updated 11/17/2005 1:20:20 PM ET 2005-11-17T18:20:20

Guests: John Moustakas, Aitan Goelman, Lucy Dalglish, Savannah Guthrie, Michelle Suskauer, John Q. Kelly, Beth Holloway Twitty, Alberto Braunstein

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, former top White House aide “Scooter” Libby‘s defense may have just gotten a big boost. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  New grand jury testimony from famed journalist, Bob Woodward.  Only now does he discloses that a senior administration official told him the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame a month before her identity was revealed, Libby‘s lawyers calling it a bombshell.

And in the Carlie Brucia murder case, the 11-year-old girl whose abduction was caught on videotape, the defense rests without even presenting a closing argument.  Are they basically admitting that Joe Smith raped and killed little Carlie? 

Plus, Natalee Holloway‘s family taking down the yellow ribbons they put up after she went missing.  Are they giving up hope?  We talk to Natalee Holloway‘s mom, Beth Holloway Twitty.

The program about justice starts now.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, vice presidential aide “Scooter” Libby‘s lawyers calling it a bombshell.  Bob Woodward, “The Washington Post” assistant managing editor, admitted today that he spoke with a high government official about Valerie Plame, Ambassador Joe Wilson‘s wife, about a month before the CIA officer was outed by columnist Bob Novak.  Libby‘s attorney, Ted Wells, saying Woodward‘s admission shows special counsel Pat Fitzgerald was—quote—“totally inaccurate when he made this claim the day Libby was indicted for lying.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK FITZGERALD, SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Wells also saying—quote—“That Woodward‘s disclosure that he talked to Mr. Libby on June 23 and June 27, 2003 and that Mr. Libby did not mention Valerie Plame undermines Mr. Fitzgerald‘s key theme that Mr. Libby was involved in a scheme to discredit Wilson by telling reporters about Wilson‘s wife‘s employment at the CIA.”

Also reports today in “The New York Times” that the Libby defense team may want testimony from journalists like NBC‘s Tim Russert, “”TIME” magazine‘s Matt Cooper and others, who aren‘t named in the indictment like columnist Robert Novak, which could turn the case into a First Amendment nightmare. 

“My Take”—Scooter Libby‘s defense team may score points for their client in the court of public opinion by claiming that special prosecutor Fitzgerald blew it when he said Libby was the first to disclose Valerie Plame‘s name.  But how does that make a difference in assessing whether Libby lied when he said he got the name from the reporters when the evidence suggests otherwise. 

The prosecution‘s key them is not why Libby leaked to reporters, but whether he lied about it.  Woodward‘s confessions don‘t seem particularly relevant to me there.

John Moustakas is a white-collar defense attorney who says this is a big (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for the prosecution.  Aitan Goelman is a former federal prosecutor who doesn‘t think it‘ll mean much and Lucy Dalglish is executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, an organization where I serve on the board.  Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right, John, what am I missing here? 

JOHN MOUSTAKAS, WHITE-COLLAR DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, I think you‘re missing that there‘s been a considerable boost today for the defense case.  These allegations are significant for the reasons that Ted Wells has explained and for a number of reasons.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t get it.  I mean I don‘t see how it affects at all the claim that Libby lied to the grand jury when he said I got this information from reporters, not that I provided it to them.  How does that in any way affect that? 

MOUSTAKAS:  It‘s going to be crucial in this case to set forth the timeline and to understand intent.  This case is going to turn on intent.  Libby is a guy who went before the grand jury who could have easily testified that he has no recollection of these events.  In fact, the revelations today of Woodward that he can‘t remember or that Pincus can‘t remember underscore the frailty of human memory. 

In the end of the day what we heard today is that there‘s more evidence to be learned about the allegations here and that we‘re not being told the entire story.  It‘s going to turn on the voracity of the idea that this is a guy who could have been so busy that he can‘t remember day from night.

ABRAMS:  Right, but again, how does this revelation that may have nothing to do with “Scooter” Libby impact what his intent was when he lied? 

MOUSTAKAS:  Well, first of all, obviously, it‘s an allegation that he lied.  What this case turns on and one of the themes I hope that the defense will tell us more about is the idea that Mr. Libby did not have a reason to lie.  At the end of the day, the underlying charges that we heard so much about never materialized.  Everyone seems to understand now that there was no offense; there was no violation of the Espionage Act.  Apart from that, there was no identities violation of the Identities Act, and so the question is why would he have lied?  And what gives rise...

ABRAMS:  Since when...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Since when is why an element of the crime? 

MOUSTAKAS:  Well because it goes to his intent.  There are two inferences to draw from his testimony.  One inference is that he lied.  The other inference is that he was mistaken.  If it is true that four days after Libby talked to Judy Miller and Judy Miller alleges that disclosures were made about Plame, it doesn‘t really make a lot of sense that similar disclosures wouldn‘t have been made to Woodward, particularly in light of the fact that Woodward has been a reporter that has had unfettered access to this White House. 

ABRAMS:  Yes...

