Guests: Keli Goff, Peter Beinart, Julie Roginsky, Nicole Deborde, Monica Lindstrom, Ashleigh Banfield
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Barack Obama lashing out at Hillary Clinton and her hubby, accusing both of misstating facts about his campaign. This after Bill stuck it to Obama. We are On Their Trail showing you who actually has the facts on their side.
And tonight: On his date of birth, it seems all the candidates would like the memory of Martin Luther King on their side. A look back at the tape of the first presidential candidate to cite King‘s accomplishments after his death, Robert Kennedy. And we‘ll hear some of Dr. King‘s words himself. And I‘m not saying Bill Clinton was not interested at this Martin Luther King event, I‘m just saying he sure looked like he was falling asleep.
But first tonight: It is getting ugly: Barack Obama took on both Bill and Hillary Clinton accusing them of making false claims about his campaign. We are going to look at the facts to assess who‘s right. It started this morning, when Obama stopped just short of calling Bill Clinton a liar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The former president who I think all of us have a lot of regard for, has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling. You know, he continues to make statements that aren‘t supported by the facts whether it‘s about my record of opposition to the war in Iraq or our approach to organizing in Las Vegas. You know, this has become a habit and one of the things that I think we‘re going to have to do is directly confront Bill Clinton when he‘s not making statements that are factually accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: We‘re going to confront both of them because it‘s not just Iraq and organizing in Las Vegas that are issues.
Tonight: We are On Their Trail giving you the facts and making judgments about who is guilty of misstatements or overstatements. Joining me, Keli Goff, political analyst and author of “Party crashing at the hip-hop generation declared political independence”; Julie Roginsky, a Democratic strategist and Peter Beinart, editor-at-large of “The New Republic.” All right.
First: The fight over whether Obama has been saluting Republicans is getting ugly. First, here is Obama responding to an attack from Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: President Clinton went on the—in front of a large group, said that I claimed that only Republicans had had any good ideas since 1980 and then he added I‘m not making this up. He was making it up and completely mischaracterizing my statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And I should say that this is continuing now with the attack between Hillary Clinton again using the term good ideas. Peter Beinart, let me start with you. I mean, it is simply not true that Barack Obama has been suggesting that the Republicans had great ideas out there. On this one Barack Obama, to me, is absolutely right. I think it is a cheap shot by the Clintons.
PETER BEINART, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Yes. I agree with you on that. I mean, what Barack Obama was saying, I don‘t have the exact words in front of me, but basically that Ronald Reagan was a transformational president in a way that Richard Nixon was not and in a way that Bill Clinton was not. I think that‘s true. I think Bill Clinton was a far better president than Ronald Reagan, but Bill Clinton was president at a fairly conservative time that was harder to be transformational where as Ronald Reagan was the most conservative president America had elected since Calvin Coolidge. It was a tremendous break historically when America elected someone that conservative. Not a good one on my opinion but a real, momentous break.
ABRAMS: Kelly, there‘s no question that Obama was bashing Republicans when he was saying this. He was saying that they have been transformative, they haven‘t been now. But it is dangerous business once you start citing the Republicans for anything good in a Democratic primary?
KELI, GOFF, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it kind of funny that when you look at the statement you are 100 percent right. I don‘t think anyone could read this any other way. I think the lesson to be learned however is that what you say that perhaps what is factually accurate is not always the most tactically smart thing to do.
ABRAMS: Julie, you agree this one, right?
JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We all agree. It is ridiculous.
ABRAMS: All right. On this one Barack Obama wins on our fact check. It seems we‘re getting full agreement on this one. I think it‘s going to happen with all of them. No, this is important stuff because they are there blasting about it tonight. And it seems everyone agrees that Barack Obama is being unfairly chastised for his comments about Republicans.
Next up: Round two: the fight about Obama, a radio ad that ran in Nevada that Bill Clinton thought was out of bounds. So, he went after Obama. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: You can register right at the caucus, independents and Republicans who want real change can attend and switch registration.
OBAMA: I want you caucusing for me in Nevada. You have the chance to decide the next president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Clinton‘s response, there‘s a radio ad telling Republicans they ought just to register as Democrats for a day so they can beat Hillary and go out and be Republicans next week and vote in the primary. All right. Julie, that is not exactly what Obama said but I have to say, on this one, I think that this is a fair attack. I mean, if Barack Obama is going to put out an ad encouraging people who are Republicans to go out, switch parties and vote for him, then, it‘s a fair attack for Bill Clinton to say there‘s a radio ad telling Republicans they ought to register as Democrats for a day so they can beat Hillary and go out and you know, do it.
