updated 10/12/2005 10:16:36 PM ET 2005-10-13T02:16:36

Guests: Gerald Dompig, Beth Holloway Twitty, Frank DeSalvo, Joseph Bruno, Barry Lynn, Jay Sekulow, Tony Mauro

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, we have just completed an exclusive interview with the deputy police chief in Aruba and it is clear there could be major developments in the Natalee Holloway case in the next few days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Deputy Chief Gerald Dompig has just told us that this case could turn around in the days to come and that he believes suspects could be arrested.  Our interview is coming up.

And their punch is caught on tape, but the lawyer for the New Orleans cops claims today they needed to do what they did, each and ever punch.  Their lawyer is with us. 

And President Bush seems to be saying he nominated Harriet Miers in part because of her religious beliefs.  Is that a legitimate consideration? 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  First up on the docket, I have just completed an exclusive interview with the deputy police chief in Aruba and let me tell you we have got all sorts of news to report from that interview, which we will play in a moment.  We are cutting the tape as we speak.  He started by saying that a recently released audiotape of a conversation with suspect Deepak Kalpoe could change everything in the Natalee Holloway investigation. 

First, here‘s what Kalpoe said on an audiotape first played on the “Dr. Phil” show. 

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

J. SKEETERS:  And the question I‘ll ask you is if you intentionally killed her?

DEEPAK:  No.

SKEETERS:  If it was an accident, I can help all of you.  And if you guys were partying even if someone had given her a date drug, I‘m sure she had sex with all of you.

DEEPAK:  She did.  You‘d be surprised how simple it was.  To tell you quite frankly, dressed like a slut, talked like one, would go in a car with three strange guys, and her mother claiming her to be the goody two shoes.  Enough of the B.S. already.  If I knew where the body is I would tell them a long time ago.  Let them start the trial and get this over with.  I don‘t care. 

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  All right, now to my exclusive interview with Aruba‘s Deputy Police Chief Gerald Dompig only moments ago where he said that now, he just needs to verify for himself that the tape is legitimate. 

GERALD DOMPIG, ARUBAN DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE (via phone):  I assure you that, if these tapes are legitimate, it could turn around the case.

ABRAMS:  Why is that?  Is what he says on that tape inconsistent with what he said in interviews with the police?

DOMPIG:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  They always denied having sex with this young girl.  And so, in looking at the tapes, to watch if this is really what this gentleman has said, then it is totally contrary to what he has declared at our police station.

ABRAMS:  So, if those tapes are verified by you, are you going to re-arrest Deepak Kalpoe?

DOMPIG:  That‘s—of course, that‘s one of the strong possibilities. 

Don‘t forget that we do have to follow tactical issues and strategies.

The issue, also, is that, in Aruba, we don‘t know the plea bargains.  It‘s not allowed within our system.  So we do have to follow different rules and regulations.

But I assure you that, once this is verified, and if it‘s legitimate, the case will turn around fully.  And it will be for us absolutely enough new information to talk once more to this young man, or, as a matter of fact, with maybe to all three.

ABRAMS:  So what would you do—let‘s again assume that you‘re able to verify this tape.  Joran Van Der Sloot is living in the Netherlands right now. 

DOMPIG:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Would you demand that he return?

DOMPIG:  That‘s a possibility.  We always—we will have to go through the judge of instruction, of course, for every new activity, which you could say basically is evasive for whatever reasons, because people have constitutional rights.

If we want to do searches and we want to arrest people within a case like this, we do have to go to a judge.

ABRAMS:  So let‘s be clear.  Up to this point, Deepak Kalpoe has denied having had sex with Natalee that night?

DOMPIG:  That‘s correct.

ABRAMS:  What about the other suspect, Joran Van Der Sloot, for example?  Did he deny repeatedly that he ever had sex with Natalee that night?

DOMPIG:  They all denied.  And I—it‘s—I‘m glad you asked you that question, because there‘s also some rumors going around from I think part of the family that Joran supposedly declared in one of his statements that he had sex with this girl in his home or his apartment.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DOMPIG:  There‘s no mention nowhere in the statements of that.

ABRAMS:  All right, let me...

DOMPIG:  The only thing that he...

ABRAMS:  Let me let you listen to this from Beth Twitty.  And then I want you to respond.

