Guest: Demian Bulwa, Larry Kobilinsky, Susan Filan, Gerry Boyle, Jim
Thomas, Mark Kotte, Samantha Troha, Michael Isikoff
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, police arrest a neighbor in the murder of Daniel Horowitz's wife and it's not who many thought it might be.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Police say a 16-year-old boy killed Pamela Vitale, reportedly hitting her in the head with a crown molding 39 times, then carving a mark in her back. We've got details and more from my exclusive interview with Horowitz himself.
And police need your help finding a missing college freshman. She went to rent a movie a week ago, never returned. They suspect foul play.
Plus, Tom DeLay joins the mug shot Hall of Fame.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket, an arrest in the murder of Pamela Vitale, wife of criminal defense attorney, Daniel Horowitz, a good friend of this show, a regular analyst here. Just a few hours ago, the Contra Costa County authorities made this announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY LEE, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Last night, sheriff's office investigators served two search warrants, one in a city of Walnut Creek and the other in the city of Lafayette. As a result of the search warrants, investigators started focusing on a 16-year-old male. He is a resident of Lafayette. We cannot and will not identify him. At 10:00 p.m. last night, the 16-year-old was arrested for murder in connection with the killing of Pamela Vitale. He was booked at juvenile hall where he remains. We are still trying to establish the exact motive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, “San Francisco Chronicle” is reporting that the suspect may have been part of a plot to steal credit card numbers to raise money for some kind of marijuana farm. Investigators think he went to Daniel and Pamela's home on Saturday, thinking some of the pot growing supplies had been sent there. They hadn't. The teen then ran into Pamela.
Some sort of confrontation took place and that the suspect killed, hitting Pamela 39 times in the head with a piece of crown molding and then carving what's described as some kind of gothic signature in her back. Another local paper, “Contra Costa Times” reports that Dan Horowitz has done a significant amount of free legal work for the family that the teenager lived with.
With me on the phone is Demian Bulwa, a reporter with the “San Francisco Chronicle”, who has been following this story closely. Jim Thomas joins us, former Santa Barbara County sheriff, forensic examiner and professor of forensic science at John Jay, Larry Kobilinsky, and MSNBC legal analyst and former Connecticut State prosecutor Susan Filan, and Gerry Boyle, haven't seen you in a while, criminal defense attorney whose former clients include Jeffrey Dahmer.
All right, let me start with you Mr. Bulwa. The information that we have now about how they found this suspect is what?
DEMIAN BULWA, “SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE” (via phone): About how they found this suspect, that's something that we're still working on at this hour. We know that he was arrested last night at a relative's home in Walnut Creek and he was booked and they're still working on it today and tomorrow there's going to be a potential charging decision by the District Attorney's office. But in terms of how they caught him, that's something we're working on at this hour.
ABRAMS: How confident are you in the motive. I guess I should phrase it by saying to you how confident are the authorities who are talking to you as to the motive being this credit card scam and this marijuana money, et cetera?
BULWA: Well from the information that we've got, you know, they're very confident in the information. What we're being told is that you know the week before this terrible killing happened this young man stole someone's credit card numbers. I guess he got them out of an envelope in a mailbox, allegedly and he was reported to be the moneyman in this scheme.
And he believed that this that he was ordering, which is marijuana growing equipment, I don't know if it's outdoor or indoor, but he believed it ended up at Horowitz and Vitale's place and so he goes up there on Saturday, they believe and that's when he has this tragic confrontation with Vitale.
ABRAMS: Just an accidental run-in?
BULWA: Well you know that's a bit of speculation at this point, but you know it sounds like he went up there clearly not expecting to be in a confrontation with someone. He went up there to get this stuff. You know I don't know whether he thought that it had come and that they had received it and maybe just—it might be sitting there, unopened or whether—or you know, whether he might have been a little bit perturbed that maybe someone had his stuff. But in any event, he goes up there and he's obviously looking for the stuff according to investigators and so we don't know exactly how their paths crossed but it's just terrible that it did.
