TRANSCRIPT OF JANET RENO'S FOX NEWS INTERVIEW
I loved this! She didn't rise to the bait, and once again proved herself to be the decent, warm, smart-as-a-whip individual we all know she is! You go girl, we're all behind ya!
Show: FOX HANNITY & COLMES
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome to HANNITY & COLMES.
We're glad you're with us. I'm Sean
And coming up tonight: Has President Bush been better at
foreign policy than he's been given credit for?
And later: Alan will go one on one with Congressman Bob
Barr over the president's missile defense plans.
But first, our top newsmaker on this Wednesday: Former attorney
general Janet Reno was arguably the
Earlier today, Alan and I had the opportunity to ask Ms.
Reno about special prosecutors, the Florida
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Why do you think you've been such a controversial figure?
JANET RENO, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: You get damned if you do and damned if you don't.
And you just make the best decisions you can, and you don't worry about the controversy.
COLMES: Were you surprised by the level of controversy?
Certainly, any attorney general can be subject to controversy,
but it seems like it came to new heights
Were you surprised at the level, the intensity of it?
RENO: I'm never surprised at anything, when it comes to
the processes of government. I try to just put
COLMES: What's your reaction to the brouhaha about the pardons
after the -- on the last day of the
RENO: That is a matter that the U.S. attorney is looking at, and there should not be comment.
COLMES: Do you think anything untoward happened in Florida
that resulted in the election of George W.
RENO: As I understand it, the Civil Rights Division is continuing
an investigation, and so it really would
COLMES: Right. Do you have any thoughts about whether --
could Katherine Harris have done anything
Should the Supreme Court have, indeed, been the body that decided this election?
RENO: I think we'll let -- we'll see just what comes of it.
COLMES: You don't have any desire to comment on that?
COLMES: Can you legally? You can certainly legally could comment about it, if you wanted to.
RENO: I can legally comment on things, but I don't try...
RENO: I try not to comment on things when it's -- there's a pending investigation...
RENO: ... and I'm not...
COLMES: Everybody watching -- I was looking because you
-- "Boy, what does she really think about
What about the way Gore won the popular vote and -- and
Bush got into the White House without, by fiat
RENO: And what you do in those situations is wait and find
out all the facts, see just what happened,
COLMES: What'll happen, of course, each side will claim
-- they'll do recounts, and each side will claim
Are we ever really going to know the truth about this election?
RENO: We'll see.
COLMES: Do you think we'll ever come to a consensus about it? And do those people...
RENO: No, I don't think you'll ever have a consensus about it.
COLMES: And those people who are angered about it, because
of the way this happened, are they
RENO: I think one of the most marvelous things about that
whole process was that this government and
And part of a democracy is that you don't necessarily reach
consensus, but you do reach an
And I think it -- I don't know what will come of the investigations.
I think the Civil Rights Commission is
But I'm proud of the American people and what they did during
that time because the press sometimes
Other countries suggested the same thing. I think the American
people knew in their heart the strength of
HANNITY: Ms. Reno, I want to go back to your initial statements
back in '93, when you said again the
RENO: In order to make the statute constitutional...
RENO: ... the attorney general had the -- had to have the
authority to remove the independent counsel for
With that alone, and with the necessity of the attorney
general triggering the act, you have a built-in
HANNITY: That's true. I mean, and...
RENO: And so that's the reason...
HANNITY: You even at one point said the attorney general
serves at the pleasure of the president, which
Look, it's -- there are those...
RENO: But -- but what you're trying to do is -- is look beyond the statute. The statute is very specific...
RENO: ... or was very specific as to what triggered the Independent Counsel Act.
RENO: And I...
HANNITY: Which you supported. And you were very clear, and the reauthorization you supported.
RENO: That's correct. And then I had the experience of dealing
with it, where we were blamed if we didn't
RENO: ... or if we did trigger it, or there was an appearance of conflict because I had the power...
HANNITY: Well, maybe...
RENO: ... to recommend...
HANNITY: ... I can explain it this way. Based on those words...
RENO: You don't have to...
HANNITY: ... in '93 -- well -- because this is where...
RENO: Look, you don't have to explain it to me.
HANNITY: Would you like me to? I mean, if you're interested -- but...
RENO: No, why don't you just ask the question.
