured everything they had into me and my sister, I still felt the weight of that absence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Interesting message from the president.
TANDEN: Yeah. I think what's great is it's another example how Barack Obama can be a role model to people. People need to see different kinds of families.
FRANCO: It's a wonderful message. I think people want to hear personally from the president his life experience. I don't think it has much to do with policy. I still think the numbers today that came out reflect the American people are continuing to lose confidence in his ability to govern.
KING: We were trying to have a nice personal moment there of bipartisanship. Thank you very much. We'll try another time. Why the term smooth sailing doesn't seem to be in the cards for an avid yachtsman named Tony Hayward. Pete on the street, he's on the street not on his yacht after the break.
KING: The big question in a time of crisis like the BP oil spill. If you are the guy in charge, do you get any play time? Our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick on the case.
PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: Yeah, apparently this weekend, John King, Tony Hayward, while BP was pouring oil -- barrels oil in the gulf, he thought maybe I should take my yacht out. I wanted to find out what people thought of that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could think of a few thousand other thing he's might be doing than being on his yacht.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stupid.
DOMINICK: Just stupid? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. When our grandchildren are choking on the oil.
DOMINICK: You are a Debbie downer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's great. I would be doing the same thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look around. What we are driving? Is it his problem? It could have been Exxon. Could have been anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a disgrace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's wrong with that? If he wants to go yachting why not?
DOMINICK: You're not bothered by it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all.
DOMINICK: He's trying to get his back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If someone has issues with him going yachting they should have issues with our president playing golf with our vice president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he should be getting his life back right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sounds like too much fun of you really want to know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should be down by where the problem is and that's where he should be staying.
DOMINICK: What should the name of his boat be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liar, liar, liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got to be sensitive to the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's a lot of crap.
DOMINICK: What's a lot of crap?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making fun of his because he's on his boat. It's nonsense.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's awesome. I wish I would have been there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what the heck he was thinking. I cannot imagine he thought that was a good idea. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he should go down with the yacht.
DOMINICK: You think the yacht should sink and he should --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With him in it and then drowned in oil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then covered in oil.
DOMINICK: John King I spent my weekend in an inflatable pool in my backyard.
KING: I actually got to visit Fenway Pete for a father's day trip. It was a great time. When I get a yacht, you'll be the first to - I got to get one first. Pete Dominick thanks.
DOMINICK: Hold you to it.
KING: That's all for us tonight. Disaster in the gulf, how you can help a special program with Larry King starts right now.