ABRAMS: Here's what Daniel Horowitz told me last night in our exclusive live interview with him about the crime scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL HOROWITZ, FOUND WIFE MURDERED IN THEIR HOME: I know what a crime scene looks like. That's what I've done for a living. And I'm telling you that Pamela fought like hell and that person who attacked her I bet he feared that he was going to lose. She fought like hell. You could just see how the battle went back and forth and what objects were moved.
I could see things moved in certain ways that I know how the bodies were when they were fighting. You could see the splatters of blood. But you could see that she's moving around. That she is not giving up and of course it doesn't make much difference if she lost in the end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Larry Kobilinsky, we're told that there was an enormous amount of forensic evidence in this case. I would think that one of the most important pieces of evidence is probably looking at this kid.
LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXAMINER: Well that's right. In fact, the 16-year-old apparently had scratch marks on his face and on his legs and apparently Dan hit it right on the head. There must have been a very prolonged major battle that took place. I understand that Pamela had had some training in self defense and we also know that very large objects, a large television had been literally moved about two and a half feet, at least that's what's been reported.
So this was a very prolonged activity and there's lots of evidence. There's obviously blood, there's probably hair if in fact he did clean up and take a shower. There's other kinds of evidence. I understand there's a report that there's some clothing that was treated with some OxyClean or some bleach-containing substance.
So this fellow, apparently after he committed this heinous act and then did his thing with the gothic signature on her back that we're hearing about, then goes and cleans up the scene and takes a shower. I suspect that there's either a great deal of emotional issues here or he's on some kind of drug like speed.
ABRAMS: Susan Filan, is he going to be tried as an adult in California?
KOBILINSKY: Sorry, is that...
ABRAMS: That's for Susan.
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I would think so, Dan. I would think so, Dan. I think given the heinousness of the crime and I'm sure that the evidence against him is going to be significant as Larry Kobilinsky says. This is a case that's going to be built in large part on forensics and he left behind a terrific amount of evidence incriminating himself, I'm guessing from what I'm being told.
Obviously, everything was sent to the lab and the arrest wouldn't have happened if they didn't have at least some preliminary lab results back, so my guess here is he's absolutely going to be tried as an adult. This is a high profile case, everyone's watching, the police are under the gun. There's scrutiny on them. They're not going to make simple careless mistakes. There isn't going to be a rush to judgment here...
FILAN: So my guess is this will be an adult trial.
ABRAMS: Demian, are they looking at other possible suspects?
BULWA: Well, not from the information that we're receiving. There was another teenage boy that allegedly was involved in this scheme to grow and sell marijuana and that boy, as far as we know, is not being implicated in what happened to Ms. Vitale. I should mention that I just spoke to a relative of this young man who described him as being a thoughtful young man and especially in his earlier years and playing baseball and doing all the normal sorts of things, had dreams of being a sound engineer, and it's pretty—the whole thing is pretty mind boggling.
ABRAMS: Gerry Boyle, if you're now asked to represent this guy, do you start talking about deals in efforts to try to get him tried as a juvenile?
GERRY BOYLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, Dan, I think there's a lot more here than meets the eye. This brutal, brutal killing isn't committed by someone who just merely goes there and finds that their equipment is still there. There's a lot more behind this than I think anybody knows.
The signature—the gothic significant might have been his creation to try and establish a mental illness but without any prior mental problems with this fellow, I don't know what kind of a defense any lawyer can mount. It seems to me that there may very well be some mental issues here, but they're very, very difficult cases and I think as time progresses you're going to find out a lot more facts about why there was such a brutal murder. I mean this is a kind of murder that usually you find with somebody who's totally psychotic and...
BOYLE: ... pathologically disturbed, but...
BOYLE: ... why here I don't...
ABRAMS: I think that's an interesting point, Jim Thomas, is the notion that it is hard to believe that this was, you know, so completely random. The idea that this guy has items being sent to the wrong home, that he goes and shows up and then something happens and remember, Pamela Vitale is in her own home, wearing a t-shirt and underwear when she's attacked.
JIM THOMAS, FORMER SANTA BARBARA COUNTY SHERIFF: Yes, Dan, but remember that when you order things with a credit card, oftentimes, it has to go to the address that's listed to the credit card. So it's quite possible that it was one of either Daniel's or Pamela's credit card that was actually stolen when the material was shipped.