DOMPIG:  OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  I‘ve seen several of Joran‘s statements.  And I don‘t know why he was released.  He has her coming in and out of consciousness repeatedly throughout his statements.  You know, he admits to bringing her to his home.  And he even gives a date and a time, 1:40 a.m. on May the 30th, and, you know, has sex with her in his home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So you‘re saying that that is simply not true?

DOMPIG:  Not true.  The statements—as I said earlier, also, we are

re-reading all the statements at this moment.  And there‘s no statement of

that kind.

The only statement that comes close is that he had a plan—he wanted to go to the house to have sex or whatever, but—and they stopped in front of the house, but they did not leave the car.  So they didn‘t go into the house.  That‘s his statement.

And I think that maybe somewhere, somehow Beth saw the statement—it was translated, or she didn‘t get the statement completely the way it is.  But I assure you this is the statement.

ABRAMS:  We have heard from official statements from the authorities in Aruba that Joran Van Der Sloot made inconsistent statements.  True?

DOMPIG:  That is correct.

ABRAMS:  What were they inconsistent about?      

(LAUGHTER)

DOMPIG:  Well, it would take me I think a little over two days to go over all the inconsistencies.  It‘s—none of the stories match up, let me put it that way.  So when it comes to believing this individual, we know in which category to place him.

ABRAMS:  All right.  But when you say that none of the statements match up, he never claims that—he never admitted to having sex with Natalee, correct?

DOMPIG:  No.

ABRAMS:  He never admitted to killing Natalee or knowing what happened to Natalee, correct?

DOMPIG:  No.

ABRAMS:  The inconsistencies were, when was he on the beach with her, did they go back to his house, et cetera?

DOMPIG:  Exactly, details.

ABRAMS:  Was there a major detail he was inconsistent about?

DOMPIG:  I can‘t comment on that, because talking about that would really also expose future strategies and tactics we have.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Fair enough.  What about the brothers?  I mean, we talked a little bit about Deepak.  Were their statements inconsistent, in terms of what they said happened?

DOMPIG:  That is correct.

ABRAMS:  Your office and many of the authorities in Aruba have come under criticism—have been criticized for not arresting all three of them very early on, saying people criticizing you for waiting 10-something days to finally arrest them, saying the evidence was destroyed, et cetera.  What‘s your response to that?

DOMPIG:  Well, let me explain—try to explain shortly.  First of all, our systems of law—criminal law are different.  In the United States, as I did a couple of trainings at the FBI with the FBI, it is—I know that they can—they have plea-bargaining.

If this would have happened in the states, you‘d probably arrest all three, see which one is the weakest, and try to get—cut a deal with him.  And that‘s the way it‘s done in your country.

We don‘t know—we don‘t have that plea bargain tool in our system. 

So we have to follow different rules.  That‘s one.

The second thing is that we—these boys, they were seen last with

Natalee.  But they had a clean slate.  They didn‘t have anything in their -

criminal activities in their past.  So, as you would say, they didn‘t have a rap sheet.  So there wasn‘t any reason to think that their first story didn‘t—wasn‘t right or something—or there was foul play or whatever.

Thirdly, don‘t forget that we have very soon, within the window frame of eight, nine days, we started to monitor them, meaning that sometimes choosing the moment of arresting depends on whether you think that you have monitored enough or that you want to monitor a little further.

ABRAMS:  Right.

DOMPIG:  So, without really going into specific details, I‘m just trying to explain to you that the moment of arrest doesn‘t really say anything about the fact that we—what we thought of them, or what we planned, or even what we knew of them.

So, although it was a bit mind bothering to the outsiders, looking at us from the outside in, I can assure you that this was carefully looked at by the prosecutor‘s office, by the investigating team.  At that time, with the information that we had to our disposal, at that time, it was not wise, in our opinion, at that time, to arrest them very early.

ABRAMS:  Do you think that you made any mistakes in the context of this investigation?

DOMPIG:  Of course.  In any investigation, after the fact...

ABRAMS:  Right.

DOMPIG:  ... you‘re second-guessing...

(CROSSTALK)

DOMPIG:  ... each other within a team...

ABRAMS:  Specifically, what do you think that you should have done differently?

DOMPIG:  Oh, well, sometimes you talk to people and you categorize their information in a certain category and later on you feel that maybe you have used the wrong category and given it the wrong priority, those kind of things.  So those are always judgment calls.

ABRAMS:  Do you...

