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'MSNBC Live' for August 30

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Jay Fisher, Robert Weiss, Scott Hennen, Jeralyn Merritt

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Police release the audiotape of Republican senator Larry Craig‘s interrogation moments after his bathroom bust.  It is safe to say this is now the most scrutinized near bathroom encounter ever.  The tape you are about to hear in its entirety will now secure a place in the annals of twisted Americana memorialized forever in Senator Craig‘s own voice.  In a late 20th, early 21st century time capsule, this tape will be found somewhere between Abscam, Watergate, Paris Hilton and Pamela and Tommy Lee.  What you are about to hear is history.  Sort of.


SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO:  Am I going to have to fight you in court?

SGT. DAVE KARSNIA, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE:  No.  No.  I‘m not going to go to court unless you want me there.

CRAIG:  Because I don‘t want to be in court, either.

KARSNIA:  OK.  I don‘t, either. (INAUDIBLE)  Here‘s the way it works. 

You‘ll—you‘ll be released today, OK?


KARSNIA:  All right.  I know I can bring you to jail, but that‘s not my goal here, OK?


CRAIG:  ... don‘t do that.  You...

KARSNIA:  I‘m not going to bring you in.

CRAIG:  You solicited me.

KARSNIA:  OK.  We‘re going to get—we‘re going to get into that.



KARSNIA:  But there‘s the—there there‘s two ways.  Yes, you can—you can—you can go to court and you can plead guilty.

CRAIG:  Yes.

KARSNIA:  There‘ll be a fine.  You won‘t have to explain anything (INAUDIBLE)


KARSNIA:  And you‘ll pay a fine.  You‘ll (INAUDIBLE)  Done.  Or if you want to plead not guilty, you—you know, and I can‘t make these decisions for you.

CRAIG:  No, no.  Just tell me where I am because...


CRAIG:  ... I need to make this flight.

KARSNIA:  OK.  OK.  And then I go to—you and I go (INAUDIBLE) then I would have to come to court and end up testifying, right?  So those are the two things, OK?  Did I explain that part?

CRAIG:  Yes.

KARSNIA:  OK.  I‘m just going to read you your rights real quick, OK? 

(INAUDIBLE) it on?

CRAIG:  Yes.

KARSNIA:  OK.  The date is 6/11/07 at 1228 hours.  Mr. Craig?

CRAIG:  Yes?

KARSNIA:  All right.  (INAUDIBLE)  You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to talk to a lawyer now or have present—a lawyer present now or anytime during questioning.  If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you without cost.  Do you understand each of these rights as I explained them to you?

CRAIG:  I do.

KARSNIA:  Do you wish to talk to us at this time?

CRAIG:  I do.

KARSNIA:  OK.  I just want to start off with your side of the story, OK?  So...

CRAIG:  Well, I go into the bathroom here, as I normally do.  I‘m a commuter, too, here.


CRAIG:  I sit down to go to the bathroom.  And you said our feet bumped.  I believe they did because I reached down and scooted over.  And the next thing I knew, under the bathroom divider comes a card that says “Police.”  Now, that‘s about as far as I can take it.  I don‘t know of anything else.  Your foot came toward mine, mine came toward yours.  Was that natural?  I don‘t know.  Did we bump?  Yes, I think we did.  You said so, and I don‘t disagree with that.

KARSNIA:  OK.  I don‘t want to get into a pissing match here.

CRAIG:  We‘re not going to.


CRAIG:  I don‘t—I am not gay.  I don‘t do these kind of things and...

KARSNIA:  It doesn‘t matter.  I don‘t care about sexual preference or anything like that.  Here‘s your stuff back, sir.  I don‘t care about sexual preference.

CRAIG:  I know you don‘t.  You‘re out to enforce the law.

KARSNIA:  Right.

CRAIG:  But you shouldn‘t be out to entrap people, either.

KARSNIA:  This isn‘t entrapment.

CRAIG:  All right.

KARSNIA:  You‘re skipping some parts here, but what about your hand?

CRAIG:  What about it?  I reached down, my foot like this.  There was a piece of paper on the floor.  I picked it up.


CRAIG:  What about my hand?

KARSNIA:  Well, you‘re not being truthful with me.  I‘m kind of disappointed in you, Senator.  I‘m real disappointed right now, OK?  I‘m not—just so you know, just like everybody...

CRAIG:  Yes?

KARSNIA:  ... I treat with dignity.  I try to pull them away from the situation and not embarrass them.

CRAIG:  I appreciate that.

KARSNIA:  And I...

CRAIG:  You did that after (INAUDIBLE) the stall.

KARSNIA:  I will say, every person I‘ve had so far has told me the truth.  We‘ve been respectful to each other, and then they‘ve gone on their way.  And I‘ve never had to bring anybody to jail because everybody‘s been truthful to me.

CRAIG:  I don‘t want you to take me to jail, and I think...

KARSNIA:  I‘m not going to take you to jail as long as your cooperative, but I‘m not going to lie.  We...

CRAIG:  Did my hand come below the divider?  Yes, it did.

KARSNIA:  OK, sir.  We deal with people that lie to us everyday.

CRAIG:  I‘m sure you do.


KARSNIA:  I‘m sure you do, too, sir.


KARSNIA:  I‘m sure you do.  We deal with a lot of people that are very bad people.  You‘re not a bad person.

CRAIG:  No, I don‘t think I am.

KARSNIA:  OK.  So what I‘m telling you is I don‘t want to be lied to.


KARSNIA:  OK?  So we‘ll start over.  You‘re going to get out of here. 