Also, like Daniel said, it was a fight for life. And it appears that like he believed that Pamela fought very, very hard and this young man, he won, but it sounded like it took an awful a lot for him to do that. To strike somebody 39 times, is either through rage or some type of substance abuse at the time or else just fear of yourself getting injured or killed.
ABRAMS: This is what Daniel said to us last night about how he was going to feel when the person was caught.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOROWITZ: When all of this craziness ends and the person is caught, I've got nothing in my life, you know, at its very core. The very core of my life will never come back, no matter what happens. There's nothing that's going to ever happen that's going to make it OK. That's, you know, that's the bottom line reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Susan Filan, you know I know you got to know Daniel as did I, covering trials, et cetera. You know I don't think Daniel's ever going to be able to be the same.
FILAN: No. It's ironic, he spent his adult professional life defending people accused of murder and now here, he is the victim of a murder in his own family. My heart goes out to him.
He is a sweet man. He is passionate. He's one of these true believers that defends people, not just because they have a constitutional right, but because he really believes in the human condition. He sees the compelling needs that people have. Now I'm sure he's going to have some compassion for the 16-year-old...
ABRAMS: Maybe, but...
ABRAMS: Yes, let me tell you...
FILAN: ... he's that kind of guy.
ABRAMS: Yes. But here's what he said last night. I asked him last night about how he's going to feel about being a defense attorney, if this has changed his view on being a defense attorney, et cetera. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOROWITZ: Now, can I be a defense attorney again? Well I think I said some things that are fair towards people accused of a crime. But could I stand next to somebody who I knew committed a murder like this? I don't know. It's—you know it's pretty—right now it would—I guess I'd have to say it would be a pretty hard thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. Let's do this. Let's take a break here. The funeral has just taken place or is taking place as we speak and we're going to talk about why the authorities seem to be suggesting that there are other people out there. They say their investigation is still going on. They didn't say there are other people out there, but they made it seem this is just the beginning of the investigation. Why?
And new details in the investigation of who leaked the name of that CIA agent, it sure sounds like more bad news for the president's team.
Plus, police are searching for a college senior. She hasn't been seen for a week now. Police now suspect foul play.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOROWITZ: I sort of felt she was too good for me. She's too beautiful, too wonderful, too kind. But bottom line is when you really come down to it, is we were going to grow old together and be happy. When she was lying there, she was still Pamela and I could look at her and I could love her and I could feel the love in her and I wasn't fooling myself about what was going on, but I was just focused in on her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It just breaks my heart to listen to Daniel Horowitz and you know to all of you—the handful of you who wrote in saying oh, he's lying. He's the person. Well I'm going to be shooting off some of your e-mails at the end of the show. I think you might owe that man an apology.
One of the things that struck me today was the way that the Contra Costa authorities seemed unwilling to say, effectively, we've got the guy and the case is over. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: Although we have a suspect in custody, the investigation is still going on. Much more work still needs to be done. As I speak right now, we are still interviewing people. Our crime lab is hard at work. We're analyzing evidence and waiting for test results to come back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Demian Bulwa, your understanding, though, is not that they are looking for you know other people who may have actually been involved in killing Pamela Vitale, but they're just processing evidence and possibly talking to people who may have been involved in this scheme to grow the pot, et cetera?
BULWA: Yes. Now that's not what our sources are telling us. There's obviously always a possibility that they might look into some other illegal activity. But as far as the killing, we're being told that this is basically the gist of it and just you know having worked in this area, I can tell you that you know having heard those words before, ongoing investigation...
BULWA: ... it often just means that they're going to do a lot more work on this young man.
ABRAMS: All right, Demian, I know you need to head out. Thanks a lot for joining us. Appreciate it.
BULWA: Thanks for having me.
ABRAMS: All right. Jim Thomas, what do you make—I mean look, you were a man who in Santa Barbara had the whole public press conferences. You had to talk about investigations. Did that just sound like the language of people who were saying look, you know we're not done here, but we've got our guy?