DOMPIG:  But in any team, all over the world, colleagues within a team sometimes second-guess each other. 

ABRAMS:  When we come back, more of our exclusive interview with Aruba‘s deputy police chief and what he says he still hopes to get out of Joran Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers, the three suspects.

And we‘ll get reaction from Natalee‘s mother to all this news, Beth Holloway Twitty listening in and she joins us.

Plus, their punches caught on tape, but the lawyer for these cops claim they needed to do what they did, each and every punch.  He joins us.

And President Bush goes on the record today, sure sounds like he said he nominated Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court in part because of her religion.  Is that a legitimate consideration? 

And this just in, we‘ve got tape of one of the few speeches made by Harriet Miers this spring.  We‘ll play it for you. 

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:  We‘re back with more of my exclusive interview with the deputy police chief in Aruba, who has revealed never before heard details about the investigation into Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance.  We‘re going to be joined by Natalee‘s mother in a moment, but first I asked the chief if he believes the three suspects, Joran Van Der Sloot, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe were involved with Natalee‘s disappearance?

DOMPIG:  Well, at this time, I think that all three persons know something that they are not telling, at least not telling us.

ABRAMS:  Something about her disappearance?

DOMPIG:  Exactly.  And I go by the rule of thumb that, in the first 40 days—as I said in a different program—the first 40 days, law enforcement has probably also already spoken to the perpetrators.

So we feel strongly that we have already spoken to them.  And there‘s no one else outside this group that could be involved or responsible.

So sometimes people will ask us that, are you not tunnel-visioned?   Maybe you should look at other possibilities.  (INAUDIBLE) possibilities, of course, we did that.  But we still feel that, every time you go on a path, a different path, that path leads back, comes back to these three boys.

ABRAMS:  So you, again, have no other even possible suspects in connection with this case?

DOMPIG:  At this time, no.

ABRAMS:  And you don‘t expect to find any more, do you?

DOMPIG:  To tell you the truth, that‘s just from—sometimes it‘s a gut feeling, as an investigator.  I do not think so.

ABRAMS:  Do you expect that, at some point in the relatively near future that the three of them will be under arrest again?

DOMPIG:  Well, it‘s very difficult to answer, but let me tell you this.  If these boys are guilty of harming this girl, I need them to be behind bars as soon as possible.

ABRAMS:  Has the pressure from the outside been hard for you to deal with, I mean, the criticism, the second-guessing, et cetera?

DOMPIG:  Yes, because, when you‘re investigating a case, any criminal case, you have to abide by the law, you have to make a lot of judgment calls, and you have to try to stay focused on the facts, while everybody around you is very emotional, and the family, friends, and even the press.

But it‘s hard to stay focused.  And it‘s hard to stay with the facts because at the end of the day, only the facts will come in front of a judge.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you about the father of Joran.  He was under arrest for a brief period of time before a judge released him.  Do you think that he knows something?

DOMPIG:  Well, we—he is, has been, and still is a person of interest.  And I wouldn‘t like to say more than that at this time.

ABRAMS:  But let‘s be clear.  A person of interest in connection with Natalee‘s disappearance...

DOMPIG:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... or in connection with something after the fact?

DOMPIG:  Both.

ABRAMS:  Finally, let me let you hear this—another piece of sound from Beth Holloway Twitty, talking about a statement that she gave to the authorities that she seems very concerned about.  And I want to give you a chance to respond.

Here‘s what she said on September 4.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  I gave a statement to a detective on June 1, and of course they‘re printed in Dutch and translated into English for me, and I signed it.  Well, that same day the same detective brought me another statement and asked me to sign it because they had to change a date.  And I did.  Well I just found out a week ago, Dan, that it‘s not my statement.  It had been altered greatly.

So, it‘s just hard to tell—what all has happened since the beginning has just been unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  What‘s your response to that?

DOMPIG:  Well, really, it might sound strange, but I have to look into it.  This is the first time I heard this.  So I have to look into it.

But normally, people sign statements or—and it has to be translated, they‘re not sure, or they want to change something.  I don‘t know what happened in this instance, so I‘m not—I don‘t feel comfortable giving a response.  But I think that, if anything happened that is not normal, we should look at it.  But that‘s the only thing I can say right now.  It‘s the first time I hear about it.

ABRAMS:  And bottom line is, you think that the American people, the people who‘ve come to care about Natalee, should feel confident in the work that your police department has been doing.