You‘re going to have to pay a fine, and that‘ll be it, OK?  And I don‘t call media.  I don‘t do any of that type of crap.

CRAIG:  Fine.


CRAIG:  Fine.

KARSNIA:  All right.  So let‘s start from the beginning.  You went in the bathroom?

CRAIG:  I went in the bathroom.

KARSNIA:  And what did you do when you...

CRAIG:  I stood beside the wall, waiting for a stall to open.  I got in the stall, sat down, and I started to go to the bathroom.  Did our feet come together?  Apparently, they did bump.  Well, I won‘t dispute that.

KARSNIA:  OK.  When I got out of the stall, I noticed other—other stalls were open.

CRAIG:  They were at the time.  At the time I entered, I—at the time I entered, I stood and waited.


CRAIG:  They were all busy, you know?

KARSNIA:  Were you (INAUDIBLE) out here while you were waiting?  I could see your eyes.  I saw you playing with your fingers, then look up, play with your fingers, then look up.

CRAIG:  Did I glance at your stall?  I was glancing at a stall right beside yours, waiting for a fellow to empty it.  I saw him stand up, and therefore I thought it was going to empty.

KARSNIA:  How long do you think you stood outside the stalls?

CRAIG:  Oh, a minute or two at the most.

KARSNIA:  OK.  Then you went in the stalls.  Then what?

CRAIG:  Sat down.

KARSNIA:  OK.  Did you do anything with your feet?

CRAIG:  Positioned them.  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know at the time. 

I‘m a fairly wide guy...

KARSNIA:  I understand.

CRAIG:  ... and I had to spread my legs...


CRAIG:  ... when I lower my pants so they won‘t slide.


CRAIG:  Did I slide them too close to yours?  Did I—I looked down once, your foot was close to mine.


CRAIG:  Did we bump?  You said so.  I don‘t recall that, but apparently, we were close.

KARSNIA:  Yes.  Well, your foot did touch mine on my side of the stall.

CRAIG:  All right.

KARSNIA:  OK?  And then with the hand.  How many times did you put your hand under the stall?

CRAIG:  I don‘t recall.  I remember reaching down once, there was a piece of toilet paper back behind me, and picking it up.

KARSNIA:  OK.  Was your—was your palm down or up when you were doing that?

CRAIG:  I don‘t recall.

KARSNIA:  OK.  I recall your palm being up, OK?

CRAIG:  All right.

KARSNIA:  When you pick up a piece of paper off the ground, your palm would be down, when you pick something up.

CRAIG:  Yes, probably would be.  I recall picking the paper up.

KARSNIA:  And I know it‘s hard to describe here on tape, but actually, what I saw was your fingers come underneath the stalls.  You‘re actually touching the bottom of the stall divider.

CRAIG:  I don‘t recall that.

KARSNIA:  You don‘t recall

CRAIG:  I don‘t believe I did that.  I don‘t...

KARSNIA:  I saw—I saw...

CRAIG:  I don‘t do those things.

KARSNIA:  I saw your left hand, and I could see the gold wedding ring when it—when it went across.  I could see that.  On your left hand, I could see that.

CRAIG:  Wait a moment.  My left hand was over here.

KARSNIA:  I saw—there‘s a...

CRAIG:  My right hand was next to you.

KARSNIA:  I could tell it was my—I could tell it was your left hand because your thumb was positioned in a faceward (ph) motion.  Your thumb was on this side, not on this side.

CRAIG:  Well, we can dispute that.  I‘m not going to fight you in court.  And I—I reached down with my right hand to pick up the paper.

KARSNIA:  What I‘m telling you is I could see that, so I know it was your left hand.  Also, I could see a gold ring on this finger, so that‘s obvious it was the left hand.

CRAIG:  Well, OK.  My left hand was in the direct opposite of the stall from you.

KARSNIA:  OK.  You—you travel through here frequently, correct?

CRAIG:  I do.  Almost weekly.

KARSNIA:  Have you been successful in these bathrooms here before?

CRAIG:  I go to that bathroom regularly.

KARSNIA:  I mean for any type of other activities.

CRAIG:  No.  Absolutely not.  I don‘t seek activity in bathrooms.

KARSNIA:  It‘s embarrassing.

CRAIG:  Well, it‘s embarrassing for both—I‘m not going to fight you!

KARSNIA:  I know you‘re not going to fight me, but that‘s not the point.  I would respect you—and I still respect you.  I don‘t disrespect you.  But I‘m disrespected right now.  And I‘m not tying to act that I have all kinds of power or anything, but you‘re sitting here lying to a police officer.


KARSNIA:  It‘s not (INAUDIBLE) I‘m getting from somebody else.  I‘m...


KARSNIA:  I am trained in this and I know what I am doing.  And I saw you put your hand under there, and you‘re going to sit there and...

CRAIG:  I admit I put my hand down.

KARSNIA:  You put your hand and rubbed it on the bottom of the stall with your left hand.

CRAIG:  No.  Wait a moment!

KARSNIA:  And I—I‘m not dumb.  You can say, I don‘t recall...


CRAIG:  If I had turned sideways, that was the only way I could get my left hand over there.

KARSNIA:  It‘s not that hard for me to reach.  (INAUDIBLE)  It‘s not that hard.  I see it happen everyday out here now.


KARSNIA:  I just—I just—I guess—I guess I‘m going to say I‘m just disappointed in you sir.  I just really am.  I expect this from the guys that we get out of the hood.  I mean—I mean, people vote for you!