MOUSTAKAS:  So it doesn‘t make a lot of sense to me. 

ABRAMS:  Aitan, I‘ve always found “the don‘t” make sense defenses are often the weakest offenses in cases where they just say you know what, forget the evidence, it just doesn‘t make any sense.

AITAN GOELMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well that‘s especially true in this case where it actually does make sense.  I think that it‘s easily understandable what motive “Scooter” Libby might have for lying.  First of all, the fact that Pat Fitzgerald didn‘t charge anybody in the underlying crimes, that doesn‘t mean that no crime was committed.

It meant that he didn‘t think he could prove it.  And certainly when “Scooter” Libby was testifying and was talking to FBI agents, there‘s no indication that he knew that no underlying crimes would be charged.  Also there‘s the embarrassment factor.

I mean this is an administration that says—that had said it wasn‘t involved in this.  There‘s more than one reason that you might lie to federal investigators and the grand jury and avoiding criminal liability is just one of them. 

ABRAMS:  Aitan, it seems to me like before the argument was, see, it‘s not about the underlying crime.  See, this is just about lying and now, Libby‘s defenders are saying oh no, it is about the underlying crime. 

GOELMAN:  Yes, well this evidence today and you know the Bob Woodward story would matter a whole a lot more if Pat Fitzgerald had charged “Scooter” Libby with leaking information because then you could argue that this goes to the kind of porous nature between what‘s going on between the press and the administration and you know really isn‘t clear that Libby would be the source—the government source for the information...

ABRAMS:  But you would agree, Aitan, would you not, and I‘m going to let you listen to this piece of sound from Pat Fitzgerald that this new revelation does undermine Fitzgerald‘s credibility outside the courtroom.  Let‘s listen and then you can comment. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FITZGERALD:  Mr. Libby‘s story, that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter, when he heard from another was not true.  It was false.  He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter and that he lied about it afterwards under oath and repeatedly. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So now we learn, Aitan, that he may not have been the first one. 

GOELMAN:  Yes, it sure looks like that and I think you‘re right, Dan.  I think the impact here is going to be far greater in the court of public opinion than the actual courtroom.  The only plausible evidentiary effect this could have is for you know Lewis Libby‘s defense team to argue, you talked to Bob Woodward.  You talked to a lot of people and he just doesn‘t remember what he said to one reporter, what he said to the next reporter...

ABRAMS:  We don‘t even know that it‘s Libby who spoke to Woodward.  I mean there‘s nothing to indicate that he was Libby who was Woodward‘s source. 

GOELMAN:  No, not for that, but we do know that Woodward spoke to Libby twice, right?  Once on the phone and once when he went to the vice—you know what I thought was interesting was if you read Woodward‘s piece today you saw that Pat Fitzgerald asked him whether or not there was any chance that he told “Scooter” Libby about Valerie Plame and I think what Pat‘s trying to do is to freeze this testimony so that the defense can‘t point to Woodward during trial and say...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

GOELMAN:  ... you know it really wasn‘t Russert.  It was Woodward and I just got mixed up when I said that I heard it from a reporter.  I heard it from this reporter, not that reporter. 

ABRAMS:  Before I talk (UNINTELLIGIBLE) John, you want a final response on that?

MOUSTAKAS:  Well I thought that Woodward was unclear about that.  I thought that Woodward said it‘s possible that he talked with Libby about Plame.  He just doesn‘t remember that well.  But I think the important point here is this underscores the frailty of human memory and it also gives rise to the notion that this could have been, as the defense has portrayed it, an innocent set of misunderstandings and failures of recollections...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

MOUSTAKAS:  ... and this is a guy who was doing his best to tell the grand jury what he could remember.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t see how that supports that case.  But all right, let‘s move on to a separate issue here.  Ted Wells, the attorney, which it‘s interesting, of course, because Ted Wells said he wasn‘t going to try this case in the media and he wasn‘t going to speak in the media and now, we have these extensive quotes from Ted Wells effectively trying the case in the media, which I‘m all for.

He said hopefully as more information is obtained from reporters like Bob Woodward, the real facts will come out and then Pat Fitzgerald had—remember had this to say about reporters‘ testimony when Libby was indicted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FITZGERALD:  The reporter is the eyewitness and what I think people don‘t appreciate is we interviewed lots of people, very high officials before we ever went to the reporters.  And if—is apparent the grand jury is investigating to find out whether Mr. Libby lied under oath about his conversations with reporters, how could you ever resolve it without talking to the reporter?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Lucy, now the defense is saying we don‘t care if he gave immunity or he asked for limited testimony from certain reporters.  We want to hear all of it, not just from the reporters who were called in front of the grand jury, but others.  This is a First Amendment nightmare.

