‘The Abrams Report’ for May 29

/ Source: msnbc.com

Guests: Kris Kobach, Robert Scott, Gary Solis, Michael Weisskopf, Eric Rich, John Wisely, Samantha Epps, Clint Van Zandt

Guests: Kris Kobach, Robert Scott, Gary Solis, Michael Weisskopf, Eric  Rich, John Wisely, Samantha Epps and Clint Van Zandt.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the feds give in and agree to provide a U.S. congressman with copies of everything they seized from his Capitol Hill office. But why? They also found $90,000 in cash in the freezer in his house. Why the special justice for members of Congress? 

The program about justice starts now. 

Hi, everyone. First up on the docket, breaking news out of Washington where the Justice Department is making a huge concession to ease tensions surrounding the midnight raid 10 days ago of Congressman William Jefferson’s Capitol Hill office. They agreed to provide the congressman with copies of everything seized from his office, in connection with an investigation into whether he was bribed into helping an African technology venture. The FBI says it has video of him accepting $100,000, $90,000 of which they say was wrapped in tin foil, stashed in his freezer. 

Today chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner, a Republican, announced his plan to draft a bill that would protect members of Congress from searches of their congressional offices. Joining me now Congressman Robert Scott, a Democrat from Virginian and member of the House Judiciary Committee. He was at this morning’s hearing and constitutional law professor and former counsel for Attorney General John Ashcroft, Kris Kobach. All right, before I go to Congressman Scott, Professor Kobach, I mean you and I have talked about this before. Are you surprised that the feds caved? 

KRIS KOBACH, FORMER COUNSEL FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT: I’m not entirely surprised about this. I mean in the greater scheme of things, this sort of special treatment of getting to receive copies of the seized evidence is not that big a deal, as long as the Justice Department retains the originals and retains the prerogative to use them in a criminal prosecution. So he’s been getting various forms of special treatment all along. This one, you know, doesn’t rank as high as some of the others... 

ABRAMS: But what do you make of the legislation they’re talking about? 

KOBACH: I think this legislation it’s going to be treading on thin ice. Because frankly the Supreme Court has said 30 years ago that separation of powers concerns are all well and good, but you can’t just shout separation of powers when you have a criminal investigation under way. I’m talking about the Nixon-Watergate tapes, of course. 

And so, as long as this legislation is drafted tightly and doesn’t shield members of Congress from criminal investigation and give them the privilege of putting criminal evidence in their office, I mean that’s essentially what Congressman Jefferson is claiming here, that he has the privilege of criminal evidence in his office and the FBI can’t touch it. 

ABRAMS: All right. Here’s what Speaker Hastert had to say about this today. 


REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: In office there’s members, letters and stuff to constituents, might be income taxes. There might be veterans issues. Those are private things and they’re confidential. We need to protect those. 


ABRAMS: Representative Scott, it doesn’t seem to me that the argument about privacy is a particularly strong one, because the bottom line is everyone could make an argument that any time they’re the subject of a criminal investigation, they lose privacy and they lose the privacy of the other work documents and other items that they have. 

REP. ROBERT C. SCOTT (D), VIRGINIA: Well, if you’re talking about the parts of the -- talking about criminal evidence, there is no suggestion that Representative Jefferson is beyond the law. When his house was searched, no one -- not a peep was uttered. What we’re talking about is the congressional office itself. And we’re talking about the area where you have your private documents -- your legislative documents, draft speeches, your potential attacks on the administration, your sensitive materials from constituents, things that people do not expect to have the FBI rummaging through... 

ABRAMS: But no one expects to ever have the FBI rummaging through anything...


ABRAMS: ... president of a corporation or anything else. 

SCOTT: The problem with this search warrant was its breadth. It went -- they went in and stayed for 18 hours. If the warrant had said we have credible information from a reliable informant that the drugs are in the bottom left drawer or the money was in -- right behind the books on the bookshelf, if they had gone in and gotten them and left, I don’t think there’s anything that would be said. In this case, however, you’ve got the situation where they stayed 18 hours. They searched everything in his house. And I think in that case they are clearly treading on information that the executive branch shouldn’t be treading on... 

ABRAMS: But Congressman, this is the argument that every criminal defendant makes. I mean every time I have a criminal lawyer on this program after a search, they make exactly the same sort of -- they spent too long, the search was overbroad, it wasn’t specific enough. And you’re sort of using that very same language and then saying...

SCOTT: Let’s...

ABRAMS: Yes, go ahead.

