ANNOUNCER: From the nation's capital, the McLaughlin Group, an unrehearsed program presenting inside opinions and forecasts on major issues of the day. "GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group. From lighting to financial services. GE; we bring good things to life."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: "Starr" witness.

MICHAEL MCCURRY (White House Press Secretary): (From videotape.) I think for some time, Mr. Kendall has been trying to work out with Mr. Starr something that would help ensure that the information is provided that is needed, consistent with the president's view that we should cooperate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What Mike McCurry's artfully opaque prose translates to is, the president himself is preparing to give testimony to Independent Counsel Ken Starr. This dramatic turn of events was triggered, reportedly, by Mr. Starr's increasingly blunt warnings over the past several days that Mr. Clinton would have to be forthcoming in the Lewinsky investigation or face a subpoena very soon.

Question: What does this latest bombshell tell you about Bill Clinton's current state of jeopardy?

I ask you, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: What it says is that judgment day is at hand, John. This day was always coming. But what is interesting is there is a lot of talk that Bill Clinton might not go to the grand jury, would tell Mr. Starr, "Send it up to the Hill and go ahead and do your worst and let them try to impeach me." He now obviously believes that he has got to testify under oath in a criminal investigation, which is different than a civil trial.

Secondly, the interesting thing about this is he's being asked to testify before Monica --


MR. BUCHANAN: -- has testified, so he does not know going there what Monica is going to say about their relationship. Mr. Clinton is under duress, and this time he has got to tell the whole and absolute truth.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. It's a good point about the sequence: Bill, first; Monica, second.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. I am not so sure Pat just lurched into the truth here. I mean, one can look at this a little differently, that the president now feels comfortable going ahead and testifying because, apparently, Ken Starr does not really have the goods on him.

And Clinton has testified twice before in this inquiry. I don't think it's surprising that he is going to agree. I don't think he is going to go into the grand jury. They'll probably do it in the White House, and they'll videotape it.

And the fact that he is going after the president, before Monica Lewinsky, tells me that Ken Starr is pretty desperate here. He doesn't have his main quarry, who is Ms. Lewinsky. And he may have to indict her.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think that's his main quarry.


MS. CLIFT: And let's see how that plays to the country.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Look, his challenge has always been to know all the information that's going to be testified to, prior to his testimony, so he can come up with a plausible statement not inconsistent with facts known. Clearly, whether he is capable of holding out long enough for Monica to testify before he goes forward, I don't think that's clear yet.


MR. BARONE: Well, I think it says that the bravado that the Clinton advisers were coming out with -- "Well, he's not going to testify. He'll resist a subpoena. He's got a great job rating" -- just didn't really hold up in the crunch. That was more just boasting than a real assessment of public opinion because, despite Clinton's high job rating, he's still got a quite (low ?) rating when you ask people whether he is honest and trustworthy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I pursue that with you?

MR. BARONE: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why wouldn't it have (been) better for him to say: "Thanks but no thanks, Mr. Starr. I regard you as a political operative with a partisan agenda. I will give my testimony to the United States Congress"? Why didn't he do it that way?

MR. BARONE: Well, he -- because I think that he decided that that wasn't a politically viable thing, that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaning (what ?)?

MR. BARONE: Meaning being closed-mouthed in the face of the law.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BARONE: And after he sponsored --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that would result in what, popular opinion?

MR. BARONE: He would be in danger of eroding his popular opinion, or so they must have judged.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. BARONE: You know, the fact is that they have taken risks before. They have stonewalled on the question, and they've said the president was immune from civil lawsuit and he didn't have to testify.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. BARONE: That was thrown out 9-0 by the Supreme Court.


MR. BUCHANAN: John, he would face --

MR. BARONE: (Inaudible) -- a Republican -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: -- if he'd follow the scenario, he would face a subpoena. And he would -- to defy that subpoena, that would bring him down. Then he would be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Hold on right there.

MR. BUCHANAN: No. Hold on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he could get away with --

MR. BUCHANAN: Then he would be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- rejecting a subpoena in the present climate of popular support of him?

MR. BUCHANAN: After he rejected the subpoena, he'd be called in as a witness in the Monica Lewinsky trial. What is he going to do then?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the law is obscure on both of those instances --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Yeah.

