Interview with Senator Robert Menendez

Interview with Senator Robert Menendez

By The Situation Room - July 13, 2011

BLITZER: We're following growing concerns that the Rupert Murdoch outlets here in the United States may be engaging in the kind of phone hacking alleged in Britain. Several U.S. senators now are asking the Justice Department to take a close look.

And joining us now, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ, (D) NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Why are you calling for an investigation of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation activities here in the United States?

MENENDEZ: Well, we see from "The Daily Mirror", a London newspaper, reports that suggest a private investigator was approached by a News International subsidiary of Murdoch's press operations, and trying to get access to telephone records and actually calls of 9/11 victims and their families.

And if, in fact, that is true, and we've already seen from the reports out of London as to how far this newspaper was willing to go in bribing individuals and law enforcement and others to obtain such information. That is if this is true, it would be horrifying to believe that these families that have suffered so much would actually have their privacy invaded, thinking about those phone calls that took place in the hours and days after September 11, with mothers and fathers and spouses and children.

It's just unimaginable. And I think the Justice Department should go forward and investigate and ascertain what's the truth of it.

BLITZER: But at this point it's a suspicion you have. You don't have any hard evidence that it actually occurred. Is that right?

MENENDEZ: We do not have hard evidence, but we do have this public press report, which quotes an unidentified source, saying that they were approached here in the United States to get access to that information. Based upon what we know that has happened in London, knowing that this is the way they operated, and even the prime minister and the royal family were ultimately pursued by this News Corp., and ultimately had information about them-private information that was discovered. I want to make sure this is not true for the families of the September 11 victims.

BLITZER: And you go one step further being suspicious that some of the news organizations that Rupert Murdoch owns here in the United States, specifically "The New York Post," "The Wall Street Journal", FOX News, for example, do you suspect that any of these American news organizations may have done illegal activity like that?

MENENDEZ: I don't know that for a fact. I have no idea whether that is the case. I'm focused singularly on this public report that suggests there was an effort to get the phone records, and actually the conversations, access to the conversations of 9/11 victims and their families after those fateful days. To me, that would be horrifying and horrendous enough. I would like to believe no news entity in the United States would use the same tactics. And until I see differently I'll suspect it.

BLITZER: And you want the Justice Department, the Attorney General Eric Holder to be in charge of this investigation? Is that what you want?

MENENDEZ: Well, I want the Justice Department to go after it, whether he uses the FBI. I mean, Scotland Yard is already pursuing an investigation of thousands of phones that were intercepted. It seems to me that we should have a very clear ability to be working with Scotland Yard and determine whether Americans were pursued, and whether particularly the families of 9/11 victims were pursued.

BLITZER: To those who said Bob Menendez, or Barbara Boxer, or Frank Lautenberg or Jay Rockefeller, they're all Democrats and this is political payback, if you will, against Rupert Murdoch, what say you?

MENENDEZ: I don't have anything against Rupert Murdoch. Look, if Wolf Blitzer and CNN, if the report was that you all did this, or alleged to have done this, I would be going after you, Wolf. BLITZER: Well, I hope you don't have to do that at any point down the road.

MENENDEZ: I don't think that I will.

BLITZER: Hey, Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.


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