SCOTT: ... turn it around and send some congressional staff into the west wing of the White House to enforce a congressional subpoena. And if they stayed 18 hours...

ABRAMS: Congressional subpoenas are not the same thing as the sort of subpoenas we’re talking about. I mean they don’t have the same sort of weight that criminal searches do. 

SCOTT: It’s legally enforceable, the criminal -- and when we’re doing a criminal -- when we’re doing an investigation, a congressional investigation, the GAO has subpoena power to investigate...

ABRAMS: But you’re not really comparing the subpoena power of the Congress to the subpoena power...


ABRAMS: ... when we’re talking about a criminal investigation...

SCOTT: The problem -- I mean it would be great if -- and if you look at it, if the -- if a Democratic administration was going into Tom DeLay’s office not for criminal investigation, just to look around, if he’s under investigation, they don’t -- they just don’t -- under separation of powers and -- you really have a problem when the executive branch can come in and look at all of your sensitive legislative information. 

KOBACH: There’s an important point that’s being missed here though and that is that the Department of Justice and the FBI took extraordinary precautions and they sent in a filter team. So there were two teams of FBI people. 

One group went in and got the information from the office. The prosecuting team would only get to see that information that was relevant to the criminal prosecution. 


KOBACH: So all the privacy stuff, all of the legislative materials, none of the even went to the prosecuting team and that’s going a step beyond what they need to do... 

SCOTT: Well that’s -- and that’s exactly the point. We’re not talking about the prosecution. If, whatever the prosecution gets, the prosecution gets and they can use it. And if Representative Jefferson is guilty of what he is accused of doing -- I mean his co-conspirator got eight years today. But what we’re talking about why does the executive branch at all get to read through things that obviously has nothing to do with the investigation?


SCOTT: They took his entire hard drive...

ABRAMS: Because somebody...

SCOTT: ... all of his legislative records...

ABRAMS: Somebody has to be able to investigate corrupt congressmen, somebody, right? 

SCOTT: If he -- if the subpoena was specific about what they expected to find in the office, you wouldn’t have had the comment. But they stayed in there 18 hours, looking -- and if you are a talking about documents, you can only figure out which documents they need -- and this special thing where some executive branch officials will get to look at it until they decide what the prosecutors get, the executive -- if you’re talking about sources, confidential sources in the administration that have been telling, you’ve got executive branch officials now...


SCOTT: ... that know who all the sources are. They’re not going to forget it at the end of the investigation. 

ABRAMS: Final 20 seconds...

KOBACH: Yes, the executive branch already exhausted every other avenue they had. They asked him for this information. They -- the information was subpoenaed by a grand jury. A judge ruling on the subpoena concluded that the Department of Justice has every right to go in and get this material with a search warrant. And so they got a judicially issued search warrant. They tried everything else. But the congressman was hiding, was stonewalling and was pushing back... 

SCOTT: In executing the search warrant there are procedures in the Department of Justice on how you investigate Congress and what...

ABRAMS: All right.

SCOTT: ... things you go through...

KOBACH: And they followed those procedures. 

SCOTT: They kept the counsel out of the office, the counsel...

ABRAMS: All right.

SCOTT: ... the legislative counsel couldn’t even look. 

ABRAMS: All right. Look...

SCOTT: The way it was done it was overbroad...


SCOTT: ... and got into areas they had no business getting into.

ABRAMS: that may be or may not be the case. My concern is that the Congress is basically we get to -- we get it special. We get to say you know what, stay out, stay out of our offices...

SCOTT: Well no, I said if the search warrant had been specific and said what they were going after...


SCOTT: ... that’s one thing. 

ABRAMS: All right. Congressman Scott, Kris Kobach, thank you very much. Appreciate it. 

KOBACH: My pleasure.

ABRAMS: Coming up, U.S. Marines facing possible murder charges for an alleged massacre in Iraq. 

And the FBI making a big announcement in connection with the search for Jimmy Hoffa’s remains. 

And police searching for the person who strangled this Clemson college student with her bikini top.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com. Please include your name and where you’re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS: We’re back. They could be the worst war crimes committed by any U.S. troops in Iraq or the most hyped, depending on who you talk to.  Last November, in the town of Haditha, U.S. Marines allegedly killed as many as 24 unarmed Iraqis, some of them women and children. This video of the aftermath, taken by an Iraqi journalism student a day after the incident November 24, 2005, provided much of the evidence. The shooting, followed the death of Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, killed by a roadside bomb. 