MR. BARONE: No, I don't think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- being called into the Lewinsky trial --

MR. BLANKLEY (?): He'd go -- (makes a race-car sound) --

MS. CLIFT: Well, when --

MR. BARONE: Why is the law obscure, John? Federalist --


MS. CLIFT: Well, when -- wait a second -- a few phone calls to Capitol Hill would tell you that resisting a subpoena is not smart --


MS. CLIFT: -- and, you know, you may not believe it, John, but Democrats and Clinton supporters are law-abiding citizens -- (laughter) -- and they wouldn't cotton to that, and he has a need to do that.

(Cross talk, laughter.)

MR. BARONE: House minority --


MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the danger (was) okay for Clinton as long as he was dueling with Starr and the Republicans. When he starts dueling with the courts, he gets into a zone that I think he will lose Democratic Party support on, and that's, I suspect, why he's moving forward.

MR. BARONE: Yeah, John, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt has said publicly, and said that very recently once again, that if there's a subpoena, the president should testify and that he should not avoid testimony. I think he'd put himself in a perilous political situation. I think he knows it; I think that his side just blinked.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, exit: What will Clinton do in his testimony? (A), stick to his story and continue what some describe, Eleanor, as a cover-up; or, (B) admit to sexual involvement but deny any effort to obstruct justice or suborn perjury? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's a very tough call. (Laughs.) I think maybe Bill -- this is judgment day for him. I hope he tells the truth. I think there was something there. And if there was, I hope he comes out and says it so we get this over with. And I think he will.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Meaning what -- that he's going to change his story, Pat, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's going to alter his story. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: If he told the truth the first time, he should stick with it. If he's got adjustments to make, now's the time. (Laughter, cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you think that he'll leave things the way they are --

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because it's your feeling he told the truth, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- to it. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: My feeling is that he told the truth, and I know on this set there's an entire presumption of guilt. (Laughter.)

MR. BARONE: Under oath? Are you under oath? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Read the words carefully. What did he admit to? (Laughter.)

MR. BARONE (?): Can you say that without smiling? (Can you say that ?) without smiling. (Laughter.)


MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it going to be?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- Clinton is artful at finding another way to say things between two points. I think he's going to relook at his testimony, and he's going to find some little twist and turn to get a little closer to something true without quite contradicting what he said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're going to get into an electron-hair-splitting of words.

MR. BARONE: Well, this is the man who did not disobey the laws of his country, he said, when he was asked whether he'd smoked pot. It turns out that he'd disobeyed of the United Kingdom on that issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. BARONE: That fact is, he's -- look, I think he's going to stick with his story, John. I think he's in -- to the maximum extent, he is going to try and wiggle out. If you read the transcript of his deposition on January 17th, you can see him thinking very fast on his feet without very many false moves to try to --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he can't --

MR. BARONE: -- say thing that he couldn't be indicted on, while telling a story that is -- (inaudible) -- to believe.

MR. BUCHANAN (?): (Groans.)

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about the Jones transcript?

MR. BARONE: Yeah, the Jones transcript. She --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, Stuart Taylor says that it isn't just a question of one act of perjury --

MR. BARONE: He says 90.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a question of a dozen to 20. And he listed them.

MS. CLIFT: This is --

MR. BARONE: I think Stuart Taylor is right on that, and I think that Bill Clinton is going to stick with his story --

MS. CLIFT: At worst -- at worst this is --

MR. BARONE: -- because he does not get out of jeopardy if he -- (inaudible due to cross talk) --

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to have a contest with you here in another minute.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: At worst, this is lying about sex. And the American people approach this with a great deal of common sense.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right.

MS. CLIFT: And they don't --


MS. CLIFT: -- want to see him persecuted to the extent that he's being persecuted.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's going to be, "Were you alone with Monica? Did you have sex with Monica? Did you do X with Ms. Willey? Are the state troopers telling the truth or were you telling the truth?" They're going to walk through that deposition. You could think up, even from reading the papers, a half-dozen to a dozen --

MS. CLIFT: And then what?

MR. BARONE: John, they're also going to walk through --

MS. CLIFT: And then what?

MR. BARONE: -- the December 28th meeting between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, which happens after they know that she's been called as a witness in the Paula Jones case, and what went on there.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BARONE: And then they'll have Monica talking about it later.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. The answer is, there's going to be an admission of sexual involvement, with electron hair-splitting of words.

When we come back: Hillary's future; blessed or bleak?


Issue two: That woman. Hillary.