ROGINSKY: No, I disagree with you. It‘s an open caucus. It‘s an open primary. He‘s trying to position himself not just the best alternative as a Democrat but as a general election candidate who‘s going to reach out to independents -
ABRAMS: But I understand why he‘s doing it but it is a fair criticism for Bill Clinton to use that to say, look, you want to tell people to go out and vote as Republicans, I‘m going to take you on.
ROGINSKY: What‘s fair in politics, Dan? What those things that‘s fair?
ABRAMS: But that‘s what we do here. We judge what is fair here -
ROGINSKY: I would say, I disagree with you. I think that was not a fair attack.
GOFF: I want to say, if it‘s a factually accurate attack but it‘s a stupid one. It‘s factually accurate but necessarily fair -
ABRAMS: Peter, factually accurate?
BEINART: I think you that‘s exactly right. I mean, what‘s the issue here? Republicans are allowed to participate in the caucus. Obviously, if they‘re going to vote for Barack Obama, that‘s good for Barack Obama. If they are going to vote for Hillary Clinton, that‘s good for Hillary Clinton. The realities of this race are that Hillary is doing better amongst core Democrats and Obama is doing better among independents and Republicans. There‘s no ideological issue hereof.
ABRAMS: So, on that one on the facts, I think we‘re going to go with the two to one that at least, factually the team Clinton had that one right on the facts whether you agree with the attack or not, on the facts there. So, we got one to one now on Obama and the Clintons as to the facts.
Round three: Was there voter intimidation in Nevada in the days leading up to the voting this weekend? Bill Clinton says there was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Lots of people told Chelsea yesterday, we were here at the Bellagio, they told one of us they were for Hillary, somebody came along with (INAUDIBLE) and they said you won‘t be able to go to Hillary‘s schedule.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, look, Keli on this one, I don‘t know if there‘s any way we can have a fact check this one, alright? He is saying - here‘s my problem with him doing this. And this is more analysis that it is to the fact because again, if someone said it to Hillary, someone said it to her, if someone said it to Chelsea, someone said (INAUDIBLE). But the idea that Bill Clinton is coming out and saying, all of these claims were made and Chelsea became like the sounding board for all these complaints and then, Bill Clinton is going public saying, you know what, my daughter heard from other people who heard. I mean, you can‘t fact check that. That‘s the problem.
GOFF: And I think the Clinton camp is way out of line on this one. Because to make such scurrilous accusations, something this serious that they‘re not be able to back it up. I mean, for us to know that they called the campaign and said, great, let us know where your proof is, they said we‘ll get back to you and we‘re still waiting -
ABRAMS: Peter, big mistake on this one, do you think?
BEINART: Yes. I mean, look, it seems to me, it‘s pretty plausible that a union, once a union endorses somebody, they want their guys to vote for that person because their credibility is on the line. So, what surprise if the - you know, the union that endorsed Obama was turning these screws on their people a little bit, no. The unions that endorsed Clinton were probably doing the same thing. So, I don‘t know if anything that was particularly unusual about what happened in Nevada.
ABRAMS: Is this a big deal, Julie?
ROGINSKY: You could have some 80-year-old guy named joke answering the phone of this union headquarters saying this and all of sudden, it‘s not Barack Obama‘s fault if that‘s the case.
GOFF: The Clintons have been complaining about people.
ABRAMS: It is the first time.
GOFF: They can‘t have it both ways and then say, surrogates have been doing this -
ABRAMS: You know what? I‘m going to leave this one as a tossup because I don‘t think there is any way for us to know. Honestly. I‘m not going to make a fact check -
GOFF: Even if that is true you can‘t tie it to the candidate. Clintons have been complaining about -
ABRAMS: He is basically saying, he is blaming the union there. Let‘s be clear. He didn‘t say Obama did this. He didn‘t say Obama set the people out. I want to get the facts accurate here.
GOFF: That is splitting hairs.
ABRAMS: No, I‘m not. I‘m going to get the fact straight here and on this one there is no way to fact check. So, we got one for Obama, we got one for the Clintons, and we got one we that can‘t know. So, this one, this one becomes the crucial one and this is probably the most crucial of all the issues. It is on Iraq. All right? Bill Clinton and then again Hillary tonight, have been hammering Barack Obama over the war and whether his stance has been consistent. It has yielded one of the most played and overplayed sound bytes of the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. CLINTON: It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years and never got asked one time, not once, well, how could you say that when you said in 2004, you didn‘t know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004, there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you‘re running on off your Web site in 2004 and there is no difference in your voting record and Hillary‘s ever since. Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I‘ve ever seen.
