Transcription – Richard Cheney Interview

Q: I’m thinking also no Republican Senator or governor thought of you as a rival in ’08 and therefore didn’t have that complicating your relationship with them. There’s a short quote [01:02:00] in Peter Baker’s book about your and President Bush’s tenure in office and the quote is unattributed but it’s — and specifically unattributed but generally attributed to somebody in the White House. And the quote is “Cheney was pissed” and the context is Cheney was pissed not only by the president’s endorsement of the marriage amendment in the State of the Union but the way in which Karl Rove and others in the campaign sort of tied the reelect campaign to ballot measures in various states to add marriage amendments to state constitutions with the idea of driving turnout among evangelical Christians.

CHENEY: That’s not true. Now the president had a different view than I did. I thought I was right. I was never asked or requested by him — there may have others who wished it would have been that way — that I alter my views. No, I wasn’t pissed. [01:03:00] He was president. He had to make the decisions. There were times — and one of my favorites was the DC gun law which was the — a lawsuit had been brought striking down the — trying to strike down the DC ban on guns basically on the grounds of it violated the second amendment — the right to bear arms. The first case that got national attention was with the DC circuit. And a very good friend of mine, Larry Silberman – Judge Silberman — a long time he had been in the Nixon administration, Labor, and so forth. He wrote the opinion for the three judge panel that basically shot down the DC gun law and then it had to go to the Supreme Court. [01:04:00] The question was what position the administration would take. Would they file a friend of the court brief and the justice department prepared such a brief at the direction I think probably of Josh Bolten — speculating a little bit on this now. Josh lived in the district. He was a little soft on the second amendment. The president and I both were from Texas and Wyoming. They’re not soft on the second amendment.

Q: Josh grew up in the district.

CHENEY: Yeah, he grew up in the district. But what the justice department produced was just mush. It was one of these very complicated opinions that didn’t seem to go anywhere, when what I thought we ought to have is a ringing endorsement of the second amendment and support for the Silberman opinion. Well as this is pending, I get a phone call from my friend, Kay Bailey Hutchison, from Texas — a Senator. [01:05:00] She said we’re putting together up here a brief on that issue and it’s going to be strongly supportive of the Silberman opinion and we just wondered if you might not like to join our brief as the president of the Senate. So I got Addington down, my attorney, my counsel, and had Dave review it and I called her back a few hours later and said, “Kay, I would love to do that.” So I signed on with the Senate brief in my capacity as president of the Senate which was at odds with what I might have done as the vice president downtown but it’s one of those unique situations because we are dual hatted. I did have offices in both places and you do have budgets in both places. You are mentioned in both parts of the Constitution and so we signed it and sent it up and Nino Scalia didn’t help matters any when [01:06:00] he said to the press — he said, “You know, we’re really just at sea up here. We didn’t know what to do with that case and the vice president’s brief arrived and it was very clear.” So he sort of stuck it in to the squishes down in the justice department.

It created consternation in the West Wing. The president never mentioned it once. Not one time ever. I always had the feeling what I said wasn’t exactly what he’d campaigned on. But I got that visit from Josh Bolten, came to see me and he said, “I’m here to call a process foul.” “What do you mean process foul?” He said, “Well, you know Addington’s out of line here. I want to talk to Addington.” “Be my guest.” He never said it directly to me. He wanted to talk to Addington. Addington and he had a (inaudible) and in the end Addington said, “Look, I don’t work for you. I work for the vice president.” It was — there were difficulties once in a while but I had more fun with that one. [01:07:00] I got bigger laughs out it than anything else but the president never once said a word about it. So in terms of the same-sex marriage issue and the constitutional amendment he knew how I felt. I understood what he was doing. I didn’t see any conflict between us — no tensions there.