Guests: Brian Crandall, Richard Lipton, Christopher Behan, Clint Van Zandt, Dave Holloway, Beth Holloway Twitty, John Q. Kelly, Kris Kobach, Martha Coakley
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch is now behind bars, convicted of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million he won on the TV program.
ABRAMS (voice-over): The original reality TV star cuffed and taken away. The judge saying he‘s a flight risk. Richard Hatch now facing the possibility of more than a decade in prison. So how will the man who survived on a remote island survive behind bars?
And Aruban authorities come to Alabama to interview Natalee Holloway‘s friends. What took them so long? We talk to Natalee‘s mother.
Plus, a mother and baby found murdered in a home they just moved into. The husband considered a person of interest.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi, everyone. First up on the docket, breaking news, the tribe has spoken. Reality TV star Richard Hatch may have been able to outwit and some would say snooker 15 other contestants on the first episode of “Survivor”, but not 12 members of a Rhode Island jury. Hours ago they found him guilty of tax evasion for failing to pay up on his $1 million winnings from the show, in addition to other earnings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want the million. I really want the million. Oh my God, it would change my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: He was taken into custody after the verdict was read. The judge saying he‘s a flight risk. I guess the fear was that he can survive just about anywhere. Remember, Hatch was the one who walked around the island in the buff.
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) David letterman even dubbed him the fat, naked guy. He ultimately won the contest by teaming up with other players and then pitting them against each other until he was the only one left. He survived the wilds of Borneo, but now he‘ll have to figure out a way to survive in prison. Hatch faces up to 13 years and a fine of $600,000.
Joining me now from Rhode Island is reporter Brian Crandall from NBC affiliate WJAR. He was in the courtroom today. So, Brian, they literally cuffed him and took him into custody?
BRIAN CRANDALL, WJAR REPORTER: Well, Dan, it was—they kind of shooed everybody out of the room. Hatch got up—he really didn‘t have a whole lot of emotion on his face. He‘s been kind of, I don‘t know if the word is nonchalant, but at least at ease for most of the trial. He got up—the marshals surrounded him and then they kind of moved everybody out of the courtroom and took him away. And a little while later a prison van drove out the back of the courthouse, you couldn‘t see in the van but we‘re told that Hatch was in it, off to a federal detention center.
ABRAMS: Brian, he testified in this case on his own behalf. How did he do on the witness stand? Because he came across on the program as kind of a jerk.
CRANDALL: Well I guess it depends on who you listen to in the courtroom, Dan. He was on the stand for a day and a half. And oftentimes he would kind of turn and tell his story to the jury, often giving long answers, explaining himself. I don‘t know. It was hard to say. I think some people in the courtroom did think he kind of came off as arrogant and related him to his appearance on the show, although his lawyers tried to say he wasn‘t the villain that he was portrayed to be on “Survivor”.
ABRAMS: And his defense essentially was that he just got overwhelmed, suddenly being so rich so fast?
CRANDALL: Well, there were a couple things. They claimed he was an atrocious bookkeeper. They also say that the accountants that he had didn‘t do the job right. He said he wasn‘t sure he had to pay taxes on the $1 million. He claimed he never read his contract that he signed with the show that did say he had to pay taxes. So there was a whole bunch of factors in terms of why they say he didn‘t pay. He said there were distractions in his life, like all the celebrity he had, and some issues here in Rhode Island with his son.
ABRAMS: All right, Brian Crandall thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Joining me now on the phone is attorney Christopher Behan, who testified on Richard Hatch‘s behalf in the case. He once represented Hatch in another case, child abuses charges where Hatch was found not guilty. Also with me is tax attorney Richard Lipton. He‘s the former chair of the American Bar Association Tax Section.
Before I go to Mr. Behan and talk about this particular person and Richard Hatch and testifying for him, as a legal matter, Mr. Lipton, it‘s not a defense to say I‘m a bad bookkeeper. I get overwhelmed. I didn‘t read the contract. I mean if that were a legal defense in tax cases, everyone would say that any time they were charged with tax fraud.
RICHARD LIPTON, TAX ATTORNEY: It absolutely is not a legal defense. Everyone has an obligation to file an honest tax return and to pay your taxes. The most important thing, though, is to be sure to file a complete and correct return. You don‘t go to jail for not having the money, but you can go to jail for filing an incorrect return. And my understanding is that Mr. Hatch or the jury found that Mr. Hatch filed an incorrect return for two years and he‘s off to the slammer.
ABRAMS: What kind of time—and we always talk about up to X amount of years, but as a practical matter, what kind of time is he facing here?
LIPTON: I don‘t know all the details, but it‘s probable that he‘ll be facing somewhere from six to 10 years in jail.
