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tv   After Words Sen. Patrick Leahy D-VT The Road Taken  CSPAN  October 20, 2022 9:02am-9:59am EDT

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reality because at media com, we're built to keep you ahead. >> media com, along with these television companies support c-span2 as a public service. >> senator patrick leahy. you're doing something that's hard for a lot of senators to do and that is to retire voluntarily. what made you decide to do that? >> i never thought i was going to be here this long. when i was elected everybody said i would be a one-term senator and i thought that's quite possible, but then it got easier getting reelected. i did not expect to be here this long and my wife and i talked about it after the last election and we prayed, that that would be the last one. i knew from the polls and everything else, i could easily be reelected this year, but i'm
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82. i wanted to go home. i want to have more time with my kids and grandkids. we both like to scuba dive and we have more time for that, but also, it's time for somebody else to come in there and i want to be able to do things with the university of vermont and other places to help people and what's happened in the last half century. >> you know, you're not, in fact, the-- you're the president pro tem of the senate, but not the oldest senator. there are four others who are older than you, senator feinstein is 89. she was just elected to another term. senator grassley is 88, in the middle of reelection campaign. why is it so hard for so many senators to do what you have decided to do? >> well, each has their own reasons. of course, i've served there with 400, approximately 400 of
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the 1900 senators who have been here in the history of the country. some were there only for a week or two, filling in another term. others stay a long time, but the electorate decided otherwise. vermont is a very special state. i can go home, people call me by my first name. i recognize people i've known through my life and i think i've done all i can for vermont. it's been through tumultuous times through the senate and i just wanted to go -- i wanted to leave when i was at the top of my career and i wanted to be remembered for that and, you know, my wife and i want to have more time for ourselves. we've been married 60 years. we want to enjoy the last years. >> just one last question, the average age of the senate at
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the start of this session was 64.3 years old, which is an age where in most professions, you're hanging it up. is it a good thing that the average age of the senate is there? >> well, when i first came there, i was the second youngest, i was 34. the youngest was joe biden and they called joe or myself the kids, and i remember one very senior senator saying to me, boy, how old are you? 34. anybody tell you you're too young to be in the united states senate. i got my temper up a little bit, yeah, my opponent for one. he loved it because i didn't back down. and we got along well after that. but, yeah, i looked at a time of number and i thought, who are those old people? they were in their 50's and
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each senator is different. they bring different things to the senate, but what disturbs me though the senate was, although imperfectly, could be considered the conscience of the nation. obviously, that conscience was by segregation and all that, but senators of both parties trying to work out what's best for the nation, not what's best for that evening's headlines, or in today, the next on social media and i've seen that fall apart. and that's why i decided, if i was leaving, i was going to write a book about the good and the bad of the senate. >> so which senator was it who
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told you that, did anyone tell you you were too young to be a u.s. senator? >> well, i don't think i identified them, but it was jim eastman, who was the dean of the senate, the president pro tem ry and i thought my god, i'll never be here long enough to be the senate pro temporary, and sorry about that, jim. >> here is what you write in your epilogue. and the senate is a broken lace, and it's not what they knew them to be. some change is good, a lot is tragic and all of it simply is what it is, you can point fingers or point the way forward to something better. some of that change is good. what is the change that you've
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seen in the senate that you think is good. >> well, i think there's more transparency in the senate, which i think is good. i remember the debate over having television in the senate and televising hearings and all that. well, today, of course, with the ability to do that, it's much easier to get this on the platform. some who are opposed worry about some grand standing and it did, but there's grand standing before. now some of the people that do the grandstanding, it's obvious to the public and hopefully it gets the debate. i was in law school, georgetown law, which at that time had the law school right down just two or three blocks from the
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capitol, i used to walk up the hill. i walked through it-- you'd have to look around to find a police officer to ask directions. you just walk in and sit there. i was fascinated by the real debates that were going on. they're far less of those real debate and that has hurt the senate and that's hurt the country. i never thought it'd be there. i didn't realize that 10 years or so later i was going to be in the senate. >> you saw a lot of the change is tragic. what would you say is tragic about the changes? >> the influence of special interest money, and i could say that to the right or the left of the single issue groups, the money they pour in there, and
