updated 9/6/2007 10:52:07 AM ET 2007-09-06T14:52:07

Guests: Stan Brand, Melanie Sloan, David Sperry, Michelle Sigona

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  The Larry Craig resurrection tour in full force. 

Just four days after announcing he intends to resign, the Republican senator busted in a men‘s room now seems unwilling to flush away his political career yet.  Tonight, only an hour after the Ethics Committee announced it would move forward with the case against Craig, he issued a statement.  Quote, “It is my intent to fight the case before the Ethics Committee while I am a sitting senator.”

We now know when Senator Craig headed to that news conference on Saturday to announce his intention to resign, he had already crafted a way out.  We know this based on a voice-mail the senator reportedly thought he was leaving for his attorney shortly before the news conference.  But lo and behold, he supposedly dialed the wrong number.  I guess in addition to a wide stance, he has wide fingers.  That message was leaked to “Roll Call” newspaper.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO:  Yes, Billy, this is Larry Craig calling.  You can reach me on my cell.  Arlen Specter is now willing to come out in my defense, arguing that it appears, by all that he knows, I‘ve been railroaded and all of that.  Having all of that, we‘ve reshaped my statement a little bit to say it is my intent to resign on September 30.  I think it would help drive the story that I‘m willing to fight, that I‘ve got quality people out there fighting in my defense and that this thing could take a new turn or a new shape, it has that potential.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The wrong number.  GOP leader Mitch McConnell has said he expects Craig to try to withdraw his guilty plea before September 30 so that he can try to fight the ethics charges against him.  Many Republicans now furious about this distraction that Craig had announced he would help avoid.

My take.  I still expect Senator Craig to resign September 30.  It‘ll be very difficult for him to have his plea withdrawn by then, but even if he can, this isn‘t about the legal wrangling.  He‘s not being forced out because he pled guilty to disorderly conduct.  Right or wrong, it‘s about what his colleagues and constituents believe he was really doing in the john.  It‘s political.

Look at the Senate Ethics Committee standards.  Quote, “improper conduct which may reflect on the Senate.”  Translation: If we the Senate think it‘s bad for the Senate, you‘re in trouble.  In the law, you can be despised and reviled and maintain your freedom.  Not so for maintaining your job in politics.

Joining me now is Stan Brand.  He will represent Craig before the Senate Ethics Committee.  He‘s also a former House counsel.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Let me ask you this.  Do you think that Senator Craig is hiring lawyers to do really what only politicians can do?

STAN BRAND, ATTORNEY FOR SEN. LARRY CRAIG:  No, because I think the Ethics Committee, despite what you say in your leadup, which I agree with, is a quasi-judicative (ph) forum, and it has rules and it has procedures and it has precedents.  And the precedents are, despite what the letter says, that they‘ve never disciplined a senator for conduct that wasn‘t related to his official duties.  That‘s the case for 220 years.

ABRAMS:  But unlike in the law, where judges have to look at precedent

they have to care about precedent, it‘s part of the system—in politics, you don‘t need to really care about what‘s happened before in the Ethics Committee, do you?

BRAND:  I think you do, Dan, because if the Senate is going to open Pandora‘s box of every, you know, peccadillo and traffic violation and jaywalking and misdemeanor, they‘re going to be at this full-time and they‘re not going to be able to legislate.

ABRAMS:  But they‘re not.  Their argument would be, We‘re not going to bother a traffic violation.  See, you‘re making it—you‘re saying the legal violations.  You‘re saying if they‘re going to get into other legal problems—no.  But they may get into other things which reflect badly on the Senate.  They don‘t care about traffic violations.  They do care about allegations of someone trolling for sex in a bathroom.

BRAND:  That‘s a standardless, you know...

ABRAMS:  Right.  That‘s why it‘s politics, not law.

BRAND:  Well, but it‘s partially law.  And the fact is that despite their power to do that, they have never done it.

ABRAMS:  Do you think there‘s any chance he‘s not going to resign September 30?

BRAND:  I think, as you point out, you know, it‘s a difficult burden from a time standpoint to get this resolved in Minnesota between now and September 30.  But in the event that he did, I have no doubt he would stay and fight.

ABRAMS:  Can you understand—look, in his guilty plea, he signed a document that says, I understand the court will not accept a plea of guilty from anyone who claims to be innocent.  There were other things in that guilty plea which suggests—a guy, a U.S. senator, makes laws, knows what he‘s signing, that some people are going to look at it and they‘re going to say, Come on.  The idea that this U.S. senator didn‘t know what he was signing is just too difficult to accept.