The Marines had claimed the Iraqis they killed were insurgents or collateral damage from a firefight that followed the bombing. But when “TIME” magazine brought the video you just saw to military contacts in Baghdad, the tape first dismissed before it triggered an investigation.  Now 11 Marines and a sailor tied to this case are at Camp Pendleton, California, either in the brig or confined to the base. And in Congress, members are asking questions. John Murtha is a Pennsylvania Democrat and a former Marine. 


REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: There’s no question about what happened. And the problem is who covered it up and why did they cover it up? Whey did they wait so long? They went out the next day. They knew there was something wrong. Two or three days later they decided that this -- these people were murdered. 


ABRAMS: With three investigations under way, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace says he’s confident. 


GEN. PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We’ll get to the bottom of the investigation and take the appropriate action, if there needs to be. 


ABRAMS: The Marines could face charges including murder. Michael Weisskopf is a senior correspondent with “TIME” magazine, has covered the Iraq war, and was wounded there while on assignment. Gary Solis is a visiting law professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, a former chief of the Marine Corps Military Law Branch. Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on the program. We appreciate it. 

All right, Professor Solis, let me start with you. In terms of how this case will be evaluated, how important is the covering up versus the actual incident? 

GARY SOLIS, WEST POINT LAW PROFESSOR: It’s just as important as the incident, of course, presuming that there was a cover-up. I think everybody knows -- it’s common knowledge certainly in Washington -- that the cover-up is always at least as bad as the crime and so it is in military cases as well. 

ABRAMS: Michael, what are the facts that we know about? 

MICHAEL WEISSKOPF, “TIME” MAGAZINE SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: The facts, Dan, are that as the -- the simple facts that everyone can agree with is that there was a roadside bomb that exploded in November of 2005 in Haditha, about 150 miles northwest of Baghdad that a Marine sergeant was killed. Thereafter is all in doubt. The Marines claim that there was collateral damage, about 15 civilians killed by the roadside bomb, nine others killed in a kind of -- a firefight that often follows these roadside bombs. 

ABRAMS: And it turned out, though, I mean that doesn’t seem to have been true. I mean regardless of what you think actually happened that account it seems pretty clear is not accurate. 

WEISSKOPF: That’s correct. Our report in March of this year, based on 28 interviews with eyewitnesses, members of the family -- relatives of those killed, say that the Marines, in fact, killed first four students and a taxicab driver who they suspected of being involved in the roadside bomb, and then went house to house, visiting four separate families, killing another 21 people, including women and children. 

ABRAMS: Professor Solis, how do you draw the line between Marines put in a nearly impossible situation at times, some of them on their third duty there in Iraq, a comrade has just been killed. How important is that legally, when evaluating this kind of case? 

SOLIS: It’s unimportant. It plays no role at all. It doesn’t matter who’s been killed or how many times you’ve been there and Marines know that. We have the best trained, the most intelligent, the most experienced Marines and soldiers over there than we’ve ever had, far superior to those in Vietnam, for example. 

They know what the law of armed conflict is, if not in detail, certainly generally, and they know that you can’t target noncombatants.  And if that’s what happened here, they should be held and I am confident will be held responsible for what they did. The circumstances are irrelevant. 

That’s why officers and NCOs are -- well, there were no officers here, but that’s why there are NCOs present. They are to act as the governor on the -- of the behavior of their Marines. And it’s the NCOs who should have stopped this, if indeed it happened.

ABRAMS: And that’s where the line has to be drawn between a mistake, which would be something that happens in a firefight, where someone is killed accidentally, versus the targeting? 

SOLIS: Exactly. You can never purposely target a noncombatant.  Obviously in modern warfare, civilians are always victimized, are always victims of combat actions. But you can never purposely target a noncombatant. And if that’s what’s happened, that constitutes murder.  There can be murder on the battlefield, and this could be such a case. 

ABRAMS: Mike, let me just ask you real quick. I know that you spent a lot of time in Iraq. You were injured there. What was your reaction to hearing about the CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier and her crew, Paul Douglas and James Brolan, both of them died. Kimberly Dozier in critical condition surviving -- she survived the attack there.

WEISSKOPF: Well, of course, great sadness, Dan. And a concern that journalists need to be -- to take extra precautions as they go out with the military. And remember at all times they -- when they go out in a Humvee, as I had done, that you get in the crosshairs with the target. And our soldiers are increasingly targeted by the insurgency, and that exposes anybody with them to the same kind of danger. 

ABRAMS: How are you doing now? 

WEISSKOPF: I’m doing fine, thanks. 