CRAIG:  Yes, they do. (INAUDIBLE)

KARSNIA:  Unbelievable.  Unbelievable.

CRAIG:  And I‘m a respectable person, and I don‘t do these kinds of...

KARSNIA:  Where‘s your respect right now, though?

CRAIG:  But I didn‘t use my left hand.

KARSNIA:  I thought that you...

CRAIG:  I reached down with my right hand like this to pick up a piece of paper.

KARSNIA:  Was your gold ring on your right hand at any time today?

CRAIG:  Of course not.  Try to get it off.  Look at it.

KARSNIA:  OK, then it was your left hand.  I saw it with my own eyes.

CRAIG:  All right.  You saw something that didn‘t happen.

KARSNIA:  Embarrassing.  Embarrassing.  No wonder why we‘re going down the tubes.  Anything to add?


KARSNIA:  All right.  Embarrassing.  Date is 6/11/07 at 1236. 

Interview is done.



ABRAMS:  No wonder we‘re going down the tubes.

Let me bring in Robert Weiss, head of the Sexual Recovery Institute and author of “Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men,” and Baltimore County sheriff Jay Fisher, a former vice squad unit detective.  Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Jay, let me start with you.  The way that this cop, this sergeant is interrogating him is not ordinary-course-of-business stuff, is it?

JAY FISHER, BALTIMORE COUNTY SHERIFF:  Well, normally, there‘s no reason why we would interrogate this individual anyway.  The statement of charges of the case has already been made, and there‘s no reason to interrogate him.  No reason whatsoever.

ABRAMS:  And what about putting it on tape?

FISHER:  If this sergeant feels that this is appropriate, obviously, it‘s within the law.  We would not have done that in the city police department‘s vice squad.

ABRAMS:  And it‘s clear from the tape that he knew he was being taped. 

There is a reference there.  All right.  Robert Weiss, do you believe him? 

I mean, look, you deal with this kind of issue all the time.

ROBERT WEISS, SEXUAL RECOVERY INSTITUTE:  I think it‘s tragic listening to it, but no, I don‘t think he‘s being truthful.  I‘ve worked with too many men in this kind of situation, and I really don‘t hear truth coming from this man.  And the way it‘s described and from what I am hearing, no, I don‘t believe him.

ABRAMS:  Is this the typical method that people go about cruising, I mean, with the hand, and which way was it turned, and under the—under the stall, and I could see you looking through the stall, et cetera?

WEISS:  Well, I think it‘s—as maybe we‘ve heard a little bit on the media, this is not typical, by any means, in this day and age.  I think most people who might be looking to cruise or have sex with an anonymous person or a one night stand would be on line or in a bar.  I think the gay world has changed significantly.  But I do think there is an older generation that might still, or a closeted generation, someone who might be married or not publicly openly gay, who would be out looking for sexual behavior in this way.

ABRAMS:  Well, apparently, enough so that the police sent an undercover person into a stall to try and bust  people.

WEISS:  And they‘re getting complaints.

ABRAMS:  Sheriff, what do you make of that?

FISHER:  Well, this certainly is a complaint-driven method here. 

Someone has complained, and that‘s why the undercover officers have been placed in this bathroom, because they have had problems in the past.

ABRAMS:  And Robert, I mean, what you‘re saying is you don‘t think that there are that many guys out there cruising in bathrooms anymore?

WEISS:  I don‘t think the behavior is anything like it was 20 years ago or 30 years ago, when it was illegal for gay men to be sexual or meet in bars and that kind of thing and they were getting arrested.  But I have to tell you, Dan, I—this is what I do for a living.  I work with men who sexually act out and get themselves in trouble.  And I hear stories like this all the time, and I have to tell you, it is—I can count on one hand, of the thousands of men I treated, the ones who really were entrapped or didn‘t do it, what they were accused of.  I really think this man did this, and I feel sad for him and his family.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Robert Weiss, thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

Sheriff Fisher, stay with us.

Up next: Could the tape actually end up helping Craig by backing up his story, even making him seem sympathetic?  I think it really might.  And Craig says he may want to try to change his guilty plea because he didn‘t have a lawyer.  We‘ve got a lawyer who says he should.  Come on!  Coming up.



KARSNIA:  I don‘t want to get into a pissing match here.

CRAIG:  We‘re not going to.


CRAIG:  I don‘t—I am not gay.  I don‘t do these kind of things and...

KARSNIA:  It doesn‘t matter.  I don‘t care about sexual preference or anything like that.  Here‘s your stuff back, sir.  I don‘t care about sexual preference.

CRAIG:  I know you don‘t.  You‘re out to enforce the law.

KARSNIA:  Right.

CRAIG:  But you shouldn‘t be out to entrap people, either.

KARSNIA:  This isn‘t entrapment.

CRAIG:  All right.


ABRAMS:  The just-released audiotapes of Senator Larry Craig‘s interview after his arrest.  Senator Craig says he was just going to the bathroom.  An undercover cop angrily denounces him, saying it‘s clear he was more than, you know, looking for a toilet.

But now the question, could some parts of this tape actually help Senator Craig?  My take.  I think it could.  He denies seeking sex again and again, and the tape supports his story that he felt pressured into just pleading guilty so that he could pay a fine and make it go away.  So I think he‘s in a slightly better position today than yesterday.

With that said, his story is not particularly credible, and he had more than a month between the time this occurred and his guilty plea.  But I think his tape might make some people feel sorry for him.

Joining me now, radio talk show host Scott Hennen and criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt.  Thanks to both of you for coming on.