BRAND:  Well, I heard somebody on your show talk about the burden in Minnesota and say that when you do that without counsel, the state has a burden to show that you did it knowingly.  And I think that‘s going to be his position that his lawyers in Minnesota are going to proffer.

ABRAMS:  Let me bring in Melanie Sloan, executive director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group that also filed a complaint last week against Senator Craig, and MSNBC congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira.  Thanks to both of you.

All right.  Melanie, what is your position right now about what should happen with Larry Craig?

MELANIE SLOAN, CITIZENSFORETHICS.ORG:  Well, the Senate Ethics Committee should continue its investigation and should ultimately censure Senator Craig, as they should, by the way, also David Vitter, the congressman—the senator who was soliciting prostitutes.

ABRAMS:  But they‘re not going to.  I mean, there‘s sort of theory and there‘s hope and then there‘s reality.  And the reality is that—and this is what I‘m talking about, is when we get a bunch of lawyers trying to tell politicians what to do, we get into trouble because the bottom line is you don‘t have to apply an equal standard under the law.  It doesn‘t have to be objective.  It can be subjective.  They can say, We hate the idea of a U.S.  senator potentially in a bathroom looking for sex.  We are not as troubled by the idea of a U.S. senator going to prostitutes.  I‘m not justifying it, but I‘m saying it‘s the reality, isn‘t it?

SLOAN:  Sure, but they‘re also a lot more troubled by the concept of a U.S. senator being replaced by a Democratic governor with a Democratic senator than they are about a Republican governor replacing a Republican senator with another Republican.

But I do agree with you that, certainly, the Senate Ethics Committee will apply its standard of improper conduct which reflects upon the Senate.  And they wrote that back in the ‘60s, intending it to be incredibly broad so that they could use it whenever they wanted to.  So they won‘t be bound by any kind of precedent, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Right.

SLOAN:  I think they‘re free, and I don‘t think the law requires them to do anything else.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Mike Viqueira, practical matter.  What happens now?  I mean, the Republicans I assume are angry about this, that this, quote, “distraction” is still there, correct?

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Angry, frustrated, disillusioned.  Today is the day where they have the policy luncheons in the Senate, and that‘s where all the staffers and all the members sort of gather and congregate, and that gives you all the information, you know, for the course of the week when you try to cover Congress.

Today, when it was the Republicans‘ turn to clog the hallway, one staffer after another, a couple of members would walk up, express their frustration with the way this is playing out.  They thought they had put this behind them.

Senator McConnell came to the microphones, attempting to dispel the confusion, as he put it, surrounding Senator Craig‘s intentions.  He said the following.  He said that in a telephone call today with Senator Craig, Senator Craig made it very clear that he will, in fact, stay until his term is up next year, if, in fact, he can turn this thing around where he pled guilty and was convicted of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, in the Minnesota airport.

And a lot of what we heard, granted they weren‘t legal opinions from legal scholars around the Senate hallway, is the point is moot because that‘s not going to happen.  They hope Senator Craig stays home in Idaho.

ABRAMS:  Well, let me ask Mr. Brand.  Mr. Brand—and I don‘t mean this as callously as it may sound, but does Senator Craig care that‘s the Republicans‘ response?

BRAND:  Well, I don‘t mean to be flip in responding, but I think the answer is no.  They threw this man under the bus after a 27-year career of unblemished service, of loyalty to the party, without waiting for anything.  And so I don‘t know that he—you know, he‘s not beholden to them, at this point, and...

ABRAMS:  He‘s ready to take them on.

BRAND:  He‘s ready to take them on.  They haven‘t done anything to show any balance towards him.

ABRAMS:  And Mike, I assume the Democrats‘ position on this is just going to be to stand back and watch.

VIQUEIRA:  Oh, yes.  It‘s the “Give them enough rope” school of public relations.  They don‘t have a thing to say about this.  Senator Craig has cited Arlen Specter as his champion among the Republican conference in the Senate.  Senator Specter is, of course, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee.  But Senator Specter marches to the beat of his own drummer.  He‘s not exactly an acolyte or a strict follower or a confidant of leadership and is reflecting a view that perhaps is limited to Senator Specter himself.

ABRAMS:  Well, here‘s what Senator Specter said on “Fox News Sunday.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  I‘d still like to see Senator Craig fight this case.  He left himself some daylight, Chris, when he said that he intends to resign in 30 days.  I‘d like to see Larry Craig go back to court, withdraw his guilty plea, and fight the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Melanie Sloan, when Senator Specter says fight the case, does that mean the legal case, or to you does that also mean the political case?

