updated 6/1/2005 8:31:40 AM ET 2005-06-01T12:31:40

Guest: Daniel Horowitz, Susan Filan, Maureen Orth, Raymone Bain

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, “Deep Throat” revealed, a 31-year-old mystery.  Who was the man whose information helped bring down a president?  He comes clean. 

“The Washington Post” confirms this is the source that became known as “Deep Throat”.  W. Mark Felt, now 91, the number two man at the FBI in the early ‘70‘s says he leaked secrets to the reporters that helped bring down a president.  We talk with NBC‘s White House correspondent during Watergate, Tom Brokaw. 

And here in Santa Maria, the lawyers battle it out over what the jurors will hear from the judge.  The closing arguments have been set, this as our team of lawyers present their closing arguments for the prosecution and defense.

Plus—even as the case wraps up, “Vanity Fair” magazine reporting more salacious details about Jackson and his family, we talk to the author, Maureen Orth. 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  I‘m live here in Santa Maria, California, at the Michael Jackson trial.  We‘ll have the latest as the case wraps up in just a minute.  The closing arguments have just been scheduled. 

But first up on the docket tonight, one of the biggest mysteries of the past 30 years has apparently been solved.  Who was “Deep Throat”?  That‘s the question everyone‘s been asking, the government leaker who passed secrets to “Washington Post” reporter Bob Woodward about corruption at the highest levels of government, what eventually became known as the Watergate scandal.  Along Carl Bernstein, their stories arguably to Richard Nixon to resign his office.  For years the reporters refused to even hint at “Deep Throat‘s” identity. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My agreement is to keep the bond of confidentiality until he releases me and he‘s not. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well it seems now that bond of confidentiality is broken.  “The Washington Post” has just confirmed that 91-year-old Mark Felt, number two in the FBI under Richard Nixon, was in fact “Deep Throat”.  This follows a story in the July edition of “Vanity Fair” where Felt‘s children and grandchildren said that despite frequent past denials, Felt confessed his role in Watergate to them.  Nick Jones is Mark Felt‘s grandson. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK JONES, MARK FELT‘S GRANDSON:  Mark had expressed reservations in the past about revealing his identity and about whether his actions were appropriate for an FBI man.  But as he recently told my mother, I guess people used to think “Deep Throat” was a criminal, but now they think he‘s a hero.  On behalf of the Felt family, we hope you see him as worthy of honor and respect as we do.  The Felt family does ask, however, that in view of his age and health, you respect his zone of privacy as he enjoys this moment with us. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now that the news is out, Felt‘s family says he is pleased. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s happy.  He‘s grinning from ear to ear. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  In the early 1970‘s, Tom Brokaw was NBC News‘ White House correspondent, covered Watergate as the scandal unfolded and the Nixon administration eventually fell.  He joins us now live.  Tom, thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS WATERGATE CORRESPONDENT:  OK, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  So, first question, are you surprised at who it was? 

BROKAW:  No.  I had a long list of candidates at the very beginning 30 years ago that kept getting winnowed down.  Mark Felt was always in the top tier and in the last three or four years I have believed that it was probably him.  Although there were so many riddles inside and enigmas and mysteries, I was never completely confident.  A couple years ago, though, people who very close to both Carl and Bob said that they believed that it was Mark Felt. 

We had a fairly persuasive discussion one night.  They didn‘t have confirmation from either one of them and—but I did believe at the conclusion of that, that it all added up.  He was an FBI agent, number two in the agency at the time.  He would have known all of the details about what was going on based on their own investigation.  He could have moved that famous potted plant around on Carl—on Bob‘s balcony probably because he was trained in those kinds of techniques of operating in a stealthy fashion.  And the FBI was in chaos after the death of J. Edgar Hoover, so there were lots of reasons to believe that Mark Felt, who was originally described, by the way, by Bob Woodward as a source, my friend, and friend F. Mark Felt. 

ABRAMS:  Are you surprised that “The Post” has confirmed that it was him?  Because the initial agreement was, we will not offer his name up until after he dies.  Are you surprised “The Post” has now said look, it is him? 

BROKAW:  Well I know that there was a very vigorous discussion among all the principals at “The Post” today.  Bob was holding out for a long time.  But then when Mark Felt appeared and didn‘t deny the story, when he was that frail man in that walker, my guess is that that might have had some deep impression on Bob.  “The Post” was being scooped on the biggest story of its own making.  A lot of people knew that it was—well not a lot of people, but enough people knew that it was Mark Felt.  So there was a vigorous discussion that was going on. 

But I think a lot has to be said about Bob and Carl and Ben Bradlee and the others, that they kept their word.  That this was an honorable contact between a source who did know about nefarious activity in the highest echelons in the United States government and they made a deal with him and they kept it to the very end, more than 31 years.  It‘s interesting...