HILLARY CLINTON (First lady): (From videotape.) Yeah, every day I think about how little time I have left. You know, when somebody comes up to me, as, you know, you might guess they would, and says, "Oh, my gosh, won't you be glad when this is over? I mean, you know, everybody else can spend their time speculating about my life. They don't have any more of a clue than I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, the first lady may have more of a clue about her future than she is letting on. This month Hillary reemerged. It began when she hosted a meeting of prominent Democratic thinkers, deep thinkers, the first in a series of meetings to repair divisions between Democratic liberals and Democratic moderates. Besides unity, other issues discussed included Social Security, education, health care and children. Attendees at the meeting included Barber, Teixeira, Kamarck, Reed, Bluestone, Siegel, Galston, From, Littlefield, Donahue, Rothstein, Leone, Starr, Marshall, Osbourne, Whitehead, Whitehead, Begala, Echaveste, Waldman, Winograd and Moore. Mrs. Clinton "was clearly the guiding spirit and very, very fully engaged in the discussion," says the New York Times.

So much for Hillary's internal White House activities. On the public stage, Hillary embarked on a four-day bus tour of historic sites in northeastern U.S., the "Saving America's Treasures" tour, including stops at the Smithsonian in Washington, Thomas Edison's laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, the 150th anniversary celebration of woman's suffrage in Seneca Falls, New York.

Question: Many believe that Hillary's road stops this month and her White House planning session have the look and the feel of a political campaign.

A Democratic leader in New York noted recently, quote: "I was talking to the first lady and said to her that if she ever had any thoughts about electoral politics, she should consider moving to New York and running for the Senate in 2000. She raised her eyebrows in her usual charming way at the suggestion, but she didn't rule it out," unquote.

So is the first lady laying pipe for a political run, possibly, in New York? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: No. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can you be so sure?

MS. CLIFT: Because --

MR. BARONE: -- she's a New Yorker.

MS. CLIFT: -- she's tired of having her life publicly exposed. When she leaves office, she and he are going to have to make a lot of money real fast. She'll write a book, she'll do the lecture tour, she'll teach. I don't think she is going to go into electoral politics. But she'll find a way to amplify her voice, John -- you're not going to get away from Hillary Rodham Clinton -- and she'll do it in new Democrat politics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, what do you think Hillary's Achilles heel is?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think if she has an Achilles heel -- and I think that she's a remarkably formidable potential electoral politician irrespective of what happens to Clinton one way or the other. But it's going to be finding the right jurisdiction. She has to -- (to do ?) New York in 2000, she has to move out of the White House legally and set up residence in the state of New York. Then she has to run against George Stephanopoulos.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you mean that's her principal Achilles heel -- (laughter) -- (finding ?) the right jurisdiction? (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I believe that she's almost certain, if she wishes to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about her "Stand by Your Man" act? Does that come to a halt at some time?

MR. BARONE: John, I don't think that necessarily. I mean, I was one of the first people in major media to criticize her, in '94, for bad judgment on the health care and the scandals. But I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you revoking that?

MR. BARONE: I am not revoking it. Her defenders now say, "Well, she did show bad judgment," so they agree with me. But the fact is that when you look at it, very constructive activities going on. She had some of the really smartest minds in the Democratic Party, first-rated people in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you they think they have healed the unity problem of the Democrats?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think they probably did. It's some intellectually serious discussion of a high order. The people in that room suggest that and the fact that she stays with them and with the discussion. (There was) ? a positive urban --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. BARONE: -- historic tour was a very positive thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. BARONE: It's absurd, though, to think that she is going to run against Pat Moynihan in 2000.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

MR. BARONE: I mean, New York's Democrats have a senator.

MS. CLIFT: He is (not ?) going anywhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is Pat going to run in 2000?

MR. BARONE: The Democratic chairman of New York doesn't seem to think that New York has a Democratic senator, but he does, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, one of the great senators of the 20th century.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's --

MR. BARONE: And I don't think they are going to get rid of him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's move this to a higher level of abstraction. Do you think that she'd be an asset on the Democratic presidential ticket in the year 2000?

MR. BARONE: No, I don't think so.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think -- suppose --

MR. BARONE: She needs --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- suppose on the other side -- (laughter) -- is George Bush and Liddy Dole.