SLOAN:  Well, I think both, although I think Senator Specter was mistaken when he said that he thinks Larry Craig really has a chance of withdrawing that guilty plea.  That, as most lawyers will tell you, is almost impossible to withdraw a guilty plea.  So I think that‘s going to be really tough, especially in the 25 days remaining.  And as for the political case, I don‘t see how, without that plea being withdrawn, Larry Craig has a chance.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Bottom line, Mr. Brand, I mean, you‘re not leading the legal case to try and withdraw his plea, correct?

BRAND:  No, that‘s Billy Martin‘s job.

ABRAMS:  Right.  So your job strictly is with regard to the Senate Ethics Committee.  Is there anything that you can do beyond sort of state his case?  Is there anything behind the scenes, lobbying the way politicians would do, that you can or would do?

BRAND:  No.

ABRAMS:  Mike Viqueira, you believe him?

VIQUEIRA:  Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

VIQUEIRA:  The man was the counsel for the House Ethics Committee.  He knows what he‘s talking about.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Stan Brand, thank you very much for coming on the program.

BRAND:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  And Melanie Sloan and Mike Viqueira, as always, we appreciate it.

Coming up: Fred Thompson announces he‘s running for president on Jay Leno.  Tonight, we‘ve got the first look at that appearance.  Plus, the latest on the search for a college student last seen riding her bike on Thursday.  One of the few clues police have is a purchase made on her credit card the following morning.  Her boyfriend will join us to talk about the case.

And later: Disorder in the court, more of the courtroom brawls caught on tape.  It‘s often victims‘ family members attacking the defendant.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SPERRY, MISSING BYU STUDENT‘S BOYFRIEND:  She‘s just a wonderful girl, and she—I don‘t know.  She‘s so caring and helpful.  And it‘s like if somebody needed any help, you know, she‘d be right there for them.  I just want her back safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The agonizing search for missing Utah college student Camille Cleverley.  Her boyfriend and family know every day is crucial.  The 22-year-old Brigham Young University student was supposed to start her final year in school this week.  Instead, family and friends are scouring the campus and nearby canyon, searching for any clue—her wallet, her bike, anything that might tell them what happened to her.

Camille‘s boyfriend, David Sperry, who saw her the day before she disappeared, joins us now from Salt Lake City.  Thank you very much for taking the time.  I know this has got to be a very hard time for you.  How are you holding up?

SPERRY:  As good as can be expected under the circumstances.

ABRAMS:  I assume you‘re spending a lot of time helping out the search, et cetera?

SPERRY:  Yes, yes, been spending time in the mountains and just talking to whoever I can.

ABRAMS:  And some witnesses, potential witnesses have come up to you and spoken to you directly?

SPERRY:  Yes.  Just recently today, actually.

ABRAMS:  Can you tell me what was said?

SPERRY:  Yes.  There‘s an area off of Provo Canyon where they‘re searching that‘s part of Provo Canyon, that this particular woman, I guess, has frequented.  And she has told me that she has seen Camille up there before, which I was unaware that she rode in that area, and that she had noticed a man that has been there on several occasions that just kind of sits there and stares at people and is really kind of creepy looking.  And anyway, she just expressed her concern for him being in that area, being in the same location that she has noticed her ride her bike before.

ABRAMS:  And you told the police about that, right?

SPERRY:  I talked to the woman, and the woman said that she had told the police, yes.

ABRAMS:  OK.  I assume the police have questioned you, as well, have they not?

SPERRY:  Yes, three times.

ABRAMS:  Tell me about that.

SPERRY:  I guess at first, it wasn‘t bad, just kind of, you know, general questions, the normal ones that, you know, you‘d expect.  After a while, it was pretty difficult.  Just being—I don‘t know, people not really saying they‘re believing what you‘re saying, and you know, like, Tell us more.  We know you know more, that kind of thing.  And so it‘s just hard, you know, somebody that you care about, that you‘ve got a lot of feelings for, and somebody basically is saying, you know, Hey, I‘m not believing you, I think, you know, something‘s—something else is up.

ABRAMS:  Did police say to you that they didn‘t believe parts of what you told them?

SPERRY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  What parts?

SPERRY:  Man, I‘m not remembering right now.  I‘m sorry.

ABRAMS:  But are you—you know, are you comfortable with where they are now in terms of being able to clear you?

SPERRY:  Yes, I am.  I mean, I went through, I guess, the normal boyfriend routine of anybody that becomes missing, where they search your house, they search your car, you know, go through your things, that kind of thing.  You go through a lie detector test, and you know, all, I guess, the normal protocol for this type of situation.

ABRAMS:  And did you that?  You took the lie detector, et cetera?

SPERRY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  OK.  The last time you saw her was when?