THOMAS: No. I talked to Jimmy Lee today, who is a public information officer for the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department. And with me, he wouldn't rule out that there would not be further arrests. However, I don't think it would be somebody based on what we know, which is admittedly very little, but it would be based on somebody else who was involved in the killing, but perhaps somebody who would be an accessory after the fact or somebody who would help this young boy try and cover his tracks.
ABRAMS: OK. But do the understanding that you have, Jim, is that they have got their guy?
THOMAS: Well it seems that way, although I couldn't get that admission out of the PIO. I tried and wasn't successful at that. They're being pretty tight to the vest on this.
ABRAMS: Yes. Gerry, what does it sound like to you?
BOYLE: Well I tell you, Dan, what I think it sounds like is that somebody's talking. It seems to me, when they make an arrest so quickly after search warrants are executed, that they pretty much have enough of information and they're basing it on any search warrants. They're basing it upon information they received from other witnesses.
Now if you've got a drug operation going or starting to go and a person is murdered, during the course of that operation, a lot of people are responsible for that murder in spite of the fact they weren't even on the premises. So I think what they're doing is they're being very careful not to suggest that it's over but they want to make sure they got all their ducks in a row so they don't look foolish after the fact.
ABRAMS: Larry, what do you make of the fact there was some sort of carving on her back. I mean I am not one who believes that people who commit crimes, I think a lot of the time I find that we try and attribute too much meaning to very often what these idiot, you know often evil people do. But can we read anything into that?
KOBILINSKY: Well the first thing that comes to mind is this game that young people used to play back in the, I guess the '80's, Dungeons and Dragons. Perhaps that has some relationship here. It's the kind of thing gang activity might be involved in. That's possible, but it seems to me, this is a branding, basically, saying I can do anything I please and this is my mark.
This is something I can go brag about to people down the road. I think—by the way, Dan, I think this is far from finished. We may have an arrest but now we have to make the case. There's a lot of evidence that's got to be...
KOBILINSKY: ... processed and it's not like “CSI” where you do it overnight. This is going to take some time.
ABRAMS: Right. You're talking about the time between the arrest and the trial, et cetera, but I'm trying to figure out if they are you know investigating other people who might be involved and you know while—as we sit here and talk about it, it seems to me that that's probably not the case if there's anyone else out there.
Here's Daniel Horowitz again, talking about how he thought his wife fought back. Remember, reports now that this young man had bruises and cuts on his body and sure seems to be proving Daniel right about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOROWITZ: So all I can tell you is that what I saw is that she fought like hell and really fought like hell and I think she almost won and I know my wife. I know Pamela would never ever you know, give up. She would fight to the end, Dan. No one could scare her. She loved life and I think that person almost lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And Susan, that fight really may have led to some of the most important evidence, and that is taking a look at this kid.
FILAN: That's exactly right. His own body may incriminate him and the arrogance to live his signature on her body, to shower in their home, to use that place as a place to clean up doesn't look like somebody that's trying to allude capture, but then it looks like he has an after thought and then tries to get away. And so, there's obviously some torture, some conflict, something, but his own body may be some of the best evidence against him. It may be what incriminates him.
ABRAMS: Yes. And Gerry Boyle, when you're dealing in a courtroom, you deal with pictures, right? I mean they got to make sure to take as many pictures as they can now of what he looks like.
BOYLE: Yes, indeed. And I—from what I've been listening to and learning, this young man has very little chance of winning anything. It looks like they've got everything but videotape highlights of him doing the crime and I think the thing they want to make sure is that they got all their ducks in a row before they bring him in a courtroom. It should be a very easy case once they're in the courtroom.
ABRAMS: And Jim, do you—have you been surprised—let me ask you a more general question—by how many people—and I can tell you this from watching our e-mails—how many people thought that Daniel was involved?
THOMAS: No. I can't answer that. But when I was watching the interviews, not only your interview, but other interviews, there's no formula to tell how a person acts who's involved in a crime. In California, our sheriffs are also coroners, so we spend a lot of time around deaths and you see a lot of confessions and you see people who are innocent that act guilty. So, you know there's just no...
THOMAS: ... or no accounting for how a person acts.
