- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, says he disagrees with anti-administration statements made by fellow Democrat Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, but he is not taking action against the Georgia representative.
In an interview last month on a California radio station, Mrs. McKinney suggested that the Bush administration knew of impending terrorist attacks before September 11 but did not stop them.
"Mr. Gephardt does not agree with many of the things she said, but she has the right to say them," said Erik Smith, spokesman for Mr. Gephardt. "He's confident all of her questions will be answered by the congressional investigation that will be headed by Intelligence committees."
Mr. Smith was referring to a current joint investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence focusing on the failures of the U.S. intelligence community before September 11.
During the radio show, Mrs. McKinney said: "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th. What did this administration know, and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?"
She also said, "Persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war."
Republicans were outraged by her statements and even fellow Georgia Democrat, Sen. Zell Miller, called Mrs. McKinney's words "very dangerous and irresponsible."
Mr. Smith said yesterday that he had reviewed the transcript from the radio show. Mr. Gephardt's spokesman went on to chastise House Republicans for not being equally critical of Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat, who was convicted late last week on several charges, including racketeering, bribery and fraud. Mr. Gephardt has called on Mr. Traficant to resign from Congress.
"I still haven't heard anything from House Republican leadership on Traficant," Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Smith pointed out that both Traficant and Mrs. McKinney are Democrats, but so far, Republicans have only been outraged toward Mrs. McKinney. He called that a double standard.
"House GOP leaders are outraged by McKinney's comments, but completely silent on the fitness of a convicted felon to serve in the House," he said.
Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, had similar remarks. He said he has not spoken to his boss about Mrs. McKinney's comments but he knows she does not agree with them. He then jabbed at Republicans for not speaking out against Trafficant.
"We have also called on them to speak out against Representative Trafficant, a convicted felon, and they have not done that," Mr. Daly said.
Greg Crist, spokesman for House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, said the House will address the Traficant situation.
"The House has very clear procedures for addressing the issue of members convicted in a court of law," he said. "But it should not distract in any way from the irresponsible comments by Representative McKinney and it's incumbent upon the leader of her party to denounce those views."
Other leading Democrats were less enthusiastic about commenting on Mrs. McKinney's remarks. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, did not want to comment, a spokeswoman said. Calls to the office of Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Martin Frost, Texas Democrat, were not immediately returned.

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