(CROSSTALK)

BROKAW:  ... Bob would often say over the years, you know it‘s all there.  Just look at the evidence and you will figure out who it is.  But Felt then would absolutely, adamantly deny that he was “Deep Throat”. 

ABRAMS:  Tom, if there were this sort of revelation today—and I don‘t mean specifically in the Bush administration, I mean in a Bush administration, in a Clinton administration, but in this day in age, would this have become a hugely partisan issue?  Meaning, would people have started attacking the reporters...

BROKAW:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... for being partisan and people saying oh the leaker is clearly just out to get the president, et cetera? 

BROKAW:  Well they did then.  I mean it was not nearly as radioactive as it is now, but a lot of people thought that “Deep Throat” was a contrived figure that Bob had made him up in some fashion.  In effect, that he tailored a source to fit his own needs.  And people do forget how bitterly partisan Watergate became.  You will remember that several members of that impeachment committee who voted with the president were no longer returned to Washington once the smoking gun came out. 

I think the difference now is, between then and now, is that if a “Deep Throat” had emerged now, you would be talking about it every night.  Chris Matthews would be talking about it.  Bill O‘Reilly would be talking about it.  It would start with the news cycle in the morning.  Rush Limbaugh would be on the air demanding to know who it is.  And you wouldn‘t have the opportunity to have the kind of reporting that was going on then because there would be so many distractions.  It would become kind of a sideshow. 

ABRAMS:  What do you make of the fact—let me read you a couple of Mark Felt‘s denials, both of them from 1999, this one to “The Hartford Courant”.

I would have done better.  I would have been more effective.  “Deep Throat” didn‘t exactly bring the White House crashing down, did he?  And then he—to Slate.com in 1999 -- it would be terrible.  This would be—completely undermine the reputation that you might have as a loyal, logical employee of the FBI.  It just wouldn‘t fit at all.

He basically—I mean the bottom line is if you weren‘t denying it, you were it, right?

BROKAW:  Yes, it‘s—there are a lot of phases that came out of Watergate—two sources, follow the money, the non-denial-denial.  You remember those.  In this case, I think that that last quote that you read probably speaks more to his motivation and psyche, which is that he would not have been an honorable member of the FBI.  Here‘s a man who had spent his entire career in the FBI.  He was probably greatly conflicted about what he was doing, but in the end he knew that what was happening in the White House was wrong and that the public deserved to know about it. 

And certainly, legal authorities deserved to know about it.  Again, to go back, you have to remember the chaos that existed at the time.  J. Edgar Hoover had died.  L. Patrick Gray had been put in that job.  We had a succession of FBI agents there for a while.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BROKAW:  John Mitchell was the attorney general.  The chief Justice Department official in the United States was a close crony of Richard Nixon.  So those were chaotic times, Dan.  And this man in the end acted with great honor in sharing that information with Bob Woodward, who then shared it with Carl and Ben Bradlee and they acted honorably.  So this is not a sorted chapter in American history.  It‘s quite the contrary. 

ABRAMS:  And some would say, of course, that Felt thought he was going to become the FBI director and that maybe there would have been frustration at the time on his part that he didn‘t get the job, et cetera.  But, all right, Tom, real quick.  I‘ve got to ask you about how life post “Nightly News” is going.  You‘re certainly not retired...

BROKAW:  No.

ABRAMS:  ... but how are things going?  Are you having a good time?

BROKAW:  I am having a good time.  I have just gotten back from a week in Iran reporting, which was very difficult, but we‘ll begin to see that on “Nightly News” on Thursday and the “Today” show Friday morning.  Again, Friday night I was in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I have got to learn better about picking my spots for spring break, Dan. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROKAW:  I was over there doing a documentary on the war on terror...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BROKAW:  ... but no, I—you know look, the guys at “Nightly News” and the women there are doing a phenomenal job of keeping the flag going high.  Brian has been doing a great job.  We‘ve had an orally succession here and we‘ve maintained all the standards and I have the freedom to go where I want to go, when I want to go, and not have to worry about 6:30 every night.  Now I just have to worry about appearing with you.

ABRAMS:  Tom Brokaw‘s idea of taking it easy.  Tom, good to see you, thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program...

BROKAW:  I can‘t resist signing off by saying Danny it‘s been my pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  All right.  That‘s a little joke Tom and I had, because when I used to appear on “Nightly News”, Tom night after night used to refer to me as Danny and people would keep saying to him Tom, he‘s Dan Abrams.  He‘d say well Danny - anyway...