All right.  Scott, do you think anyone‘s going to feel sorry for him?

SCOTT HENNEN, WDAY RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  No.  I think it‘s not sympathetic, it‘s pathetic, is what it is, unfortunately.  Here‘s what you have to believe if you don‘t think Larry Craig is guilty of the conduct he‘s been accused of here.  Set aside the accusations in the ‘80s that he publicly denied or the Union Station link-up that an accuser‘s come forward about.  Set that aside.  You have to believe that Larry Craig, flying through Minneapolis, goes way out of his way from his arriving flight and his connecting flight, ends up in a bathroom notorious for this kind of behavior, well publicized on gay Web sites, and engages in these kind of actions and signals...

ABRAMS:  I agree with you.

HENNEN:  ... suggesting he wants to hook up.  It‘s pathetic.

ABRAMS:  I agree with you on that front.  I‘m asking, though—we got this new tape, all right?  Yesterday, this guy was toast, right?  I mean, on your show, you had Norm Coleman coming out, calling for him to resign.  You had John McCain.  Now you have additional people coming out, saying it‘s time for him to resign.

I‘m asking the question as a political matter, and I‘ll let—throw this one to Jeralyn.  Do you think that this might help him even a little?

JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I think it could.  I mean, I felt sorry for him, listening to the tape.  He denied every substantial allegation that this undercover cop made.  And at most ...

ABRAMS:  What else is he going to do?

MERRITT:  Well, but you know, he—other things he went along with. 

He went along with, Maybe my foot did bump yours.  But when it came to the real substance of the allegations, the things like whether it was the left hand...

ABRAMS:  But—all right, but...

MERRITT:  ... or the right hand, whether...

ABRAMS:  We‘ll get to the legal stuff later.

MERRITT:  ... he put his hand under...

ABRAMS:  All right.  But I want to just talk about the perception.  This is a guy, Scott—it feels kind of like the cop‘s beating up on him a little bit.  I guess that‘s the point I‘m making here.

HENNEN:  OK.  All right.  Well, but listen.  Here‘s the deal.  He‘s under scrutiny.  His—the largest newspaper in his state is investigating him.  There‘s been months of investigation going on here.  Again, he ends up in this bathroom, and his defense is, I have kind of a wide stance and I thought there was a piece of paper on the floor?

And listen, I‘m sympathetic to the guy.  I think Larry Craig has an incredible record for the conservative cause.  But right now, he‘s doing damage to it.  He ought to resign.  He ought to realize that his record, unfortunately, is toast because of his own actions.

But this is a story of human tragedy.  I don‘t not feel sorry for this guy, I do feel sorry for him.  But the point is, his own actions are why we‘re talking about this today.  He‘s got to go.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s another a piece of sound, again, where he‘s talking with the police officer.


CRAIG:  Did my hand come below the divider?  Yes, it did.

KARSNIA:  OK, sir.  We deal with people that lie to us every day.

CRAIG:  I‘m sure you do.


KARSNIA:  I‘m sure you do, too, sir.


KARSNIA:  I‘m sure you do.  We deal with a lot of people that are very bad people.  You‘re not a bad person.

CRAIG:  No, I don‘t think I am.

KARSNIA:  OK.  So what I‘m telling you is I don‘t want to be lied to.


KARSNIA:  OK?  So we‘ll start over.  You‘re going to get out of here. 

You‘re going to have to pay a fine, and that‘ll be it, OK?  And I don‘t call media.  I don‘t do any of that type of crap.

CRAIG:  Fine.



ABRAMS:  Jeralyn, do you think there‘s any chance that people will watch this and say, You know what?  I feel bad enough for this guy that I‘m not ready to throw him out?

MERRITT:  You know, I‘m not sure people will go that far.

ABRAMS:  I‘m not sure either, yes.

MERRITT:  But I have to tell you, you know, I kind of think that maybe they should.  I mean, what else can you do, other than deny something?

ABRAMS:  Well, you can come clean.

MERRITT:  How do you prove that you didn‘t have...

ABRAMS:  I mean, you can tell the truth.

MERRITT:  ... a specific intent?

ABRAMS:  You can tell the truth.

MERRITT:  But what if he is telling the truth?

ABRAMS:  What do you mean?  How...

MERRITT:  Maybe he is.

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait.  You say he is telling the truth?

MERRITT:  I‘m saying maybe he is.

ABRAMS:  Oh, maybe he is?

MERRITT:  And I think that if he is telling the truth, if he really believes that he‘s telling the truth, he should stick with that story.

ABRAMS:  If he believes...

HENNEN:  Well, again...

ABRAMS:  If he believes he‘s telling the truth.  Go ahead, Scott.

HENNEN:  But Dan and Jeralyn, listen, assuming he, you know, believes his own story here, this happened in June.  He didn‘t plead guilty until early August.  He had all this time to get advice.  Look, it‘s bunk.  He‘s got to go, and he‘ll resign by the end of the weekend.

MERRITT:  Well...

ABRAMS:  I think you‘re right.

MERRITT:  This story‘s going to go away.

ABRAMS:  I think you‘re right.  All right, let me...

MERRITT:  I don‘t...

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to come back, Jeralyn, and we‘ll talk about the legal issues.


ABRAMS:  I want to thank Scott for coming on the program.  But we‘re going to get into this, the details of this, coming up because Craig says he may try to withdraw his guilty plea.  Withdraw it.  Can he do that?  And wouldn‘t that mean he‘d have to face a trial?  Come on!  Does he really want that?  One of my guests says yes.