ABRAMS: Wow. Really?
LIPTON: A real long time.
LIPTON: Well they convicted him on a number of counts of tax evasion. And even though the maximum is 13 years—it usually is less, but that will depend on what the judge thought of the evidence he heard in the—he or she heard in the trial.
ABRAMS: And what kind of prison? I mean this is a Martha type prison?
LIPTON: Yes, this is usually for tax evasion is a low security prison.
ABRAMS: All right, Christopher Behan, you testified on behalf of Richard Hatch. What did you say?
CHRISTOPHER BEHAN, FORMER HATCH ATTORNEY (via phone): I did. My testimony was quite basic and was more foundation for I think some of the other evidence, the defense was trying to bring forth. I basically testified as to the child abuse charges that were brought back in 2000 and the fact that I had, at Richard‘s request, cooperated with the government when they wanted to question me.
ABRAMS: All right, so let me ask you this. Are we missing the heart of the defense here? I mean it does seem that the claim that he gets overwhelmed, he‘s not a good accountant, he didn‘t read his contract. There had to be more to the defense than that.
BEHAN: Well I can‘t speak to that because I am not a tax expert. I certainly don‘t practice in this area, but that‘s what they were trying to show. And I would believe, being involved with Richard back in 2000, 2001, 2003, doing some legal work for him, I would certainly could attest to the fact that he was overwhelmed and was going through some very traumatic times during that period of time.
ABRAMS: Well let me ask you about him as a person. Again, those of us who only know him from TV and watching the program would say he doesn‘t come across as the most likable guy.
BEHAN: That‘s Richard‘s problem. There are two Richard Hatches. There‘s the Richard Hatch that the—everyone saw on “Survivor”, that people might have read about when there was a reporting on the child abuse case. And there‘s the Richard Hatch that everybody—excuse me—that his friends and close acquaintances know. And they‘re completely different people.
On one end you have the—what you might see in the public, through “Survivor” and the media and so on, who is cunning, who is kind of a dislikable person. But the real Richard Hatch is a very loyal person and I would say, at least in my experience, he‘s a very truthful person. And he‘s the—you see what you get right when you meet with him.
ABRAMS: Richard Lipton, on $1 million, how much in taxes should he have been paying?
LIPTON: Well, the maximum rate‘s 35 percent, so 350, but probably when you really come down to it, he owed north of a quarter million dollars of taxes, but you have to remember what‘s important here is you look at this case, he didn‘t evade tax only on the one million, there was the second year, as well. And when the prosecutors decide to bring a federal tax case, the first thing they look for is a pattern of non-reporting.
And that‘s exactly what you had here. When you have multiple years, it‘s all the easier for them to convince a jury that it‘s intentional. The excuse he was making that he got overwhelmed, now sometimes people do get overwhelmed and sometimes they don‘t file for a year. They always should and they always should report all their income.
But you‘re less likely to be criminally prosecuted for a one-time mistake. You‘re a repeat violator, and it seems that‘s what Mr.—what the jury found in Mr. Hatch, you‘re much more likely to go to jail.
ABRAMS: And it sounds according to you he‘s going to prison for a significant amount of time. All right, Christopher Behan and Richard Lipton, thank you both very much. Appreciate it.
BEHAN: Thank you.
LIPTON: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Aruban authorities arrive in Alabama finally to question Natalee Holloway‘s friends about the night she went missing. What took them so long? What do they think they‘re going to find now?
And in Massachusetts, a young family moves into a new home, less than two weeks later police find the mother and baby dead. The husband flees the country and is now a person of interest.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: We‘re back now with some breaking news in the Natalee Holloway investigation. NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski joins us now with the latest.
Michelle, what do you know?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Dan. Today top Aruban police officials confirmed for us there that is new information in the disappearance case of Natalee Holloway. New information that they say leads them to feel strongly about the lighthouse on the island, which has been looked at many times before, as they put it, a potential burial site.
For that reason police say within the next week or two they expect to see a full FBI cadaver team come to the island, search that area along with Dutch specialists. That area, as we said, has been searched before, but now they have this new information, which they can‘t go into detail about, that leads them right back there.
We also know that volunteer searchers are expected to head to Aruba within the next couple of weeks. They‘ll be looking at other areas as well. Now that new information, they say, comes into the case at a surprising rate. They say they get now about 100 tips a week, about 10 percent of which police say is interesting to this case.
And the information that we mentioned that they‘re really focusing on, they say is potentially significant in building a case against the three suspects who are now all released from jail.
KOSINSKI: And new information is also...
ABRAMS: I was just going to say...
KOSINSKI: Yes, go ahead, Dan.