LUCY DALGLISH, REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS:  It is a First Amendment nightmare and we‘ve actually been waiting for this to happen.  There‘s nothing that‘s happened in the last several days about any of this that surprises me.  You know we worry when we—reporters worry about making sure they‘re able to get the truth to the public and to make sure that they‘re able to act independently and that they‘re not being perceived by the public or by their sources as being an agent of the government or an agent of the defense or the agent of a civil litigant.  So we have a situation here where the chief witnesses in this case are all going to be reporters.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DALGLISH:  So where‘s the ability of the media to maintain its independence when all of a sudden, we‘re the chief witnesses in the government‘s case. 

ABRAMS:  See and my concern, Aitan, is that Fitzgerald was done investigating the underlying crime by the time he forced Judy Miller to testify, and at that point, he was just investigating a perjury and obstruction of justice count.

DALGLISH:  Yes, I agree with you...

GOELMAN:  So what?

DALGLISH:  I think that‘s exactly what was...

ABRAMS:  Aitan, what did you say?  So what? 

GOELMAN:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  OK.  So the bottom line as far as you‘re concerned that they should just go after journalists even though it‘s not the policy of the Justice Department, whenever. 

GOELMAN:  Not whenever, when there‘s a serious crime.  And I think perjury, obstruction of justice...

ABRAMS:  What‘s not a serious crime then?

GOELMAN:  That‘s a good question.  Misdemeanors aren‘t a serious crime. 

ABRAMS:  OK, but what felonies are not a serious crime?

GOELMAN:  I don‘t know, Dan, but it‘s not my decision.  I mean the D.C. circuit, there was a panel that said you know what...

ABRAMS:  Right.

GOELMAN:  ... this is a serious matter of public concern and if a reporter has relevant information, if a reporter is an eyewitness whether it‘s for the government or for the defense, what—I understand the First Amendment concerns, but you know the First Amendment is less sacred than the idea that you know someone innocent is going to have to...

ABRAMS:  Actually, the Supreme Court has said just the opposite, Aitan.  They‘ve actually said that the Sixth Amendment does not outweigh the First Amendment again and again. 

GOELMAN:  Dan, if you have—if you‘re a reporter who knows that someone sitting in jail committed a murder didn‘t do and that reporter had heard from the real murderer that he actually did the murder...

(CROSSTALK)

GOELMAN:  ... you think that that reporter should be compelled to testify. 

ABRAMS:  Is that what we‘re talking—I‘m sorry, for a minute there I thought you were saying the word murder and I thought we were talking about perjury and obstruction of justice. 

GOELMAN:  Well I‘m just—no, I‘m just saying that in serious crimes. 

There can‘t be this wall that under no circumstances...

ABRAMS:  No, no one is saying no circumstances...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I‘m saying now that you‘ve got the defense attorney saying, you know what, Pat Fitzgerald made have arranged—made certain arrangements with you but you know what now we‘re going to do?  We‘re going to hall in everybody.  We want to talk to everybody and anybody and you know that‘s the defense‘s position. 

GOELMAN:  Yes, but the judge isn‘t going to let him do that.  I mean the judge...

(CROSSTALK)

GOELMAN:  ... is going to let him do things that...

(CROSSTALK)

GOELMAN:  ... they‘re absolutely relevant that they have to do that are crucial to their defense. 

(CROSSTALK)

GOELMAN:  And you know what?  If the reporters‘ sources waived their confidentiality privilege...

(CROSSTALK)

GOELMAN:  ... Pat Fitzgerald to question them, they can do that for the defense attorneys too...

(CROSSTALK)

GOELMAN:  ... in a pursuit of justice...

ABRAMS:  That‘s a separate question as to the waivers and the voluntary—the waivers, et cetera, but that‘s for another day.  Aitan, John, Lucy, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

DALGLISH:  You‘re welcome.

GOELMAN:  Thanks, Dan.

MOUSTAKAS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, another bombshell, this one at the Carlie Brucia murder trial.  Joe Smith charged for abducing, raping and killing 11-year-old Carlie.  His attorney says I‘m not going to present a closing argument.  Was he listening to me on last night‘s show or is he basically admitting his client did it?

Nearly six months after Natalee Holloway disappeared, her family is taking down yellow ribbons around her home.  Her mother, Beth is with us. 

Plus, police still searching for the journalist they say dressed up like a firefighter, broke into a woman‘s apartment and sexually abused her for 12 hours.  He‘s been spotted several times.  Police keep missing him.  His dad is with us. 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG SCHAEFFER, PROSECUTING JOSEPH SMITH:  That is the man who abducted Carlie Brucia on February 1, 2004, raped her and then strangled her. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And Joseph Smith only kind of put up a defense, not much of one.  Prosecutors argue that he‘s the one on this videotape abducting 11-year-old Carlie Brucia.  They had Smith‘s confessions, false alibi, his DNA on Carlie‘s shirt, Carlie‘s hair and fibers from her shirt in the car he was allegedly driving, not to mention this videotape and audiotapes where he sure sounds like he‘s confessing.

Smith‘s lawyer decided not to even present a closing argument.  That‘s kind of what I said the defense should do.  Throw up their arms and hope that in the penalty phase, jurors will spare his life. 