ABRAMS: All right. Michael Weisskopf and Gary Solis, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

Coming up, a verdict in the case of the sniper who terrorized the nation’s Capitol. The details from inside the courtroom up next. 

And believe it or not, it is one year to the day since Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba. It is amazing how many theories have been floated and then dismissed. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose", our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. Our search today is in Vermont. 

Authorities are looking for Paul Turner. He’s 58, 6’1", 274, was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts, hasn’t registered his address with the state. If you’ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Vermont Department of Public Safety, 802-244-8727. Yikes. Be right back.


ABRAMS: We got breaking news in the case of Washington area sniper John Allen Muhammad, a Maryland jury has just found him guilty for six murders during a shooting spree in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002.  Muhammad acted as his own attorney at trial. The prosecution star witness was his young protege and partner in crime, Lee Boyd Malvo. 

Joining me now with more, Eric Rich, a metro reporter for “The Washington Post", who is outside the courthouse. Thanks a lot for joining us. Appreciate it. 


ABRAMS: What was the defense here? 

RICH: Well, the defense essentially was that -- and Muhammad of course was representing himself -- his defense was that none of the witnesses who were brought in during at least the first few weeks of the prosecution testified that they had seen him shoot. Nobody saw him shoot. 

He argued and suggested in his questions that the bullets might not have been fired from his gun, but could have also been fired from another weapon. So he was suggesting that ballistics wasn’t that strong and he was saying there were no eyewitnesses, that it was a circumstantial case. I will say that that defense, which was essentially the same approach that his defense lawyers took in his Virginia trial, was blown apart by the testimony of Lee Boyd Malvo, his accomplice who of course was there, and knew more about the facts of the, you know, the mechanics of what they did, who did what, than anybody except of course Muhammad himself.

ABRAMS: And you’re talking about the Virginia trial, this is not the first time he’s been convicted, right?

RICH: This is not the first. Muhammad was convicted in 2003 in Virginia, where he was sentenced to death. That sentence is on appeal, but still is intact. He was prosecuted here for the six slayings that took place in Montgomery County, Maryland. The state’s attorney in Montgomery County said that he wanted to prosecute Muhammad here to get an insurance conviction, in case his conviction in Virginia was upset. 

And then secondly, also to provide some sort of closure for victims here, justice for victims in Maryland. And what he ended up getting out of it was actually more than that, in particular because Malvo testified. Lee Boyd Malvo took the stand and testified against Muhammad, the person who was his father figure during this spree in 2002, confronted him directly, called him a cowered, accused him of turning him, Malvo, into a monster, and really laid out a lot of new information that did not come out during the Virginia prosecution... 

ABRAMS: You mean about what actually happened. 

RICH: Well, yes, about both what happened in terms of the role that each played, their specific who pulled the trigger in which shooting, according to, you know if Malvo is to be believed, but also other things about motive and larger plans. He said for the first time we didn’t know until Malvo took the stand that Muhammad actually intended for the sniper attacks to be far more deadly than they were. He intended to kill six people a day each day for 30 days. He envisioned a second phase, what he called a second phase, Muhammad did, that would involve using explosives to target children and police officers, children’s hospitals, school buses.

Finally, he -- his sort of largest plan was to use the $10 million that he hoped to extort from the government during the sniper attacks to create a compound in Canada, where 140 homeless children would be trained, then dispersed across the United States to -- quote -- “shut things down". 


RICH: That was Malvo’s testimony about what Muhammad intended to do and we hadn’t heard that detail until this trial. 

ABRAMS: Real quick, was anyone there supporting Muhammad during this trial? 

RICH: No. Nobody was supporting Muhammad. There was one person in the courtroom who was close with his standby attorneys, and who appeared to be on that side but he would not tell anybody in the courtroom, reporters or anyone else, who he represented or why he was there. 

ABRAMS: All right. Eric Rich, “The Washington Post", thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

RICH: Thanks for having me. 

ABRAMS: Coming up, the feds make a big announcement in their search for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. 

And later, one year ago to the day, Alabama teen Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba. We’ll take a look back. 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com. Please include your name and where you’re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.



ABRAMS: We’re back. You know they say some mysteries may never be solved.  Well today it seems you can put union leader Jimmy Hoffa’s mysterious disappearance back near the top of that list. After digging up the Hidden Dreams horse farm in Milford Township, Michigan for nearly two weeks, even tearing down a barn, the FBI says the search for Hoffa’s remains is over. 