SPERRY:  I mean, it was Wednesday evening, late Wednesday evening about 12:30, 1:00 o‘clock.

ABRAMS:  Did she say anything about anyone who she was worried about, anyone following her home, anyone who made her nervous, anything like that?

SPERRY:  She did not.  She has told me in the past that, you know, like, she‘ll be asked out by somebody, you know, at school while she‘s at work or something, you know, to that nature, to the point where I feel comfortable that she‘s open with me in telling me those things.  So I really feel that if she had a concern of some sort, she would have told me.

ABRAMS:  And your relationship with the rest of her family still very good?

SPERRY:  Yes.  Yes, it is.

ABRAMS:  You talk to them regularly?

SPERRY:  Yes.  I talk to either her brother and sister-in-law or her parents.  You know, every day, one of them I‘m speaking to.

ABRAMS:  So no one—you said the police were a little hard on you.  No one in the family is suggesting to you, We think you might know something more than you‘re saying?

SPERRY:  Yes, no, not at all.  Yes, they‘re—they‘ve been great and loving through the whole situation.  Everybody, I think, has been pretty good.  I think the police basically were just doing what they need to, you know, to make sure that they‘ve covered it.

ABRAMS:  We‘re joined quickly by Michelle Sigona of “America‘s Most Wanted.”  Michelle, what are the crucial clues that we know of?

MICHELLE SIGONA, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED”:  My goodness, Dan, there are three crucial clues in this particular case.  The first is Camille‘s Schwinn bike.  It‘s purple and silver.  Along with that, her wallet is missing, along with her keys.  So we‘ve got three pieces of evidence that we need to get out there and get looking for, and that‘s why these search teams are out there, hoping to identify, and hopefully, finding one of these items, maybe even possibly leading to Camille herself.

ABRAMS:  And there‘s a debit card to buy doughnuts, as well, right?

SIGONA:  Yes.  A debit card was used last Friday to purchase donuts and two bottles of fruit drinks, Foosi (ph) drinks.  Now, from what we know, she didn‘t have a backpack with her, so it would be very difficult to carry all of these items.

ABRAMS:  David, real quick, did she ever eat donuts, as far as you know?

SPERRY:  She did eat donuts.  The brand or kind that they were talking about, I‘m unfamiliar with her having those.  But you know, she could have bought them.

ABRAMS:  All right.  David Sperry, thank you very much for taking the time.  I know this is a tough time for you.  Let us know if there‘s anything else we can do in terms of getting the word out.  And Michelle Sigona, thank you for coming on.

SIGONA:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.  Again, if you got any information on the case, please call the Provo Police Department, 801-852-6210.

Still ahead: An angry family lashes out at a serial killer in court. 

But should victims‘ families be prosecuted for these violent outbursts? 

We‘ll debate as we look at more recent courtroom brawls caught on tape.

But first: The crew of “Good Morning America” is bragging about their globetrotting while one of them is saying we need to remember that our ground and air travel can negatively impact the environment.  That‘s next in “Beat the Press.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: Mike Rogers, a gay blogger, who was one of the first to claim to be outing Senator Larry Craig, was a guest on “Hannity & Colmes” last night.  His name is spelled R-O-G-E-R-S.  Now, here is how Fox spelled his name during the interview, 10 times, in fact, as in “Rodgers.”  I‘m just saying.  Roger that.

Next up: Fox‘s Bill O‘Reilly spoke to our friend, former Fox News and MSNBC anchor Rita Cosby last night about her new book on the Anna Nicole Smith case.  O‘Reilly was sure to remind viewers how uninterested he really was in the topic he had chosen to cover.  Rita called him on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Well, I have to be honest to folks.  I‘m not real interested in Anna Nicole Smith, and I don‘t care whether Howard K. Stern and the other guy...

RITA COSBY, AUTHOR, “BLONDE AMBITION”:  You know, I think every time you‘ve interviewed me, you always say that, but yet it‘s always interesting.

O‘REILLY:  Yes, but I don‘t care what they did or why they did it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And then you‘re covering the story why?  This is O‘Reilly‘s MO.  He covers salacious tabloid topics on his program, claims he‘s not interested.  Talk about spin zone.

Finally: The crew of “Good Morning America” celebrated one year on the air together this morning and even boasted about their globe-spanning travels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘ve tallied it up, and we have circled the globe 12 times -- 12 times in one year, 315,688 miles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Twelve times.  I don‘t think one member of that team, weatherman Sam Champion, is going to be happy about that, based on his recurring lectures on man-made global warming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM CHAMPION, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”:  If you think you have nothing to do with global warming, think again.  From the car you drive to the house you live in, it all contributes to the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  To the jets you fly in.  No, seriously, congrats to my friends over at “GMA.”