Joining me now is Court TV news correspondent Savannah Guthrie, who is standing by at the courthouse and criminal defense attorney Michelle Suskauer and former prosecutor John Q. Kelly—John good to see you back on the show.

JOHN Q. KELLY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Hey, good to see you Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right, so Savannah what happened?  The defense just said what, we‘re not going to present a closing argument? 

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, that was about it and I have to tell you, I was in complete shock.  I‘m going to take this earpiece out because I‘m getting an echo, Dan, but it was completely shocking.  And I think the only one that wasn‘t taken by surprise is of course the defense attorney, but also the prosecutor.  I asked her as we were walking out, did you expect this to happen?  And she said I thought it might happen.  She was ready with her closing argument, but she decided not to go—obviously, she couldn‘t go ahead with it because once there wasn‘t a closing argument, then there was no need for a rebuttal from the state. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s the reason that I think it was fruitless and I said last night, they should throw up their arms and Michelle disagreed with me and I‘ll ask her about that in a moment, but here‘s what prosecutor Craig Schaeffer said in his closing argument about the evidence that they have.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHAEFFER:  How do we know that this man murdered Carlie Brucia?  He told us he did in his words, he told his family he did.  His friends and co-workers tell us that he did based on the video.  The video tells us he did.  The scientific evidence, the DNA, the hair and fiber tell us he did.  The circumstantial evidence dealing with him being in the are, the opportunity tell us that.  The car evidence tells us he did. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So Michelle, was the defense attorney watching the show last night and he said you know what, Dan‘s right.  Time to throw up my arms.

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Gosh, you know I hope he wasn‘t watching the show last night.  I was hoping that he was actually going to be preparing to give a great closing argument in this case, but maybe he was listening to you.  I completely disagree with what he did. 

He went really backwards here.  He should not have put on a case because the witnesses he called were pretty insignificant.  It‘s a tough case to begin with.  But what he did was he lost his opportunity for the sandwich that I was talking about last night, the first closing and the last closing.  Instead, he puts on a lackluster case, which probably is the best that he had and then waives closing.  So I completely disagree with what he did. 

ABRAMS:  But John, the problem is that sometimes it‘s not about the lawyering, it‘s about the evidence. 

KELLY:  Well that‘s it.  The facts speak for themselves and this couldn‘t be more compelling.  And you know when the defense attorney lays down like that it angers the jurors a little bit.  You probably should have taken, you know, an effort to soften up the jury a little bit going into the penalty phase, but he had absolutely nothing to work with, evidence was compelling, a horrific crime.  He‘s going to end up on death row and it‘s a futile effort right now. 

ABRAMS:  What do you think about this, John?

KELLY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  That maybe he did it—the defense attorney did it so that he would have more—his team would have more credibility in the penalty phase.  So he‘s not up there saying, he didn‘t do it, it could have been this guy.  It could have been that guy.  Maybe the defense attorney is saying look, we recognize that this evidence is so overwhelming, as I said last night, that we‘ve got to just try and keep whatever credibility we may have left and just go for the penalty phase. 

KELLY:  I think that‘s probably true, Dan, but they shouldn‘t have put on a case at all in that, you know, situation.  They should have just rested without putting on a case and waited to go into the penalty phase and not put on a case, maybe made a short summation, softening them up for the penalty phase and moved on, but it was sort of—it was an incoherent, you know, indecisive move to do it at that point. 

ABRAMS:  Savannah, any talk at the courthouse as to—was this just basically them saying, look, you know he‘s going to get convicted? 

GUTHRIE:  Well I don‘t think so.  This is a very experienced trial lawyer and I think he number one was trying to preserve his credibility, as you just suggested.  Number two, he knows this prosecutor, Debra Johnes Riva, who would have been giving the rebuttal argument and I can guarantee you, it would have been powerful.  It would have been an hour of her putting up Carlie Brucia‘s picture, the big smile, the bright, blue eyes, berating Joseph Smith, right before, let‘s face it, we‘re probably going to be having a penalty phase where this defense attorney is going to be begging them to save...

ABRAMS:  But Savannah, aren‘t they going to be able to present that same evidence in the penalty phase?

GUTHRIE:  Sure, they are but do they need to hear it twice?  I think he knew that Debra Johnes Riva would have a powerful closing argument.  I think he put on a case because he feels perhaps if he sown any doubt in the minds of these jurors, he can tell them during the penalty phase look, I respect your verdict.  It‘s beyond a reasonable doubt, but if you have any doubt in your mind, then save my client‘s life.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Joseph Smith talking about confessing to a jailhouse priest. 

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He came.  I talked to him (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about how I was brought up, mom and the kids and all of that and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  And then I did an act of contrition, which means you know I told (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  You know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we did the confession.  I confessed to everything, murder and all kinds of stuff, you know, what I mean?  Everything that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I confessed to everything.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  You know, Michelle, I‘m going to make a big statement here and I‘m going to say that not since the O.J. Simpson case, have I seen a case go to trial with this much evidence against a defendant.

SUSKAUER:  I mean I think that this is a terrible, terrible case for the defense.  But he can‘t throw up his arms and not do anything.  There was no offer...