But first: Should we be surprised that Fox‘s Sean Hannity sounds like he‘s defending the Republican senator?  That‘s next in “Beat the Press.”


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: Over on Fox, they were discussing Hulk Hogan‘s son, who was involved in a high-speed car crash that critically injured his passenger.  But listen carefully to what regular Fox legal analyst Arthur Aidala claimed the hospital is going to be looking for in his blood test.


ARTHUR AIDALA, FOX LEGAL ANALYST:  They‘re going to test his blood for any kind of blood or alcohol.


ABRAMS:  Test his blood for any kind of blood or alcohol.  I promise there‘s going to be blood.


AIDALA:  Now, if there‘s no blood or alcohol, he‘ll still be charged with a reckless assault.


ABRAMS:  There‘s definitely going to be blood!


AIDALA:  If there is blood or alcohol, that could be escalated to a vehicular assault.


ABRAMS:  There is going to be blood!  The hospital would be in big trouble if the blood test did not contain blood!  I‘m just kidding (INAUDIBLE)

Next up: As always, Fox News minimizing the wrongdoing of Republicans, even the guilty plea of Republican senator Larry Craig.  Here‘s Sean Hannity.


SEAN HANNITY, “HANNITY & COLMES”:  He was only charged, when you read the report, of tapping his foot, peeking in the partition, putting his hands under and playing footsie.  That‘s all!


ABRAMS:  Sean, if he just pled guilty to tapping, peeking and footsie, why are so many Republicans showing him the door?  This could, though, be yet another example of the anti-footsie media.

Finally, a viewer with produce expertise e-mailed us about yours truly.  I made a comment about a certain vegetable in the “Produce Paradise” video created by two brothers who are being sued by the A&P grocery chain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s just kind of disappointing that large companies are kind of crushing the, you know, creative minds of America‘s views.

ABRAMS:  The creative minds, as we watch a cucumber slowly fall onto the floor.


ABRAMS:  The keen eye of one of our viewers, Annette Bayer (ph), pointed out that it was a zucchini in the video, not a cucumber.  I ignored the ridges in the stem, and I am today‘s “Beat the Press” victim.

We want your help beating the press.  If you see anything amusing, absurd or just plain right or wrong in the press, please go to our Web site,, and leave us a tip in the tip box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: The tape of Senator Craig‘s interrogation after his bathroom encounter is out, some saying it could support his case to withdraw his guilty plea.  Should he?  Could he?  And wouldn‘t that make things much worse by sending him to trial?

And later: Ten years after Princess Diana‘s death, the leading conspiracy theories about her death, from a royal family plot to a political grudge against Diana—we lay them out and preview an MSNBC special on the topic coming up.


ABRAMS:  Senator Larry Craig says he‘s hired a lawyer to examine his case, suggesting he may try to withdraw his guilty plea.  But could the newly released audiotape of the interrogation help him? 


SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO:  Am I going to have to fight you in court?

DAVE KARSNIA, MINNEAPOLIS AIRPORT POLICE OFFICER:  No.  No.  I‘m not going to go to court unless you want me there.

CRAIG:  Because I don‘t want to be in court, either.

KARSNIA:  OK, I don‘t either.  (INAUDIBLE)  Here‘s the way it works. 

You‘ll be released today, OK?


KARSNIA:  All right.  I know I can bring you to jail, but that‘s not my goal here, OK? 


CRAIG:  Don‘t do that.  You...

KARSNIA:  I‘m not going to bring you to jail.

CRAIG:  You solicited me.

KARSNIA:  OK.  We‘re going to get—we‘re going to get into that. 


CRAIG:  We can get into that, OK.

KARSNIA:  But there‘s the—there‘s two ways, yes.  You can go to court.  You can plead guilty.

CRAIG:  Yep.

KARSNIA:  There‘ll be a fine.  You won‘t have to explain anything. 

(INAUDIBLE) I know. 

CRAIG:  Right.

KARSNIA:  And you‘ll pay a fine, you be (INAUDIBLE) done.  Or if you want to plead not guilty—and I can‘t make these decisions for you.

CRAIG:  No, no.  Just tell me where I am (INAUDIBLE) I need to make this flight.

KARSNIA:  OK.  OK.  And then I go to people that are not guilty, then I would have to come to court and end up testifying (INAUDIBLE) so those are the two things, OK.  Did I explain that part?

CRAIG:  Yes.

KARSNIA:  OK, I‘m just going to read you your rights real quick, OK? 

You got it on?


KARSNIA:  OK.  The date is 6-11-07 at 1228 hours, Mr. Craig?


ABRAMS:  My take?  From a legal perspective, Senator Craig could certainly try to withdraw his plea, and there are various arcane and technical arguments that could support his case.  But to me, it‘s a lot simpler than that:  He signed a document that says, “I make no claim that I am innocent of the charge to which I am entering a plea of guilty.” 

He is a senator, meaning he‘s involved in writing laws.  How can he possibly argue he didn‘t understand that that‘s what he was signing? 

We‘re joined by Steve Simon, law professor at the University of Minnesota.  Still with us is criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt and Baltimore County Sheriff Jay Fisher, former vice squad unit detective.

Thanks to all of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.

Professor Simon, do you think he‘s got any real argument here? 

STEVE SIMON, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA LAW SCHOOL:  I‘ve taken a look at his plea petition, and actually I think that the defects in the plea petition are more substantial than the statements that he made or didn‘t make.  Although just listening to the tape and what I heard, he told the officer, “You solicited me.”  That‘s half an admission right there.  Instead of saying, “You know, I didn‘t know what you were doing, and I was doing this innocent behavior.”