We want your help beating the press.  Go to our Web site, Abrams.msnbc.com.  Please leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: Families erupt in rage as they confront suspects in court.  Sometimes they end up getting charged for charging the defendants.  We‘ll ask one man who did just that about it.

And later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES MANSON:  The reason that the girls liked me was -- (SINGING)

Hey, now, hey, now, I‘m all around you, around you, hey, now...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A bizarre and controversial interview with Charles Manson, a never-before-seen look inside the twisted mind of that killer—it‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We have got breaking news.  Fred Thompson has just announced on NBC‘s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” that he‘s officially running for president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. FRED THOMPSON ®, TENNESSEE:  We‘ve done in a few months what a lot of people have been working on since they were in the choir in high school.  And so we‘re where we need to be right now, and that‘s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. 

JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  All right.  All right.

THOMPSON:  I‘m running for president of the United States. 

LENO:  All right!  There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Ending months of speculation, Thompson enters a crowded field of eight GOP rivals.  And just after midnight, the former Tennessee senator will release a 15-minute Internet message on his Web site explaining why he‘s entering the race. 

More chaos in the courtroom.  Last week, we took a look at the raw emotion boiling over inside courthouses across the country.  Often distraught families erupting in rage, lunging at the accused standing trial just a few feet away. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The most recent outburst shook up a Vermont courtroom during an arraignment for Michael Christmas accused of murdering his brother-in-law.  Mayhem broke out when the victim‘s girlfriend cursed the defendant, calling him gutless. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You killed a good man.  You‘re a (bleep)...

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

ABRAMS:  Before we take a look at more of what seems to be becoming a sort of a trend, let‘s check in with Judge Alex Ferrer, the host of “Judge Alex,” and Marc Klaas, who was involved in a courtroom scuffle with his daughter, Polly‘s, murderer, Richard Allen Davis. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ALLEN DAVIS, MURDERER:  Because of a statement the young girl made to me when walking her up the embankment, “Just don‘t do me like my dad.” 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jacobs, do you have any comment you want to make? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Marc, look, in your particular case, this is a guy who was taunting you, was egging you on.  I‘d assume, though, even if he didn‘t do that, there‘s the desire by any victim‘s family member to literally reach over and grab the guy. 

MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER OF BEYOND MISSING:  Well, of course there is, Dan, and that‘s why they made us go through two sets of metal detectors even to get into the courtroom.  But I think people have to remember that in situations, in these courtroom situations oftentimes the victim‘s family waits for years to finally face the person that murdered their family member, murdered or otherwise victimized, and these are situations where thinking that life is going to do the right things for us, we live our lives righteously, and correctly, and then everything falls apart, and something absolutely unimaginable occurs by somebody who has no business, you know, inserting themselves into our lives at all.

And then we spend years watching the process go through, and then the courtroom, which, in my mind, is nothing more than the justification of his actions at state‘s expense, so it becomes a very, very difficult situation for all of us in any of these circumstances.  And they do goad us and they do egg us on. 

ABRAMS:  This is serial killer Alfred Gainer (ph), and here you have the victim‘s son going after him in court. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘d like to put some agreement...

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Judge Alex, obviously that‘s an extreme example, but I assume the judges have to be very cognizant of this as a potential issue in any courtroom where there‘s that much emotion. 

JUDGE ALEX FERRER, TV JUDGE:  Oh, absolutely.  I don‘t think that it‘s more prevalent.  I think it‘s being reported more often, is the situation.  Shows like MSNBC are following these situations more closely.  But as judges, we do see explosions of emotion, especially in cases involving children. 

I think if it is more prevalent, it‘s because of more cases that involve injuries to children, murders of children, especially sexual offenses of children.  Those just breed such high emotion and, as a judge, you have to be aware of that and make sure you have adequate security in the courtroom. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s another example.  This is just what you‘re talking about, a family just losing it.  This is with regard to the murder of a 1-year-old. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Let me go!  Let me go!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Marc, if a victim‘s family member were to say to you, “How do I avoid that urge, how do I resist?”  What would you say to them? 

KLAAS:  Well, you know, by succumbing to that kind of behavior—and I did to some extent myself—you‘re letting them win.  So I think that people have to understand that, ultimately, these guys are the biggest cowards.  They are going to go to prison.  And if we just hold our peace and don‘t say anything and do what the judge tells us to do, then ultimately we win. 

ABRAMS:  Do you think that prosecutors are less inclined to prosecute a family member acting out of emotion inside a courtroom like that? 