DOMPIG:  Absolutely, absolutely.  I told a press person here in Aruba the third day after Natalee went missing that Americans have been coming to Aruba over decades, and they are not just tourists any more to us.  They have become like family.  So when something like this happens, it becomes personal because these things don‘t happen every day in Aruba.  Aruba is a very safe island, and so when this happens, this hurts everybody.

As a matter of fact, when I go home every day, the first thing my wife asks me is, have you guys found her?  So it has become personal and I guarantee you that we would like to have the case solved yesterday.

ABRAMS:  Deputy chief of police in Aruba Gerald Dompig, thank you very much for taking the time, and good luck in the continuing investigation.

DOMPIG:  Thank you for having me.

ABRAMS:  Wow.  That‘s a lot of information there.

Joining me now is Natalee Holloway‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty.  All right, Beth look, you‘ve been listening, as have we, to all of this information.  It‘s the first time I‘ve heard such a candid conversation with the deputy police chief.  What do you make of it?   

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well I am guardedly encouraged.  You know I‘m -

we‘ve always been told by the prosecuting attorney should new evidence be brought forth, that it would—could and would warrant the re-incarceration of the suspects.  And as we can see, this taped confession from Deepak is certainly a new piece of evidence that should be brought forward and hopefully, they will utilize this and act upon it.

ABRAMS:  It sure sounded to me like he was saying if I can verify that this tape is actually Deepak Kalpoe saying that we all had sex with Natalee, that this could turn the investigation around. 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Absolutely.  It‘s what it sounded like to me.  You know there are a couple things that I want to make perfectly clear about statement and I could just list them for you. 

It‘s you know when we look at statements, we have to look at the facts and the facts are, number one, I did have a statement that was given on June 1 that was falsified.

Number two, I seen a torn statement on June 1. 

Number three, I‘ve had statements translated from the two uniform police officers from the night of May 31 that omitted the key elements of the sexual assault that Joran committed against Natalee. 

ABRAMS:  Now you...

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Number four...

ABRAMS:  You heard—just so we‘re clear, you heard him specifically deny that, right?  He said...

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... there‘s just no statement to that effect.

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well that‘s kind of what I‘m leading up to.  I‘m leading up to the reason why that could be.  And number four would, you know, when you think of the DEA witness, Eric Williams, was not given—was not—did not give a statement regarding the incident that occurred May 31 where Joran is again, admitting these sexual assaults committed against Natalee.

And number five, you remember there were many witnesses there that night that were never asked to give a statement until 20 to 30 days later.  So I just lay those facts out and then I have to go back in my mind and I have the date and I have the time of the statements that Joran gave and that these were translated by two Aruban attorneys in front of Dave Holloway, Judge Woody (ph), and myself. 

So there are at least two statements that exist and I have the date and time of them where Joran specifically describes Natalee as coming in and out of consciousness as he‘s committing these sexual assaults against her...

(CROSSTALK)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  ... and secondly, there is a statement that Joran gives—I‘ve got the date and time...

ABRAMS:  But he‘s just saying...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I mean, Beth, you know look, the only reason I‘m interrupting you here is because he just said it‘s just not true.  You‘re just saying he‘s wrong. 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY: Well I‘m just saying what was presented before me.  I, you know I don‘t—would never want to get in that.  But those are just facts and I just like to stick to what we‘ve had presented in front of us and...

ABRAMS:  Let me give you a minute.  I know you‘ve just heard this for the first time.  Let me give you a little—a minute to gather your thoughts...

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  OK.

ABRAMS:  I just think it‘s important, though as you say, to get the facts out there and you‘ve been telling us this and I‘ve never—look, I don‘t know.  We‘ve always taken, you know, your word.  He didn‘t seem to be questioning you or voracity.  He seemed to be saying that maybe there was a problem with the translation. 

We‘ll talk to Beth more about her reaction to the deputy chief‘s interview in a minute.  I‘m going to ask her what struck her in particular about that interview and what are her plans to continue the search for Natalee. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back talking about our exclusive with the deputy police chief in Aruba where he‘s saying that a new audiotape could turn the case around, saying that it is possible that the three suspects who were released could be re-arrested in connection with the Natalee Holloway case.

And joining me again is our friend, Beth Holloway Twitty, who is Natalee‘s mother. 