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people feel like, well, i've got to follow this mandate or that mandate. >> it's a six-year term. you can't follow your conscience, go find another job, do something else. and if you feel you've got to respond to whichever single issue or special interest group that's backing you, you shouldn't be in the senate. you're not helping the country. and i give an example. when richard nixon resigned, it was after a meeting of some of the most conservative republicans, barry goldwater. hugh scott the republican leader going down, not with joy in their heart, but a sense of duty and telling richard nixon he had to leave. i remember talking with both senator scott and senator goldwater about that. they said they were just
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heavy-hearted doing it. they knew that it meant their party was losing its president and, but it was the only thing that could be done and should be done and back when they were asked by the press, well, we had a conference with the president. listening to them in quiet cloak room discussions, i realized how heavily it weighed on them, but they both told me, there's nothing else we could do, and if we told our duty as first of all, senators, republicans next, but first as senators, we had to go down and tell richard nixon that. >> contrast that, if you would, with the experience that we've seen most recently with president trump in his two impeachment trials, one of way you presided over. how would you compare and contrast that with the nixon
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experience? >> oh, it's night and day. i know a number of senators that told me, yes, he's guilty, but he's not going to be convicted so i'm not going to vote for his conviction because i'm up next year or the next time or whatever. that shouldn't be the case. those who are before the january 6th insurrection strongly supporting him, they just tried to do it quietly and support so as not to get his anger, but they were willing to not do what they thought was right and, i quote an irish parliamentarian who says, you owe your vigilance and your duty to help your constituents,
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but your conscience is your own and you don't owe that to anybody else. i've always found it vote your conscience. you might catch a lot of grief from one side or the other, but do it. >> one of the things that some people, some senators have talked about, these days is ending the filibuster. do you think that would make sense? >> when i first came there i worked with then senator fritz mondale and we dramatically lowered the number of people who could filibuster and at that time they had major issues, people came on the floor and debated and if they said, i object, but i've got a tv interview to do. nothing against tv interviews, but it might have one or two a
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year. now i don't know how many we've had already this year, it's been dozens and dozens. we're voting every week to overcome mostly the nomination of a judge. that makes no sense in whichever party benefits by it, i think that has to end and i don't mind having long debates on things, providing they're debating, and as somebody put in an objection for me. baloney. be on the floor, talk about why you're objecting and stand up for it. and i think people have to do that whether we change the rules or not. we had he have a lot less filibuster. >> a standing filibuster where you actually have to be on the scene and talking. >> yes, and then even, i think
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i would set a limitation on time. >> senator leahy, tell me about your parents. >> oh, they're wonderful people. my mother was the first generation italian-american. my grandparents immigrated from northern italy and my grandfather born in a small town vermont. and my father, obviously, irish with the name and my grandfather i never knew it was a stone carver and died of silicosis of the lungs, i'm named after him. they had been there in the 1800's, also irish immigrant and they both brought a great sense of history, a sense of what the country should be. their loyalties to the country and respect for the country,
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even though growing up, they were very, very much in the minority as democrats, as catholics, irish, italian, but they saw the evolution and they insisted that we children, my brother and sister, study history and do our best. i became the first leahy to get a college degree. my sister the second. and how proud my parents were of that, but we would sit down and read the sunday papers. i had my first library card when i was four years old. but it was all the encouragement of my parents, who were avid readers, avid readers, and my father, who had
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to leave school? his early teens for his mother after my grandfather died. he was such a student of history that when they were in school had a history test, let's call grandpa. >> and tell us about the printing press. >> and my parent had the printing paper that they sold. it's in the back of our house, and we're a block away from the state capitol which we could see from our front steps, and they -- but they built that up and the leahy business, they sold it. my father did another printing
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business and he was the best printer and they wanted to-- he wanted to be promoted and they said well, we can't, you're irish and catholic. so he started his own business. five years later, the other business folded and his was still going. at the time he retired in his 80's. >> you could see the state capitol from your home and in fact, in your book, you tell a story which is very hard to believe. tell me if this is actually true, that at six years old, you pedalled your tricycle into the governor's office. what happened? >> well, one of my buddies and i were used to going up there and sit on the cannon out in front and walk about. the doors were open, had an of it was empty. we had a part-time governor and the legislature wasn't much the year, so one day we got the