FERRER:  I think absolutely they‘re less inclined.  It depends on the circumstances.  You have to take it on a case-by-case basis.  Defendants usually are not stupid enough to attack somebody in the courtroom before their sentencing.  It usually happens from victims‘ families. 

And all of us can relate to a victim or the family of a victim who just cannot contain themselves.  You know, looking at Mr. Klaas‘ case, I can certainly sympathize with him.  I can understand the reaction he had, given the fact that that worthless defendant was obviously taunting him.  But I can also understand the judge‘s position, because the judge wants to make sure that that gentleman does not get a second trial because of any mistake in the case, so he‘s going to remove Mr. Klaas, even though it just doesn‘t seem fair, because he wants to make sure there‘s not an appellate ruling. 

ABRAMS:  Removing is one thing, and prosecuting is another thing.  Here‘s a case where—just what you‘re talking about—where a judge was speaking to the defendant, and the victim‘s family runs in, again, from behind the defendant—now I want to get a sense from you if you think this is the sort of case where they should prosecute. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right, Judge Alex, is it the sort of case—let‘s say you were a prosecutor in that jurisdiction.  They can‘t do this; they shouldn‘t do this.  Everyone agrees on that.  But would you then suggest not prosecuting because of that emotional response? 

FERRER:  Well, should they prosecute?  Yes, they should prosecute, because the courts are set up to resolve these types of situations, and you can‘t have vigilantism on the street.  You definitely cannot condone it in a courtroom.  And when you start condoning it, then it becomes a runaway train. 

Will they prosecute?  That‘s a different story, because most prosecutors realize that getting a jury conviction on a case like this, especially if it‘s a murderer, a child rapist, most juries are going to walk the family members who assault the defendant.  So most of the time, they‘ll make a decision not to prosecute because they don‘t feel they can get a conviction, not because it wasn‘t a crime and not because it shouldn‘t be happening. 

ABRAMS:  Marc, what do you make of that?  Do you think they should prosecute? 

KLAAS:  Well, you know, I think in some circumstances you have to.  The most egregious situation like this was the case of Ellie Nesler, I believe it was back in the ‘80s in Sonora, California, where she brought a gun into the courtroom and put a bullet in the back of the head of the guy that had molested her child.  But this character had gone through the system time and time and time again, and I think that people like me see a sense of injustice in the justice system.  It seems to serve them rather than us.  But obviously, they do have to maintain order in the courtroom, and we can‘t allow vigilantism. 

ABRAMS:  Marc Klaas, as always rational, and Judge Alex, appreciate you joining us, as well. 

FERRER:  Thank you, Dan. 

KLAAS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next, inside the mind of one of the most notorious killers of our time, Charles Manson, never-before-seen moments from a controversial interview with him. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES MANSON, CONVICTED MURDERER:  Believe me, if I started murdering people, there‘d be none of you left. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And from the ultimate villain to the ultimate hero.  The amazing story of an 8-year-old with cerebral palsy who helped rescue his father from a fire.  We‘ll talk to the young hero and his dad, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  The name alone is chilling, Manson.  Four decades ago, followers of Charles Manson brutally killed seven people in the Los Angeles area, stabbing each of them numerous times.  Manson found guilty of the murders, his sentenced back in 1971:  death.  But just one year later, the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty, leaving him alive but behind bars for life. 

In 1987, “The Today Show” went to San Quentin State Prison and interviewed Manson.  He was unshackled, unapologetic and unruly.  And it was so unbelievable, in the end, “The Today Show” aired just seven minutes, the only seven minutes ever seen publicly, until now. 

Tonight, MSNBC will air this interview with Charles Manson that no one has ever seen before. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES MANSON, CONVICTED MURDERER:  I live where there‘s no TV, there‘s no radio, there‘s no clocks, there‘s no electric lights.  The girls carry water.  They don‘t wear makeup.  They have their babies by themselves.  They go in the shack, and squat down, and have their babies.  I live on the ground; I live on the earth. 

I don‘t live—I lived in Hollywood.  And I had all that, the Rolls-Royce and the Ferrari, and the pad in Beverly Hills.  I had the surf board and the Beach Boys and the beaches and the Neil Diamond and (INAUDIBLE) and Elvis Presley and (INAUDIBLE) and all of them guys, the Dina Martins and the Nancy Sinatras and the (INAUDIBLE) will you do it to me?  I hear you do it good, honey, and all that kind of—will you come up to my house later? 