ABRAMS: And I just heard other people on other networks who were basically implicating Daniel. I mean, I'm not going to name names, but they know who they are. Basically, saying that you know, that other people don't want to ask the tough questions or this or that and it's clear that Daniel must have been involved because of this reason and that reason and you know, this is a lesson I think, Susan, in terms of when we look at these kinds of cases and as Jim points out, there is no way—I mean some people say, how could he go on television?
How could he answer questions so shortly after his wife had died? Well you know what? Other people might not have done it but maybe it was cathartic for him and it doesn't somehow implicate him.
FILAN: That's absolutely right, Dan. Fist I want to commend you on that interview that you conducted with him. That would have had to been really hard to do and I think you did an amazing job and I thought that was important to bring before the public.
Daniel Horowitz was performing a public service to educate people twofold. One, he let himself be put in the back of a cruiser. He said look at me, do your job. I want this solved. Do whatever you have to do.
And he not only got out of his own way, but he helped them in every way he could and the other thing he did by going on the air so shortly after was to focus national attention on this case. That's often how these cases get solved. People see things. They've heard things.
They put two and two together. They phone clues in. He was helping solve his own wife's murder. He was educating us, the public...
FILAN: ... that this is how you behave.
ABRAMS: Let me...
FILAN: You cooperate.
ABRAMS: Let me end this segment with another piece of sound from Daniel where he talked about that yesterday before the person was killed, sort of responding to those who were second-guessing how he's been handling this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOROWITZ: I am in sad mode. I'm in hurt mode and I'm in a mode that I am a professional and I'm going to do what I think I need to do to catch the person who killed my wife. I'm going to do the media the way I think and if people don't like how I do that or anything else, I don't give a damn. You talk to me about it. But when we catch the person who killed my wife then, that's it. But right now, we're catching the person who killed my wife and that's what this is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And it seems, at least according to the authorities, that they did.
Again, to Daniel Horowitz, who I know has been following a lot of the coverage, been a very strong man in the wake of a very, very difficult situation and I commend you and have developed an even greater respect for you as a result of it and again, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
Jim Thomas, Larry Kobilinsky, Susan Filan, Gerry Boyle, thanks a lot.
Coming up, new developments in the CIA leak investigation. Karl Rove tells the grand jury the V.P.'s chief of staff may be the one who told him the identity of that CIA agent.
And police need your help to find this college senior. She went out to rent a movie a week ago and never came back. Talk to the local cops and to her best friend.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike again. This week our search is in Colorado.
Authorities looking for David Stuart James, 53, 5'1-“, 185, was convicted of sexually exploiting a child in '91, was previously convicted of murder, aggravated assault and battery and attempted assault with intent to kill. He is not registered with the state of Colorado.
If you've got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. I'd like to know why that guy was out in the first place.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the latest on the search for a missing college student in Illinois. The local police join us, first the headlines.
ABRAMS: We are back. A criminal investigation is under way in Normal, Illinois in the disappearance of a missing 21-year-old woman. Olamide Elizabeth Adeyooye is a senior at Illinois State University. She was last seen at Family Video in Normal, Illinois around 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 13.
Her disappearance was a missing person's case until yesterday after the police conducted a number of interviews and found some of her personal belongings in the area near her apartment. They then determined a crime had probably occurred. Also missing is her car, a dark gray 1996 Toyota Corolla with the license plate number, LDG927.
Joining me now on the phone is Olamide's friend Samantha Troha and Lieutenant Mark Kotte with the Normal, Illinois Police Department. Thank you both for joining us.
All right, Lieutenant, let me just start with you. What is the status of the investigation?
LT. MARK KOTTE, NORMAL, IL POLICE DEPT. (via phone): Well the status of the investigation is that we are currently of course, it's a criminal investigation. We're following down some leads at this very moment and we do have several persons of interest that we've identified and some of those we are interviewing. Some of those we are attempting to locate to interview.
ABRAMS: So that makes it sound like you do not think that this was a totally random crime if a crime was committed.
KOTTE: Well, at this point, our persons of interest, some are known, some are unknown to the victim, so that's still undetermined at this time.
ABRAMS: And Samantha, let's just rule this out right away. There's no way that she just decided to leave, right?