ABRAMS: Just let me ask you one quick question. We‘ve had a lot of these instances where we‘ve heard about what seemed like major developments that they had gone into certain areas they‘d begun digging. They‘ve gone to a landfill, et cetera. Is there something about this that they feel may be different?
KOSINSKI: Nobody is calling this a major development, but police say they feel good about the new information they‘ve gotten. And new information is also the reason that Aruban police have now traveled to the United States here in Alabama, as well as surrounding states, to interview some of Natalee‘s friends who were with her that night that she disappeared back in May.
Now these kids remember have been interviewed before by the FBI shortly after this happened. But Aruban police told us today that back then when they were interviewed, police didn‘t have the benefit of this so-called new information. That‘s why they‘re back here. They‘re interviewing and specifically because of that information, police say they‘re focusing on a certain group of kids, which they wouldn‘t go into detail about why these kids qualify.
But we know that they‘re not necessarily Natalee‘s closest friends. We talked to a parent of one of Natalee‘s good friends and her daughter has not been notified that she would necessarily be interviewed again. So police are focusing on specific information that they‘re getting and a specific group of kids that they want to re-interview and try to see how this all correlates in a case they say against those same three suspects.
ABRAMS: All right, Michelle Kosinski, is you could just stick around for a moment. I want to bring into the conversation, joining me on the phone is Natalee‘s father, Dave Holloway. Dave, thanks for coming back.
And Clint Van Zandt, an MSNBC analyst and former FBI investigator.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes.
ABRAMS: Clint, let me start with you.
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
ABRAMS: The fact that the authorities are saying that they‘ve got information that this could be a possible burial site of Natalee Holloway, how could they have gotten that sort of information from talking to witnesses in Alabama?
VAN ZANDT: Well, and I don‘t know that they would have. The only thing we know that links Alabama to that alleged burial site, the term you use now, is that allegedly, when Natalee was taken away when she left the bar with the three suspects, it was under the pretext that they were going to take her up and show her that lighthouse. Now, this summer when I was in Aruba, Michelle obviously was there, too. We were out in that lighthouse area.
We saw the dunes being searched. We saw search teams with cadaver dogs that were working that area. So you know if they‘ve got something that‘s going to put an X on the sand that gives them a better place to look, so be it. But right now, Dan, they‘ve been through that area once. Either they‘re just going to do a wide search again or somehow they‘ve come up with specific information that‘s going to take them to one of dozens, maybe hundreds of dunes in that area.
ABRAMS: Dave Holloway, I know that each and every one of these developments has got to be very difficult for you to hear, but something like this in particular. Did you know anything about this before now?
DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S FATHER (via phone): I heard that they have been centering around the sand dunes, but as far as a specific location, no.
ABRAMS: What have they told you about the area around the sand dunes?
HOLLOWAY: Well you know I searched the sand dunes early on along with a bunch of tourists and of course, I saw on TV a week or so ago that they had approximately 60 police officers out there looking as well. Keep in mind, Dan, when the search dogs or cadaver dogs went out to this area, you know they have a steady wind blowing 15 to 20 miles per hour. And it‘s very, very difficult for a dog to pick up a good scent.
And if they miss something, it is due to the weather conditions and the wind conditions. I‘m hopeful the FBI can go back if they do have something and conclude this case.
ABRAMS: Michelle Kosinski, if they have good information about this, why not go immediately?
KOSINSKI: They said everything takes time. To be specific, when they talked about interviewing these students, they say that idea has come up within the last few months. So that‘s how you know long ago some of this new information was coming in. But they said it was a bureaucracy of getting special clearance to come to the U.S. because they have no jurisdiction here.
Special you know clearances from certain officials that they had to get. Now as far as bringing the FBI there, the FBI wouldn‘t comment on that right now. And Aruban police wouldn‘t give us any more information as to exactly when or how that came to be. But we can only assume that it does take time to gather forces and get out there, as well as you know just the logistics of it all.
ABRAMS: Let me ask Clint Van Zandt about that. Clint, is that the case? That it just takes that long?
VAN ZANDT: Well, no, Dan. I mean Michelle is partly right, but the FBI can move pretty quick if they have to. Part of the issue is that these cadaver dogs are not necessarily FBI dogs. They have to get them from police dog teams, so they have to make them available.
The FBI then pays to fly them over there and they work with FBI agents and Arubans to do the search. But the bureau has always from square one said we will give you everything you need to solve this case. And eight months later, they‘re still saying, what do you need to solve the case?
ABRAMS: Gerald Dompig was the lead investigator. He was on the program November 1 explaining why they needed these additional interviews with these friends of Natalee‘s in Alabama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEROLD DOMPIG, ARUBAN DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF: Once we have received enough details, I repeat enough details and we need more staples. And that information that we only discuss with professional agents. The FBI, not with the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Dave Holloway, are you pleased that they‘re in Alabama?