The Teamsters union boss, notorious for alleged ties to organized crime, disappeared from a restaurant about 20 miles from the horse farm in July of 1975. A tip from a 75-year-old federal prison inmate triggered the latest search, for now. Shocker. The FBI says it found nothing, though the assistant special agent in charge says that she believes the body had been on the property and the investigation will go on. 


JUDY CHILAN, FBI ASST. SPECIAL AGENT: This murder kidnapping is just part of the ongoing organized crime investigation of the mafia here in Michigan. So this is just one piece of an ongoing investigation. There are still prosecutable defendants who are living, and they know who they are. 


ABRAMS: This investigation still into the mafia today about Jimmy Hoffa? I don’t know. We’re joined now on the phone by “Detroit News” reporter John Wisely. John, thanks a lot for taking the time. Appreciate it.

JOHN WISELY, “DETROIT NEWS” (via phone): Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS: So is this just a disastrous embarrassment for the FBI, or is it as they say -- they say they’re convinced the body was once there. 

WISELY: You know, they seemed a little confused on that point. They couldn’t quite say whether you know for sure they were there. They believe the information that it was there but their dig didn’t yield any tangible proof that it was there, so they’re kind of in a box on that one. 

ABRAMS: Is this a -- you know is this an embarrassment? I mean two weeks of digging, it’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of FBI resources for a case that is, you know, long past. Doesn’t mean they should drop the case, but it’s certainly not one that’s sort of considered a high priority at this time. 

WISELY: No, we’ve heard a lot of (INAUDIBLE) a lot of comment too.  People worried about the tax dollars being spent, people questioning whether it’s still -- you know, if there’s anything left to prosecute at this point, in terms of the age of the crime and should it be a priority.  But you know it’s a murder. It’s a kidnapping.

They’re going to give up on it. And they are going to keep going when they get a good tip. And the supervisory special agent on this case, who’s been on it about 14 years, said this was by far the best tip he’s ever seen. 

ABRAMS: Do they have to pay to rebuild that house? 

WISELY: Barn, yes. They would not put a precise figure on it, but they said they did negotiate that with the owner up front and essentially they solicited bids for replacing it and they negotiated a settlement with the owner of the barn. And the barn will be replaced at the FBI expense. 

ABRAMS: All right. So what we have is a lot of digging and a new barn. No Jimmy Hoffa. 

That’s what we’ve got right now. They insist there’s still an ongoing organized crime investigation, but they wouldn’t let out any details into it. 

WISELY: That’s what we’ve got right now. They insist that there is still an ongoing organized crime investigation, but they would not give any details into it.

ABRAMS: Yes. All right. John Wisely, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

WISELY: Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS: Now to the murder of a college student in South Carolina, 20- year-old Tiffany Souers found dead in her apartment on Friday, strangled apparently with one of her bikini tops, was found wrapped around her neck. Tiffany was planning to attend summer school at Clemson University, where she was studying civil engineering. She spent Thursday evening with friends who had dropped her off alone at her apartment. The next day a former roommate came to drop off a key and found Tiffany’s body. 

No sign of forced entry into her apartment and so far no indication of a struggle. Now that could mean Tiffany knew her killer. The focus today is on Tiffany’s computer, which police hope will turn up clues about a possible suspect. 

Joining me now is Samantha Epps, a reporter with the “Anderson Independent Mail” and former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint van Zandt. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it. All right, Samantha, do we know anything else beyond what I’ve said about what happened here? 

SAMANTHA EPPS, “ANDERSON INDEPENDENT MAIL” REPORTER: No. We have very few details. There was a news conference today, which the solicitor just kind of asked everyone to remain calm and refrain from speculation, but that’s about all that we’ve gotten from that news conference. 

ABRAMS: All right, Clint, we got limited information, but we do know a little. Based on the little that I just laid out, can you profile it? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Dan, I think that the police are right to try to figure out who that she knew might be responsible for this. Now that doesn’t mean it’s a boyfriend. It could have been someone she had casual contact with. It could have been someone who simply had a key to her apartment, you know a superintendent, a former roommate, a boyfriend of a former roommate. 

But these are the things they need to pursue. Plus, you know the “CSI” type of forensic evidence at the crime scene and the bikini top wrapped around her neck, was that an artifact? Did the killer find it there? Had she been in a -- going for a swim in a pool and just come back to her apartment and the killer found her like this? These are things that the police know that they should be using to start closing in on a potential short list of suspects. 

ABRAMS: Samantha, do we even know whether this was definitely her bikini top? 

EPPS: No, we’re not certain about that. The coroner’s report is saying she was naked except for some underwear and this bikini top around her neck, so we’re assuming that it is, but no we haven’t definitely been told that.