SAMANTHA TROHA, OLAMIDE ADEYOOYE'S FRIEND (via phone): No way. No. There's no way she ran away. Someone has taken her. Something has happened to her. She would not have run away...
ABRAMS: Did she ever say...
TROHA: ... from people that love her.
ABRAMS: I'm sorry Samantha. Did she ever say...
TROHA: Oh that's OK.
ABRAMS: Did she ever say anything to you about anyone she was afraid of or any fears she had, anything like that?
TROHA: Nothing too serious. Nothing at all. You know she had normal college stress, but she never (UNINTELLIGIBLE) any real dangerous concern.
ABRAMS: Lieutenant, do you believe that she made it to the video store? She was there, right?
KOTTE: As far as we can tell, yes, we pretty much determined yes that she was at the video store. At least that's what we believe. Again, witnesses are at the video store. It's a little sketchy still at this point. But yes, we believe that she probably made it to that store.
ABRAMS: Is there any—let me put—if we can put up number two here. I just want to give a little bit about what she looks like, et cetera, so anyone might be able to help out who sees this. She's 21, 5'3”, about 110 pounds, Nigerian. Her nickname is “Ola” and “Ollie”, last seen on October the 13th.
Lieutenant, is there anything else—is there anyone else that people might want to look for?
KOTTE: Well what we really want to try to do is to locate the vehicle. That is very critical to our investigation. It would really help us a lot. And that's why you giving out the description could very well help us and anybody that sees the vehicle...
ABRAMS: Let's put it up again, as you say it. Let's put up number three...
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
KOTTE: And anybody that sees a vehicle that looks like this, matches its description, give us a call. You know, we've gotten lots of calls and they haven't checked out, but that's OK. We'd rather have lots of calls and be able to check out any information about that vehicle.
ABRAMS: Samantha, tell me a little bit about your friend.
TROHA: You know one thing I should say is that anybody that has met her, has immediately fallen in love with her. She has so many people that love her and she loves so many people and we just want to see Olamide come home.
ABRAMS: And are you college friends? How do you know each other?
TROHA: No, I've known Olamide since the fourth grade.
ABRAMS: Wow. All right. That's the number, if you've got any information, 309-454-9535. Please call the Normal Police Department in Illinois if you have any information.
ABRAMS: Samantha and Lieutenant, thanks very much.
TROHA: Thank you very much.
KOTTE: You're welcome. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, new details in the investigation to who leaked the name of that CIA agent. There is a news report out today. Could mean some trouble.
And Tom DeLay, booked and fingerprinted at the Texas police. Sure doesn't look like your typical sad and glum mug shot. And his team maybe showed him this one and said, don't look like that. It's my “Closing Argument”.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: There are new details coming in, in the investigation into who leaked a CIA operative's name, could mean problems for the vice president's office.
ABRAMS: Officials at and around the White House on pins and needles tonight as they wait for possible indictments in the investigation into who leaked CIA officer Valerie Plame's name to reporters. The investigation continues to probe the president and vice president's inner circles. Now the question, which top advisors said what to whom and when did they say it in the days before her name was published by columnist Bob Novak.
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell has details.
KELLY O'DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today President Bush coined some of his own terms for the latest Washington obsession, the CIA leak case.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is there some background noise here? A lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining.
O'DONNELL: Much of it focused on two major White House figures. Bush senior advisor Karl Rove, Cheney chief of staff “Scooter” Libby. Did either play a role in exposing an under cover CIA officer, Valerie Plame, in an attempt to undermine her diplomat husband who became a critic of the Bush case for war.
Will any charges result? The latest details were first reported by The Associated Press. Sources familiar with grand jury testimony tell NBC News Rove and Libby were comparing notes on what they were hearing from reporters before Plame's cover was first exposed by columnist Robert Novak.
Could either official have been the leaker? Also revealed, Rove claims he might have learned who Plame was from Libby. Sources say there are conflicts in the testimony of some key witnesses. Investigators have interviewed a long list of government staffers and Washington journalists, including NBC's Tim Russert, who testified that he did not know Plame's name or that she was an operative before he read the Novak column—former U.S. attorney Randall Allison.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to tell in isolation what any one particular conversation might mean unless you're able to step back and plug it into the entire picture of the investigation.
