On Friday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, host Bill O’Reilly interviewed liberal civil rights attorney Bartle Bull about the Justice Department’s recent decision to drop charges against Black Panther members who engaged in voter intimidation in Philadelphia polling place last November. Bull – who worked for both Robert F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter – was an eyewitness to some of the intimidation, and charged that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision not to pursue the case was "100 percent politically motivated."
Below is a complete transcript of the interview from the Friday, May 29, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
BILL O'REILLY: "Impact" segment tonight, last election day, a group of New Black Panthers, that's the group, in Philadelphia were charged with intimidating voters. Apparently, a few of these men brought weapons to the polling places, generally menaced people there. Some of it was caught on camera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE BLACK PANTHER MEMBER: I'm just wondering why everybody's taking pictures, that's all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE WITH CAMERA: Okay, I mean, I think you might be a little bit intimidating that you have a stick in your hand. That's why.
BLACK PANTHER MEMBER: Who are you to decide?
MAN WITH CAMERA: I mean, that's a weapon. So that's why I'm a little worried.
BLACK PANTHER MEMBER: And who are you to decide?
MAN WITH CAMERA: I mean, I am a concerned citizen. I'm just worried that you might be-
BLACK PANTHER MEMBER: So are we.
MAN WITH CAMERA: Okay.
BLACK PANTHER MEMBER: So are we. That's why we're here.
MAN WITH CAMERA: Okay, but you have a nightstick in your hand.
BLACK PANTHER MEMBER: So what?
MAN WITH CAMERA: I mean.
BLACK PANTHER MEMBER: You've got a camera phone.
MAN WITH CAMERA: I have a camera phone, which is not a weapon.
O'REILLY: All right, federal authorities charged three Black Panthers with various election violations. But this week, those charges were dropped by attorney general Eric Holder. Some are not happy about it. With us now, civil rights lawyer Bartle Bull, who once ran Robert Kennedy's New York campaign for President and Jimmy Carter's as well. So you're an old liberal, right?
BARTLE BULL, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I'm an old liberal.
BULL: I would say a John Kennedy Democrat. And I was a civil rights lawyer in Mississippi for a time. And I am a liberal.
O'REILLY: And that's interesting, because you are leading the charge here against these Black Panthers. Now what did you see yourself on election day? What did you see?
BULL: I saw two armed uniformed threatening men blocking the door to a polling place, screaming rudeness at voters.
O'REILLY: What was their intent?
BULL: I can't answer for what was between their ears.
O'REILLY: Well, what were they screaming, though?
BULL: I heard, well, one of them, for example, screamed, "Now you will see what it is like to be ruled by the black man, cracker."
O'REILLY: Okay, did they have their Black Panther regalia on?
BULL: They wore jack boots, black boots, black combat boots, black paramilitary uniforms, black berets.
O'REILLY: All right, so they were intimidating as this young man who photographed them said. You concur with that assessment?
BULL: Oh, absolutely.
O'REILLY: And how many were there?
BULL: There were two at the place I was. I was at seven different polling places. At this place, there were two.
O'REILLY: All right, so you made your report.
O'REILLY: And the federal government, the U.S. Attorney filed charges against three people. Now the charges have been dropped. Now we called Holder's office. And they said, here's what basically, this is not a quote, ladies and gentlemen, but here's basically what they said: It's just not big enough for us, it's not that important, we're letting it go. And you say what?
BULL: I think it's extremely important. I've worked in very difficult campaigns in Mississippi. I worked for Charles Ables when he ran for governor as the first black man. I was a civil rights lawyer in Hattiesburg who got arrested there practicing civil rights law. I worked against Strom Thurmond in South Carolina. I have never in my life, and I've seen nooses over trees outside polling places where I stopped voting in Mississippi. I have never, ever seen anyone blocking the door to a polling place with a weapon and yelling at people.
O'REILLY: All right. Now, if there are only three of them, is it worth the federal government's time and money to put them away?
BULL: Of course it is. Of course it is. The senior lawyer working on this matter, Christian Adams, said to me if this is not a case of intimidation, nothing is. Intimidation is Section 11 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That act was the keystone of all the civil rights legislation fought for and passed by the Kennedy's, Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King.
