On Wednesday's The Situation Room, CNN host Wolf Blitzer, while interviewing Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison about his recent trip to Iraq, asked the Congressman about his recent controversial remarks comparing President Bush to Hitler, words that could be interpreted as a suggestion that Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, and comments that have received little media coverage. Blitzer gave Ellison the chance to "explain exactly what you did mean," and asked if the Congressman agreed that the "comparison of Bush and Hitler" was "inappropriate." (Transcript follows)
Ellison said that he "chalks it up to rookie error" and, regarding whether the 9/11 attacks were a "Bush-led conspiracy," the Congressman contended that "I never said it at the time, and I absolutely deny that now."
Below is a transcript of Blitzer's question and Ellison's response from the Wednesday August 1 The Situation Room on CNN:
WOLF BLITZER: Let me give you a chance to clarify some controversial remarks you made not that long ago, early in July, involving the Reichstag. You said this at one event for which you later clarified and apologized and said you meant no comparison, but I want to read it to you because it's still raising some concerns: "It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the communists for it, and it put the leader," Hitler, "of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."
BLITZER: The impression from that quote was that Bush, in effect, was responsible for 9/11 to create this opportunity to go in this war on terror and do whatever he wanted, and you were pretty much blasted for that. You later said you didn't mean that. But explain exactly what you did mean.
Rep. KEITH ELLISON (D-MN): Well, let me say, at the time, I specifically denied any plan, Wolf. But here's the thing, you know, I chalk it up to rookie error. And I'm trying to move on from it. Nobody always says the right thing. I didn't say the right thing at that time, and I'm trying to move on from it, Wolf. So I appreciate you asking the question. But I'm just trying to leave that, I've said what I had to say about it, and I'm trying to move forward.
BLITZER: But I just want to be clear. You never suggested that there was a Bush-led conspiracy-
ELLISON: Oh, no, I never said that.
BLITZER: -that resulted in 9/11.
ELLISON: I never said it at the time, and I absolutely deny that now.
BLITZER: And even the comparison of Bush and Hitler. That's inappropriate. I just want to make sure you agree with that.
ELLISON: I agree. Yeah, I do agree with it. And that's not an error I'll be making again, and, you know, look, you know, we're all doing the best we can, and we're trying to learn from the mistakes that we make.