O'DONNELL: Former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis calls the case an immense distraction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I cannot overstate the palpable fear and anxiety that must be going on today by people working in the White House.
O'DONNELL: But today, the president said he is not distracted.
BUSH: The American people expect me to do my job and I'm going to.
O'DONNELL (on camera): Bracing for the end of the investigation which may be just a matter of days now, senior officials here say they will be ready.
Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News, the White House.
ABRAMS: All right. Joining us now is Michael Isikoff. “Newsweek” magazine has been doing extensive reporting on the story. All right, Michael, let's just put it into very simple terms.
The question is, did the—did Libby and Rove learn the name from the reporters? Did the reporters give them the name? That seems to be one crucial issue here and now it seems that I guess is possible that what, Karl Rove could end up being a witness against Libby, effectively saying look, he's the one who told me the name?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, “NEWSWEEK”: Well, anything's possible because I mean, the reports are so amorphous and are often contradictory. There's you know precious little hard information on the table about exactly what Fitzgerald has found. Almost all of the reports have been based on self-serving comments by the various lawyers involved.
The central theme of the defense lawyers for White House officials is yes, we may have discussed Valerie Plame or Joe Wilson's wife and her employment at the agency, but we learned this from reporters. That begs the question, where did the reporters learn it. And that was one—I think that was one key reason why Fitzgerald was so focused on getting the testimony of so many journalists.
ABRAMS: But is this the first time that we've heard of some sort of intersection between Libby and Rove? Meaning, it's almost seemed up to this point like there have been two different tracks. One has been what did Libby say to whom and whom said—who said what to Libby and separately with Rove and now here it seems, according to this new report, that there may have been conversations between the two of them.
ISIKOFF: Well, I don't—it's certainly been out there in a general way for some time. I don't know how quite, how specific it is. I mean, I remember picking this up months ago, but it's not clear you know how specific this testimony is. My sense is in many cases and I have to tell you, some of the self-serving accounts from lawyers often change and evolve as new conflicting testimony comes out, but you know, the general sense is that all of these guys are somewhat vague.
They think they may have heard it or they may have had a conversation about this. And all of which makes it very hard to know exactly where Fitzgerald goes because obviously, in order to bring a criminal case, he's going to have to allege with some specificity who leaked what and that they learned it from a classified source of information and not just gossiping with journalists.
ABRAMS: Has your report indicated that Fitzgerald is focusing more on Rove versus Libby or vice versa?
ISIKOFF: No. It's pretty—I think that the general sense is that Libby was the primary focus. Rove became more of a focus when it became clear that he may have played a bigger role than certainly he initially acknowledged to Fitzgerald's investigators. From what we know, Rove's problem is more in the truthfulness of his statements, both to the FBI and to the grand jury, particularly about his conversation with Matt Cooper of “TIME” magazine.
Libby's problem seems to go more to the core offense of whether or not he initially disclosed the name. We now know from Judy Miller's account that he was discussing Wilson's wife some weeks before she was identified in the Robert Novak column.
ABRAMS: You know there seems to be this sense that everyone is now expecting some sort of indictment. I mean this report that comes out says he's not going to issue a report, which would seem also to suggest that if there are going to be any answers it's going to be because there's an indictment.
You know I spoke to Louis Freeh yesterday who said to me that he wouldn't be surprised if there were absolutely no indictments. What do you make of that?
ISIKOFF: I think at this point, I would be somewhat surprised if there are no indictments. It's certainly possible that Patrick Fitzgerald could come back at this point and say, I've thoroughly investigated this and I've concluded there's no crime. But given what this investigation—the political impact this investigation has had on Washington, on the White House, on the entire you know political process of the United States, and the fact that he did have Judy Miller in jail for 85 days, he did bring Karl Rove before the grand jury for four days.
Patrick Fitzgerald is a real world prosecutor. He knows when he's got a criminal case. He knows when he doesn't. It's hard to imagine he would have taken it this far if he didn't, at the end of the day, know that he had something that he could bring a criminal case on.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, Michael, are we going to find out next week?
ISIKOFF: I fully expect we're going to find out next week. Yes.