RENO: Well, here's the question because I'm looking at the
words of Louis Freeh. And Chuck
DNC or Clinton-Gore in '96 officials, an appropriate investigation
would have commenced months ago
You have somebody like Louis Freeh -- "Today I am convinced,
now more than ever, that we need an
And he also said, "I can't imagine a more compelling
matter for the appointment of an independent
RENO: You don't list the others that were involved who made other recommendations.
RENO: You choose to take just the recommendations that you
like. And what I tried to do was to take
HANNITY: Here's what -- here's what I'm trying to juxtapose...
RENO: And seeing...
HANNITY: ... this, though, because...
RENO: But here's what I'm trying to juxtapose for you...
HANNITY: All right. You go ahead. You -- I'm going to defer to you. But go ahead.
RENO: That -- that's good. Thank you.(LAUGHTER)
RENO: Since you're asking the questions.
HANNITY: That's my job.
RENO: The important thing is to remember that it is not
one person that makes the decision other than
And I have to look at all of the evidence. You've cited
some people's opinions. There were equally strong
COLMES: There were people like Lee Radek, for example, of
the Integrity Division, who had a different
Louis Freeh said that the Justice Department ignored what
he -- he's using the phrase "reliable evidence"
That caused a great deal of conflict between you and Louis Freeh.
RENO: No. I have said regularly, if you'd read on in all
the things that you're reading, what I would have
I would be very upset if I had everybody in the Justice
Department saying "This is what you should have
What I try to do is to get the ideas of everybody, look
at the evidence and the law, then make the
COLMES: The press often reported on conflict between the two of you. Was that overstated?
RENO: I don't sense any conflict between Louis and myself.
COLMES: What about -- now, he has announced that he is stepping down. What's your reaction to that?
RENO: I think he performed great public service for this
country, and I talked to him yesterday and told
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: More with Janet Reno coming up next. When we come
back, she'll address the issue of
And also coming up: Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
joins us with his reaction to our
And also later: Hard-working Americans will be getting more
money in their pockets thanks to a new
So why are the Democrats complaining about giving you more
of your money back? Alan's one on one
COLMES: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Alan Colmes.
Later on in the show: Newt
Later, I go head to head with Republican congressman Bob
Barr over the president's missile defense
And now here's more with our interview with former attorney general Janet Reno.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: The attorney general serves as the -- at the pleasure
of the president. Those are your words.
You're serving for a president who was found gave answers
that were intentionally false under oath and
As attorney general, when you hear that the chief law enforcement
officer of the country did that, what
What message does that send?
RENO: I think that in this whole situation, America recognizes
that the president made a mistake and
HANNITY: What was the mistake?
RENO: One should be straightforward. One should deal with
the issue. One should tell the American
HANNITY: There was a woman we interviewed at the time that
all of this was going on. Her name was Dr.
She lost her law license, her medical license, and got six
months' house arrest. That did not happen to
Does that send a bad message?
RENO: I think you'd have to check with Mr. Starr.
HANNITY: Well, I'm -- but as attorney general, as somebody -- you don't have an opinion on that?
RENO: One of the things that's important is, again, this
sentence, the circumstances should be that
I try not to be involved where the independent counsel was
involved, what he determined to do, how it was
HANNITY: Right. I'm just speaking about when a president,
though, puts his hand on the Bible and he
RENO: I think you have got to talk with Mr. Starr to see what his decisions were.
HANNITY: We've had him on the program. He's been here. Let me ask you this...
RENO: Well, good.
HANNITY: Do you think -- in the political sense, when you're
-- here you are in a justice system in your
Do you think Ken Starr's owed an apology in any way, like
by the person that -- who the pleasure you
RENO: You would have to ask Senator -- Mr. -- Judge Starr.
COLMES: What some people have said -- and I've defended
the Clinton administration. I thought it was
Do you concur with that?
RENO: I don't have any comment...
COLMES: No comment?
RENO: ... about this matter, the independent counsel...
COLMES: Are you ever going to come out and comment on these
things that so many people, I think,
I know there are a lot of things you don't feel comfortable
responding to. But will you write a book? Will
RENO: I will answer the questions as I am able to when an
investigation is not pending. I am not privy to
I did not remove him. He is -- was the independent counsel. And his work speaks for itself.