MR. BARONE (?): Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: Right. The Democratic Party has women who have been elected to office, mainly Senator Dianne Feinstein, who would be appropriate as a vice presidential candidate --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Come on ?); John? (Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: You don't take --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to --

MR. BUCHANAN (?): (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- a former first lady and put her on the ticket. That's nonsense.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I think she is doing an excellent job on that historic tour.

MR. BLANKLEY: Hear! Hear!

MR. BUCHANAN: She is a great and good campaign --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: And she did very well. She can't run --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- (inaudible) -- have anything to do, Pat, with what --

MR. BUCHANAN: She cannot run --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with the events of Friday afternoon?

MR. BUCHANAN: They had nothing to do with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think it was any kind --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think she is doing things. She has rehabilitated her image. I said she got the comeback of the year last year. She if formidable. As Tony says, she has no jurisdiction. She's got Wellesley, Illinois, Arkansas and DC, not New York.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question, a tripartite question carefully wrought.

MR. BARONE (?): Oh, oh!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Hillary's political future under three scenarios. Scenario number one: The political impact on Hillary if Bill, her husband, skates through his second term? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's going to be the same. She is going to be our Eleanor Roosevelt, and boy, I can't help but look forward to that. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Eleanor, you think that -- you know, the sky is the limit, if Bill skates through politically, for his wife, right?

MS. CLIFT: You know, she has carried herself through all of this with enormous dignity, and she'll continue to do that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: That it's useful but it's not the most useful situation for her.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BARONE: I think she can raise a lot of money for the Democratic Party. I think she can play a constructive role and ideas for the Democratic Party in the country. I don't think elective office would be my guess. It would --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, I am going to pursue these other scenarios whether you like it or not. (Laughter, cross talk.)

Scenario number two: Political impact on Hillary if Bill is impeached on high crimes and misdemeanors or if he is forced to resign. Is she a dead duck if she decides to run?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. She will write a No. 1 best-seller called "It's the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy That Did It!" (Laughter.) (Laughs.)


MS. CLIFT: Right. She is Joan of Arc if that happens.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) What do you think? Is she a dead duck?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. I think she is a victim of her husband at that point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think she could still survive that?

MR. BLANKLEY: I do, but --


MR. BARONE: Her comeback into a major role in public life, not elective office, will be faster than Richard Nixon's. (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think she is a dead duck if that happens.

Scenario number three: Political impact on Hillary if Bill is proven to be a philanderer but not proven to be a perjurer or otherwise a criminal, nor is he convicted in any impeachment trial. Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Then she is the wife who has been victimized by a husband who has been running around, and she becomes a sympathetic figure and a political asset, but not a candidate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that she --

MR. BUCHANAN: A political asset for Gore in 2000.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think, to help herself politically, she must exhibit outrage under those circumstances?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, that's the worse thing about this, is here is a very capable woman who has been humiliated and had to make, excuse me, a fool out of herself by blaming Monica on the right wing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think about that?

MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah; she didn't blame Monica on the right wing. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, does it (comfort ?) --

MS. CLIFT: As she pointed out, there are a lot of forces out there, who have tried to get her and her husband because of what they believe in, and she continues to believe that.

MR. BARONE: Horrors for democracy! You actually got Bobby --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: And wait a second.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would it help her --

MR. BLANKLEY (?): How awful.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would it help her to express outrage or if she divorced him?

MS. CLIFT: You know, this is not news. These allegations dogged Bill Clinton in Arkansas. She's been living with this for a long time, and she's figured out how to deal with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't --

MS. CLIFT: She doesn't have to express outrage to make you feel better about it, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think that we are in a different order of magnitude right now? (Laughs.) You don't -- you think this is Arkansas?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As far as the magnitude of what's happening?

MS. CLIFT: It feels like Arkansas, yes. And we don't want it to be in Arkansas.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think -- I think as the wife of a man who's philandered but has not been impeached that she can be the stoic either wife or former wife and do very nicely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No outrage.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think outrage.


MR. BARONE: Outrage? No, I don't think we really want to get that deeply into her private --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No outrage?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about what she has to do to politically make herself viable under those circumstances.

MR. BARONE: I think that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It has nothing to do with her personal life.

(Cross talk.)

MR. BARONE: She -- she -- John, John. If you could quiet down for a minute, I think that she -- I mean, she's already shown that she's capable of coming through other situations which would embarrass the heck out of anybody else, and coming through talking articulately in full sentences and paragraphs and sometimes making pretty good sense. And I think we'll see more of her trying to do that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the question is too complicated to answer. (Laughter.)