All right, on to the Michael Jackson case.  Big day today in the case, they have been battling over the jury instructions.  Now that may sound like arcane legalese but the bottom line is, the question now is, what is this judge going to tell these jurors about the law?  Remember, he is the one sitting up there.  He is the one the jurors turn to for instruction and there was one really big ruling today and that is with regard to the charges of Michael Jackson serving alcohol to minors.

Michael Jackson‘s been charged with a felony, serving alcohol with the intent to molest.  The question was, should there be a lesser charge, a misdemeanor count which would be the—effectively like a bartender being charged for serving alcohol to a child who‘s underage but having nothing to do with molestation?  The defense wanted all or nothing.  The prosecutors wanted the lesser charge.  The judge gave them that lesser charge. 

Apparently, a victory for the prosecutors but many people asking the question—does that mean that the defense is so confident in its case that they don‘t even want to provide these jurors with lesser options?  Also, we have found out that the judge will instruct the jurors on the law tomorrow at about noon.  The closing arguments will occur first thing on Thursday morning.  Each side expected to go about three hours. 

And later in the program, our legal team presents their mock closing arguments in this case.  Joining me now our legal team—NBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan, criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz.  That‘s our team. 

All right, so Daniel, very quickly, as the defense, they are saying we did not want that middle charge.  We didn‘t want that charge that just said, Michael Jackson might have been serving alcohol to a child, but with no intent to molest.  What does that say about the defense? 

DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Dan, it tells me that Michael Jackson feels that he can win this case straight up and he does not want to be arguing to the jury, I did anything wrong, not even a little bit.  Which means that when he takes on the allegations of 1993, 1994 incidents, he‘s going to deny them completely, deny serving alcohol, and just say, this is a slam dunk win.  Let me go home.

ABRAMS:  Susan, prosecutors wanted this lesser included offense.  Does this mean that they are concerned about the case? 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  No, not necessarily, Dan, but what this means is a conviction is now assured.  The evidence came in very clearly on this point.  Dan, you have been saying along all of the time since the beginning, if there‘s going to be a conviction, it‘s going to be on this. 

But think about it.  If he‘s convicted of a misdemeanor, what is it, a fine, probation...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

FILAN:  If he comes out of this and that‘s all he‘s convicted of, I‘d say that‘s a victory.  But no, they‘re not concerned...

ABRAMS:  Oh absolutely...

FILAN:  ... that‘s not why they wanted the lesser included.

ABRAMS:  Then why do they want it?  I mean if they are convinced about the case and this is not a case about being a bartender who serves alcohol to a child.  Not that that‘s nothing, but the bottom line is this is a case about molestation, about a man molesting children and now we‘re talking about a case about a man who may have either served or allowed children to drink alcohol in his home.

FILAN:  Yes, that‘s distorting it.  Really what‘s going on here is nobody can ever tell what a jury is going to do and you don‘t take chances when you‘re the prosecution.  If there‘s a lesser included that‘s going to ensure a conviction, of course, you want a conviction on the higher count, but you will take a conviction on the misdemeanor. 

You don‘t want roll the dice in sort of a greedy fashion.  That‘s the defense‘s job.  The defense needs an acquittal all or nothing.  Prosecution needs a conviction.  It doesn‘t telegraph concern...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  It‘s actually quite a careful move on their part.

HOROWITZ:  I disagree. 

ABRAMS:  Daniel...

HOROWITZ:  I think it‘s a sign of weakness.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, quickly Daniel, yes.

HOROWITZ:  I think it‘s weakness.  Sneddon to me so dislikes Michael Jackson that he wants to nick him on anything.  He sees the case slipping away and he‘ll take anything he can just so he can say that guy...

ABRAMS:  All right.

HOROWITZ:  ... didn‘t get away with it...

FILAN:  Judge Melville isn‘t going to allow that...

HOROWITZ:  ... or Dan, it may be...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on, everyone‘s—hang on, hang on, everyone is going to stick around.  You guys, that‘s it.  It‘s just the two of you. 

Coming up, closing arguments expected to now happen on Thursday.  Susan and Daniel sit in for Tom Sneddon and Tom Mesereau with what they believe could be said to the jury, although they do it a lot quicker. 

Plus, a new report says one of Jackson‘s attorneys tried to pay off a key witness in the case.  That witness never testified.  An explosive report from “Vanity Fair.”  We‘ll talk with the author and get a response from Jackson‘s team. 

And it appears the trial is taking its toll on Jackson.  His father saying Michael isn‘t eating, isn‘t sleeping.  We‘ll hear from Jackson spokesperson, Raymone Bain, coming up.