HOLLOWAY: Well they‘ve been wanting to come to Alabama for the last six months and I‘m glad that they have finally come. I think what they‘re trying to do is paint the full picture and plug some holes on the state of mind of the students and Natalee at the time that she left with the three guys.
ABRAMS: Dave Holloway, Clint Van Zandt and Michelle Kosinski, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
ABRAMS: A couple of hours ago before we got this late news we spoke with Natalee‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, and to her attorney John Kelly. I began by asking Beth what she makes of Aruban authorities asking questions in Alabama.
BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER: Oh boy, it‘s hard to sort through it all. I mean you know when I‘m listening to the things that have happened over the last eight months and you know when you just hear things as simple as how the FBI is allowing the Aruban officials here in the United States to conduct these interviews and you know they‘re presented even in, you know in English, it‘s just amazing to me, and I think of how difficult it was for the FBI in Aruba when they were not even allowed in the interrogations and they‘re presented in Dutch. I mean you know we were at such a disadvantage from the beginning. It‘s just incredible.
ABRAMS: Beth, I want to ask you about a comment that you made back at the end of October about the possibility of getting these additional statements from Natalee‘s friends and I want to ask you if your view on this has changed.
You said they have all the statements that they need from the FBI regarding the students being on the island that evening. They just need to look at them. They do not need to be advertising for these students to contact them. They have the statements. There‘s nothing else that they need.
Do you still feel that way?
TWITTY: Well, you know I do feel that way but if Aruba feels that they need some, you know some additional information to fill in a few holes, then you know so do it. And I think that what everyone is saying is that the United States is accommodating them, and not only that, but you know even helping set up these interviews and you know being there to support them while they obtain the information. We just don‘t want Aruba to come back on us and say that you know we failed on our part. We have certainly not been negligent on our part.
ABRAMS: Has your relationship with the Aruban authorities gotten better?
TWITTY: Well you know Dan, one thing I‘m grateful for is I‘ve elicited the help obviously of John Quinlan Kelly, and I have turned over that to him. And he is the primary source of you know keeping the communication and obtaining the communication from the prosecuting attorney and the chief of police. You know I just didn‘t do well with that, Dan, so I had to turn that over.
ABRAMS: Well look, good for you. I mean you know of all the things that you‘ve got to worry about and deal with in your life these days, I would think that this is one of those details that you can hand over to your lawyer. That‘s one of the reasons you get a lawyer. So John, you‘re still with us, right?
JOHN Q. KELLY, HOLLOWAY FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you. Has the relationship with the Aruban authorities improved? I mean because it got real rocky there for a while.
KELLY: It was. I think there was a line drawn in the sand from the end of August until you know I went down there at the beginning of December, after I you know agreed to help Beth with that situation. And you know I met with Dompig and Janssen at that point. Janssen has been in constant telephone communication with me.
I‘m going back down there Sunday as a matter of fact for a few days. I‘ll be meeting with the key players down there including Dompig and Janssen and at least there‘s some flow of information both ways. You know there are things that I feel are of value that I‘m sharing with them, and they keep me posted on what they‘re doing there too, so that is a plus.
ABRAMS: Beth, have you made any other efforts to contact or confront any of the three suspects?
TWITTY: Oh no I haven‘t and I think those days are over, Dan. I think that you know I did what I could on the island and you know I don‘t regret anything that I did. I wish I could have even you know gotten more contact with them, because you know I felt as if I had questions and they had information, and you know it was just desperate trying to get it.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you a question, Beth, and if you don‘t feel comfortable answering this, please just tell me, and I‘ll change the subject. But you also have a son, Natalee‘s brother. Are you comfortable talking about how he‘s doing through all this?
TWITTY: Well you know I am, Dan. And you know Matt is—he is almost 18 years old. He is doing well. You know I think that, of course, you know some people deal with things differently, and—but for the most part, yes, he is doing good. And you know we just have to get through it and just hang in there, Dan.
ABRAMS: Has all the attention made it harder for him to just be an ordinary senior in high school?
TWITTY: Oh, no. I mean no, he‘s been so supportive, Dan. He‘s been very supportive of all of my efforts in this investigation and he knows that we need to continue. And no, I don‘t think as far as that goes that has changed in his life, Dan. He‘s—no.
ABRAMS: All right. Beth Twitty, keeping up the fight, keeping on the pressure and hiring a great attorney like John Kelly. Thanks to both of you for coming on. Appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Coming up, President Bush takes his case for a domestic surveillance program to the folks running it at the NSA.
