While reporting on the split between President Bush and his own party on the issues of immigration reform and the Iraq war, CNN's Ed Henry contrasted those disputes with "the subpoena issue," saying that the subpoenas issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee to the White House for information on the warrantless wiretapping program is "not really about ... [Bush's] own party," it's "about the Democrats." In fact, several committee Republicans voted in favor of the subpoenas.
On the June 28 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry suggested that Republican lawmakers "are no longer afraid" to confront President Bush on the issues of immigration reform and the Iraq war and contrasted those disputes with the "the subpoena issue." Henry was referring to the subpoenas the Senate Judiciary Committee issued to the White House for information on the administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, which he described as "not really about ... [Bush's] own party," but "about the Democrats." In fact, 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 Sen. Patrick] Leahy [D-VT] the power to issue the subpoenas." Host Wolf Blitzer responded to Henry's claim that the subpoenas are "about the Democrats" by saying that the committee "voted 12-3 in favor of issuing these subpoenas."
As Media Matters for America noted, on the June 27 edition of The Situation Room, Blitzer repeatedly suggested that only Senate Democrats voted to authorize the subpoenas, even after CNN correspondents Dana Bash and Elaine Quijano, as well as Democratic strategist Paul Begala, all noted that several Republicans had also voted to authorize the subpoenas.
Furthermore, during the June 28 segment, neither Henry nor Blitzer reported the reason cited for issuing the subpoenas. Henry simply referred to the "subpoena issue" and Blitzer only reported that the subpoenas sought "documents and testimony from White House officials." In a June 27 press release, Leahy explained that the committee issued the subpoenas for "documents relating to the authorization and legal justification for the Administration's warrantless wiretapping program." In letters accompanying the subpoenas, Leahy wrote: "Over the past 18 months, this Committee has made no fewer than nine formal requests to the Department of Justice and to the White House, seeking information and documents about the authorization of and legal justification for this program. All requests have been rebuffed."
From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the June 28 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: And joining us now from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where the president delivered a speech earlier today, our White House correspondent, Ed Henry.
A lot of people suggesting, Ed, that the president had invested so much of his personal influence and prestige and power in trying to get this immigration bill through, a complete collapse today. What does it say about his ability to influence events on Capitol Hill and elsewhere over the next year-and-a-half?
HENRY: What it means is if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, he's inching closer, closer to be a lame duck. And the fact -- and the clearest sign of that is when people in your own party are no longer afraid to take you on, on issue after issue.
On the immigration reform bill, the president made that personal appeal, a dramatic effort on Capitol Hill, face-to-face with Senate Republicans, and yet, in the end, only 12 Senate Republicans voted with him. So the vast majority went against him.
If you look on Iraq, the issue he was talking about today, you now have stalwart Republicans from red states, like Dick Lugar, standing up against the president, saying, "We can't wait till September. You need to change the policy now, because the increase in troops is not working."
And then you look at the subpoena issue. That's not really about its own -- his own party. It's about the Democrats. And you look at the subpoenas that are arriving at the White House day after day on issue after issue. This president is moving closer and closer to lame duck, Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, on that subpoena issue, the Senate Judiciary Committee, what, they voted 12 to 3 in favor of issuing these subpoenas to get some documents and testimony from White House officials. It looks like there's going to be a constitutional showdown over this issue.
HENRY: Absolutely. It's very likely headed to the courts. That could be part of the White House strategy -- drag this out, because by the time there's a resolution, it's very possible that President Bush will be out of office, Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Henry, reporting for us from Newport, Rhode Island. Ed, thanks very much.