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idea to ride up to the second floor our tricycles, so let's race, we were roaring down the open door at the end of the long hallway was the governor's office. we didn't know that, we came rushing through, wham, up against this desk and i remember, i felt the desk was 20 feet high at that age and looked over, yes? i said, oh, are you the governor? and he says, yes, now get out. he did give us some candy on the way out. we went home and so proud to tell our parents about it and they did not see the humor in the situation and i was told that no more tricycle riding in the capitol. i could go in the capitol with our parent, but show some decorum. i still get teased by the current governor every time i come in the--
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his office, he says different desk, patrick, different desk. >> i thought about running for governor of vermont in 1972. >> yeah. >>, but instead you waited and ran for the senate in 1974. why the senate rather than running for governor? >> i knew governor would be temporary and i always thought on the first day i told, we were teenagers, that what are you going to do when you're older? i want to be governor. well, that's nice. but i-- we had very young children and it would have been very difficult with that young of a family to run for governor and i didn't. but i kept thinking about it and i said, why don't i go for what i really want, to run for the senate and i did. and so, like, okay, you can
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have the nomination, but it's not worth it, they're the only state in the union that never elected anybody under 50 and never elected a democrat. i was 34. and, but we campaigned heavily. they kept having two headlines in that time. one was-- influence paper, five days, poll dooms leahy. and five days later, leahy unexpectedly wins and i thought, okay. not as important as truman and dewey, but that's my smalltown equivalent of that headline. >> do you have that paper? >> oh, i do, yeah, that's the only thing, newspaper about me
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that i actually framed and put in my office. >> in that first senate race, there was a third party candidate, a liberty union party candidate whose name was bernie sanders. >> i remember him. >> what was bernie sanders like then? >> well, we got along well, but he was-- the speeches you hear today were speeches you heard then and it showed his passion and his commitment in these areas. i asked him why he was running because he's obviously taking votes from me. he said, well, everybody knows you can't win anyway and i can use this to get known. . i've always had third or fourth opponents in my races. my second race having won nearly cost me in the election and it's been 1 or 2% of the
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vote. >> in 1980 you had a close call, you won by 2,700 votes and in your book you write i was angry that the base had gotten this tight and mad at myself for forgetting how i'd been elected in the first place. how are you been elected in the first place, what was it you'd forgotten. >> be myself. i'd been a prosecutor for a number of years, a lot of cases and everything else, and argued more cases before the supreme court than any law firm in the state at that time. and i was known for that, but i was known for being myself. in the first reelection, democratic party and i can understand why, having a democrat from vermont when you've got to train this guy in what to say and all and be
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senatorial and be above the fray. as we went around the state we could see, i'll give you one example, there's a factory where i stop in at least once a year as they were coming through, workers go through just to say hi. and this time i was there and they'd always supported me and i had satisfy say -- i'd say i need your vote. and they said we'll be voting. >> and it was a cold day and i could feel the cold drop 30 degrees. and they said you're ahead and i said no, i'm not, behind my opponent and we had a major debate watched throughout the state and marcel said, stop being above the fray. stop using the talking points,
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just be yourself. say what you think. you were a trial lawyer, you've run campaigns. and so i did, it make a big difference and people reacted. there were just two or three weeks before the election and you felt the tide turn, but we campaigned literally until the polls closed. >> you were a member of the watergate babies class elected in 1974 just after president nixon resigned in disgrace. in that election, democrats picked up 49 seats in the house and five in the senate. you are the last one in office from that group. what is the legacy of the watergate babies class? >> well, i think we-- learned the fact that we need to have more open debates. we decided, sort of stopped the idea that you had to be there two, three years, sit quietly
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in the back row and actually get involved. in my case, the vietnam war was still going on. it was a -- it was actually popular in vermont, the majority of our newspapers supported it. and vermont member of the house and senate, voted to actually end the war and they'd criticized, but always voted for continuing for it. and i was temporarily on the armed services committee. they were going to have a vote to reauthorize the war. we had five votes. each one lost by one vote. i was the newest member and i could feel the pressure each time i voted no. i was told by the editor of one of the newspapers that he would make sure that i was a one-term senator because of that.