Issue three: Reno's stonewall.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO: That matter is now under seal, so I can't discuss it.

SEN. : I mean.

ATTY. GEN. RENO: I'm not commenting on the memo. . . . That matter that is pending us under seal, so I can't discuss that. . . . It would be inappropriate for me to comment while the matter is under seal. . . . I can't comment on the report. . . . I can't comment."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The battle has been building for months. And now, apparently, it's high-noon. Last week, at a tempestuous Senate hearing, Reno faced withering questions by senators on the Judiciary Committee. The lawmakers were not satisfied with Reno's unbroken resistance.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): But I believe we've been taken to the Nth degree. We had, on July 15th, a five-hour and five-minute session, and everybody was just stunned with the refusal of Attorney General Reno to respond to the questions. Time has come to take it to court.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has prepared a petition to be filed in federal district court for a writ of mandamus, a judicial order forcing Reno to do her job: comply with and enforce the law and appoint an independent counsel to examine campaign finance irregularities, abuses, possible felonies in the '96 presidential election.

Other lawmakers have also demanded action.

SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D-NY): -- that there has been an Asian attack on our political system, and the Chinese specifically, and we better find out about it. And the way to do it is an independent counsel.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): You've appointed independent counsels for almost no reason at all in the past. And here's one where you've got an overwhelming amount of, I would say, evidence that there should be one appointed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The two principle Justice Department investigators concur: FBI Director Louis Freeh and Chief of the Justice Department's Campaign Finance Unit Charles G. LaBella, the latter hand-picked by Reno to revive an investigation that she had been embarrassed by and severely criticized for over and over again.

Question: Louis Freeh and Charles LaBella both assert that Attorney General Reno has no choice but to appoint an independent counsel. Are they right? Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: They're legally right, but I think as long as the public is apathetic about what's going on, she can continue to stonewall.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think this puts her in a much tighter bind. I mean, LaBella is her guy. I mean, she relies on him. But unless he's got new evidence, if this is just a reinterpretation of the statute, I don't think she caves; she sticks with her position.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think she will stick with her position for this reason, too. She's got her ego tied up in this whole idea that she can do the job and she doesn't want one. She doesn't want this independent counsel, and she's been fighting that and fighting that. She's got a double conflict of interest. And unless some new thing breaks which sort of ties something to the White House, I don't think she'll move.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to clear up something about that 27-page memorandum of Louie Freeh's, which calls for her in a detailed analysis to appoint an independent counsel, and which has been bottled up in some safe somewhere by the attorney general.

MR. BARONE: Well, I think this is just a case, obviously, that under the statute and with the facts as known and the allegations, she's got to -- there's something operating here that I call the stupidity factor. I think she's just misreading the law and the statute and she's just --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that General Reno is obtuse?

MR. BARONE: I'm saying that on this issue, she's not shown good -- (inaudible due to cross talk).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about saying, for the first time, that she plays politics?

MS. CLIFT: Come on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When are you going to raise that point?

MR. BARONE: No, John, I think on this one, in my judgment, she's being sincere in this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think she's playing politics?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think for the first time, I believe, she's crossed over and is now playing politics. Until now, I thought she was just dotty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What has led you to believe that this time she's playing politics?

MR. BLANKLEY: Her own man, LaBella, who she chose to do the investigation --

MR. BARONE: And that she's now sending to San Diego.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- now comes back and says, unambiguously --

MS. CLIFT: He chose to go to San Diego.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- that she's got to do it. Freeh has made the same statement. And I just can't imagine that she -- this doesn't look -- (inaudible). I think she's covering. I think she's protecting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is she doing this, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: She is mulish, is the problem. She is mulish, and you've got to hit her across the head with a two-by-four to get her to move. She is locked in.

MR. BARONE: Well, they're hitting her, and she isn't moving anywhere.

MS. CLIFT: She's reading the statute in one way --

MR. BUCHANAN: She's locked in.

MS. CLIFT: -- and there are credible arguments on both sides.

MR. BLANKLEY: There are no credible arguments.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she raising the standard --

MS. CLIFT: And there's no reason for her to cave to political pressure, which is what this is.

MR. BLANKLEY: There are no credible arguments.

MR. BARONE: Well, let's put it this way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she reading the statute standard of evidence so high as to be erroneous, even to the point where LaBella is saying in his memorandum to her, "Look, it's illegal for me to be involved in this because this legally should be in the hands of --

MR. BARONE: Well, of course.