COLMES: Do you know Ken Starr?
RENO: I've -- when you say do I know him -- I've certainly met him and talked to him.
COLMES: What's your opinion of how he conducted the investigation?
RENO: I would let that -- I have not reviewed it, other
than to determine whether there was a basis for
COLMES: Right. So do you think that he overdid it? Do you
think there was -- he was too proactive?
Was this an attempt from Bill Clinton's political opponents
to try to put him in a box and railroad him out
RENO: You would have to ask Mr. Starr.
COLMES: Do you have an opinion on that?
RENO: Again, I have not reviewed the matter from the point
of view of how the investigation was
I have reviewed it to determine whether there was a basis for removing him for cause.
COLMES: And you don't think there was a basis for removing him.
COLMES: Do you have a -- have you talked to Bill Clinton since he's been out of office?
COLMES: Do you have a good friendship with him, at this point, or has there been some distance?
Again, the press reports all kinds of things which may or may not be true.
COLMES: How do you and he...
RENO: ... you -- you all are exactly the same.
You report some people are opposed to me on this issue, other people are opposed to me on this issue.
RENO: I don't do it based on a popularity contest.
COLMES: No, I understand.
RENO: I do it based on the evidence and the law.
COLMES: Bill Clinton is -- is someone -- do you still talk
to him regularly? Do you have a friendship with
RENO: I don't talk to him regularly.
RENO: Your question was, have I talked to him since the end of the administration, and I have.
COLMES: And you can't tell us what you talked about, right? Were those privy -- private information?
RENO: He was calling to see how I was. He was in Miami.
I happened to be in Washington having lunch
COLMES: You and Ashcroft had lunch, huh?
RENO: I called -- I called Senator Ashcroft shortly after
he was nominatedand told him I wanted to do
I said, "You're the busy one. I'll come up." And we had a pleasant lunch and had a good discussion.
HANNITY: Ms. Reno, if I -- I just want to go -- just for
clarification purposes because I think this is very
Yet we have evidence that show that the Secret Service knew,
that the White House staff knew, that his
Now, as it relates to that and an "iced tea" defense,
which I'm sure you're familiar of -- it's -- the question
RENO: If I were running defense for the administration,
I would not have expanded Starr's jurisdiction for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: More with Janet Reno on the other side of the break.
Also coming up tonight: Is President
Newt Gingrich weighs in. And later: Congressman Bob Barr and I duke it out over the latest budget deal.
Don't miss my one-on-one with the congressman coming up on HANNITY & COLMES.
HANNITY: As we continue on HANNITY & COLMES -- still
to come tonight: Former House speaker Newt
And Alan goes one on one with Republican congressman Bob Barr tonight.
They'll debate everything from Bush's budget to whether or not a missile shield is a smart or good idea.
But first we continue our interview from earlier today with the former attorney general, Janet Reno.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: Should Justice be looking into the affairs of Jesse Jackson?
RENO: Senator Ashcroft would have to answer that.
COLMES: Do you have an opinion as to whether -- would you be doing it if you were attorney general?
RENO: I'm not -- I have made a conscious decision that in
matters such as that,the attorney general
COLMES: You -- you mentioned having lunch with John Ashcroft. What advice do you have for him?
RENO: I just went over some pending matters, some issues,
and gave him my thoughts so that he could
COLMES: What advice would you give to any attorney general
in terms of being in the public spotlight,
How would you advise someone, John Ashcroft or whoever it might be, to...
RENO: That would be between me and the attorney general.
I can tell you what I did,which was to try to
COLMES: I want to show a little clip of something that happened
at the very end of the administration. It
Let's -- let's show that right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's time to say good-bye. I guess the dance party is finally over for once and all.
RENO: It's Reno time!(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: I think people -- I was -- I saw that when it --
I was just shocked that you -- I thought that was
What led up to that?
RENO: I think everybody should laugh at themselves. You need to laugh at yourself.
HANNITY: I'm laughing! I laugh every day!
RENO: And too often we don't laugh at ourselves.
HANNITY: Alan make me laugh at me every night.
COLMES: Yeah. We all laugh with him.
RENO: And I think America needs to laugh together more than it does.