OBAMA: When former President Bill Clinton goes around saying, well, he wasn‘t really opposed to the war from the start when every objective news outlet that‘s looked at it knows that I was. I gave a speech in 2002 of thousand people saying that I thought this was a bad idea. When I hear that kind of statement being repeated over and over again without regard to the facts then you know, that can be troubling.
ABRAMS: Peter Beinart, that is not what Bill Clinton said. He did not say that Obama wasn‘t opposed to it from the start. What he said is he‘s getting a pass on everything that happened between 2002 and 2004. That is a fair criticism in my view by Bill Clinton.
BEINART: It may be a fair criticism, but I think one shouldn‘t lose for the forest through the trees here. The bigger reality is that Obama did publicly oppose the war when Hillary Clinton voted for it. Now, it‘s true, we don‘t know how he would have acted in the Senate because he wasn‘t in the Senate and he may have said some things that led to some ambiguity. But look, I supported the Iraq war disastrously. Give the guy a little bit of credit. He was out there and he got it right.
ABRAMS: But again, Julie, it‘s true. I mean, Hillary Clinton has said this. And again and again, and this is important in terms of fact checking what they‘re saying. Hillary Clinton had said he deserves credit because he was one of the people out there in 2002 opposing the war. But you have to be able to also challenge what he said after that. It is not been an entirely consistent position so, I think it is entirely fair for Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to challenge him on that.
ROGINSKY: And the bigger fairy tale of this fairy tale quote is all of the sudden, there‘s some of the supporters of Barack Obama saying, the real fairy tale that Bill Clinton was talking about is a black man being able to become president and they‘re attacking Clinton for being a racist. To me, that is an even more offensive comment -
ABRAMS: Right. Those are the people who are really, Keli, kind of taking at out into left field. I mean, no one who‘s rationally following this is saying, Bill Clinton was suggesting it‘s a fairy tale for African-American Barack Obama to be president. I understand. But I‘m not going to take them seriously in terms of fact checking because that‘s not what he was saying. It‘s a total distortion of what he was saying but I do want to talk about it with regard to Iraq. Isn‘t it fair for Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to say look at his record?
GOFF: Absolutely. I think that‘s fair. I totally think that‘s fair and I‘m going agree with you on this, Dan. I think that but in it, the larger point which is sort of become the issue of dispute is the sense that there is a larger attempt to sort of mischaracterize his record. Because the average voter, I‘m just going to be honest here is not going to read the quote as closely as you did. But you‘re technically 100 percent accurate but what they‘re concern about are the advertisements and the advertisements are going to say, Senator Obama was opposed to the war and we weren‘t -
ABRAMS: But Peter, this is important because there‘s an enormous debate going on tonight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over the issue of who is telling the truth. All right. And we‘ve gone through four of the key issues here and we‘ve been fact checking it. And it seems to me that on the three of the big ones where we have been able to assess the facts, it‘s not that the Clintons are misstating Obama‘s record, on one of them, they are. Obama is making it seem like again and again, the Clintons are misstating his record. In one case they were, two cases they weren‘t. On the whole, peter; is it fair to say, is it fair for Barack Obama‘s team to say that the Clintons are misstating what he said?
BEINART: Well, I think we all agree that it was in one case, I think there is some ambiguity in some of the other cases. But, look, I mean, often these things have to do with a larger context, with who you want to give the benefit of the doubt. And it‘s hard to objectively analyze these things.
ABRAMS: I‘m trying very hard here because honestly I have no dog in this fight. I‘ve gone after - I‘ve defended Hillary on certain nights and I‘ve defended Obama on certain nights, depending on what‘s going on and I want to get the facts straight because they are going at each other over who is not telling the truth about their record.
BEINART: I mean, that is admirable but if I have to come down, I end up coming, I guess to basically saying, if you don‘t have a lot of evidence of the voter fraud, you shouldn‘t bring it up. And if you‘re going to attack Barack Obama for what he said as a senator on 2000 on Iraq, you should at least acknowledge that he was right to have opposed the war in the beginning.
ROGINSKY: I think the bigger issue here is not so much—I may not use the word misstatement perhaps (INAUDIBLE). I would use the word mischaracterization. Because I think that the voter fraud thing is so serious. I mean, that‘s not something that‘s going to go -
ABRAMS: But again, he‘s not accusing Barack Obama of voting fraud.