MS. CLIFT: No evidence --

MR. BARONE: John, the answer -- Eleanor, let -- (inaudible) --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on, Michael. No evidence --

MR. BARONE: Of course --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- one minute, I'll go to you.

MR. BARONE: Of course she's reading it erroneously. It's obviously true. Louis Freeh said, "This is the easiest case for an independent counsel that I've ever seen" -- or words to that effect.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Quickly!

MS. CLIFT: There is no evidence of criminal wrong-doing that they have discovered yet that reaches into the White House, to either the president or Al Gore.

MR. BLANKLEY: Both through the phone lines!

MS. CLIFT: If they find it -- if they find it, she will name a special prosecutor. It's still possible.


MR. BUCHANAN: The whole thing was a conspiracy that ought to be investigated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: The world stock markets lost one trillion dollars in value this week. The U.S. market lost 5 percent. The "Asian flu" is coming home.


MS. CLIFT: Democrats may not recapture control of the House, but if they gain even as much as a single seat, Newt Gingrich will be defeated by Republicans for speaker.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: That one is wrong. (Laughter.) And the House Republicans will pass, in September, a bill on theater nuclear defense, anti-ballistic missile defense --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- and the Senate may try to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent. Possibly a presidential issue, too.

MR. BARONE: Report from Edinburgh. There's a serious chance that Scotland may vote for independence from the United Kingdom within the next two years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah, breakaway.

You'll like this, Pat. Prediction: The World Bank reputation will be besmirched in a major way by the current charges of multi-billion dollar white collar cronyism capitalism.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Friday's shooting at the U.S. Capitol.





MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: ET and PhD. They are the subject of fascination and fear, the stars of countless movies, and the central theme of the popular TV show, "The X-Files." But are they science? One prestigious scientific panel says yes: Flying saucers are worthy of serious academic study.

The panel, headed by a physicist at Stanford University, has released a 50-page analysis of UFO sightings. It found no real evidence that alien life does exist, but the UFO panel did find strange, unexplained phenomena, including ailments suffered by those who claim to have seen UFOs, especially burns or eye problems; magnetic disturbances linked to reports of strange lights; damage to the ground and to plant life -- this occurred at or near sightings. All these phenomena could be explained by radiation either from a hypothetical UFO or from natural causes.

The panel's recommendation: Scientists should stop worrying about their professional peers ridiculing them and get funding to study these phenomenon seriously. (Laughter.) Get funding.

Question: Would you donate money for the study of extraterrestrial life, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: I already do, John. I pay taxes -- (chuckles) -- they're already studying it. Look, as they said, some of these guys were hiding in my campaign in the last (election?). (Laughter.) Look, as I said during the break, if the first time one of these guys hits and got out of those things that were spotted in Roswell, that U.S. Army private would have had it all over the bar and we'd all know about it. It ain't there, John. It's not. (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose after a decade or so of scientific analysis that it was discovered that UFO sightings could not be explained away. What would be the impact of that on society?

MR. BARONE: Well, there'd be a lot of impact on cable channels, John -- (laughter) -- you'd see it all over the place.

No, I wouldn't contribute to this unless one circumstance was true, and that is I hadn't given more than $353 to charity last year and I wanted to exceed the total done by our vice president, Al Gore. Otherwise, I'd keep my money to myself.

MS. CLIFT: You can never put a conspiracy away. I mean, people will continue to believe this stuff exists.

MR. BARONE: Even a vast right-wing conspiracy, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I think the scientists really want the money because they believe if they could do more research they could find all the explanations. They don't believe that the ETs are out there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you share the view that if a lengthy scientific, prestigious group were to say that yes, we have the answers to the UFO sightings and they're not UFOs, there's natural phenomena, would that not put to rest those who believe in UFOs?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it will not put to rest --


MR. BLANKLEY: Because some people, many people want to believe and what you want to believe, evidence --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who are those people? Are there any in Washington, D.C.?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know -- I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are their habits? (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I think they're people who tend to believe in conspiracies and want to believe in something bigger than themselves.

MR. BARONE: It's that vast right-wing conspiracy/left-wing conspiracy, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, you worked on Capitol Hill.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see any people like that there?

MR. BLANKLEY: I saw some unusual people but not unidentifiable people! (Laughter.)