How much—how many times have you gotten to speak with the deputy police chief?  Are you in regular contact with the police?

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well initially we had a family liaison that was getting all the information through the lead investigators, but that stopped probably about six weeks ago.

ABRAMS:  Why?

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  I think it was prompted after a meeting that Jug and myself had with the prosecuting attorney.  For some reason she just made the decision at that point to terminate that line of communication.  We really weren‘t privy to why that happened.  So lately, we have jut been receiving what information we could from our attorney, Helen Lejuez, who was getting the information from Karin Janssen, the prosecuting attorney.

ABRAMS:  Was there anything that particularly struck you about what we just heard from Deputy Chief Dompig?      

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well I‘m just—like I said, I‘m guardedly encouraged that they will utilize and act upon this new evidence.  And I think all I was trying to say is, Dan, that you know we have witnessed documents being falsified and torn, so it is a concern of ours and hopes that those original statements are still there that Joran Van Der Sloot gave early on.

ABRAMS:  And he did say in regard to your statement, well you heard him say it was the first time he had heard about it.  When you had told us a while back that you felt that one of your own statements had been altered in some fashion.  He was saying it‘s the first time he had heard of it and he was going to look into it.

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Yes and I‘m—that‘s great because that really needs to happen and it is an area that needs to be addressed as to what happened to my original statement so yes, I mean any information coming out and beginning to shed light onto what has happened and what we have witnessed and experienced is, you know it is very welcomed and we are anxious to see what will come forward from here.

ABRAMS:  You‘re heading back, aren‘t you, to Aruba? 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Yes, we will all be headed back in the upcoming week. 

ABRAMS:  And what are you going to be doing there?  I understand that you‘re going to be bringing along a team with some new equipment, (INAUDIBLE)? 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Right.  There‘s a group, Jason Little (ph) has been instrumental in getting some ocean science equipment loaned to Art Wood who‘s bringing a group to search the waters and then I believe Dave Holloway is coming in with some members of EquuSearch and we‘ve just got a couple of things we need to iron out.  And one of them is my statement.  We need to go back and see what happened to my original statement and... 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, Beth good luck and...

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  OK.

ABRAMS:  ... and sorry we had to sort of all listen to this at the same time, but this just came in and I‘m glad.  Look, it sounds like there‘s going to be some progress made.  At least he‘s going to look into this allegation that you were talking about, about your statement.  So at least seems there...

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... little progress.  Thanks a lot Beth.

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Yes.  Thank you.  Thank you so much, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the attorney for three New Orleans police officers seen beating a man in this tape says they were doing what they had to, to subdue an uncooperative suspect. 

And President Bush says Harriet Miers‘ religious beliefs played a role in his decision to nominate her.  But does that make sense?  Should it when you‘re talking about the U.S. Supreme Court? 

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:  We‘re back.  This tape seemed to speak for itself.  It sure looked like the beating of a 64-year-old retired schoolteacher, Robert Davis, in New Orleans‘ French Quarter on Saturday night.  The police immediately took action and they‘re not defending the officers‘ conduct.  But today the officers are fighting back.  Attorney Frank DeSalvo representing the officers in this incident and the officer who threw an AP producer on a car says the officers did nothing wrong. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK DESALVO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  His speech was slurred.  He

was belligerent.  He told the officers to go “f” themselves and pushes away

pushed them away in an attempt to get away.  He was escorted to a nearby wall where he would be cuffed and frisked. 

When directed to place his hands behind his back, he refused and placed both his hands in his front waistband in an effort to keep them from cuffing him or an effort to maybe grab a weapon.  His right hand, they were unable to pull it behind.  In an effort to try to get it behind, he was struck several times around the neck and shoulders and the back of his head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now Robert Davis, the man accused of public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and public intimidation pled not guilty today.  His attorney, Joseph Bruno, says he‘s going to file a civil suit against the city.  The police officers have also pled not guilty to battery charges, but New Orleans Police Department continues to investigate as does the Department of Justice and the New Orleans Parish district attorney. 

Frank DeSalvo, the attorney for the three New Orleans police officers joins us now.  Thank you very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

So you just, at that news conference, you were saying essentially, that they did what they had to do.  As we watched that tape, you really think you‘re going to be able to justify each and every one of those punches to the back of his head? 