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)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We are back.  I am sitting in front of the courthouse in Santa Maria, California, where the closing arguments in the Michael Jackson case are expected to begin now on Thursday.  The jury will be formally instructed by the judge on Wednesday.  And that means that there are lawyers who are scribbling away or working on their computers to prepare the closing arguments. 

Now later in the—actually, we‘re going to do this tomorrow.  We‘re going to play these mock closing arguments from each of our attorneys.  But in the meantime—that was a shot of Michael Jackson leaving court the other day.  In the meantime, let‘s figure out what it is that—Susan Filan and Daniel Horowitz, what it is the attorneys are doing now. 

Now Susan, we‘re told that each side is going to go about three hours in its closing argument.  If you are the prosecutor here, what is the most important thing you‘re working on?  Are you working on how to phrase this argument in a way that reminds jurors that this isn‘t just about this boy? 

FILAN:  What you‘re doing, Dan, is your trying to put this case together once and for all for this jury, so they understand how the charges that the prosecution brought fit the facts that came in through testimony, exhibits and evidence.  And while you are letting them understand what the law is and what the facts are, you‘re choosing your words so carefully, because more than anything else in a court of law, when you do closing argument, every single word counts. 

These jurors are going to hang on every word of the prosecutor and every word of the defense.  And when they go back and deliberate and parse it apart, they‘re going to be using those words as their road map. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  So any misstatement, any word you really wish you hadn‘t said, you can‘t take it back.  There is no do-over. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  So they‘re doing this as carefully as they can. 

ABRAMS:  Hey Daniel, you know I hear people keep saying oh, the closing arguments are going to make or break this case.  And you know they kind of—people say that kind of in every case, but I think in this one it may be truer than in many. 

HOROWITZ:  Maybe, Dan.  The way I see closing argument is this. 

There‘s always jurors on one side or the other going into the jury room.  It‘s always going to be some sort of split.  In your closing you try to give the jurors on your side both the emotional ammunition and also the factual logical arguments so that they can stick to their position and maybe bring other people over. 

So when I‘m preparing my closing argument I‘m doing really two things.  First I‘m trying to find the absolute fundamental truth.  Nothing complicated, nothing legalistic.  Just what I, Dan Horowitz want you, juror number one, to hear from me.  What do I feel...

ABRAMS:  But Daniel...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... what about the fact that Tom Mesereau said in the opening statement that it‘s a contract.  And that you should hold him accountable for anything that he hasn‘t shown.  And the bottom line is, look, he‘s proven many of the things that he said he was going to prove in his opening statement, but there are other things that fell flat.  And as a result...

HOROWITZ:  I know...

ABRAMS:  ... are the jurors actually going to go back and say, well, you know, Tom Mesereau promised that this and this and that.  And, therefore, I‘m going to hold him accountable?  I mean they‘re not really going to hold him accountable...

HOROWITZ:  No.

ABRAMS:  ... are they? 

HOROWITZ:  No Dan, they won‘t.  You know we keep saying jurors and I don‘t like that word anymore.  Jurors are just like the people watching this program and they‘re not going to hold a mistake that Tom made in opening against him if he was honest, and he was, during the presentation of his case.  I saw them looking at him. 

When he got up to ask questions of a witness, the jurors relaxed.  They trust him.  They feel comfortable.  He might say something like, you know I didn‘t give you everything I promised in some respects, but I gave you a lot more than I ever thought I would...

(CROSSTALK)

HOROWITZ:  ... in other respects and that‘s enough. 

ABRAMS:  Daniel Horowitz has become like a swami.  He‘s like sitting in court watching Tom Mesereau, saying oh these jurors trust.  I can tell you from looking that these jurors trust Tom Mesereau.  Susan...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... final thought—yes exactly.  Final thought on the fact that prosecutors get the final word here, correct?  They get to—it goes...

FILAN:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  ... prosecution, defense and then the prosecution.  Why? 

FILAN:  Because the prosecution has the burden of proof.  In other words, to the prosecutor, you brought these charges, you better prove them.  The defense doesn‘t have to prove a thing.  It‘s actually true that the defense could sleep at the table throughout the whole trial. 

If the state didn‘t meet its burden of proof, it‘s not guilty.  They have to go twice because they have the burden.  It doesn‘t give them an unfair advantage.  In fact, the thing is really skewed in favor of the defendant.  He‘s got the right to remain silent...

HOROWITZ:  Oh no Susan...

FILAN:  ... he doesn‘t have to prove anything. 

HOROWITZ:  Susan, won‘t you admit...

FILAN:  The state has its burden of proof. 

HOROWITZ:  Susan Filan...

FILAN:  Yes Dan.