ABRAMS:  Interesting. 

SIMON:  He interpreted the officer‘s behavior as a solicitation explicitly for sex.  So that tape hurts him.  That doesn‘t help him. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s one of the—this is number two here.  You talk about defects in the plea.  He says, “I did the following, engaged in conduct which I knew or should have known tended to arouse alarm or resentment or others,” as opposed to in others, “which conduct was physical versus verbal in nature.” 

All right, Jeralyn Merritt, that is a slight error.  Are you going to actually suggest to me that that is enough for him to withdraw his plea and for a court to say “do over”? 

JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  No, I wouldn‘t say that that is, but there‘s another defect in that plea agreement that I can see, and it‘s that—you know, he pled guilty by mail.  A lot of people don‘t realize that.  He signed this form and sent it in.  He never had a court hearing. 

And in this agreement or petition to plead guilty, they‘re supposed to advise him of his rights.  They forgot to advise him of one very important right, and that is the right to be represented by counsel.  In Minnesota, the statutes and the case law say that, when you‘re going to plead guilty, the court has to advise you of that right or you have the right to petition to withdraw your plea even after your sentence. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Professor Simon, do you buy that?

SIMON:  That is a very strong argument.  It‘s important to note that he pled guilty pro se.  In other words, he didn‘t have a lawyer.  When the court goes back to look at the validity of a prior plea, if the person had an attorney when they pled guilty, the burden is on the person to show that the plea was defective.  But Minnesota law says that, if the person didn‘t have an attorney—which he didn‘t—but the person saying he didn‘t have an attorney when he pled guilty, the burden is on the state to show a valid plea. 

ABRAMS:  So, Professor, if he were to head to court—and I‘m going to play a piece of sound for the moment, and I want to ask Jay Fisher about it—but if he were to head to court and say, “I want to withdraw my plea,” you do not think, though, that a court would approve it, do you, Professor? 

SIMON:  I think that the lack of advising him of his rights to an attorney is a very serious thing and our courts take that right very seriously.  I can‘t say what the court would do, but that is probably the strongest argument he has. 

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

SIMON:  Now, whether he should do that is something else.

ABRAMS:  That I understand.  The last thing he wants is a trial here, right? 

SIMON:  Well, also, keep in mind that he pled guilty to the lesser charge.  And the more serious charge, in terms of penalty, but more serious in terms of definition, the invasion of privacy would be resurrected.  And I‘ve reviewed the charging documents.  The state has a very strong case on that charge.  The media has been focusing on this hand motion underneath the partition, but the behavior which disturbs or alarms someone else is also gazing, the invasion of his privacy.  One of the last places we have an expectation of privacy in this country is when we go to the bathroom in public. 

ABRAMS:  All right, here‘s—this is an area where Jeralyn thinks is problematic about the issue of the fine. 


KARSNIA:  You can go to court.  You can plead guilty.

CRAIG:  Yep.

KARSNIA:  There‘ll be a fine.  You won‘t have to explain anything. 

(INAUDIBLE) I know. 

CRAIG:  Right.

KARSNIA:  And you‘ll pay a fine, you be (INAUDIBLE) done.  Or if you want to plead not guilty, and I can‘t make these decisions for you.

CRAIG:  No, no.  Just tell me where I am (INAUDIBLE) I need to make this flight.

KARSNIA:  OK.  OK.  And then I go to people that are not guilty, then I would have to come to court and end up testifying.  So those are the two things, OK.  Did I explain that part?

CRAIG:  Yes.


ABRAMS:  Jay Fisher, are you troubled by the fact that he‘s telling him what the sentence would be and he would have to pay a fine? 

JAY FISHER, BALTIMORE COUNTY SHERIFF:  Well, I really believe that the police officer or the sergeant believes that he has adequate probable cause to charge him accordingly, and that‘s what he did.  So I think the sergeant certainly is on firm grounds. 

ABRAMS:  But he‘s talking about a sentence here.  Jeralyn makes the point to us that he‘s talking about what possible sentence would be imposed here, and that‘s questionably improper. 

SIMON:  The police officer was on very thin ice to state what type of sentence he would get.  Now, had Senator Craig made a confession or should they want to use this tape, if he made statements after the officer said that, that statement by the officer would be strong grounds to keep the statement out.  However...

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got to wrap it up.  I‘m sorry.  I apologize for interrupting you, Professor.  Bottom line is, he‘s not going to ask for it, as the professor points out.  I don‘t think he‘d win it if he did.  He‘d be crazy politically to ask to withdraw his plea, and I think he‘s going to resign by the end of the week.  We shall see.

Steve Simon, Jeralyn Merritt, and Sheriff Fisher, thanks a lot. 

SIMON:  Thank you, Dan. 

MERRITT:  Sure. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the leading conspiracy theory surrounding the death of Princess Diana.  We‘ll examine why 10 years later many people still don‘t buy the official version of what happened. 

And later, you may have heard about people streaking after having a few drinks.  We‘ll show you one guy who police say ran around naked in order to distract a clerk and steal some beer.  That‘s ahead in today‘s winners and I‘ll bet you can guess what he is, losers. 


ABRAMS:  Hard to believe it‘s a decade later and questions are still surrounding Princess Diana‘s death.  Was she a victim of drunk driving or were more sinister forces at work?  Some are still trying to gather evidence that the royal family was somehow behind her death all along. 

Tonight, a first look into the two leading conspiracy theories. 


