The following is a transcript of Focus on the Family Chairman Dr. James Dobson's comments from Wednesday's [October 12, 2005] broadcast, in which he discusses what the White House told him about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.
OPENING VOICE TRACK:
John Fuller: It's Wednesday. I'm John Fuller and you're tuned to "FOF" with psychologist and author, Dr. James Dobson. And Doctor, what a crazy week you've had!
JCD: Well, John, if our listeners and friends have been monitoring the news on radio and television and the Internet and if they have been listening to other talk shows in the past week, then they know well, that I have been a topic of conversation from the nation's Capitol to the tiniest burg and farming community. And the issue that's propelled this unprecedented interest in something that I've said is my conversation with Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, that occurred on October 1st, just a few days ago. And that was the day before President Bush made his decision to nominate White House Counsel, Harriet Miers, to be the next Justice of the Supreme Court.
Now, as you know and as I'm sure many of our listeners know, there are members of the judiciary committee who are running from one talk show to another, threatening to subpoena me to find out what occurred in that conversation with Karl Rove. And I am going to make their job easier (Laughter), because in the next few minutes, I'm gonna tell them what I would say to them if I were sitting before the judiciary committee. And this is the essence of what transpired between the Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House and me. So, is that clear?
John: I think that is. And for our listeners, you wouldn't believe all that's going on here at Focus, as so many of the mainstream media--most of the mainstream media--is contacting us. They, like those Senators, want to know, "What does Dr. Dobson know? What did he talk about? Tell us, please."
JCD: Well, John, I think it's time that I did that.
John: Okay, before you do though, it probably would be helpful for our listeners to understand why you can talk about that now and previously you couldn't.
JCD: Yeah, I haven't been willing to. The reason is because Karl Rove has now given me permission to go public with our conversation. And I'm gonna say a little more about that in a minute.
John: OK. Well, fill us in then on what happened.
JCD: Well, let me go back through the sequence of events and.and explain what happened. The President announced his decision on Monday morning, October 3rd, that Harriet Miers was his selection and the debate was on. And a few hours after that, many conservative Christian leaders were involved in a conference call, wherein some of those men and women were expressing great disillusionment with President Bush's decision and there was a lot of anger over his failure to select someone with a proven track record in the courts. And I came in a little bit late and I caught just a bit of that angst and then I shared my opinion, that Harriet Miers might well be more in keeping with our views than they might think and that I did believe that she was a far better choice than many of my colleagues were saying and that they obviously believed.
Well, my reasons for supporting her were two-fold, John.
First, because Karl Rove had shared with me her judicial philosophy which was consistent with the promises that President Bush had made when he was campaigning. Now he told the voters last year that he would select people to be on the Court who would interpret the law rather than create it and judges who would not make social policy from the bench. Most of all, the President promised to appoint people who would uphold the Constitution and not use their powers to advance their own political agenda. Now, Mr. Rove assured me in that telephone conversation that Harriet Miers fit that description and that the President knew her well enough to say so with complete confidence.
Then he suggested that I might want to validate that opinion by talking to people in Texas who knew Miers personally and he gave me the names of some individuals that I could call. And I quickly followed up on that conversation and got glowing reports from a federal judge in Texas, Ed Kinkeade and a Texas Supreme Court justice, Nathan Hecht, who is highly respected and has known Harriet Miers for more than 25 years. And so, we talked to him and we talked to some others who are acquainted with Ms. Miers.
So, I shared my findings with my colleagues, not only what I just mentioned, but other calls I made. I talked to Chuck Colson, my great friend, who is a constitutional attorney--
John: Uh-hm, uh-hm.
JCD: --and talked to him four times. He helped me kind of assimilate the information that we had garnered, but I would not say much about the phone call from Karl Rove, even though I'm very close to many of the people who are on the telephone. Why would I not do that? Because it was a confidential conversation and I've had a long-standing policy of not going out and revealing things that are said to me in confidence. That may come from my training as a psychologist, where you hear all sorts of things that you can't go out and talk about.
JCD: And I feel very strongly about that. And frankly, I think it's a mistake and maybe even an ethical problem for people to do that--to go out and brag about being a player on the national scene, maybe to make themselves to look important. You know, I just wish that didn't happen like it does and I certainly didn't want to be part of it.
So, I wouldn't reveal any of the details about the call, although I did say to these pro-family leaders, which has been widely quoted, that Karl had told me something that I probably shouldn't know. And you know, it really wasn't all that tantalizing, but I still couldn't talk about it.
And what I was referring to is the fact that on Saturday, the day before the President made his decision, I knew that Harrier Miers was at the top of the short list of names under consideration. And as you know, that information hadn't been released yet, and everyone in Washington and many people around the country wanted to know about it and the fact that he had shared with me is not something I wanted to reveal.
But we also talked about something else, and I think this is the first time this has been disclosed. Some of the other candidates who had been on that short list, and that many conservatives are now upset about were highly qualified individuals that had been passed over. Well, what Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter, that they didn't want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it.
So, even today, many conservatives and many of 'em friends of mine, are being interviewed on talk shows and national television programs. And they're saying, "Why didn't the President appoint so-and-so? He or she would have been great. They had a wonderful judicial record. They would have been the kind of person we've been hoping and working and praying for to be on the Court." Well, it very well may be that those individuals didn't want to be appointed.
John: For understandable reasons, because the grilling that they get in that confirmation process is just brutal.
