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Rev. Jesse Jackson
updated 5/27/2005 12:57:01 PM ET 2005-05-27T16:57:01

On Thursday's "The Abrams Report," Rev. Jesse Jackson said that because of Jackson's fascination with Africa, he wants to open a theme park for the children of Africa. He also comments on how Jackson is prepared for life after the case and that although he has been "cash-strapped," Michael Jackson is not in debt and there are no plans to sell the Neverland Ranch.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson is founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and is Jackson's spiritual advisor.

Following are excerpts from last night's interview:

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, 'THE ABRAMS REPORT':  I understand you spoke to Michael this morning.  Does he still seem confident that he's going to be able to move on with his life, that he'll be acquitted of these charges? 

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, we spoke today. We had prayer again today, as we often do.  He feels very much the pain and scars of these attacks, but he also feels he'll be vindicated, and partly because he declares his innocence, and partly because each witness who has come before that stand in cross-examination that it's been the money-motive issue. 

And I'm convinced that reasonable doubt has been established, no matter how scurrilous the charges have been.  In the counter-argument, there's always been reasonable doubt established. 

DAN ABRAMS:  Is he preparing for life after this case?  Is he already mapping out his music career, et cetera, as to what happens next? 

REV.JESSE JACKSON:  He really is.  I think Michael's concerned about the impact of the trauma of the trial.  He's concerned about the money factor.  I'm sure that will be the next phase of this battle.  But then he has plans for a kind of theme park in Africa.  He has plans far beyond this crisis. 

DAN ABRAMS:  When you say a theme park in Africa, is that a new project for him? 

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Yes, he has this kind of fascination with Africa.  He's been there many times.  He wants the children of Africa to have a theme park just as Neverland has a park. 

But of course, he has to go through this trial and have to go through challenging those who brought it upon him.  He feels that economically, with their money motives.  But beyond his music career, and his writing interest, and his spending his works to Africa are very much on his agenda.

DAN ABRAMS:  Does he have the money to be starting a big project?  I mean, we keep talking and hearing in this trial about how he's broke. 

REV. JESSE JACKSON:  Well, he's not broke.  Michael has been, in some sense, cash-strapped, because he's not been on the road working at all.  And unlike Disney, Neverland is a free theme park, which is a big outlay of cash.  So he has been to some extent cash-strapped. 

But at some point in time, the loans he had were more than covered, like two-thirds greater than the loans, but there was an attempt to rush through a closure on him, which has been unnecessary and unthinkable.  But that stopped.  And that process has been worked out.  There's no longer that tension about, will he face foreclosure?  That's not going to happen. 

DAN ABRAMS:  He's not selling Neverland, as far as you know? 

REV. JESSE JACKSON: No, he's not selling Neverland. And he's not selling the Elvis, and the Beatles, and the Jackson catalog, as well. Those are just rumors that really do not have foundation. 

DAN ABRAMS:  Let me ask you something.  If he is found guilty -- and I know that you are hoping he's not, and he's hoping he's not -- but if he is found guilty, I'm sure he's going to turn to you for guidance once again. Is he going to be able to make it in prison?  And a lot of people say, "Boy, Michael Jackson in prison, don't think he'll be able to make it." 

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, that would be a tough day but you have to take the hand that you're dealt. And through it all, you have to pray and hope that his innocence will prevail in the court.  But you have to be prepared to go one way or the other. 

I think he is convinced of his innocence and convinced that those who made the charges did not stand the test of cross-examination.  So frankly, we're looking forward more to his being acquitted than his being found guilty.  But no matter what happens, Michael has amazing strength and resilience.  While he looks kind of delicate, and dances, and talks in a kind of high-pitched voice, he's really a very tough and smart guy. 

DAN ABRAMS:  And if he is acquitted, and I know we've touched on this before, but I assume that would you say to him, "Michael, you can't ever have a child sleep in your bed again," right? 

REV. JESSE JACKSON:  Oh, yes.  I think that some of what he has done is just on the edge. It is high risk. And now me and his family is very acutely aware of what has happened.  And I that this type risky behavior will never happen again.  It shouldn't have happened in the first place, but certainly it will never happen again. 

'The Abrams Report' airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC.           


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