ABRAMS:  So you‘re saying...

SUSKAUER:  No, wait...

ABRAMS:  You‘re saying even if he‘s convinced that it‘s clear he did it, engage in sleazy tactics and point to other people who might have done it instead of him. 

SUSKAUER:  No, he‘s not engaging in sleazy tactics.  What he‘s doing is he has to put on a defense here.  He has to cross-examine these witnesses because no matter what type of crime this is, no matter how horrible the facts are, no matter how abhorrent your client may seem, that doesn‘t mean you give a lackluster presentation.  You do your best, you do know an ethical job, and you be a zealous advocate for your client.  You don‘t throw up your hands and say put the needle in my client‘s arm right now...

(CROSSTALK)

SUSKAUER:  No one deserves that.

ABRAMS:  That‘s not what they‘re saying.  I mean look, John, you know you see this videotape, right, and all these people called in and they said oh, you know, it‘s—I know the guy.  It‘s Joseph Smith and then you know they find DNA evidence and fiber evidence, and a confession.  And you know, there reaches a point where—you know you‘ve got to say, I‘m not helping the case. 

KELLY:  You know what, Dan?  I‘m not really sure procedurally what the

what could be done down in Florida, but the best scenario probably would have been for him to plead guilty to the murder charge and then move...

ABRAMS:  That‘s what I said yesterday.

KELLY:  ... great minds think alike, Dan...

SUSKAUER:  Wait a second.  That‘s just saying OK.  Just get the death penalty right away...

ABRAMS:  No...

KELLY:  No, no, no...

ABRAMS:  No, just the opposite...

KELLY:  Just the opposite...

(CROSSTALK)

SUSKAUER:  No.  You know what...

KELLY:  You keep out all the gruesome details...

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY:  You keep out all the gruesome details...

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY:  ... of the crime itself...

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY:  ... you move right into the penalty phase...

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY:  ... and you can just put in any redeeming features, which...

(CROSSTALK)

SUSKAUER:  Where none of the gruesome details would be coming out? 

Are you kidding me? 

(CROSSTALK)

SUSKAUER:  He has to—by going to trial, there may be some error that‘s created and he‘s not engaging in sleazy tactics, Dan.  He was doing his job...

ABRAMS:  No, I got to tell you...

SUSKAUER:  ... by cross-examining...

ABRAMS:  I respect him for not presenting a closing argument.  I got to tell you.  Savannah, why don‘t you—you got any thoughts on all of this? 

GUTHRIE:  Well I do think it‘s an interesting.  I mean it‘s an interesting strategy decision.  I think it‘s wise in some ways, but on the other hand, jurors aren‘t lawyers.  They‘re humans and you have to wonder if they‘re thinking tonight, gosh, this defense attorney just basically put up the white flag of surrender.

ABRAMS:  Yes, but again, like I don‘t know what else he could have done.  I mean that‘s the thing, is I think that, you know, those who are going to blame this defense attorney, I say, you know what, maybe he will have a little more credibility with the jurors because he‘s not making ridiculous arguments about oh, it‘s this guy or that guy or it could have been somebody else because there‘s just too much evidence.  Here‘s...

GUTHRIE:  You know what Dan?  Oh I‘m sorry...

(CROSSTALK)

GUTHRIE:  Go ahead.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Craig Schaeffer and more of his closing argument. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHAEFFER:  I wish I had something juicy to say.  Oh.  OK, the backpack and clothes went in four different dumpsters.  That Monday, I came to your house for advice.  I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it.  I left it out in the open.  I dragged the body to where it was found, destroyed this after deciphering it and shut up.

Those are words that were deciphered by the FBI.  Those are words of that man, Joseph Smith that he wrote to his brother, John Smith, telling about what he did to the belongings of Carlie Brucia and what he did to Carlie Brucia‘s body. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Michelle, it‘s not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to say it may have been a mistake, but they could use that in the penalty phase.  Do you think they‘re going to say in the penalty phase, look, we know you found him guilty, but maybe it was a mistake as he claimed in some of the audiotapes. 

SUSKAUER:  You know, they‘re going to use anything they possibly can and I certainly would not be surprised if they used that.  But what you were saying before about you know what he really could have done and that you had admired him, what he really should have done in this case and it‘s easy certainly for all of us to say what he should have and could have done was not put on a case and put on two closing arguments.  Maybe they should have been short, but letting the jury him from him twice, poking those holes and just saying OK, because that would have come into play later on in their minds through the penalty phase.

ABRAMS:  All we should say is thank goodness for that videotape that led to all those tips coming in.  Savannah Guthrie, Michelle Suskauer, John Q. Kelly, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

KELLY:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a week after Alabama‘s governor launches a boycott of Aruba, Natalee Holloway‘s family takes down the yellow ribbons in their neighborhood.  Why now?  Is the boycott working?  I ask Natalee‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, up next.