NARRATOR (voice-over):  It seemed like an open-and-shut case.  The paparazzi, who relentlessly stalked Princess Diana for years, were responsible for her death. 

LORD CHARLES SPENCER, PRINCESS DIANA‘S BROTHER:  I always believed the press would kill her in the end, but not even I could imagine that they would take such a direct hand in her death. 

NARRATOR:  It wasn‘t hard to accept the conclusion that a ruthless pack of photographers, hungry for a lucrative picture, caused that late-night car crash in a Paris tunnel.  But it wasn‘t long before that story started to unravel. 

The first conspiracy theory was a bombshell, and it came from none other than Mohamed Fayed, Dodi‘s father.  Conspiracy theory number one: 

Prince Philip had the British Secret Service murder Diana and Dodi. 

MOHAMED AL-FAYED, FATHER OF DODI FAYED:  He would not accept under any circumstances my son, different religion, different culture, will be the stepfather of the future king.  It‘s no way.  It‘s black and white. 

NARRATOR:  Central to the alleged plot was the motive.  Fayed claimed Diana was engaged to Dodi and pregnant with Dodi‘s child, something he says the monarchy could not tolerate. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you have medical proof that she was pregnant?

AL-FAYED:  Definitely, and proof of that in the hospital.  She told me herself, told Dodi. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She told you? 

AL-FAYED:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She was pregnant? 

AL-FAYED:  Yes.  And they, before they sent her here, they asked the hospital to mummify her. 

NARRATOR:  The fact that Diana was embalmed, Fayed said, only supported his conspiracy theory. 

In conspiracy theory number one, as Diana and Dodi gets closer, the monarchy gets anxious.  But even if Prince Philip did disapprove of the relationship between Diana and Dodi, what proof did Mohamed Fayed have that there was foul play?  With his enormous wealth and resources, Fayed began his own inquiry that rivaled the official investigation by French police. 

Even before the French investigation was completed, Fayed‘s team of lawyers, investigators and publicists held a press conference where they produced this footage of Henri Paul at the Ritz in an effort to refute the French authorities‘ claim that he was drunk. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Henri Paul did not have any appearance of being overexcited and “drunk as a pig,” a quotation which incidentally appears again in the “Evening Standard” this evening. 

NARRATOR:  In 2004, hoping to refute some of Fayed‘s claims, the London Metropolitan Police launched an investigation of their own, known as Operation Paget or the Lord Stevens report. 

MARTYN GREGORY, AUTHOR, “DIANA: THE LAST DAYS”:  Now, Lord Stevens was commissioned by the coroner to investigate conspiracy theories, in other words, that there could have been something illegitimate, illegal about the deaths. 

NARRATOR:  The results of the Stevens report took direct aim at Fayed‘s claims, starting with his assertion that Henri Paul was sober.  The backbone of Fayed‘s argument wasn‘t that the blood-alcohol level was wrong, but that sample that was tested wasn‘t Paul‘s.  To put the matter to rest, the Stevens report compared the DNA in Paul‘s sample to his mother‘s DNA.

GREGORY:  And they found it matched.  So, therefore, it was Henri Paul‘s blood.  And the conclusion was that he was between three and four times over the drunk-drive limit. 

NARRATOR:  But what about the motive?  Mohamed Fayed claimed the monarchy was driven to murder because Princess Diana was engaged to Dodi and pregnant with his baby. 

GREGORY:  The evidence from the autopsy was that when they divided her uterus on the afternoon of 31st of August, 1997, she was not pregnant.  And that was just treated as read until Fayed started inventing the idea that Diana might have been pregnant with his grandchild.  The only evidence that she was pregnant comes from Mohamed Fayed, who claims that she told him on the phone that she was pregnant.  So if you take away the idea that she might have been pregnant, which she wasn‘t, then what is the motivation of the royal family or the duke of Edinburgh to do away with Diana?  They have no motivation. 

NARRATOR:  Despite all the evidence to the contrary, there is one eerie element to the theory that the royal family wanted Diana dead.  Diana had once left her butler, Paul Burrell, a note in which she speculated that Prince Charles might try to have her killed in a car accident. 

GREGORY:  Diana said in the letter that she was worried that her husband might tamper with the brakes of her car.  Well, the point was she wasn‘t in her car.  She was in a Fayed car.  And do we really think that Prince Charles could conceivably have tried to organize some sort of accident in an underpass in Paris when he didn‘t even know his wife was in the country?  Now, these things on Planet Fayed in Fantasyland can be possible. 

NARRATOR:  The next conspiracy had less to do with Diana‘s love life and more to do with her politics. 

NOEL BOTHAM, AUTHOR, “THE MURDER OF PRINCESS DIANA”:  Diana wasn‘t killed because she was going to marry a royal or she was pregnant with a Muslim child.  She was killed because of landmines. 

NARRATOR:  Conspiracy theory number two:  Diana‘s anti-landmine campaign was a security threat.  Writer and journalist Noel Botham claims Diana‘s demise was borne out of the high-profile success of her anti-landmine campaign.  In Botham‘s view that powerful political influence was seen as a threat because some in the military and defense circles felt these landmines played a critical national security role, and they didn‘t want Britain or the U.S. to sign a treaty banning their use. 

BOTHAM:  I was totally convinced at the outset, and told my publisher so, that I believed this to be an accident, nothing more, nothing sinister in it, straightforward.  But after two weeks of talking to people, getting information on what happened, I became very suspicious. 