DESALVO:  Certainly.  I have to justify one at a time.  If the first punch had enabled them to cuff his right hand behind him along with his left, then that would have been enough.  But each of those blows were unsuccessful and he managed to keep them from cuffing him. 

He only got cuffed after an FBI agent, who saw the struggle, who saw him resisting, came up and tackled him and brought him to the ground, and even then they couldn‘t do it.  They maced him and then they had to hit again about the shoulders and neck until they get the right hand behind him and cuff him, and at that point the altercation ended...

ABRAMS:  You make it...

DESALVO:  ... the force stopped when the goal was reached.

ABRAMS:  You make it sound like hitting around the shoulders and neck, which based on the tape was punching him in the back of the head, is sort of standard police procedure.

DESALVO:  Well you‘re right and you‘re wrong.  When he was standing, he was hit around the shoulders and neck and the back of his head.  When he was laying on the ground and still resisting, that‘s when he was hit around the shoulders and neck.

ABRAMS:  Right.  But you can‘t say that punching him in the back of the head is justified, can you? 

DESALVO:  Certainly I can. 

ABRAMS:  And what about throwing the producer onto the car?  That was justified, too? 

DESALVO:  All right.  Let‘s talk...

(SOUNDS)

DESALVO:  ... let‘s talk about the producer...

(SOUNDS)

DESALVO:  The producer—the person who threw the producer up against the car was a police officer who was not involved in the Davis matter.  He was down the block.  He heard on the police radio the address and the situation.  He immediately headed into that section in aid of his fellow officers. 

There was a crowd that had gathered.  He pushed his way through the crowd.  One of the people he pushed his way through was the—that producer.  That producer then grabbed him, spun him around as if he had a right to stop a police officer in the performance of his duties, pushed his press pass in his face and said I‘m the press as if he had the right to...

ABRAMS:  The AP producer...

DESALVO:  ... invade a police action...

ABRAMS:  The producer assaulted...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The producer assaulted him, basically? 

DESALVO:  The producer not only assaulted him, committed a battery on him. 

ABRAMS:  Really?

DESALVO:  This was witnessed by a state trooper from Louisiana and a state trooper from New York...

ABRAMS:  Why wasn‘t he arrested...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Why wasn‘t he arrested for it?

DESALVO:  Because they didn‘t care.  I mean it‘s not that big a deal. 

He was pushing him away, said get out of this—this is a crime scene.  We‘re doing what we got to do and he went off and did his job.  That was all.  That producer doesn‘t want to push it.  He knows what happened.

ABRAMS:  Yes, well I—my understanding is that producer‘s position is quite different from the one that you just laid out.  But here‘s Robert Davis...

DESALVO:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... talking about...

DESALVO:  Unfortunately, the witnesses...

ABRAMS:  Let me—this is what Robert Davis said about what happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT DAVIS, SUBJECT OF TAPED BEATING:  So why would this other policeman for some reason just jump on me?  I don‘t know.  You know, it maybe had been my dress because I had on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, socks and sandals and I had this beard.  You know?  And I‘ve had it for a while.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Joseph Bruno, you see him standing there next to Robert Davis, joins us now on the phone.  You‘ve been listening to Mr. DeSalvo basically say that your client was essentially asking for it and simply wasn‘t obeying the instructions that he was being given.

JOSEPH BRUNO, ROBERT DAVIS‘ ATTORNEY (via phone):  What can I say?  I pity poor Frank.  We‘ve watched the tape in slow motion.  My client has a facial fracture to the right part of his face.  The officer is seen repeatedly punching him in the face. 

By the way, the same officer who have information tried to kill himself with carbon dioxide, has a history of emotional and psychiatric issues and folks who gave me this information were totally shocked when he advised them that he was being allowed to be a police officer.  Here is the deal.

Every year we invite millions of people to come to this city...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BRUNO:  ... for Mardi Gras.  Have a good time.  I mean to suggest that we don‘t expect people to come to this town and drink and be publicly intoxicated is absolutely absurd.  And if Frank wants to take the position that if you come to this city and you mistakenly get a little too much—that you are going to invite a beating?  How is this city going to come back to life, Frank?  I just don‘t get it.  What message are you sending?

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to let him respond, but I‘ve got to follow up with one question.  You‘re not—yesterday, you were telling us that your client hadn‘t had a drink in 25 years, is that...

BRUNO:  Correct.  That‘s—and I‘m not—and by that, I‘m not suggesting...