And police in New York are searching for a man who dressed up as a firefighter on Halloween and sexually abused a young fashion writer for 12 hours.  His father, the suspect‘s father. joins us. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Our search today is in Georgia.

Authorities need your help finding Fabian Boswell, 37, 5‘9”, 195, convicted of lewd assault and sexual battery of a child under 16, has not registered with the authorities.  If you‘ve got any information, please call 1-800-597-TIPS.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Beth Holloway Twitty says there could be major progress in the search for her daughter Natalee.  Up next after the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Family and friends of Natalee Holloway, missing in Aruba for nearly six months, spent the day taking down yellow ribbons that have been hanging in Natalee‘s hometown since she was last seen on May 30, this just days after the Alabama governor called for a boycott of Aruba. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOB RILEY ®, ALABAMA:  Natalee‘s family believes and I agree, that we‘ve reached the point where there are no other viable options to get Aruban officials to take this matter as seriously as they should.  So today, Beth and Jug are here to endorse a travel boycott to Aruba and as governor, I am joining them in this effort. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And in the wake of Natalee‘s family demanding a new team take over the investigation into her disappearance as well.  Joining me now is Natalee‘s mother, Beth Twitty.

Beth thanks for coming on the program.  First, let me say I‘m sorry we didn‘t get to see each other in person.  I know we had hoped to that and I‘m sorry that wasn‘t able to work out. 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER:  I know. 

ABRAMS:  First, let me ask you about the yellow ribbons.  Why are they being taken down? 

TWITTY:  Well, it‘s been a concern of the community that the ribbons are starting to fade and this was now a way to show a really—support and pledge for Natalee by turning these ribbons in, by signing them and stating that, you know, that they support our decision in the boycott of Aruba and I think that just shows the strength that the community has and how strong our feelings are and that this is the right move forward for right now. 

ABRAMS:  There was a whole bunch of chatter on the Internet.  I know you got a lot of calls about this today about some rumor that Natalee may have been found in Mexico.  That‘s not true, right? 

TWITTY:   Absolutely.  And the end of this rumor came from Aruba.  You know, it just shows their irresponsibility they have had from the beginning in handling this investigation. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  I want to ask you about something because I know that Dr. Phil‘s going to be having a special later in this week about this case with you and you can‘t talk about details of that I know, but you can talk about what he said on “The Tonight Show” back on November 2.  Let me play that piece of sound for my viewers and then I want to talk to you about that. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, “DR. PHIL”:  Without creating false hope, we have reasonable belief and some credible evidence that Natalee Holloway is alive.  We cannot prove that at this point and we don‘t know where she is, but you know, there is a huge sex slave underground in some of those countries down there.  Young women have disappeared from that part of the world before and we have reasonable cause to believe that she may well be alive. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  What do you make of that, Beth? 

TWITTY:   Well, Dan, we have really worked hard to follow every lead that we have had in regards to Natalee, whether she is alive or not alive and you know, if we get one tip out of 100 that has her alive, Dan, we follow it because we have to rule it out or in.  And the more that we are systematically ruling these out, that—you know it just shows that we‘re putting forth ever effort we can into finding Natalee and as we rule out a tip that comes in that we think she may be alive, I mean you know Dan, it just shows more and more that these suspects could have then committed murder on the island also.

ABRAMS:  Well and that‘s what I was going to ask you.  Because if he‘s right and I understand that there‘s going to be something about some sort of audiotape or a phone tape with someone that sounds maybe like they‘re saying I‘m Natalee that Dr. Phil‘s going to talk about tomorrow.  But if that‘s the case, if there‘s something like that out, that would mean that Joran and Satish and Deepak didn‘t do it.

TWITTY:   Well, correct, but as we have all these pieces of information carefully analyzed through the FBI through Quantico, then we can rule them out or in.  And if we rule it out, Dan, then we‘re looking at more and more that these suspects have committed murder.

ABRAMS:  So, again, when you say rule out, which I think is a very—is the only way really to look at this...

TWITTY:   Right.

ABRAMS:  ... because at this point, all you can is begin to try—start ruling out certain things, but he‘s saying that he‘s got reasonable belief and credible evidence that Natalee is alive.  I was a bit critical of him when he made that statement.  I think it‘s very different to say look, we‘re getting in tips.  We‘ve got to rule it out. 

He‘s saying there‘s credible evidence to believe it.  That seems to me to be a step beyond that. 

TWITTY:   Well, but as I listen to his interview, he did say as he closed it, if Natalee‘s alive, we need to find her.  But if she‘s not, we need answers.  So you know we‘re just not definitive, Dan, and whether it‘s a 20 percent chance or a one percent chance that we get a tip that Natalee‘s alive, we have to go on it. 

ABRAMS:  Let me—as you know, Deputy Chief Dompig, who you‘re not a big fan of, has been on this program.  He was on, on November 2.  Let me play one quick piece of sound from him and then I want you to be able to respond. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEROLD DOMPIG, ARUBAN DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF (via phone):  I think anybody should understand and can understand that we have made a lot of efforts to conduct a professional investigation and in any case, we have given the family every chance to sit with us and to take their statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You say that‘s not true, Beth, right?