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i was getting calls from president ford, henry kissinger, jim schlesinger and all those, and i said no, this is the way i'm going to vote. and we finally-- i remember john, the senate chair of the committee after the fifth vote, he realized it couldn't pass and their staff members, i think we better get the president on the phone, he'll want to know this. now, we would have-- the war would have ended disastrously as it was. you remember the pictures of helicopters taking off from our embassy in saigon. i visited that embassy and i knew i would catch hell from some of these newspapers back home, but we had people come up
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to us quietly at the grocery store or coming out of church and thank you, thank you. >> in 48 years in office, what's been the hardest single vote to cast? >> well, that one was difficult. i mean, i thought i was using the right vote, but i knew politically i'd catch heck for it. i've had some votes where, for example, i was proud to vote for john roberts as chief justice because i did not want, even though we were different philosophically, i did not want the chief justice for the united states to be a confirmed party line vote. and it was a difficult vote because i probably would have -- if we had a democratic president at the time, would have recommended somebody else for chief justice, but i felt
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in so doing he's an honest man and qualified. we're different philosophically and i voted for him. that -- there are some blowback on that, but i felt comfortable. in every one of these things, i'll say to myself, what does my conscience say? now, sometimes i knew i was against majority, but i also knew that i was right in a lot of them, problem told me after, for example, the iraq war, that was one of the few that voted against it, and afterwards a lot of people said boy, we wish we had, but i actually the intelligence, studied it and knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, and knew it was a rush to judgment. >> you've done things that
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you're proud of. if one of your grandkids came to you and said what are you proudest what you've achieved during your time in the senate, what did you tell them? >> that i helped a lot of people that wouldn't have been helped otherwise. i expanded the school lunch and school breakfast program. helped farmers who wanted to-- helped victims around the world who had a-- lost their limbs, sometimes from our weapons, and started a war victims fund, used all over the world helping people, and you know, in fact, i keep over my desk what i call a conscience picture. >> which is a conscience picture which we actually-- i noticed in the book that you reproduce in your book. tell us about this picture?
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>> i do a lot of photography and i was in a refugee camp in central america during one of the wars there and asked people through a translator if i could take their pictures and it did and this man just looked at me, i took his picture. when i developed the film, i look at it and he's saying to me, i can never do anything to help you, i'll never be able to -- what do you do to help people like me? and that's been hanging over my desk ever since, i call it a conscience picture and that is what i tell my grandchildren, follow your conscience, follow your conscience. >> a second photo i want to talk about, also one that you took in tibet. tell us about that photo.