"What did Dobson know and when did he know it?" Read more >>
He also made it clear that the President was looking for a certain kind of candidate, namely a woman to replace Justice O'Connor. And you can imagine what that did to the short list. That cut it.I haven't looked at who I think might have been on that short list, because Karl didn't tell me who was not willing to be considered.
But that may have cut it by 80 percent right there. But I was not gonna be the one to reveal this. I knew that people would eventually be aware of some of that information, but I didn't think I had the right to say it.
And so, I made my comment.
Now there's.there's something else I'll say in a moment that I was referring to. But let me just say that some of my friends that I was talking to that day and thought I was speaking in confidence, went straight to the media and.and shared what I had said or what I had not said. And that's where the firestorm began. You know, "What did Dobson know and when did he know it?"
Now let me go back to the statement that there were some things from my conversation with Karl Rove that I couldn't talk about. And of course, the media has keyed on that statement. I had no idea that was going to be released to the media, but there it is.
So, what was it that I couldn't talk about? The answer has everything to do with timing. It's very important to remember that when I first made that statement about knowing things that I shouldn't know, and shared that with my colleagues the day that the President made his announcement, maybe two or three hours after his press conference.
And then, that very night, I went on the Brit Hume program--the FOX News program--and.and talked about the President's nomination. And then, the following day--Tuesday--I recorded a statement for FOF, which was heard on Wednesday. And that is the last time that I said that I had information that was confidential and that I really couldn't talk about.
Why? Because what I was told by Karl Rove had been confirmed and reported from other sources by that time.
What did Karl Rove say to me that I knew on Monday that I couldn't reveal? Well, it's what we all know now, that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life. In other words, there is a characterization of her that was given to me before the President had actually made this decision. I could not talk about that on Monday. I couldn't talk about it on Tuesday. In fact, Brit Hume said, "What church does she go to?" And I said, "I don't think it's up to me to reveal that." Do you remember my saying that?
John: I do, yes.
JCD: What I meant was, I couldn't get into this. But by Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, all this information began to come out and it was no longer sensitive. I didn't have the right to be the one that revealed it and that's what I was referring to.
John: Well, I'd also guess, Doctor, that the answer you gave here about the contents of that conversation and why you couldn't divulge some of those matters, won't satisfy the senators on the judiciary committee, who were looking for some red meat.
JCD: Well, John, I have no doubt that what I've just said will be a great disappointment to Senator Schumer and Senator Salazar and Senator Biden and Senator Durban and Senator Leahy and Senator Lautenberg and some of the other liberal Democrats, because Karl Rove didn't tell me anything about the way Harriet Miers would vote on cases that may come before the Supreme Court.
We did not discuss Roe v. Wade in any context or any other pending issue that will be considered by the Court. I did not ask that question. You know, to be honest, I would have loved to have known how Harriet Miers views Roe v. Wade. But even if Karl had known the answer to that and I'm certain that he didn't, because the President himself said he didn't know, Karl would not have told me that.
That's the most incendiary information that's out there and it was never part of our discussion.
One thing is clear. We know emphatically that Justices Souter and Kennedy and Breyer and Ginsburg and Stevens have made up their mind about Roe v. Wade, by politicizing their decrees on that issue and others. They have usurped the right of the people to govern themselves and they imposed a radical agenda on this country. And John, as long as I'm talking about that, let me say one other thing.
More recently, they have been drawing some of their conclusions, not from the Constitution and not from precedent and not from the American people, but from public opinion in Western Europe. You know, that's one of the most outrageous developments in the history of the Court. American public opinion is ignored and so are previous Court decisions or precedent. And frequently, the Constitution itself is bypassed. And instead they favor the views of people who have no commitment to our freedoms and our traditions that the Founding Fathers gave us.
So, I want the President to appoint someone who will go to the original intent of the Constitution and tell us what the founding fathers meant. If we don't like what they wrote, there's a process to change it. But the way it works now, every time the Court meets, it can be more or less a constitutional convention, where five or more justices reinterpret the meaning of that precious document.
Now Karl Rove didn't tell me all of that, but what he said, in essence, is that Harriet Miers is a strict constructionist, which is why the President likes her.
And you know, I've never met her; I don't have any personal communication with her. I've never received a letter or a phone call from her or any firsthand knowledge, but I do believe President Bush is serious when he says this is the kind of person I'm looking for and Harriet Miers is such a person.
Nevertheless, what the Democrats have concluded in their wildest speculation is that Mr. Rove laid out for me a detailed promise that Ms. Miers would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and revealed all the other judicial opinions that she has supposedly prejudged. It did not happen, period!
Senator Leahy was speaking on George Stephanopoulos's program, "This Week" on Sunday, just past. And this is what he said and I quote. This is word for word: "James Dobson has said that he knew privately; he had private assurances of how she would vote." Well, Leahy is either lying or he's given to his own delusions or he's got some problem somewhere, because that's flat out not true.
Nowhere have I been quoted making such a statement, because it's not true.
Again John, last Sunday, Democrats were on all the talk shows and nearly all of them mentioned me one way or another. Senator Schumer from New York, referred to my conversations with Karl Rove as a "wink and a whisper," you know, trying to make something sinister out of it.
It's obvious what the agenda is here.
Now John, I feel like I have clarified the nature of my conversation with Karl Rove. Let me just say in the conclusion to my comments here--and I want to speak directly to members of the judiciary committee about the possibility of my coming to testify-- if they want to do that, then I just suggest that they quit talking about and just go do it. I have nothing to hide and I'll be happy to come and talk to you. But I won't have anything to say that I haven't just told millions of people. And so, that's really the end of my statement.
(end of transcript)