HOROWITZ:  ... wouldn‘t you admit that even though technically you‘re supposed to carry your burden beyond a reasonable doubt that the jurors really don‘t do that.  They pick one side or the another and they just vote one way.  The reasonable doubt standard I think is really...

ABRAMS:  Oh come on Daniel...

HOROWITZ:  ... overrated. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  What are you talking about? 

ABRAMS:  Daniel...

HOROWITZ:  I don‘t think that we really give people reasonable doubt...

ABRAMS:  Daniel‘s lost too many trials now.  He‘s starting to talk about...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  ... oh, this and that. 

HOROWITZ:  Oh Dan, I think that I‘m right here. 

ABRAMS:  I know.  I‘m just kidding Daniel...

HOROWITZ:  I think that jurors just pick one side or the other.  I know you are, but...

FILAN:  What, if you can‘t get it done, you trash the system...

HOROWITZ:  ... I‘m strong on this point. 

(CROSSTALK)

HOROWITZ:  I think reasonable doubt is over...

ABRAMS:  Susan and Daniel...

HOROWITZ:  ... credence. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  All right.  All right, Susan and Daniel...

HOROWITZ:  All right.

ABRAMS:  ... thanks.  We‘ll see you guys tomorrow night with your mock closing arguments.  We appreciate it. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up—new details about Jackson and his family from someone who‘s been covering him for more than a decade.  “Vanity Fair‘s” Maureen Orth joins us when we come back.

And how is Jackson holding up during the trial?  Not so well says his father, Joe Jackson, says Michael is so upset he‘s not eating or sleeping.  Jackson‘s spokesperson joins us as well coming up live...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re live from Santa Maria, California, where closing

arguments set to begin on Thursday in the Michael Jackson trial.  Coming up

·         new allegations.  This one that one of Jackson‘s lawyers may have tried to buy off a key witness, who just so happens never made it to court.  Details coming up, first the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s hard to believe as I‘m waiting for the closing arguments that I‘m going to ask the following question—could a former Sony music executive actually be part of a conspiracy to bring Michael Jackson down in his criminal trial?  Well according to an upcoming article in “Vanity Fair” magazine by Maureen Orth, Michael Jackson seems to think so. 

Orth writes that according to her source, the Jacksons believe—quote—“The accuser‘s mother was being paid by Jackson‘s enemies who wanted to take control of his major economic asset, the Sony ATV/Music catalogue.  Jackson claimed the main conspirators were Sony Records, its former president, Tommy Mottola, and the D.A. Tom Sneddon”.

Orth goes on to say that former Jackson attorney Brian Oxman may have tried to pay off Jackson‘s 1993 accuser to not testify in the current trial, explains that Jackson‘s mother asked him for $250,000 after she appeared in the so-called rebuttal video.  Joining me now is the author of that article, Maureen Orth, who has been covering this trial and Michael Jackson‘s troubles for the past 12 years.  Maureen, thanks for coming on the program. 

MAUREEN ORTH, “VANITY FAIR” CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right, so of those things I just laid out, which one—what would you say is the most stunning revelation do you think in your article?

ORTH:  Well I think the fact that Michael Jackson actually had this guy come to Neverland, this conspiracy investigator, and try to figure out in the middle of a trial how to stop the trial was interesting to me.  And he had been warned over and over again that this kind of behavior was going to get him in trouble again and it didn‘t matter.  And even though people had warned him, he found himself in the same position.  And once he did, he started blaming a whole bunch of other people and it was—it became a financial plot, a racist plot, et cetera. 

ABRAMS:  Now let me read from part of the article.  He acted like he was scared silly, Novel told me.  His fear was six foot thick.  He kept asking me what prison was like.  Can he watch TV and movies there?  He wanted me to stop the show.  When I asked Novel what that meant, he related that Michael said I want this trial stopped.  He said the judge and Sneddon had rigged the game.

Even you, though, concede in your article that this guy, Novel, who‘s telling you this story, is sort of, you know, I don‘t know how to describe him, but he‘s not the most savory of characters, right? 

ORTH:  Well obviously, he‘s been involved in everything from Watergate to Waco and he‘s one of these guys that knows how to do this kind of thing if that‘s what‘s necessary.  He told Michael Jackson that he should take truth serum, be hypnotized, go for a polygraph and then that could be broadcast to the world and then that would proclaim his innocence.  I mean we‘re talking about extracurricular activity here, so you‘re not going to call the FBI...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... is he trustworthy? 

ORTH:  ... do it.  I think...

ABRAMS:  Is he trustworthy...

ORTH:  ... so.  Well the reason...

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s my question.