And police find a mother and baby shot dead in their home. The father flees the country. Authorities say he‘s a person of interest, but could his suspicious business activities point to other possible suspects?
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike. Our search today is in Maryland.
Authorities are looking to locate Christopher Missouri, 43, five-nine, 250. Missouri was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl. He has yet to register properly with the state. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Baltimore City Police Department, 443-984-7388.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Senator Arlen Specter says he‘s got some very specific questions that he wants the attorney general to answer about the NSA spying program. We‘ve got the questions. And we‘ve got someone who‘s going to try to provide the answers coming up.
ABRAMS: President Bush was speaking behind closed doors at the National Security Agency today, trying to boost the morale in the days before the Senate launches high-profile hearings into whether the NSA supervised wiretapping program Mr. Bush is now calling his terrorist surveillance program is legal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The good folks who work out here understand we are at war. We must learn the intentions of the enemies before they strike. That‘s what they do here. They work to protect us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will testify at the hearings, facing senators from both sides of the aisle, many of whom still seem skeptical.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think the president broke the law.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I don‘t know. I want to be perfectly clear, I don‘t know the answer. That‘s why I welcome the hearings. If we didn‘t—if I was sure whether it‘s legal or not, then I wouldn‘t feel that these hearings are important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Yesterday Attorney General Gonzales said the surveillance program was—quote—“necessary and lawful to fight the war on terror”, but Judiciary Committee Chairman Republican Arlen Specter has released questions he wants answered during those hearings. We have got the questions. There are 15 of them.
We‘re not going to go through all of them, but joining us now for effectively a dress rehearsal, to try to answer some of these questions, exact questions actually that Alberto Gonzales will be asked or has been asked to answer is constitutional law professor Kris Kobach, former counsel to Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Professor, thanks for coming back on the program.
KRIS KOBACH, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: My pleasure.
ABRAMS: All right, so you‘ve seen these questions and you know...
ABRAMS: ... that Arlen Specter has said he wants Alberto Gonzales to answer them. So we‘re going to give you—you know we‘re doing this for TV here, so we‘ll give you 45 seconds on each question. I‘m going to ask you them basically verbatim as to how Arlen Specter has laid them out, and then I‘m hoping that you can provide what will be similar answers to the ones we can expect from the attorney general. All right...
KOBACH: I‘ll do my best.
ABRAMS: All right. Question number one: In interpreting whether Congress intended to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA, by the September 14, 2001 resolution, would it be relevant on the issue of congressional intent that the administration did not specifically ask for an expansion for executive powers under FISA? Was it because you thought you couldn‘t get such an expansion as when you said that was not something that we could likely get?
KOBACH: In my opinion, the reason why the administration probably did not go—the probable reason why they didn‘t go to Congress and ask for an amendment to FISA was that they thought doing so would compromise national security. FISA has some holes in it. It has some situations where—remember, it was drafted in 1978 before there were laptop computers and cell phones.
And if the administration had gone to FISA—gone to Congress and said we need you to update this act because we can‘t do X, Y, and Z, then that would have telegraphed to the terrorists, hey, they‘re going to try to do X, Y, and Z. They‘re going to try to intercept this type of phone call. And so the executive branch made the wise decision to say let‘s rely on our inherent powers under article two, our war-fighting powers, and make the surveillance under those powers, which presidents have been using for many, many years...
ABRAMS: All right.
KOBACH: ... in the Second World War and in the First World War...
ABRAMS: All right.
KOBACH: ... we intercepted telegraph...
ABRAMS: Question two and I‘m not going to debate here. We‘re just trying to give you a sense of...
ABRAMS: ... the kinds of answers that Alberto Gonzales will provide, so again, try and stay—effectively in that voice, as if he—this is the way he will answer them.
Number two: If Congress had intended to amend FISA by the resolution that you were just talking about, wouldn‘t Congress have specifically acted as Congress did in passing the Patriot Act given the executive expanded powers and greater flexibility in using roving wiretaps?
KOBACH: Well, you have to remember when Congress was passing this resolution it was seven days after 9/11. And so they used very broad language. It authorized the president to use all necessary and appropriate force to prevent future attacks on American soil. That necessary and appropriate force is a direct quote from the resolution or the act passed by Congress.
And so they weren‘t looking in a crystal ball, saying well we know we‘re going to go into Afghanistan and then into Iraq and we‘re going to under—we‘re going to uncover these specific things that the terrorists are doing. They simply said we don‘t know exactly what‘s going to happen here, but we want to give the president broad authorization. And that‘s what the executive branch has taken it to be, a broad authorization, and the Supreme Court has taken it to be a broad authorization...
ABRAMS: Well I don‘t want to get into the Supreme Court because I don‘t agree with you on your analysis of the Supreme Court, but...