ABRAMS: Michael Isikoff, as always thanks a lot.
ISIKOFF: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, no, it's not Tom DeLay's campaign photo. It's his mug shot. We should all look so good after being indicted for money laundering. Does that tell us something? It's my “Closing Argument”.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again. This week's focus Colorado.
Authorities need your help finding Matthew Wade Kalkman, 52, 5'10”, 150, convicted of sexual activity with a child under 12, lewd and lascivious assault on a child, and sexually offending a child. He hasn't registered with the state of Colorado.
If you've got any information on where he is, please contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, 303-239-5732.
Back in a minute.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—Congressman Tom DeLay may have the nickname “The Hammer” for his tendency to beat his party and opponents into submission as House majority leader, but he must really believe in the words of the old song, let a smile be your umbrella or your political cover, anyway.
Exhibit A: This mug shot taken today. DeLay has been indicted in Texas for conspiracy and money laundering, charges he insists are part of a political plot to destroy him. So rather than look sulky and glum and hand his enemies a photo to hammer him with, DeLay lit up like he had just won the Powerball lottery.
It's like he's saying could I really be this happy if I was guilty? Could I really look this good? (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm sure a lot of thought went into preparing for that shot. Maybe he even took mock photos or maybe they just did a scared straight thing on him by showing him big Nick Nolte's unfortunate mug shot.
I mean if you give Nick some time, even he cleans up as well as anyone. But it's DeLay's huge grin that gets me. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bill Gates. Microsoft's main man must have guessed way back in 1977 when arrested possibly for traffic violations, that it would soon become just a tiny bump on his road to billions.
Robert Downey, Jr. seemed to be living that old slogan, have a coke and a smile during one of his drug arrests and actor Matthew McConaughey seemed unfazed when he was busted for marijuana possession and resisting arrest. Those were just smirks. There's another one of Robert Downey, Jr. smiling in one.
This is a full-blown smile. Sure, actors fake it for a living, but I wonder whether politicians live to fake it. Get it—fake it for a living...
Coming up, a lot of you writing in about my interview with Daniel Horowitz last night, and I think many of you may owe him an apology. Your e-mails are next.
ABRAMS: We're back. I've had my say, now it's time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night, Daniel Horowitz joined me for his first live interview since his wife Pamela Vitale was murdered on Saturday. Her alleged killer was arrested today. Many of you impacted by that interview.
Michelle Petruskevich from Canal Winchester, Ohio, “I'm crying so hard I can barely see the computer screen. My heart aches for him, Pamela and their families. My sincerest condolences to all.”
From Ballwin, Missouri, Daryl Schaefer, “I send my deepest sympathies and want him to know there are many people out there who can identify with the depth of his pain. Daniel, as I write, the tears are flowing like it was yesterday.”
Alice Paxton from New Port Richey, Florida, “I really like him so much and can see the pain in his face. I hope you will tell him I care so much.”
And from Tucson, Arizona, Suzanne Higgins-Shaver, “Your compassion and obvious pain while interviewing Daniel Horowitz was a testament to your devotion to the justice system you cover/report so well.” Thank you Suzanne.
After reading many of the letters last night, some of you may now be thinking you owe Daniel a huge apology, at least I think you do.
Linda from Delray Beach, Florida, “I think that he killed his wife. Let him take the lie detector test that he said he would. No one else had a motive to kill Pamela.”
Carmel, California, Karen Huller, “For the sake of all the women who that have been killed by these powerful connected white men and even for the sake of the poor sap that agrees to represent this guilty loser, get Horowitz off the air. Dan Horowitz is hanging himself.”
Sharon from Pembroke Pines, Florida, “Way too must coincidence. I find it very unusual why this person would only kill Pam and not both of them. Sorry, this just doesn't pass the sniff test for me. I don't care if he was my friend or not, I would be very leery. If I am wrong, I apologize to everyone.”
Well, knowing Daniel, my guess is that he'll accept that apology, Sharon, but you know, the number of letters we got from people convinced that he had done it, and again, other networks basically reporting that he did it, well you know what? They got the guy today, nothing to do with Daniel.
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
That does it for us tonight. See you tomorrow.
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