ORTH:  The reason I had extensive interviews with him and he told me -

·         he started talking to me way before Michael Jackson ever gave his interview to Jesse Jackson on Easter Sunday.  And a lot of what he had previously told me his advice to Michael was, et cetera, came out on that Jesse Jackson Easter Sunday radio interview.  And for that and for a number of reasons, yes, I believe what he was telling me.

ABRAMS:  You also say—this is with regard to one of Michael Jackson‘s lawyers and this is serious stuff that you‘re talking about here.  Brian Oxman had obtained Jackson‘s 1993 accuser‘s cell phone number and replaced repeated calls to him.  In addition, Oxman reportedly told the ‘93 accuser he could write his own check if he refused to testify.  That information is in the hands of the law, which could investigate for obstruction of justice.

You know again, that‘s some serious stuff that he‘s saying.  That one of Michael Jackson‘s lawyers may have been talking about paying off a key witness here.

ORTH:  Well, the—there was a prosecution witness who had reported that he had obtained the cell phone number and then in addition, it‘s my understanding that he actually did reach Jordie Chandler, the first accuser, and made that offer.  In addition, another prosecution witness, Cindy Montgomery, the travel agent, her lawyer in a case where she is suing Jackson for money he owes for a chartered flight that he was videotaped on, was contacted by Oxman as well, Brian Oxman, one of the lawyers, and was told that if she dropped her suit, life could be a lot easier for her and if she didn‘t, it wouldn‘t be.  So that was reported to the authorities as well. 

ABRAMS:  Are you worried about Brian Oxman coming after you, trying to sue you or anything...

ORTH:  I called him...

(CROSSTALK)

ORTH:  ... and asked him for his comment and we printed his comment in the magazine.  And he sort of did a non denial-denial about—he said he never contacted the FBI in the other suit and then the thing about Jordie Chandler, he said he couldn‘t comment because he was under a gag order. 

ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

ORTH:  So I mean we‘re not obviously saying these things without asking him to comment and to tell us what he, you know, what his feelings are. 

ABRAMS:  Finally...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... according—go ahead.

ORTH:  Go ahead.  No, no, that‘s OK.  We don‘t do this on one source. 

ABRAMS:  So you have more than one source about the Brian Oxman making the phone call? 

ORTH:  We‘re pretty safe, I think. 

ABRAMS:  Finally, this is about Katherine Jackson asking for money, basically say that she asked, according to a lawsuit filed against Jackson by one of the alleged co-conspirators, Marc Schaffel, Katherine, after appearing in a rebuttal video asked Michael for $250,000.  Tell us about that. 

ORTH:  Well, one of the unindicted co-conspirators, Marc Schaffel, the gay porn producer that Michael was partners with in Neverland Valley Entertainment, has filed a suit against him for moneys that he says are owed him.  And one of the—in this lawsuit that‘s been filed in court in Los Angeles County says that after, there were a number of payments that they had to may Marlon Brando $1 million, for example, because he was booed at this anniversary show at Madison Square Garden that Michael had him appear at and that also his mother asked for $250,000 after she appeared on this rebuttal video that countered the Martin Bashir documentary, which got him into all this trouble in the first place. 

ABRAMS:  Maureen Orth, “Vanity Fair”, thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

ORTH:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up—Michael Jackson‘s spokesperson responds.  Raymone Bain joins us live.  Plus, Jackson‘s dad says this trial is taking a toll on his son, says Michael‘s not eating, not sleeping.  We already know he‘s got back problems.  We‘ll ask Raymone Bain what is going on with Michael Jackson. 

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, we just heard some serious allegations about Michael Jackson and his team.  His spokesperson responds to that report live in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We are back.  I was just speaking to Maureen Orth, whose upcoming “Vanity Fair” article on the Michael Jackson case contain some pretty serious allegations.  That one source tells her that the Jacksons blame Michael‘s legal troubles on Sony and its former president and elsewhere in the piece Orth claims a former Jackson attorney told—or called the 1993 accuser in an effort to get him—to pay him, to keep him off the witness stand in the current case.  And finally that Michael Jackson‘s mother asked for $250,000 after appearing in a video. 

Here now to respond to those claims and to talk about general how Michael Jackson is doing and claims—his father saying he‘s not doing well—Michael Jackson‘s spokesperson Raymone Bain.  All right, Raymone, let‘s go through these one by one.  I want to give you a chance to respond to these. 

So first, let me—on issue one about this “Vanity Fair” article

saying that according to this source of Maureen Orth‘s—it‘s number one -

·         that Jackson believed it was all a grand conspiracy, the accuser‘s mother was being paid by Jackson‘s enemies, who wanted to take control of his major economic assets, the Sony ATV/Music catalogue, Jackson claimed the main conspirators were Sony Records, its former president Tommy Mottola and Tom Sneddon.  What to you make of it? 