So I went through all that, and I seen that was a bigger prison than the one I just got out of, and I really didn‘t care to go back to prison.  Prison doesn‘t begin and end at the gate.  Prison is in your mind.  It‘s locked.  And one world that‘s dead and dying or it‘s open to a world that‘s free and alive.  Drugs, LSD I don‘t consider a drug.  I don‘t consider peyote a drug.  Those are more or less religiously significant awareness, mind-expanding apparatuses that come from the intelligence of the universe. 

The reason that the girls like me was—hey, now, hey, now, I‘m all around you, around you, hey, now, up on your heart I can sing through you.  And I play, and I sing.  And they‘d say, “Hey, man, you‘ve got—you‘ve got soul in that music.”  And I said, “Yes, I play a little bit, you know?  I like music.”  “Man, you‘re really somebody.”  I said, “Oh, I am?  I just got out of jail.  I don‘t know what somebody is.” 

They like my music.  They say, “Man, we want to get you over.”  I said, “Get me over for what?”  They said, “We take you down here to Beverly Hills, and we want to get you in because you‘re a star.”  I said, “I‘m a what?”  They said, “You‘re a star.”  So they took me to the Beach Boys, and I went and I got on a surfboard, and I rode around, and I looked, and said, “(INAUDIBLE) this is more—this is more trouble than what I just got out of.” 

(INAUDIBLE) look at yourself.  You‘ve got to wear that, whether you like it or not.  You‘ve got to do things.  You‘ve got to get up and go through all kinds of changes; whether you want to or not doesn‘t matter.  Your whole life is put in your paycheck.  You couldn‘t pay me all the money in the world to do something I don‘t want to do. 

If I‘m shoveling the barn, and you want me to go (INAUDIBLE) I say, no, no, no.  I‘m doing something right here.  I‘m helping this blind man.  I feel better in doing what I want to do. 

I did not break the law.  Jesus Christ told you that 2,000 years ago.  You don‘t understand me!  That‘s your trouble, not my fault because you don‘t understand me.  I don‘t understand you either, but I don‘t spend my whole life trying to put the blame over on you because my cigarette didn‘t light or because something didn‘t work right.  What do you want to call me a murderer for?  I‘ve never killed anyone.  I don‘t need to kill anyone.  I think it.  I have it here. 

I don‘t need to live in this physical realm.  I walk around in the physical realm, and I put on the faces, and I talk, and I play (INAUDIBLE) it‘s just a big act, man.  In the spiritual world is where I live.  I exist in places you‘ve never even dreamed of.  You talk about, you know, just the little physical realm you live in, guilty, and is he in sin?  How‘s your courts guilty?  How many people do you think you‘ve hung on the ventilators in the nut wards and forced medication on them? 

You see what I‘m saying?  You don‘t have any idea what the hell is going on.  If you knew what the hell was going on in your own system, then you‘d say, “Now I see what‘s creating this.  Society is creating it.”  Society is saying we want these Rambos.  We want these killers.  Oh, wow, man.  Look at that dude there, and you‘ve got little kids looking in the book, and what they are selling, and, “Oh, yes, Sears and Roebuck,” Rambo from 12 to 15, karate from age 5 through 17. 

You‘ve got all your kids out here doing these crazy things.  Now you want to come and say, “Charlie Manson is the father of our country.  We‘re convicting you for being Jesus Christ.  We‘re convicting you for being the devil.  We‘re convicting you for being responsible for our actions.”  I‘m not responsible for anyone‘s actions but my own actions. 

In my whole life, I‘ve burglarized a grocery store, stole some nickels and dimes, busted open a stamp machine, stole a few automobiles, and cashed a couple checks.  I‘m a petty car thief.  I‘ve been with prostitutes, and bums, and winos all my life.  The street is my world.  I don‘t pretend to go uptown and be anything fancy. 

I can, but I find more real in the world that I‘m in than I do the tinsel.  And the real world is the one I have to deal with every day, you know?  Believe me, if I started murdering people, there would be none of you left. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  You can watch the premiere of “The Mind of Manson” in its entirety, coming up next, tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.  And check back here tomorrow for more of that interview that is not included in tonight‘s special. 

Up next, will today‘s winner, big winner, be prison inmates who stopped everything to buck the system, a baseball fan who would stop at nothing to keep a homerun ball, or an 8-year-old hero who didn‘t let cerebral palsy stop him from saving his dad from a burning building?  Father and son join us next, “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 5th day of September, 2007. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Our first winner, 143 Oklahoma prison inmates permitted to take part in the nation‘s longest-running prison rodeo.  The inmates had to meet certain security requirements in order to attend, and more than 10,000 fans packed the house during the two-day event, rooting for—or I guess against—rapists, murderers, and drug offenders riding their minutes of freedom bareback. 