ABRAMS:  OK.

BRUNO:  ... I‘m just saying Frank, wake up and smell the coffee.  OK, this is New Orleans.

ABRAMS:  All right, I‘ve got to give him a chance to respond.  Go ahead Mr. DeSalvo.

DESALVO:  Well, I think police officers allow people to get drunk and walk down Bourbon Street all the time.  When they get so drunk that they‘re stumbling and actually stumble into a police horse, then they have an obligation to stop that person from either hurting himself or someone else. 

And what happened here was when they tried to bring this man into control, he resisted.  He told them to go “f” themselves and he tried to walk away.  They couldn‘t let him walk away.  That would have been dereliction of duty.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I think—Mr. DeSalvo, I think you‘ve got a tough case ahead of you, but you are an attorney and you‘re representing a client, so we shall see. 

Frank DeSalvo and Joseph Bruno thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

BRUNO:  Thank you.

DESALVO:  Take care.  See you later, Joe. 

BRUNO:  Thank you man.

ABRAMS:  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIET MIERS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE:  Our world today is competitive, getting ahead is not easy.  The solid foundation for life is character and faith that no one can take away and time and events do not erode.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We‘ve just gotten in that tape of Harriet Miers, giving the commencement speech at Pepperdine University earlier this year.  She refers to her faith again and again.  Today, President Bush suggested that one of the reasons he chose Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court was because of her religious beliefs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers.  They want to know Harriet Miers‘ background.  They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions and part of Harriet Miers‘ life is her religion, part of it has to do with the fact that she was a pioneer woman in a trailblazer in the law in Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Jay Sekulow joins us now from the American Center for Law and Justice.  Barry Lynn is with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.  And Tony Mauro is a Supreme Court correspondent for “Legal Times” and “The American Lawyer”. 

All right.  Barry, you sent out a press release today saying you were extremely troubled by the statements of the president.

BARRY LYNN, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE: 

Absolutely.  You know we are not choosing someone to be a teacher in a Sunday school here.  We‘re trying to choose another associate justice for the United States Supreme Court. 

The president had a wonderful opportunity today to say when he was asked about religion, to say Harriet Miers is religious, but I cannot talk about this.  I have a duty under the Constitution not to violate Article VI, which is a prohibition against any religious test for public office.  And he also had an opportunity...

ABRAMS:  But wait, Barry, he wasn‘t saying that he had imposed a religious test, was he?  I mean all he was saying is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... look, I got to know her.  Part of what I know about her is that she‘s religious.

LYNN:  Yes, but religion has got to be off the table and he can‘t have Karl Rove, for example, calling James Dobson, the head of “Focus on the Family”, the most important conservative religious leader in the country and saying, oh, by the way, trust the president because Harriet Miers goes to a conservative evangelical church where just about everybody‘s pro-life. 

That‘s inappropriate.  The president should have condemned Karl Rove for bringing religion into this debate.  It has no place whatsoever and I‘d be shocked if even Jay Sekulow thinks we should intrude religion into this kind of debate...

ABRAMS:  I will let Jay Sekulow respond.  Here‘s what Dobson said today about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES DOBSON, “FOCUS ON THE FAMILY”:  What did Karl Rove say to me that I knew on Monday that I couldn‘t reveal?  Well, it‘s what we all know now.  That Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life.  In other words, there is a characterization of her that was given to me before the president had actually made this decision. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Jay, isn‘t there something that makes you feel uncomfortable about the idea that the president today is sort of winking and nodding and saying, yes, look, part of the reason I like her is religious.  Karl Rove is calling up Dobson and he‘s saying hey, you know don‘t worry she comes from a really conservative church.  It all does sound like Rove and to a small degree, the president, are saying hey, she‘s religious.  Don‘t worry.

JAY SEKULOW, AMERICAN CTR FOR LAW & JUSTICE:  You have to put all of this in context.  First of all, Jim Dobson‘s statement about knowing that Harriet is an evangelical Christian that was no secret.  That wasn‘t known simply two or three days before the president made any announcement.

That‘s been—for those that knew Harriet, they knew she was a Christian.  This wasn‘t any great surprise.  And I think what you initially said, Dan, is actually correct.  And that is the president didn‘t impose a religious litmus test.