ABRAMS: All right, but Clint, that in and of itself, the fact that she was found naked is a clue. 

VAN ZANDT: Well, it’s a clue. It suggests that there’s probably some element potentially of sexual assault here. There’s no indication that her apartment was broken into. But, Dan, you know it’s summertime...

ABRAMS: Someone knocks on the door and just, you know, someone mistakenly opens the door at times, right? 

VAN ZANDT: Or she has her window open at night and someone comes through it or she forgets to lock the door. So you know there doesn’t have to be somebody kicking the door in. But what they need right now is what is the forensic evidence. And you said something important, Dan. She had been out with friends. 

What time did they drop her off? The timeline that the police have to create here for you know 48 hours before she died, until the time of her death, that’s going to be critical to come up with suspects. 

ABRAMS: Samantha, I apologize for continually putting you on the spot with the questions I don’t know the answer to...


ABRAMS: ... and I suspect that you may not either, but do we know what time she returned home, as far as her friends’ account says? 

EPPS: Police are talking to people who might have talked to her before 11:00 on Thursday evening, so they’re believing that their window is 11:00 p.m. Thursday night until about 2:00 Friday afternoon. That’s when they want to know what happened. 

ABRAMS: All right, Clint, so what about that time? 

VAN ZANDT: Yes. Well I’ve also heard the police or the M.E. had suggested a time of death of about 1:30 in the morning. If that’s the case, Dan, then we’re working from about 11:00 at night to 1:30 in the morning, you know a two and a half hour timeframe. That kind of narrows it for the police. Again, is it someone she invited in? 

Is it someone who casually strolled in, because they weren’t stopped?  These are the challenges. But again, you know, is there evidence of sexual assault? Are there hairs? Are there fibers? These are all the things now that the police have to gather. 

But this doesn’t sound like just a random crime, Dan. It sounds like someone who had some prior contact or at least knowledge of the victim who came out unfortunately, looking for her and found her. 

ABRAMS: And Samantha, they are talking with people they’re calling persons of interest, right? 

EPPS: Exactly. The solicitor said today that there are several people of interest that they’re talking to in the case. 

ABRAMS: And Clint, those are usually people that they know, right? I mean people that she knows or people who had contact with her, et cetera. 

VAN ZANDT: Well yes, it is, Dan. You know, you start in a bull’s- eye, you know boyfriends, close associates. Then you start to move out, you look at people who live in the nearby apartments. You look at a maintenance man. You look at a superintendent.

You look at anybody who came in to service the refrigerator. You look at anybody who knew her at the gym where she worked out. I mean you have to come up with this very large list of potential suspects. But hopefully there’s going to be DNA at the crime scene, is very quickly going to eliminate a large part, if not all of the suspects, except that one critical person. 

ABRAMS: All right. If you’ve got any information about the case, please call the Clemson, South Carolina Police Department. The number is 864-624-2000. 

Coming up -- thanks a lot to both of you. Appreciate it. Coming up, it’s a year to the day since Natalee Holloway disappeared from Aruba. Hard to believe -- when you look back, it’s also hard to believe how many theories have come and gone. 

And later, she said she was raped at a college frat party 21 years ago, then her alleged attacker wrote her a letter that changed everything.  We told you her story last night and I have to tell you I am stunned by some of the e-mails we have received about this. Your e-mails are coming up next. 


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY’S MOTHER: Natalee’s bags were packed, and she’s ready to come home. Please help bring her home. There is a significant reward for the person who returns Natalee to us safely, a reward that began by a $10,000 donation from our family has rapidly grown to $50,000. We will do whatever it takes. As I’ve said from the beginning, I’m not leaving Aruba without her. 


ABRAMS: It’s hard to believe, it was one year ago today that 18-year- old high school senior, Natalee Holloway left Carlos N’ Charlie’s nightclub at 1:30 in the morning with three men police believe she befriended there.  Natalee went to Aruba on a senior trip with more than 125 other students from Mountain Brook High School, never showed up for her return flight to the U.S. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eighteen-year-old American Natalee Holloway remains missing in Aruba. She’s not been seen since she missed her high school group’s flight home on Monday. Police and the FBI are both involved in the search. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite six days of intensive searching, a beefed up reward of $50,00, and the assistance of federal investigators from the United States, not a trace of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway has been found.  Leaving authorities here to believe the Alabama teen’s disappearance is most likely a crime. 