The people on "Saturday Night Live" were such
wonderful people. We got to know them. Will Farrell's
And it was really a great evening. And the chord that it
struck in the people of this country has been so
COLMES: I really thought, "No, that can't be Janet" -- you know, personally -- "That can't be Janet Reno."
RENO: Well, you should have seen it. They had a live dress rehearsal.
RENO: And when I came through, there was very little laughter.
And I thought, "Oh, my goodness. I'm a
And it broke (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pandemonium.
HANNITY: All right, Ms. Attorney, you have three more questions
and -and we'll let you get to your red
RENO: Aren't you -- aren't you going to let him ask one?
HANNITY: He's had -- no, we're just kidding. First of all,
during your years, who -- who was in the running
Were you aware of anybody? In the running -- if -- if an opening had occurred on the Supreme Court?
RENO: I don't think, after the two vacancies, I never heard any...
HANNITY: Never heard any...
RENO: ... further discussion.
HANNITY: I want to ask you -- and I want to talk about Waco
and ask a question about that. Did the FBI,
And wasn't it true that the FBI had withheld information
that Koresh had promised to surrender once he
RENO: I know of no way that the FBI misled me.
HANNITY: Couldn't they have had -- didn't they -- now, in
retrospect, didn't they have opportunities to get
RENO: Not to my knowledge.
HANNITY: I want to ask you one final question about Tim
McVeigh because our own Rita Cosby broke
Here you do for better or for worse -- Alan obviously is
the bigger supporter of yours, and I'm -- there's
But when you serve in government, and then you hear something
as horrible that the man that was
HANNITY: Not in any way?
RENO: No.(END VIDEO CLIP)
Show: FOX HANNITY & COLMES
COLMES: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Alan Colmes.
Coming up: Sean asks former national security adviser Samuel
Berger what's wrong with President
First, our top newsmaker on this Thursday. More of our interview with Janet Reno.
Sean battles the former attorney general over her decision
not to appoint a special prosecutor to look into
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Al Gore, on numerous occasions, referred...
JANET RENO, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: OK...
HANNITY: ... gave different -- wait a minute! He gave different...
RENO: No, but here's...
HANNITY: ... reasons for the Buddhist temple that were inconsistent with the prior ones.
And we have computer records that show, in fact, that he
knew it was a fund-raising event, which would
RENO: OK, where's the record?
HANNITY: But we have the computer! I can give you -- I can give you every single quote!
Al Gore on -- on -- on National Public -- go ahead. He once
called -- these are the list of things that he
RENO: OK, but here's your problem. You don't have the whole transcript.
HANNITY: Oh, well, I actually do, ma'am.
RENO: OK, then let's look at it...
HANNITY: We can...
RENO: ... rather than just...
HANNITY: Would you like me to bring you a pile of papers, and we can sift through it? I mean, I...
HANNITY: This is an interview...
HANNITY: I would like to.
RENO: OK, that's...
HANNITY: We just -- will you come and spend two hours with us?
RENO: No, I wouldn't do that.
RENO: I expect -- you knew I was coming, and I would expect you to have your evidence...
HANNITY: I have my evidence right here! I can source...
HANNITY: ... everything that I just mentioned to you.
RENO: No, but here is your problem. You've talked about
the stack of papers, and now you're hitting at
Rather than somebody's opinion here and here and here, it
is going through the record, looking at exactly
RENO: And that's the important thing...
HANNITY: All right...
RENO: ... to do. And that's what I did. It wasn't one piece of paper...
HANNITY: I understand that.
RENO: ... with a summary...
HANNITY: All right, then let me...
RENO: ... of quotes.
HANNITY: ... ask you this question. Let me have a follow-up because...
RENO: Because the...
HANNITY: Hang on! Let me get this out. Chuck LaBella...
RENO: The important...
HANNITY: Wait a minute! Chuck LaBella was appointed for
the very purpose of offering you an opinion on
That was his sole purpose! After he investigated everything,
along with people with the credibility of Louis
RENO: No, no.
HANNITY: They saw the inconsistencies that I see.
RENO: No. You're missing something because what you do here
is you list things, and the worst thing
HANNITY: I'll give it to you.
HANNITY: If you give me the time, I'll give it to you.
RENO: I've -- I was expecting you to have it when you...
