CNN’s Dana Bash interviewed Alaska Senator Ted Stevens for The Situation Room this afternoon. Transcript follows…
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, a top Republican senator is caught up in a public corruption investigation that stretches from here in Washington to Alaska. There are questions about Ted Stevens’ ties to a company whose executives have pled guilty to bribing some Alaska public officials.
Federal agents have raided the home of the senator, a home he owns in Alaska, seizing many unidentified objects.
Our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is up on Capitol Hill.
You caught up with the senator just a short while ago. Tell our viewers what he said. What’s going on?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what’s going on is that Senator Stevens really has been hard to find today, Wolf. In fact, I want to set the scene for you.
Take a look at some pictures from outside of Senator Stevens’ main office here on the Capitol complex. Reporters, cameramen, they’ve been hanging out waiting to find him and to talk to him all day long.
They’ve never seen him.
In fact, Senator Stevens has been actively trying to avoid us all day long. He did attend the Republicans’ weekly lunch in the Capitol, but he slipped in and out a back door, down a back stairway in the Capitol.
I found him at the bottom of those stairs and really had to kind of run after him to get some questions to him. He was pretty angry. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TED STEVENS (R), ALASKA: I put out a statement and I’m not saying anything to anybody beyond that statement.
BASH: Can you say, sir, why the federal agents went to your House or what they took?
STEVENS: Can you understand English? That’s the only statement I’m going to make.
BASH: I do understand that sir, but obviously this is a very important issue, when federal agents and IRS agents come to the home of a U.S. senator.
STEVENS: I understand you’re recording this, but I told you again I made the statement. It’s issued, that’s what my lawyers told me to say, and that’s all I’m going to say.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the statement that Senator Stevens was referring to is one that he released last night, essentially saying that he wants to let this investigation play out. He understands that Alaskan constituents are perhaps impatient, but he asked for their patience.
Now, the one thing he also said, Wolf, is that in this lunch with Republican colleagues, he did say that he asked them to “Stay with me.”
And so far, Wolf, they are.
BLITZER: Tell our viewers, Dana, why he’s under scrutiny right now, the reason behind this extraordinary raid on his home in Alaska.
BASH: Well, there’s an Alaska oil executive who is a big financial contributor to Senator Stevens, who just a couple of months ago pleaded guilty to bribing state officials. And what the feds apparently are trying to figure out is whether that executive’s company, called VECO, whether that — that company at all improperly paid for some of the renovations, big renovations, on Senator Stevens’ House outside of Anchorage. The one that the feds actually did raid yesterday.
It’s unclear whether that is the case. And I should say that Senator Stevens has very carefully in the past said that he and his wife paid every bill that was presented to them — Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana watching this story that’s not going away on Capitol Hill.