TWITTY:   Well, you know Dan, you can say that with words, but when you show it with actions as the investigative team did and the prosecuting attorney by arresting two innocent black security guards, and mishandling this case from the beginning, their words don‘t mean anything, Dan.  It‘s their actions that speak loudly and clearly...

ABRAMS:  Is there going to be a new team?  I mean you had demanded—you and Dave together actually demanded a new team of investigators, et cetera.  We heard that there was going to—they were going to do that.  Do you know anything more about that? 

TWITTY:   Well we so strongly want that, Dan, and the reason why we‘re thinking that needs to happen quickly because if these suspects are rearrested and reinterrogated, we will be no further along with the current investigative team and prosecuting attorney on board than we were day one, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Beth, have a great flight back.  Thanks for taking the time. 

TWITTY:   Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, police in New York City searching for a man who dressed up as a firefighter on Halloween and sexually abused a young fashion writer for 12 hours.  His father is with us. 

And later, why I can relate to Michael Jackson ending up in a women‘s bathroom.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”. 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, police in New York City are searching for a man who dressed up as a firefighter on Halloween and sexually abused a young fashion writer for 12 hours.  His father joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We are back.  Police in New York are still looking for this guy, Peter Braunstein, the only suspect in a Halloween attack.  Braunstein is believed to have dressed up as a fireman, then lit small fires in the hallway of a former coworker‘s apartment building as an excuse to get past her door. 

He said allegedly that he had to investigate the fire, then allegedly forced himself into her apartment by knocking her out with a chloroform soaked rag.  The fake firefighter then spent over 12 hours sexually abusing and terrorizing the woman, tying her up, shackling her, stripping her naked, forcing her to wear nothing but expensive shoes. 

Braunstein has been on the run for over two weeks now and each day, we‘re learning more and more about his strange past.  And now, Braunstein‘s own father is saying that his son may very well be involved and is urging him to surrender.

Joining me now is Peter Braunstein‘s father, Alberto Braunstein.  Mr.  Braunstein, thank you very much for taking the time.  So, you‘re convinced your son was involved? 

ALBERTO BRAUNSTEIN, PETER BRAUNSTEIN‘S FATHER:  I‘m not convinced until there‘s proof that he did it.  It doesn‘t look good right now.  He‘s on the run for two weeks.  And anybody who can commit this crime must be mentally deranged or must have emotional problems and therefore, I implore him to finally come home and get the help he needs.  And that‘s why I‘m here. 

ABRAMS:  Any indication to you in recent months that he was deranged? 

BRAUNSTEIN:  No, because I have not seen him in the last two years, so I really don‘t know what happened those last two years. 

ABRAMS:  Is that because he‘s changed a lot in the last two years and sort of gone off the deep end or is there a reason for that you want to talk about? 

BRAUNSTEIN:  Well, no.  I mean it‘s personal.  But on the other hand, now and then we do have quarrels and he doesn‘t react kindly to it.  He—so he disappears for a while and then comes back. 

ABRAMS:  There has been some talk that he may enjoy all of the media attention he‘s getting and I know that‘s why you‘ve been reluctant to do too much television, you‘ve been very divided.  On the one hand, you want him to turn himself in and you want to make the statement publicly and on the other hand, you‘re afraid he‘s enjoying this. 

BRAUNSTEIN:  That is correct. 

ABRAMS:  What makes you think that? 

BRAUNSTEIN:  Well he seems to thrive on headlines and to have captured for two weeks, the front pages in New York, is something that he may—it may feed on his ego and that‘s why I was reluctant to participate or—but the police specifically asked me to make another appeal and that‘s why I‘m here. 

ABRAMS:  Let me let you do that.  Why don‘t you look into the camera and say what it is that you want to say in case he is watching as you think he may be.

BRAUNSTEIN:  Peter, I beg of you please, turn yourself in voluntarily.  Don‘t wait for the police to capture you.  Just call and walk in voluntarily and we‘ll try to cure you as soon as you surrender.  You are sick.  So please, don‘t prolong this agony.  I beg of you put an end to it and call the police. 

ABRAMS:  Let me just ask you, did your son ever threaten you in the time that you did talk to him regularly? 

BRAUNSTEIN:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in which way...

ABRAMS:  Physically harm you?  Threaten to harm you in any way...

BRAUNSTEIN:  Oh, no, absolutely not, no. 

ABRAMS:  And was there anything that any of the family members knew of in his past that would say oh, we should have seen that he was beginning to deteriorate? 

BRAUNSTEIN:  No.  As I said, he‘s got a brilliant mind.  He has accomplished quite a bit, three books and many articles and he was working on an off Broadway show, which fizzled.  But in other words, he has accomplished quite a bit in his 39 years of life, but very erratic.  Does not take kindly to criticism, although I don‘t know how many of us do.  But he tends to overreact.

ABRAMS:  He was married at one point, was he not? 