Number three: Wasn‘t President Carter‘s signature on FISA in 1978 together with his signing statement an explicit renunciation of any claim to inherent executive authority under article two of the Constitution to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance when the act provided the exclusive procedures for such surveillance?
KOBACH: If you look at Carter‘s signing statement in 1978, it says that it clarifies—that‘s the word he uses—it clarifies executive authority. Well one president does not have the authority to bind another president. Now a subsequent president might think it clarifies, but it doesn‘t do anything more than that.
It doesn‘t limit it in any way. The second answer here, Attorney General Griffin Bell, who was Carter‘s attorney general, testified before Congress and said very clearly that this act in no way infringes upon the president‘s inherent article two powers to do electronic surveillance during wartime. And the third point here is no act of Congress can take away from the president what the Constitution gives to him. So regardless of what Congress thought it was doing—and many people thought Congress was overstepping its constitutional bounds in 1978, they can‘t take away the president‘s inherent powers under article two.
ABRAMS: But very quickly, isn‘t that something a court would decide?
ABRAMS: Right. OK.
KOBACH: And that‘s probably where this will be decided.
ABRAMS: All right. Fine. OK. Number four: Why did the executive branch not seek after the fact authorization from the FISA court within the 72 hours as provided by the act? At a minimum shouldn‘t the executive have sought authorization from the FISA court for law enforcement individuals to listen to a reduced number of conversations?
KOBACH: I think there‘s a fair amount of misunderstanding about this 72-hour retroactive authorization. It doesn‘t allow you to skip all of the steps, it just allows you to skip the final step and get it up to 72 hours later of a judge approving it. But before a FISA application even goes to a judge, it has to go through several processes. First of all, the NSA lawyers have to decide that this is a case that meets the standards of FISA. Then the Department of Justice lawyers have to decide...
ABRAMS: Yes, but that‘s not a check. I mean...
KOBACH: No, but...
ABRAMS: ... saying that their own lawyers are going to go through it...
KOBACH: Right. No, but it‘s more than just that. You should see these FISA applications. They are a stack of papers an inch or more high. And this requires assembling a lot of information. You don‘t—it‘s not just someone saying hey, let‘s...
ABRAMS: Come on. But you‘re not going to say that in Congress the defense is going to be it‘s too much paperwork?
KOBACH: No, it‘s not that at all. Your point is that—as I understand your question...
ABRAMS: Wait. This is Senator Specter‘s question. I‘m reading...
KOBACH: Well Senator Specter‘s point is probably that you don‘t really need to go through all these procedures because there‘s a super fast bypass. But my answer is that bypass isn‘t so super fast. You still have to compile an impressive record. And we‘re also assuming here that what the NSA doing—is doing...
KOBACH: ... is the FISA Act.
ABRAMS: Final question, would you consider seeking approval from the FISA court at this time for the ongoing surveillance program at issue?
KOBACH: My impression is that the ongoing surveillance program probably doesn‘t even meet the standards of FISA. FISA requires, among other things, that you know the name or you can describe the identity of the target being surveilled. Now, it may be that we know that there‘s a certain cell phone in Afghanistan that is owned by al Qaeda or has been used by al Qaeda and it‘s calling the United States regularly. We don‘t know the name or identity of the person who‘s holding that cell phone, but we want to monitor every call...
ABRAMS: So the answer would be no to that one, right?
KOBACH: The answer would be no because FISA doesn‘t even cover it.
ABRAMS: All right. Kris Kobach, you‘re—I think you‘re doing just
as well as Attorney General Gonzales. He‘s got—as you know I feel this
I think he has a serious uphill battle here as a legal matter, but we shall see. Thanks a lot for coming back on the program. Appreciate it.
KOBACH: My pleasure.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a mother and baby found dead inside their Massachusetts home. The husband reportedly in England. Police say he‘s a person of interest. The D.A. in the case joins us.
And later, does it really matter if you‘re a millionaire, multi, or a billionaire? Well, if you‘re the Donald it does, a lot. He‘s suing for—well, billions.
ABRAMS: Coming up, police find a mother and baby shot dead in their home outside Boston. Authorities are calling the father a person of interest. We‘ll talk to the D.A. Up next.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. Now to a murder mystery in Massachusetts. Neil and Rachel Entwistle both 27 years old and their 9-month-old daughter Lillian Rose moved to the U.S. a few months ago from England. Less than two weeks ago they moved into this home outside of Boston in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
But on Sunday the—what seemed like a picture-perfect life was shattered when police found Rachel and Lillian on a bed underneath bedding. They had been shot to death. Rachel died from a gunshot wound to the head. Little Lilian from a shot in the torso.