Natalee was last seen early Monday morning, the last day of her high school senior trip, in the company of three Aruban residents she met at a popular nightspot. The men who are being held for questioning claimed to have dropped Natalee back at her hotel, but she never showed up for the flight home. The roller coaster ride of emotions is taking a toll on Natalee’s parents who have come to Aruba to help in the search. 

ABRAMS: First up on the docket tonight, three more arrests in the case of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teen on a school trip, missing in Aruba for 12 days now. Early this morning Aruba police arrested a 17-year- old Dutchman and two brothers, 18 and 21, from Surinam. The Dutchman, the son of a Dutch judge, apparently met Natalee at a hotel casino two days before she was last seen. 

Two more suspects in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway are released. A judge sent brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe home yesterday after three and a half weeks in custody. They were arrested on June 9, along with Dutch teen Joran van der Sloot and held on suspicion of the murder and kidnapping of Natalee, last seen on May 30. Now Joran is now the only suspect in custody. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volunteers dropped sonar to search the ocean depths for signs of Natalee Holloway, is the second day teams with Texas based EquuSearch dropped high-tech equipment and a half dozen divers into choppy waters to find the Mountain Brook High School graduate. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Efforts on land also continue Sunday. Three new Florida based dog teams join the search and recovery. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have very high (INAUDIBLE) and what they can smell from a long distance, carried on the wind, if they come across something, the scent that they’re trying to locate, they will follow that scent, what we call a scent cone, which will spread out and the dog will narrow it down to the strongest source. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aruban authorities are expected to release Joran van der Sloot from a jail there today. Van der Sloot has been held in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Prosecutors are appealing that decision. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the suspects in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance left Aruba Monday. Joran van der Sloot left to attend college in the Netherlands. As a condition of his release though, he has to stay in Dutch territory. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mystery of what happened to Natalee Holloway in Aruba last May has now made its way to the streets of New York, and to this courthouse. This is where Natalee’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit in the case of her disappearance. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Target of the suit, Joran van der Sloot and his father, Paulus. The suit calls Joran -- quote -- “the predator” who was no stranger to sexual assault on young women, using ecstasy as his date rape drug of choice. Joran prowled the island, seeking to prey upon young female tourists, especially blonds. 

ABRAMS: What is going on in the Natalee Holloway case on the island of Aruba? Suspect Geoffrey von Cromvoirt, arrested April 15, released in his parents’ custody today. Another suspect, a 20-year-old with the initials E.B. arrested Saturday then released six hours later. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new arrest, this time in the Netherlands. 

TWITTY: Yes, that’s just encouraging to me to know that there are still individuals out there who possibly have information that knows what happened to Natalee and where she may be. Marking the year means absolutely nothing to us. It’s marking every day that’s overwhelming to us. 


ABRAMS: Guido Wever was released last Tuesday, making him the tenth suspect that Aruban authorities have arrested, questioned, and released in the investigation. Now there has been no shortage of theories about what happened to her. Many on Aruba initially speculated she essentially just run away. But as time passed and she was not found, the evidence began to point in another direction. Here’s a look at some of the theories that have come and gone over the past year. 


TWITTY: She’s approximately five-five. She weighs about 110 points.  She has blue eyes and she’s very petite. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know Aruba is a friendly island, but it’s a safe island too, and we can’t accept that this happens in crime form, so we are hopeful that the girl is somewhere still alive. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all went down there I mean to have fun, and we’re like the next day we come back -- we like -- we’re about to leave and we can’t find her and it was just -- it’s very shocking. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without creating false hope we have reasonable belief and some credible evidence that Natalee Holloway is alive. We cannot prove that at this point, and we don’t know where she is, but you know there is a huge sex slave underground in some of those countries down there. 


ABRAMS: All right. So you know the evidence about the sex slave stuff, well that’s where his theory lost some steam. He sent an investigative team down to a brothel in Mexico looking for Natalee, the result, nada. 


RITA COSBY, HOST, “LIVE & DIRECT": But how realistic do you think this theory is? 

TWITTY: You know, Rita, we don’t have any idea how realistic it is, you know but we do know that we’ve covered the island, of course due to EquuSearch, you know from the sand dunes to the water, dumps, ponds, you know it’s just been countless. And you know it’s something the family has never been able to do is look for Natalee -- the possibility of her being alive. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’ve had everything from the bloody mattress to the barrel, to clothing, north of the Marriott and of course right now they’re draining the pond and into this. So we’re following up on every lead, and this is potentially a good lead. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new witness tells investigators he saw a white pickup truck here three days after Natalee vanished. He says men got out, took out what looked like a body and buried it, by now under nine feet of garbage. 