RAYMONE BAIN, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S SPOKESPERSON:  I just—I‘m appalled, frankly.  I have to question the timing of this, Dan.  Here we are on the heels of closing arguments, jury deliberation and all of a sudden now we are hearing about one of Michael‘s attorneys paying off witnesses, his mother asking for $250,000.  Some guy saying that, you know, he‘s talking about a conspiracy. 

I mean Michael was—she is correct—Michael conducted an interview with Reverend Jesse Jackson, it was heard all over the world.  He did feel as if he were being conspired against.  He did not call any names.  It has come out in court.  Prosecution witnesses, defense witnesses, have all indicated that they felt Michael was not a conspirer, but that he was being conspired against himself.  So...

(CROSSTALK)

BAIN:  ... all of that is public record.  And I just feel...

ABRAMS:  Raymone...

BAIN:  ... Dan, that it‘s outrageous.  You asked me how did I feel, and I think that it‘s outrageous.  I didn‘t know how easy it was to write claims and write an article.

ABRAMS:  Well let‘s be specific then.  Are you saying that it‘s not true that Michael Jackson—you said that Michael Jackson has expressed concerns about a conspiracy against him. 

BAIN:  But he has not called names...

ABRAMS:  Are you saying it‘s not true—hang on.  Hang on.  Yes, but is it not true?  I mean are you saying it‘s just inaccurate that he believes that Sony Records, Tommy Mottola and Tom Sneddon are in a conspiracy to get him? 

BAIN:  I am saying that that whole article is just outrageous and untrue.  I know that Michael...

ABRAMS:  So it‘s not true...

BAIN:  ... Jackson has indicated publicly—it is not true.  Michael Jackson...

ABRAMS:  So it‘s not true...

BAIN:  ... has publicly...

ABRAMS:  But again, let‘s be specific, Raymone.  Raymone, I want to be specific...

BAIN:  But Dan, you‘re cutting me off. 

ABRAMS:  ... this is important stuff...

BAIN:  I‘m trying to answer your—but I‘m...

ABRAMS:  OK...

BAIN:  ... answering your questions...

ABRAMS:  All right, go ahead.

BAIN:  ... but you‘re cutting me off.  I have said...

ABRAMS:  OK, let‘s be specific...

BAIN:  ... that Michael Jackson has publicly—Michael Jackson has publicly indicated that he feels he‘s being conspired against.  But he has not named names...

ABRAMS:  Right...

BAIN:  ... as to who these conspirators are...

ABRAMS:  ... I understand.  Now I‘m asking you...

BAIN:  So how would Maureen Orth...

ABRAMS:  ... another question...

BAIN:  ... or anybody talking to her know?  Please tell me how they would know...

ABRAMS:  Because a source...

BAIN:  ... this information.

ABRAMS:  All right, I‘ll tell you.  I‘ll tell you.  Because a source apparently told her, she says, that Michael Jackson made these exact claims and named these exact people. 

BAIN:  And I don‘t believe that. 

ABRAMS:  All right, fair enough...

BAIN:  I don‘t believe that.  I do not believe he did that.  No... 

ABRAMS:  All right, let‘s talk about...

BAIN:  ... I do not.

ABRAMS:  ... let‘s talk about Brian Oxman.  This is serious stuff.  This allegation that he obtained the ‘93 accuser‘s cell phone number, placed repeated calls to him, told the ‘93 accuser he could write his own check if he refused to testify.  Your response.

BAIN:  I know Brian Oxman is a man of integrity.  I know that Brian Oxman knows how serious anything like that would be and I don‘t believe that either.  I think Brian Oxman will probably deal with that on his own.  But I specifically question the timing of some accusation like that coming out.  We‘re on the heels of the ending of this case.  We are going into jury deliberations, closing arguments and now all of a sudden someone is accusing one of Michael‘s lawyers of paying off witnesses.  That is pure bull, Dan.  I don‘t believe that and I think it‘s untrue. 

ABRAMS:  Finally, this—the business about according to the lawsuit filed by Marc Schaffel, that Katherine Jackson asked for $250,000 after appearing in the rebuttal video.

BAIN:  Knowing Mrs. Jackson, I would say that that is untrue as well.  That‘s an ongoing legal issue.  And I‘m sure when that case is heard, the truth will come out.  But knowing Mrs. Katherine Jackson as I do, I don‘t believe that either.  I think that is totally untrue as well. 

ABRAMS:  All right, so let‘s move on to a topic I think may be a little easier, that you may have direct knowledge of, and that is that Joe Jackson, his father, has done an interview recently that‘s going to be airing in the next couple of days.  And he says that Michael doesn‘t sleep a bit and he‘s not eating, and because he is so concerned about this case. 