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>> well, the-- i wanted to go to tibet for two or three years to negotiate with the chinese to bring a kongal delegation, bipartisan congressional delegation there. that time there was such a crackdown by the chinese on tibet and somebody that was seen with a picture of the dally dalai lama they could be arrested. he was walking through, a man holding a child and i was walking with senator stafford, six foot tall, and blocking the view of the secret chinese police following, and he held
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up the picture of the dalai lama and pointed at the camera. and i assumed that he meant didn't want to take the picture. and the film, i had no idea how it came out. one of the-- a person with us, spoke the language and said, why did you risk prison? this man said because they have to know. a week or two after we got back, i'd had the pictures owl printed up. the dalai lama, he came over and sat and looked at pictures from there from where he is fled and all, and when we saw that and sat around and looked at them. i handed him that picture and told him the story and he just looked at it. here. came down his face, and i
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thought, you know, this is history. not history that i'm making, but it's reflecting the history of the suppression of a religion and i could not help, but think my family, everybody should be allowed to practice religion, any religion they want. their commitment to the first amendment, say anything you'd be able to speak your mind on anything. anything you want or none if you want. that gives you freedom. and i couldn't help, but think of my parents, watching him react to the picture. >> we talked about your toughest votes, the thing you're proudest of. is there-- with the benefit of hindsight is there something you rue about your work in the senate,
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a misstep or a vote you might change. >> i've casted over 17,000 votes most of anybody there. i'm sure i could go back through and find some in hindsight, what was i thinking? and some of my -- i sometimes thought i haven't pressed hard enough to protect people's freedoms and things, but the issue comes up again and you can. but there are things right after 9/11, attorney general ashcroft and the bush administration wanted to immediately change a lot of our laws, which would have limited speech and people's rights in this country, and i said no. we've got to take a closer look at this and pleased a number of
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republicans joined me. quietly, but joined me. >> you're known as being blunt spoken, so is dick cheney. [laughter] >> and there was a time that he was on the hill when he was vice-president republicans. and you went over and asked him to come and talk to the democrats. he was angry you had been criticizing halliburton. >> i had been, yes. >> and he told you a phrase we can't repeat on c-span, a vulgar phrase what you should do with yourself. tell us about that. were you surprised when he said that? >> i was. you know, i'd known him before he was vice-president and i was surprised at that and i never said a word about it. there were the republicans saying they were so shocked, they didn't agree with him doing that.
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and would like to see him do, as vice-president have in both parties, now, go back and forth to the floor. and they told the press about it. so the-- i was up for reelection that year and somebody came up with the idea cheney, vote leahy and six days of cartoons about it and got his permission to have one of the panels on the shirt, they sold out immediately and we had to redo them over and over again. they still show up around the country. but then, as you remember dick cheney had been down in texas on a hunting trip and accidentally shot a friend of
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his in the face. i was in texas about two weeks later with our son is a pilot and we went down there. we'd gone for a run out in the desert. and fell broke my glasses and scraped my face. and two weeks later we had a joint meeting and the vice-president comes in and he says pat, what happened to you? and i said, well, dick, over the weekend i was in texas. >> he said i wasn't there, i wasn't there. you know, and it -- it was a way to say, okay. let's be ourselves again. >> you were president pro tem of the senate from 2012-2015 and again 2021. what is that? >> well, it's the usually goes to seniormost member of the
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majority party. in my case, i was a seniormost member of either party. when the democrats were there, i became -- well, i became president pro tem the next day and makes you third in line to the presidency and i've told president biden asked me how i felt about that being third in line and i said i always prayed for your safety before i prayed twice as hard now. and those of us who are here at the time i was a law student, when president kennedy was shot and we saw we had a vice-president, but then not quite sure what the line of succession was after that. so now we have the vice-president, the speaker, and myself, and then it will go to members of the cabinet.
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just think though, if you had to use that, i mean, i pray nobody should have to because it would mean that we'd have such an enormous attack on the united states, tragic thing if the president, vice-president, speaker of either party was wiped out. so, it's there and i -- what it also has, as president pro tem, i can take the chair anytime i want unless the vice-president wants it and she normally doesn't unless it's for a tie vote, and i enjoy presiding over the senate. and i enjoy coming to the senate as the senior --
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the junior most member of the senate and boy, how old are you, to the seniormost. >> and for the president pro tem, unlikely you'd succeed to the president, but not impossible, do you get any special training or special perks because you're in that line of succession? >> well, i -- careful to say, i have-- if there was to be, suddenly had to be, a cody use when i'm called and asked a question, are you prepared to take the oath, that i think about very seriously and i have around the clock protection. other than that, no, no particular-- other than the fact i have access to just about any of our classified material. but i would as chair of