GOFF: But Dan, you‘re missing a point here. This whole debate only helps Hillary Clinton because what she‘s doing is she‘s dragging Barack Obama down in the dirt with her. He‘s coming off his pedestal, so, ultimately, Barack Obama is not the angel.
ABRAMS: I think that‘s an interesting point. I think the minute that Hillary gets Obama fighting with her over who‘s telling the truth, who is not telling the truth -
GOFF: It depends which voters you‘re talking about. You know, they‘re heading to South Carolina where 50 percent of the voters are African-American and whether we all agree with it or not, there was a bad week for the Clintons last week with the issue of race and MLK statement. They tried to “kiss and make up” and attacking him -
ABRAMS: And I think that the public has realized that that was a totally fraudulent attack on the Clintons on that particular case but I will say that on the four issues that we‘ve covered tonight as to whether they‘re telling the truth or not, two of them go to the Clintons, one goes to Obama, one‘s a tossup. Keli Goff, Julie Roginsky and Peter Beinart, thanks a lot.
Coming up next: Candidates from both parties today, trying to prove they share Martin Luther King‘s values. They have been listening to them, quote him, we‘ll play some of what he said on MEET THE PRESS and listen to the first presidential contender to invoke his memory, Robert Kennedy.
And: It sure looks like Bill Clinton fell asleep in church at an event honoring Dr. King. We‘ve got the tape, you make the call.
We read your emails: “mailto:Abrams@MSNBC.com”Tell us where we doing right or wrong.
ABRAMS: Did you know in 1964 Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize? Coming up: An interview this civil rights leader did with NBC‘s MEET THE PRESS three years later and a look at the great speech of Robert Kennedy immediately after King‘s death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: I may not get there with you but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Dr. Martin Luther King‘s final speech to a gathering for the strike by sanitation workers on April 3rd, 1968, the very next day, he was gunned down on a hotel balcony in Memphis. As almost all the presidential candidates attempt to invoke and quote, Dr. King today, I want to play his own words in his final appearance on MEET THE PRESS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMEON BOOKER, HOST: Do you believe the American racial problem can be solved?
DR. KING: Yes, I do. I refuse to give up. I refuse to despair in this moment. I refused to allow myself to fall into the dark chambers of pessimism because I think in any social revolution, the one thing that keeps it going is hope. And when hope dies, somehow the revolution degenerates into a kind of nihilistic philosophy which says you must engage in disruption for disruption sake. I refuse to believe that. However difficult it is, I believe that the forces of goodwill, white and black in this country, can work together to bring about a resolution of this problem. We have the resources to do it. At present we don‘t have the will, but certainly the Negroes and the decent committed whites, maybe they are in the minority now, but they are there, must work together to so arouse the conscious of this nation and at the same time, to so articulate the issue through direct action and powerful action programs that our demands can no longer be eluded by the government or by Congress or all the forces in power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The presidential candidates who talked today about Martin Luther King‘s ideals are following a tradition that goes back 40 years. Robert Kennedy was the first presidential contender to invoked King‘s memory in 1968. On the day King died, Kennedy got word of the assassination on his way to a campaign rally in Indianapolis; he broke the news to his devastated supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have some very sad news for all of you and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens and people who love peace all over the world and that is Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight. Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, this difficult time for the United States, it‘s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. But those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act against to all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed if he was killed by a white man. And we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond or go beyond these rather difficult times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Robert F. Kennedy, the first and certainly not the last presidential candidates to draw inspiration from Martin Luther King on the campaign trail.
Coming up tonight: Just a few months ago, he was leading the pack. Now, Rudy Giuliani‘s poll numbers are slipping again, not just in Florida but now, he‘s behind in his home state of New York. He will be one of tonight‘s Winners or Losers.
And: When you work for a network where the management strongly encourages its female anchors to wear short skirts, things like this are bound to happen. Beat the Press is next.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.
First up: The ultimate example of the media doing a story about the media and then, acting like the media. The issue CNN tackled: Is John Edwards being ignored by the news media?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he‘s up against these two rock stars. But basically, the Edwards‘ camp has found someone else they think they‘re fighting. They say, this is a three-way war, not just against Obama, not just against Clinton, but also against the news media.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Does Edwards really have a point in the complaint he has?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRMAS: Apparently he does and with CNN in particular. Immediately after that five-minute discussion, they move on to this CNN poll about the candidates which did not include John Edwards. They‘re doing a segment about the news media ignoring Edwards and then, well, ignoring Edwards.