Our first loser, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.  No security necessary in that speech the Republican presidential hopeful gave in New Hampshire.  He was only able to lasso a few dozen spectators.  The hardly packed house listened to Brownback talk about 2008, Social Security, abortion.

The second winner, this sly baseball fan who caught a homerun ball at the Minnesota Twins game last night.  Now, baseball tradition dictates, if you catch a homerun hit by the opposing team, you dismissively throw the ball back onto the field as if you don‘t even want the trash.  But, then again, it‘s a major league baseball, so this Twins fan came prepared.  He reached down into his bag and pulled out a different ball to throw back. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There you go. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t want this ball. 

ABRAMS:  The second loser, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant who scolded a female passenger for showing off a little too much of the twins.  Twenty-three-year-old Kyla Ebbert, a waitress at the home of the twins, Hooters, says she was asked to reach into her bag and pull out a different outfit.  In fact, Kyla says she was almost kicked off the flight by the prudish flight attendant until she agreed to pull up her tank top and hike down her skirt. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m a person who has feelings, and all I have to do is do what I want to do, and all I want to do is hold onto my bag and not listen to you.  If you can get it from my kung-fu grip, then you can come and have it.  OK, otherwise step off.

ABRAMS:  But the big losers of the day, the grounds crew for the Tri-City Valley Cats minor league baseball team.  They were in the middle of a game against the Vermont Lake Monsters last week when the sprinklers suddenly went off, soaking the field and the players.  The sprinklers couldn‘t cool down the Valley Cats who won the game 8-2. 

The big winner of the day, 8-year-old Gregory Bridwell who saved his father when sprinklers could not.  Gregory, who suffers from cerebral palsy, crawled out of his Kentucky home Saturday and alerted his grandfather that a fire was destroying the house.  His father, asleep inside at the time, made it out alive, and Greg emerged as a hometown hero. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Joining me now is the 8-year-old hero, Greg Bridwell, and his father, Greg, Sr.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

GREG BRIDWELL, SR., SON SAVED HIM FROM FIRE:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  So little Greg, how are you doing? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR., SAVED DAD FROM FIRE:  Pretty good. 

ABRAMS:  Yes? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  How does it feel to be a hero? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Pretty good. 

ABRAMS:  Tell me what happened. 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Well, I see the smoke, and I just caught on fire. 

ABRAMS:  And then you did what?  I mean, you‘re in a wheelchair, aren‘t you? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Yes, that‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  So what did you do? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Well, I went in there, and I got my grandpa, and he saved my dad.  Well, you know, I‘m the greatest hero.

ABRAMS:  So you literally crawled out of the house, Greg?  I mean, you saw the fire, and you then get out—you were watching TV, right—and then you crawl out of the house to find Grandpa? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  What did you say to Grandpa? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  I said, “Grandpa, Grandpa, the house is on fire.” 

And he‘s like, “What?”  And I said it again.  He‘s like—and then I was like, “Grandpa, Grandpa, the house is on fire.”  And he just called ran out. 

ABRAMS:  Was it hard for you to get out there, to crawl out, Greg? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Nope. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask Dad.  When your father came into the house, did you realize that little Greg had run out there to get him? 

GREG BRIDWELL, SR.:  No, I didn‘t. 

ABRAMS:  And what did your—what happened?  Were you woken up? 

GREG BRIDWELL, SR.:  Well, the reaction was, I turned around.  It was a wakeup call, flames shooting everywhere.  First reaction I had is, where‘s my son?  And I heard he‘s the one that went out there and told my dad the house was on fire. 

ABRAMS:  And did you think to yourself, “My goodness, how did my son get out there”? 

GREG BRIDWELL, SR.:  That‘s what the said, the same thing I said.  He crawled all the way out the front door. 

ABRAMS:  And, Greg, little Greg, let me ask you, you‘re getting a lot of attention now? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  And what do you think of it? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Pretty good. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I bet you‘re just glad that you helped save Dad, huh? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Yep. 

ABRAMS:  You ever seen a fire like that before? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Nope. 

ABRAMS:  Was it scary? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Yes, it sure was. 

ABRAMS:  So how did you get the nerve up to get out of the wheelchair and run out? 

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Well, I was in a contoured chair. 

ABRAMS:  All right, well, I guess that‘s a good explanation.  All right, Little Greg and Big Greg, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  And, Little Greg, you are a hero, I think, to everyone.  And you‘re a cute little kid, too.  Thanks a lot.  Good to see you. 

GREG BRIDWELL, SR.:  Thank you.

GREG BRIDWELL, JR.:  Thanks a lot. 

ABRAMS:  See you tomorrow.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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