Ignoring his colleagues, CNN's Blitzer repeatedly suggested only Democrats voted for subpoenas

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

On the June 27 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer repeatedly suggested that only Senate Democrats subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, seeking documents about the administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program. Blitzer continued to frame the news as a confrontation between Democrats and the Bush administration even though CNN correspondents Dana Bash and Elaine Quijano and Democratic strategist Paul Begala all pointed out during The Situation Room that several Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee had voted to authorize the subpoenas.

As the Associated Press reported on June 28: "[T]he Judiciary Committee's three most senior Republicans -- Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, former chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa -- sided with Democrats on the 13-3 vote last week to give [committee chairman Patrick] Leahy [D-VT] the power to issue the subpoenas." Leahy formally issued the subpoenas on June 27.

At the start of the 4 p.m. ET hour of The Situation Room, Blitzer said: "Happening now, the Bush administration, hit with a new flurry of subpoenas, including the vice president's office," adding, "It's the latest in a series of showdowns between congressional Democrats and the Bush White House." Introducing the first Situation Room report on the development, Blitzer said, "The administration charges this is yet another example of Democrats resorting to confrontation." Bash quickly noted that "the vote to authorize these subpoenas last week was 13-3," adding that "this warrantless surveillance program has certainly been controversial in both parties." Later, Quijano stated: "But as we heard Dana just point out, this was a bipartisan vote, Wolf. So Republicans also on board with this."

Later in the 4 p.m. ET hour, however, Blitzer asked of Begala: "Is there a possibility that the Democrats might overreach in issuing all of these subpoenas, Paul?" Begala responded that "the three highest-ranking Republicans on the committee ... all voted to give their chairman the power to subpoena. It was a 13-3 vote." Despite these repeated references by his colleagues to the bipartisan vote, during the 7 p.m. ET hour, Blitzer asserted that "a potential constitutional confrontation between congressional Democrats and the White House in the making, happening now."

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the June 27 edition on CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Happening now, the Bush administration hit with a new flurry of subpoenas, including the vice president's office. It's the latest in a series of showdowns between congressional Democrats and the White House. We're gonna tell you what's at stake right now.

[...]

BLITZER: Meanwhile, top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee right here in Washington say they're simply fed up with what they call "a pattern of evasion and misdirection" by the Bush White House. So they're issuing new subpoenas demanding documents about the president's controversial warrantless wiretap program. And the White House and the Vice President Dick Cheney's office are among the targets. The administration charges this is yet another example of Democrats resorting to confrontation. Our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano, is standing by with the reaction from there, but let's get the specifics of these subpoenas from our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana.

[...]

BASH: Now, this is the second time in about three weeks that Congress has sent subpoenas over to the White House. And there's no question that this is really an illustration of how much the dynamic here in Congress and the difference between now and before November has changed with Democrats in control.

But what's interesting, Wolf, about this is that the vote to authorize these subpoenas last week was 13-3. That means that many, if not most, of the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee actually thought that this was a good idea because this warrantless surveillance program has certainly been controversial in both parties.

[...]

QUIJANO: But interesting to note that [White House deputy press secretary Dana] Perino, also in her response, said that it was "unfortunate" that congressional Democrats were continuing to choose the route of confrontation. But as we heard Dana just point out, this was a bipartisan vote, Wolf, so Republicans also on board with this. Wolf.

[...]

BLITZER: Is there a possibility that the Democrats might overreach in issuing all of these subpoenas, Paul, to this Republican administration? Sort of the way that Republicans overreached during the Clinton administration when you were a key figure in the White House? You understand the question?

BEGALA: Absolutely. When I worked for President Clinton, one committee alone issued over 1,000 subpoenas. They even investigated President Clinton's Christmas card list. Now I don't think the Democrats are going anywhere near that. They've been in power for six months. This is, I think, the first time the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to subpoena. And, the three highest-ranking Republicans on the committee -- Senator Specter, Senator Hatch, who have chaired the committee in the past, and Senator Charles Grassley, a veteran Republican from Iowa -- they all voted to give their chairman the power to subpoena. It was a 13-3 vote.

From the 7 p.m. ET hour of the June 27 edition of The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Tonight, a potential constitutional confrontation between congressional Democrats and the White House in the making, happening now. The Senate Judiciary Committee issuing subpoenas, demanding documents about the president's warrantless wiretap program. The vice president's office is among the targets, putting more heat on an already embattled Dick Cheney. The Judiciary Committee chairman, Patrick Leahy, says he's fed up with what he calls a pattern of evasion and misdirection by the Bush administration.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Domestic Spying
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
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