Next up: It seems the prude (ph) police were targeting the wrong network last week. When this caller took on the least provocative network of all, C-Span.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE HOST: Fremont, Nebraska, you‘re back on line.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Thanks for taking my call. First, young lady, you might want to button up your shirt a little there on national TV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Is that Fremont, Nebraska-viewer ever watched FOX News? They specialize in T&A (ph). It‘s no accident their female talent are always wearing short skirts and their low-cut blouses. Don‘t pick on C-Span.
And so, when you do that sometimes you get this. FOX‘s Megyn Kelly had her dogs on the set this morning and of course she‘s wearing a short skirt and, yes, I think those dogs represent what FOX hopes its viewers are thinking every day.
We need your help Beating the Press. If you see anything right, wrong or amusing, absurd, go to our Web site: Abrams.msnbc.com. Leave us tip in the box. Please include the show and the time you saw the item.
Up next: For the first time, we are seeing the face of the man the McCann family says took their little girl Madeline.
And: Courtroom brawls on tape. The courtroom chaos coming up.
ABRAMS: For the first time we are seeing the face of the man Madeleine McCann‘s parents say took their little girl.
And disorder in the court caught on tape. That was in the hallway.
Plus, tough guy Chuck Norris disses John McCain. What can you do when Chuck Norris disses you? McCain threatens to sic his mom on him. That‘s in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”
But first, new developments tonight in the manhunt now under way for a North Carolina Marine accused of murder. Police have released these new images of Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean, accused of killing fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach. She was more than eight months pregnant at the time.
Laurean has been on the run for 10 days and is believed to have fled to Mexico. Meanwhile new security camera video shows him entering a Lowe‘s Home Improvement store on Christmas Eve where authorities say he purchased a wheelbarrow, paint, and concrete blocks the same day he took out money using Lauterbach‘s ATM card.
Also tonight, new photos from inside the house where the murder allegedly took place. Here now with the latest is Kelli O‘Hara from our NBC affiliate WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina.
All right. Kelli, what do we know?
KELLI O‘HARA, WECT REPORTER: Today, the sheriff‘s department released these gruesome images that we see inside Corporal Cesar Laurean‘s home. We see paint cans, we see paint covering up the walls. We see the shallow grave where Maria Lauterbach‘s body was found surrounded by cinder blocks where he burnt her body. And we also just to see a glimpse inside this man that this massive manhunt is after.
Also released are surveillance photos. Now we know that Laurean went to Lowe‘s twice on the 16th and the 24th. Also on the 24th, Christmas Eve. He also goes and withdrawals money from her account. So a lot of things released today by the sheriff‘s department.
ABRAMS: All right. Kelli, stand by, I want to bring in our legal panel here. Former FBI profiler, MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt, defense attorney Nicole Deborde, and former prosecutor Monica Lindstrom.
All right. There is an issue here, Clint, about him having gone to Mexico. It seems the D.A. has now agreed to not seek the death penalty in an effort to get cooperation from the Mexican authorities, right?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes. You know, you hate to see us make a deal with the devil, Dan, but you know, whatever one believes about the death penalty, it is now apparently off the table. And you know, at this point if he is down in Mexico, if we want the Mexicans to get off the dime and give us some help, that is probably what is going to motivate them somewhat, plus, of course, a $25,000 reward.
So let‘s see now, they have got nothing to say, well, you know, we really don‘t want to help you on this. There is no other reason left. Now it is time for them to do the right thing.
ABRAMS: Monica, this is the kind of case where this guy never should have been able to run, right?
MONICA LINDSTROM, FMR. PROSECUTOR: No. No, he never should have. The investigators and the police should have been looking at him from the very beginning, but at least they did figure it out and they found her, unfortunately, and they are going after the right guy now.
And, you know, the prosecutor really had no choice in making the decision to pull the death penalty off the table. It was either do that or risk not getting any help from the Mexican authorities at all. And he had to do that.
ABRAMS: I think there is no question about that. Nicole, I mean, look, that is an issue that this country faces regularly. We have the death penalty. A lot of other countries don‘t. If you want them to send these alleged criminals back to the United States, you have got to throw out the death penalty. But...
NICOLE DEBORDE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Exactly.
ABRAMS: But the fact, again, that he is on the run—and you know, I don‘t want to rehash this too much but this guy should have been caught back in December.