Neil Entwistle was nowhere to be found, has now been named a person of interest in what authorities are calling a homicide. Joining me now is Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley whose office is working on this case. Thanks a lot for coming back on the program. We appreciate it. All right, let me ask you first, have you spoken with Neil Entwistle?
MARTHA COAKLEY, MIDDLESEX, MA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Our investigators have been in touch with Neil Entwistle. Well we know where he is and to that extent he‘s been cooperative. We know how to reach him.
ABRAMS: He is in England, correct?
COAKLEY: We have not confirmed that. We‘ve confirmed that he‘s out of the country.
ABRAMS: Did you track him down or did he contact you?
COAKLEY: Well there were some phone conversations both ways, to her family, to investigators, and I haven‘t clarified exactly the sequence in which that‘s occurred, but suffice to say that he did at some stage reach out to police.
ABRAMS: The—tell me about the crime scene. Initially the authorities saw no signs of foul play?
COAKLEY: Well, it was a little unusual in that because of a well-being check, that is family and friends who had gone over Saturday night, expecting to find the Entwistles, got no answer at the door. The police went the next day—the Hopkinton police went in. They found under covers the mother and daughter and not obvious signs of violence.
In other words, there was not blood on the sheets. And in fact until the M.E. and the technicians arrived, it was not clear how they had died. There did appear to be at least one bullet in the baby. It was only upon autopsy completed yesterday the M.E. found the gunshot wound to Rachel‘s head, which he deemed to be the cause of death.
ABRAMS: So separate bullets for the baby and for the mother?
COAKLEY: Well they were positioned such, Dan that the bullet that pierced the baby‘s torso also went into the mother. In other words, she was in front—the baby was in front of the mother. We thought initially there may have only been one gunshot wound.
ABRAMS: Is there any indication that his trip had been planned previously?
COAKLEY: The indication that it probably wasn‘t planned much in advance. We sensed that people expected him there Saturday, but we‘re certainly not sure yet. And so all of this is under investigation, as to what the timing was, we know she was last alive Thursday night and we know that by Sunday she was dead. We believe he left sometime Friday night or Saturday morning.
ABRAMS: There are reports that he was linked to a Web site that offers pornographic Web site setup, promises to help people make $6,000 a month. Do you know anything about this?
COAKLEY: We are aware of these Web sites. That information is under review. My sense is that although there are some maybe suggestive or salacious pictures, the Web site actually may be more of a period—a pyramid scam type situation. And so certainly, that information and other financial information is of value to us and we‘re looking at it as a potential motive.
ABRAMS: So let‘s be clear, when we say that he is a person of interest, that means that you are what?
COAKLEY: It means that we have not labeled him a suspect. We don‘t use that term actually because it‘s not very useful. In any situation you‘d want to talk to the dad. We want to know what he knows. We want to get information from him, but we are very clear at this stage that we have not reached a conclusion as to who did this or how. And we have an open mind as to what the circumstances were. We‘re clearly interested in talking to him, but we‘re interested in talking to other folks also.
ABRAMS: Are you asking him to come back to the United States?
COAKLEY: We have been in touch with him. We have a dialogue going on. We have not specifically asked him that. We hope at one time—at one stage he will either come or that we will speak with him. But it‘s obviously crucial at this stage of the investigation that we continue talking to him.
ABRAMS: All right, Martha Coakley, thanks very much. If you want to stick around maybe for two minutes, we‘re going to talk to Clint Van Zandt, just in case he says something—you may want to jump in correct or Clint is never wrong, so...
He‘s got a profiler‘s perspective on our Web site, abramsreport.msnbc.com. All right, Clint, what does the crime scene tell you about this case?
VAN ZANDT: Yes, well you know let‘s start with the numbers, Dan. Number one: There‘s a party going to be Saturday night. Family and friends are coming, so the husband and wife is throwing a party.
Thursday before is the last time anybody sees them. Friday he allegedly takes his BMW to Logan, parks it, flies out of the country. Saturday everybody shows up for the party. The house is dark. They knock on the door. Nobody‘s there.
Sunday they do the well-being check. The police come in. The house is still locked up. Whether it‘s ransacked or not we don‘t know, but the mother, the child are in bed, nicely covered up. You know all of this suggests this person of interest as we‘re talking about right now, should be on an airplane rushing back to the United States. He should on the last plane to Boston out of England, coming back saying my God, it‘s my wife, it‘s my baby. What can I do to help solve this case? Not playing phone tag with the authorities from somewhere overseas.
ABRAMS: Has he provided, D.A. Coakley, any explanation as to why he‘s not rushing back?
COAKLEY: This is a very fluid and active investigation, and whether he did or not, I just am not in a position to say.