HANNITY: I have it right here! I can source everything -- from the "Today" show, from the "Today" show...
HANNITY: ... from Al Gore...
RENO: If you'll get me the...
HANNITY: These are the...
RENO: If you'll get me the transcripts, we'll look at them.
HANNITY: Yeah. All right, we'll go through -- I -- let me...
HANNITY: Let's move on to something else...
RENO: But no, let's...
HANNITY: ... here if I can.
RENO: It's important because...
HANNITY: It is important, ma'am.
HANNITY: I -- I agree with you because -- because I think...
RENO: Because here's the problem. You said Chuck LaBella
was hired for one reason. That was not so.
HANNITY: Wasn't he hired to -- to give you an opinion about
the appointment of and independent counsel,
RENO: No, he was hired to conduct -- he was already hired. He was...
HANNITY: I understand. But wasn't he, in this regard -- when he gave you that report, wasn't...
HANNITY: ... that report based on his...
RENO: That was...
HANNITY: Wasn't he appointed to do that?
RENO: No, he was appointed to head up...
HANNITY: Wasn't he...
RENO: ... the campaign finance...
HANNITY: Wasn't he told...
RENO: He was -- he was -- if you'll stop...
HANNITY: Go ahead. No, no!
RENO: ... just a second...
HANNITY: Go ahead.
RENO: He can -- he was the attorney responsible for the conduct of the campaign finance task force.
HANNITY: That's my point.
RENO: But you said he was hired only to...
HANNITY: Not only. I stand corrected on that...
COLMES: All right, let me -- let's move on here.
HANNITY: ... point...
HANNITY: ... but he -- that was his role.
RENO: But the important thing is, I didn't rely on one person.
I relied on Chuck LaBella and Louis Freeh and others. And anybody that relies on one person...
RENO: ... can turn it over to them.
HANNITY: I understand.
RENO: You must -- as you listen to all of these things, you must put the other side out there, too.
COLMES: Ms. Reno, I...
HANNITY: We did.
COLMES: I find -- that's why you're here. I find that often
your detractors have done that. They have said,
And he is the most often quoted -- they don't quote Lee Radek or some of the other people.
Let me put up on the screen that famous picture that was
known worldwide of Elian Gonzalez the day of
And I'd like to know what you were thinking when you first
saw that and how you feel when you look at
RENO: I was thinking, isn't it wonderful that there's a
free press in America. And I made sure that they
And if you look closely, what a free press will show you
is that that weapon was held at just the
RENO: And it was a demonstration of a show of force that rendered force unnecessary.
COLMES: Many people were very upset by that, and people
on both sides of the political aisle -- civil
Many people felt if you had just negotiated a few more minutes,
maybe that image we just saw wouldn't
RENO: What's your question?
COLMES: My question is, is there any validity to those thoughts?
And might a few more minutes have
RENO: One will never know because we had negotiated and
negotiated and negotiated. Then others
And then, most importantly, Mr. Lazaro Gonzalez said, "If
she wants the boy, she's going to have to take
In those situations, after such extensive negotiation, I
had to make a decision to pursue the right course
COLMES: Was it that statement, "They'll have to take it by force," that...
RENO: That was one of the...
COLMES: ... that pushed you to do what you did?
RENO: That was one of the -- if there had been no negotiation
up to that point and that statement had
But there had been extensive negotiation with people saying,
"If he'd just come to this country, he can
So we had to look at the whole picture and make a decision.
COLMES: How much second-guessing do you do and say, "A
few more minutes -- maybe I should have
RENO: I always try to review what I have done to see whether
there are lessons that I could have learned
COLMES: Did that picture and the events leading up to it cost Al Gore the election in Florida?
RENO: I don't know.
COLMES: Do you think a case could be made that that was
the crux of what may have made the
RENO: The important thing is that you don't do things like
this for politics. You do it because the
COLMES: But doesn't politics ever creep into your office?
Was pressure ever put on you by the White
RENO: I can tell you unequivocally that the White House
never exercised any influence with respect to
COLMES: No pressure? What about Hillary Clinton? Did she
ever indicate anything or put pressure, or
COLMES: Never once in your...
RENO: No, if...
COLMES: ... years as attorney general?
RENO: If I'm the one -- if I made a mistake, it's me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)