DEBORDE: Absolutely. Absolutely. There were plenty of tips and plenty of clues, I guess, if you will, that should have been pointing in his direction early on. And she had concerns about him early on. So there was no reason they shouldn‘t have immediately looked to him. They didn‘t. And now potentially he is in Mexico. And exactly as has already been pointed out, Mexico will not extradite someone if they are going to face the death penalty in the United States.
ABRAMS: Monica, how important is this new surveillance video?
LINDSTROM: Well, it is very important, because the FBI is doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. They are using new technology, they‘re using the videos that come in from the ATMs and the surveillance. They‘re using the Internet, they‘re using TV, they‘re using newspapers, anything they can to get the message out there and to get his picture out there.
So it is great that they are using it and it helps so much because there probably isn‘t a person in America that has a TV that hasn‘t seen who this person looks like. And hopefully that information is crossing the border as well, so very important.
ABRAMS: Yes. Kelli, I mean, is there hope that people are watching this in Mexico? Hope that Americans are going down to Mexico? I mean, are the authorities pretty convinced he is in Mexico?
O‘HARA: Well, he is a naturalized citizen. He knows the country. The D.A said he had no choice but to give up the death penalty to get him back here. He said his hands were tied and he is a firm believer in the death penalty. He said that is all he could do to try to get him back here, because like everyone, we want Cesar Laurean found.
ABRAMS: Clint, how do we know this guy is in Mexico?
VAN ZANDT: Well, Dan, he was seen on public transportation crossing into Mexico. He was positively identified by people on this means of transportation. That information came back to the authorities. So we can positively put him in Mexico. The only question, of course, is, did he stay or did he slide back across the border again? That‘s something the authorities are still trying to determine.
ABRAMS: Kelly O‘Hara, thanks a lot. Let‘s turn now to what could be a major breakthrough tonight in the search for missing British 4-year-old Madeleine McCann. Private investigators hired by the McCann family have just released two sketches of a man they believe may have been involved in Madeleine‘s disappearance.
It‘s the first time in the eight months since Madeleine‘s disappearance that we are seeing the face of the man the McCanns say took their little girl. NBC‘s Ned Colt has the story.
NED COLT, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Could this man have the answers to a mystery that has plagued police and the McCann family for eight long months?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to know who he is and we want to know where he is and we want to know that as soon as we can.
COLT: He is described as being white, late 30s, with long straggly hair. A witness says the man speaks English with an unknown accent. Gail Cooper says she saw him three times last spring while she and her husband were vacationing in the same Portuguese beach resort as the McCanns.
According to Cooper, she saw him staring at children on the beach at the resort, wandering in the rain, and then he banged on her door asking for money for an orphanage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just felt quite creepy, I suppose is—you know, it was just something that didn‘t ring true about him.
COLT: And Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns who has long claimed that when she was checking on her children the night of the disappearance, she saw a man carrying a child in pajamas. She says the composite sketch strongly resembles that man she saw near the McCann‘s apartment. But for now, they still remain official suspects in the disappearance, along with this man, British expatriate Robert Murat.
With the release of this composite, new leads are already being phoned in that could jumpstart the case.
ABRAMS: All right. Clint Van Zandt, I don‘t get it, we‘re now eight months into the case and for the first time we are seeing the face of a man on a sketch?
VAN ZANDT: Well, you know, I have never been a big fan of the Portuguese police in this investigation, Dan. And they have fumbled this ball more than a National Football League game at 20 below zero. And they have never picked it up and ran with it properly.
This information was available to the Portuguese months ago. Evidently they are not crazy about using sketches so the police never went forward, so it was left up to the McCanns with their very high-priced private investigative company that is supporting them to come up with this composite.
And since the cops wouldn‘t bring it forward, the McCann family did. And now there are over a million copies of this circulating around Europe and that part of the world.
ABRAMS: Hey, Monica, you know that some people are going to be suspicious. They are going to say, wait, these are sketches being made by the McCann‘s private eye of some guy. How credible?
LINDSTROM: Well, there are two issues when you look at this. Number one is the credibility of the parents, and the other is the credibility of the sketch itself. Like you said, this came out eight months later. We all know eyewitness testimony is not that reliable.
This lady, she could have the best intentions at heart, but by now she has seen other sketches, there have been other suspects, other pictures and possibilities. That could influence what she told them.
ABRAMS: Let‘s go through this. Let‘s go through where we spotted on the map. All right? There is a witness, Gail Cooper says she spotted this suspicious man three times in the resort town. She first spotted him at 1:00 p.m. on April 20th, he was walking alone on the beach, pouring rain, she says.