O'REILLY: Okay, theoretically you're right. And, I mean, if I were the Attorney General, it'd have to be compelling evidence for me not to prosecute the case. And it doesn't seem to be. You are a, certainly a very good witness. Certainly a non-prejudicial witness based upon your background. So, all they have to do is call you in, the guy who took the shots there and a few other people, and they have a conviction. So, then, we go to the why of the matter. Do you have any idea why Holder has no desire to pursue this?
BULL: Yes. But first of all, they did have a conviction already, because what happened was.
O'REILLY: Well, but it's not a criminal conviction. It's you got to stay away from the polling place thing.
BULL: No, no, sir. Look, I'm a lawyer. The point was that none of the defendants even answered the charges. So all the feds had to do-
O'REILLY: They didn't even show up?
BULL: No. So all the Feds had to do was to let the case go to completion. And they were automtically.
BULL: Automatically guilty.
BULL: So that was stopped.
O'REILLY: So they didn't do it. Why?
BULL: Why? Well, you haven't mentioned one thing. You said there were three defendants. That's not true. The first defendant was the New Black Panther Party itself which has been called a hate organization by the Anti Defamation League and by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The critical thing here wasn't whether these two or three guys were enjoined. It was enjoining the party which has 28 chapters around the country.
O'REILLY: All right, that's interesting.
BULL: So what they've done here is they're protecting the enforcement of what this party might have done. And it's going to give them a lot more authority in the next election, in the congressional election.
O'REILLY: I'm not sure about that, but why doesn't Holder want to go after this whole scenario? Why doesn't he want to make examples of these people?
BULL: Because these are his supporters, partly.
O'REILLY: You really believe it's politically motivated?
BULL: 100 percent, 100 percent-
O'REILLY: -because the New Black Panthers is so fringe and so, you know.
BULL: 100 percent politically motivated.
O'REILLY: You believe that?
O'REILLY: See, that would be something a Rush Limbaugh would say.
BULL: Well, I'm not a Rush Limbaugh.
O'REILLY: That's for sure. Because that's why I'm surprised that you would say it. How do you know that?
BULL: We're making judgments. We don't know it, but the fact is that they want to maximize their vote. This is basically ACORN vote that they want to ... the next election..
O'REILLY: This gets tied in with ACORN?
BULL: I didn't say that. I said what they want to do is to maximize the ACORN vote. And you do that by not challenging this sort of procedure, because these are the same people who are registering voters. Also, "The New York Times", for example, said hundreds of thousands, one-third of all ACORN board voters were fraudulent last time.
O'REILLY: Right. All right, so you see it as a bigger picture -
BULL: Oh, of course, of course.
O'REILLY: -don't interfere with the community activist group?
BULL: Of course.
O'REILLY: You know, if it's true it, it reflects very poorly on the President and his administration.
O'REILLY: Now, let me ask you one more question. If what you're saying is true, it's only going to become an issue if the media drives it.
BULL: Yes, sir.
O'REILLY: I don’t think you're going to get-
BULL: So do you.
O'REILLY: That's right. And that's why you're here.
BULL: And I believe-
O'REILLY: Has the Philadelphia media picked up on this at all?
BULL: I don't know. I believe not much.
O'REILLY: CNN, are they on it?
BULL: I don't know.
BULL: I don't know. You know more about that than I do.
O'REILLY: Well, nobody called you for from those organizations?
BULL: No, no.
O'REILLY: Okay, so you.
BULL: I believe that President Obama owes the country an apology for this. And I will say why briefly in an sentence.
O'REILLY: But he didn't have anything to do with it.
BULL: He appointed Eric Holder. And the president said four or five weeks ago that he believed that we should prosecute civil rights cases vigorously. And he's really talking about the ones who are on his side. I mean, if I may say, Martin Luther King did not die to have people in jack boots with billy clubs, block the doors of polling places.
BULL: And neither did Robert Kennedy. It’s an absolute disgrace.
O'REILLY: You're absolutely right. All right, Mr. Bull, what I want you to do is pursue the case, as obviously you're angry about it and you want justice done. Pursue the case. Let us know what happens.
BULL: All right.
O'REILLY: We'll assist you. Because we want Holder to tell us why he dropped it. That's a pretty easy question. I think that's a fair question.
BULL: I hope they will, too. I hope they will, too.
O'REILLY: All right, counselor. Thanks very much for coming in.