NARRATOR:  Unlike Mohamed Fayed, Botham doesn‘t think the royal family was involved in the deaths.  But curiously, he believes the conspiracy did include Diana and Dodi‘s driver that night, Henri Paul, who was also killed in the crash. 

BOTHAM:  Henri Paul worked for intelligence.  He was told to take that route to Dodi‘s apartment. 

NARRATOR:  But according to Botham, Paul was unaware of the entire plan, the part that included crashing the car he was driving. 

BOTHAM:  He was pulling left, trying to avoid the Fiat Uno.  The motorcyclist in front turned around and whacked a strobe light backwards into the windshield, and Henri Paul was totally disorientated, ran into a pillar. 

NARRATOR:  Botham is referring to what has become known as the flash before the crash.  But the key witness to the flash, Francois Levistre, turned out to be highly questionable. 

GREGORY:  He basically gets the cars in the wrong order.  He gets the sequence of events in the wrong order.  And, also, the most crucial thing is, his wife was sitting next to him in the car, and she disagrees with him.  So one way or another, one can see why the French ruled him out. 

NARRATOR:  The investigators may be thorough and confident in their own conclusions, but Diana‘s sons believe they will never really know the exact details of the night their mother died. 

PRINCE HARRY:  When people think about her, they think about her death.  They think about, you know, how wrong it was.  They think about whatever happened.  I don‘t know.  For me personally, whatever happened, you know, that night, whatever happened in that tunnel, no one will ever know. 


ABRAMS:  You can watch “Fayed Diana Conspiracy Theories” premiering this Saturday at noon on MSNBC and then again at 8:00 p.m. Sunday night. 

Up next, every breath you take could soon come with a warning in Britain.  Every step you take could be more difficult in this upside-down house.  And we‘ll talk to the store clerk who watched every move this naked guy made when he was trying to rob her, coming up next in today‘s “Winners and Losers.”


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 30th day of August 2007.


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Our first winner, Polish artist Daniel Czapiewski who created this upside-down house.  The ceilings are on the floor and furniture hanging overhead.  Why, you ask?  He says mankind is spoiling the world.  It‘s his reminder that the kids are our future. 

Our first loser?  CBS reality show “Kid Nation,” which creates an upside-down world where kids build their own future. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We have definitely more power here than in the real world. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is our world.

ABRAMS:  Already under attack from parents and child advocates, now the adults who worked on the show are complaining, too.  The crew members say, like the kids, they were sometimes forced to work 14 hours straight with no breaks for meals. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) I guess I‘m just going to have to keep pushing.

ABRAMS:  The second winner, Wisconsin farmer Ken Haas, who surprised his wife, Beth, earlier this week by carving the words “I love you” in the middle of his hayfield.  Haas said the drought was killing his crops anyway, so he decided to make the best of it and sent the “corny” love message to his wife. 

The second loser?  British cigarette makers now being forced to send consumers a message that “our product is killing you.”  The tobacco companies will now have to make the best of it, after including these graphic images on their packages, an effort to shock smokers into quitting.

But the big winners of the day?  NASA astronauts who‘ve been cleared of accusations that they were drinking before heading into space.  According to a new report, all of the flights checked out by NASA over the past 20 years were piloted by sober astronauts.  And so these allegations become just another NASA legend.

The big loser of the day?  A not-so-sober St. Louis man who‘s become a nasty legend for baring it all during a convenience store robbery.  While his buddy was busy stealing a case of beer, he striped naked and danced a hula.  His gyrations enough to distract the clerk, allowing both of them to take off, but they were later busted by the cops. 

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR:  We‘re streaking.  Come on!  Come on!  Everybody, come on!  Woo!  Woo!  We‘re streaking.  We‘re streaking!  Woo!


ABRAMS:  Joining me on the phone is Vicky Gaines.  She‘s the convenience store clerk from Fish‘s Quick Stop in Desoto, Missouri, who was treated to that show. 

Thanks very much for coming on the program, Vicky.  All right, let me ask you, what happens when he first comes into the store? 

VICKY GAINES, ROBBED BY NAKED DANCING MAN:  He walks in the store, and he just hollers, “Would you like all some of this?” 


And he‘s just doing the little hula. 

ABRAMS:  Did you yell something back at him? 

GAINES:  I told him—I said, “It doesn‘t look big enough to do anything with.”


ABRAMS:  I guess that didn‘t stop him, huh? 

GAINES:  No, he just stood there and still just yelling it out and doing his little dance while his friend was back there getting the beer.  And then after he got his beer and started running out, and then he decided he wanted to run out the door, and so did a couple other customers.  And I went out the door with them, and they happened to get the license plate numbers. 

ABRAMS:  And you had actually been smart.  You‘d seen a guy with a mask standing outside.  Even before they came in, you called the cops, right? 

GAINES:  Yes.  Yes.

ABRAMS:  So they were on their way as this guy is boogieing?

GAINES:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  But it actually worked, right?  You were distracted enough so that the friend was able to steal the beer without you seeing him?

GAINES:  Well, he was—I mean, I was on the phone to the cops while he was trying to do his hula, and say, “Come on, come and get it.” 


And they were, you know, running out.  And as I was talking to the cops, I said, “Well, the other fellow just took some beer out.” 

ABRAMS:  Well, the good thing is...

GAINES:  And off they went.

ABRAMS:  ... the most important thing is that you were able to resist. 

GAINES:  Oh, yes, definitely. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m just kidding.  Vicky, thanks so much for taking the time. 

Appreciate it. 

GAINES:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Stay tuned for “Death in the Hollywood Hills” on the Doc Block.  Have a good week.



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