Later that day at 4:00 p.m. he came to her apartment asking for money for an orphanage. At lunch time two days later she saw him standing near a group of children on the beach. Then 11 days later, Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns, saw a similar looking man carrying a child wearing pajamas the evening that Madeleine disappeared.
All right. So, Nicole, what do we make of all of this taken together?
DEBORDE: Well, it is really unfortunate that they didn‘t check these clues out earlier. This is the risk of zeroing in on suspects and disregarding the evidence that somebody else may be responsible for the crime early on, which is exactly what it appears that the Portuguese police have done that in this case. Because there is all of a sudden this information that has been available for all of this time, it is just now hitting the public.
ABRAMS: And let‘s put up the sketch again, because I mean, this guy could have changed his appearance. He has got long hair. He has got a mustache. I mean, this guy could have changed everything, thrown out that jacket, we‘re talking about eight months later, anywhere the world. All right. Clint Van Zandt, Nicole Deborde and Monica Lindstrom, thanks a lot.
Up next, drunken lawyers, cat fights and vicious attacks all caught on tape in courtrooms across America. Ashleigh Banfield is with us for that.
Plus, Chuck Norris is one of our big losers tonight. And no, no, we are not talking about his movies. That is coming up.
ABRAMS: As more courts allow cameras in the courtroom, the public gets a better view of how justice works, or in some cases, when it goes completely haywire. TruTV, formerly Court TV, has put 20 of these moments together for their latest installment of “Disorder in the Court,” which shows outrageous courtroom behavior, everything from drunken lawyers, brawls and cat fights.
The first clip is of a man who has just been arrested for DWI. But once in the courthouse, he then viciously attacks an officer in a hallway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (expletive deleted)! (expletive deleted)! (expletive deleted)! (expletive deleted)! (expletive deleted)! (expletive deleted)!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey! Back up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Hey, back up? Here now, Ashleigh Banfield, creator, co-producer and host of truTV‘s “Disorder in the Court.”
I mean, Ashleigh, two things on that particular one. First of all, the guy is Macing him and nothing is happening.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HOST, “DISORDER IN THE COURT”: That is a little scary.
ABRAMS: Right. And secondly, these other cops show up. And they‘re like, hey. I mean, what happened, this guy was arrested for DWI, that‘s it?
BANFIELD: He was just being processed. I mean, this is just the strangest thing, Dan. The guy was in for a DUI, and you as a lawyer know you can plead those things out and be out on the street. Instead, as he is being taken to a holding cell, he decides to turn on the bailiff, on the court officer who is leading him there.
And why he was being lead without handcuffs if he was this kind of a violent offender, who knows? But I mean, this is the most unbelievable story because he ended going down for eight years—he was put away for eight years for assault.
ABRAMS: Wow. And again, I don‘t understand why the lackadaisical attitude of the other officers who come, they‘re like, hey.
BANFIELD: And that is all it took to stop him, apparently, just, hey.
ABRAMS: Number two, a man is convicted and given a life sentence for the aggravated sexual assault of his girlfriend‘s three children. After handing down the sentence, the judge goes after the mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, you are the cause of this. You are the cause of this and you are just as guilty as he is. You know why? Because you put your children at risk. You had five children and you went out drinking and you didn‘t care about the children and you knew, you knew what was going on.
This man moves in with you in January of 2005. In April of 2005 he viciously and sexually violates you. What do you do? You don‘t prosecute. You forgive him. You forget about it and you let him move in with you. That is despicable and you are an atrocious mother. You need to really search your soul because you are disgusting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have, your honor. I have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there is no excuse for what you did. If I sound upset, I haven‘t heard such vile, disgusting, gross, despicable stuff in my whole 20-year career. OK. And now you are not a victim. You are not a victim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Oh, my God. Ashleigh, I mean, this guy is really going after her.
BANFIELD: Yes. I feel a little uncomfortable about this one. This is Judge Craig Schwall (ph), and no matter what you think about this woman having exposed her three children to her boyfriend who then sexually molested all three of them, she was also a rape victim by him as well. So you know, I have mixed emotions about this because I feel uncomfortable about what she did because exposed her kids to that danger, but I feel very uncomfortable about a judge who goes off like this in a venue like this.
ABRAMS: Number three, a man pleads guilty to murder, before his sentencing, family members of the victim take the stand. As the victim‘s father gets to the stand, he goes after the man responsible for killing his son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ll kill him! I‘ll kill him!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get off of him!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get off of him!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get off of my dad!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone back now!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (expletive deleted)! (expletive deleted)!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Ashleigh, you were just telling me they did not charge this guy in this case?