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appropriations and as majority, and minority leader. >> not to get involved in i think so this that should be kept secret, but there's a code where someone would call you and let you know your time was there. that must have been pretty sobering when they told you about that. >> well, yeah, and i carry, well, i carry something so i can stand. >> and let's talk about january 6th and the assault on the capitol. where were you? >> i was on the senate floor. i know, we were going back and forth, which has been routine to me after all the time i've been there. you know, where the house and encountered the electoral votes and certain motions made there and certain motions back in the senate, the vice-president with
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what the motions were and the vice-president presides. and al gore, even though he felt he had won, declaring george bush as president and how difficult that must be. but this was so different. some posturing for the camera that they contest that and we were in the senate chamber, all of us were there, and some of the secret service officers came rushing into the -- into the chamber. now, i have armed security with me, but they stop at the door when i get there. they're right outside the door, but they don't go in. the secret service doesn't go in. they came in and rushed mike pence off the chair. the republican president pro
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tem at that time, was going to be there for another few days, and out of the chair and another police officer comes in and takes the microphone and says we've got to get out of here. i looked beside me and here is a police officer carrying a machine gun. and i said what's going on? he said we've got to evacuate. and we evacuated down back steps. i was born mind in one eye so i have a depth perception problem and i remember to this day, a police officer coming up to my arm and don't worry shamrock, i'll stay with you. >> and shamrock was the code name they gave me as president pro tem, and we walked to the
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secure room and finally got at the tv sets turned on and we could watch it live and somebody said -- and we didn't know what was the condition of the chamber, whether there were bombs or anything else. and somebody said well, we can vote and meet as the senate here. >> and the vice-president said, no, i'm the dean of the senate. i don't want to be hidden away from the american public. if we have to wait until midnight for them to clear the chamber, we should go back and let the american public see us all and what we're doing. got applause from both republicans and democrats, some of the newer members, we'll wait here and we did and we marched back in and you could smell the tear gas and the floor was slippery outside from
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-- from the fire extinguishers. i have an office right outside the floor, actually it's next to where the speaker's office is on the front of the capitol and i knew the door was unlocked and i thought i would be back in a minute and i had trepidations going there because i'd seen the people smashing her office. i mean, less than 20 feet from mine. my door was open and i -- i have pictures of my family and personal things and nothing had been touched. they went right by my office and went to the speaker's. >> and amazing. you write about when you were in the secure location waiting to go back, what time did the senate get back into the chamber? >> i have to go back and check, but by early afternoon. >> yeah, so her is what you
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write while you're in the secure location and were watching this terrible scene unfold in the capitol, you said ted cruz and josh hawley, two other senators, were deep in nervous conversation with each other. i wondered whether it was sinking in their orchestrated stunt played a role in all two real consequences, they looked like the dogs who had caught the car, two ivy-league educated elites who tried to reinvent themselves as trump pair a populous defenders against the stolen election. have you seen the tactics and behavior of senator cruz and senator hawley change since january 6th? >> not really. briefly, but not really. i remember senator cruz saying the posture in the house, i contest this or whatever the words he used to, to having the
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appropriate number of house members who support him who we knew senator hawley had pictures of-- giving a salute to the demonstrators, and then shortly thereafter realized the demonstration was running up the steps to the security of the police. that's not the way i want a senator to be and i don't care whether it's a democrat or a republican. and interestingly enough, in a closed meeting when i talked about we've got to go back on the floor and let the american people see where we stand, we had a couple of senators who were going, originally planned to file objections to the electoral college say, we're
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not going to do that. i think they realized this had gotten so out of hand. nobody -- you know, when we were in the secure area, they were showing some of the pictures that we hadn't seen, donald trump saying should march on the capitol and i'll be about there with you. take back our country. well, when he wasn't going to be there and secondly, a lot of these people, especially now, as you see, the e-mails they were sending, people they're armed, who wanted to take back the capitol and felt they'd been given a blessing by the president of the united states to storm the capitol. some came-- we have a right to be here, the constitution allows us to take over. well, they've never read the constitution. and of course, there's nothing
