This morning on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace aired archived video of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calling on the Clinton White House to testify before Congress under oath. Here’s what McConnell said on June 16, 1996:
I think the testimony obviously ought to be sworn testimony. And we ought to go all the way into this and take as much time as we can to reassure the American people that this sort of thing’s not going to happen again in the future.
Challenged with this quote today, McConnell said, “With regard to White House officials, it will be up to the President to decide frankly whether and when and under what circumstances members of his [own White House staff] testify.”
Wallace questioned why the same rules McConnell applied to the Clinton White House shouldn’t apply to the Bush White House. McConnell offered that he was merely a Senator in 1996 and that the President made the ultimate decision. Wallace said, “But you’re still a Senator so the question is: do you call on this President to do the same thing?” McConnell responded, “I’m calling on this President to do what he thinks is appropriate.” Watch it:
WALLACE: Senator McConnell — and let me bring in Senator McConnell here, because I have a little history for you, as well.
Back in 1996, you maybe remember there was a controversy in the Clinton White House about the fact that they had obtained FBI documents on hundreds of former officials from the Reagan years and the Bush, H.R. Bush, Bush-41 years.
Here on FOX NEWS SUNDAY back in 1996, you demanded full Congressional hearings. Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: I think the testimony, obviously, ought to be sworn testimony and we ought to go all the way into this and take as much time as we can to reassure the American people that this sort of thing is not going to happen in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Given that same reasoning, Senator McConnell, shouldn’t Karl Rove, shouldn’t other White House officials be called before Congress, testify in public and under oath?
MCCONNELL: Well, first of all, with regard to Justice Department, there are going to be hearings. The attorney general’s coming up. There was a hearing Thursday.
With regard to White House officials, it’ll be up to the president to decide, frankly, whether and when and under what circumstances members of his own administration testify.
Sometimes — of his own White House staff. Sometimes White House staff has testified, sometimes not. When presidents have dug in their heels, it’s gone to court.
This kind of tug of war has gone under administrations of both parties for a long time.
WALLACE: Senator McConnell, my point is that back in 1996, you were saying those White House aides should testify in open hearing. These were White House aides of Bill Clinton, in open hearing under oath.
Why shouldn’t the same rules apply for the Bush White House and people like Karl Rove?
MCCONNELL: And what I’m telling you is the president’s going to make that decision. I was a senator. I was talking about an administration. The president made the decision in 1996, President Clinton, as to how that would be done, and this president’s going to make the same decision and we’ll see how it all works out.
WALLACE: Well, you’re still a senator. So the question is do you call on this president to do the same thing?
MCCONNELL: I’m calling on this president to do what he thinks is appropriate with regard to his aides testifying. What Fred Fielding, the White House counsel, has offered is, I gather, still under discussion as to how and when and under what conditions the White House aides will testify.