TWITTY: As each day progresses and they have ruled out areas that were suspicious, just gives me more and more hope and keeps me absolutely more determined than ever that we will find her. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shocking developments tonight in the case of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, who disappeared during her high school trip to Aruba last May. The island’s top cop says the teenager was probably not murdered, but likely died from too much alcohol and maybe drug use. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe the other part that Natalee may have been drugged. 


COSBY: ... that maybe somebody did slip a date rape drug? Do you think that that is a realistic option?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that’s -- you know Natalee did not have any history of using drugs, nor did she use drugs, and none of her friends admitted that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me talk to you about the three men who you’ve been calling persons of interest. Are they in custody right now and can you tell us what their link is? I know they have claimed that they dropped her off at the hotel that night. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they’re not in custody, because they are persons of interest, and on the basis of their story, we wanted to investigate further. And we are investigating around them and looking at all the clues. And we are reaching a point we feel very comfortable that the investigation is going in a good direction. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prosecutors released this statement. The Kalpoe brothers are suspected with others of committing premeditated murder, or alternately murdering somebody or of robbing a person of her liberty with fatal consequences or of raping somebody. 

TWITTY: We have to have answers from these three young men. They hold the key. They had the answers, it’s going to be up to the government to put enough pressure on these individuals to divulge the information.  They know where my daughter is. 


ABRAMS: Of course our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of Natalee Holloway on this day. 

Coming up, a college student said she was raped at a fraternity party.  No one was charged, until she got an apologetic letter from the alleged rapist more than 20 years later. Now he’s heading to trial. Some writing in supporting her, others trying to compare it to the Duke case. I won’t have that, coming up. 


ABRAMS: Now it’s time for “Your Rebuttal". On Monday, we devoted the hour to the story of Liz Seccuro, who had said she was raped at the University of Virginia as a freshman. Now more than 20 years later, that man wrote to her asking for forgiveness and admitting what he did, sort of.

In an e-mail he called it rape, but now he’s on trial for the crime and his lawyer is calling it a thoughtless sexual encounter. Lloyd writes, “As an alcoholic, I am constantly amazed at how selfish we are. Here he used her to make himself feel good 21 years ago and now he seeks to use her to make himself feel good again. He just doesn’t get it.”

Connie writes, “As someone who was raped at a young age, I can tell you that your victim won’t find the comfort she seeks by prosecuting this rapist. She has a happy marriage and a healthy child. How immature she must be to demand more.” 

I’m sorry, Connie, it’s immature for her to want justice for waking up in a bloody sheet with bruises on her body? Why don’t you and some of the others who wrote in similar notes stop claiming that you somehow know what is best for her. 

Tom Olenginski from Pennsylvania writes, “I hope her rapist is prosecuted and found guilty and justly sentenced. Thanks, Liz. Very few would have your courage. We are indebted to you.”

Katherine Williams from Washington writes, “Your sensitivity to Liz in your interview with her spoke volumes in showing that people do care about victims.” 

And there are some who made comparisons to the Duke case. Marvin Carr from Michigan writes, “Thank God Liz was a virgin and not a stripper or a minority.”

Barbara Eggleston, “At no point during the UVA alleged victim’s interview with Abrams did you ever get a hint that she was not believed.  Almost every day of THE ABRAMS REPORT of the Duke case you get the impression that Abrams does not believe the Duke alleged rape victim. Is one more deserving of justice because she alleges to have been a virgin while the other has children?”

You know, these sorts of comments are so ridiculous. No, Barbara.  The question is what is the evidence in each case? Liz Seccuro does not just have physical evidence, she also has what really seems like a confession, no inconsistent statements on her part, no issues about identity. 

He doesn’t deny he had sex with her. The cases are not comparable and those who make this sort of comparison would like to look at everything except the evidence. It is insulting to all rape victims to lump all rape accusations together because in a handful of the cases, the allegations are false. 

Connie writes in about our coverage of the five-foot-one-inch child molester who avoided jail time because of his height. I said there was no justification for the ruling.

"I’m a former resident of Sidney, Nebraska. The people in Sidney are now in an uproar over the Richard Thompson sentencing because of your show.  Thank you for bringing attention to this issue.” 

We’re going to actually also talk to the attorney general about that case, probably tomorrow to figure out what they’re doing. They’re appealing the case because you know it’s just crazy. The guy’s too short to go to prison? You can compare the various height of how tall he is versus how tall his victim was?

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show. “HARDBALL” up next. See you tomorrow.