ABRAMS: Understood. All right, Clint, what kind of person kills a 9-month-old baby? I mean the fact that the 9-month-old was found with a bullet wound as well.
VAN ZANDT: Well you know, number one, of course we don‘t know who it was. We don‘t know if it‘s the person of interest. We don‘t know if some unknown home invader. We know guys like Scott Peterson kill their wife and kill their child—in that case, an unborn child, so the jury tells us. So in this particular case you have to look at his financial background, the person of interest, the husband, what is his financial background, what‘s going on, what‘s going on with—between him and his wife.
And did something—again, if we‘re going to look at him as a person of interest, what might have come up between he and his wife that had him say I want out of this, I don‘t want to be part of this relationship, to rise to the occasion where he‘d take a handgun, shoot his wife in the head and then put a bullet through his 9-month-old child and his wife. Again Dan, this puts us in the sociopathic category of someone who could do something like this, hop on a plane...
VAN ZANDT: ... and then sit wherever he‘s sitting...
ABRAMS: All right.
VAN ZANDT: ... and not try to help solve the case, if he‘s not part of it.
ABRAMS: All right. We should you know point out again, he‘s just considered a person of interest at this point.
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.
ABRAMS: Martha Coakley, as always and Clint Van Zandt, appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
COAKLEY: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Thank you. Coming up, Donald Trump‘s angry because he‘s being called a pauper. Well, maybe not a pauper, but a multi, multimillionaire instead of a billionaire, so he‘s suing, that‘s right, for billions. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike. We continue our search in Maryland.
Paul Everhart, 36, six-four, 165, convicted of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl. Has not registered his address with the state. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Baltimore City Police Department, 443-984-7388.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—he‘s 83rd on the latest “Forbes” list of the 400 richest Americans. The magazine says he‘s worth $2.7 billion. But is he really? Claims by anonymous sources that Donald Trump is—quote—“not remotely close to being a billionaire have the Donald marshalling his forces to take on the dark side. Trump has filed suit against “New York Times” business reporter Timothy O‘Brien for putting those claims in his book, “Trump Nation: The Art Of Being The Donald”.
Trump says O‘Brien is knowingly misrepresenting his net worth, which those anonymous sources estimate is a measly 150 to $250 million. He‘s also not happy that O‘Brien allegedly told people at a “Trump Nation” promotion that the developer was—quote—“the walking embodiment of financial pornography and a train wreck of a businessman.” Of course, if O‘Brien‘s claims are true, they could also damage Trump‘s own publishing career.
How can you possibly think like a billionaire if you‘re only worth a paltry 250 million? And would you really want to follow the Donald‘s way to the top if it stopped short of putting you in the billion-dollar tax bracket? Of course if Trump wins his suit and actually collects from O‘Brien and the publisher, he won‘t have to worry about those pesky numerical details.
He‘s asking for 2.5 billion in compensation and another 2.5 billion in damages. Maybe Trump‘s next best selling “how to be rich like me” book will focus on topping off your assets with some hard fought lawsuit billions.
Coming up, a lot of e-mails from people who say that I am wrong about a variety of topics. Now, a number of you saying I‘m wrong for having the final word. Your e-mails and then my response next.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night in my “Closing Argument” I said I‘m getting tired of hearing certain Republicans including the president touting Supreme Court-nominee Samuel Alito‘s well qualified rating from the American Bar Association, not because I challenge the rating, because President Bush is the first president in 50 years not to use the ABA to screen judicial appointments. I said they can‘t have it both ways.
Michael McPerson in Manhattan, “If Dan is correct, it‘s equally correct the Democrats also can‘t have it both ways. The Democrats have said the ABA ratings are the gold standard to be used in judging appointments. No Democrat to my knowledge has even mentioned Alito‘s unanimous support from the ABA.”
It‘s a fair point, Michael, but you‘re missing a crucial point. I would hope that any candidate appointed by a Democrat or a Republican would receive a well-qualified rating from the ABA. That should be the starting point for the evaluation, not the end of it. I don‘t think anyone can seriously argue Judge Alito is not qualified to be a judge or even a justice. That shouldn‘t prevent the Democrats from asking is he the type of judge they want on the Supreme Court.
Look, I‘ve also said Judge Alito is exactly the sort of judge President Bush promised during his campaign. But my point remains this administration should welcome the ABA back into the process or stop citing them.
Finally, Ariel Glucklich in Gaithersburg, Maryland with a broader concern. “What‘s the point of reading dissenting e-mails if you‘re just using them to reassert your initial position? Try a bit of intellectual maturity and let someone else have the last word.”
No, Ariel, I‘m not reasserting my initial position. I‘m clarifying it. And once again I‘m getting the last word.
We‘re out of time. See you tomorrow.
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