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in the constitution that allows that, but i think we began to realize just how much then president, his words had incited, whether he intended tee instruction of the capitol or not, and simply only he could answer. but the words certainly did. >> after january 6th and in the wake of these efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election with the false charges that it was a stolen election, do you think our democracy is in some peril now? >> yes, yes, and i say that unequivocally. and that's why i had this book pretty well finished and notes i've taken almost daily for 48
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years and finally get in january 6th, we delayed to talk about my worries. if we don't -- if we stop putting limits on education and only know certain things, limits on what reporters can honestly say whether we may disagree with them or not, if we put limits on all of this and we don't study what's going on, yes, i really fear for democracy. >> have you ever felt that way before? >> no, and remember, i was there right after watergate, there for the wrap-up of the vietnam war. now our ally and my place and role trying to bring that
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about. i worry about the bombing in oklahoma city and certainly 9/11, but we came together as a democracy. made some mistakes afterward. we came together. now when i see some things online, people questioning, well, joe biden was never elected. he got five million murray votes than donald trump, four or five million whatever the number was and more electoral votes. i do worry. >> what should americans do? >> step back, take a deep breath. there are very, very good people, republicans and democrats, urge them to speak first and foremost what's best for the country. we're seeing the supreme court becoming politicized and the
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supreme court members bragging about taking a political role. it hurts, that hurts us. we've got to have some that we can agree and disagree on some things and doing what they think is right. we don't see enough of that today and there are some very good senators both republicans and democrats, some far more conservative than i, some more liberal than i, but i trust they're doing what they feel is right. others seem to be wanting to follow what is popular at the moment and that's going to hurt the country. >> you've searched with nine presidents and observed them close up. i'd like to do a lightning round, i'm going to name the president and you give a couple of words that come to your mind when you think of them. two or three words adjective, a verb, whatever. gerald ford. >> a lot brighter than i
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expected and one of the most people i know. >> jimmy carter. >> if he felt you were to be somebody he could trust, very good. he understands family and all that and had some difficulty relate to go people who disagreed with him. >> ronald reagan. >> a lot different than i thought. i remember a conversation and i urged him to go to russia and he said why? because you'll finally learn about russia, but more importantly, they'll learn who you are and that you represent america. >> george h.w. bush. >> i liked president bush, i have so many handwritten notes from him, so many times we'd sit around the oval office and just telling jokes.
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and i'll tell just one, doing rapid fire, but i wrote the organic farm bill like this and he's planning on standing behind me, he says pat, did you write every word this have bill? i said, you're the one signing it, i've read about as much of it as you have. and he just cracked up. [laughter] >> bill clinton. >> i like bill clinton. we would sometimes argue. i remember one time we were just at each other and secret service they opened the door, and like this, and then three minutes later we were telling jokes to each other, which fortunately, the press wasn't there for those, and walked out with our arms around each other laughing our heads off. and i've always liked bill clinton and hillary clinton, felt very close to them. >> george w. bush.
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>> george w. bush it was interesting to know him, but he told me he knew of my friendship with his father and so we got along well even though we disagreed on things. when he nominated me to be a delegate every year, there's two, every other year there's two senators, i asked him when he signed his name on the commission, did his handshake? he said hell, no, anything to get you out of town. [laughter] >> barack obama. >> oh, we became the best of friends almost immediately in the senate. we'd trash talk each other and in the senate gym and our wives, very, very good friends and i always felt that even if he disagreed with me i'd sit down and talk to him. >> you also endorsed him at a key point in that first presidential race. >> yeah, and when i told him,
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ascuba diving with marcel and told him i was going to endorse him and he said thank you. and tell him to wear a hat down there so he doesn't get that bald head sun burned. i said i think i'm going to call john mccain. [laughter] >> and we've got a few minutes left. donald trump. >> i liked a number of republican presidents because i felt they understood the constitution and what the country meant and how they had to lead. donald trump only thought about himself. 's never once thought about the country. >> and finally, joe biden. >> joe and i were the two youngest members of the senate when i was first-- we were kids and good friends ever since. i'm delighted to see him down
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there. i don't think anybody else could have brought our allies together the way he did the war in ukraine. >> senator patrick leahy, thanks for your time and congratulations on your new book "the road taken". >> thank you very much. >>ongress returns for legislative work after the midterm elections and talks wi continue for funding, currentunng is expected to expire in december. dhe senate will continue to debate on progr policies and legislation and vote on more of president biden's judicial ninations. watch live coverage of the hous oc-span, the senate on c-span2. you can also watch on our free video app. c-span or online at


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