Let me quote.  “If you‘ve got a problem like he has, it bothers you when you get ready to eat.  He probably doesn‘t eat enough and doesn‘t get enough sleep.  I‘m trying to tell him to stay strong and eat so he can get through this, yet he‘s lost a lot of weight.”  What do you make of that?  True?

BAIN:  Well I do know that I haven‘t been able to sleep or eat since Thursday of last week, Dan, and I can imagine what Michael is going through.  I mean just listening to all of these reports, can you imagine him sitting there listening to us right now and he‘s hearing about his attorney paying off  somebody, his mother asking for $250,000.  Some guy he allegedly is talking to saying he‘s calling names out about conspiracy. 

Would you be able to eat hearing all of this?  I think that it‘s a natural thing for him to be nervous.  I do know he has been sleeping and eating, but probably Mr. Jackson having been around him over the last several days, he realizes that this is taking its toll on him.  You can look at him and tell how tired he was coming into court last week. 

This has, as I‘ve indicated to you several times, it is taking a toll on him, Dan.  And I think that he‘s going through several emotions and speaking to him last night, he was going through several emotions.  He‘s glad it‘s over, but yet the hardest part comes now because his whole life is being—it rests in the hands of 12 people.  He doesn‘t know what decision is coming back from the jury.  And of course, he‘s going to sleepless nights and there are going to be days that he‘s not going to be able to eat. 

He has been eating.  He‘s been eating healthy, no fat.  And maybe he needs to do some—add some fat in his diet right now.

ABRAMS:  All right.  All right.  Raymone Bain, good to see you again. 

You get the final word on all of this. 

BAIN:  Good to see you.

ABRAMS:  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

BAIN:  And welcome to Santa Maria, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Thank you very much.  Now get something to eat, Raymone. 

Please, get some sleep. 

All right.  Coming up—we know—now know who “Deep Throat” is, but is being a source for reporters more trouble than it‘s worth these days?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—word today that this country‘s most famous whistleblower has finally come forward and identified himself.  “Deep Throat”, the source who provided the confirmation needed by “The Washington Post” Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, while reporting the Watergate story.  According to an article in “Vanity Fair” magazine, Marl Felt, the number two at the FBI at the time, has admitted it was him.  “Deep Throat” did something he was not officially supposed to do but did it for the sake of the country. 

He helped uncover a web of corruption at the highest level of government.  The administration hated the fact that it was leaked, not because it was bad for the country, because it was bad for the administration, embarrassing and yet, I wonder how that sort of heroic act would be viewed today.  The same goes for Daniel Ellsberg, the man who photocopied the Pentagon papers and provided them to Congress and “The New York Times”.  The release of those documents helped get us out of the Vietnam War. 

Those who warned the release would harm national security have since conceded it did nothing of the sort.  But I‘m worried that these days Mark Felt and even the reporters themselves would be assailed as partisan—much more so than they were back then.  Whichever party was in power would go into attack mode and leave the nation unable to appreciate why the information was released. 

Look at the case of Jim Taricani, an NBC affiliate reporter in Rhode Island who refused to reveal a source that gave him a videotape of a local official appearing to accept a bribe.  Taricani refused to give the name of his source.  He was convicted of criminal contempt and sentenced to six months home confinement. 

His source came forward voluntarily.  It didn‘t matter.  Taricani became the bad guy with the judge in the case stating publicly he should have gone to prison, was too ill to serve a prison sentence, had to be at home confinement.

I sometimes wonder whether Richard Clarke, the Republican terror expert who served four administrations and criticized the Bush administration‘s lack of focus on al Qaeda before 9/11, would have been appreciated in a less divisive time.  I don‘t know.  In many of these cases, it‘s in the public‘s interest to know, even if it‘s embarrassing to whatever administration, some leaks do benefit the country, just like “Deep Throat” did over 30 years ago.  And I would that going forward not every government official who provides information would be viewed as a villain. 

Coming up—your e-mails on the Michael Jackson case.  A lot of you very angry at one of our guests. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  On Friday, one of our guests, attorney Michael Cardoza, said prosecutors should consider charging mothers that sent their children to stay with Michael Jackson at Neverland, including the one in this case.

Lorraine Lopez writes, “What an idiot.  Do you really think that it was the mother‘s fault that all those priests molested their children?  How stupid.”

But Ben Sauter, “Why aren‘t more people disgusted, frustrated with the parents and their lack of accountability?”

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

We are out of time but that doesn‘t mean I‘m leaving.  I‘m staying right here, Santa Maria, California.  I‘ll be here for the closing arguments, full coverage.  The program to watch. 

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Thanks for watching. 

END

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