He didn‘t say look, I‘m going to nominate someone only if they believe in this.  But he did say this and I think it‘s legitimate.  He nominated Harriet Miers because of who she is.  Part of who she is is her faith commitment.  You know there‘s a lot of talk when there‘s been nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States of justices that are Jewish, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and there was a lot of talk about the Jewish seat at the Supreme Court of the United States as if there was a litmus test. 

Now none of us were upset or concerned that President Clinton and other presidents have nominated various members of various different religious groups.  That doesn‘t bother anyone...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  There seems to be a difference between saying someone is Jewish versus someone is an evangelical Christian...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... wait, wait—and therefore, you can be comfortable that this person will be the kind of justice you will like.

SEKULOW:  Now, wait a minute.  I think we‘ve got to put this into the context of what was said.  Karl Rove‘s statements—and I wasn‘t part of those conversations regarding the fact that Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian—was not—again, that‘s not big news to anybody...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s just the fact...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s just the fact that he‘s saying it.

SEKULOW:  But hold it.  You‘re putting the statement—you‘re saying if someone has a particular faith perspective that should be...

ABRAMS:  No...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Jay, it‘s different...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s not the same to say—we‘re not saying it‘s because she has a faith that‘s the problem...

SEKULOW:  But that is part of who she is and it should not be deemed either a qualifier or a disqualifier.

ABRAMS:  But the president seemed to be saying that‘s part of the reason that he liked her. 

SEKULOW:  No, he was answering a question... 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SEKULOW:  ... that was asked...

(CROSSTALK)

SEKULOW:  ... her faith is part of who she is...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right, let me bring Tony Mauro into this. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Tony, look, as the objective observer here, this is unusual, is it not, in terms of the history of a candidate before the process begins having—it‘s not unusual to discuss religion, but this sort of subtle back and forth is a bit unusual, is it not?

TONY MAURO, “LEGAL TIMES‘” SUPREME COURT REPORTER:  It certainly is and for President Bush to say that this was a reason, one of the factors why he picked Harriet Miers, it‘s like the rules for cross-examination, which you know, Dan, well, you know once he raises the issue, the other side is now entitled to delve into that more deeply.  So I think we‘re about to launch into a debate over what does it mean to have an evangelical Christian Supreme Court justice.  Does it mean that that person can‘t be open-minded?  It‘s kind of...

ABRAMS:  What about Jay‘s point, Tony, that when Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even Breyer, you know you talked about the fact that they were Jewish.  People talked about it.  They said hey, they‘re Jewish.  Is this different to you? 

MAURO:  I think it is because certainly it was mentioned but I don‘t think President Clinton said that he appointed them in part because they were Jewish...

(CROSSTALK)

SEKULOW:  Let me remind everybody of the discussions that have taken place in Supreme Court history about the role of religion in the Supreme Court justices‘ nomination process.  Well you recall that when Justice Goldberg resigned, there was a lot of discussion about should the replacement be Jewish.  Now, I don‘t --  I‘m not one that advocates for a litmus test, but I think you‘re taking...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jay...

SEKULOW:  ... what the president said completely out of context...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Barry, final word...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... final word.  I‘ve got to wrap it up.

(CROSSTALK)

LYNN:  Jay has completely—Jay you‘ve completely distorted this.  The point is Karl Rove works for the White House, works for President Bush, was told to call conservative Christians like James Dobson in order to make the point that this is why she should be considered a safe candidate. 

That‘s an improper use of religion.  Karl Rove, I know he‘s going to the grand jury later in the week for something else...

(CROSSTALK)

LYNN:  He should have stopped...

(CROSSTALK)

LYNN:  No, he should have stopped at the wood shed...

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got to wrap it up. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I apologize to all of you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:  You all deserve more time.  Jay Sekulow, Barry Lynn, and Tony Mauro...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thanks.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it. 

Coming up, their punches caught on tape but the lawyer for these cops claims they needed to do what they did, each and every punch.  Coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Sorry we didn‘t get the chance to get to your e-mails.  We just ran out of time with all that breaking news coming out of Aruba.  But please do send in your e-mails, abramsreport@msnbc.com.  We‘ll certainly be reading the e-mails tomorrow. 

And tomorrow night on the show, we‘ve got Matt Cooper of “TIME” magazine who will be talking about Judy Miller, testifying in front of the grand jury.  This all part of the investigation into who leaked the name of that CIA agent. 

Thanks for watching.  I will see you tomorrow.  Bye.

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

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