BRAUNSTEIN:  Yes, he was. 

ABRAMS:  Did you attend his wedding and did it seem like a normal wedding...

BRAUNSTEIN:  Yes, they loved each other very much.  It was a beautiful wedding.  Yes.

ABRAMS:  And how long did that relationship last? 

BRAUNSTEIN:  I don‘t recall exactly, but I would say over three, three and a half years. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Mr. Braunstein, look, you are in an impossible situation here and I really appreciate you taking the time and doing what you think is important to do and that is get him to turn himself in.  You know my heart goes out to you because you are in an impossible position. 

That‘s the number.  That‘s why Mr. Braunstein is on the program, 646-610-6806.  If you‘ve seen Peter Braunstein, please, call the authorities.  Alberto Braunstein thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

BRAUNSTEIN:  Thank you sir.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, I never thought I would say this, but I can relate to Michael Jackson‘s latest problems.  I just feel sorry for those who have to spin it.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  Continuing our work in Georgia. 

Authorities need your help locating Ashley Lawrence, 30, 5‘6”, weighs 155, convicted of indecent assault with a child younger than 16.  He hasn‘t registered with the state. 

If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts—that‘s the number, 1-800-597-TIPS.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—who would have thought that being a public relations representative would be such a tough job?  After all they regularly hobnob with the rich and powerful as they try to promote and protect products, companies and people.  It‘s one of those cool jobs that young people in particularly line up to get.  That is unless your client is well somebody like Michael Jackson or more specifically if your client is Michael Jackson.

Then it can be a 24-hour emergency repair shop, regularly explaining what supposedly did not happen, what Jackson did not do or say.  The latest example is near the top of the absurdity chart.  A report from The Associated Press that Jackson—quote—“stirred a small controversy in the United Arab of Emirates by entering the ladies room in a shopping mall.”

Local papers reported that he was—quote—“spotted applying makeup before leaving.”  Jackson spokesperson Raymone Bain fired back quickly and authoritatively.  Quote—“Contrary to published and broadcast reports, Mr. Jackson mistakenly entered a ladies room in Dubai labeled in Arabic.  Upon realizing his mistake, he quickly exited.”

I‘m glad we cleared that up.  Look, I remember accidentally walking into a women‘s bathroom when I was on the island of Tortola and for this job, I‘ve been known to apply make-up, so I have sympathy for Mike.  But I don‘t envy Raymone Bain who does the best that she can trying to explain Jackson‘s numerous hospital visits during the trial, why Jackson wore P.J.‘s to court, whether he‘d stopped having boys sleep in his bedroom, why he lost so much weight, his plastic surgery, et cetera, et cetera.

She even supposedly got fired at the end of the trial, not by Michael, but by someone, one of his brothers, some representative, it‘s not easy.  Most of the press releases that she puts out are about Jackson are denials of rumors.  Sometimes I wonder whether the denials sound as bizarre as the allegations.  Bottom line, it‘s not easy being the flako for Jacko. 

Coming up, a lot of you writing in about the Carlie Brucia case, asking how a defense attorney can represent a man he may know is guilty.  Your e-mails are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Yesterday we played part of an audiotaped confession of Joseph Smith talking with family members about the death of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia who was abducted, raped and killed.  I said that based on the amount of evidence, I wondered whether it would be smarter for the defense attorney to just plead guilty and try to save his client‘s life in the penalty phase.  That‘s sort of what they did today. 

Pete Jurs in Westchester, Pennsylvania, “For all we know, the defendant in this case has told his attorney to continue the guilt phase regardless of his attorney‘s advice.  If that‘s the case, then he must challenge the evidence or risk being found ineffective.” 

Karen Roy from Rocky Hill, Connecticut, “Give me a break.  It‘s not admirable to win a case which allows a guilty man to go free.”

Stan Jozwiak in Benson, North Carolina on the jury, “Every jury member is aware of the Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson verdict and the lucrative book and media appearance fees that ensue for the sensible folks who are bright enough to seize on a heaven sent opportunity.”

You know I hate to break the news to you Stan, and to them for that matter, but this is no O.J. case.  If the jurors think this case is their road to riches, they are in for a big surprise. 

And in my “Closing Argument”, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito meeting with senators from both parties, he had to explain a recently released document from his 1985 job application to President Reagan‘s attorney general. 

Alito wrote that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.  I said he seemed to be telling Democratic senators he was only an advocate seeking a job and that it was 20 years ago, but when meeting with Republican senators, he said his personal beliefs are deeply held and he‘s willing to review previous rulings. 

Michael Carlin in Arlington, Texas, “If Alito was just saying what he thought would get him the job 20 years ago, are his comments now that he wants another job precisely the same thing that he wants—another job precisely—that doesn‘t make sense—are his comments now that he wants another job and I guess it‘s that he‘s doing precisely the same thing and therefore not to be taken seriously.”  Fair question, Michael, now that we got it out.

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show. 

Chris Matthews and “HARDBALL” up next.  See you tomorrow.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

The Abrams Report each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET

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