BANFIELD: No, no, no. They held him for 45 minutes. They never Maced him, either. They had mace, they could have done anything, but...
ABRAMS: I think that there is a reluctance on the part of the courts, on the part of the prosecutors to go after a victim‘s family member. I think there is sort of a pass to some degree to say, you know, look, even when you behave terribly and you can‘t do it and you shouldn‘t do it, we don‘t want to go out and prosecute you for it.
BANFIELD: Yes. In a sense, yes, but that said, they do go after people who behave inappropriately in a venue like that. It is still court and you still have to respect the fact you are in a court of law in front of a judge. So they do go after them sometimes.
ABRAMS: Are you amazed at how many of instances you found?
BANFIELD: I‘m amazed at how many more we now see. I don‘t think there is more of them. I think that now that we have the sunshine effect...
BANFIELD: ... more disinfectant, more cameras in the courts...
ABRAMS: Ashleigh Banfield is here, ladies and gentlemen.
BANFIELD: Good to see you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Great to have you back here.
BANFIELD: New digs.
ABRAMS: “Disorder in the Court” airs Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on truTV. Great to see you.
BANFIELD: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Up next, will tonight‘s big winner or loser be Rudy Giuliani, who experiencing chilly poll numbers in Florida? Chuck Norris, who made a cold comment about John McCain‘s age? Or the New York Giants who won a major game in freezing conditions? It is coming up next in “Winners and Losers.”
ABRAMS: It is time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 21st day of January, 2008. Our bronze loser, Rudy Giuliani. As his opponents have been slogging it out in the cold of New Hampshire and Iowa, Giuliani had been basking in the sun and high poll numbers of Florida. Well, now it is just getting a little chilly. He finished a disappointing sixth in both Nevada and South Carolina over the weekend. He is no longer leading in Florida. And a new poll out today shows that he‘s even behind John McCain in his home state of New York by double digits.
Our silver loser, Chuck Norris, who has been campaigning for Mike Huckabee, suggested rival John McCain is too old to be president at 71.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK NORRIS, ACTOR: He takes over the presidency at 72. And if he ages three to one, how old will he be in four years? He‘ll be 84 years old. Now can he handle that kind of pressure in that job? And so that‘s why I didn‘t pick John to support because I‘m just afraid that the vice president will wind up taking over his job within that four-year presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: What a mathematician. McCain fired back by invoking his mom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m afraid that I may have to send my 95-year-old mother over and wash Chuck‘s mouth out with soap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Let‘s not forget McCain is only four years old than Norris. I guess that‘s how a senior treats a freshman.
But the big loser of the day, Bill Clinton, who The New York Post caught on camera during an event for Martin Luther King, quote, “having a dream.” And it‘s not the first time the former president has been caught allowing his eyelids to say hello to his cheekbones in public before.
Our big winner of the day, New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes. After playing four hours in sub zero temperatures against Green Bay, which didn‘t seem to bother the ladies in bikinis too much, Tynes kicked the winning field goal in overtime after missing two previous attempts, sending the Giants to the Super Bowl against the Patriots.
It‘s time for our new e-mail segment, your chance to tell me what you love or hate about the show. First off, last week I said it sure looked like Barack Obama was being punished by the other candidates and the media for being honest in part about his past drug use.
Dave King from Aurora, Ohio: “Don‘t you think he did that because a lot of people he knew at the time would out him? I think he decided to tell it himself because he was planning to run for office and knew it would come out.”
Karen in White Plains: “Had Hillary done illegal drugs as a teenager, she would have been run out of the race by now. This is ridiculous, but thank you for having the guts to speak the truth.”
Richard Peres in Arlington, Virginia, takes me to task for saying that Obama‘s honesty about his greatest weakness was taken out of context: “Come on, Hillary pointed out the fact that Obama said he would have others run the government. That is a valid thing to take issue with in this campaign.”
Well, if that had been what Obama said. He never said he would have others run the government. He just said being president is not making sure schedules are being properly run or the paperwork is being shuffled. He is getting killed for being the only to answer honestly when asked what his greatest weakness was.
Michael Klein (ph) thinks I‘m showing my colors: “Dan, are you campaigning for Barack Obama?” While Eric Soso (ph) writes: “Don‘t turn into another shill for Hillary.”
Every day, it‘s like, you like Obama, you like Hillary. That‘s it. We‘re out of time. See you tomorrow. Have a great night.
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